Three Reasons You Won’t Be Happy In A Tiny House

When people dream about living in a tiny house, they idealize the life a fair bit.  It’s something we all do, heck, I even do it even today.  There are, of course, many reasons tiny houses aren’t the best, but I thought I’d share some thoughts on things that leave people unhappy in a tiny house so you can avoid them.


You started with the design, not with the function

There is a adage: form follows function.  Many people fall in love with a specific house or set of plans, then try to make it work for them. This is backwards.  The most successful houses start with what a person needs, then a design is spawn from that list of needs and functions.  You need to play anthropologist, taking an objective eye when you look at your life and what your house needs to support.

You didn’t take the time to get in your own head

I see this all the time, people move into a tiny house very quickly without going through the deep self reflection and understanding required to make it work.  The biggest thing that will make you settle into your tiny house for the long term isn’t the design, the size, the amenities, it’s your coming to terms with what makes you happy, with a departure from gratuitous consumption, and a break from status symbols.

It’s easy to say you don’t buy a lot of stuff or that you don’t need things; it’s an entirely different thing to be deprogrammed of consumer culture and when someone shuns you in a social situation that you can be okay with the fact your house isn’t large or that you only own a few things.

You think it is about the house

I say this time and time again, living in a tiny house and The Tiny Life has nothing to do with the house, it is a lifestyle that you adopt that will change your life.  While tiny houses have a great aesthetic, they are appealing and cozy. When someone successfully lives in a tiny house long term it is not because of these facts.

A tiny houser is committed to making a change in their life to a magnitude that most people are willing to.  If you live the tiny life, you could live in any size house because it’s not about the house, it’s the commitment to your priorities and to doing what needs to be done to live your best life.

Your Turn!

  • What things are you thinking about when it comes to making the leap?
  • What are you worried about moving to such a small space?


  1. i thought i had done the work, emotionally, spiritually, and practically when i planned to move into tiny living. and i had. but there’s only a certain amount of pre-thinking/prep you can do. the anticipatory excitement of it all sometimes outweighed the concerns. i think that’s true for so many things. we romanticize things, and the more push back we get the stronger we build our fantasy as a defense against nay-sayers. i’ve lived tiny for 9 months now, and the bloom is off the rose. i continue to be confronted with deep seated societal values that i want to shed. i continue to think about what living simply really means. i continue to weigh out what i’ve chosen to let go of with what i have received. it is a process that only started with my move into a THOW. lately, my biggest “a-ha” moment had to do with realizing living simply didn’t necessarily mean living plain or even “ugly”. I could have nice things that were simple, pleasing and made me happy.

  2. Since I’ve been living in my tiny home successfully for the past year I decided it’d be fun to see what you said. You are spot on! And everything thing you said is so true. I lived for 15 years on a sailboat and knew this was the lifestyle for me. I loved the boat. Moved into an apartment, post boat due to a divorce, and couldn’t wait to get back to tiny living. My designer and I talked about my needs as I’m now a senior citizen who does contract work. There are always a few things you would do a bit differently, but the big things we got right! And my home really is my castle. I even have a standing work station with bookshelves and file cabinet! One size doesn’t fit all, especially in a tiny home. The real reward with a tiny home is you CAN custom build! Leave the cookie cutters for the bigger house people!

  3. Even after downsizing my space and things for over 5 years, I still find more to do. I still hang on to things that I don’t use, because I think it is cool or might someday use. I still have WAY to many clothes. And boots. And electronic gear. But as I become aware of these issues, I work on them. Sometimes in a cold turkey, take-it-all-to-Goodwill kind of way, more often by setting the items aside and looking at them as something I no longer have in my life. I envision it, and after a while, it becomes true in my head. I prefer that way, as there’s less potential for regret.

    As for my living space, I’ve spent years thinking about that, too. I know what I need verses what I want. Luckily the needs list is pretty small, given the very small space I’m working with ~ smaller than the typical THOW. It’s not my planned long-term home, but it meets an immediate and pressing need. A larger small space can come later.

    Having lived in tents, a shed (during a particularly stressful time), and an abandoned truck camper, I’m clear on what works and what doesn’t work for me. I don’t recommend everyone thinking of moving into a smaller space do that sort of radical practicing, but it sure prepared me. Now the most important thing is a safe and sound space, with natural light, a little space for cooking and sleeping and my clothes (and boots, lol).

  4. my little family is about to make the move into a tiny house, I live very simply and have very few things in my current 1200sq foot house. I am looking forward to living in an even smaller house. Hoping my husband is truly on board with the move. I joke around with him saying we should build two and park them close, one for him and one for me and the baby…….. or maybe one for his stuff 😉
    maybe a shed is a good compromise.
    thanks for sharing

  5. I’ve always lived simply, not to make a statement but because I’m happier that way. I ‘lived tiny’ before there was such a thing and I loved those small spaces. Right now my tiny house is really tiny – a scale model made from cardstock. I’ve made the furniture and planned where everything I own will go. You can even open the door of the tiny cardstock fridge and I’ve drawn what will be in my tiny house fridge one day. I have some responsibilities that I need to take care of before I can live tiny again. I’m using that time to think, and research, and sketch, and make lists, and find people on the same path. And to move tiny cardstock furniture around in my tiny cardstock house. Thank you for the encouragement and guidance.

    • You may want to look at Google SketchUp. It is a fully functional 3D modeling program for free. You can go crazy with accurate details of your tiny plan, right down to the eggs and six-packs in your fridge. 😉

  6. Great article. I appreciate hearing that form follows function. I’ve hear it before but never thought about what it meant.

    I currently live in a 526 sq ft apartment. I’m enjoying de-cluttering. It agrees with feng shua and other humane forms of organization. I plan to use masking tape (WKRP’ing it) to mark off the interior sq ft of a typical a tiny home to get use to it.

    I enjoy learning all I can about this process and truly appreciate when tiny homers relay the down sides.

  7. Might I suggest that, prior to moving to a tiny house, one rid oneself of everything he won’t be bringing into the tiny. Living with only your future belongings, even with a lot of floor space, makes one think about what’s important, and the importance of staying tiny.
    When I hosted a radio talk show in Colorado, I had numerous “survivalists” call in. My challenge to them was to go home, unplug the phone, open all the circuit breakers so there’d be no electricity, turn off the gas, shut off the plumbing… and call me back in a week.
    While tiny living need not approximate the days after a natural disaster, the same idea applies: try before you sell yourself on it.

    • This is such excellent advice and this is exactly what my boyfriend and I are doing. We’re currently in a 1200 square foot apartment but we *think* we want to go tiny. We’ve agreed to spend the next year as our lease runs out culling items so that we can move into a studio. If we can do that successfully for a year (you know, without losing our minds or killing each other LOL), then we will start planning to build our own tiny home.

  8. i think it’s a great idea to “practice” living tiny before you make the leap. it will give you some idea, but not the whole picture. one other suggestion i might add is getting some cheap folding screens to really mark off the tiny space. if it’s just living inside some masking tape, the spaciousness around the tape will trick you. the feel of walls around a tiny space is a different experience.
    i also have found that my tiny bathroom, with tiny shower and composting toilet can be a little depressing. i use the gym shower these days. i really miss a nice sized bathroom. . . tiny kitchen cooking is also a whole other significant challenge. it’s hard to really replicate those. .

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