Minimalism is not a novel concept by any means, but it has taken on a rather radical form in recent years, with the tiny home movement gaining ground in many parts of the world. With tempting promises of financial freedom and complete mobility in some cases, the movement has gained a lot of interest, but a lot of people are still on the fence, and understandably so.
Downsizing your entire life such that you can live in a space no bigger than 30 square meters is easier said than done, and it most definitely is not for everyone. If you are interested in reaping the benefits of tiny home living but are not yet sure if you can really handle it, the following guide questions can help you decide if downsizing is a viable option for you.
1. Is everyone in the family able-bodied?
Living in a tiny home is challenging even for able-bodied people, so it might not be suitable for families living with PWDs. Here are certain illustrations as to how tiny home living could pose challenges:
- Because the space is small, what little furniture you have will have to be moved around a lot. Dining tables will have to be folded after meals to make room for cots or working desks. As such, people with sight impairments may find it difficult to get a proper sense memory of the place, leading to safety risks.
- Most tiny homes are set up with loft bedrooms to maximize the vertical space. Even so, you will be required to duck and crouch to move around. Walk-in closets would also have to be traded with crawl spaces. Those with mobility problems will definitely find this challenging.
- There might not be enough space for wheelchairs and other assistive devices for PWDs.
That being said, if everyone in the family is able-bodied, then there should be no problem adapting to a much smaller space.
2. Am I willing to adopt a minimalist lifestyle?
Avid practitioners of minimalism will tell you that there’s no such thing as a ‘minimalist home’ or a ‘minimalist closet,’ because minimalist living is an entire lifestyle that requires the conscious decision to change all aspects of your life, especially in terms of how you consume goods.
In terms of transitioning to tiny home living, you might be able to let go of about 75% of your current belongings and have all your essentials fit in a tiny home, but will this practice be sustainable for you? The initial downsizing will actually be easy compared to unlearning your buying and consumption habits. Since there are hardly any storage spots in a tiny home, you have to be more mindful about what you buy and what you bring into the home. No more midnight madness sales and grocery shopping sprees for supplies that will last for months.
If, on the other hand, you are more excited than terrified to commit yourself to minimalism, then tiny home living will give you the perfect incentive to get started.
3. Do I want a mobile tiny home or a permanent one?
Once you’re settled with the idea of downsizing into a tiny home, the next big question to ask yourself is what kind of tiny home you want to move into. There are tiny homes built on solid foundations — just like actual houses, but only a lot smaller. On the other hand, some tiny homes take on the nature of mobile residences, like RVs, in that they are built on a chassis and have wheels for easy mobility.
This is a huge decision that will dictate how you will prepare for your new life. See, permanent tiny homes are not that different from regular homes in terms of building codes, taxes, and housing regulations. On the other hand, rolling tiny homes will require you to do intense research on where you can legally set up your home every time you want to move.
4. If it’s the former, can I handle the costs of moving?
The main appeal of having a mobile tiny home is the idea of freedom to move and set up camp anywhere. However, people who move into tiny houses are often shocked to find out that moving their home is a lot easier said than done.
For one, you need access to a huge truck like a U-Haul, which we all know costs a pretty penny. Add that to the costs of filling up the tank of the two trucks and you might start to feel a bit resentful to whoever convinced you that mobile homes are completely cheap just because they’re mortgage-free.
Keep in mind that before moving, you also have to tie down and secure all your belongings so they don’t get damaged while traveling. You have to factor in the costs of whatever material you have to purchase to do this.
5. For permanent tiny homes, do I have an ideal location?
A great alternative would be to actually buy a small parcel of land somewhere nice and set up your tiny home permanently. This way, you still have a permanent address to refer to and won’t have to worry about getting evicted or getting asked to leave since you actually own the land your tiny home is built upon.
All you need is a great location that will provide you with a good environment for your cozy dwelling. Most people prefer spots that are lush with nature, with the idea of using the outdoors as an extension of their tiny home.
6. Do we like the outdoors?
As mentioned above, you might really have to rely on outdoor spaces to make tiny home living more comfortable. Instead of cramming everything you need in your limited indoor space, you can simply set up meal tables, reading nooks, or workspaces outside. Search your soul to find out if this is something you can truly enjoy.
A lot of people find inspiration to work and get creative when they are in direct touch with nature. If you are one of these people, then tiny home living might just be perfect for you.
7. Am I ready to let go of my kitchen?
By and large, you cannot bring your entire kitchen as it exists right now when you move into a tiny home. There is a lot of equipment and kitchen gear you have to let go of, since you’d be moving to a much smaller kitchen, too! This is one aspect of minimalism a lot of people — especially those who really love to cook and bake — struggle with, so make sure you’re prepared to downsize your kitchen treasures, too.
The same goes for perishable supplies. At least, shelf life will no longer be an issue in your tiny home, since you won’t be getting a lot of shelves to store food anyway. You will most likely have to cook every day, in this case.
8. Am I disciplined enough at tidying up?
Aside from cooking more frequently than you may be used to, you will need to also get accustomed to tidying up a lot. A small space can get cluttered easily, which means you have to learn to organize and put stuff away right after using them. On the flip side, it really doesn’t take much to clean the entirety of a tiny home, in case you have to do emergency general cleaning when the place gets too cluttered. For the most part, you’d just need a feather duster and an hour of free time to clear the dirt and put away your stuff in their rightful places.
In minimalism, there should be a place for everything and everything must be in its place. Luckily, less stuff also means cleaning will no longer take up your entire day.
9. Won’t the family get bigger?
Of course, one of the biggest considerations to think about before moving into a smaller home is the size of your family. If you’re living alone or with just another person, there shouldn’t be any problems fitting in a tiny home. If, however, you are planning to have kids in the future or have parents who are likely to live with you for extended periods of time, you might want to reconsider your decision.
Tiny home living is a great decision to make for yourself, but it can also be tough on growing kids who need more space. Needless to say, aging parents also need a bigger space since they might find it hard to ‘squeeze’ into a small living space.
10. Can I afford it?
Sure, there are a lot of cost-cutting opportunities when you move into a smaller home, but it of course requires an initial investment, whether you’re having one built from the ground up or are simply buying a prefabricated tiny home. In any case, as long you have that initial cash out covered, you should be able to move with ease, and can go on to enjoy perks such as much smaller utility bills and a significant cut on your rent/mortgage.
Tiny home living comes with a lot of alluring perks, but there’s no denying that it requires a drastic shift in lifestyle and mindset from anyone brave enough to try it. So before you fall head over heels in love with a prefabricated tiny home in your dream town, make sure to honestly answer the questions listed above to find out if tiny home living is truly for you.
Article by Bella Toledo Edited by Li-ling Ooi