For the past several years there has been an explosion of information about tiny houses and all the benefits they offer. For example, MoneyCrashers, lists several advantages to this type of living:
- Lower expenses. A tiny house costs a lot less to build than a full-sized one
- No mortgage
- Lower energy use
- Freedom of movement
- Easier maintenance
- Harmony with nature
- A simpler life
Okay, those are all valid points.
But living in a tiny house comes with several disadvantages as well.
And it seems that many people jump on the tiny living bandwagon without counting some very real costs. Costs other than the type your wallet pays for you. Because if you do pay the price for making a change to living tiny and find out you hate it, you aren’t doing yourself any favors.
So, what are those things that no one tells you about? The things that could ultimately extinguish your dream of the simplicities that come with micro living?
An article in Dwell provides us with real-life examples of those tried and in time regretted it—at least to some degree.
Let’s take a look at some of the hurdles they had to deal with. Peering into the realities of the experiences of others can play a large part in our decision-making processes.
Stephen Proctor, Washington State
Proctor sold his home in Nashville, purchased a tiny home, and moved west with a dream of living close to nature.
And his dreams of a shiny new future began to tarnish.
He needed an address. He needed both electrical and septic hookups. He made the inquiries and ended up with a yellow tag on his new door.
Now let’s point out that he didn’t just jump into this move. He did do some due diligence. He talked to the locals and was told the area had few zoning laws. And he had the proof of several types of dwellings already in the area. So he assumed there weren’t that many hurdles to jump.
He was wrong.
Right away, he was facing a $10k bill in inspection fees, since the local permitting officer had no experience with tiny homes. And as if the cost wasn’t bad enough, it would be a delay of 4 months before the inspection could even begin.
To add insult to injury, tradespeople would need to remove all the finishes of the home to inspect everything under the hood. And since no clear legislation had been documented on how to handle tiny homes, he might have to deal with bureaucracy for ages.
His dream crushed, he ended up selling his tiny home and having a small cabin built on a foundation.
Ryan Tuttle, San Francisco Bay Area
Given Proctor’s experience, you might rationalize that all you need to do is look to a place where they’ve adopted measures and procedures for those wanting to live in tiny homes.
Not so fast.
We have the experience of Ryan Tuttle, who lives in a tiny home but can’t get mail delivered there.
And she has to remain somewhat incognito since her home is on wheels and therefore registered as an RV.
Registering your tiny home on wheels as an RV is something of a loophole. It’s easy to get a permit and since there are no zoning restrictions, you can park it anywhere where a primary residence already exists.
But there is a twist. Remember, RV stands for a recreational vehicle, so you can’t stay in one indefinitely. While this clearly isn’t enforced, the law states you can’t live in one for more than 30 days at a time, because then it’s turning into a primary residence.
So Tuttle needs to keep below the radar, or some ticked off neighbor could blow the whistle on her.
How’s that for fun living?
But she travels a lot for work and the arrangement has been working for her so far.
So is there something to be learned from these two experiences?
Yes. And the lesson is that you shouldn’t believe all the rosy stories about tiny living. They aren’t necessarily false, but take the time to discover the thorns that come as part of the package before making any final—and potentially costly—decisions.
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