Tiny Home Living: The Hidden Costs

Tiny Home Living: The Hidden Costs

Sure, the concept of tiny home living is attractive. For some, it’s their long-time dream. But what about the hidden costs of tiny home living? 

At a glance, you might spend more if you add upgrades, if you need external storage, or even if you raise a little kid. You also have to face zoning regulations. 

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. 

That is why we listed these potential hidden costs. We are not aiming to discourage you from tiny home living; we just want to warn you of the possible financial roadblocks ahead. 

Hidden costs of tiny home living

1. Upgrades

The one benefit of owning a tiny house is saving on home expenses, compared to having a regular size dwelling. 

For example, tiny house residents in Orlando only spend less than $1000 every month for their home-related expenses. Meanwhile, according to Pocket Sense, the average American family of 2 spends $5,005 per month to maintain their lifestyle. 

Living in a tiny house, you can definitely save more disposable income. 

However, whether it’s necessary or not, you will eventually have to pay for house upgrades if you live in a tiny house. These particular hidden costs of tiny home living will even be more likely with a tiny house on wheels.

Such, inevitably, those upgrades will pile up on your monthly home expenses. 

Several of those installations might be a newer (or better) HVAC system, a solar panel, or an alarm device. Other maintenance and towing necessities will also add up more quickly to your home-related budget.

So, you have to watch out for that. 

Tiny Homes: What Is the True Cost of Living Small? 

2. External storage

Being in a restricted space, one of the most obvious concerns you might deal with is storage.

Sure, you can find plenty of storage-saving hacks online and they are easy to follow. However, eventually, your stuff will multiply—especially if you’re living with a kid. 

You can’t forever rely on storage containers because you need space for them to occupy. As a result, some tiny house residents have even used their lofts as storage space. 

The consequences? Dust and poor indoor airflow. 

So, what happens when you already filled every nook and cranny in your house with things? Well, you might now have to spend on additional outdoor storage.

 The average fee for renting a storage unit is $40 to $50, and that’s just a 5×5 unit. The price will vary based on the size of the facility and unit and its location.

Urban places, of course, have higher annual and monthly fees. 

3. Your town’s zoning laws 

This is one of the more complicated and potentially expensive hidden costs of tiny home living—dealing with your town’s zoning codes. 

Zoning laws are important because they help residents live peacefully without the commercial hustle and bustle from businesses that disturb neighborhoods. Similarly, zoning laws also protect businesses from trespassing residents in an area. 

You’re lucky if you live in a state that is relaxed about the Tiny House Movement; however, if you don’t, you might have to adjust and pay for fees. Moreover, if you violate a zoning code in your state, the consequences might be brutal. 

It is even more challenging, considering residential zone areas are not that many these days. So, if you want to build a tiny house in a non-residential land, then you might have to request for a zone change. This involves an application, a payment, which depends on the locality, and a hearing with the zoning board. 

On top of that, your tiny house has to pass building code compliance. But to do that, you have to be a certified tiny house manufacturer, which will cost you more than a thousand dollars and requires submitting a dozen qualifications. 

Meanwhile, you can expect looser zoning codes if your house is on wheels, which is considered a recreational vehicle (RV). 

And, if your town isn’t that friendly with tiny houses, you can also advocate for the changing of its zoning laws

4. The appliances 

Haven’t bought a tiny house yet? Well, prepare an allowance for appliances, because customized equipment for tiny houses can cost more.  

Sure, you can find some fully furnished prefab tiny houses; however, one size doesn’t fit all, right? Your family might have specific needs the prefab can’t provide. Moreover, your needs might change over time. 

For example, if you have a tiny house on wheels, you might have to spend on a compact heater if you’re commuting to colder places like Wyoming or Vermont.

Additionally, you might have to spend on battery or solar panels for your other off-the-grid appliances.

One thing you should also consider, besides the cost of your appliances, is the hidden price you’re paying for your appliances. 

Some cheap appliances might be noisier than their expensive competitors. For example, be wary of the noise that some “eco-toilets”, Roombas, and water pumps make.

Knowing you’re in a tiny house, where sound can quickly travel, this will be a hassle. So, when buying appliances, you have to think about that as well. 

5. Insurance

yellow tiny house on wheels

In the past, insurance has not been kind to tiny house owners. Tiny houses that are towed by an SUV or a truck, which are considered RVs, are not even covered by traditional homeowners’ insurance. 

The good news is that insurance options for tiny houses are slowly increasing. Still, it greatly depends on the location and their laws about tiny houses. So, if you’re living in a state that acknowledges their existence with fair regulations, then you’re fortunate. 

Tiny houses on foundations and tiny houses on wheels have different insurance policies. Interestingly, the cost doesn’t stray far away from a traditional regular size house.

According to the Home Insurance Learning Center, a tiny house’s annual insurance can cost up to $1,500. Factors such as the house’s materials, location, and level of difficulty to repair will also affect that amount. 

6. Your tolerance and patience 

Finally, the often-overlooked ones—you will probably lose a lot of patience and tolerance in your tiny home living. 

From your buying/building journey to your living stage, you will deal with different personalities, trials, setbacks, and more. It’s totally normal to go through those, but you can avoid those by studying what you’re heading to. 

If you’re hiring a contractor, make sure they understand your journey. Not only do they have to be skilled and fast with the deliverables, but they should also empathize with your woes as well. 

Fortunately, with everything going digital right now, it’s easy to scrape the web for a tiny house supplier’s reputation. Get to know them through tiny house owners’ forums on Facebook, Reddit, etc. 

Conclusion 

As you can see, every dream has prices—and that includes the hidden costs of tiny home living. That is why before you rush to buy your dream tiny house, take a few steps back and plan properly.

Never forget to save up for an allowance for these hidden expenses in your tiny home journey. 

Related questions

How much does it cost to build a tiny house in California?

The starting cost of a tiny house in California is $40,000. Depending on many factors such as location, materials, and zoning codes, it can cost you more than $100,000.

How do you build a tiny house?

It all depends on your construction experience, budget, and personal preferences. You can either buy a blueprint from a tiny house provider and then build it yourself. Or, you can also order prefab tiny houses and the supplier will ship it to your location. Check out our blog post about tiny house marketplaces to know more.

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