Tiny Living Doesn't Even Have to be Tiny

A lot of people have very strong reactions when we tell them we live in 120 square feet.

Some people wonder how exactly we can handle that together. Some people want to know about our kitchen or our bathroom. Others simply exclaim, "I would love to go tiny, but not that tiny."

I have learned that tiny living isn't necessary about the size of your home but about how you live in it.

Okay, it might be a little bit about the size of your home. If you have a 3000+ square foot house I don't think tiny living or even small living can apply to you.

But there are many ways that tiny living can happen and it doesn't just have to be in a less-than-200 square foot home.

Tiny Living is a Philosophy. 

When you read through the blogs of people who have done this for themselves you won't see a common thread in the designs of their homes. Some people will have luxury kitchens and others will have washers and dryers. Others still might be off the grid with fewer modern amenities.

The real thread you will see tying all of these people together is a desire to live deliberately. Each tiny house builder and dweller wants to engage with their lives in a way they had not done before. It might be about finances or about building community or it might just be about adventure.

Here are some of the things that I think are important to know about the tiny house movement.
  • It is primarily DIY.
  • It changes your life.
  • There is no one right answer.
  • It isn't for everyone.
When I say DIY what I mean is that most people who live in a tiny house want some control over the building process. Not everyone will chose to build themselves but they will work with a builder who can work with them, understand their needs, and translate it into a home. Those of us who do want to build our own house do it to have the experience. For us, the building was just as important as the living and it taught us a lot about our home and ourselves. Some people build tiny buildings just for the pure joy they get from creating something. They may never even live in them.

No matter how you chose to build your tiny house, it will change your life. It gave me the opportunity to quit my job and pursue something I've always dreamed of doing. For others it gives them freedom to travel. A tiny house isn't a magic bullet, but changing the way you think is.

The tiny house movement is not a dogmatic one. Each and every tiny house built is different from all the other tiny houses, even if they are built off the same design. One person might want have a full bathtub. Some builders might want to include a staircase or a first floor bedroom. A trailer might work better for some and a foundation for others. The possibilities are literally endless. As long as it can fit in the footprint of your small home it can be done. But no one can do it for you. 

It is easy to romanticize tiny living. I love it but it isn't always easy. Most of the tiny house blogs you read will also demonstrate love for the lifestyle. If you don't love it that doesn't mean something is wrong with you. It also doesn't mean that something is wrong with tiny living. 

This lifestyle is more about the mindset than it is about the trappings. You can live small in a 1000 square foot house if you're conscious about your resources, your space planning, and the way you use your home.Tiny living doesn't even have to be tiny.


  1. Tiny living expands your mind, I think, to the possibility of other things. Big living can be very small-minded.

    Nice post. :)

  2. Huh...I guess I never really thought about it before...I mostly just thought we actively tried to live more "simply." But, actually, I think we live, "Tiny," too, even though we didn't build our house. We were looking for something small, something that we could fix up ourselves over time, and we really didn't care about all the perfect amenities and whatnot - we just wanted to be close to nature, live a slower-paced lifestyle and create a happy life for ourselves. Cool. :)

  3. The simple life is a great ideal, I think the mindset is the first thing that needs adjusting.

  4. I wish more sites would focus on 'small' rather than tiny living. I currently live in a 1500 sq ft 3 bedroom (which is up for sale!) and it is too big for us. We're thinking that 800-900sq ft is more our size. I really dislike wasted space and here we really have a lot of it. Since we have a tv in the office, we do not use the living room at all, we do not use one of the bathrooms, one of the bedrooms sits vacant, etc.

    When I tell people we want to go smaller they think I'm crazy. LOL

    1. 1500 sq ft is too big for us also. We NEVER used the living room, so when we built our house we built it with no living room. I wanted a big kitchen space and that is where we live. We don't watch TV, nor have TV, we live off-grid, but we do watch movies in our small bedroom on occassion and set up a media wall/book wall in our bedroom to do that very comfortably. My computer station is in the kitchen so that I can cook and be online all at the same time. It works for us.

    2. I am with you. We have way too much "stuff" unfortunitly, we have attached memories to the stuff. Depending on who bought it for us or our kids determines if it is kept or not. I have tried to talk my wife into getting rid of some of it but she wont budge. We dont need all the room we have and we are an outdoor oriented family. We love camping and other outdoor activities.

    3. I am with you. I have been trying to talk my wife into freeing us from a bunch of our stuff. The problem is that she has attached memories to the items and refuses to get rid of anything until she goes through it, which she wont do. We dont use most of the room we have either.

    4. Perhaps pictures of these items, or an online scrapbook (Pinterest?)might be a potential solution to saving memories while simultaneously downsizing...Another idea: when was the last time item X was used? "Treasured?" i.e. looked at/fondled with fond memories? --for how long? If you can't remember, perhaps it's not that great a treasure?

      "But I want to give that to..." Great. Give it. Now. A wise financial advisor once quipped: Do your givin while you're livin, so you're knowin where it's goin.

      Hope it's helpful...

  5. With this, you've hit the nail on the head. It's about a simpler, more authentic lifestyle. And I do believe you can live 'tiny' in any sized house, but as anonymous pointed out above, you will soon find that the building and the lifestyle don't match and you will crave a re-alignment.

    The point is to have the size of the house which fits the lifestyle and the mindset and to have those be authentic expressions of who you are. Bollocks to what anyone else thinks. This is the hardest thing for people to understand and to be able to let go of - but when you do, you'll understand and you'll know the sense of freedom it brings.

  6. Wow. This is a thoughtful post with thoughtful comments. I am impressed and motivated by the objectivity and honestly of this. Thank you!

  7. I love this post, and it reflects my experiences in preparing to build and design my own tiny house, which I have been writing about a thttp://blog.neevita.net/archives/tag/living-small. I am years away from having the means, but have been preparing for this shift in my life for many years, with a big creative and inspirational push when I finally did decide that I could a) have a home and b) fit in a small space! Most of what I've learned since realizing that has been experiential and personal growth related, and I appreciate that someone else is speaking to this aspect of the Tiny House movement rather than focusing on the building process and where to find an instant water heater. Thank you for your thoughts.

  8. Thank you for your article. My husband and I have been talking about going tiny and have moved into our small motor-home as an experiment and trial run. We also wanted to see exactly what we need and what we can live without. I agree that more could live tiny, just by ridding themselves of the extra weight and excess baggage of 'stuff' that most of us hang onto. We've not missed all that excess since we've moved into the motor-home and our lives together have been extremely liberating. We also talk more and spend more time together. We've even decided that we can, indeed, go to a tiny house and are in the process of drawing the plans that fit our needs and the way we live. Thank you again for the insight. Perhaps more will embrace the tiny living lifestyle without feeling like they have to live in a tiny home! -Dawn


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