5 Misconceptions About Tiny House People

Having been working with Tiny Houses for years now, I have run into many instances where people have some perceptions of tiny house folks that couldn’t be further from the truth.  Sometimes I feel like informing them of how it really is to live tiny, but other days, I just don’t have it in me to say anything.  So today I thought I’d lay to rest some of the common misconceptions about tiny houses and the people who live in them.

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1. We hate stuff

While it is true we don’t like the gratuitous, debt accumulating, clutter creating consumption of stuff for consumption sake, we aren’t against things.  In fact the things we own and take up space in our tiny houses, we really really like.  We have decided to only have those things that make our lives richer, happier and in some cases easier.

2. We don’t have a lot of money or a job

I remember one conversation I had with a woman that came walking off the street to see my tiny house.  After talking a while, I mentioned it had taken a while to build because I could only work on it when I wasn’t working.  She looked at me with astonishment and said “oh you have a job” she then alluded that my job must not be well paying and I informed her I had a good job white collar job that paid very well.  Her face was filled with a look of confusion.

The ironic thing is that most tiny house folks actually make more than the average American, are gainfully employed at good jobs.  What is more, we keep most of what we make, meaning we often don’t have any debt and we have more saved up.  Recently a report release by PEW showed that someone with no debt and $100 in the bank account has a higher net worth than most people in America.

3. We say no to big houses

For a long time I thought I was saying “no” to big houses, fancy cars, nice clothes, etc. but I realized one day that I wasn’t saying “no”, but in fact saying “yes”.  I am saying “yes” to a life where I have no debt, where I have exactly what I need, to a job where I only have to work a few hours a week, and “yes” to travel, pursuit of passions, hobbies and interests.

So its not so much I’m rejecting bigger houses, but embracing the benefits of smaller living.

4. You can’t have a relationship or a family in a tiny house

Time and time again I get asked about families and relationships in a tiny house.  There are plenty of examples of people who are couples and also plenty of examples of families who live in a tiny house.  The truth is it’s possible, but its not for everyone.  Don’t get caught up in “I have to be ____ number of square feet because that is what a tiny house is”  Forget that notion, do what makes sense for you and those you live with.  If I were to want to cohabitate with someone else, would I live in a tiny house with them?  HELL NO!  Would I get a bigger house than a tiny house, but small compared to most houses, most definitely.  For some though, a tiny house as a couple is great.  For some families, they might live in 800 square feet or maybe more; that’s okay too.

5. A tiny house isn’t a real house

Every time someone learns that I live in a tiny house that don’t know what they are I get all the same questions.  Does it have a bathroom, a sink, a kitchen, a shower, a toilet, a bed, electricity, water, internet?  The answer is yes, yes, and yes.  My house has every creature comfort you could want and so do most tiny houses.  Tiny houses have all the same systems that a traditional house has, it is built the same way (mostly) and uses most of the same materials.  There are some things that I have chosen  not to have like a dish washer and microwave, but that’s because I didn’t want them.


  1. Amen!

  2. I think the biggest misconception about tiny house people is that there’s a single, narrow definition of tiny house people or tiny houses. Even tiny house people tend to forget that their particular philosophy or aesthetic is just one of many along a very large spectrum.

  3. So here is my dilemma: I live in an apartment, which means I pay every month for something I will never own and will never be paid off.
    Also, I work at a job that pays barely above poverty-level, yet is demanding and which exhausts me every day; plus it’s given me carpal tunnel and foot problems. I have no debt, however, and I do have some savings. But I have no way to build a tiny house. I don’t have the skills. And also, I have no PLACE to build it. I can’t exactly build a tiny house in my apartment complex’s parking lot. I could have one built, I suppose, but then, where would I park it? I’m a single woman. Where would it be safe?

    Can anyone answer these questions for me? Thank you. 🙂

    • LongsToBeFree,

      Ultimately you’ll have to determine the best course of action for your circumstances but here are some suggestions that you might consider:

      1. Save up enough money to build the entire tiny home in one go so that you will take up less time/space during the building process.
      2. While saving, embrace minimalism and cut out all unnecessary expenditures. This will probably require a certain amount of creativity if your current job is paying just about poverty level. But necessity is the mother of all invention, right?
      3. Consider taking some building courses through a local lumberyard (Lowes, HomeDepot) or even attending a Tiny Home Building Seminar.
      4. If your physical limitations prevent this, try finding a local builder you trust and see if you can work out some type of barter situation. Do you have skills and training that you could exchange for the builder’s manual labor? For example, maybe you are good at bookkeeping or organizing and can help with projects in lieu of paying cash.
      5. In terms of where to park it, I would consider reaching out to friends or family members that might be agreeable to a situation such as this. Or maybe even run a CraigsList ad to find someone in your area who might be open to this. You could also take a look at RV parks in the area and see what their long term parking/camping options might look like.
      6. And safety is relative. That would be difficult to answer since I don’t know anything about your town or neighborhood. I suspect, however, that you probably know where the “wrong side of the tracks” are and I’d stick with your gut and stay away from those places.

      Good luck,

    • One classic way of saving money is to live with family. Americans tend not to consider moving back in with their parents because we’re so independent, but if you have an idea to get yourself a better financial situation, they might help in the meantime. Old people love having company, and they’d probably love to see you improve your situation. At the very least, they might let you build on their property. I’ve been looking at tiny houses since college, and am saving up to build one in the near future (though I’m waiting to see how that goes over with my long-distance girlfriend, but I have faith), and my plan is to ask either my father or uncle if I can build on their land in exchange for favors, and then eventually once it was built, I would search for a proper home for my home. To be honest, I think it’s highly likely that both of them would offer to let me stay on their land permanently, even though I’d feel like that was taking advantage of them, because they would both appreciate the proximity to family.

      As far as safety as a single woman (or anyone for that matter, it’s not really dependent on gender or marital status), safe behavior has as much to do with safety as safe location. Living with family would increase safety, as well.

  4. To “Longs to be Free”: I was in much the same place as you…I recently got a job with a liveable wage and, rather than move to an apartment (I have been living with the kindest people imaginable), I just bought a beat-up 1960’s trailer for less than what moving into an apartment would cost. In a couple of days, I will be moving it to a friend’s unrestricted property outside the city, where I will refurbish it to suit my needs. My rental for staying on her property will be hundreds less than apartment rental and will afford her cash to start fixing up the property for her own trailer and, eventually, her container home, which I can help to set up. Never say you lack the skills to do what you want or need to do. You have a wonderful brain and hands that God created so you could be creative like He is. I research whatever I want to learn to do. The internet and the library are full of information and how-to instruction. You can learn computer skills for free at most libraries to improve your job opportunities. You can learn crafts from books and DVD’s and U-tube that can be used to start a business. You can learn, as I am, how to make a tired, old, worn trailer into a revitalized, cozy, attractive home…with less heavy labor than building a tiny house. I plan to build one, but not on wheels…in the meantime, I plan to keep researching and learning new skills. You have what it takes to do it. God knew what He was doing when He made you who you are.

  5. I failed to comment on the safety issues. Because I initially will be alone and in an isolated area, until my friend is able to move onto the property, I had a relative go with me to a shooting range and teach me basic handgun skills. I am surprisingly accurate and, although I will
    probably never need to use it, I have the confidence that, should need arise, I could protect myself in most circumstances.

  6. I am looking for a place to live in a park model home. I need to be reasonably close to the bay
    Area for my family and consulting job. Tahoe would be great for me… Could we talk?

  7. I have been going back and forth on some questions, I’ve found some great winterization and information, but one thing on this post really struck me and I wanted to ask about.
    I’m a single woman, I have a dog and I live on the east coast. Here the weather can go from Balmy and humid to 0 degrees. I’ve already found a few companies I’ve been talking to. I want and will be living in a tiny house in the next year but now it’s down to how much I can do and finding a builder who is willing to let me help onsite or finish it on my own.
    So that’s a really roundabout way of asking, you said in your post about the woman who was shocked you worked while building. It seems that so many THOW and THOF people quite their jobs to build or afterwards, quit their jobs to travel and blog/vlog. I am a sign language interpreter. My concern is the safety and are of not only my home but also my dog during the time i’m at work. So Questions:
    Do you still have the white collar job?
    Do you have pets and if your gone for multiple hours of the day what do you do, home dog walking? Doggie day care?
    In colder climates do you leave the pet at home and what are the best ways to safely heat the home with the pet without possible, carbon monoxide issues ( i plan on having an electric heater during the winter but primarily using a Dickerson propane stove.Just trying to figure out the basics of life before i start with the build.

    Many Thanks!

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