There is a micro-dwelling movement sweeping across the country, affecting people faster than the zombie virus in World War Z. Have you seen Tiny House Nation on the FYI Network? The hosts John Weisbarth and Zack Giffin travel the country helping families to build and move into their new dream homes, places no larger than 500 square feet.
Thanks largely in part to shows like Tiny House Nation, and best-selling books like The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, people are starting to truly embrace how a tiny home could transform their lives.
Families who have decided to downsize their homes and lifestyles are able to reallocate their money to the things in life that are most important to them, like traveling or moving closer to family.
If you have been bitten by the micro-dwelling bug and would like to change your housing situation to save some money, make sure to take all aspects of tiny house living into consideration. Although there’s no denying the overall cost saving benefits of living in in micro-dwelling, there are also hidden costs that can pop up. These hidden costs of living in tiny house may seem fairly inconsequential on their own, but added all together over the course of a year, these costs will take a fair bite out of your projected saved income.
Going to the Laundromat
At anywhere from 120-500 square feet, tiny houses typically don’t have their own washing machine. If you need to wash three loads per week at $1.50 per load to wash and $1.50 per load to dry, you will be spending $9.00 per week on laundry alone. That’s $36.00 per month (or about $470 per year) on washing and drying your clothes. This doesn’t even include the cost comparison of time and travel.
If you want to avoid the costs of weekly trips to a laundromat but still want to maintain your tiny house living situation, consider investing in a portable washing machine for your tiny house. Designed originally for boat houses and RV living, these tiny washing machines actually do a pretty great job at keeping your clothes clean…and you’ll have recouped the cost in about 6 months.
You will still need to use the laundromat for the occasional wash of bulky items, like blankets or beach towels, but portable washing machines are a great compromise between tiny house living and the affordability and convenience of having your own washing machine.
Cost Implications of Less Storage
Since there isn’t space for anything else, tiny house living requires that you live with only what you need to survive day to day. Unfortunately, there are some hidden costs here. For instance, smaller packaging for household goods usually costs more money than items bought in bulk because the price per unit shoots way up for smaller packages. You won’t have space to store a 60-roll jumbo pack of toilet paper in your tiny house, so you will end up spending more on toilet paper over the course of the year. While the price disparity won’t be too noticeable each time you go to the store, over the course of the year those costs can really add up.
Less Opportunity for Food Savings
Tiny house dwellers don’t have the space to store more than a few days’ worth of food in their tiny fridge and one food cabinet, so they need to travel to the grocery store more often. Unless you’re lucky enough to live within walking or biking distance to a farmer’s market or grocery store, these increased food trips will bump up your gas consumption. You also won’t be able to save money by stocking up on food when it goes on sale, so you’ll have to rely on what happens to be on sale that day or just pay full-price for the foods you prefer.
You Can’t Host Parties
One of the greatest advantages of living in a large home is having the ability to host large groups of people. You don’t have to rent out spaces for birthday parties, and you can comfortably sleep the entire family when they visit for the holidays. When you live in a tiny house, at most, you will only be able to host one or two extra people.
Also, unless you have a large piece of property that your tiny house sits on, you won’t be able to host parties or celebrations. You will have to spend the money to reserve space somewhere else. Another consideration is catering costs for these events, since you won’t be able to cook for large numbers of people in your tiny house kitchen.
You Need to Rent a Lot
Unless you already have title in hand for property, you will have to lease land or find a place to park your tiny house. Make sure to research the cost of living in the area you wish to settle your tiny house so that you will be able to accurately project your cost of living.
Pros vs. Cons
You may not have thought about any of these hidden costs before considering a living in a tiny house, but take heart, tiny house living still wins the overall budget battle. Even with all of these expenses combined, you will still be cutting down on energy expenses and your cost per square foot of living. Also, even though you won’t have space to store things in bulk or on sale food items, you will be consuming everything you buy, so your food waste will most likely go way down once you make your move to a tiny house.
If you see yourself in a tiny house, weigh the pros and cons, and go into your micro-dwelling lifestyle armed with a budget that will accurately reflect your new living situation.
Save on Home Repairs
Any time you have a house, tiny or otherwise, you’re going to have some expenses. If you’re planning a home project but need some extra cash, why pay interest?
The Chase Slate® Card is one of the best credit cards for home repairs and renovations. You’ll enjoy a 0% APR for the first 15 months after you sign up, so it is perfect to help you get started on your next home project. Plus, it’s the only card I know of that has no balance transfer fees for the first 60 days – which is great if you are trying to pay off high-interest credit card debt. So, if you’re planning a new renovation or need to eliminate high-interest balances, the Chase Slate® Card may be for you.
Kristi Muse is a family finance writer who loves talking about strategies to save money, get out of debt, and live a frugal life. She shares her experiences about debt, parenthood, and life as a law-enforcement family on her blog Moderate Muse. You can also follow her on Twitter.