Is Tiny House Living Practical?

Tiny house living has become very popular, but it's not for everyone. Here are some reasons why you may not want or be able to live in a tiny house.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, by now you’ve probably heard about the tiny house phenomenon that’s trending right now. With the average square footage of homes in the U.S. continually rising the tiny house movement is a trend that I’m hoping will stick.

Tiny homes range from 100 to 400 square feet and are typically built on wheels. I love the idea that there is a more reasonable option for people to purchase sustainable homes, one that can help them reduce their mortgage debt and clutter, and live in a home that is not such a huge burden on the environment. The idea of tiny homes sounds like a great solution to so many problems.

I often find myself daydreaming about living in a tiny house of my own one day, but I’m not sure it’s ever actually going to happen since I have a family. It’s great to hear the stories of trendsetters who have made the leap successfully, but I wonder if the lifestyle is practical for everyday families and people of all ages or simply just a fad for young, single people with no kids.

Is tiny house living practical for most people? More specifically, is it right for you? I’m not talking about the act of getting rid of most of your belongings (that would be the easy part), but rather the logistics of it all, and actually living in such a tiny space with more than one person.

Kids and Tiny Homes


The biggest worry I have about owning a tiny home is if it can even be done with children. I know that having a lot of stuff doesn’t make anyone happier, but when you have kids, there are definitely certain items that can make your life much easier, and many of those items are sizable, such as strollers, baby swings, and cribs. It’s also great to have some space for your small kids to play in, and sometimes just for a chance to get away from them for a bit, even if it’s only in the next room.

There are plenty of single and newlywed couples living in tiny homes (because all you want to do as a newlywed is be close to each other), but I’ve never met a family, even a small family of three like my own, who live in one.

Is It An Option For Older Generations?


I also think about my 80-something year old Granny living in a tiny home. Would it even be possible? Would she be able to climb up a ladder to get to her bed? I imagine not. She is pretty spry and gets around easily in her sprawling home but I don’t think she could even consider living in a tiny home due to certain physical limitations.

So is living in a tiny home a temporary solution for only a certain period of your life? Is it something that could be used as a forever home? I’m not exactly sure that’d be possible for most people.

Is It Safe?


Many of the tiny homes I’ve seen are on wheels, which makes me wonder if it’s any better than living in an RV or camper. I don’t exactly live in tornado alley or an area that is prone to flooding, hurricanes, or wildfires, but I have been in my fair share of windy thunder storms that make me a little nervous when my house starts popping and cracking.

Sure, you can actually move a tiny home, but you can’t exactly do that when a fierce storm pops up, so what is a tiny home owner to do in that case? I want to feel safe in my home, and I’m not sure how safe I’d feel in a hail storm with my head two feet away from the roof of my loft bedroom in a tiny home.

The What If’s


I know you shouldn’t live your life around “what ifs,” but life happens. What if you broke an arm or leg? What if you have knee surgery or pull a muscle in your back? Would living in a tiny home make it uncomfortable or even impossible to live in your own home if you temporarily needed a wheelchair or crutches or had to crawl up into a loft bed with a bad knee?

Tiny house living has become very popular, but it's not for everyone. Here are some reasons why you may not want or be able to live in a tiny house.

Small Living Instead of Tiny Living


Clearly my answer is obvious — I need to focus on downsizing to a small home (1,000 square feet or less) instead of a tiny home. I’d still reap the benefits of having a smaller impact on the environment and reducing my stuff, while still having plenty of space to entertain my child.

Hopefully downsizing, whether it’s small or tiny, will continue to catch on so that smaller living can become an ideal solution for families big and small.


Are there any tiny home dwellers out there? I’d love to hear from you about the pitfalls and joys of tiny house living! Do you think you could live in a tiny house? What are some other reasons tiny house living might not be the most practical solution for everyone; or even for anyone with a  family for that matter?

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Robin is a freelance writer who chronicles her financial missteps and victories on her blog


  • Tiny house living looks awesome. It’s something I’d like to try when I’m older perhaps but right now with a small child and another one on the way it’s just not practical. We’re more looking at the “small living” like you suggested. Something under 1000sqft. We’re actually going to look at a home this weekend that is only ~800sqft but a 3 bedroom home. It’s super small but nicely laid out and very efficient. It seems larger than it is so we’d get the benefit of living small without actually feeling like 800sqft.

  • You bring up some great points. We are downsizing from our big house (1,500 sq ft) to a small house (about 550 sq ft) next month. This will bring us one move closer to a tiny house. The goal with the small house is to continue getting rid of stuff and cut our living expenses so that we can be debt free and build our tiny house ourselves. Having a small house for when we are older will help make us flexible–or if anything else should happen to us along the way that we can’t live in the tiny house anymore. Great post.

  • I don’t think I could do it. Just too small for me. With that said, I too am against the huge houses that are built today. For me, I’d be happy in something in between these two sizes, not extremely big nor extremely small.

    • I’m in 1500 square feet now, and it’s plenty spacious, but I think we could even go smaller to about 1000 square feet. I absolutely do not have a dream of going bigger. To me, bigger is not always better.

  • I LOVE the idea of the Tiny House movement, but like you, I don’t know that I could ever actually live in a Tiny House on wheels. Maybe I could do a small house though because my current house is actually a LOT bigger than what I need.

  • Hannah says:

    I think after kids and a career, if I were still spry, I might consider RV living for a while, but not a Tiny Home. I really value having a nice entertaining space (currently about 400 square feet of our house is devoted to this), but outside of that, I think that I’m happy with a small space. Our 1400 square foot house is just right for us (and we share with a renter). When we have more kids, I suppose we’ll take up the whole thing.

  • Miriam says:

    Like many of you I also dream of living in a tiny house; I realized that what appealed to me about it was the simplification process it would demand of my life. I’m 66 and still pretty spry but I wouldn’t want to climb a ladder to get to bed (and what about middle of the night bladder trips?). However i have seen tiny homes that have beds on the main floor (some with murphy beds). That would suite me fine.

    The ‘on wheels issue’ I think is a temporary one and is there because municipalities will not give permits for true tiny homes. ‘On Wheels” makes it a RV legally and you can park those just about anywhere. Many of the tiny homes on wheels I have seen don’t plan to travel – it’s just to get around the by-laws. If I really wanted to travel in my home I’d get an RV – they are truly designed for that.

    However, since I realized that simplification was my true dream, I have triplexed my really large house so that I’m living on one floor (in the middle) and have been purging my possessions big time. My housing costs will be less than $200 per month once the third apartment is rented (should be done by the end of August!) so it meets my financial goal as well as lifestyle and I don’t have to move.

    • The legality of them was another issue of mine. I’ve heard of people having trouble with them in that respect. Maybe they’ll figure out a way to fix that in the near future.
      And I’m glad you have figured out a situation that works for you!

  • Being from NYC, I’m used to small spaces and I’ve seen many tiny spaces in Manhattan (which still cost a lot!). I think tiny spaces can work when you’re young and single…probably won’t spend that much time at home anyway. But it’s tougher to live like that when you get older and start a family. Most people can still downsize though because you really don’t need that much space!

    • Haha, NYC is probably the original hub of the tiny home movement, although it wasn’t meant to be. I lived in a tiny dorm room in Manhattan for a year in college, and it was one of the best years of my life. 🙂

  • You make some really great points about the trade-offs of living in a tiny home, and you’re absolutely right if you have kids, then a tiny home could be a nightmare, especially if you don’t have outdoor space either.

    The tiny home idea is in vogue right now, and it could work for some people, but getting most people to change their ways is not going to happen using tiny homes. It’s going to happen through “smaller living,” which means realizing you don’t need a 3,000 sq. ft. home to show you’re successful. It’s going to happen by teaching your kids they don’t need their own room. It’s going to happen by realizing that having three closets for clothes and shoes is absolutely absurd. It’s going to happen when people realize that half of their large homes act as a dust collector, electricity inflator, and is just wasteful.

  • Dane Hinson says:

    Small home living is so interesting to me. There’s a great documentary on Netflix about a young man’s journey to building and living in a micro home. With two kiddos I think it would be a tough lifestyle for us but the ability to be so nimble is appealing.

    • I find it so appealing, too. I can’t seem to pull the trigger on it since I have a toddler, but I absolutely have been paring down so many of our possessions lately, and that feels so good.

  • Anon says:

    We are 5 in 1000sq ft. Our kids don’t know any better/different. I have thoughts sometimes about moving to a bigger house, I couldn’t bear to pay more and live further out. I would like to make our house smarter, more floor to ceiling canines, declutter a bit etc. It also allowed me to take a lot of extra (unpaid ) time off with our kids because our bills are reasonable. I don’t think we could go any smaller though. ..

    • That’s great! I think 5 people in 1000 square feet sounds awesome. You could start a blog about that. 😉

      • Anan says:

        I wrote “floor to ceiling canines.” That would be the last thing we need in our house. Floor to ceiling cabinets is what I meant. Auto correct is hilarious sometimes…

  • I love the idea of tiny houses and love seeing all the cool architectural designs, but truthfully I could not see myself living in one. My places doesn’t have to be huge, but I do need some space to breathe, especially if I live with someone else!

  • Kim says:

    I could not live in a tiny house with other people. After being on vacation for a few weeks and being in a hotel room with the three of us, I’ve come to appreciate when everyone has their own space!

  • Pamela says:

    I too like the idea of tiny houses but I’m not sure it would be the right decision for me. Downsizing on the other hand seems very much doable now that my children are out of the house. My youngest is in college and she is only home during breaks, so a small 2 bedroom place would be more thsn enough space.

  • Stephen says:

    I’m a big fan of utilizing space and having hidden storage. I could easily outfit my entire apartment in ikea furniture for their storage solutions.

  • Val says:

    Tiny houses are not for everyone – but they are for many. From families to singles, the tiny house movement suits the needs of living simplified, affordably, intentional, and more.

    Those who embrace this movement are literally doing the math. Monthly morgtage / net income x 100 = % of net income donated towards your roof. Now look at how many days you have to work to pay for your roof. How much time do you give to support your space and for what reason?

    By taking inventory of how we really live vs how we think we live is eyeopening! A tiny house leaves more resources to connect with family and friends, learn, travel, and pursue interests. It’s a lot easier to save up to travel when one lives intentionally.

    Tiny homes can also be innovative and accommodating – not every one has to have a ladder. And, you can have two – one for living and one for production – kind of like a studio.

    Tiny homes represent the best of intentional living; It is the answer for those of us not tying ourselves to the grind anymore.

    For the young, give yourself 10 more years in our economy then re evaluate your stress points. For the middle aged – start rethinking what you value, and for the wabi sabi folks, it’s never too late to rethink how you live. Tiny, intentional living can be a blessing in so many ways!

  • Gloria says:

    I recently moved my college student out of his apartment into a small house 700 sq ft. I love the small house and would love to move in to it once he graduates. We currently have most of our belongings in a 2100 sq ft house (which we are not currently living in), leasing another home 1,500 due to employment location, and we own another house 1900 which we currently have a caretaker in. It would be awesome to get rid of all my “dusting stuff” keep the necessities and start enjoying life. Downsizing would allow my husband to retire and go fishing. After running the numbers, we could afford it, especially since we own the little house and property taxes are much less than the other 2 houses.

  • MH says:

    I agree with you on the issue of the ladder leading to the sleeping area. It’s an issue even for young people. If in the middle of the night I wake up needing to go to the bathroom, I could easily see myself falling down that ladder! Hell, even on level ground, I find myself bumping into things in my half-asleep state. The other issue for me is the wheel thing. I don’t want to live in a trailer park! And imagine if there were an earthquake. Yikes.

    • val says:

      Ladders are not end all be all – so if you’re not wanting to sleep up – sleep on the down side… rethink where things have to be positioned to live the style that suits you. You need to always think about weight distribution if you’re building on wheels.

      As far as being on wheels in an earthquake… I’d rather be on wheels – you’re not tied to the ground that’s shifting… and I’ve been in more earthquakes than I can count, big ones, regular ones, and man made ones.

      It’s fun to read about the choking points for folks on this tiny house phenomena. For some it works and for others, it doesn’t. However, there’s a need that’s being filled and there’s a population to match it. I don’t see it going away anytime soon.

  • JLi332 says:

    Hi Robin,

    Something else for readers to consider is that there are very many tiny houses these days where the bed is on the same level as the rest of the house. This means that people like your grandmother wouldn’t have a problem with getting in and out of bed. No stairs/ladders required!

    Also, you can make a tiny house a bit more permanent by going wider than the standard 8.5′. This just means that you’ll have to have a company move your house for you, generally, as you’ll need permits and a different class of license. BUT the added width expands your options for layouts and uses by a lot.

    If it’s something any of your readers are considering, then it’s definitely worth doing the research to make sure it won’t work for you before dismissing it due to general reasons, especially if it could be a huge help financially.
    1. Kids – probably the best reason you’ve got up there to not do tiny house living. It’s not incredibly sustainable to live that tiny as children get older, at least not in America.
    2. Elderly – there are many tiny houses today that will work perfectly for elderly singles and couples.
    3. Safety – this is a big one that is largely dependent on where you live (West coast-earthquake issues. East coast-hurricanes). Should you not intend to travel often/ever, then there are options for you. Most tiny housers don’t leave their wheels on like a motorhome would and there are options for stabilizing your home for storms and such.
    4. What if’s – My opinion is that this is about making your tiny house work for you and not making decisions like a ladder to your bed. Many of the best-designed homes now have a storage staircase to the bedroom if your bed is lofted.

    Hope this helps!
    I’ve been doing a ton of research, will be building my own tiny home this year, and am a designer myself. So I get a little excited about tiny houses sometimes.
    Tiny living in general is well worth it for a lot of people, though! The freedom is amazing!

    • Sounds like you have definitely done your research! 🙂

      I actually do love the idea of tiny homes, but I think the whole being on wheels thing would deter me. However, I would LOVE to have a site-built small cottage that stays where it is, a small home less than 1,000 square feet instead of a tiny home on wheels. That’s my plan for retirement.

      Thank you for your insight!

      • JLi332 says:

        That sounds excellent! There are many different types of houses you can build mostly yourself, if you wanted to.

        For future reference, you could look up Andrew Morrison who specializes in teaching straw bale house construction. (Jay Shafer endorses Andrew as a better builder than himself. Andrew has also built his own tiny house called hOMe, which is quite nice. He has a video walkthrough on YouTube.)
        There are also women who have built their homes with filled sand bags and even “Earth Ships” that use old tires!

        Best of luck when you get down to it! There’s lots you can do yourself, too. If you want, you may even be able to find a tiny house/tiny living interest group in your area. They can help with a lot and love helping others who are interested or just educating people. There’s so much to know!

        P.S. I realized after I posted that I forgot something! There can also be major issues with zoning for tiny houses since they are so new. Many places won’t allow them. That could be another major deterrent for some people.

        Overall, this is an excellent post that brings to light some things that people forget when they see something shiny and new. Thank you for sharing!

  • David says:

    I haven’t lived in more than 650 square feet since I quit the roommate thing and got my own place 30 years ago. I have lived in a well laid out 350 sq. ft. cottage where I was quite comfortable. I have also lived in a poorly designed 600 sq. ft. apartment that felt more cramped than the cottage. For the last 15 years I have been in a 450 sq. ft. hunting camp on 113 acres. Because the camp is on posts the years have taken their toll on the structure. Plans are in the works to replace it with a 900 square foot house on a full foundation. I could go smaller but I am considering resale value if I ever want to move. One thing that makes small houses much more livable is one or more outbuildings. I would go crazy without my garage and garden shed to safely store seasonal and occasional use items.

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