A lot of people want to join the tiny house nation for a number of reasons. Maybe they want to save more money, travel around the country, or embrace a more eco-friendly, minimalist lifestyle. As great as these reasons sound, tiny house living might not be the best choice for everyone.
So how do you know if you’re ready to make the move and downsize to live in a tiny house? Here are 10 questions you can ask yourself to check if you’re ready to live tiny:
1. Have you ever lived in a small space before?
Since most people grow up in larger living spaces, it’s important to how comfortable you will be in a limited space. For people who aren’t claustrophobic and have thrived in studio apartments or dorm rooms, they would adjust faster to living in a tiny house.
On the other hand, if you’re iffy about living in less than 400-700 square feet of space, the transition will be harder for you. A typical American home is around 2,600 square feet large, so some garages are actually larger than a tiny house. Some things you might have to prepare yourself for are:
- Sleeping in a loft “bedroom”
- Finding storage space under your sofa or bed
- Combining your kitchen counter as an eating and working area
- Adding hooks, cutouts, and cubbies for extra storage
Remember, you will have to make do with limited space so every shelf and storage bin counts. You may also find it difficult to live in a house with limited walking or lounging space, so keep these in mind when deciding on moving into or building your dream tiny house.
2. How much time do you spend at home?
According to the American Time Use Surveys, Americans are increasingly spending more time at home. Americans spent an average of eight more days at home in 2012 than they did in 2003.
If your house is just a place to crash in between work and life, then a tiny house would work well for you. However, if you spend more days at home than not, a tiny house may not be super comfortable. You might find the space constricting or get bored because there isn’t much room to move around in.
On the bright side, tiny home owners found that they had more time overall after switching to a tiny house. They had more free time to enjoy the outdoors, indulge in hobbies, and spend more time together. Here are some of their reasons:
- Less maintenance: Tiny home dwellers found that it takes less time to clean the space they live in. It’s also much easier to find stuff because they can organize everything in their own storage areas.
- More savings: On average, tiny houses cost $30,000 - $60,000. This is a far cry from building a regular-sized house for around $300,000. Tiny house owners don’t have to work longer hours just to make ends meet and put a roof over their heads.
- Shifted priorities: A lot of tiny home owners prioritize travel or saving for retirement. Since they don’t have to think about rent or mortgage, they can devote more time, energy, and resources to these pursuits.
3. Do you like “roughing it” outdoors?
One reason people are attracted to tiny house living is because they are trying to reduce their ecological footprints. They want to advocate a self-sufficient and sustainable lifestyle where they can focus on what truly matters.
However, tiny house living requires a deep commitment to this idea. Tiny house dwellers need to haul their own water, install solar panels, research on energy-efficient appliances, and even empty out a composting toilet regularly.
Living in a tiny house traditionally means a lot more time spent outdoors. Since you can get more square footage and soak in the fresh area, tiny home owners turn the outdoors into an extension of their indoor living space. So, if you’re not great at camping or aren’t comfortable being outdoors, then tiny house living might not be for you.
Some people love living together with another person. Other people don’t handle it as well. If you’re the type of person who tends to be territorial and prefers having their own room, then you should definitely rethink tiny house living.
Tiny houses have limited space, so privacy is also limited. If you’re planning to live with other people, it’s important to communicate boundaries because a lack of personal space can increase tensions and fighting.
However, tiny home owners have also found that because there is less space, you spend less time stewing and avoiding each other. This makes for a much quicker conflict resolution. Here are some ways you can cultivate some privacy and personal space while living tiny:
- Go outdoors: Health research shows that patients get better faster when they have a natural, scenic view to look at. Nature is a great way to calm yourself and improve your emotional and mental health. If you’re not feeling great cooped up inside a tiny house, take a walk outside for a few minutes.
- Create a space for yourself: Any room or area in your tiny house can work as a personal space. Whether it’s a reading nook or just the inside of a closet, find somewhere you can be alone for just a little while. Decorate this area with your favorite color, hanging plants, or other things you enjoy and are important to you.
- Establish physical boundaries: Separate yourself from the rest of the tiny house physically. Build a space using screens, curtains, or even furniture you can move around - it’s an effective, temporary way to get some peace and quiet in a house without doors.
5. What hobbies do you currently enjoy?
Hobbies are incredibly meaningful and rewarding for people, but some hobbies can’t fit into tiny spaces. For example, collector hobbyists won’t have a lot of extra room to display their collections.
Ask yourself how important your hobby is to you, and how much space you imagine it will occupy in your tiny house. It’s still possible to squeeze in your favorite hobbies with some creativity. Here are some great tips that can guide you:
- Musical hobbies: For musical instruments like guitars or ukuleles, you can hang them up on the wall and let them double as an art piece for the house. Larger instruments like a piano or a harp would need to have more of the space designed around them.
- Art hobbies: You can store materials for knitting, crochet, embroidery, jewelry-making, and other art hobbies in multipurpose containers. For other hobbies, invest in collapsible or smaller versions of the tools you use, like collapsible artist easels or portable sewing machines.
- Sports hobbies: Create a slim nook to store equipment like baseball bats, racquets, or skis. You can also get foldable bikes or collapsible kayaks if needed. Some sports-lovers also opt to put ropes or rock climbing holds instead of a ladder or stairs for their loft.
- Digital entertainment: Bring all your games, music, videos, and books with you to your tiny house by storing them in a tablet or a laptop. Some favorite tabletop games have online versions available, so you can play them wherever.
6. What is your attitude towards stuff?
Tiny house living and minimalism go hand-in-hand. For people who enjoy collecting objects or having pretty but not very useful things around, you might not enjoy living tiny.
If you’re the type of person who gets attached to your possessions, you will find it overwhelming to downsize everything you have into little more than a suitcase.
Basic necessities such as bedding, essential cooking utensils, some sentimental items and a few clothes are usually what goes with people to their new tiny homes. Before you make the move, try decluttering your house with these challenges:
- The Four Box Method: Get three boxes and a trash can. Label each box with “Put Away”, “Give Away” or “Storage”. The trash can is for what you'll have to dispose of. Sort your stuff into these four categories.
- The 12-12-12 Challenge: Find 12 items to throw away, 12 items to donate, and 12 items to bring with you from every room in your house.
- The Declutter 365 Mission: Fulfill a decluttering task every 15 minutes of your day. You’ll make a habit of cleaning regularly, which you would need in a tiny house.
7. How often do you entertain guests?
For people who enjoy hosting dinners and entertaining guests, part of tiny house living means accepting the reality that you won’t be able to invite as many people as often as you used to.
However, if you’re willing to exert some creativity and rearrange your tiny house, you can still maximize your space and invite friends over. Here are a few ways you can accommodate more people inside your tiny house:
- Move large furniture and chairs along the walls so your guests have more space to walk.
- Use whatever tables, settees, or stools you have - mismatched furniture is perfectly okay.
- Cover the floor with throws, pillows, cushions and rugs to dine Moroccan-style.
- Serve finger-foods so your guests can walk and mingle instead of sitting in one spot.
- Keep drinks cool by filling your sink with ice.
- Use tiered serving plates for appetizers, desserts, and other snacks.
8. Do you enjoy personally figuring out the solutions to your problems?
Every house will need maintenance, and tiny houses are no exception. Most tiny home dwellers learn how to do the constructing, plumbing, and electricity for their tiny houses. You would need to clean the roof, monitor the humidity, maintain appliances, and prepare your house for the winter - like a normal-sized home owner would.
If you’re handy and enjoy working through these home problems, then owning a tiny house will probably be a piece of cake.
9. What are your plans for the future?
Future plans like getting pets, having more family members, or moving to a different state should factor into your tiny living decision. Some house designs aren’t child friendly, and you may not be able to accommodate a certain number of future family members.
And if you have a pet or are planning to get one, how comfortable would they be in a tiny house? Can they roam and be energetic without getting underfoot? These are questions that should drive your decision and even your design process. Think about who is going to live in the house with you, and consult with these future residents if possible.
10. What is important to you in a house?
This is probably the most important question to ask. There are some compromises you might realize you are not willing to make. Maybe you’re too claustrophobic to live in a loft bedroom, or hate washing the dishes so much that you cannot live without a dishwasher.
Be honest about what matters to you, because no one else will know you better. Think about living in a tiny house in terms of each activity: cooking, sleeping, eating, bathing, lounging, and so on. Ask yourself where you spend more of your time in, and would you be okay if this area was in a smaller space?
You can also look around where you currently live and think about what you like and dislike. Maybe you don’t love the fireplace, but you need a bathtub. These are choices you will have to make when designing your tiny house anyway.
Ground yourself in what your idea of home is. And if home looks like a tiny house, then you should go for it.
Living Tiny, Being Ready
If you’re confident that you can live comfortably in a small space, congrats! You’re more ready for tiny house living than you think.
Tiny House Bloom wants everyone to fully enjoy their tiny house experience and make the most out of tiny living. Read our other articles to learn more about what it’s like to live in a tiny home, discover inspiration and ideas for tiny living, or find practical how-tos that can guide you through the basics of running your own tiny house.
Hey, there! We're Ivan and Manuela from Croatia, and we're crazy about tiny houses. We don't own one (yet).
This website is a result of our passion to share all the knowledge, photos, tips and tricks that we were able to learn while studying everything possible about the tiny house movement.