Once considered the realm of the niche and perhaps the crazy, tiny houses are quickly becoming hot commodities and are increasing in sales every year. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, tiny houses are around 100-400 square feet in total size—which is significantly smaller than the average American home size of 2,600 square feet. Tiny houses generally feature one bedroom, a small dining and living area, and a very small kitchen and bathroom. In fact, most tiny houses could fit several times over in the average home’s living room or garage.
What’s the appeal of tiny houses? Supporters say that they’re much more affordable, economically sound, and encourage a lifestyle that moves away from consumerism. However, they’re not without some serious drawbacks. Here are some of the top pros and cons for living in a tiny house:
Pro: They’re cheap.
Tiny houses are cheap in several ways. First, they’re cheap to purchase outright. Many cost between $15,000 and $80,000, but they can be built for significantly less if they’re built by hand. In addition, tiny houses are much cheaper to furnish, heat in the winter and cool in the summer, and the required land to build a tiny house is small. All in all, the costs of building and living in a tiny house are significantly less than the costs of living in a traditional multi-bedroom home.
Con: They’re tiny.
This con may seem obvious considering their name, but tiny houses are just that—tiny. Living in such a small space takes getting used to, and some people will never be able to adapt to living in close quarters with significant others or pets. In addition to the lack of room to move around, tiny houses also have very little storage space, which means owners must get creative with their furniture and be extremely cautious about bringing anything new into the home to avoid running out of room or becoming overrun with even a small amount of possessions.
Pro: They’re easy to clean.
A positive trade-off of the lack of space means that tiny houses are incredibly easy to keep clean. While deep-cleaning a traditional family home takes hours or even days, cleaning a tiny house from top to bottom can be done in an hour or less. The ease of cleaning a tiny house doesn’t end with cleaning the living space, either. Tiny house owners also benefit from being able to clean the outside of their homes in no time. Problems like mildew, chipped paint, stained ceiling tiles, and other unsightly issues that are common with larger homes can be cleaned off or repaired in a snap on a tiny house.
Con: They lack privacy.
Unless a tiny house is built in a secluded area, it’s hard to feel a true sense of privacy while living in such small quarters. While traditional home owners can escape inside their homes and feel protected and separated from the outside world, tiny home dwellers may feel vulnerable and barely protected from nature and even their neighbors. The inability to retreat to a private area of a home, such as a large bathroom or quiet bedroom, can be difficult for some home owners to accept when they make the transition to a tiny house.
Pro: They encourage an active lifestyle.
While tiny houses can certainly be built and furnished to encourage comfort, their size means that many people will feel compelled to get out of the house more often. Modern homes make many people creatures of habit and comfort, and coming from home from work to watch television is a reality of life for many people. But because tiny houses are designed primarily for efficiency and savings over comfort, they’re perfect for people who would rather spend their leisure time outdoors or in public spaces.
Con: They’re vulnerable in severe weather.
Whether it’s flooding, tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards, or even just strong winds, tiny houses are much more vulnerable to the elements than standard homes. While there are precautions and proactive steps tiny home owners can take to help make their abodes sturdier and more able to withstand severe weather, they’re still not ideal places to live when the sky turns dark and menacing. To better protect themselves in the event of severe weather, some tiny home owners invest in storm shelters to have safe places where they can wait out storms and other inclement weather.
Pro: They’re eco-friendly.
Tiny houses require much less energy to build, maintain, power, and air condition. They also use fewer construction materials, which means they make a much smaller initial impact on the environment. Some tiny houses can even be powered almost exclusively by solar energy, meaning their carbon footprint after construction is almost zero. Another positive to owning a tiny house is that the extra land that normally would be taken up by the home itself can be repurposed for other purposes, such as raising livestock or growing a garden to produce fresh food on a year-round basis.
Con: They use small appliances.
Due to the lack of space, things many home owners take for granted, such as full-size appliances, are considered luxuries for tiny home owners. Instead of having a large double-door refrigerator, tiny home owners often must settle for apartment-sized or even mini refrigerators to cool and freeze their foods. And because the refrigerators are so small, it can limit the amount of food they can store at any given time, meaning more frequent trips to the grocery store. Automatic dishwashers are often excluded from tiny homes, and washer and dryers for clothes are often excluded or small in size as well.
As you can see, owning and living in a tiny home isn’t for everyone.While there are certainly some very appealing aspects to simplifying your lifestyle to the point where you can live and thrive in a house under 400 square feet, the drawbacks can be significant. In the end, it’s up to each person to decide if a tiny house is right for them.