What is it really like to “live tiny?” We talked to five people who build, travel, and live in tiny homes and trailers to find out.
For those who haven’t caught tiny home fever, a tiny house is just what you’d expect: a very small house. They can be stationary or built on a tow-behind trailer – which is generally preferred as it (currently) exempts the domicile from many zoning laws and taxes.
There’s no hard-and-fast rule about what qualifies as a tiny home, but there are two main camps: One that maintains anything under 500 square feet is tiny, and another that holds that it must fit the trailer-sized foundation – which would put the tiny home limit at around 150 square feet. And unlike an RV, a true tiny home must be pull-behind.
We wrangled five “experts” living the tiny lifestyle to weigh in on the technicalities, advantages, and hardships of living in and building a tiny house. They are:
- Pete Silvestri lives in an Oakland condominium, but has been building his first tiny home since last year and is approaching his move-in day at the end of summer.
- Jesse Russell is owner and journeyman with the Bend, Ore., tiny home builder Tongue & Groove.
- Adam and Lindsey Nubern are traveling across the country in a “tiny camper” after cutting loose their nine-to-five lifestyles in 2014 – they run the inspirational blog Nuventure Travels and contribute to our Mobile Office series.
- Alison Dennis is the founder of WeighMyRack, a climber’s guide to gear, and currently lives in a 104 sq. ft. travel trailer.
1. Is it hard living with someone, clustered together all the time?
Lindsey: I think it’s brought us closer together – we have to work through our problems and communicate all the time, because we’re always with one another. There’s no going to our room and shutting the door.
Adam: Don’t get me wrong, we argue now and then. But this lifestyle means we have to deal with it – there’s no having a fight in the morning, then going off to work for eight, nine hours, stewing about it, then coming home and feeling awful.
We’ve definitely gotten good at, when we’re angry with each other, we talk through what’s going on, because we’re going to be next to each other all day, so we find a way to make it work.
2. Don’t you miss having a yard and a space to go outside and relax?
Lindsey: It’s just the opposite. We’re outside more now than we ever were in a regular house. Our living space is the outdoors.
Adam: When we were traveling in New Zealand, after we had made some dinner, we went outside to eat, ’cause that’s what you do. When we went out there we saw some strange glowing in the sky – found out we were watching the southern lights – just because we go outside all the time now.
3. What do you do for utilities?
Jesse: It depends on where you park your tiny house. If you park it behind an existing house that is hooked up to city utilities you can just use those. If you are going to park your house on a piece of land with no utilities then you need power – a generator, solar, or a combination of the two; and water – in some places you can do a water catchment system or have water delivered.
Pete: I decided to be an ‘umbilical tiny house’. I will rely on a power cord and a traditional hose/spigot hookup. Once I move in, I will be paying $400 a month to stay on someone’s land. That $400 covers my ‘rent’, water, electricity, waste removal, Internet – all inclusive!