Over the holidays I found myself prone on the couch watching those marathons on HGTV. I had never really watched those tiny home programs during the season, so it was quite the eye-opener. I was truly surprised by some people who really, really wanted a tiny home but still had to have full-size appliances, a bath tub, and a king sized bed. Something tells me these people are not ready to make the sacrifices involved in living in a super-small space.
So it doesn’t surprise me to learn that many tiny house dwellers have given up on the idea of spending the rest of their lives in a space that is typically between 100 and 200 square feet. In this Globe and Mail article, author Erin Anderssen recounts summers spent in a 320 square foot cottage without hot water, indoor toilet, privacy, nice appliances, and presumably wifi. It’s a summer house, not built for permanent, year-round occupation. But it gave this family a taste of tiny-house living, and it’s not for them.
And, it is pointed out, it’s not for a lot of people who thought they wanted it.
Melanie Sorrentino and her husband, Mark,.parked their 150-square-foot tiny house on a wooded four acres in Eureka Springs, Ark. … They lasted one year.
The tiny-house movement is really good philosophically, but it shouldn’t be whitewashed with cutesy little houses,” she says. “My advice for anyone looking at a tiny house – or any lifestyle painted so perfectly – is to try to imagine whether you can grow as a human being in that space.”
For another couple with a child:
Travis Marttinen, who built his own 187-square-foot home in Barrie, Ont., while completing an architectural technology diploma. He sees people jumping on the trend but expecting to live exactly as they did before. “You need to radically simplify. Not only in the number of possessions, but in lifestyle. You cannot have all of the creature comforts that most people are used to. It simply doesn’t work.”
No. Tiny-house living, even small-house living is not for everyone. I think it’s best for those who know they are there for a limited time. A married couple staying in a tiny house before children arrive. Someone in transition between homes or lifestyles. Someone coming from “straitened circumstances” like homelessness. Or those, like this community in Portland, who have their own tiny homes but share amenities.
When DH and I moved to our laneway, we were coming from a good-sized condo (over 1100 square feet). And we knew that there would be room for us each to have some private space to ourselves. And we’d lived in lots of other places, mostly houses and large apartments. We knew what we were giving up. And what we gained.
It always amazes me when I see people who have never spent so much as a wet weekend in a small motel room with their beloved think they can move out of houses into, basically, less room than the average living room. Forever.
My advise is to rent before you buy into the tiny-house lifestyle. It can be done. But it’s not for the dreamy-eyed.