An Open Letter To Tiny House Hunters

Dear Tiny House Hunters:

Boy howdy, those tiny houses sure do look cool. I’m with you on this. They’re like dollhouses that you get to live in. Everything is so neat, so compact, so pragmatic. Looking at your existing home or apartment, you start to think, LOOK AT ALL THIS WASTEFULNESS. Do I really need all that floor near my bed? What am I doing with it except walking on it in order to get into bed? Do I really need that much counter space? Yes, I have a bowl of fruit on the counter, but surely that’s an improper and extravagant misapplication of three-dimensional space. What if I could just store my fruit under the sink, or in a secret ceiling cubby hole, or in a quaintly hollow tree stump outside? Are hallways anything but just the middleman of architecture? Do I truly require this much oxygen? My own house suddenly feels bloated, like a gassy belly. It’s cluttered and chaotic and — I mean, is this a house, or is it the airless infinity of outer space? Right? Am I right?

The tiny house is like a diet.

You look at it, and you think: I can do that. I can get healthy. I will juice cleanse and then eat asparagus and chia seeds for the rest of my life, and sweet hot fuck, I’ll be healthy as a horse. A robot horse. A robot horse who will live forever and be the handsomest robot horse ever. I’ll lose this weight. People will admire my lean frame and my culinary judiciousness. I’ll eat like a rabbit. I will defy gluten and cast sugar into the sea and JUST SAY NO to pizzas and ice creams and tacos and all I will eat are these rods of asparagus and these spoonfuls of chia seeds and once a week for dessert I will treat myself with these delicious crackers made from ancient grains (amaranth, motherfuckers!). For sweetness, I will mist them with agave syrup the way the lady at the fragrance counter mists you with perfume as you walk past.

I will diet, and I will be good.

I will tiny house, and I will be good.

* * *

I started watching your show at my wife’s behest.

We used to watch House Hunters until we learned the whole thing was a crass, reality show lie, and then we watched House Hunters International because even if it was a lie you got to see how they took showers in Iceland or what atrocity they called a “kitchen” in Hungarian apartments and of course we’d occasionally wiggle our toes in other shows, like that horrible one where people who are way too rich actually try to buy entire fucking islands because sure, why not, buy a whole fucking island, assholes, but if you’re not turning it into a villainous fortress then I just don’t understand you.

One day my wife said, “You need to watch this new show.”

And I said, what is it, and does it star Guy Fieri, and will he milk the donkey sauce from his pubic beard into a chicken stock in order to make the soup that takes us all down to the FLAVORPOCALYPSE. And she said, no, no, “It’s a new House Hunters show,” and I thought, well, where else can they go? Maybe House Hunters New York Apartments where we follow a broke single person trying to fight rat-swarms in order to find a rent-controlled outhouse-sized apartment for less than the cost of a mansion in Minnesota.

“It’s not that,” she said. But it was close. It was very close.

Enter you people. Hunters of tiny houses. Cave-humans once stalked lions on the veldt, but you intrepid hunters track itty-bitty homes — houses compressed down like coal until they become the shining diamonds of Spartan living.

You are the tiny house hunters. Er, not that you yourselves are tiny — far from it, as some of you are quite large-sized, like many of us humans! No, no, the tininess is embodied in the houses you seek. These homes are magnificently small. Many are 200, 300 square feet — 400 max. You get a bedroom, a kitchen, a bathroom, maybe a living room or sitting area, but all those rooms are smooshed together, stacked on top of one another, or are merged into mutant aberrations (“WELCOME TO THE KITCHEN WHERE THE SINK IS YOUR SHOWER AND THE OVEN IS YOUR CLOTHES DRYER.”) It’s not an apartment. It’s like a regular house hit with a shrink ray.

The normal house made Lilliputian.

Some look like little cabins! Others like chic trailers! Others still are shipping containers, or hobbit houses, or weird Transformers that expand and contract like a breathing lung.

I find that there exist two overall categories of tiny house hunters.

One group of you is the lone individual. You’re maybe young, an artist, with lots of student loan debt, and you tell us all the lie that you’re going to buy the tiny home and buy some property with it, except the truth is, your tiny home will forever haunt the yard of one of your siblings because that’s where you plant it. Or maybe you’re older — a musician gone to pasture or an aging hipster or a yarn lady — and you’re divorced or your spouse has perished in the usual way and now you just want to pare down your life. I understand that.

Another group of you are the couples.

Oh, the couples.

Two people who think they can co-habitate in a space roughly the size of the Keebler Elf Tree. Some of you are also older: you’re retiring and you are embracing austerity in your later years. One of you is perhaps way more on board than the other with living in this adorable little tomb, and that’s fine. Maybe you’re a younger couple instead, and if that’s the case, you probably have like, four kids and two dogs and you think ha ha ha that this is going to be good for your family, don’t you? Because sure, kids and animals like nothing more than being crammed together in a piano crate, forced to share their limited oxygen while Mommy and Daddy make clumsy, grunting love in the casket-sized open-air loft above everybody’s heads, and the dogs are barking, and the kids are fighting, and Mommy and Daddy are rutting like wild boars and yay, family.

I watch this show, though, and no matter who you are, I’m always a little amazed at your reactions. As if you don’t actually know what a tiny house is? You start out by saying, “We want to simplify and downsize,” or “We want our family to be closer,” and then you get into these tiny houses and start changing your tune. You say things like, “This is cramped,” or “Where’s the shower?” or “What is a composting toilet?” You then say, “This is cute,” but you say it in the way someone says it when they’re looking at someone wearing a homemade sweater. You don’t mean it. You look terrified, like an otter trapped in a cardboard tube.

So, I’ve seen a number of these episodes now, and I’d like to walk you through some of the realities you are likely to face upon procuring and dwelling within one of these tiny houses.

First, the toilet. We just need to get this out of the way right now. It’s very possibly a composting toilet. Now, if you’re a hipster like me, you think, HEY COMPOSTING IS GOOD, but I do want you to understand, you’re basically keeping your poop. I mean, we all keep our poop somewhere. Mine is underneath my backyard. But yours will be closer. More intimate. It will be mixed with sawdust or coconut hulls or, I dunno, the ashes of your parents, but you’ll keep it close and it will turn into dirt that conceivably you can use to grow flowers. That’s very nice. But make no mistake, whereas right now you poop into a bowl and pull a lever and the poop is whisked away by forces unknown, in a composting toilet you mostly just poop and then kinda… get up and walk away. I say this only because many of you seem quite surprised. As long as you don’t mind pooping like you’re living at a Lilith Fair, you should be fine.

Second, the toilet. Nobody has brought this up on the show, but I’m going to now: if you live with other humans, eventually one of you is going to take the kind of deuce-evacuation that could conceivably destroy a marriage. Normally you’d be fine, because normally you’d be living in a normal-sized human house where you have a door to close and a fan and several rooms or even floors of separation. But now you dwell in an elf-house and now you and all the other elves are going to share in that dump you just took. You’re going to live with it for a while. Everyone is going to become intimately familiar with one another’s bathroom peccadilloes, okay?

Third, okay, actually, it’s also possible that the toilet is an outhouse. Which is great and fine but please be aware that spiders love outhouses. That’s all I’m gonna say.

Fourth, your bed is going to be a claustrophobic morgue-drawer nightmare. The ceiling will be three feet above your head and that’s only if the mattress is of the same material they make diapers out of. If it is a proper mattress, your nose is probably going to be pressed against the top margins of your tiny house. Beds, actual human beds, are fucking huge. Perhaps extravagantly so, I dunno, but we have left the era where we could comfortably sleep on a pile of reeds on the hard rocky earth and now we sleep on giant mattress configurations that are basically as big as half of a tiny house. If you want to practice what it’s like sleeping in a tiny house, sleep in one of your drawers, or in the crawlspace under your existing normal-sized home.

Fifth, many bathrooms do not have sinks. So, what this means is, if you want to shave, you will shave in the kitchen sink. That’s face and legs and pits and crotch or whatever you shave, if you shave it. Also, that means if you take one of those aforementioned Herculean/Sisyphean dumps, to wash your hands will require leaving that room. Also sometimes the toilet is in the shower. And sometimes there isn’t a shower. Other times there is a bathtub outside because sure why the fuck not, go bathe with the raccoons and scrub your body with dry leaves, cave-person.

Sixth, yes, that is a tiny closet, and it will hold no more than the suit or dress in which they will bury you. Did you believe that a tiny house would give you a huge closet? The only way your tiny house has a huge closet is if you use your tiny house as a closet. Which I’m sure some people do.

Seventh, no, of course you’re not going to get full-size appliances. That’s an EZ-Bake oven you’re looking at. The sink accommodates a single coffee mug. The washing machine washes Barbie clothes. You need to stop asking about full-size appliances. Actually, if someone ever makes a bingo card for Tiny House Hunters, that’ll be one of the things that goes on it.

Eighth, okay, listen, people with kids and dogs. You want “family bonding time,” but what your kids see is “hostage-taking time.” This is like, “cult bunker time.” Your kids do not want to live that close to you. Or to each other. Your dogs want to run and jump and — I mean, they’re not hamsters, you understand that, right? They’re not hamsters, and you’re not diminutive little fairy creatures, and tiny houses are not houses, they’re GI Joe playsets, they’re hipster sepulchers, they’re absurdist shoebox dioramas. I admire your desire to lean into austerity and trim the fat from your life, but unless you have a huge property, shoving a family of 6 into one of these turtle terrariums is something some people have to do, but they wouldn’t choose to do it, y’know? I lived with my mother and father and a dog and imagining growing up in one of those things is giving me retroactive trauma — my bowels are clenching, turning my innards to ice water.

Ninth, a lot of those tiny houses are pretty dang expensive for what you get. You think they’re cheap but seriously you could probably rent a hella nice apartment or even buy a couple of cool wizard vans to live in for that price. Just an FYI!

* * *

What I’m saying is —

I worry about you, tiny house hunter people.

I worry that this is all some kind of pyramid scheme, that it’s like Amway or alpacas, that there’s some unseen Ponzi scheme at play here.

I worry that after a year living in one of those tiny houses, you’ll need to buy another tiny house, and then another, and another, until you’re just stacking tiny house atop tiny house in a teetering Jenga tower of hobbit homes and shipping containers and then one day it falls and crushes your whole hipster family.

I worry that in two years HGTV will air a follow-up WHERE ARE THEY NOW special and 75% of you will have died in murder-suicide schemes, having gone mad not in the labyrinthine expanse of The Shining hotel but rather gone cuckoo bananapants inside the claustrophobic MRI machine you decided to call home.

Like I said, buying a tiny house is like a diet.

Or, rather, it’s like going on a fad diet.

Austerity sounds virtuous. And for some people, it is the thing that motivates them, it is a part of who they are. For the rest of us, not so much. Fad diets often ask you to sacrifice things to which you’ve grown accustomed — and often things your body actually needs — under the auspices of getting healthy. I WILL CLEANSE MY BODY WITH JUICE AND SPROUTED GRAIN you think, and then someone walks by you eating a hamburger and some precious thing inside you snaps and next thing you know you’re on the city bus killing and eating people.

Tiny house living will be like this. It’s good for some. Single people in particular — I mean, hey, they do it in New York (usually because they have to, though, not because they want to). But for the rest of us, while we may find some value in paring down and cutting the wheat from the chaff, a tiny house may be a bridge too far. No, we don’t need to live in 3,000 square feet, but we also don’t need to live in an airless, soul-crushing box. Many of us will find joy in having a little leg room when we’re sitting on a toilet, or having a place to put our stuff, or having a table at which we dine instead of standing around holding plates and staring at each other. Many of us like having separate rooms instead of BATHROOM-KITCHENS. It isn’t that romantic having a refrigerator that’s also a toilet, or a bed that’s also a bathtub.

Maybe a tiny house is for you.

But watching this show and hearing your comments and looking at the terrified countenances plastered to your skulls, I’m thinking — nnnyeah, maybe not so much.

Be well, tiny house hunters.

And remember: you don’t actually have to live in a tiny house.



P.S. most people are trying to move into bigger houses what the fuck is wrong with you most people only live in tiny houses because they have to, you privileged turd-necks

P.P.S. but I mean hey you do you

390 responses to “An Open Letter To Tiny House Hunters”

  1. I have bronchitis as a nice souvenir of the flu. This article made me laugh which made me cough. I was laughing and coughing so hard that I nearly passed out.

  2. A lot of crunchy-granola couples who build a tiny house seem to end up moving out of it when they have a kid, or get a dog, or both. I predict a whole lot of these adorable trailer-houses will be selling for a song in five or ten years.

    My last one-bedroom apartment was 850 sq. ft. and I seemed to have a lot of wasted space. But the trailer things are just too small. I traveled the country with my parents in an RV when I was a kid, and two weeks a year in such a confined space was more than plenty. I cannot imagine living in one full-time, even by myself.

    I have, however, thought about getting a park model, which is 400 sq. ft. max, when I retire. But then you get into stupid zoning laws where the locals don’t want you living in it full-time.

  3. Man I love my tiny New York apartment, even though I had to wrestle Splinter back down into the sewer for it. It’s less than a block from the subway. I can get any food I want delivered. I am never leaving. Basically, my goal is to someday be the character Carol Kane plays on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

    That said, take that same square footage, drop it (and me) somewhere rural, and I’d end up murdering someone. For me, the trade off of tininess for convenience to everything and not needing to own a car is worth it. Take that away and then it’s iiiiiitty-bitty living space and … no trade-off, just that. No thanks.

    (As for HGTV, I just watch Property Brothers, and take a drink every time someone says “open concept.” Then I stagger the seven inches to my bed, which takes up 3/4 of my living space, and pass out.)

    ((I kid, it’s actually a lovely 2BR and by NY standards, not that expensive. So yeah, about as much as a mansion in Minnesota.))

    • Yeah, pretty much this. I just moved from a 3500-sq-ft house in a small town a hundred miles from anywhere, to a 550-sq-ft apartment in a 1908 Queen Anne mansion in central Denver, and I adore it. My budget allowed me to pick spaciousness or location but not both, and I picked location, and I will never regret it for a minute.

      But it’s just me and the dog. If I had to share this space with another human, I’d go off the rails pretty quickly.

  4. I’ve also watched these shows with a growing horror as a couple with a 4000 sq foot house decides they can make do with 200 sq feet. I see a lot of murder charges on the horizon. One thing I’ve noticed is that none of these houses are up in the northern states. At least in the south you can go outside for a break. Can you imagine being trapped inside for 5 months after a snowbank swallows your tiny house?

  5. I was tweeting a couple of weeks ago about the episode where a family of six from LA were looking for a 600ft home in Corning, NY, in order to increase their “togetherness”. While watching the skeptical face of their 14 year old daughter, all ll I could think was 1. I’ve lived near-ish to Corning and it’s nice, but there are only two months a year that you can reliably spend a lot of time outdoors to escape your family, and 2. that girl is leaving for college in 4 years and never coming back ever again.

    • They have a Facebook blog and a website! I couldn’t believe they were all still alive after a move like that so I looked for a “where are they at now” type update, hoping not to see them on a Police blotter:

      • Looked at their blog. This is what they had to say about the “twin’s” room (I wondered if it was just one twin, but nope). “The toddler sized bunk beds work perfectly in the small room. All of their toys are in the living room cabinets to keep their room from feeling cluttered.”

        These parents realize that kids are likely to outgrow toddler-sized furniture, don’t they? I mean, they make light of having to give the 14yo daughter one of the two bathroom cupboards for her makeup, leaving the other five family members to share the other one.

        If they’re not on the police blotter already, it’s only a matter of time.

  6. I originally loved the idea of the tiny homes, but I found myself really coming to dislike the tiny home community. There’s two camps, those that want to spend $100k on a 100sq ft box with zero amenities, because they’re hipster douchebags, and the other side are the ones who complain about everything, and think a 400 sq ft tiny home should cost $5k and they should be able to park it for free, anywhere. Read the forums, they’re worse than the TV shows.
    There is a third group, and both groups hate us. I originally bought an airstream because I was away from home working, and eventually, my husband sold the house, and we bought the biggest 5th wheel we could find, and now full time in that, in an actual RV park. The tiny home people hate RVs, which I don’t get at all, especially since our RV has everything in it, including a flushing toilet, in the bathroom, which also has a shower and a sink. We have a full size residential fridge, and a Barbie sized dishwasher. We also have three slide outs which make the RV so much bigger. I love the way some of the tiny homes look on the outside, but most don’t expand, and the majority have no good design on the inside. A lot of them are also not allowed to park in RV parks, because, composting toilet…

  7. The ones that really perplex me are the ones where they have families of four or more, especially when the kids are smallish. Those children are going to grow and want some semblance of privacy that they are not going to get in a mobile closet.

    It’s all well and good for little Bobby and Susan to sleep in drawers for now, but in about four years, that’s not going to be a tenable situation for any number of reasons.

    Also, the amount of times I yell at the TV about where these people think they’ll poop or have sex.

  8. My husband wants a hobbit house someday – or at least a berm house. Our current house isn’t that big, and that’s fine by me – less cleaning! Those tiny houses, though, are ideal for a mother/father-in-law house if you have the acreage.

  9. Yeah, that’s it, pretty much. I liked the tidiness of the whole idea and researched it a bit, but couldn’t find anything suitable for people who can’t climb stairs or who actually have average-or-larger women’s hips. So, I would up in 1,300 square feet all JUST FOR ME when I moved last year. I’ve lived in plenty of studios over the years, and it can be fun, but, now that I’m a Serious Writer/Artist, I LIKE having a real office. And, a real kitchen, where I don’t cook diet fucking food, thanks. I would add that I discovered in my research that no one has come up with a tiny house that’s remotely accessible to the disabled. (There’s one “retirement” version that has grandma sleeping on the futon in the living room. Have you ever made up a futon? Not easy for anyone, and especially not anyone 80 years old with joint issues.) Yes, like diets, tiny houses as currently designed presume, with absolutely NO scientific basis whatsoever, that the only truly human cohort of humanity is the smallest half, and the largest half of the world deserves to be uncomfortable and invisible because we take up too much space and use too many resources even though every attempt to prove that fat people are gluttons has gone down in numerical flames.

    Those bigot bastards can take their parasitical narcissism and misanthropic design ideas and go fuck themselves.

  10. As an avid tiny-home lover, who has only viewed them on paper so far, I LOVE this article! So funny, thank you! Maybe I will set a new goal, for say a 600 s.f. tiny home…with full size appliances:)

  11. P.P.S. No, I can’t climb stairs* because I’m a fat person. I can’t climb stairs because I have a mix of Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo, essential vertigo related to basilar migraine, and myoclonus and unpredictable falling caused by hyperekplexia. I have basil on my ganglia and the hippos are rioting on my campus, OKAY????

    *Actually, I can, but not tiny ones without railings.

    • Awesome! 🙂 I have hippos rioting on my campus too! and dysautonomia and CRPS (hence the hippos) and fibromyalgia… I guess my fiber algae dis the auto mania and both would leave brutal craps in the composting toilet. Not so good in the tiny spaces and ladders and other tiny-house gimcrackery 🙂

      I used to live on a 27 ft sailboat, which was a well designed tiny space. The interior was genuinely convertible space, dining area to office to gym to guestroom, with minor changes. Great storage. The appliances were small but solid. Only 5 steps involved, with a wide hatch and strong rails. I miss that sometimes… If I really want a tiny house, I’ll drag an old boat inland and build a wraparound porch. Perfect.

  12. I always kind of want to throttle these people who go around whining about how they have too much stuff and can’t stop buying crap they don’t need and omg if only they could just “simplify” their lives and live the idyllic life of the poor, how glorious it would be! Especially when I was really, really poor myself, and people would muse aloud to me about how burdened they felt by all the trappings of their wealth, and I was like, “Yeah, I actually can’t even afford toilet paper, so….” Talk about frakking first world problems.

  13. Anyone here live through the 70s/80s? Remember designer blue jeans, the ones so tight that you had to lie on your bed and use the hook end of a special wire clothes hanger you’d mangled for the purpose to pull the zipper up? When, if you were buying ordinary Levis or Wranglers (back when those were the cheap everybody jeans) you’d wear them in the bathtub to shrink them to the skin tight form de rigueur for high school? The ones that would permanently dent your kidneys and meant anything you dropped was gone forever?

    Same thing.

    • I remember. I was the rebel who wore my jeans too loose because I genuinely enjoyed breathing, eating a cracker, not having permanent indentations up the sides of my thighs and hips from the seams digging into my flesh. I also enjoyed being able to go to the bathroom without feeling like a boa constrictor was regurgitating me and then swallowing me again as I twisted and shimmied and gyrated to get the jeans down and then back up again.

      Tiny house? Nope.

    • My Romanian thighs were always too large for those jeans. And now…my ass nowhere near tiny enough for a tiny house…

  14. I’ve been trying to figure out how those cute, tiny houses differ from these things we’ve had for a while called campers and trailers. The latter are cunning inventions that allow people to take some downsized comforts of home with them when they travel or go to, you know, camp in the loving, sweaty embrace of nature. Some people live in campers because that’s all they can afford, or they like the freedom of being able to pull up stakes and move when they need to. From what I can tell, campers (used ones, at least) are often cheaper than these tiny houses, and some are actually more spacious. So…

    • RV’s and campers are not built as stout as tiny homes, and they lack the good insulation too. They are not built for permanent living and long term, regardless what the manufacturer’s sales team says

  15. A friend purchased an unfurnished tiny home. Well, a shed. No fixtures, no appliances, no toilet. The only thing it had was a roof, four walls, and a fuse box. Her intent, of course, was to fix this up and live in it. That dream didn’t become a reality. The reality was that she was stuck, essentially, with a shed bolted on a trailer that wasn’t zoned as a tiny house practically anywhere in the state of Maine. Her house/shed is now for sale. Lesson learned and paid for at a high price.

  16. I want a tiny house *so bad*. As a writing studio. In my current backyard. With my current house—and all its plumbing—beside it. Where no one else can ever go. That’s tiny house living as God intended.

  17. Ha! My husband and I drove/ camped cross country with a slide on camper on a pick up truck. We had a chemical toilet in the closet, a very mini sink, a 2 burner stove that couldn’t boil water and a 6 pack worth of fridge. That we are still married is a testament to our love. I have seen a few episodes and I just laugh and laugh. They need to spent a few weeks in a camper.

  18. Love it. This captures my ambivalence t love of the theory and my astonishment at the participants in the madness!

  19. I’ve watched a bit of it. I read an article once about how tiny houses are coming up because of people thinking millennials deserve less because they’re lazy assholes, and look at this tiny house you can probably afford with all your student loan debt! :/ I think they’re cute, but some of them are downright unlivable imo. I’ll take my badly proportioned apartment over that. Plus, where to park it? Oh yeah, might need some land to do that on, too. And I feel like most of these people have no concept or need for good internet, apparently.

  20. I love you. I was already giving tiny houses the stinkeye and it had never occurred to me what a problem they would be with a stinkBOMB. Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    The other thing with this fad is it’s frequently embraced by people who want to “eat healthy” and… well… tiny-house kitchens just are not compatible with that. Where’s the PANTRY? And the fridge is not full-size! Where does the FOOD go? You’re gonna wind up getting takeout all the time and then you will have no place to throw the containers away!

    The ONE appeal to me here is the price… but I’m thinking that for that much money I might as well learn how to *build* a house and then buy all the supplies myself. It still wouldn’t be a huge house but it’d be a helluva lot more livable than these are.

    …Don’t be hatin on no alpacas though. I love alpacas. They even poop neatly–everyone agrees on one corner of the yard and that’s where the whole herd goes, which is a lot nicer than walking across a cow pasture. (Ask me how I know.) And they don’t lock you into a tiny house with them while they are thusly pooping. And you make yarn from them, and it is very nice warm yarn.

    Anyway. Thanks again. Sharing.

  21. This is amazing. The two times I actually watched a tiny house related show, I spent the majority of it asking “People really do this?!”, yelling at the poor schmucks for ruining their lives, and Googling property taxes on something like a mobile tiny house. So…thanks for so eloquently voicing my frustration.

  22. The couple who moved 4 cats (litter pan hidden in a cubby in the middle of the home) into a tiny home with them: while I’m sure they’ve gone nose blind, it’s only a matter of time before people will only visit them if they can sit outside.

  23. Having dealt with 160 sq feet and another human who has a LOT of clothes AND working from home for years, I am O-V-E-R it. Tiny houses KILL the romance, the surprises, and your ability to change up/sort out/leave even an apple on a table. NOT FUN ANYMORE. and let’s not talk about not being able to entertain without continually popping up/down/up/around/in/out like a maniac. If I were single? Mayyyyyyyybe. (Note; bathroom and kitchen were outbuildings. Yes, I have showered outside and yes, a possum has come through whilst I was showering. And cooking.)

  24. Nice write up! I love the Tiny House shows. (and House Hunters and IHH). What I REALLY love about the Tiny House shows – THE FURNITURE! The ideas for maximizing storage. The fold away and using space ideas that I wish were mass-produced for the normal sized home market. I want stairs to be pull out drawers. I would love a fold away craft table that would hide into a wall or cupboard but pull out easy when I want to sew or the kids want to scrapbook. But, alas, the reason so many apartment dwellers shop at Ikea is because mainstream furniture makers create their pieces for 2500+ square foot high ceiling mini-mansions. Family of 4 living in a 3 bed under 1700 square foot place – its hard to find furniture that “fits” in our home – never mind being creative, multi-use pieces.

  25. Actually, I’ve lived in a tiny space with my husband/pets just fine. Some people have claimed my 800ish square foot house was ‘too small’ for two people. Its all the matter of what you need/want.

    But, I can imagine it does not work for everyone. There was a time when a whole family lived in small space like that, but those times were long ago. I don’t see anything wrong with the want to do it.

  26. I’m a New Yorker via the borough of Queens. I live in a tiny house by most standards. It’s an attached row house on a plot of land 100′ long by 18′ wide, the house has 3 floors and is 18′ wide by 32′ long. It was built in 1927 when people had maybe 3 outfits and 3 generations lived in it and had between 2 to 8 kids. There are 3 floor, a basement no frills and unfinished very much the way the house came. there is the furnace, hot water heater, all the meters to monitor usage, a washer, now a dryer…yes there wasn’t a dryer till 13 years ago…the wash line was the way to go inside and out, a big old scrub sink with 2 big chambers, an old fashioned sink with separate spigots for hot and cold, a toilet in a box..yes walls were built around it on 2 sides for privacy…lol, way back was a stove to heat hot water to scrub clothes in the scrub sink cause that’s how you did it. Main floor is a gally kitchen where if your tall enough you could touch the side walls, and the door to the yard and a window, the kitchen originally contained, a sink, a stove no counter space, a built in dish closet, a table and chairs,and the fridge which was a ballet to use, (11 years ago I added a full bathroom off the kitchen which included a space for the fridge and more storage. Off the kitchen the dinning room which had 2 windows to the yard, now a French door to the yard, and then the living room 3 windows, the front door, the stairs to the 2nd floor the front door, a former nature gas when natural gas had no smell and vented into the room fire place. It’s comfortable space. 3 bedrooms 2 large one is the size of a closet, a bathroom small a tub/shower, sink, toilet. The closets are small each room has windows. Great for a family with 2 kids nowadays. But back then everyone was on top of each other…there wasn’t a lot of stuff back them and there were up to 11 people living in it. Oh and the electric is fun the house has limited outlets for today’s usage…lol. Back them it was a few lamps and a radio. Today over load a circuit and your going to the basement to reset it…lol

    Now I feel a prerequisite to live in a tiny house should to be to live in a railroad apartment. My grandparents had one. They are usually in 6 family apartment buildings in Brooklyn. For the uneducated a railroad apartment only has 3 doors in it. Back then there could be up to 12 or more people living in it multiple generations again. The front door which was usually locked and blocked off cause the space was needed located in the parlor, not living room there were 2 Windows looking out to the street. There was a bedroom as part of that room as well. An arch way takes you to the next small dungeon like bedroom, the only window was the air shaft, the foot of a twin sized bed was in the walk way..nothing larger could fit but a twin if you wanted furniture like a night stand and dresser. A full would be next to the wall like the twin but no furniture maybe a tiny night table a light was on the celling. Archway and wall of air shaft to the next bedroom also the foot of that bed was in the walkway. This was the big bedroom you could have a full maybe a queen, with no furniture, the other side of the air shaft with a window, a full wall of closets and draws were built into the wall as this is where the apartment gets a bit wider narrowing the communal halway the apartments shared. An archway to the kitchen/ dinning room/ bathroom. The 2nd door is here, which became the main entrance to the apartment as most of life took place in the kitchen. This door leads to the shared hallway, and dumb waiter, the dinning room aka kitchen table & chairs, TV, stove, built in dish closet, and draws, the fridge which was an ice box in the old days, the kitchen sink which was a huge scrub sink that some took baths in, it had 2 sides to it, 2 windows, now the bathroom was not originally part of that apartment when it was built. It was an adventure to use the bathroom in my grandparents apartment. It was next to the fridge, it had a small window, originally the tub was off to the side and filled with a bucket till plumbing was updated, a wall was built around the tub butted up right next to the tub was the toilet, above it the medicine cabinet. Now using the toilet was a trip as the 3rd door need to be open to remove your trousers and pull them up as the door in my grandparents apartment missed your knees by a few inches..even for toddlers…lol. It was fun the whole kitchen could hear everything lol.

    There is NO PRIVACY in a railroad apartment, you can hear and see everything, if you have to use the facilities in the night and your parents are getting busy, your walking through! Often 2-4 people slept in a bed! If your chasing your siblings through the rooms is an adventure run straight, run like a crab, run straight, run like a crap, and so on till you reach either of the big rooms. There is no sneaking in late, cause your walking through everyone’s bedroom. Forget outlets as there really weren’t many. THERE IS NO PRIVACY AT ALL! In parts of Brooklyn and Queens these apartments are going for $3,000 a month now!

    Now the way things used to work, were you lived in a tenement in Brooklyn or Manhattan till you could afford a house, then move into one of the row houses or a house in Queens, and scrimped and saved for a big house out the island.

    The smart fools wanting a tiny house should be made to live in an old railroad apartment first. They can experience the cramped living quarters and lack of privacy, the togetherness, till they see if the like it.

    I’ll never forget the joy of everyone hearing me use the bathroom in my grandparents apartment. When I left the bathroom there was always the question did everything come out ok! Or that was musical! Then going over to the kitchen sink to wash up afterwards. Such great times….it was really was, I knew all the neighbor’s, they knew me. We kept the kitchen door open the apartment next door kept theirs open. If there was a bathroom emergency you could go next door if no on was using theirs. Ridding in the dumb waiter, it used to be for the coal to run the stove to heat the water till gas came. I believe there was an outhouse at one point. Or a bucket….yes way back they used buckets. I’m only 49 and have many, many old time experience.

    It seems these people want to go back in time…till they realize that they need to really cooperate and like each other. Those days people were connected to each other there were no cell phones they talked not texted to each other.

    • Terry, thanks for that descriptive and informative tour of earlier NY houses and housing. I imagine that each of those houses had its own distinct aroma that “survivors” remember long into old age. Kieran

  27. Hilarious! Although, we have two kids and one on the way, a 2,500 sq ft house, and really the only rooms we use are the master bedroom and bathroom, the kitchen, dining area and the living room (sometimes). Literally, right now, we are gathered in the master bedroom on our devices/ watching TV. Some of us are sleeping. The kids are with us unless we kick them out, which of course happens, hey, we have a third on the way. But some bunks in the living room would make them ecstatic. They hate having to sleep in their bedrooms. Even our oldest (10) generally only uses his room to collect his junk which he never plays with. So, I designed a 1,500 sq ft house with everything we need designed specifically to meet our needs. It’s not a tiny home, but it is much smaller for 5 people than the average. I can’t wait to build! It has 4 small bedrooms, two awesome four piece bathrooms (separate showers and baths, toilet rooms divided off) and a large open living space with tons of storage and a utility space. Just perfect.

  28. Hilarious post, I watch this now and then in amazement of where you would put things and it’s so funny when the reluctant spouse (there’s usually one more in favor of buying a tiny house than the other) says, “there’s not much room,” or “we need more closet space than this,” or “No way are we doing a composting toilet.” Seriously, why not just buy an RV?

  29. Love the post, and all the comments! My wife and I have definitely dabbled in the thought of tiny house living, or living on a boat, or something like that, when the kids are all grown and moved out – but the show drives me crazy much for the same reason all the other house hunter shows do – they don’t talk enough about the REAL parts of home buying.

    Tiny houses can’t be put just anywhere – most zoning laws prohibit homes that are small or mobile or off-grid, including parking them on your family’s property as a dwelling. RV’s and modular homes are much more practical when actually finding somewhere to put it.

    The rest of the shows don’t talk about being turned down on your offers (like when using non-conventional loans), or extreme seller’s markets (like where we live, Hawaii), or the sheer time it can take to go through all these processes.

    Seriously, Joe Bob, you’re crying about outdated tile, but I just want a house with a parking stall that doesn’t cost me $20K a sq foot. Go fuck yourself, Joe Bob.

    So, it’s fun to fantasize that it’s you searching for your dream closet-home, but then it’s also fun to turn to the Walking Dead and imagine how easy it would be for zombies to tear into one. Cheers!

  30. This was absolutely hysterical. I shared it on my author page today, along with all my family members. We tape this show now, and my husband and I have come to the same conclusions as you and your wife with the show. I love watching the squirm when they realize that this is NOT going to work and yet are uncomfortable with the cameras running LOLOL It’s a train wreck I look forward to weekly 🙂 You nailed it!!

  31. Loved this article. Laughed so hard I choked.Well, I live in just over 300 sq. ft. It is an actual house, with a foundation, a yard, more or less real plumbing, and a gas stove: city stuff, all the bells and whistles. I live here partly because I can afford it, and mostly because I really, really love this house. But, truth told, it is hard work to live this small. I have to make choices, lots of them, about everything I do or want to do here. My sewing machine lives where I could and probably should have had a tiny dining room. My art supplies are tightly crammed, however neatly and stylishly, behind my bed. Fortunately, my front door is insanely wide because, to make a real, functioning kitchen, I had to block part of it with shelves for my kitchen equipment. I refuse to live on herb tea alone. My closet, ah, well, let’s not even think about that! Also, I have ended up with three small, crammed, intensely organized storage sheds for gardening equipment, fabric, and books. In real life, almost no one actually lives without “stuff”. My house takes the planning of a military operation to clean, and I couldn’t repaint now without moving out. I adore my house but living a real life in a tiny house takes thought, work, inordinate amounts of energy, and a lot of choices, sometimes serious choices about who I am and what I do. So think, people, think hard before jumping into tiny house living: why DO you want to do this?

  32. You hit the nail on the head there, Chuck. And comparing the Tiny Houses to MRI machines is classic! I love it how you also thought those placed feel and look like those things.

    Being a claustrophobic, when I watch those types of shows, I always feel as though I’m holding my breath until it ends… it’s all too close and there’s no privacy at all. I thought living in a townhouse was bad, Tiny Houses are worse – exactly where would I put my book collection? Or my vinyls? Or my beautiful bed I love so much? Nowhere, that’s where… that place would be too bloody small.

  33. Love watching tiny houses! Best comedy show on. All the ‘educated’ Portlandia people with visions of utopia and environmental concern. What about the concern for their poor kids and animals, not to mention friends or family who have yards, which is where many of them park their ‘green dreams’. Not to mention the fact we don’t live in the 1800’s. Some of these people act like a tiny house is kin to wagon trains. Do they really think they can travel all over the country and pull this caravan over on just any old place and act like settlers? YES! They do! It’s priceless. Can’t wait to watch next episode of complete stupidity, it’s pure entertainment and besides, I use to think my kitchen was small, I love my kitchen now.

  34. I can see tiny houses as starter homes for often mobile young people (like New York apartments on wheels) or as retirement spots for older people, (Especially maybe those living with their kids), but they are not practical for families. I always wonder where I would put all my books. Someone said, you get digital editions of everything. I said digitizing my library would cost more than the darn house. Every once in a while you see people looking at a small house, in the 500-600 sq foot range, I think yeah, we could do that once the kids are out. But we are only downsizing from about 1200sq ft to begin with. The biggest problem with the current house is that its on 3 floors, not good for old knees. But I watch the shows because the people are just amazing. (the only thing better are the clueless Americans on HH International, who expect elevators, 4 bedrooms, and 2 baths in 300 yr old apt buildings in the historic section of great old European cities.

  35. We had a tiny house. It was our holiday home – right on the sea wall on the east coast of England. It was great: just big enough for the hubby and me and the kids. the problem was – we have friends. Friends we’d love to come and stay with us. So we’ve just had it knocked down and rebuilt so it can sleep ten easily rather than four if they don’t all breathe in at the same time. Theoretically I love the idea of simplicity and paring down. Theoretically all I need is my laptop, and a change of clothes. Practically? Well, practically, I have “stuff”, as we all do. And, as an introvert who made the mistake of getting married and having a family (it really doesn’t work, you know) I need my space. Alone, thanks. Quite alone.

    • We had a 14 x 70 mobile home when we got married. Roomy enough for two introverts. Two introverts, 3 cats and two kids later, it had shrunk rather dramatically. We bought a 28 x 60 double wide and put it on a nice piece of property. As the children grew there were times we could have 10 or twelve kids in the house at one time. We added a couple of more cats and a dog. When my kids were teenagers I had my two (under 5) nieces for about a year. The house shrunk dramatically. When the first child moved out on her own, the house grew. Then she had to move back in. The house shrunk. The second child moved out. Grew. Second child moved back. Shrunk. This pattern continued up until about 2 years ago (the economy were we live has been bad to really bad for years).

      The two introverts plus one dog and one cat live happily in their paid for, double wide. Give it up for a teensy, tiny little shoe box? I think not. We live simply, we have pared down, we reuse and recycle. But we’re not giving up our space and our breathing room……or our books!

  36. I’ve been living on a sailboat for 3 years. About 300 sq ft for 4 people. Most liveaboards think tiny houses are for wannabe wussy babies since they are usually at least twice as big as what we got going on. The lack of space is really not a big deal, except my kids want a dog and that’s just not happening. But then, we live in the Caribbean so we don’t need clothes and spend all our time outside because it’s awesome out there. Anyway, you keep on freakin’ out about stuff, man. The sun is up, so Imma go for a swim and drink some beer.

  37. I’ve lived in a tiny house, and I am never going back. Our tiny house was a Sears home bought from a catalog sometime in the beginning of the last century. The walls were made of some kind of ancient particle board so thin that when I was sweeping once I put the broom handle right through the wall by mistake. The toilet was the size of a mixing bowl. We did have a full size washer and dryer, but they were in the basement…which you could only get to by leaving the house and wrestling with ancient bulk head doors. What people like about small houses isn’t there size. It’s there design. These beautiful, modern, houses where everything has a place and they are just so CUTE. If they saw the small house my husband and I were living in, they would run as fast as they could in the other direction.

  38. I never read long articles but couldn’t put this one down. Loved it….brilliant writing. Thank you I will not be buying a tiny house ever.

  39. This was hilarious and thank you….I’ve been spewing this forever and nice to know I am not alone. Now here’s the weird part…I have a company that builds so-called Tiny Homes. The fact is most Tiny Homes simply don’t work for any normal human being. But, like most things, some do. Those that do understand one thing: SPACE. If there isn’t a normal bed, a normal bathroom etc. you better be a lilliputian to use them. Confession: I am a very large human being and if it doesn’t work for me, we ain’t buildin’ it. What you say? How can things be “real” size in a small space…can’t happen. Except it does. Yes I hope u check out our website if for nothing more than curiosity. Feel free to email with any critique but please be clever…it’s so much more fun. &

  40. My 1400 sqft starter house, now homes an older me, a husband, kids and family pets. Honestly when you have to stop life in order to move things off of the kitchen counter to cook, move homework off the dining table to eat, move animals out of the way to walk, move everything to do everything including simple housecleaning, it becomes an exhausting waste of little bits of time here and there, over and over daily. Going smaller? LOL ya right.

  41. GREAT BLOG…I’m a tiny house owner occupant….Most of those things couldn’t be more true!! I was even on one of the Tiny House episodes! It takes a special sense of humor to live in one….I’d love to do another show, “Where Are They Now”… hilarious!

  42. I love this! Very funny! And deeply appreciated. These hazards needed to be aired. A tiny house, particularly with the restrictions of one on wheels (8.5′ wide max!) is -100% – not for everyone. It represents a completely unimaginable “fad diet” as you said. A commentary like this one is awesome because it MAKES the public think (something we seem to not want to do, relying on the Cable TV programs “deep authority” instead. Yikes!).

    This is Isa at Tiny House Northeast. We’ve communicated with hundreds of tiny house fans. Most of your insights as far as demographics are concerned are right on – but not all of your forecasts of doom. Here’s the thing: forget the TV shows. A Tiny House Northeast home have been presented on a couple of the most popular shows. We know how pop media works. The show is highly produced entertainment and not journalism.

    So, in dealing with real customers, we take the tack of – get ready for a cultural stunner – honest representation of the product! Yes, we actually have a process of basic ed. to make sure they’re not making a big mistake. We talk about the drudgery of compost toilets, are frank about how many people they’ll be able to entertain in their “living area”, and inform them that they’ll have to pare down to nothing but the things they LOVE. That’s it; 1 winter coat, 1 pair of boots; no multiples of nothin’. THNE even addresses zoning, legalities, etc. though we don’t give a rat’s butt where they tow them to. It’s none of our business.

    There are real humans out there that “get it”, want it and love it, for entirely solid reasons. And for some it’s not difficult at all because both: 1. they don’t have much to begin with (i.e., recent college graduates) and 2. they don’t want to keep consuming like pigs and further the destruction of the environment; for their sakes, their kids’, even yours and mine. The conservation of resources via a tiny house, particularly over time, really means something to them, and many other not-so-young folks out there too (it takes almost nothing to heat a tiny house in the coldest temps in the Northeast US where we build – but more than a lit match, yup).

    This is a lifestyle that has to include the total embrace of the outdoors. With a tiny house, your living room is really beyond the door; in the garden, on the fold-down porch; hiking/skiing (taking the composting poop out down a snowy path – unless you have an RV/marine style or incinerating toilet). You will live like common folks did for thousands of years, and were healthier for it.

    As far as aesthetics and materials, the typical stick-built tiny house like Coywolf Cabins can build are another animal from the old style RV with its aluminum, vinyl and toxins (prone to mold and used to be embedded with formaldehyde). These seasonal cabins on wheels can not only be super cottage-cute but can be built from sustainable/”greener” materials; i.e., a healthier environment. It’s not for everyone but choosing between the 2, I’d want to at least camp in a tiny house on wheels myself – and do!

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