These Tiny Houses Fascinate Me

My Childhood Home

I grew up in a 900 square foot home. The rooms were tiny and when everyone was home (all 5 of us) it felt somewhat cramped.

But it was warm, clean and paid for. We were a middle-class family living in a quiet, friendly neighbourhood where everyone knew your name.

My parents did not believe in credit cards. We lived a cash only lifestyle and all of our basic needs were met. I remember that my parents would pay cash for a brand new car, and because my father did such an excellent job of maintaining the car, they were able to drive it for 12 to 14 years before it needed to be replaced.

My Own Home

My first home away from home was a one bedroom apartment while I was going to college. It wasn’t until I was 31 years old that I bought my first house, a 3 bedroom bungalow. And from there things just started to accumulate. You know the old story, buy house, accumulate stuff, sell house, move, accumulate more stuff, etcetera, etcetera.

Living in a Hotel Room

About 10 years ago the company I worked for asked me to move overseas to work on a contract they had. I arrived there thinking I was only staying for 3 months so I found a nice small local hotel to stay in.

My room was about 12 by 15 feet, with a tiny TV, a small bathroom, a desk, and a tiny shelving unit for all of my clothes. All I brought with me at that time was my laptop and 2 suitcases of clothes.

Well the contract went so well that 3 months turned into 6 months and then 6 months turned into 14 months.

I lived in that small hotel room for 14 months, and you know what, I didn’t miss any of my things\stuff from home. I was completely comfortable with what I had. I actually felt free. I had so little maintenance to worry about and so much free time to enjoy myself. Grant it I didn’t need to clean my room, but if I had, it would have only taken me about 15 minutes.

What I learned during those 14 months was that I really enjoyed living a minimalist lifestyle. As I said, I didn’t miss a thing.

Tiny Houses

A few years ago I saw a tiny house online. When I first saw these tiny houses I was fascinated by them. I had to learn more about them. I could truly see my husband and myself happily living in one of these.

I discovered that while a lot of people are finding ways to build their own tiny house, many builders have begun building tiny houses as well.

This tiny container house was designed and built in Texas by San Antonio architects, Poteet Architects. And in 2010 it won the AIA San Antonio Merit Award.

Images courtesy of SmallHouseLife.

container house

container living room

This is another very popular style that builders are offering. Sometimes they are built on wheels so that you can easily change locations.

tiny houses

Tiny House Photos Courtesy of Mark Terrano.

More Tiny Houses

Lulu's Tiny House

This is one of the tiny houses that I find fascinating because it was built by a single mom with very little money. She did much of the work herself. I love her attitude!

Watch Lulu as she walks you through her home and shares her personal story with you. And check out the hot water heater that she installed.


As Lulu says, “when you don’t have money you just need to be creative”. Her story is a true example of how people really do not need a lot of space and a lot of stuff to truly be happy.

One of the things that I would definitely look for if my husband and I were to ever build one of these would be to make sure that it was in a rural location like Lulu’s. And it would have to be somewhere with year-round mild weather so that the living space could be expanded to the outdoors.

If we built one here, even on some rural property, I think we would feel very cramped and would most likely end up with cabin fever, because for 8 months out of the year we would be stuck inside due to the cold wintery weather.

Johnny's Tiny House

Johnny lives in Hawaii mortgage free. He grows his own food and enjoys living each moment of his life.

Towards the end of the video he talks about financial issues such as how so many people take out a 25 or 30 year mortgage on their house but never really pay it off because they get stuck in the re-financing loop so that they can remodel their kitchen, upgrade their bathrooms, etc. Which is true for many people, isn’t it? Would you be happy to live mortgage free?

Would you be happy to live in the tiny house that Johnny is living in and planning to retire in?

Update: If you are curious about what Johnny is up to today (Dec 14, 2016) you can find him over at his own blog Granola Shotgun. His blog posts are very interesting.


Debra's Tiny House

This family suddenly found themselves with huge financial issues several years ago. Debra and her family lived in a nearly 2000 square foot home on an acre and a half of land.

Then her husband lost his job and they began to work 4 jobs between them to pay the mortgage, until one day when they remembered they had a choice.

They sold everything they had and they built a 320 square foot home for them and their son to live in, and they even have plenty of room for guests.

They are mortgage free now and happily operate their own small business.

Debra’s special message is to focus on what you do have instead of what you don’t have.

Take a look at how they all fit into this tiny house.


Each of these tiny house stories are very touching and inspirational. They demonstrate that we do have choices and that life is what we make it.

Could you ever see yourself living in a tiny house one day?



    • Katie

      Katie 04/09/2012 4:40 a.m. #

      The tiny houses actually look pretty nice. For me, right now I would not be able to live in one. My kids would probably end up driving me insane, plus there would be no place for them to run around.

      My house is not huge by any means. But I think the houses might be just a little bit too small for me to feel comfortable. But hey, if it works for other people and they are saving a ton of money and have the ability to relocate easily, then that's great for them.

    • WorkSaveLive

      WorkSaveLive 04/09/2012 6:22 a.m. #

      I saw these on the news awhile back - has to have been at least a year or two by now.

      I personally don't think I could do it. If it were only me, then I think there is a chance, but not with my wife (and definitely not if we had kids or our huge dog).

      I like space...I enjoy the living room and hope to have a sweet flat-screen TV in there one day, so I don't think the tiny houses are for me.

      With that said, I do think I could retreat to one for a few weeks/months. There is nothing better than unwinding and getting away from the world. I love going to tiny cabins in the mountains/woods, having peace and quiet, and not taking any part of the world with me (phones, computers, etc).

    • Rachel

      Rachel 04/09/2012 11:12 a.m. #

      Cool post! I like how these people are living within their means and focuing on needs rather than excess. I also like how these little houses represent the idea that we are only borrowing materials for a short period of time during our lives and how they represent a construct of our identies versus the true self. I don't know if I could live like that right now in my life but perhaps in my later years.

    • Anthony Thompson

      Anthony Thompson 04/09/2012 11:26 a.m. #

      As a single person, tiny houses and living spaces work just fine for me. In fact, I don't particularly like big houses. For me, they would just be too massive, and I'm sure that after awhile, I would accumulate a bunch a stuff.

      With small spaces, I know that I won't be able to store a bunch of items, which could ultimately turn me into a hoarder. I love the photos, BTW.

    • Tackling Our Debt

      Tackling Our Debt 04/09/2012 3:09 p.m. #

      @Katie I think it depends on where you are at in life.

      I would agree with you in that I wouldn't think that it would be comfortable to squeeze kids into them. Perhaps, 1 child, like in two of the video, but probably not more than that.

    • Tackling Our Debt

      Tackling Our Debt 04/09/2012 3:11 p.m. #

      @Jason - I love the tiny cabins in the mountains as well. That is my idea of going camping.

    • Tackling Our Debt

      Tackling Our Debt 04/09/2012 3:14 p.m. #

      @Rachel You are exactly right! They have found a way to live within their means and they enjoy it. They also found a way to enjoy life as it is meant to be, instead of working 60 hours a week to pay for what many consider a traditional lifestyle of a house and 2 cars.

    • Tackling Our Debt

      Tackling Our Debt 04/09/2012 3:20 p.m. #

      @Anthony - You left a comment last week on Katie's blog saying "Clutter-free space is definitely the key to giving a home an attractive look". These tiny homes would definitely need to be clutter free to be nice, and as you said, you wouldn't be able to accumulate more stuff cuz there wouldn't be any room for it.

    • Tackling Our Debt

      Tackling Our Debt 04/09/2012 5:08 p.m. #

      Coincidentally, Anderson Cooper did a show on Monday about families in Tiny Houses:

      Families Discover Creative Ways to Save Big Money

    • Brent Pittman

      Brent Pittman 04/09/2012 5:25 p.m. #

      I lived overseas for a few years, but not in as small a place as you. You can go without stuff for a while, but a few luxuries if you can afford them are nice. Might be something to try after the kids are gone.

    • Kurt @ Money Counselor

      Kurt @ Money Counselor 04/09/2012 7:18 p.m. #

      I love these tiny houses too. Like you, I find I can live happily with little and miss nothing. I spent the majority of one year traveling (sleeping in hotels, campgrounds, and with friends/relatives) and had with me only what I could fit into the trunk of VW Jetta. A great year!

    • Michelle

      Michelle 04/09/2012 10:21 p.m. #

      This post makes me want to call my mom! I wonder if she remembers how big our first house was. She was 19 when she married my dad and she had me a couple months before turning 20! Their first house was pretty tiny. I drove by it years later and couldn't believe how teeny it was. It's so cute and holds just as many memories as a much bigger house would have. :)

    • Shilpan

      Shilpan 04/09/2012 10:38 p.m. #

      I agree with Jason that it's hard for anyone with family to live in a tiny house. But I think that it is perfect for a single person.

    • Tackling Our Debt

      Tackling Our Debt 04/10/2012 1:09 p.m. #

      Yes it may be difficult some days, but if it is a way to save money and not simply work to pay your mortgage, then I think it is a great option. I know I enjoy my space too, but I think I could handle living in a tiny house at least for a few years while we pay things off. I've looked for them up here in Canada but haven't found any yet.

    • james

      james 04/10/2012 4:19 p.m. #

      When I look around my house and think about what I actually NEED, I think I could live in a 300 square foot home. I have so much unnecessary crap it is mind boggling! I am single yet I have a couch that can fit 5 people. Makes no sense!

    • Tackling Our Debt

      Tackling Our Debt 04/10/2012 4:31 p.m. #

      We all have so much unnecessary crap! But, I bet your couch is comfortable if it can seat 5 people.

    • Van Beek @ Stock Trend Investing

      Van Beek @ Stock Trend Investing 04/10/2012 6:09 p.m. #

      Personally I like wide views. The house can be tiny; that is OK, as long as it has large windows with a long view. Being able to watch the space outside from my house is more important to me than the amount of space indoors.

    • Daisy

      Daisy 04/10/2012 7:39 p.m. #

      My dad's always talking about how he wants to convert one of those shipping containers into a house. I think the usage of space in those small houses are so creative and fun!

    • Tackling Our Debt

      Tackling Our Debt 04/10/2012 7:44 p.m. #

      @Daisy Not sure if your Dad is on the west coast like you are, but that would be a great spot in Canada because of the nice weather.

    • Tackling Our Debt

      Tackling Our Debt 04/10/2012 7:47 p.m. #

      @Van Beek - yes, having a long view would be beautiful.

      I think being able to extend your living space to include the outdoors would make it so much easier to live with.

    • Thad P

      Thad P 04/10/2012 8:56 p.m. #

      We saw some very small houses when we lived in Taiwan. Of course they were all in high outside yard would be great!

      Great post.

    • Jon Rhodes

      Jon Rhodes 04/11/2012 4:06 a.m. #

      Excellent post! Yes, why be a slave to your home like so many are? I bet there are many people who perpetually pay for a mortgage for space they don't really need. I can't blame people for wanting a smaller house that they can actually afford. This must give a real free feeling to life. Thanks for sharing this!

    • Tackling Our Debt

      Tackling Our Debt 04/11/2012 8:37 a.m. #

      @Jon - Yes, why spend all of your money on a house that you don't really need. Spend it on things you enjoy, maybe travel. Thanks so much for stopping by!

    • Kari @Small Budget Big Dreams

      Kari @Small Budget Big Dreams 04/12/2012 7:59 a.m. #

      I'm not sure how big my parents place is, but for 4 people it was small. I remember my mom repeatedly saying "I need a bigger boat" when I was little. Now it's just the two of them so it's the perfect size. But back in the day it was a tight squeeze.

    • Barbara Friedberg

      Barbara Friedberg 04/13/2012 10:07 a.m. #

      This idea makes so much sense for our planet. I think so many folks have gotten off track with the big is better. Great article, love the pics.

    • Tackling Our Debt

      Tackling Our Debt 04/13/2012 10:42 a.m. #

      Thanks Barbara! I agree, I think we do strive for bigger and better. But then I think "who wants to clean all that?". :-)

      And yes it makes sense for our planet, which makes what I've read since I posted this, somewhat sad in that in some areas you have to build a certain size house or you can't build at all. Much like the fella in Hawaii in the video above.

    • Zack Jones

      Zack Jones 04/16/2012 5:59 a.m. #

      Check out Tumbleweed Tiny Houses ( They have some tiny ones that fit on a trailer up through some decent size ones that you build on a permanent foundation. I'd love to have two of these. One up in the mountains some place and a second one at the beach :).

    • Julie @ Freedom 48

      Julie @ Freedom 48 04/16/2012 6:54 p.m. #

      I am truly intrigued by these tiny homes. My ultimate retirement goal is to live in a tiny cosy little home on a lake. Honestly - every single time we go camping, I think to myself "I could totally live in a tent!"... and if weren't for the weather and lack of plumbing/electricity... I'd be tempted to.

      "cosy" is so much more appealing than "spacious" - in my humble opinion!

    • AverageJoe

      AverageJoe 04/17/2012 9:51 a.m. #

      I've always been intrigued by living in a smaller space...something zen about it.

      The good news for me if I lived in a house like this is that I'd have lots of space because I'd also be divorced. Cheryl would never go for the tiny house.

      BTW, you may like the book, The Not-So-Big House. It's not this extreme, but talks about how small spaces can be better, cozier houses than McMansions.

    • Christopher @ THis That and The MBA

      Christopher @ THis That and The MBA 04/17/2012 8:56 p.m. #

      I saw people living in tiny houses like that when we were in cape cod. The houses were actually about the size of a bedroom. I was shocked when i saw that. I turned to my wife and asked where do you go when you are mad? She said I guess you go out and sit in your car to cool down. Hahah We rented one of these cabins while we stayed there for a week. It was a bed. with a small kitchen at the end of the bed. next to the bed was a small table for 2 and then a small bathroom and being 6'4 I had to hunch over to shower.

    • Tackling Our Debt

      Tackling Our Debt 04/18/2012 3:44 p.m. #

      @Average Joe - I can see how this type of home isn't for everyone. Many people need their space, not necessarily to have more stuff, but just to have a quiet place to go to relax, or do other activities in the house that a tiny house may not allow. For example, you certainly wouldn't have much room to work out in one of these.

      @Christopher - I agree with your wife, you would have to go sit in your car. Maybe even take a drive around the block. At your height you would need to build one with vaulted ceilings so that you would feel comfortable.

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