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Tiny house cautions

There has been much interest recently in "tiny house listings" with a very active website that emails such listings daily. Sign up to receive them. People have so many different reasons for embracing the downsizing dream, but there are some realities to face. Moving into a tiny house is a big decision.

There are few communities of like-minded souls sharing the tiny life together. The listings tend to be spread over the United States and Canada, mostly in rural areas or tiny houses on wheels that need to be moved elsewhere. Ecovillage dwellers may share a love for small self-built houses, but their lifestyles are atypical and can require almost as much of an adjustment as moving to a foreign country.

Other considerations are:

  • Tiny houses may be off the grid, difficult to sell and only available to cash buyers. Do not expect to find mortgage companies eager to loan money on homes with no running water or sewage connections.Compost toilets are great but not in most lenders' vocabularies.
  • A tiny house may not be permissible by zoning ordinances and building codes. Do not buy one with plans of moving it to your property until you have ascertained it will be allowed.
  • A ladder to a loft bedroom may seem fine now, but the elderly should think ahead to the possibility that the time might not be far in the future when they will not be able to climb a ladder. There should be a plan for one level living and possibly even for a wheelchair.
  • Wood stoves can be charming, nice for warming the arthritic bones in cold weather, but all that cutting and toting firewood is heavy messy work and can lose its romance quickly. Consider one as supplemental heat.
  • Leave out all the cute steps up and down and instead build decks with railings from which it is more difficult to fall.
  • Save room for a couple appliances like a real refrigerator and a washing machine.
  • Do not move too far away from doctors and hospitals, grocery and other retail stores, entertainment, day help or old friends for that matter. If possible, have your small house in a place that feels like home to you. Do not isolate yourself from your support system.
  • You will probably have to sacrifice some of that treasured furniture, books and clutter that you have collected for years, but you may find you like the simple life better.
  • If possible, consider renting a smaller home first to see what size satisfies your needs. What seems a comfortable size to some may be insufferable to others. Happiness is a very personal choice.

View the website of a well designed 800 square foot home that seems bigger than it is.