A meme of Ice Cube (confused face) with 'tiny houses are stupid' text at the top and 'no mortgage, low bills, minimalist lifestyle = dream, not stupid' text at the bottom.

‘Tiny Houses are Stupid/Ridiculous’… Oh, Really?

The internet is a big place, meaning that it comes lots of opinions on… well, everything. So it is no surprise that there are some negative views of tiny houses such as the ones below (note: I am intentionally omitting quotes with swearing… i.e. there are much stronger held views than the below!):

  • “Trendy tiny houses are stupid… It’s like an internet challenge that affects your whole life. And you’re totally inconveniencing yourself” – /r/UnpopularOpinion.
  • “The price they pay for it is the most ridiculous thing about it.” – same Reddit thread.
  • “The tiny house thing is a fad that I hoped would have died by now. You’re not making a difference. You’re not cool.” – /r/AdviceAnimals.
  • “I also totally detest the ones who build, live there for 6 months to a year, and decide they need a bigger place because [of having a baby]. So any space-, or planet-saving perks- disappear because not only did they build one “tiny” house, they need (and generally build new) a “real” house” – /r/ChildFree.
  • “Finished building it (8×16 with 8×8 bed loft) 4 years ago. Child was born almost three years ago. Not able to insure it or sell it. S**t is wearing out fast. Floor needs redone [under] the ladder. Buying a normal house, but can’t sell this.” – /r/AskReddit.
  • And from the nasty rant by Steve Harvey from 2016 (full video below): “Why would I put on my vision board that I want to live in a tiny house? I don’t. If you want to live in a tiny house, you gave up. You’re stupid.”:

Phew. Well, everyone is entitled to their opinion, and the fact that some former tiny house owners feel that they are ‘stupid’ does hold more weight than non-tiny home dwellers who are just ranting for internet points (or Steve Harvey ranting for TV ratings!). This article aims to challenge some of these negative view-points, but the summary of my view is simple:

A meme of Ice Cube (confused face) with 'tiny houses are stupid' text at the top and 'no mortgage, low bills, minimalist lifestyle = dream, not stupid' text at the bottom.

Counter-Points To Main ‘Tiny Houses Are Ridiculous’ Points

Let’s approach this in true point/counterpoint style!

Tiny houses affect and inconvenience your whole life.They do affect your whole life, yes. That is sort of the whole point of them! They are smaller, meaning that you will need to cut down the number of your possessions and live a more minimalist lifestyle. For massive consumerists, this will inconvenience your life. But for those who are well-suited to minimalism and tiny house living, there are no real inconveniences – especially if you design important parts of your house like the kitchen correctly.
The price you pay for a tiny house is the most ridiculous thing.I explore this in more detail in my ‘are tiny houses too expensive?’ article, but the gist is that you can get tiny houses for under $40,000 (even those built by popular builders such as Rocky Mountain. This will be substantially cheaper than pretty much any standard-size house you can find (unless it is falling down!). Even more expensive tiny homes are financially worthwhile compared to the alternatives, unless you also pay loads for land rental space each night.
Tiny houses are just a fad, they are not cool.This is another myth that I have disproved, in my ‘are tiny houses a fad? article. A fad is usually something that reaches massive, mainstream popularity before dying back down again quite quickly (a bell curve, for math/science types). However tiny houses do not follow this pattern: they instead have seen a slow but steady growth in their popularity from the turn of the millennium onwards. Granted their popularity really took off from 2014 onwards, but there are still no signs of tiny houses being a temporary fad.
Tiny houses are not making a difference (to the environment).This is also something that I disagree with, but I will freely admit that the average tiny house does still use various resources to build, run and maintain – so they are not exactly good for the environment. All you can say as a counter-point is that tiny houses use less materials to build, less materials to repair/maintain, and they use less energy. Small size = smaller footprint. It’s a bit like the difference between driving a Hummer and Chevy Spark.
Tiny houses are impractical for families.This could actually be a fair point. Whilst it is possible to raise a family in a tiny house, babies and children do need a lot of stuff. Notice how I say need not want: whilst adults can choose to reduce their wants (and thus have less possessions), certain items are requirements (needs) for the young – especially things like sterilizers for newborn babies and piles of nappies. Of course, some tiny house owners have successfully bought up families in their tiny home and the overall floor space does matter here. Family living in 400 square foot will be substantially easier than in 120 square foot homes.
You can’t sell a tiny house.This criticism came from an actual tiny house owner so you do have to listen to this point a fair amount. Some tiny house owners have found that it is really hard selling a second hand tiny house because everyone wants their own, custom-made one as part of their ‘tiny house dream’. That is a fair enough observation, although websites like the Tiny House Marketplace are helping people to sell their house and they do show a fair amount of sold listings.
Aspiring to buy/live in a tiny house is “giving up” on life.Oh Steve Harvey, what did we ever do to you? This argument seems to stem from an idea that the American dream involves getting married, having 2.4 children and buying an expensive 2,000 square foot house in the suburbs. This version of the American dream is not written down anywhere, however, and I would argue that freedom (freedom of living, freedom of movement, freedom of choice) is really what the American dream is all about. Hence if you choose to live in a tiny house, that is not giving up. It is following your dreams: a dream of having a low (or zero) mortgage, low energy bills and the ability to move around the country as you desire. What is wrong with that?

Other Reasons Tiny House Are Awesome

In addition to the above counterpoints, there are a bunch of other reasons why tiny houses are a good idea:

  1. Financial benefit. They are much cheaper to buy than standard-size houses (even those paying $80-100k for one), meaning that you will be mortgage free much sooner. You can get good quality tiny houses for less than $40,000, too, which could be purchasable with a few years of hard saving (and possibly a small loan). Do not forget the lower energy bills and smaller DIY/property maintenance fees, too.
  2. State and industry adoption. American states are slowly but surely adapting to the reality of tiny houses, with fairly few states now being considered actively hostile towards tiny houses. Equally there are more ways of paying for a tiny house than there was a decade ago.
  3. Simpler life. The less stuff you have, the less stress you have. The less bills you have, the less stress you have. And of course, the less stress you have, the greater your physical and mental well-being. Is it any wonder that people who are more consumerist are more likely to be depressed? Tiny houses ‘force’ a simpler lifestyle on you due to needing to downsize and declutter, and this seems to be an overwhelmingly positive thing for your health.
  4. Freedom of movement. Whilst moving a large tiny house isn’t always easy, the fact that you are able to is a big, freeing thought. After all, if you fall out with your neighbor in a normal house, you are stuck in that situation. If it turns violent, you are stuck in that situation. But with a tiny house you can just arrange parking somewhere else, and move on.
  5. Less home maintenance and cleaning. A smaller house means that cleaning it will be quicker (which is good because dust seems to accumulate quicker in small spaces!). Equally, every property needs DIY and maintenance but this will be quicker (and cheaper) due to having less surface area to cover.

Honest Talk: Who Shouldn’t Live In Tiny Houses

Whilst a website called Super Tiny Homes would be expected to disagree that ‘tiny houses are stupid’, they are not suitable for everyone:

  1. People who like lots of stuff. People who are always wanting and chasing the latest consumer items might not be suited to a tiny house. Whilst you can do this in a tiny home, consumerists tend to accumulate a lot of junk (sorry, prized possessions) as the years go on. This contradicts the main tenant of effective tiny house living: to downside and live a simpler life with less clutter.
  2. Families with very small babies. Newborn babies need a lot of stuff, even things you may not think about such as water sterilizers and walkers/jumpers (when they are 4-6+ months old), which can be fairly bulky. Whilst you might be able to do without some items, others are necessary for your baby’s development. If you plan on raising a family in a tiny house, you will be better off in a 300-400 square foot one.
  3. People who want to live in states which are unfriendly to tiny houses. Some states, such as New York, are fairly unfriendly to tiny house owners. If you are determine to live here, you might need to reconsider because they can be strict on ‘permanent living’ in a ‘small dwelling’.
  4. People who are unskilled at DIY (and do not want to learn). There will be more wear and tear due to there being less overall space, meaning that the same items, flooring and furniture will be regularly used in the same ways. The flooring under the loft ladder is a prime example: this will wear out quicker than you might imagine. Getting a handyman in to fix all the little things around your house can get expensive fast, so learning DIY is recommended!