Things to know before buying a tiny house

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Type in ‘tiny house’ in the search bar on Instagram, and you’ll be delighted with photo after photo of pint-sized abodes.

What is a tiny house, you ask? A tiny house, built on wheels or on a foundation, is often a maximum of 500 square feet and focuses on simple living without sacrificing quality. The growing popularity of the tiny house lifestyle has created a movement of people away from traditional homes, and into tiny ones.

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Things to know before you buy a tiny house | Hello Brio Minimalism


Tiny Houses Work for All Kinds of People

One of the remarkable things about tiny houses, is they are compatible with people from all walks of life:

The Solo Traveler

This digital nomad took her tiny house all over the country, and documented the ins and outs of tiny living in her blog.

The College Student

This young man built his own tiny house and avoided high living costs! (Pro Tip: There is a wealth of information out there if you want to learn more about the costs of building your own tiny house!) You can see how living tiny hasn’t hindered his college experience on his tiny house Instagram account.

The Family of Four

Kim and her family prove that “family-style minimalism” is a thing!

The Couple

Kendra and Eli enjoy life’s simple pleasures while sharing their small space.

Should I Get a Tiny House on Wheels or on a Foundation?

There are two major types of tiny houses; tiny houses on wheels and tiny houses on foundations. A tiny house on wheels is perfect for someone who wants to travel and take their home along with them! Built securely on a trailer, these tiny houses can hold all of the amenities of a residential home. On the other hand, a tiny house built on foundations is more suited for the homeowner who may want more design freedom, and is okay with staying in one place. Whichever you decide is dependent on what is most compatible with your lifestyle!

What is the Environmental Impact of a Tiny House?

In the rush to ban straws and other environmentally harmful plastics, there exists a way to make your footprint even smaller. Tiny houses are simply not built for high consumption. It takes a lot less energy to heat or cool a small space.

Be sure you know how much energy you really consume when deciding on the kinds of systems you want running your home. Use this calculator to figure out your desired home temperature, and this one to see how much energy your appliances use everyday.

Do You Want an Off-Grid or Grid-Tied House?

You can even choose whether you want your house to be off-grid, grid-tied, or able to do both.

An off-grid tiny house is equipped to be able to operate normally without relying on grid-tied energy or wires. In this case, eco-friendly alternative energy such as solar power, are common tiny house options.

If you choose to have a tiny house that is grid-tied and/or compatible with off grid living, you’ll need to hook up to a power source. Again, what you choose is going to be dependent on your lifestyle and how environmentally-friendly you want to operate.

Where Should You Live in Your Tiny House?

According to many laws in the U.S., a tiny house on wheels is still considered a recreational vehicle or RV. To live full-time in an RV or tiny home is still a huge grey area. Additionally, a tiny house on a foundation still needs land to sit on. Let’s take a look at a few options for finding a home for your tiny home.

Tiny House on Wheels

  • RV park: While it isn’t technically permitted to live long-term, it doesn’t seem to be much of a problem unless there is a complaint.

  • Tiny house community: A great way to meet other tiny homeowners who live the same, sustainable and simple lifestyle as you.

  • A piece of land: While buying land is extremely expensive and not all that necessary for a tiny house on wheels, finding a friend or family member who is willing to host your home is an ideal situation.

Tiny Houses on Foundations

  • Buy land: Not the most low-cost option, and you may run into issues with your city’s zoning codes. If you are living off grid and out of sight, it may be possible to fly under the radar.

  • Pay rent for land: If you have a great friend or family member who is willing to let you build next to their “primary dwelling,” you may have yourself a solution!

Downsizing is a Huge Factor in Tiny Houses

The good news is that if you already have simple, intentional living down to a science, then you likely don’t have to worry so much about downsizing! Keep in mind that even minimalists (and aspiring minimalists) will probably have to downsize even further. A tiny house is far smaller than a residential home, and you may not be used to having such a small space! Here’s a few tips for minimizing even further:

  1. Clothes: Your simple wardrobe will need to refocus on fewer basic, layerable pieces.

  2. Kitchen Items: Do you need the creme brulee torch? Keep only the appliances that you use every day!

  3. Books: While a Kindle may be the most space-saving, you really can’t beat that old-book smell! Pick your top five books and keep them on a rotating basis.

  4. Bathroom Essentials: It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the number of bottles and tubes in your bathroom. Stick to the essentials; shampoo, conditioner (if you need it), soap, toothpaste, and deodorant (also if you need it). Your body will thank you.


The Takeaway

For all of you minimalists and aspiring minimalists; tiny houses might really be for you! It’s a great way to live intentionally and with greater flexibility in terms of location and lifestyle. Some days might be a challenge, but those happen no matter what size house you live in. At the end of the day, this is a wonderful way to enjoy the simple pleasures of life!

Do you dream of living in a tiny house? What's holding you back?

Cover photo by Niv Rozenberg