Living in a tiny house can be a big adventure, but there are some things you need to know before buying that plot of land or that school bus. From tiny house friendly states to foundations and plots of land, the minimalist tiny house life requires a lot of preparation!
A minimalist tiny house is a small structure for living. Options range from movable trailers to permanent structures. One often considers the land it’s on, the amenities the house has, overall costs, and the opportunities that are available when living in a small, efficient structure.
Have you ever wondered what life could be like in a tiny house? Read on and we’ll share with you everything you need to know to get started.
What is a Tiny House?
A tiny house is a small living structure for humans. The are available in a range of options, styles, and configurations. Some are mobile, set on wheels and easy to move with a pickup truck. Others are trailer-based, fit for moving distances on standard highways. Other tiny houses are more permanent structures, set onto foundations and intended for decades of use in the same location.
Having a tiny house can afford one many opportunities. These include choosing a living location that can vary, having a home with low upfront and ongoing costs, and also owing fewer things – alling the owner to focus more on living and exploring.
While there are about as many reasons folks get tiny houses, as there are folks that get them :), they are an exceptionally appealing option to afford one a life of financial independence, exploration, and incredible experiences.
What Qualifies as a Tiny House?
The main thing that sets a tiny house apart from other homes is a square footage of 400 or less. There are still the usual comforts including a kitchen, bathroom, and mattress and some sort of living space. Many tiny houses feel as comfortable as a room or two in a standard home.
Is Living In a Tiny House Worth It?
Great question – and highly individualized! It’s not for everyone – and depends on what you want and how you live. Moving into a tiny house can be a big change, where the idea seems more appealing than the reality. Also, for those that are prepared to make the move, it can feel great and afford them a life that is better than they experienced before.
How do you prepare to live in a tiny house?
Start with decluttering your life! Take a look around your current abode and decide what you can live without and donate, sell, or dispose. Then start doing the research and find a place you’d like to call (tiny) home.
Getting ready to live in a tiny house may also require mental preparation. You might have to get into a realistic mindset about how things may change if you’re coming from a much larger space. Some conveniences may have to go all together, and others may be altered to accommodate the smaller space, but having realistic expectations can make the transition smoother.
Can you legally live in a tiny home?
Yes-as long as they are not illegal, which is usually due to building codes. About half of the states in the US do not allow tiny homes as residential structures. It’s important to do your research beforehand and ensure that wherever you’re planning to move would welcome your new plan.
What states allow tiny homes?
Tiny homes are allowed in the following (most popular are in bold):
Are tiny houses safe in storms?
Because of how these houses are built, they are often able to withstand storms that are category 3 or less. The durable materials are lightweight and can resist heavy rainfall, but not so much a major hurricane. I definitely wouldn’t recommend living on the Florida coast in a tiny house, given the range of storms and weather they often experience.
Do tiny houses have bathrooms?
For the most part, yes. There are some categories of which don’t, so it depends on how it is built and where it is located. If you want to build a tiny house and have a bathroom, you can definitely do that, as the choice is yours. Most folks do plan to include a bathroom in their tiny house.
How do tiny houses get water?
This depends on the type of tiny home. There are those on wheels that are similar to recreational vehicles’ (RV) plumbing, while those on foundations will have standard plumbing like your standard house. Another choice that is totally yours-especially if you build custom for you.
Types of Tiny Houses
There are a variety of tiny house styles available. The designs can be based on cost, materials used in construction, square footage of the houses, if they are mobile or stationary, environment the houses will be placed in, and visual style of the finished structure. Let’s explore a few of the more common types.
Tiny House on Wheels
These are very similar to RVs and are great for the minimalist who wants to travel. These vary in style and can be towed by a hitch on your pickup truck. Tiny houses on wheels will have a kitchen, bath, living room, loft bedroom, and even a porch in some cases.
Did you know that school buses can have a purpose when they retire?? That’s what a skoolie is-a school bus converted into a tiny home or RV. This does require a conversion process-which involves removing most (if not all) of the seats and installing a kitchen, bathroom, bed, and whatever else your heart desires.
It’s just what it sounds like-living in a van! This also usually requires some degree of conversion, but is less involved than a school bus. What you include in your van dwelling is up to you-and it still gives you freedom to travel.
These usually require quite a bit of creativity and “thinking outside of the box” (ha ha). Shipping containers are frequently used to create living spaces-sometimes involving several stacked on top of each other as well as side by side. It’s a very modern take on creative, minimalist living.
This is just like your standard built home, only much smaller. You pick the plot of land and have your tiny house built with all of the creature comforts of plumbing and electricity, just no wheels. So make sure it’s someplace you want to be.
Are Tiny Houses Minimalist?
Yes, tiny houses are minimalist. For a variety of reasons, they help contribute to a simpler, less-costly, more free way of life. They can be placed in many locations, built by the owner, utilize fewer resources (for construction and ongoing utilities), and even have clean, minimalist aesthetics to both exterior and interior designs.
What does minimalist mean?
Minimalist refers to practicing a simple life with less possessions and more passion for living intentionally. This approach can also extend to aesthetics, including having more clean, open spaces with lighter colors and fewer objects within the space.
What is an example of a minimalist?
A minimalist is someone who spends more time and energy on themself, on others, and on experiences, than on owning things. They focus on quality of life, growth, and exploration rather than quantity or size or volume of physical objects
In what ways are tiny homes minimalist?
Use Less Materials
Because of their smaller size, there’s less quantity of supplies, less need for cooling and heating, and less impact on the environment than “normal” homes.
Cost less to Heat and Cool
Again because of their small size, there is much less space to insulate and heat and cool. Therefore the cost is much less than a standard home.
Have Less Space for So Less Stuff
It is essential to declutter before moving in to a tiny home-the space is dedicated to intentional living. This means kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom for essential needs and MUCH less storage space for what you just don’t need.
Acquiring a Tiny House
There are a few things to keep in mind when considering the purchase or construction of a minimalist tiny house. Let’s explore some of the more common, and key things to consider. A tiny house can lead to a very different lifestyle, so it’s worth doing some thinking up-front to help ensure the path you take can be the most enjoyable.
Is it cheaper to buy or build a tiny house?
It depends on what you need and if a certain tiny house meets your needs. There are established tiny houses out there, but often times you’re better off building exactly what you want that meets your needs-personalized and minimalist to YOUR liking. That can save you money in the long run, plus it gives you time to declutter and prepare while waiting for the build.
What is the cheapest tiny house to build?
This depends highly on the materials, location, and builder versus self-built. There are kits that can be purchased for about $5,000 that will help you create the shell that will become your tiny house. Otherwise a tiny house can be built for anywhere from $8,000-$35,000. When you consider the cost of standard housing today, I’d say that’s a steal.
Can you really build a tiny house for $5000?
You can-but there’s more to it than what you think. $5,000 will buy you the exterior structure, so there’s still the interior to build. This means additional costs, although it’s still cheaper than a standard house! You’ll need to consider insulation, interior walls, flooring, appliances, heating/cooling, and all the things that living structures have. They add up.
Where can I buy a tiny house kit?
Because this movement has become so popular over the last few years, there are THOUSANDS of places to buy a kit to build a tiny home! There are manufacturers whose specialty is building tiny homes. There are even well-known online only retailers who offer tiny home kits – all it takes is an online search.
Will a bank finance a tiny house?
If you have credit and a job, you most likely can find a bank to finance your purchase of a tiny house. There are a few things to consider when looking for a lender:
- Will the tiny house be on a foundation? Some lenders do require a permanent foundation to be considered for financing. With a foundation-do you have land? What are the requirements for building size on this land?
- Does it meet the minimum square foot requirement? Some lenders have minimums because the cost of a tiny house may not meet the minimum loan amount required. Often times the minimum loan amount is MUCH more than what a tiny house costs!
- How’s my credit score? If you’ve got good credit, you may be able to qualify for a personal loan, a home equity loan, or an RV loan to finance your tiny home.
Do tiny homes depreciate?
Yes, unfortunately tiny homes are similar to cars and mobile homes in their depreciation rate. There’s not a great deal of market for tiny homes, which means less demand and increased depreciation. If there was greater demand, there would be greater chance or appreciation or increased value over time.
Can I buy land and put a tiny home on it?
Most likely yes-but this depends on a few factors. States that are tiny house friendly are more likely to have the zoning and building codes to go along with buying a plot of land for this. Tiny homes on foundations must meet building codes, and skoolies and others on wheels must meet parking requirements. Zoning simply means if you have a wheeled tiny home, these must meet RV codes and can only be parked in RV parking zones and for certain periods of time. So do your research before buying land.
How do you find land for a tiny house?
Start with where you want to live-which tiny house states appeal to you the most? Do you prefer country, lakeside, or in the suburbs? If you can decide on the basic area and setting, you can look on real estate sites for available lots for sale. This will give you a price point and help you determine the rules and regulations for the area you’re looking to build a tiny home. It also sets the stage for whether you can have wheels or a foundation.
There are established tiny houses out there, but often times you’re better off building exactly what you want that meets your needs.
Best Tiny House Builders 2021
More and more pre-designed tiny house builders are getting into the business. Also, most do custom work as well, offering options that fulfill needs from a fast purchase to a home-design and build process that closely mirrors that of standard houses. Let’s explore some fo the best tiny house builders.
1. Tumbleweed Tiny Houses
Has been in business since 1999 and are certified green with hundreds of options for tiny houses. They offer four basic models with several different lengths for each and averages about 180 tiny homes built per year. Benefits of this company include:
- Design your own with a free instant price quote
- Payment plans with $0 down if qualified
- Discounts for military, first responders, and educators
- 3D virtual tours online
- A blog featuring people and families who have used Tumbleweed and share tips for the tiny conversion
2. 84 Tiny Living
Part of 84 Lumber and has been part of the tiny house movement for several years now. 84 Lumber has been privately held since 1956 and is certified as a Women’s Business Enterprise (WBENC). They offer four basic model tiny homes that range In size from 210 to 540 square feet, with options both on wheels and on permanent foundations. Benefits of this company include:
- Well established lumber and building supplier with multiple locations across the US
- Maintains the material packages based on specifications from blueprints
- Associates work with you to change product selections for your customized tiny house
- Offers on-site financing anywhere from $5,000 to $100,000
- Energy efficient
3. Tiny Smart House
Founded in 2012 in Albany, Oregon by a young man who wanted to help others live responsibly, happily, and free of debt. This company offers tiny homes and trailers backed by S.M.A.R.T: Sustainable construction, Modern efficiency, Affordable Luxury, Residential or RV certified, and Towable anywhere. Benefits of this company include the following:
- 9 customizable plans available, on foundations or wheels
- Building plans for sale if you’d like to build your own
- Licensed by the RV Industry Association
- Tiny SMART House blog and events to keep you informed and educated on the best tiny living
4. Custom Container Living
Heen around since 2015 because of the creator’s (Robert Wagoner) disappointment in traditional home construction and a love for alternative structures. Located in Archie, MO this company offers customization of your container home and is highly focused on customer service. Their offerings include the following:
- Customization of exterior siding, doors & windows, and appliances (and more!)
- Container homes are affordable, strong, eco-friendly, quickly built, and versatile
- Prices range from $29,000 to $100,000+ based on your customizations
5. New Frontier Tiny Homes
Started in 2018 and has been featured on Good Morning America, HGTV, Architectural Digest, and Better Homes & Gardens. They offer 5 tiny home models that range in price from $89,000 to $195,000 and are world class in architecture and interior design, winning many awards for luxury tiny homes. Benefits of utilizing this company include:
- Models to fit every lifestyle with options for upgrades and customization
- Tiny homes can be customized and utilized for small businesses
- RVIA and PWA Certification offered for small extra fees
- Can be customized for solar panels and off-grid systems
Helpful Insights on Minimalist Tiny Houses
While talking with folks who have done it and performing thorough research are always recommended, here are a few things to keep in mind as you go on your tiny house exploration journey.
Buying a Tiny House? Things to Do:
Get Everything in Writing
This includes permits, approvals, lending, zoning and proof of ownership. Having these in hard copies and readily available makes it so much easier when preparing to build or buy a tiny house.
Have Blueprints/Floor Plan
Whether building your own or having one built, have these things ready for specifications, customizing, and preparing for appliances. There’s nothing worse than buying furniture and expensive appliances that won’t fit in your brand new tiny home.
Find Out About Any Warranty
This is always good to have as it can save you money in the long run. Warranties will save you the hassle of spending loads of money to fix anything that has gone wrong-even with a tiny home a fix can cost big money.
Check References (Twice!)
Always work with reputable builders and sellers of tiny homes. Make sure they are insured, certified, with proof of prior work and satisfied customers. Check reputable websites such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB) for the best references for builders and sellers.
Plan on Being Over Budget
You can always set a budget-but be prepared to exceed it. There are always unplanned costs, even with tiny homes, that can cost a lot and add stress. From permits to trailer hitches, appliances to window replacements, owning a home regardless of the size almost never respects your budget.
Learn More About Tiny Living
Here are a few helpful resources to check out as you considera minimalist tiny house life. Seeing what’s out there, how folks have grown from their own tiny house living experiences, and how their choices have affected their outcomes can be very helpful to provide insights as one begins or continues on their own journey into tiny house living.
Tiny House Nation (Netflix) – (2019)
Two seasons of John Weisbarth and Zack Griffin meeting with families who want to prep for creating their own tiny homes customized to their needs.
Tiny House Big Living (Discovery+) – (2014-)
Several seasons of people who want to downsize and build or buy tiny homes. Watch their decision process and what led them to want to live in tiny homes.
Tiny House Hunters (Discovery+) – (2014-)
Just like House Hunters, only tiny! Watch hosts as they help tiny house seekers find their dream tiny homes as they travel across the country.
Tiny House World (IMDbTV) – (2015-)
Watch house hunters around the globe downsize and hunt for their ideal tiny house. See the challenges they face when looking abroad and how different it is from the US.
Tiny Paradise (Discovery+) – (2017-)
Imagine finding your idyllic spot, then creating your perfect tiny home to own paradise in a big way. These couples do just that and you get to watch the whole process.
Tiny Luxury (Discovery+) – (2015-)
Tyson and Michelle Spiess are homebuilders who manage a high-end company for building tiny homes. It’s luxury on the small scale, and each episode details the process from beginning to finished home for their clients.
Terrific Tiny Homes (Discovery+) – (2019-)
See some creatively designed, totally unique tiny homes and all they have to offer.
Tiny House Hunting (YouTube) – (2019-)
Watch these families from newlywed couples to families with children try out tiny life in tiny homes all over the US. It’s challenging and inspiring!
A tiny home can be a big monetary investment but a way of living life more intentionally. With so many options available across the US, it’s worth it to investigate: do we really need this four bedroom 2,400 square foot house on half an acre of land? Or could we downsize and travel across the continent? As long as you’re well educated on the process and prepared to live minimally, this is truly a beneficial way to go for the whole family.
Can you live in a tiny house in New York?
New York is considered tiny house friendly! However-land space comes at a premium. There are suburban and further out options. The metro area will not allow tiny houses on wheels permanently, but touring in one could work.
Why is a tiny house better than a trailer?
There are pros and cons to both. If you like a certain area and want to stay there, a tiny house would work better than a trailer. If you want to travel, a trailer would suit you better. It’s all about your personal preferences.