Cheap Homes

How to live in a tiny home as a family

Think tiny homes are just for singles? Think again. Here's how your family can live big in a small home
Father-kissing-baby-tiny-home-living-Zolo

Can you imagine getting rid of half of your kids’ toys, half of your kitchen’s contents and a third of your family’s clothes? If you can, then you’re probably a good candidate for tiny home living.

While tiny homes might not suit everyone, they’re proving popular with some Canadian families who want to cut back debt, minimize their possessions and generally live a simpler life.

The prospect of owning a tiny home is incredibly attractive for many as it means your lifestyle isn’t restrained by a huge mortgage or rising rents that swallow more than half of your nine-to-five income. It can allow you to live in your own home in a location that suits you — remember some cities have not yet embraced the idea of allowing tiny homes to occupy the urban core — tiny home living appears to be ideal for the debt-resistant millennials. But what about those of us who are looking further into our future or those of us already raising kids? Is it possible to live in a tiny home as a family?

Yes. It’s absolutely possible and we’ll show you how.

How families adapt their tiny homes

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Firstly, choosing the kind of tiny home you want to live in can make a huge difference to your quality of family life, now and in the future. But as these families show, with a little creativity you can adapt a tiny home to your current needs without feeling squashed.

Believe it or not, Macy Miller and her young family of four lived in a tiny home with only 196 square-foot of living space — and this includes the company of the family’s Great Dane. Only recently, the Millers added a bedroom and expanded their home to 232 square feet to accommodate their growing family.

As Samantha and Robert Garlow share on their blog SHEDsistence, a tiny home can also be adapted within to be made child-friendly. To accommodate their baby, they customized their 204-square-foot tiny home with a loft crib and a loft edge net, amongst other creative solutions.

Check out these further inspirational stories of big families living tiny.

Advice for families considering tiny home living

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If you’re keen on buying or building a tiny home for your family, consider the following advice from families who have taken the plunge:

  • Balance minimalism with the realities of family life
    “Just because you have a space that a kid can sleep in, that’s not going to be enough. You need some common living and breathing and moving space. It shouldn’t be a jigsaw game of Jenga to be able to sit down.” – Derek Diedricksen, tiny house designer and builder.
  • Think about privacy
    Diedricksen suggests isolating adults’ sleeping space and insulating interior walls, as well as having a roomy common area. As kids grow, think about adding separate dwellings for teenagers. “If parents have a good, open relationship with their teens and teens are making good choices, it’s okay to create a separate sleeping space for teenagers where they can have their friends over and give the parents privacy too.” – Gabriella Morrison, tiny house owner.
  • Add windows and storage
    Windows make a small space feel less claustrophobic, and storage is still a necessity, even if you’re planning to do with less stuff. Storage sheds can double as offices or even playrooms in a pinch, says Diedricksen.
  • Don’t panic when things get tough
    “There is going to be a period where it’s super uncomfortable,” says Morrison. “With perseverance and patience and kindness and willingness to change, that dynamic can change so quickly.” The beauty of tiny house living is that it’s almost impossible to avoid each other, and that will prompt a family to really listen to each other and communicate issues effectively. You can’t just escape to your bedroom that’s hundreds of feet away.

What happens if tiny home living isn’t right for you?

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If it so happens that tiny home living isn’t right for you, there’s no stigma in selling up and moving on either.

As Samantha Garlow says “people are constantly changing where they live for a variety of reasons” and tiny home dwellers shouldn’t be judged as having made an ill-fated decision just because it turned out not to be a ‘forever home.’”

While Garlow says the concept of the forever home is fading, living in a tiny home is still one of the best decisions her family has ever made.

Angela Pearse
Angela Pearse

Angela Pearse is a freelance writer who frequently travels but loves returning home to her Art Deco apartment. She’s also passionate about historical novels, Netflix, hiking and healthy living.