If you are into things like house hacking and alternative living arrangements, there is a fair chance you might have heard about the tiny house movement. There is a whole little sub-group devoted to tiny house living online, and the pictures of their homes are to die for!
At least I think so.
But then again, maybe it’s easy to make your home look rad when you have photography skills like these and video crews like these. If you are Norwegian, there is also an excellent introductory article right here.
I will be honest with you, I just keep coveting tiny houses. Whenever a post about them turns up in my feed somewhere, I am inclined to give it a click – especially if there are pictures! I even went so far as to download a free tiny house building plan at one point.
It’s still there, sitting in one of my many folders.
But coveting and idyllic pictures aside. What are the nitty gritty details about tiny house living? Obviously we can’t answer all the questions we have with regards to tiny living without actually living in one. But we can do some due diligence and try to figure out if we could make it work for us.
Yup, tiny houses are often built on a “as you go” or commission basis with disposable income or smaller loans. Since it is an alternative way of living, it is often not recognised by governments or banks, so you might not be able to even get a mortgage either.
If Mr. E. and I get over our DIY fear of building our own dwelling, which seems pretty terrifying to the both of us, then I do think we could be able to either save or spend enough for a tiny house within a year plus our own labour.
The downside to that is of course that any penny we take for a tiny house would be a penny we’re not saving for that elusive down-payment we intend to make on that dream house in the woods and its associated upgrades/refurbishing/straight up building.
But a significant decrease in housing cost would mean that this initial investment would be recuperated withing a year or two, and after that our savings would go nowhere but up.
Of course, with lower living costs, it would be that much easier for us to live off our sidehustles. And the sooner our sidehustles can become main hustles, the faster they will grow too!
Familiar to some of our readers, I get some fierce bouts of house FOMO from time to time. Usually whenever I see an apartment or house for sale that we could actually see ourselves living in. Which is one of the reasons I have drastically reduced my house listing voyeurism…
But if we manage to build a place of our own? I do think that would seriously temper those FOMO urges I suffer from – and save us money in the process without locking us into an apartment and a monthly payment!
It might take some looking if you live in a bigger city and land is a premium. But usually, and semi-rural to rural area there will often be people who are willing to rent out a piece of their garden, driveway or just plain forest for a small fee. Often this is land they would not be using anyhow.
To my utmost luck and privilege, we have a friend who has already said that we could park our tiny house, if it ever comes into existence, in their rather large driveway. We would need to have a proper sit down with the couple in question if we were actually seriously considering it. But by and large, it does seem positive.
Plus, walking distance to my best friends and their cat. I am very much down for that.
All right, this might not be all that applicable to Mr. E. and myself, seeing as we share a medium-sized flat in a well-insulated house with minimal heating.
But as a rule, the smaller your living area, the smaller your demands on the planet. You need less resources, less energy, less of everything (except food, we do love food).
While the smaller carbon footprint is appealing, there are ways to make your carbon footprint net-positive that does not involve living in a closet. Both Mr. E. and myself do a fair bit of work at home, Mr. E. in particular.
And we both need those workplaces to be separate physically. No sitting on either end of the kitchen table, it would be far too distracting. Plus, we really appreciate having a desk or work space where we can leave stuff as we think through things – not somewhere we would have to clean away every time we sit down to share a meal.
We are both privileged westerners after all, and we are used to having a certain amount of privacy and space. So this is a source of some apprehension for the both of us.
We both agree that it would be a perfect living solution if we were single. We are just not entirely sure how it will work for a couple, especially in the country where you can’t just go sit outside half of the year.
How do you get water to your tiny house? What about electricity? Sewage? Internet?
It is not a permanent structure after all. At least not the kind of tiny house we’re considering building – where the whole point is that we could take it with us when we found that dream home, or if we realise it doesn’t really work to live in our friend’s driveway.
Solar panels and combustion toilets are good solutions, but we would probably need a backup for the electricity of some kind. And pulling water from a garden hose would be quite impossible in temperatures below freezing.
Norway has strict regulations when it comes to things like insulation thickness, fire exits, size of rooms, ventilation etc. All to ensure people have healthy living environments and there is a minimum of accommodation to people with disabilities.
This means tiny houses are, well, too small. They are not permanent either, so cannot be considered houses. Any living in such a construction would be at our own risk.
Don’t get me wrong though, there is still a small sub-population in Norway who have chosen to adapt tiny house living and making it their own, legislation or no. Anyone from extreme sport athletes to students looking to reduce their living costs drastically. People are doing it, and they are doing it well.
Have you ever considered non-traditional lifestyles in order to optimise your lifestyle or to gain more freedom. Would you feel differently about it if it was temporary compared to permanent?
Time will tell if these ideas will actually become something, or if we will just think about it but not have the guts to take the plunge. Would love to hear what you guys have to say about tiny houses and house hacking for cash-poor millennials!