5 Reasons Tiny Home Living Was Awful
August 14, 2018 | Kathryn Kellogg
Last Updated on April 9, 2020
Tiny home living is not for everyone. I thought tiny home living was going to be AWESOME! Then I lived in a tiny home for a year….
I was so convinced that I was ready for tiny home living, I was looking at buying an RV so I could quit my full-time job and travel the US.
I mean, that sounds pretty awesome right? Travel the world, blog, and have no boss??
But after living in a 325 sq. ft. tiny home, I can attest… it was not that awesome. In fact it made my life pretty miserable.
As I’m sure you know, layout is everything. Living in a tiny home that’s laid out well, might have been awesome, but The house I was living in was NOT laid out very well.
This tiny home was built in the 30s. There were three small windows and even on a bright sunny day, you’d have to have all the lights on in the house because it was just dark.
The kitchen and bathroom weren’t that bad…. but I definitely could have gone for some more counter space in the kitchen. I really like to cook and meal prep, and only having one small wedge of counter space made it difficult to prep large quantities of food.
There also wasn’t an appropriate dining area. It was hard to fit two people at the table…. so we definitely weren’t able to entertain which is something I love.
Another huge downside was not having a defined living and sleeping space. My bed was my couch, desk, and sleeping area. It was rough… especially rough on my posture. Add all of that to the lack of windows, and it was just a recipe for disaster.
I started working for Pela Case freelance in February so I was working from home all day….
2 adults and a 50lb dog in a 325 sq. ft. is just really tight quarters.
I don’t regret making the choice to give tiny home living a try, but it’s definitely something I’m glad to be leaving behind.
A couple of the points that I left out of the video are schedules and being creative.
Justin and I are both on completely opposite schedules. He’s a night owl and I’m an early riser. When we were living in the tiny home he was finishing his audio engineering degree and working at Fantasy Studios.
He would often be working late night recording sessions. When you walk into the tiny home you walk straight into the bedroom/living room so he’d come home when I was trying to sleep. It would wake up the dog and get her all excited. She would need to go out.
Then I would wake him up when I tried to make breakfast and get work done in the morning. It was just a mess.
The tiny home definitely forced me to be creative, like having to take photos in the bathroom at 4 PM with a piece of card stock on top of the commode because it was the only well lit area in the house.
And, while that worked sometimes, other times it just didn’t and I think my blog suffered because of it. I wasn’t able to take pictures easily (lack of light) and I just felt stifled. I didn’t feel happy, positive, and upbeat like I normally do and I think that came through in my work.
For the other five reasons I hated tiny home living, watch the video below.
What do you think? Do you love tiny home living? Hate it? Willing to give it a try?
Check out my pre-tiny zero waste home tour and my post-tiny zero waste home tour to see where I moved!
On topic: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/02/realestate/what-no-one-ever-tells-you-about-tiny-homes.html
I have unhappily lived in apartments since college. There are two issues, one of more relevance to your point. When you live in a small living space, things get used up and destroyed much faster. I have three bikes in a small one-bedroom apartment. (It’s my main hobby.) The only place to store them is across the room from the entrance to the bedroom, on the other side of my full sized bed. Moving them is an incredible nuisance, and regularly damages property in my apartment. That’s one example of the tendency of almost everything in my apartment to become easily damaged. A smaller example is my coffee table, which sometimes serves as a kitchen table, sometimes as a project table, sometimes as a movie console. It was ‘just’ a couple hundred bucks when purchasing, but after three years is completely beat up. I can also relate to the above editorial about cooking smells. Especially in Winter, these seem to trap themselves in particular spaces and turn articles of clothing into inescapable smells.
The second issue, related but indirect, is that frequent moving also damages property. It seems to me that a move takes a year or two off the life of furniture. Frequent moves accelerate the loss.
Anyway, layout is key, and apartment living can suck.
We are currently on about 1100 sq ft, also poorly laid out and we have 4 people, 2 big dogs and 3 cats (unintentional rescues) all crammed in it. Even worse, my husband works from home full time, I work from home part time, we have a garden and I make most foods from scratch. 1100sq ft is NOT enough! ? We like to watch tiny home shows and my husband always talks about moving into one but I am a big fat NOPE to that idea!
Thank-you so much for the info! Tiny home living has been gaining popularity, and it’s nice to get the pros/cons from someone with the opinion that it’s not terrific. This is why I always check out the negative reviews before buying something.
Layout is ABSOLUTELY the most important thing when living in a small space.
I had looked at a 630 sq ft house, and I LOVED it. The space was nicely arranged. But it had termites throughout, so I had to move on. I cried.
I live in a less-than 1000 sq ft house, but that is just living space. I have a walk-up attic, and full basement. So it’s not a tiny home. Since I grow and can a lot of my food, this space is very important for seasonal storage. I also live ALONE, so I really have more space than I need, and no scheduling conflicts.
I think the tiny-kitchen problem was addressed by setting up Summer Kitchens a century ago.
As far as entertaining- and even food prep- setting up space outside can be very beneficial- at least as long as the weather holds.
I think the key to making a tiny house livable is using space outside, just like people in different cultures/countries do. They may use the house for private things, sleeping, etc., but also use space outside for cooking, eating and whatever else they need to do. Also have outside storage. And share certain amenities with neighbors. (I have been in some villages, such as Mayan villages in the Yucatan Peninsula, where I saw this.) All of this depends upon the weather and climate, as well as how people are adapted to climate (as this can also be done in cold climates, as well.)
I think, also, in respect to zero waste, it means needing to store certain things (even if having weeded out too much stuff) that are useful and needed, and not having ‘nothing’. I had parents who lived thru the Great Depression as well as WW2, in the last century, and they certainly were not about getting rid of things that would be useful. (I don’t mean hoarding, but passing down children’s clothing to the next one, as well as family heirlooms, etc.) I myself do a lot of recycled art, art quilts, paper art, etc., and where would I keep all these supplies in a tiny house? I couldn’t! and I would be very unhappy if I had to get rid of my supplies and not do the things I love. So, in a way, if one needs more space outside of one’s tiny house, it is sort of an oxymoron. (I also lived in a tent for several months upon two occasions, and found the need to expand outside of the tent essential for living there.) Maybe, for some people like myself, having access to a climate controlled storage unit nearby would help.
But only if it was really financially and environmentally sounder to live in a tiny house instead of a regular house.
I’ve lived in my tiny apartment for about 12 years (with an 18-month break at some point) and I’ve always loved it! It’s 170 sq ft with a tiny wet room (no space for a separated shower), a kitchenette and two large, floor-to-ceiling windows. I’m a minimalist but I cook most of my meals from scratch, have a proper if somewhat narrow bed, a small desk, about 300 books, and a printer/scanner/photocopier combo I need for work. And two cats who enjoy playing and napping of their rather large scratching tree. I think living tiny is a mindset: my life is so full of things to do and people whose company I cherish that I don’t feel the need to fill up my place with stuff.
The tine home movement is a counter culture and should not be treated as a fad. If you understood the foundations behind it (1. people creating their own living spaces from scratch 2. self-sufficiency 3. ecological footprint reduction, living modestly, emphasizing design over size, 4. multipurpose features/furniture and 5. innovative use of vertical space) maybe you would not have been tempted to live in one. Just because cleanses, gluten free diets, and raw water are popular right now, doesn’t mean they are great bandwagons to follow. Neither were SUVs with 12 cup holders. Try rewriting the title for this piece. What is AWFUL for you, sounds more like you didn’t understand what was entailed in the first place.
Or maybe she knew what was entailed, tried it, and it wasn’t for her. Tiny Houses are not utopia.
Or maybe she knew what was entailed…. and tried a really bad one and came to the wrong conclusion…. change the title! And, try a few before concluding anything. So far all ?i am getting is the tiny home was a bad design and a house of any size badly designed is going to be awful, full stop.
Tiny living is also about using outdor space a lot. If you don’t, have you missed a rather large point? Yup.
Tiny living is a life philosophy, is there compatibility with both of yours? Just like living in highrise, on a boat or in a mansion it takes a certain mindset.
You know there are bigger and smaller tiny houses right? And, you know there are small houses too?
And have you considered how much of a huge drain mortgage is? I call that waste too, not to mention the wasted land big houses take up and take off nature.
Think about it
Ahem, lastly, have you thought about working in a co-working space? It gets you out of the house, in with other creatives and you get a nice walk/bike ride to boot. Furthermore, it’s a great use of work space as in, instead everyone having a "home office" you share one. Artists have been doing it forever.
My husband and I have watched the shows and debated it but stepping inside of a tiny home in Seattle our friends that lived there complained about a house they designed (300sq ft) and purchased. After 1 yr they ended up getting an apartment with 900sq and selling their tiny home. We live in 600 sq ft and are always decluttering. I appreciate your point of view! People grow and change so do their homes with them. Layout is truly everything!
I think if you had a better layout and a small home 600-700 square feet for 2 you would probably feel less crowded and happier. I personally hated living in 550 square feet. We down sized quite a bit(probably could have some more.. but the layout was horrible! we then lived in 734 square feet and we felt like we could breath! After our son was born we moved again to 840Sqft . I like living in small homes but not tiny homes. We like to sprawl out and have personal space. We hope to move into a 1,000-1200 square foot home and max out at that size now that there are 4 of us.
We live in an RV and love it! Two adults and a hedgehog are pretty happy in our tiny home. It isn’t a big one, but it is laid out well. We have been able to make it home and function within it even though we don’t get to travel. We love saving water, minimizing our impact and feeling content with the amount of space we have. 🙂
Great post! Lots of good value to find in the article!
A little hack by myself. I’ve long been looking for alternatives for a lot of the things which I use in my daily life, which is where I stumble upon NanoTowel. Great alternative to papertowel. AMAZING suction ability – can hold a crazy amount of water.
Feel free to check them out https://bit.ly/2MFanL3
I think my husband and I are well prepared for tiny living. We’ve been living in a studio space for 3 years now. It’s definitely a challenge (especially the no-counter-space dilemma). But we love the idea of being more connected to nature and each other, because in a small space, the only way to expand is outside! I’ll be honest, though: I’m ready for more space! I miss having separate rooms for different things, but in the end, I’m sure we’ll revert back to tiny living. Haha. Having a large apartment is intimidating and lonely to us.
I agree, the layout is key. But so is the culture you live in. Check European flats, or Japanese… I lived 9 yrs in a flat of the same measures (4 people), comfortably, because we were creative on all levels. Maybe readtealeaves’ (https://www.instagram.com/readtealeaves/?hl=en) ideas can help. Anyway, great job, Kathryn!
I feel like this post needs a privilege check – most of the rest of the rest of the world lives in tiny homes, not by choice but as a result of culture and socioeconomic limitations. Even here in the US, it’s a privilege to choose to upsize from a tiny home when you decide you don’t enjoy it. Many people and families live in trailers and small apartments and can’t afford anything larger.
I love reading your blog and am inspired by your content, but just want to challenge you to see this through the lens of someone who doesn’t have the choice of living in a tiny home vs upgrading. (And the same goes for a lot of other zero waste and sustainability stuff – many "eco-friendly" products are not accessible to the poor.) I’d appreciate seeing more future content to explore those deeper issues.
Spare us the righteous indignation. This is first-world people with money talking about tiny houses. If you’re feeling guilty go to habitatforhumanity.com