There’s a tiny house craze sweeping the nation. Well, maybe not a craze, but the number of people opting to live in tiny houses is growing every year. So what makes a house officially tiny? Tiny means… really little. Like less-than-400-square-feet-little. And those tiny houses come on wheels!
If you are one of the many people to feel the powerful urge to simplify, downsize, and declutter, the tiny house option may already be on your radar. If you are also in a relationship—read on to examine the pros and cons of tiny house living… with a partner.
The straight-up benefits and drawbacks of the tiny house life can be summed up easily. There are many pros and several cons, too, covering all areas of life from finances and physical comfort, to emotional well-being. While I’ll touch on these briefly, my main focus is to consider whether or not your relationship is up for the challenge before jumping on the tiny house band wagon.
Here are some basic positives about tiny house living:
Cheap. The cost to build one is only about $40,000, and they are inexpensive to maintain. You could practically heat the whole thing with a toaster.
Green. These tiny structures have tiny environmental footprints.
Simple. Owning fewer things can be liberating. How many times have you looked at that 1984 garbanzo bean cookbook but still have not tossed it? A tiny house would force your hand.
Easy. To clean, to maintain, to move.
Portable. Want to move to Arizona? No need to buy and sell a house… take yours with you!
Cozy! Need I say more?
Smallness. That’s pretty obvious, but think about it. Everything is small, from the appliances to the table tops. If you are big, or live large, that can be an issue.
Dearth. There may be things that you really like that are simply lacking in a tiny house. A dishwasher, bathtub, washing machine…?
Storage. Lack of, that is.
Clutter. It doesn’t come with the tiny house. You have to create it. But if you struggle with being tidy, chaos will happen faster and be harder to hide in a tiny house.
Sharing. It’s a hard space to share with guests, visitors, family.
Okay, so if you’ve figured it out and realize that you want to get rid of all your unnecessary and pointless stuff (and some stuff that you might leave at your mom’s), are cool with weekly trips to the laundromat, and are dying to “get tiny” – think about how the tiny house lifestyle will affect your relationship, either one you are currently in or one you hope to be in one day.
Here are some things to consider if you want to share a tiny space with your partner:
Do you and your partner communicate well and reach compromise easily?
In a tiny living space, there is not as much leeway for both of you doing things “your way.” You will have to be very clear with one another about what is important to you, not to mention willing to make adjustments to make it a mutually rewarding living experience. Whenever you move in with someone, the question of whose stuff gets priority is huge. If the tiny house is the first time you’ll live with a particular partner, it’s even harder. Not much space equals not much stuff. Whose stuff will it be? In general, your goals need to be clear and agreed upon, not just in terms of belongings, but plans for the future as well.
How much alone time do each of you need?
Everyone needs a certain amount of privacy. Solitude is harder to come by in a tiny house. You may be able to negotiate a version of solitude that involves being left alone, or if your work schedules are not the same you may find that you have just the right amount of time in the house by yourself to feel okay. Are you or your partner an introvert? If so, you will need more alone time to recharge than an extrovert would. Will your needs be met and respected?
Will you feel cozy or smothered?
Whether you are reducing your square footage by 1000 or 4000 feet, you’ll be in much closer proximity to one another, more of the time, than before. That can be cozy and feel great, or it can feel claustrophobic. How would it be for you?
What will coordinating schedules be like?
In a smaller space, sleeping and waking can be more of an issue, and the courtesies that necessarily come along with different schedules. Bathroom/shower time as well. Even if you were used to sharing a bathroom, it was likely bigger and more able to accommodate multiple users at one time.
If you work from home, will that be accommodated?
Is there space for your work and the ability to work uninterrupted?
Does your lifestyle and that of your partner mesh with tiny living?
If your hobbies tend toward the outdoors—hiking, biking, running—things that take you out of the house, there will be little impact on your routines. If you both enjoy indoor hobbies, like cooking, scrapbooking, woodworking, puzzles… can you coordinate all that in the limited space available?
Your tiny house could be your heaven on wheels. The many financial benefits, especially when you are young and just getting started, can’t be downplayed. I don’t want my checklist of questions above to be discouraging, only realistic. There is no point in committing to something that sounds awesome without really thinking it all the way through.
The potential “Zen” of the tiny house appeals to many. But that Zen state of simplicity and gratitude will be hard to reach if chaos and conflict rear their heads. If you decide to give tiny house living a try, as you cull through all the “unnecessary” items that you won’t take with you, be sure you DO PACK the really important stuff:
- Good intentions
- Communication skills
- Patience…and most of all…