Why We Won’t Be Living in Our Tiny House

Original Post at Jessica’s Blog – Why We Won’t Be Living in Our Tiny House – iamchesapeake
Written by Jessica Friday

It’s been a strange few weeks, to say the least.

I’ve had to remind myself more than once that I owe nothing of myself or the details of my life to anyone on the Internet – nice people or mean people. You all leave comments, and then go about your business not thinking much of my own life. And nor should you! I don’t spend a lot of time thinking of other people’s decisions in my own day-to-day business. I have my own life to lead.

I still feel compelled to write down and publish the long list of reasons we won’t be living in our tiny house. For posterity, for my own sake, and really for anyone who has a genuine, sincere interest in our continued story. And maybe some of these points might help some of you in your own tiny house journey.

Many people think we’re selling our tiny house because it was stolen from us, and that we’re letting fear dictate our lives. (Anyone who knows us in real life finds the idea that Casey and I let fear controls our lives endlessly humorous). In reality, the theft was more of a tipping point than some singular catastrophic event that upturned everything.

1) We just can’t do this anymore. People who haven’t been through the process of building anything, even a so-called “tiny house”, simply do not understand the realities of construction. I only half-joke that the thing that makes tiny building so difficult is that there is just enough space to finally get a partial handle on whatever step of the process you are undertaking – and then that step is over. You never build up any momentum to carry the task out faster and better. Because the space is so small, it’s time to start from square one on the next step of the process before you even reap the benefits of having mastered the previous step. It’s not very satisfying to work this way. People say: “Oh, you’ve come so far! You’re so close to finishing!” No, we really, really aren’t. We’ve been “so close” to finishing nearly every month for the last two and a half years.

2) Where would we put the house now? There are many indications that the area in which we live had to do with the theft. I won’t go into details, but despite some VERY lovely neighbors, we also have some not-so-lovely neighbors, and to put the house back where it was parked seems to only invite the theft or damage once again. Some idiot asked me on Facebook if my apartment was broken into, would I just break my lease and move somewhere else? And the answer is: absolutely I would, if I thought the location of my apartment had something to do with the theft itself. This is so bleeding obvious I can’t believe he asked it. Welcome to the Internet.

We spent a long time looking for land that would allow a tiny house to be parked on it, and I have no desire to go back through that process again. Also, now that we have an apartment very close to all the places we need to be, it’s made me realize how nice it is not to face a 50 minute commute each way just to get to civilization. The unfortunate part of tiny houses is that the one place you can be relatively assured* no one will call the local zoning boards on you is the countryside. And living in the countryside means you have to enjoy driving unless you plan to spend all your time at home.

*I say “relatively assured” because Jonathan had issues even in the countryside. He ended up not living in tiny house, either. A lot of people (people who stand to make money off the tiny house movement itself) say things like “If you build it, the parking space will come.” This was the cavalier attitude I took at the start of the process. Once we started the build, we began to look for a place to park it. We looked at RV parks and were turned away (no homemade trailers allowed), we looked at unrestricted land that was way too big and too expensive, then we finally found a small rural neighborhood that seemed fine just to have it turn out that our house was stolen…all this to say that if you are thinking of building a tiny house on wheels, weigh the risks. If you can afford to build a tiny house and like being adventurous with the idea that you’ll find a place to put it “later,” by all means, do so. Otherwise, sincerely do your research before jumping in feet first to an expensive, time-consuming build.

3) The potential for theft. This is a small reason, but a reason nonetheless. I just can’t live wondering if my tiny house and its contents is going to be there when I get home from work or from play. Despite the new anti-theft measures we’ve put in (boots on the trailer, and a mega hitch lock), I just can’t. Once I had a stomach bug and happened to eat chili and noodles right before the symptoms started. Cue vomiting up chili and noodles all night. Despite the fact that technically the chili and noodles did not cause my illness, it put me off chili and noodles for life. All this to say: I’m not blaming the tiny house. But I still associate it with theft. For anyone reading this deciding on their own build, I’d say the only location I’d feel comfortable parking my house is in the suburbs somewhere: in someone’s backyard, behind a fence, with many, many neighbors around, and preferably some large trees that grow back over the tow-path. But then I’d have to live in the suburbs, and that’s just not for me. Also, finding a suburb like that is easier said than done. Dee Williams, in her super-progressive, liberal, Washington state town STILL had to get a special variance that allowed her and only her to be parked there, in that very particular space. If you have the stomach to go through a process like that, more power to you.

4) Our lifestyle has changed. The build was initially going to be 4-6 months in length. It’s taken 2.5 years, for various reasons that aren’t anyone’s business, but really came down to time and money. Since it’s taken so long, our lives have changed. We simply need more space – not for living, but for our businesses and creative endeavors. Our property had a little cabin on it that we were going to use as a studio. We can’t live on that land any longer for safety reasons, so the thought of having to come up with a solution to another accessory building in a new location is just too much. It’s ludicrous, when we could just have a larger apartment (650 s.f.) that’s already constructed (!!!!!) with plenty of space for our needs.

5) Our priorities have changed. Our main goal has always been to live in a place where we can be car-lite or car-free. Coincidentally, the week before the tiny house was stolen, we came up with a solid plan of where we want to live (next, anyway) without a car. The plan was three to four years more living in the tiny house, then moving elsewhere to a city where we can be active without a car. The house was stolen, and suddenly it looked like our plan could be moved up on the timeline.

6) I’ve spent the last 18 months trying to decide if I’m a country person or a city person. The answer appears so obvious to me now, I feel a little silly even asking the question. I hate driving and I love museums, libraries, public transit, good food, biking trails, parks, and concerts. Period. That makes me a city person at this point in my life. I realize now that I was actually spending the last 18 months trying to convince myself that I was okay living out in the middle of nowhere. I’m not okay with it at this point in my life.

7) I don’t want to compress my expectations any longer. Some people live in a tiny house because it truly makes their lives more simple, yet it gives them space to do the things they want to do. I realize now that the tiny house had reached a point that it was restricting our lives and our expectations. Again: it took us further away from city living and honestly, it put me in a mindset of not just extreme frugality (which is great!) but of extremely low income-making. Maybe I’ll expound on this another day, but essentially I convinced myself that making an exceedingly small amount of money was good enough for me, and it isn’t. I was trying to shrink my life and my goals. I was feeling a little suffocated. I’m not saying having a tiny house does this to everyone – it was just doing it for me.

8) A tiny house is not the only answer. Some people seem to think that not living in a stick-built, tiny house on wheels means “giving up the tiny lifestyle.” I realize now how silly I was to think a tiny house was the only way to live simply. It’s not. I don’t even know what living simply means, to be honest with you. Building a tiny house and trying to live in one in 2015 means you are a pioneer. There aren’t enough of them yet to have changed public perception, zoning laws, or local codes. There is huge risk in living in mostly uncharted territory. And we need people trying to do it! I just can’t be one of them. My energy needs to be spent elsewhere. Fighting the tide is not simple. It is easier to have a mortgage and a 9-5 job than it is to live in a tiny house and be self-employed. Depending on how you look at it, the former is the real “simple life” in 2015. A case can be made for both sides.

To “not fight the tide” doesn’t mean we are off to live in a 6,000 s.f. house in the suburbs (though there is NOTHING WRONG with that if you do; it simply doesn’t fit for us). It means we are channeling our energy elsewhere, toward goals that mean more to us.

We are not giving up. We are not fickle people. I think giving up would look like staying with our build even though we know it can’t work for us any longer. For us to say: “Okay, we came this far, even though every fiber of our being is telling us this is no longer the direction we want to go, we need to see it through no matter the cost” would be giving up in my book.

We are constantly re-examining where we are going and what we are doing, and I think that’s what makes us awesome. So many people continue to commit to things that are no longer working for them, and end up on their deathbed wishing they’d taken more risks. Even though this process has been almost nothing but stress and pain, I’d rather be sitting where I am now, having tried to build a tiny house and deciding it wasn’t for me after all, than to have never tried at all and be sitting around the rest of my life doodling floor plans in the margins and wondering if I was ever going to take the leap.

ADDENDUM: I just went back to read Jonathan’s post (mentioned above) from years ago, and the similarities in our situations are eerie in many ways. This sums it all up for me, almost to the letter:

“Even if I win, I will still be next to a neighbor who hates me. Even if I win, I will be 10 miles away from the nearest grocery store. Even if I win, I will be both physically and socially isolated, far enough away from everyone nearby to where visiting me is inconvenient, but not far enough away to where I’ll be compelled to seek out new things. I’ll be in an area in which the population is politically and ideologically at odds with my own morals and values. I will, in essence, become a hermit here.”


Original Post at Jessica’s Blog – Why We Won’t Be Living in Our Tiny House – iamchesapeake

117 Replies to “Why We Won’t Be Living in Our Tiny House”

  1. I am definitely a city girl and no amount of wishing will change that. I currently live in a 360 square foot apartment that I *LOVE*, and I don’t own a car. I’ve never been happier. I live right downtown and can walk, bike or take a bus to just about anything. There’s also a car-share here that lets me rent by the hour or day. I do want to fight for tiny houses to be allowed in urban areas because I think urban people would want to live in them. Good luck in your journey!!!

    1. Yep, that’s exactly what we’re looking for. We’ve visited a city that had the Divvy bike rentals, and we absolutely loved them. We’d probably end up getting our own bikes, but it’s great to know that there are cities with such widespread implementations of bike rentals, and also public transit.

      Thanks for the comment!

    2. Thank you for this comment! It made me so happy to hear from someone who is living the way I desire to and thriving. I worry that city life might not be all I’ve made it to be in my head, but this gives me hope!

      I can say with certainty that I have never been happier in my life than when I’m cycling through a cityscape, totally car-free. I always giggle at the cars next to me, like I’ve discovered some kind of secret that they haven’t. Infinite MPG, no oil changes, gas costs, insurance, etc; plus I’m getting much-needed exercise. Thank you thank you, and I’m definitely subscribing to your blog!

      1. Giggle? feeling that are are better than someone because you are under the impression that you have a secret? a bike?

        there is no infinite “Mpg” on a bike first because your energy is depleted eventually, second bike has no gasoline.

        Cars provide mobility long distance. If you like getting out of the city to camp you can’t with a bike.

        If you use public transport you are paying for access which comes price of insurance and has compounded into the fee.

        Bikes are incredibly dangerous and bikers are killed as often as motorcyclist.

        I rather pay for insurance and gas to protect my life from high speed to age of steel.

        I guess it will be my turn to giggle when car slams into you.

        1. “I guess it will be my turn to giggle when car slams into you.”

          ^^^ When you’re so fragile, a woman saying she “giggles” at your chosen mode of transportation incites you into sending her gleeful death threats.

        2. I bikepack, which = riding a bike out of the city to camp.

          Sure you do not have “Infinite Energy”, but for people who bike every day going 50, 60, 100 miles in a ride is absolutely doable. That coupled with the fact that you are exercising makes biking a perfect choice for city dwellers!

  2. Great post. All of these, and more, are completely legitimate reasons to not live in a tiny house. In fact, the only reason anyone really needs is that they don’t want to.

    However, I do believe that the lessons you learned from downsizing over the last 2.5 years will go a long way with living more deliberately in the city as well. Tiny living is a philosophy, not a building.

    It took us 3 years to build our tiny home as well. Ours is also in the country 30 minutes from the nearest city. After living in it for a year we had the opportunity to move into a 700 square foot house just a mile from downtown Asheville. Now we are extremely fortunate to have both options in our lives. They have served us well and will continue to for a long time to come. Everything works together because we took the time to get to know what we really want rather than following the past of least resistance. I hear echos of that in your story as well.

    1. “In fact, the only reason anyone really needs is that they don’t want to.” Definitely true!

      I’m glad we’re blogging so openly about all of this, because I think that while there are a few voices of honesty online in the community, sometimes it all comes across so rosy it gives people a false impression of tiny building (and I guess living, though I won’t be able to compare).

      I’ve always enjoyed that you have been open about your “winter” home in Asheville. Sometimes the purists come out (and I used to be one of them) and crap all over everything, which is frustrating. But I’ve realized that part of the process of life is winnowing desires and finding a mix that makes you the most happy. Thanks so much for your comment and for understanding my thoughts so well!

    2. What an interesting story, Jessica, and inspirational too! When I first heard of your theft, I wondered how someone could be so bold as to have access to the means to do, as well as the propensity! Your reasons for letting it go are admirable too. Even if you decide that the tiny life is not for you right now, you learned some valuable lessons-mostly about yourself, that maturity and life-experience afford one. Well done. You’ll profit in the long run and something tells me in the future, you’ll be down the tiny life in another tiny home somewhere in a major metropolitan city cycling and enjoying yourself! Godspeed!

  3. I can so relate to the “chili and noodles” effect. I had a roommate for five months about 17 years ago. She stole a ton of stuff while she lived there, and more when I kicked her out. Never, ever again will I have another roommate, despite the fact that it’s possible it might never happen again. Sometimes, an event just teaches you what you really want out of life. Good luck to you!

    1. Roommates are tough! And some people might say “Oh, you’re overreacting, most roommates don’t steal.” But life is all about risk assessment and management. I totally get not wanting another one!

      Thanks for the comment and support. It’s definitely true that huge events can be a big reset moment for those willing to use it to their advantage.

  4. Life’s lessons are never easy. I live where moose regularly awake us with their funny antics. One of the joys of rural life. Being from texas originally I would say there is no rural there to be had, so stay in the city where all you have to fear is the city. Just don’t make your failure to reach your dreams something you will regret. It has not been a failure if you are happy. It just seems the two of you have separate dreams, Hopefully you each can achieve them individually, although perhaps not together.

    1. You misunderstand. The reason my husband reblogged my post here is because I so eloquently stated everything that for him to write his own post would be redundant. We are in 100% agreement with everything in our lives both past and moving forward.

      No dreams have been given up. We simply are speeding up our path toward something we both have wanted all along: car-free, real city living. Thankfully my husband and I are totally on the same page.

      1. Will you please still blog, about apartment living, how you are dealing with having no vehicle and such?

  5. I needed this post today…my husband and I have been seriously considering the tiny house life. Our situation is a bit complex…but briefly…I have 2 boys (20 and 15), he has 3 children (12, 9, 8) – the majority of his money goes to child support and taking care of his children. We met and married very quickly and I honestly didn’t count the cost of the financial situation of someone having children so young…I basically started my life over with nothing, as did he…I personally have no desire to work until I am 70 years old…so, I thought that perhaps we could save money and buy a tiny house, and a mortgage would be one less financial thing to worry about…but, I too, even at 40, have been trying to decide if I am a city girl, and you summing up what you love to do was like seeing myself on paper. I’m such a city girl! I need to do…all the time! Otherwise, I am depressed. So…my next question is, what cities have the availability of biking and transit systems and living without cars outside of NY City (of which I would love to live, but who can afford it!?!) So, i suppose that I too will have to find a new way to solve these problems…I love to hear others thoughts and opinions, and your blog post was very enlightening….thank you for your honesty in sharing!

        1. Don’t overlook Saint Louis. Not as many cultural amenities as Chicago, but a very nice place with cost of living much less. I live in 400 sf apartment downtown. Haven’t had a car since 1992. I walk to work and take bicycle, bus or Metro train everywhere else. Even take the bus to the Symphony!

        1. Seattle is also very bike friendly, mild for the most part winters and lots and lots to do and see…cost of living varies greatly depending upon the district but their public transit system is really great as well.

    1. I too love this post. We made the decision to live in a small urban home (780 sq. ft.) and have never regretted our proximity to all conviences.

      Another city that is wonderful for transit/bikes Portland, OR for sure. I live in Olympia, WA and love our neighborhood (walking distance to bakery, shops, dentist/doctor, grocery store, etc.) and proximity to downtown. There are many west coast cities that have great bike trails and transit connecting rural, suburban and urban entertainment areas.

  6. Thank you for writing this & sharing it with everyone. That takes guts. Your experiences & thoughts are appreciated. Personally, I think the point is that we all deserve to live our own lives, as we see best for each of us. This (gasp!) is different for each person, even if most people try to convince themselves they are in the “norm” (what is “normal” anyway?). Ideally, we shouldn’t have to explain ourselves to anyone (unless we wished to do so). Tiny house, winter house, vacation house, mobile house, tree house, rental house, other house, boat-house, no house, car-house, backpack, to each his own. Yes, most people believe their way of living is best for them, otherwise they probably would be living differently, yet most people can at least agree that even in their own lives their wishes, dreams, desires, etc, have changed & evolved so, hopefully we can all realize different people can lead different sorts of lives & that is okay. All is well. Hopefully, we are simply happy with our own life or, at least, moving in that direction. May your best dreams, whatever they may be, come true in joy & ease. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much!

      People need to get off their soapboxes more often. I’ve learned this lesson myself after three years of judging nearly everyone about their living choices.

    2. “most people believe their way of living is best for them, otherwise they probably would be living differently”
      Not always so. About 5 years ago, after many years of accepting what I could afford to live in, I was finally able to afford to live in what I wanted to live in. That came after 2 apartments, 1 condo, and a small house long on “character” but short on comfort. It took until my 40s before my husband and I bought the house we really wanted.

  7. Thank you for sharing, I think I will just keep thinking about having a tiny house , it’s nice to dream of the adventure of building and living in one but doing it is another thing. I want one but I don’t think I am up for all the stuff you have to go through to park it.
    And yes people are rude on here, have a good life where ever you land.

    1. Exactly! For us at least, it’s just become too much hassle to even be considered a minimal lifestyle. Constantly worrying about security, rain water filling our barrels, and neighbors/HOA not deciding to vote us out of the neighborhood is too much to bear for us, but I’m hopeful that this situation will improve for Tiny Housers in the years to come.

  8. It seems to me that the core reason you have decided not to go forward with this is that you have found a living situation in-town that suits you. Congratulations.

    Living rurally and isolated is no fun but for some of us there won’t be any other options what with no jobs available, the ferocious cost of everything and just plain getting old.

    I’m sorry that more people aren’t interested in taking on these zoning boards that are getting their palms greased by the construction industry and local politicians who want bigger housing because it means bigger property taxes ergo bigger salaries for themselves. All of this needs to stop. These people (loose term) who have gotten into control of everything and are running it expressly for the wealthy need to be removed from office. But the American public is totally blind (to wit: the 2014 Mid-term Elections) and keep putting these horrors back into office.

    I also think the THM is in its infancy and things will change with time. I’m hoping more and more people will get into owning TH Parks with HOA costs that are very reasonable and sustainable. I now live in Central Florida and REALLY don’t like the people here. I came here all starry eyed thinking this would be a great retirement place only to find that once you get past the facade they sell you about being refined and genteel, you will find THE WORST corruption you ever encountered in your life; bar-none. I have lived everywhere from Helsinki to Honolulu and this was the biggest mistake of all. I own an 1800 sf home and at 68, it’s way more space than I need and keeping up with the cleaning and maintenance is more than I can take, enter the Tiny House.

    I have been looking at land and the prices are a disgrace. George W. Bush did that when he set the realtors loose on this country like a pack of dogs. The home my father first purchased for our young family cost eighteen-five; that same house now is appraised at 1.3 million dollars (yes that’s MILLION dollars) because they took a local lake and made some kind of fishing/boating recreational area out of it. The bottom line is, I couldn’t even live in a house I grew up in because of the insanity that has been perpetrated on this country; and the same holds true for my friend, Joan, who lives in California; she was born in San Francisco and must now live 8 hours south of that because she can’t afford to live where she grew up and she has a doctorate in science!

    I know that you have to make concessions living in a TH, but in reality, we all have to make concessions no matter where we live. Where I now live, I have been regularly (as in almost daily) broken into, vandalized, stalked and two of my German shepherds now lay dead because of some of my not so nice neighbors and it has been going on for one decade come this upcoming July of 2015. What happened to you is not an isolated event; it has to do with the level of corruption in this country. Our government is corrupt and now so is the whole country at large. This is what happens when mega businesses run things; they run it into the ground because they are only interested in short term big profits and absolutely NOTHING else.

    But I digress. I think one other poster said it best: The only reason for not wanting to live in a tiny house any more is because you don’t want to. Bless you both. I’m glad you at least got your THOW back and I’m sure someone will buy it, if for no other reason than it is now a very famous TH as being the first ever TH being stolen! Best wishes to you both and may all your problems turn out in your favor. 😉

    1. Lisa E – I too live in Central Florida and I have just purchased my tiny house from Trekker Trailers in Leesburg. It will be finished soon and I am having a heck of a time finding a place to put it. I was going to put it behind my son-in-law’s house as a “mother-in-law” house and hook up to his septic, water and electricity, but his father owns the land and orange grove and he has decided “he doesn’t want to do this”. I thought I would just move, and started looking for land, but if I buy undeveloped land I have to put a well on it ($7000), a septic system ($3000), electric hookup ($1500) and pay a one time school assessment fee of $2000 which is going to go up to $7000 in July! And, my house can’t legally be put on the lot because it is not HUD certified and it can’t be HUD certified unless it is over 500 square feet! Plus, I don’t know where I want to live permanently. I retired early due to a buyout offered by my former employer and thought I would just get another job, but getting one has been harder than I thought. And I have decided I don’t want to work and I can afford to not work if I live in my tiny house and sell my “big” house.

      So, I am now looking at RV parks. I had to send a picture of my house to one park and they rejected it because they want a uniform look. The rest of the parks only care that my house is new. I am not going to live in an RV park forever, just until I figure this out. I am ready to help with the fight against the size requirements – just tell me what to do.

      Where did you end up putting your tiny house Lisa E?

      1. Mary, we also had a hell of a time trying to find an RV park that would let us park there. They all said they wanted a uniform look, and custom built homes were out of the question. Even though the land we purchased has very lax regulations, that’s still no guarantee that someone wouldn’t call the HOA/police on us later to have us moved out of the neighborhood.

        At the moment, at least, it’s quite a bit of hassle to live in a tiny house. I wish you the best of luck in finding a place to park your house!

      2. There is a new “RV” Tiny House park that just opened in California called Lemon Cove Village. I don’t know many details, but it gives me hope someone has somehow circumvented all the zoning rules and restrictions and done this which opens the door for others to create places to park a tiny house. Eventually tiny houses will be more accepted and easier.

        Thank you Jessica and Casey for a realistic view of tiny houses. I agree with many of these commenters: so many websites and blogs praise the tiny houses but rarely do we get realistic experiences. Thanks.

  9. You have to do what is right for you and your family, to hell with what anyone else says.
    I honestly think I would choose not to park it anywhere close to where it had been stolen myself, and all your other reasons are just as valid as all the reasons you chose to start your tiny house in the first place. Circumstances change( sometimes they don’t which makes it hard too), people also change and so do their priorities, needs, and desires, and that is not anyones business but your own.
    Thank you for this post, I appreciate your honesty. I wish you and your family all the best in whatever you choose to do now.

  10. It is refreshing to read the reasons you do not care to live in a th. These points are informative for those who do want to go that route… Bravo for helping people who want to live there know the ins and outs,and those who are living there and are wondering why they did it and possibly feeling embarrassed about thinking it.
    May God bless your next adventure and may you feel peace about it…

    1. Thanks, Pat. We’ve definitely thought about it for a long time, and we would have really appreciated a more realistic view of TH living before we started this project, but there just weren’t many out there at the time. Glad to be able to pass this along to other interested parties.

    2. I do often wonder how many people out there are too embarrassed to tell their story (or simply don’t have the outlet to tell it). A ton of people have come out of the woodwork to share their own TH battles. Nice to know we aren’t alone.

  11. Hello Jessica and Casey,

    May I make a few suggestions about life and risks? My life is very full and I usually am not willing to take time to comment on the tortuous turns someone else’s life takes, but there are some elements of your story which have not been placed in the full context of Reality. I’m 72 years old, a cancer survivor, and I built a tiny home for my 91 year old father-in-law in 2009.

    Coincidentally he lived in Texas, in Gun Barrel City on Cedar Creek Lake. His wife had passed away twelve years earlier and his neighbors were very concerned about his ability to care for himself. It took us two years to negotiate with him to move him to be close to us in Maine.

    Before you can really enjoy life to the fullest you need to have many varied life experiences, most (if not all) humanly possible feelings, and many failures. When you have accumulated a full array of those three things, you will find yourself prepared to surrender to life and give up the ludicrous idea that you are in control of anything. Or you will continue to accumulate still more buffeting from life. It’s always your choice.

    Let me ask you a serious question. Would the two of you climb into a small two passenger airplane, have the pilot/owner give you a description of how to fly it, and then take it down the runway? Do you see any possibility that you would be successful in taking off, finding your way back, and then landing that plane?

    Certainly not, unless you already have the skill sets required to do that. Why do first time tiny home builders think they can build a complex structure without all or most of the skill sets necessary? I mentioned above that I built a tiny home for my father-in-law who was moving from a three bedroom waterfront home where he lived for 28 years, to a portable 475 square foot cottage. He helped me as best a 91 year old was able and I built his new home in four months. He would paint the cedar shingles and the under-carriage of the trailer and sweep up at the close of the day. Those tasks made him very happy. The entire home was built using screws, was completely finished inside, had the latest computerized heat and hot water, a full kitchen, and plenty of space for him to live and enjoy his final years.

    Unfortunately, he has passed away and our agreement was that if I built him a home, he could live in it for the rest of his life, and when he was gone, it would be ours. We have not moved it, but a lot of people have lived for a few days or a week in it, and everyone would like to have one just like it. When we get old, my wife and I will probably move into it.

    There is a pattern to living a human life. First, you need to allow the “right place”, where the combined energies of the Earth and the universe will support your journey, to find you. There are many degrees of “right places”; some will be short term and others may be life-long. Then you need to imagine what the home you need to support that journey requires. Not what you want, but what is required. You will need to fully engage your intuition. When you live in the right place in the right abode, you and life will flow together as one.

    Good luck on your journeys!

    1. Dennis – that’s great that you built your father a tiny house in four months. My guess is that your situation was completely different than mine. You obviously had all the funds necessary within those four months, and according to how you don’t understand “why first time tiny home builders think they can build a complex structure without all or most of the skill sets necessary”, so I’m assuming you’re a professional carpenter, electrician, contractor, and plumber? As an unnecessary aside, I never said or implied that I thought I would be able to take on a project I’ve never attempted before with no problems whatsoever.

      I appreciate your taking the time to comment, but implying that my wife and I are not based in reality is simply insulting to me. Perhaps I’m interpreting what you said incorrectly! We are so based in reality, in fact, that all of this “The Secret” and karma/vibes nonsense is meaningless to us. We base our decisions on reality and fact, and we face the benefits and consequences of those decisions. There is no magic force deciding our fate – we decide our fate.

      1. I think the worst thing that happened to the Tiny House enthusiast is that a movement was started. That is when people with agendas not supporting the original cause get involved.

        Exploitation has definitely invaded the movement. Although attractive in may ways, the idea of small portable houses that can evade property taxes ( I’m on board :)), invites some issues for their owners like where to put them and the pros and cons of such placement. It is unfortunate that along with that issue, some folks were willing to pay very expensive prices for these tiny dwellings. Very unfortunate and not terribly smart to me. You may certainly spend your money as you please, but it can sour the deal for others and seems like it has. Some of the tiny movement folks say criticism or even questioning of the high price per foot of tiny is the result of “haters”. No, not the folks I know. They like tiny and many are pursuing the lifestyle, but at a reasonable price..much like your asking price. I am not touting a fixed price and understand many tiny dwellings are beautifully outfitted with the latest and greatest but I do know ridiculous when I see it.
        Some great ideas can sour as one learns more. It is not anyone’s business. You changed your mind….s what. If I want to do something I don’t care what others think. Secure people do not care and do not judge. People may ask you about your change of heart in an effort to gain knowledge. Your story has certainly given me food for thought.

  12. Your reasons work for you and that’s all that’s required to make a good decision. Sticking with something that’s not working out doesn’t make any sense to me so finding something that does work has got to be progress. Best of luck and I hope some day all the bad stuff will just be stories you tell, not something you have to live through.

  13. This is a general comment and nothing specifically I say is directed toward the two of you(unless noted). I debated wether to even use up my time writing this but everyone once in awhile we all have to speak our mind a little about the things that make our “what matters to me” list. I suppose just like you have written this blog as to why you’re selling your tiny house now. Although there are many thoughts ideally I would like to “reply” to, I decided I want to save my time and energy.
    First I want to say that I’m sorry you had to go through someone stealing your home.
    The tiny house living, the simpler lifestyle is not restricted to a stick-built home on wheels. It means something different for EVERYONE. For some it means a small apartment in or near the city and riding their bike to work, for others it means working a part time job while living in a small cabin in the woods, for some it means just downsizing from a McMansion to a much smaller home with a small veggie garden in the back yard. For my husband and myself, and at this point in our lives, living a simpler lifestyle means living in a mortgage free 130 sq. Ft. tiny house on wheels while working to pay off other debt. Even though there have been challenges along our journey, and this is not our ultimate dream, we love it and it’s what is working best for OUR lives at this point. What made things easier for us is that we didn’t try to REINVENT THE WHEEL for building our tiny house, like SO many THOW builders are doing. About 9 years ago, a man named Jay Schafer introduced himself to the world. He had accomplished the more difficult aspects of building a THOW through trial and error and created a solution for those of us tired of the high mortgage and high rent world. He started a modest company which people could buy plans from. So that’s what we decided to do. Instead of trying to come up with answers to how to safely build up to code and travel safely on the road on our own(or waste money making mistakes), we said “hey, he already has the answers. Let’s buy his plans and instructions and we can always modify the minor details to our liking if need be.” And it’s working. Who woulda thought?! (Rolling of the eyes) Also there are plenty of solutions out there for Tiny Housers and it does take a lot of research and effort to find those answers(like finding a place to park) but it’s out there. I just wish people would stop rushing into things…..hearing about a tiny house on wheels one month and three months later saying “yeah me too!” Before they’ve weighed all the pro’s and con’s and done EXTENSIVE research and planning. And honestly I don’t think ANYONE should based their opinions/ideas/plans/answers solely after reading your blog. Unfortunately for you two, you have experienced one extreme end of the spectrum of the Tiny House world.

    1. I definitely think aspects of our story are the extreme, but others are more common than many people are willing to speak about. For example, I know of several people who bought the “simple” tiny house plans from Jay Shafer and realized they still had to modify the plans extensively. The hardest part of THOW building is not the framing (which is pretty much all the plans detail) but: attaching the trailer, plumbing, electric, and the finish work. None of which are provided for in those plans.

      We researched tiny homes for five years before beginning to build ours. We read every book, blog, and attended a Tumbleweed workshop. Interesting that since we’ve decided to speak honestly about the disadvantages and realities of THOW building how many people have come out of the woodwork to say “Me too!”

      I’m happy you had such an easy time of it.

    2. Not directed at us, huh? So you read this blog post on my website written by my wife, and you immediately thought of all the other tiny housers who complain about this stuff? Please point me to those posts and comments. I would like you to know that everything I say in this comment is indeed directed toward you.

      Also, it’s quite narcissistic to vocalize that you aren’t going to waste your “time and energy” replying to the points made in this post, as if your time is so much more precious than correcting two naïve idiots who obviously don’t know as much as you do about this whole “tiny house thing”.

      You have obviously chosen to “save your time and energy” by not reading the other posts I’ve written about this theft, in which I discuss my feelings on Jay Schafer. Please feel free to catch up with the rest of us. I have heard from multiple people who have purchased house plans and component plans from Jay Shafer, informing me that they are wrought with errors. I purchased the Ofuro Tub plans from his Four Lights Tiny House company, and there were no less than 20 errors in them. TWENTY. And that’s just a simple bath tub.

      By the way, I’m also curious who you think is ‘reinventing the wheel’ with house building. And who’s “rushing into it”? Are you judging me because I chose to not buy $800 plans, littered with errors? Nowhere have I complained about the building process – but again, you haven’t even read my other posts, how would you know that? I complain about the stress of building while trying to earn and save money. Either get your facts straight and stop making things up, or provide some citations to back up your claims. And just so you know, your Tumbleweed Tiny House is not “up to code”. It’s built on a trailer to avoid building codes. Have you read any of Jay’s books?

      I have to disagree wholeheartedly with your conclusion. I think people should absolutely be reading and considering what we have to say about the Tiny House lifestyle before going into it, because we’re some of the only people on the internet with the balls to say this stuff. I have been honest about this build from the very beginning, and that’s something I haven’t seen more than twice on the internet outside of my website and my wife’s website. If people only read about the butterflies and rainbows of Tiny House living (like we did, before we started our build), they will not have enough information to make an educated decision about whether or not building a tiny house on wheels is a good idea or not.

      I hope in time you can become at least a bit less defensive about your lifestyle choices. If you had come at this comment from a different perspective without the sarcasm and patronizing tone, I would have been much more open to a useful discourse. Information is power – even information about negative experiences. Deal with it.

      1. Our public radio station is going do an hour show on tiny houses Monday 26th and I stumbled across the video you made about finishing your TH and the wallboard not cracking in the move. Then I moved on to the stolen TH video. It sounds like the project of you r life 2.5 years ago had change to a I have to finish because of the time and money I have put into the project. From reading your posts you and Jessica did your homework and made a decision that was right from the information you could get your hands on when you started. I think stealing the house did you a favor. Instead of peace and joy in your life finishing and moving into the tiny house would have just been an aggravation in your life now.

        I have been thinking about buying a completed tiny house and had some idea that it was not always easy to find a place to locate and you have added some good points that I had not thought would be a problem. The other thing reading your post may have settled something in my mind and that is I am tired of not being close to a city. Maybe even being close is not good enough I may need to be where you can walk to something or ride a bike. Now if I go the TH route I will find the location first then buy the TH. It looks like I will need to go the mother-in-law route which may not work out. I hope your posts help other people like me make a better decision because we have more facts to make that final decision. I hope the move to the city works out as well as you think it will. The move even sounds like it will also help both of you in your professional life. Just remember you sometimes learn more when your plans don’t work out then when they do.

      2. Well said. People are getting a little ridiculous with their sanctimonious comments. Must be nice for them to be so self righteous and have an opinion on EVERYTHING. Ultimately you must do what’s best for you and your family. We all take detours on the way……some of us have to lose our shirts before we get on the right track!! Sadly, I know this from personal experience. I now consider my housing situation as “small”, I went from a house that was 2500sf to less than 1000sf. That’s pretty good for 2 adults and a giant dog. Its not tiny but I feel like I am on the right track. I appreciate both yours and Jessica’s honest account of how things have gone for you. Keep of the good work. The haters can piss off and keep their nasty comments to themselves……..

  14. Wow, I give you so much credit to say ok enoughs enough, no matter how far along you are. While my needs (older female) would fit the tiny house lifestyle easily, after watching the movement for the past 18 – 24 months, it definitely isn’t for everyone. Kudos for TRYING, that took more guts than I’ll ever have! I would love to purchase your tiny home but my top range is lower than what you’re asking and with work still needed to be done. I have no doubts someone will take it to be able to put their own mark on the finishing of it. You are absolutely awesome for sharing the travails of your situation, and you are right, none of needed to know, but I bet it was a teeny bit cathartic to put it down “on paper” best of luck to you in your new future I have no doubts you will excel dramatically!

  15. It seems like you have great reasons for changing course and deciding not to live in or keep your tiny house. Having my TH stolen is something that I think about constantly since I bought a used one summer of 2014. I do have it parked (paying for parking only not living) on agricultural land behind a fence near the main house so I hope it will be safe. The future though is scary depending on where I end up putting it.
    I was a city person in San Francisco for 30 years but with that city becoming inhospitable to anyone not rich enough or young enough, I am looking forward to reinventing myself and living a simpler more self reliant life. Currently I’m working with a group that is trying to buy, build and get zoned a tiny house test village. I don’t know if I would end up living there but people are trying to get Tiny houses legitimized in the urban setting and that’s a goal that suits me to help make happen whether I live there or not.
    Thanks for your honesty and your story. I hope someday tiny homes will be accepted in all our neighborhoods as the affordable, responsible and self reliant choice that they are.

    1. Can’t wait to see (any) tiny house village/community pop up. I think it’s a great goal. Ton of obstacles to get there, but I’m confident someone out there has the energy and resources to make it happen.

  16. Hey, Casey and Jessica!

    Major props to this article. Casey: Jess and I are in touch, in R.L. about your next possible move.

    I am SO glad to read that someone is saying “Hey, Emperor! Dude, you have on NO CLOTHES!!!” while everyone else is pretending that he’s dressed.

    You and Jess are spot on regarding 100% of everything you’ve written. I grew up on a dairy farm in the ’50’s that was completely OFF GRID and 40 miles (one way) from the nearest town; I.KNOW.OFF GRID.LIVING.!!!! And it is NOT the answer for many people!

    I’ve also lived in Chicago for over 40 years and have experienced all the bounty that that gorgeous city has to offer. And like you, “poverty” is NOT my friend! Making the least amount of money possible so that you can have days to study your navel (~snark~) and then bugger off with your friends to drink Pumpkin Peach Micro Brewed Ale with the few nickels you own is NOT how we want to live our lives, either!

    As it’s turned out, my husband and I are Hybrids: we are BOTH City Mice and Country Mice! We have a 3-bedroom condo in the city that we rent out 2 of the rooms to students and we have a small 800 sq.ft. cottage in Michigan that we stay at all Winter long. Then, when our building season begins in Spring, we live in both places.

    This might be something for you and Jess to consider if you end up moving to Chi-town. She and I will keep in touch; if you want to join in on our talks, ask her for my email addy.

    ALL the best to the two of you: I applaud your honesty; someone’s got to be honest about the THOW movement, both the good and the bad. 😀

    1. I just picked up a book called “Back from the Land: How Young Americans went to Nature in the 1970s, and Why they Came Back.” I’m thinking it will say a lot of the things that I’ve come to suspect about the so-called “simplicity” movement. I’m hoping it’s good enough for me to promote it as “required reading” for anyone who thinks the “simple life” is the way to go.

      There’s a reason on-grid living caught on and stayed, and someone who ACTUALLY lived off-grid’s opinion carries a lot of weight.

      I’m glad that we can be a few more voices of honesty about the tiny house movement. It’s definitely lacking in the online community (though there are a handful of others speaking about it). So happy you reached out to us and look forward to continuing our talks through email!

  17. I just stumbled on your blog today. I just want to say don’t let the self righteous haters get you down. The only way some people can feel better about their choices is to criticize yours. You post was honest and brave. Not sure how that signaled all the know it all trolls.

    I have been in your shoes, not regarding tiny homes in particular, but similar aspects to the lifestyle. It is hard to walk away from a dream or vision of life that no longer serves you. Congratulations for doing it. It all gets better from here 😉

  18. I stumbled across your site and reblog of your wife’s post via a random video on Youtube. I feel for you and yours about the hassles you’ve suffered. I won’t be an ass and berate you/Nor will I belittle you and tell you “I usually don’t waste my time…”. I just felt I could offer those reading a different perspective.

    While your research about THM may have been thorough, you missed some key questions before building the house about yourselves. What does living tiny mean to me? How far can I live from civilization? What is MY definition of civilization? Are these answers too extreme for my lifestyle or tastes?

    Questions like these need to come well before you get to the point of someone saying, “you should’ve thought that a home built on wheels would be easy to steal.” Because people are different. Ten miles away from the nearest store may be an afternoon walk for me. And to someone else that may be a soul crushing distance filled with despair and loneliness.

    Can you drill your own well? Can you run grey water with a compost toilet instead of a septic system? Can you cut costs by using reclaimed and/or recycled materials? Of course you can. Simple youtube and google searches can tell you that. What they can’t tell you is whether or not these things are for you. THM is not an easy one like you said. There are drawbacks, downsides and sacrifices that a person needs to decide on.

    Again, I feel for you. I understand why this isn’t for you. I wish it had been less than two and a half years for you to come to your conclusions, No one needs that stress and melodrama in their lives. Just let this serve as an example to your readers to ask the simple questions first and know who you are as a person before trying to something as big as joining THM.

    Thank God things are working out for your family and you’re right where you want to be. There’s no place better.


    1. We didn’t miss any of the “key questions” you listed. Bullet point #6 discusses country vs. city person. Composting, rainwater catchment, and homesteading have also all been discussed before.

      This has nothing to do with not asking the right questions. Our priorities have changed over the past three years, and we changed our minds.

      I do agree that I would love for my readers to use this information as part of their own research before they decide to build a Tiny House, and that’s exactly why I’ve been so transparent with the entire build process, including its conclusion.

      1. Perhaps I misspoke. What I mean was that things like bullet point 6 ( I’ve spent the last 18 months trying to decide if I’m a country person or a city person. ) was, for me, asked before hammer was put to nail and not a year and change after. Sure, the question was asked, as you said, but had it been the forethought perhaps some of this misfortune that had befallen you could’ve been negated. Like I said, I just hate seeing bad things happen to good people.

        But I am getting away from the point while responding to you.

        If this seems like something you (anyone reading this) want to do, then you need to research. Ask yourself questions. Ask friends and strangers to ask you questions. They may have thought of something you haven’t. I’ve spent the last two years researching, asking and planning without hammering a singe nail. I can confidently say that the move would be a great one for my son and I. Make sure that halfway through the project you aren’t left with wasted time and effort, stress, more bills and a really fancy shed.


  19. I’m really sorry to hear about your troubles, but I really appreciate getting the full scoop. Many tiny house people are almost evangelical about their lifestyle choice, so it’s refreshing as well as eye-opening to hear about the negatives.

    In places where it’s possible to cheaply and legally live in a tiny house, it’d be a no-brainer but that’s not the case for me. In the city I live in, the only place I could legally park a tiny house is in an RV park. The really crazy thing is that here the monthly lot fees would be about the same as the rent for a studio apartment, so there aren’t any savings to be had. In fact, you could argue in this scenario it’d be more expensive to go with a tiny house because of the upfront investment in expense and time.

    To be honest, I get the sense that some THM folks lose sight of the fact that many of us are drawn to small spaces because we’re looking for affordable, practical housing. Sometimes the solution is a tiny house and sometimes the solution is a small rental apartment; there’s no right answer, it all varies based on personal circumstances and priorities.

    Kudos to you for exploring your options, giving it your all and having the guts to change course upon realizing it wasn’t working for you!

    1. Jessica and Casey~
      I wish I could eloquently express how helpful, self-disclosing, articulate, open and insightful Jessica’s repost is (was). I am 57, been a single mother and have been fascinated, enamored, and concerned about my love of the tiny house movement. My 18 year old daughter moved to San Diego and I want to move there or close and my son is 21 is insure of his plans but will be moving independently shortly. One of the things I love about the THM is the concept of freedom, simpler living and having more time to live than collect and keep stuff. I come from a long line of children so not only have all I have collected but what I call “dead people’s stuff” and even though they all are dear to me their stuff is stifling.
      The parking issue has been the biggest barrier when I finish fantasizing and think what a hassle it would be, which would put a big damper on a simpe, no drama life. I am not a country girl but always lived close to a big city. Chicago, Miami and now 45 min from NY. The idea to live based on where I can park my house is concerning, especially when I read many peoples story who love it but do say they are parked illegally and if someone would ask them to leave they would have to. I am not cut out got that.
      With that being said, I have considered the THM as just one solution for living simpler. When I first saw your tiny house listing I thought it was awesome and though not ready for buying one I am so glad I saw the link to your blog.
      I have had a huge concern to have the freedom of movement the TH affords I have to drive a huge truck which isn’t sustainable for me (not judging those who do). I am also an extrovert and being stuck in the woods in the middle of no where wouldnt work either. Also working, I want to move closer to the equator as the winters in NJ are a bit much, it seems to me at least initially it would serve me to find an inexpensive tiny apartment to sort all of these things out and work on purging the stuff.
      Both of you sharing has really provided so much valuable information for me to think more personally about the choices of living in a tiny home or renting something tiny and still having freedom. And also thinking about what I want personally from the experience and what the THM has provided me in directions to dream
      It is too bad that so many people in any movement become so dogmatic about it as if their reason or philosophy is the dogma, I guess that is why there are so many churches and so many saying one is wrong and theirs is right. I try to have no dogma but just learn from others experience and get that other’s criticism has nothing to do with me, they just got confused that whatever they were thinking on the topic is the right way to think.
      Again, I cannot thank you enough for the openness you were willing to share and attracted for the most part others who were also willing to share. You have contributed greatly to my experience and future plans by your bravery to build your tiny house and share the process of what you learned on the way and what you learned you now desire during the process. It doesn’t seem a failure to me, seems you experienced the contrast and know what you want now.
      love to both of you and those who shared their experience and gratitude here too.

      1. Gigi,

        THANK YOU for your comment. It was so nice.

        I was nervous about posting about any of this, but for every person who has said “It’s made me really stop and think” – no matter the outcome, I’m happy that my words can have an impact.

        I completely agree that renting at least for a short time until you know what’s best for you is a good way to go. We are now in a 650 s.f. apartment and we are loving it. Our stress has gone down by half, easily. Knowing that we have the flexibility to move anywhere when our lease is up, and not worry about where water will come from or where will leave our trash and waste – it’s priceless.

        Decluttering things that hold memories are the hardest of all. Best of luck and attitude to you on your own journey!

    2. Claudia,

      We experienced much the same thing. RV parks would have been about half of the rent of a one-bedroom, but we would have had to be forty minutes away from the part of town we work/have friends/family in. So add in gasoline and wear and tear on the car, plus the cost of the tiny house and having no room to garden or anything like that and all the benefits are moot. Besides that, no RV park near us would allow a handmade home, even if it was better looking than many of the RVs parked there.

      While many people have found a way to make tiny houses work for them, they simply don’t make sense for a lot of others. Thanks for commenting!

    3. Yah some of them remind me of vegans in that sense. It’s like that’s nice, you eat veggies. But they call us flesh eaters like we’re cannibals or something. To me it’s like saying ” I painted my house yellow” and my response being “infidel you must paint your house blue or your the scum of the earth”. Who cares?!

  20. Greetings, it’s me again, I have now read a little more about your situation in life and more about the kind of problems you’ve been experiencing. You guys remind me of myself, heh heh! Anyway, also having gone through a lot of the same but with a regular small cabin style house, getting ripped off for construction, dirty awful things that happened, well, you do have each other, and that U.S. more than what I have had while going through it alone. So life is a lot like this sometimes. Just keep finding your oasis and refining for best for you as you are. Life is certainly difficult. if you look around this world, it can be a lot worse. Somehow, I found a way for peace in there too. Glad you are too. All of it makes me prefer animals to people.

  21. Thanks so much for this “confession!” I have been following the tiny movement for a bit now, and every point you made also occurred to me at various times. But as you said, the movement and the “cuteness” of a lot of these builds distracted me from such practical concerns. Really, the ideal would have evaporated if we ever got serious about it as soon as my husband would try to step foot in the place. At over 6 feet, he would feel like a bull in a china shop in his own home, so that would seal the fate for us.

    Thanks again for your honesty! It has help[ed me to treat tiny house listings like any other real estate listing, as a “wouldn’t that be nice, but…” daydream. Go forth bravely to the city! 🙂

    1. Yep, we specifically build this house with a 7′ 6″ kitchen/bathroom area for me, since I’m 6′ 3″. But you’re right, just being a big person, living in a tiny house can probably become claustrophobic. Thanks for your comment!

  22. WOW–thanks for sharing. It is disappointing that neighbours like that exist. And it is wonderful to have city options. We have considered the building and parking challenges in this process. Truly, there is no one-size-fits-all tiny house lifestyle.

  23. Thank you so much for this thorough, thoughtful, honest post. I’ve been a tiny-home fan for years, and all this time, I’ve known that I couldn’t handle the isolated aspect, so that’s left me pondering the possibility of urban tiny-home living.

    Well, as you described, that problem’s already been solved. It’s called an apartment.

    I’m a big fan of co-housing and hope that we see affordable options, including co-located tiny homes, at some point. But honestly, urban real estate is expensive. I doubt we’ll see much, beyond perhaps co-housing tiny homes co-located in a suburb, such as project near Boston I’ve been following—in Melrose, I think it is.

    At any rate, the very best to you. Again, I truly appreciate your generosity in sharing your insights, and I wish you the best of luck in selling the tiny home and forging ahead in your urban lifestyle.

  24. I am considering the tiny house lifestyle, and you gave me a lot of valuable food for thought. Further, I am a writer and want you to know your blog is beautifully written. Thank you for taking the time to share.

    1. I can’t take the credit for this one, as it’s my wife who is the prolific writer, but thanks so much for the compliment! We like to share the truth, no matter how ugly it is.

  25. Jessica great post thanks for sharing you made alot of great and more importantly honest insights into what has happened

  26. Hi, Guys!
    I learned that your TH had been stolen when my 34-yr-old son sent me a link to the story. He is keenly aware of his 61-yr-old mom’s interest in the TH movement. While the theft was an unusual story; the human condition being what it is, this was bound to happen, sooner or later. Many of the posts I have read here do not seem to take into account that a touted, advantage to living in a TH is greater flexibility…to change! YOU have every right to change…your own mind! I have seen countless advertisements for completed/lived- in, THs for sale BECAUSE individual circumstances have changed! We all have. Maybe your choice is easier for me to understand because I have lived a few years longer than some of the folks who have commented. I don’t know.
    For a variety of practical reasons, I too, need to live in a walkable city. I recently found an impeccable, vintage 1968 (tiny!) trailer for sale. I mean, MINT condition plus… 1968 is my favorite year! The price has now been reduced, and by some miracle, I actually have the funds to buy it. Since it technically has wheels, I don’t even need to convince the city to allow me to construct a dwelling. However, as you have probably already surmised, there is no place to situate it. That is, unless I am willing to pay about 2/3rds of my current rent…out in the country. That is not an option for me, so I shall remain here, in my well appointed, yet basement apartment. I am grateful to have a warm place to sleep, and food to eat, when so many have NEITHER.

    Good luck to you both,
    Susan, Boise, ID.

  27. I applaud you for your honesty. While the theory of a tiny house was exciting to us at first, we too have had to come to the conclusion that it is just not feasiable. However- from studying the tiny house movement and seeing all of the failures and successes we have taken a learned a little from them all. We learned to down size our life, we have learned what is important and what is not. Choosing not to finish your home is your decision is not for anyone else to decide or condemn you for. Life is about learning, growing, and changing. You learned what you needed to learn and move on from there.

  28. Your story blew my mind. It never occurred to me someone would steal a Tiny House. Your honesty is admirable. I fantasize about living in a Tiny House as a vacation home. But the problem I keep coming up upon is where to park it. I think I’ll go back and dream about owning an RV. It appears as though you are more than ready to move on. Thank you for sharing your story.

  29. First, let me thank you for your refreshingly honest posting. Family has been laughing at me for several years as I fantasize about living alone (when/if widowed) in what they term a ‘shoebox.’ I figure it’s good to have a backup plan, and when/if Spousenik goes to his great reward, I had thought to purchase a built tiny home, see if I could get it permitted as an ADU and park it on our property (just under 1/3 acre) and letting one of our daughters and family take the ‘big house.’ One of our girls and her family have the house next door and I thought it would be grand to be able to provide housing for as many offspring as possible. The notion would be to be near the kids but not in their laps; to have some degree of independence. I still don’t know whether it’s practicable. Spousenik hates the idea but he tends to expand in all horizontal directions with his Stuff. I try to take up as little space as possible. I suspect that what underpins my daydream is the desire to live frugally, taking up as little space as is needed for my life and pursuits. And maybe not to have to live with other folks’ clutter.

    One thought I had in reading your excellent post–and I too bemoan nasty neighbors and mean commenters; life’s too short for such garbage–is that life seasons do change and you have to give your self permission to do what most suits you at a particular time. I’m from New York City but ended up in Berkeley when Spousenik got a job transfer. What I loved about Berkeley was being able to get to everything I needed by bicycle; I kinda hate having to depend on a car. But I’m no longer a true city kid; more of a troglodyte. Thirteen years ago we moved to a more suburban area which is fine but the house is too large. We very recently purchased a second home (fully intending to relocate) in the mountains of Northern CA, in the least densely populated area. Husband’s happiest time in life was in the mountains of NY; he sees himself as a country kid and has always hated the negatives of a city. There are many things in a city I used to need, or thought I did, that I have not needed since I began raising children; I look at myself in surprise, but the Internet is a great source of many things I need (music, movies, books, images of art, etc.) and I find now in my latter years, I need time and solitude to think and do what I enjoy. So a remote location with only Spousenik would not be much of a problem. The house we purchased has all the utilities and great siting, plus a heated greenhouse. As retired folk we would not have to drive to a city frequently but would have to plan purchases to storehouse what we needed. The irony of it all is that we probably will never get there: family needs us here and that picture does not seem to be changing any time soon.

    Guess the point of this ramble is that I appreciate your sharing: knew it couldn’t be all beer and skittles as most postings are overwhelmingly, gushingly adoring of the tiny house; I agree that we need tiny house communities; I know that finding a place to park the critter is the most unmanageable hurdle; and I think perhaps the final lesson in it all is that living purposefully with what you really need and want, is important, in whatever size or location or style you select. Just give yourself room to change your circumstances as your lives change and let no one external to your dyad lecture you on where or how or what! More power to you and a big thank you; your honesty must have cost you some blood.

  30. I appreciate your sharing the pitfalls you encountered with your Tiny House. I have been interested in the concept, but want to have as much research done before I make any commitment. I have spent the last three years doing so. Many pitfalls have come to light in that time, which I am glad I found out now and not when I have invested much time and money such as you have done. I still love the movement, but I am much wiser in what is necessary to live it. Again, thank you for sharing.

  31. Reading all of the points you make concerning selling your THOW and living in an apartment in the city has caused me to start rethinking my own plans of buying land in the back of beyond where there are no covenants and HOA’s.

    The safety issue has been lurking in the back of my mind, and your bringing that subject up, well, it’s not lurking anymore. When I look at land, I find myself looking to see if and where there are neighbors in case of emergency. And who knows what kind of people they could be. Thanks to you, I’ve had a reality check and am going to have to rethink everything.

    Thank you very much for this post. I wish the two of you the very best wherever the future takes you.


  32. Such a good & honest perspective on the tiny house life! I applaud you. I am a tiny house dreamer but I’m fairly certain that it’s just that – a dream. A lot of these points absolutely resounded with me.

  33. Want to add my thanks for your honesty! I’m fascinated with the whole TH movement but have realized, after much reading, that what most of us want is that simpler life. For me that means to cut back on unconscious spending and insane accumulation. We want purpose and meaningful work and relationships… I think you are figuring it all out and I applaud you both. Good wishes on your future, and enjoy your new home whatever it looks like!

  34. I just found you and your wife eaaaarrly this morning through a YouTube video you made about your washing machine and spin dryer as I’m in the market. I love the concept of Tiny Houses but since I won’t be building one, can I say I’m glad you’re selling yours so your blog posts reflect pinching pennies on spaces and products and simpler living and apartment dwelling because I can relate to those and crave blog posts about those? hahaa.. too soon?

    Good luck to you both, I look forward to reading your archives and what’s to come 🙂

  35. As I sit and read your story and others in my 2,700 sq ft house with a $240,000 mortgage, I ponder how I can ever keep this up at the over 65 group. I have been trying to convince hubby to downsize because I think a TH would make perfect sense in our future.
    We even have the land and the place to build one as one of the 3 houses on the property had a kitchen fire and it’s about 500 sq’. We even got a letter from the planning department before we bought this parcel . Of course now the building department thinks we have to completely tear down this house jumping the price from $20,000 for repairs to about $80,000 for a completely new house. So yes I can fully commensurate with you and others on the bureaucrats that can ruin your plans. I even had an engineer and fire department give letters as to its rebuildability . I fantasize how nice it would be for both of us to quit work, and just enjoy retirement in something we could manage and keep clean and afford , so yes we had to change our path and just keep working. I admire the both of you for the frank and informative article and am happy to know more about your TH story that changed your plans. Thanks so much for sharing.

  36. Thank you for sharing your story. We are just starting to research for our tiny home. Though our lives are vastly different than yours, you raise some very good questions. We would have never considered that it could be stolen. My husband is retired Army but still has to work as that doesn’t pay the bills. The army has stuck us somewhere for 22 years we have come to hate. (we are unusual, for some reason my husband didn’t get moved very much) For us the tiny house means freedom, we hope to be fully retired without a mortgage and travel. We must choose between a tiny house or a travel trailer. We really don’t want a travel trailer because we have lived in a very shoddily built mobile home for 20 years. We want to build ourselves with as much salvaged material as possible. We have an open timeline but we’re older and not as physically fit as we would like to be. All of the things you have gone through will help us in our decisions like whether to pay for help in the building or not. Yours is the first blog we’ve read. I do appreciateyou letting us know what your journey was like. It sounds like you learned some good life lessons. Good luck in your future

  37. Excellent post!! I am a city girl who moved to the country, convinced myself of the dream of country living while ignoring the realism of what it’s like to be isolated both physically, mentally, and emotionally from civilization besides the constant fear that comes with isolation. It can be soul-sucking. There are advantages for sure, but I made the mistake of only looking at those and ignoring the reality.

    Your post is outstanding and it’s obvious you have put an enormous amount of realistic thought into what you really want. Your tiny house experience has given you wisdom as well. No regrets. Life is all about learning. As many have said, living tiny is not restricted to a tiny house on wheels. There are SO MANY options and it sounds like you’ve tweaked your dream to fit your needs and wants. That is truly awesome!!

    If I could move back to the city, live in a tiny apartment, walk to work, be car-free and culture-filled, I’d do it in a heartbeat! HAVE FUN!!!!

  38. I’m a city person too. I learned this after moving to the country and meeting my first snake. And spending a winter with no neighbors and no activities within 15-20 miles.

    Good luck to you!

  39. Came across this blog by accident. ..or maybe fate? I looked into tiny houses but sadly the “elephant in the room” issue came up over and over which is where am I going to put it? Right now, it’s only in rural aka remote areas where they are legally allowed to be placed. I could not live “in the sticks”, I will go insane. Also ” country folk” tend to be very conservative and I’m the complete opposite in every which way.
    So the tiny home day dream is put on permanent hold until zoning laws become more flexible and maybe tiny home communities – near major cities – are legalized and created but I don’t see that happening anytime soon. So for now, I rather have a small apartment close to everything that I like and need…and I will be perfectly fine with that!

  40. Well I’m glad I came across this article! I just wanted to say that it was an eye opener and has killed my need to get a tiny house 🙂
    I’ve been looking at tiny houses for the past year and never really started to build one because there were so many factors that I couldn’t get to fit. 1. Where would I build it. 2. Where would I park it and not get in trouble. 3. Will this be a energy efficient solar passive home? 4. Costs? 5. Land? …the list goes on. And as much as I wanted to downsize my life the cost of other homes or building a home was even more than the cost of my home now. It just didn’t make sense to do it. I loved the idea just not the logistics of it. Your post has led me to give more thought to my current living conditions and quite frankly I realize they’re not so bad after all. I really do love my home even though it’s more house than I need. I bought it as a short sale so my mortgage is still a few hundred dollars cheaper than the 1 bedroom apartments for rent around me. There is a bus line on this road and I can walk to shopping and grocery stores less than a mile away. I work about 3 miles away and still have a car but one day they will finish the greenway which will make walking/biking to work possible. I live in Charlotte btw which has a pretty decent greenway system. It’s like having a bit of nature but still within the city. I too am a city girl!

  41. Well, just a little tip. Now after 3 yrs of researching re; the trend and economics, I really feel we just simply GOTTA get back to nature and community, where we are there for each other. Im working on a tiny house community (which you know is not simple task), but as you can see from the web site, that its objective is to not only provide but awaken people to the pending reality that is coming. And that by the 2nd generation from now there will not be the choices and options for a normal life as you have now, so Im trying to leave the kids the options, but fact is. If you go live out in the country for say 2 or 3 months, have groceries brought to you, one a week someone picks you up and takes you to an event. Your neighbors are all good friends and feel like family, you will actually be way more relaxed and healthier with NOOOO desire to return to the city. There is nothing to compare with sitting at the river side and becoming totally at peace internally and watching nature. After you do that for a while you will see what it is that we have lost in our money oriented cultures. Its kinda like ‘our souls’. So I have you can find a way to get on the bandwagon again, Now my project is in Portland, Or, but I know they are happening all over. The only thing you gotta watch for is make sure they not only want a tiny house, but a way better community consciousness or it will be the same old thing, ie nasty neighbors, etc. Good Luck To you

  42. Its easy to romanticise the tiny house lifestyle. The freedom of it. But reality is a bit different. I have lived 3 years in a small cabin the woods without running water. The winters are tough. Cold and very dark. Sometimes weeks go by without seeing any people. It takes an unusual person to live like this forever. It takes a hermit or someone hiding from the world.

  43. Hi Jessica,

    Thank you for sharing. My wife and I have been living in a tiny house since November, which we purchased. We have come to the conclusion that Tiny doesn’t always work. Not for couples at least. I think I would be perfectly content in my Tiny Home for many years, but alas, my wife is not. That being said we are in the process of transitioning back. Searching for the right place in the right location. I think the Tiny House community oversimplifies what it takes to live in 160 square feet. It takes an unusual couple to navigate that together. Even Jay Schafer moved on when he got a girlfriend and then married and started a family. Best wishes- Russell

  44. Thank you for sharing your story. It takes a lot of courage to admit regrets. At least you learned life lessons in the process and you also have an entertaining story to tell. I would love to live in a tiny house because I would like to be more environmentally friendly and minimize the amount of stuff we have. However with two kids and demanding jobs and a skeptical husband, convenience suits our lifestyles right now and a tiny house sounds like anything but convenient. Still, we think of ways to be more “green”, such as we make conscious effort to recycle and reuse plastics and we try to reduce our consumption of energy. We try to buy less stuff. But, everything in our lives is still a work in progress, just like our ambitions to be more environmentally friendly.

  45. I have spent the last decade or so living in cramped, small quarters, at times, with others. The idea of living in a tiny house is oppressive to me. I do not paint every person in this movement with the same broad brush, but I am speaking from a viewpoint of having known several proponents of the movement. Two related terms come to mind when I think of this: Neo-puritanism and Eco-puritanism. There seems to be, among some, an attitude of self-righteousness in wanting this. Some people seem to have a need to feel this. Whether it’s a need to feel that “I’m not like those people over there, I’m special because I engage in voluntary poverty.” or, in the old days, abstinence from pleasure, especially sexual pleasure, it just seems, to me at least, a new verse in the same old song. GIVE ME ROOM..,

    1. Totally agree with you.

      The further I get away from the movement the more I realize how privileged I am to have WANTED to live like that. It’s essentially poverty tourism.

      I agree there is self-righteousness. The metaphor to Puritanism is right-on. And not surprisingly, many people only last a few years in the houses, milk the attention/money to be made from telling people how to live in tiny houses, and then silently move on to bigger homes without any goodbye posts.

      There’s a lot to be said for decreasing the average home size to something around 1500 s.f. from where it is now. But that’s a far cry from 100-300 s.f. for two humans.

      Thanks for your note.

  46. Wow, what a popular post. I hope you find my comment way down here.

    Thank you so much for this honest break down of your current situation, I think you did a great job breaking down some of the core issues facing the tiny house movement and I hope that a lot of people get to read this before they blindly jump in.

    We have gone through a similar soul search as you and we came to a little different conclusion. We recognize that we are ‘city people’ and ‘country people’ at the same time. We love walking to coffee shops, restaurants, groceries, libraries, parks, etc and having good mass transit options.

    But we also love having the forest and the ocean close at hand. Fresh air and long walks either in the trees or with sand between our toes is a core need.

    Tiny houses allowed us to have the best of both worlds. We now split our time between an urban area that offers us the culture and convenience we crave AND a tiny house in the country which offers us the easy access to nature which is needed for our well being.

    I think that a lot of people struggle with your urban/rural divide and we are working towards making rural tiny houses more available for city dwellers that need a break from urban constraints.

    Thanks again for sharing

  47. I feel for you and your situation! I don’t get it at all, but people are different. I LOVE my cars. I absolutely hate public transportation. I’d rather be on my bike than on a bus or train or uber even. I don’t go to concerts, or bars, or museums, except maybe the latter on a special occasion. Still I’m glad I an opportunity to hear your thoughts and experiences and am more resolved that an eventual tiny house will be for me. Thanks!

  48. Hi, thanks for this feedback about tiny houses! I’ve looked into it myself, I’ve been living instead in a manufactured home in San Diego (Leucadia) for 15 years. Across from the beach, for $700/month! I got the double wide for a great price and remodeled it when I had extra money to do so, it is nice to have a place set up in a neighborhood designed/planned for manufactured homes so I’m not constantly worried about getting kicked off of owned land for living in a “temporary” structure. I also got a cabin in the mountains of big bear lake, CA, 400 sq feet, built legally to code on a foundation, for cheap. There’s not many jobs up there but I’m saving it as my retirement and vacation home. It was actually much cheaper to keep the double wide, pay the space rent, and buy a second home than to buy a single bedroom apartment in San Diego! So, everyone has to find their own way. I’m hoping in the future it will be legal to build tiny homes on a parcel of land, but for now it’s just too risky.

  49. Two years ago, I bought a converted tiny house (from a shed) 288 square feet originally. I found an acre lot right outside of Ft Worth, Tx for $15k in a neighborhood that has mainly mobile homes, but nice lots and well-kept. Unrestricted, three minutes from the interstate, bike-able to the grocery store, restaurants, movie theater, etc… I can be at two malls in ten minutes or the lake in 5!
    I know my experience is unlike most… but unrestricted places can still be found that are near ammenities and LIFE. ha. I’m even hooked up to city water (septic system though). 288 square feet for me and my blind doggie was just a bit too small, I’ve since added a 10×16 bedroom with a large closet and then a back covered deck. I have a large garden, fruit trees, and a beautiful courtyard I’ve made- love greenery and scenic scapes).
    So now I’m at 408 square feet- PLENTY big enough for me. I have a single friend who lives in a 3100 sq ft house with 3 garages, two vehicles, a boat, a hot tub, and a large pool in his backyard and his house is full to the gills with his stuff. It fits him and that’s fine. Mine fits me and that’s fine too.
    But if a smaller place is your style, there are still places to be found that are not way out in the sticks somewhere. It’s the search that is hard. Usually just past the suburbs are the place to look. I have always loved tiny places, even lived in a tent for 6 months on Lake Travis in Austin at one point… I’m also getting my place ready to be in Tiny House living magazine in the fall and am currently writing a humorous book about Tiny house living.
    BE WELL, BE YOURSELVES my peeps!

  50. I too feel compelled to add my 2 cents in, (just cause its been a few months from the last post) LOL. I wont come in and insult you or say you should have thought, planed… blah blah. also want to say im in Texas (howdy neighbors), I too loved the tiny home idea when i seen my first one, never thought about where to park it, but as fate would have it i lucked into a really great property (1/2 acre) with a building (barn) on it for $5000. what i did want to say is, ive lived all over the country, Ive drove thru EVERYWHERE in the country. (yall can have Ohio, West Virginia, Chicago, NYC, LA, and Florida) There are places where code is not an issue, yes even in the city, try Houston TX. (no zoning) its not for everybody i know, and admittedly im not anywhere you would consider close to Houston, im out 60 or so miles, but I, me, on my own made the choice to not be in the city. I love the country life, my Houstonian friends can and do come out to my place to get away, as well as I drive in to get my fill of the big city when i need to. ive been an avid hunter and fisherman my entire 45 years here on earth, but always lived in big cities and had to drive out to shoot or fish. Or go to a nasty river where eating the fish isnt on the menu or go to an over priced range where you have to buy their expensive ammo or targets… whatever. My background has always been in mechanics or truck driving, never construction but im a pretty handy sorta fellow, so instead of ploping down a trailer or a $50,000 tiny, i opted to tear the roof off the barn and add a 2nd floor living space. 600sq/ft of just tiny enough without feeling like i live in a sardine can. The massive (pun intended) town of Shepherd is walking distance for parks, biking running and shoping. For anything else im 15 mins from walmart either north or south. Yearly tax is less than most people spend on starbucks or cable tv in a month. So for ME, I am living the dream, Mine. it would CERTAINLY not work for many of my friends and i’d never go as far as to say it would work for you (anyone reading this). everyone is different, I dont have to be in a city of 5 million people to make a living, i can work at the corner gas station and KEEP more money even if i made $400 a week compared to 10X that, I made driving a truck. the real point im trying to make here is its a matter of you finding the right way for you to be happy. And to the Friday’s I am glad you found YOUR right place for now, its the past struggles in life that make us stronger today. ya’ll take care and God bless Texas.

  51. THANK YOU! For saying it like it is. Tiny Living is challenging for alot of people and our “Only speak positive vibes” word police are incredulous. In regards to ‘snowflake trolls’ (lol fragile emotional state and negative) it’s always amusing how negatively negative people react to any type of “negative” words. Censorship and oppression hidden behind beatific zen smiles.

    I have done the THM for about 8 years, and if you are a busy and creative person at home? You just will run out of room quickly. I’m about to start building outside sooooo, I get weary from playing Tetris with my belongings just trying to reach something LOL!

    That 70ish blaggard cracked me up! What a snowflake. Yeah, unlimited funds and time equal perfection! LMAO!
    You know back in the 80’s I just assumed that most people were ridiculous, now with the internet I KNOW people are ridiculous. Including myself, lol.

  52. I stumbled across this article because I have a neighbour living in his rv in our yard for almost 8 months. I’ve called around to different rv parks and the cheapest one is $500 a month just to park an rv. I thought it would be cheap and easy to find him somewhere to go, but apparently not. Anyways, I don’t have any great point to make, but that’s why I found this. He is hooked up to our septic and plugged into our electrical, and I’m constantly worried about basement flooding because he needs constant running water. He is an ex crack addict so he can’t hold a job due to a short attention span. I feel trapped with him because it’s so expensive to park it anywhere and I can’t just call the cops and say get him outta here. The last time I asked him to leave he pretended to have a back injury. Any suggestions where to park this thing? Thanks.

    1. That’s really tough. We lived in an RV for a year, and the cheapest rent we got was $650/month, but we wanted to stay at a park nice enough to have laundry, full hookups, etc. You could always hit craigslist and see if there are people willing to let an RV park on their property for cheap (I’ve seen some for ~$250/month). Long story short though, it’s just gonna be really expensive.

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