It seems to me that there are two main focuses in news and tours for tiny home dwellers. Either you’re tiny and mobile so that home is more or less a place to sleep and eat, or you’re living tiny to avoid a mortgage. Tiny homes are considered cheaper but, in reality, many aren’t cheaper than an existing starter home. They’re just better designed and more organized.
Today, I came across a video that shows another side of living tiny that resonates with me: Living tiny in a penthouse.
This father spends a lot of time discussing how unimportant it is to have a single room, such as an office, for a single task and that all living space should be used daily. He also discusses the dense urban lifestyle that means the family walks up to 10K per day instead of taking a car or public transportation everywhere. Yet, transportation is available for him and his children without car ownership. He also has a beautiful view if city views are to your liking.
Adam Ruins Everything discussed urban density in Adam Ruins Cars:
If we didn’t develop our cities around cars, there’d be more room for stores and homes. People would walk more. It would be more social and more healthy for everyone. With smaller, local, businesses, maybe online shopping wouldn’t be killing brick and mortar. But, I digress.
The average tiny home costs the same amount per square foot as any other home. It costs less only because it’s smaller. A new tiny home on wheels will cost anywhere between $30,000 and $60,000. Other costs will include transportation costs, maintenance costs, and possibly land maintenance. If you have a vehicle in addition to your tiny home there are costs to maintaining, using and insuring that vehicle. Apartment or condo living in a densely populated area eliminates most of those expenses.
Some apartments or condos offer other advantages in the form of swimming pools, gyms, and theaters. When my kids were growing up, we had the opportunity to live in a tiny luxury apartment in Fort Myers, Florida. The view from every window was palm trees and a pond that had fish and turtles in it. There was a pool and the community center always smelled of peaches. There was also a playground. This gated community was quiet and within walking distance of a shopping center, fast food, and the mall. It was a wonderful experience.
Prior to moving into my tiny home, I lived in an apartment in Green Bay, WI. At 825 square feet, I never considered that home tiny, but the rent was reasonable and the location was perfect. While I’m happy that I missed out on the historic snowstorm that just struck that city (and the possible flooding to come when all of that snow melts!), I miss the freedom that living in that urban location provided. During that snowstorm, a friend of mine was able to hike to the grocery store and Kwik Trip was always within walking distance–I’ve used Kwik Trip as a grocery store in the past. Everything I needed was within walking distance except work. Public transportation in Green Bay is not the best so a car is definitely necessary.
Since moving into my tiny home, I’ve discovered that I’m not as handy as I thought I was. The prevailing attitude is that you can learn to do anything by watching YouTube videos. But, when you have a compact car, bringing home lumber or a garbage can is challenging. When the nearest building supply store is 26 miles away, you have to add those expenses in. eBay has become my best friend. It is cheaper to have things shipped to my location than to try to get supplies in town. And, for me, with my ADD, attention to detail isn’t my best skill. I have a tendency to want to shortcut things and that ends poorly when it comes to home building and maintenance.
So, this is a love letter to everyone living tiny in multi-home rental spaces. I have a lot of passions and I loved living in a space in which maintenance was not an added expense or timesink. I loved the freedom of being able to walk to my favorite haunts. There are a lot of ways to live tiny and experiences to be had. If you’re considering a tiny home, but aren’t there yet, please don’t limit your thinking to the travel life or a suburban homestead. There is a tiny house option for every lifestyle.