Who doesn’t dream of the freedom of the open road? The wind in your hair, the sun on your face and your house … towed behind you? Living the nomadic lifestyle is different now than ever before. In decades past, you might have a rockin’ van with a mattress in the back, or maybe you carried a tent with you. I do know a chick who lived in a yurt for a while, but that’s a different story.
Today, some tiny homeowners are taking the freedom of small living to the limit by choosing their neighborhood, be it on the edge of a cliff overlooking the river or in a secluded pasture of (I hope) public land. Now don’t get me wrong, the concept is great in theory—especially with a small price tag of around $35,000 or less for the entire (albeit tiny) home—but I wonder if it’s best to take your home on the road? What are the drawbacks to this kind of thing?
FIGHTING THE LAW
Not to be a downer but, there’s something that really must be considered when talking about tiny houses. Where do you magically get the land to put these awesome little houses on? I’ve seen either trailer-mounted homes or those built from supply containers online in gorgeous places where they’ve just decided to place the house, as if on a whim. I’m thinking—as a person who owns a bit of land—that I wouldn’t want some house-toting hippie pitching camp on my scenic cliffside. So it must be that these folks own this land. Which calls into question: how much are you spending on the land itself?
In my opinion, you’re just talking to yourself by spending $30,000 on a postage stamp-sized house and another $50,000 on the land you place it on. I mean, at that point, you’re just doing it to be seen doing it because it’s not any more cost-effective than a regular home. If, however, you’re able just to set up house where you choose (for all I know this may be the case), there may be local laws to contend with. The crew over at The Tiny Life talk about the unfortunate fact that some municipalities don’t recognize tiny houses as dwellings, so they can presumably come after you and your portable house with fines or—gasp!—parking tickets.
DEALING WITH UTILITIES
So what about your wastewater? Electricity? I suppose you could conceivably mount solar panels on the top of the little house, but then you have to factor in space for batteries. In 150 square feet or so, four or five deep cycle batteries take up a significant amount of space (they’re about the size of two car batteries each). And then there’s water. Apparently there’s something called composting toilets and you could absolutely recycle your pee, but I’m thinking living in a tiny house is like camping full time. Now, if you’re into that, then knock yourself out. I just think I’d like something with a little more of a permanent foundation underneath it.
You must be someone who likes the outdoors to live in a tiny house and although I love to spend time outdoors, what about during rainstorms? I guess you’d better plan on not getting into a fight with your significant other when a monsoon-like rain is due to come sweeping through. And cramming kids into less than 200 square feet is virtually impossible; you might as well forget it.
Although I do enjoy the ideals of the tiny house movement—living within your means, keeping it simple, focusing on what’s important—living in a tiny house and especially one that’s small enough to tow behind a vehicle, isn’t for everyone.