Researching Tiny Homes

I’ve spent a lot of time over the past year taking stock of the things I own and the way I spend my money, and I’ve come to a realization: the less things I own, and the more time and energy I spend on experiences and with people, the happier I’ve been. I know, I know — this is not ground breaking information.

Depending on how much money I can save, I’ve also come to the decision that at some point in the near future I want to buy a tiny home. To be honest, it won’t be that different from where I currently live. My micro-studio apartment now is only 220 square feet. It has an itty bitty kitchen, and room for my queen size bed, dresser, Chalupa’s dog crate, desk, and all the other necessary accessories. Living here, I’m forced to get rid of things that don’t bring me value or to be honest, simply don’t fit in here. That means no spending money on extra furniture and decorations, if I buy a new pair of shoes I usually have to donate another pair, and any grocery shopping is limited to only fresh items that I’ll use in the next few days (I don’t have a freezer so I really can’t buy more than I need).*

Now the tiny house logistics:

  1. Where to get a tiny house?
    1. There’s a number of manufacturers and websites that build or sell new and used units. The customization available with new units can be really fun, but pragmatically, used units are equally great. The thing to keep in mind is whether the unit was qualified as an RV after building, and if the builder used quality materials and handiwork (especially when it comes to electrical/plumbing — I don’t want my home to have any issues here!).
      1. For new units, these manufacturers have really impressed me with their pricing and materials. I’m sure there are several others that I have not come across as well:
        1. TruForm Tiny
        2. Tumbleweed
      2. For used units, this is the best website I’ve found thus far outside of Craigslist and Ebay.
        1. Tiny House Listings
  2. Where would I park this thing?
    1. As long as a tiny home is on wheels, it can be classified as an RV or an ADU (accessory dwelling unit). There’s some great resources on line and communities welcoming Tiny Homes. As long as I can find someone who owns their home and will let me park my tiny home, I can work with them to hook up to water, sewer and electricity and pay them for rent and utilities. I’ve considered going to family and friends and posing this as an opportunity for extra income, but there are a number of other local folks who are open to this as well. Craiglist is a good option, but I really like this site: http://tinyhouseparking.com/
    2. It should also be noted that buying property and parking the tiny home there is complicated. Parking it isn’t an issue, but living is. King County has limits on the minimum size a “home” can be, and unfortunately a home has to be over 400 sq. ft. Most tiny homes are 350 and under. So even if you own the property, you can’t live in the tiny house unless you own a “regular” home on the same property and classify your tiny house as an RV or ADU.
  3. How do you hook up to utilities?
    1. Many Tiny Homes can be customized with incinerating or composting toilets, and water tanks and solar panels to be completely off grid. I prefer hooking up to something a bit more permanent as I don’t plan on moving my home that often. As long as the land you’re living on has access to septic, electricity and water, you can often work something out with the homeowner. Sewer can be complicated as it requires additional permitting with the city/county. Even if you own your own land, you’ll be subject to taxes and permits so do you research ahead of time!
  4. What kind of amenities do I want in my tiny home?
    1. I definitely want a stove and oven — I currently don’t have an oven and I’m realizing how much I miss cooking things that require roasting or broiling. Even baking, which I’m awful at, I’ve come to really miss.
    2. A freezer. Currently don’t have one of these and feel like I miss being able to cook meals in advance and save them for later. Or buy frozen fruits for smoothies. This is a really nit-picky thing to want, but if I can find a home with this, it would be a plus.
    3. Washer/Dryer. I’ve always had the luxury of at least having my washer/dryer unit within the same building or complex that I live in. While taking clothes to the laundromat is totally doable, I’d rather not cart around dirty towels in the middle of the night.
    4. Stairs. Most tiny homes have ladders. I am not graceful. I’ll need stairs and a railing. Also, how will Chalupa (my tiny dog) get up to the bedroom loft?!
    5. Flushable toilet. While composting and incinerating toilets are super cool and eco friendly, this is a luxury I’m willing to pay a little extra for. Enough said.
    6. 2nd bedroom/sleeping area. Even if this is just a couch, having somewhere my friends and family can crash would be huge. Right now, all I have is my own bed and the floor — not super inviting for out of town guests.
  5. What things am I willing to do without?
    1. Dishwasher. Don’t have one now, don’t use enough dishes to justify one. Even if I have people over (which is rare), I can clean those by hand. Not a big deal to me.
    2. Bath tub. Currently don’t have one. While they’re a nice luxury to be able to soak in one, I’m ok just having a regular shower.
    3. Cable for TV — I have a Roku TV that hooks up to the internet so I can watch all the netflix/youtube/hulu that I want. Works for me and I don’t miss cable at all!

As far of the timing for this, it really depends on how much I can save. Luxury new tiny homes can cost around $100k, beautifully designed used ones with all the amenities I’m looking for would set me back around $70k.  Given that 1 bedroom condos in Seattle are going for north of $450k, Tiny Homes are much closer to my budget. That being said, I’m not in a rush to purchase one as I really like the apartment I have now.

Overall, the idea of living simply, and spending money on things that add to my own personal quality of life is what appeals to me. Building the van was a fun start to this journey and I look forward to further exploring what lies ahead.

*I realize that I have the luxury of living within walking distance from grocery stores, pharmacies and entertainment and this type of lifestyle simply isn’t feasible for everyone. Additionally, I realize that things bring other people a lot of joy and understand that a minimalist approach to consumption isn’t right for everyone. 

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Tiny kitchen — hot plate stored on top of microwave. I added the additional silver shelving from Ikea.

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Entry way and closet.

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Kitchen/Bathroom sink — I only have the one. The bathroom is too small for a sink.

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Shot of the bedroom part of my current studio — it’s tiny but it’s got everything I need!

 

 

2 thoughts on “Researching Tiny Homes

  1. Have you considered the RV, camper-kind of Tiny Home? They’ve come a long way in the amenities available…

    Great blog! I adore your Tiny Apartment! Very ingenious multi-purposing and storage solutions! 😎

    Like

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