What is a tiny house?

"So what is a tiny house? Let's demystify tiny houses, what they're all about, and why they're here to stay for the long run."

You may have heard about tiny houses before, even seen them on TV. But the question still burns in your mind as you desire to learn more about it: What is a tiny house? What classifies as a tiny house? How do people live in tiny houses?

Let’s get down to it and cover the basics of tiny houses, tiny house living, and the tiny house lifestyle. Here at Tiny House Network, we call that the “Tiny Lifestyle” and it’s something that we can all do to improve our lives. Read on to find out more.

What is a Tiny House?

A tiny house is defined as less than 400 square feet, according to the International Code Council. Above that is usually a “small” house but less than 1,000 square feet. It is a residential structure that falls below the sizes that are set forth from most building codes and zoning regulations. That is to say, they are very tight spaces.

Now, I’m not here to make you feel claustrophobic! Tiny houses actually “feel” bigger on the inside than you’d think. Especially for those that live in their tiny houses and have optimized their space.

The main reason you may feel like a tiny house is small or tight is because of the things you own. Large furniture, lots of clothes or shoes, and maybe you have special heirlooms that are precious to you. You could never imagine living without these things… Or could you?

This is a tough question to answer. The answer isn’t a simple yes or no. The reason why is because of zoning regulations. Some places require a residential space to be a minimum of 1,000 square feet. Some already allow tiny houses on wheels to park on their own land.

The biggest hurdle to jump is if you’re building a tiny house on a foundation. These fall under residential building codes and can make it difficult for you to build your own (or even hire someone to build) a tiny house if the local codes don’t allow it.

If you are building on a trailer, otherwise known as a Tiny House On Wheels (THOW), you can get it certified from one of several companies so you are able to park in RV parks. But even that, there are RV parks that are not willing to take the risk of insurance liabilities.

Let me answer this with another question. Why shouldn’t they be? The main concern is the rising cost of housing. Unfortunately, a housing crisis in America sounds like a fable that tiny house companies want to sell you on buying their products… but it’s not a fable at all.

Sure, tiny houses gained massive popularity when the TV shows fluffed them up and showed how “cute” they are. But they are more than just pretty pictures on the wall, they are about combating the rising housing costs, creating a sustainable living, and being economically responsible with your life and the world we live. But it’s also more than that!

The housing crisis is a real threat to our nation. It’s sad. There are so many homeless people in America alone, over half a million, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness. Canada is even having the same issue, especially in Toronto and Vancouver.

It’s not just the fact that tiny houses can effectively battle the rising cost of housing, it’s because of the lifestyle that comes with it. The “Tiny House Lifestyle” as we call it here at Tiny House Community, is one of the best ways to battle the excessive “stuff” that a household has.

The Tiny House Lifestyle

The best way to understand those that live in tiny houses is to understand the lifestyle. It’s not just about minimalism or affordable housing. It’s about being intentional.

Intentional buying, living, working, and housing. Being sustainable. Reducing your carbon footprint. Living life to it’s fullest. Going on fun adventures. Or enjoying a quiet night in.

The best part about the lifestyle is you can live it even if you never live in a tiny house. Here at Tiny House Community, we are advocates of tiny houses and tiny lifestyles. Although tiny houses are not for everyone, the lifestyle is. Personal success and happiness are accomplished with a sustainable and intentional lifestyle.

The lifestyle is based on self-reliance. Many people that live in tiny house communities have shared gardens, use animals for milk, cheese, and eggs, and some even live off-grid using solar power only. How cool is that?

How Can I Get Started?

Change your life by changing your lifestyle. Learn how to downsize your things and minimize your spending habits. This and more are crucial to living in a tiny house. While some may feel it is a natural transition, others may struggle with it.

Get started by reading books

We highly recommend Marie Kondo’s book on minimizing, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying. She doesn’t just teach you how to organize and reduce clutter, she teaches you how to unify your inner feelings with your exterior environment.

There are many more things you can do to live a tiny lifestyle. You may even want to eventually live in a tiny house. The tiny lifestyle is a journey. Embrace it with an open heart and mind. You will find it as you progress.

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About the Author
Stephanie McQueen
Stephanie McQueen
Stephanie is the content curator and resource hoarder of all things tiny houses. She believes everyone can live a sustainable lifestyle, no matter the size of your house. Connect with Stephanie through LinkedIn or her done-for-you branding agency, Employed By Life Online.

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