In this post we’ll be looking at the downside to downsizing your home. It isn’t meant to be a negative, doom and gloom post to turn people off going smaller, but rather an article to make people aware of how life really can be when you downsize your house, and what the possible implications are. It’s all about making wise decisions and what’s best for you.
There are many people who would never consider downsizing. Not because they have anything against it necessarily, but they probably have no pressing urge to sell up and move into something smaller.
It’s not for everyone, that’s true, but more and more people are taking up the simpler lifestyle. For some it works out to be a dream move, while for others, they find smaller living not all it’s cracked up to be.
Let’s now look at a few common issues and complaints about the downsized lifestyle.
Not All Zoning Laws Allow Tiny House Living
It doesn’t matter whether your tiny house is a permanent structure or one on wheels, the zoning laws in many places don’t permit tiny living, even if you own the land your extra small house will be on.
This isn’t just a bunch of by-laws restricted to the United States or Australia, but has implications in countries all over the world.
Many zoning laws require a main residence to be no smaller than 450 square feet, and in other areas it’s over 1000 square feet, which excludes even homes that are classified as small homes.
Some zoning laws will have stipulations such as sewerage and town water supply, emergency vehicle access, rainwater run off control, septic systems so forth. While many more permanent tiny houses may comply with all of this, tiny houses that are designed to be mobile will not.
Even if you’re travelling around in a RV style of small home, you can’t just pull up anywhere, park and take up residence, as you’ll be moved on by authorities in the region. Generally you’ll need to stay at a RV park, if you can find room, as many are taken up with permanent residents.
It’s not like you can just be fancy free and live anywhere, not within a metropolitan area at any rate. Further out of town maybe, but not within a city or a major town.
You Sacrifice a Lot of Space – A LOT!
And not just space for your possessions or for moving about, but also your personal space.
If you’re on your own in your tiny house, probably no issue, but if you’re sharing a very small space with one or more others, it can be hard to have some alone time, privacy and a chance to recharge. You’re virtually forced to have to go out of the house to get some time to yourself and clear your head.
For some people sharing a tiny house, it could very well lead to tensions and increased stress levels that maybe wouldn’t be present in a larger place with more space.
While some people can live in absolute harmony in tight quarters, I don’t think everybody would be able to do it, and sometimes two people wouldn’t know this until they’re actually in that situation.
Personal space aside, it can feel claustrophobic for many living in such tight quarters all the time, with very limited space to move about, or even room to pass one another going to and from one section of the tiny house to the next.
There’s certainly no scope for a spacious and elaborate kitchen for cooking up a storm, or having friends and family over for an elaborate dinner and drinks. With the average size of most tiny homes, you’ll be lucky if there is even enough room for a very small dining table and a couple of chairs.
One of the grand ideas behind the tiny home movement and downsizing to smaller dwellings is actually getting rid of many material possessions and being more focused on other things in life rather than inanimate objects.
Of course, people living small still need some stuff, but it’s at a bare minimum. There’s no way to downsize in a major way without also sacrificing many of the things you own or love to have. It’s more about only having the essentials, and usually on a smaller scale.
A tiny house isn’t likely going to have the space for a large, 2 door, stainless steel fridge/freezer, or a 9kg washing machine and clothes dryer to match.
To be successful living a simpler and smaller lifestyle, people must really be willing to let go of most material things and not only accept, but embrace being able to live without them.
Tiny Home Wear and Tear
When everything is located in close proximity in such a combined space, it’s only a natural outcome that everything is going to suffer a higher degree of wear and tear. It can be hard to move around without regularly bumping into things, or scuffing the furniture and floors with your feet.
Items are more easily displaced or knocked over, stuff gets broken more often and therefore needs replacing more often.
This isn’t to say tiny living is bad, it’s just one of the realities of the downsized lifestyle. You may have less things all told, but the possessions you do have are going to suffer more wear and tear than they likely would in a more spacious environment.
It Can Be Easy To Outgrow a Tiny House
This one will all depend on your personal circumstances and what your plans are down the track, but let’s say you’re a young single guy that’s decided to live the downsized lifestyle to maybe save on cash, or some other reason.
What happens when you meet a partner you get serious about? Will she move into your tiny house with you? And let’s say things progress a step further and a child is on the way. Will everyone be able to handle living in close quarters in a really small home?
Circumstances can change, causing people to outgrow these pint sized houses.
Unless you plan on living by yourself or just with your partner, or you’re retired and starting a family is no longer part of your future, then tiny living could very easily – and quickly – become too small scale.
Tiny Homes Can Get Dirty More Quickly
This may not be the case in everyone’s tiny house, but it is a fairly common gripe about tiny living. Whether it’s because it’s easier to knock things over and spill them in small spaces, or whether the same areas get all the traffic because there’s nowhere else to walk and move around, many say their tiny homes get dirty very quickly.
Sure, a tiny house is definitely quicker to clean because of its size, but you could also find yourself having to clean far more often.
Smells and Scents Can Be More Intense
This one is probably only a minor point for most people, but because of the close proximity of everything and a very confined space, even the smell of some burnt toast could prove overwhelming.
It can actually be harder to dissipate a bad odour from a small space too. Just take bathrooms for example, where without an exhaust fan, odours can linger for some time, even with a window open.
Indoor Entertaining Can Be a Challenge
This was touched on in an earlier section, but with such limited space, it can be a real challenge having guests over for any sort of entertaining.
Most likely, much of the get together would have to take place outdoors, weather permitting.
One or two guests and all might be fine, but if you were planning on inviting 10 people over for your birthday, then things will be extremely crowded indoors.
Having guests sleep over would be yet another challenging situation. Again, accommodating one or two might work, but likely no more than that.
There Is Obviously Less Room for Storage
This can prove to be one of the most challenging aspects when it comes to designing a tiny house – having enough storage space for life’s necessities and little luxuries.
While the general idea is to reduce the clutter in your life, you still need day to day stuff to live, such as clothing, footwear, food and water.
There’s not going to be a lot of space to store food in bulk, whether in or out of the fridge, so food shopping will likely need to be done more often. This could also cost a little more, as well as lead to more trash that needs to be disposed of as most things will be purchased in smaller sizes and amounts.
You also don’t want to be seen in the same clothing every other day, so there needs to be some storage and hanging space to accommodate your wardrobe.
Living small does mean living with less, but there’s definitely going to be a limit on exactly how much food, clothing and possessions you can actually do without at any given time.
As I said at the start, this post wasn’t meant to paint a negative picture of tiny living, but more designed to make people who haven’t yet taken the downsizing plunge aware of what’s involved.
A tiny house existence is awesome for some, but ultimately it won’t suit everybody. It really all comes down to personal choice, what you can live with and what you can live without.