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So You Think You Want to Live in a Tiny Home? These Are the Real Costs of Tiny Home Living

Jul 12, 2018 - Posted by: Rocky Mountain Credit Union

Tiny homes have been all the rage for the past several years. They even have their own television shows. There are tiny house books, magazines, and blogs. So, why is this trend so popular?

In general, homes between 150 and 400 square feet are considered to be tiny homes, but there really is no set rule on what is or is not a real tiny home.  In 2016, the average tiny home cost $23,000. This is a huge discount from the median full-size home cost of $250,000. 

From the beginning, dollars and cents are a huge part of the appeal. Getting rid of most of your stuff can also sound appealing. We tend to think that less stuff means an easier, less complicated life. And who wouldn’t want a less complicated life? Fewer complications, fewer obligations…sign me up! But are the savings and fewer complications enough to make it worth it? We have the real costs of living in a tiny home for you to consider. 

Are you Handy?

If you are handy or have any building skills, you are in luck. Having a tiny home will keep these skills sharp and allow you to add new skills. Many people build all or part of their tiny homes. It is easy to find stories about clever individuals who have resourcefully built their tiny home using salvaged materials.

Often these projects take two or more years from start to finish. This is usually due to individuals having to accommodate their normal work schedules. Other times it is necessary to save money before the next building phase. Aside from the money saved by doing the work yourself, another advantage is the ability to customize the space and build or alter pieces like furniture so they serve a multitude of functions and fit your exact needs.

Still Interested but Not Handy?

If you're not handy but still think tiny home living might be for you, you will need to pay someone else to build it or purchase a resell unit. A big consideration is whether you want the home to be movable? Tiny homes that can be moved are constructed on a variety of reinforced frames.

If you are thinking about a stationary tiny home, then look to see what Montana Mobile Cabins has to offer. They are based out of Whitehall, MT and offer a variety of sizes. Prices range from $23,000 to $74,000. Keep in mind, however, that these prices do not include electrical, plumbing, interior walls, or custom cabinets. 

It’s Complicated

Trying to locate a tiny home within city limits can be complicated and most often is not doable. There are zoning laws that are complicated and have to be on your side in order to keep going forward with your project. Permits are necessary every step of the way. If you decide to proceed without your necessary permits, then you risking losing all of the time and money you've invested. Without an occupancy permit, you can be prevented from ever living in your tiny home.

Living Out

Your tiny home is most likely destined for the country. If you want to own the property keep in mind that property that is closer to town is more expensive. If you aren't sure you are ready to buy property just yet, or if you are still looking for your dream piece of land, you can also rent property. This is often a viable solution here in Montana.

Necessities

Houses offer many luxuries to make living easier. Things like plumbing and electricity offer luxuries that many of us don't think twice about, but we use every day. If you are living off grid you will need to think about things like a composting toilet. Hot showers can be really nice on a cold winter morning. Installing a solar system will help meet that need. Consider what other luxuries you might be giving up by moving to a tiny home and how you can adjust your life accordingly.

We hope that you are motivated to learn about all of these systems. It is doable, but the learning curve can be steep. You will have to learn how to use the systems, how to maintain them, and unless someone else is doing so, you will also need to learn how to install them. Electricity, water, and septic systems and installations can be very expensive, so make sure you know exactly what you are getting before you shell out the cash. 

Not Everything Has a Price Tag

Many people start the tiny home lifestyle looking for a better quality of life. And many give it up for the same reason. If you are sharing your space with someone else it is very hard to find privacy, which is something that most people like to enjoy. This space issue will also affect your ability to entertain. However, if you only want to have one or two friends over at a time, you may be able to limit it to warmer months when you can entertain outside. 

In all likelihood you would be living out of city limits. This means more time and money spent driving to get basic supplies, like groceries. Being further out can also be a discouraging factor when it comes to having friends visit. These things combined can make people feel isolated and is often something tiny home dwellers mention when asked about living in a tiny home.  

Do Your Research

Before you leap into tiny home living do the best you can to research the pros and cons of tiny home living and maybe even try it out. Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is a tiny home sustainable community that will let you see many different home styles in one place and the techniques they are using to handle household waste, generate electricity, cook, and stay warm. There are plenty of blogs out there to help you in your research that specialize in tiny home living, but we recommend the Tiny House Blog

If you are looking for Tiny Home builders in Montana, we have a bit help for you to get started. We recommend you check out Micro Wood Cabins or Montainer. Their styles are different, but the concept of being eco-friendly, living with a smaller footprint, and reducing our impact on the environment are the same. 

If you are ready to begin your home buying process, take a look at our page everything you need to know about the mortgage process to prepare yourself for your big purchase.

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