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Yes, I want a tiny house. No, I’m not crazy.

November 7, 2017
Yes, I want a tiny house. No, I'm not crazy | Tiny Ambitions

Last Wednesday started like any other Wednesday. I woke up early to feed the cat and make some tea. Then, Mr. TA got up. And he said some of the most dreaded words a tiny house enthusiast can hear.

I read a tiny house article last night – you should read it! I’ll send it to you.

These words have never been uttered and then followed with a lovely piece of writing sharing the positives of living in a tiny house. When Mr. TA says “you should read this”, he means, “this is going to make you angry”. And, he’s never been wrong.

You see, since the tiny house movement became popular enough to spawn multiple HGTV shows, there have been tons of articles written blasting the lifestyle because the authors don’t see how they, themselves could live within the confines of a tiny house. As if someone was forcing them to do so.

At this point, I’ve read enough of these articles for a lifetime. So, I normally avoid them and have become pretty immune to their criticism. This hasn’t been terribly difficult because, generally speaking, these kinds of articles are written by people who don’t want a tiny house, have never seen one or been inside one in real life, or have ever actually spoken to a real-life tiny house dweller.

It would be like me, blasting people who choose to live in McMansions. It’s not something I want for myself, I’ve never been inside one and I’ve never spoken to anyone who does. So, my judgment of their lifestyle wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) hold much weight.

And yet, I’ve still read many infuriating articles lambasting my future lifestyle choice.

But, why exactly do I find them infuriating? It shouldn’t bother me that other people don’t see the value in the way I want to live my life. But, it really does.

Maybe this is how non-minimalists feel about the minimalist movement? Like it’s a direct judgment on their consumption choices? When, in fact, it’s just a reaction to our own internal environments.

I’ve thought about it and here are some of the reasons I find tiny house naysayers infuriating.

  • People believe traditional housing options are the only ‘right’ option.
  • My choice doesn’t affect other people’s ability to live their own lives the way they want.
  • People assume going tiny is the ‘easy’ option when the opposite is true.
  • I’m tired of the assumption that people know how to live my life better than I do.

Yes, I want a tiny house. No, I'm not crazy. | Tiny Ambitions

People believe traditional housing options are the only ‘right’ choice.

I’m a highly logical person. If I decide a course of action makes sense for me, there is very little anyone can do to change my mind.

So, when faced with the choice of a multi-hundred thousand dollar mortgage that I’d be paying off for the rest of my life for a ‘normal’ house, or a tiny house that I could pay off in less than 10 years – it wasn’t even a choice. Why would I not want the tiny house option?

And yes, I know home ownership in the traditional sense of the word is not my only housing option. Renting is also an option. However, the costs associated with renting long-term and paying off a mortgage are the same financial commitment in my mind. And that’s something I just can’t get on board with. Housing is not negotiable. It’s one of the very few basic things we literally need to survive.

However, to a lot of people owning a house (with the accompanying mortgage), is the only option for mature ‘adults’. Whatever the heck that means. And, I’m just not buying into the idea that to be a real ‘grown-up’ means potentially sacrificing my financial stability by borrowing hundreds of thousands of dollars. I’m just not.

My choice doesn’t affect other people’s ability to live their lives the way they want. So why do they care?

I cannot understand why someone would spend their precious time and brain cells writing a critique of something they don’t like or want anything to do with. It really doesn’t make sense to me. Time is the only resource we don’t get more of. Why would someone spend theirs doing anything they didn’t find valuable?

Maybe it’s a human impulse to criticize things we don’t understand. The bottom line is that my desire to live in a tiny house does not impact anyone else’s ability to live their lives they way they want. So why do they care how I live mine?

My life = my choice. I think this frustrates me because, their criticism, in some small, unconscious way, makes me question my own choices and decisions. And, that’s not a terribly fun thing to have to admit to myself – that other’s people’s opinions still have an impact on how I feel about my own life.

People assume going tiny is the ‘easy’ option when the opposite is true.

It tends to be a subtle undertone to tiny house criticisms, but it’s often assumed that people go tiny because they can not afford the life they really want. The next assumption is that if tiny housers had more money, less debt, a higher paying job, a second job (etc), that they wouldn’t choose to live tiny. It’s as if going tiny is a cop-out or easier option than changing their lives to afford the ‘norm’. However, for one very important reason, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

While the tiny house tide is shifting in the United States, tiny houses are still very much illegal in most of Canada (where I live) due to antiquated square footage restrictions/requirements. Or, at a bare minimum, there is no legislation covering tiny houses specifically, which leaves tiny house dwellers in a legal gray area.

I volunteer with Tiny Home Alliance Canada, an organization dedicated to incorporating tiny house clauses into the Canadian Building Code. We’ve made some big strides this year, but there’s still a long way to go.

Like any countercultural movement, doing what’s different is never easy. There are almost always growing pains (or shrinking pains in this case).

I’m tired of the assumption that people know how to live my life better than I do.

When I was growing up, a lot of people around me had a lot of ideas about how they thought my life should go. Everyone thought I should become an elementary school teacher. My family was well-meaning and I love them, but I would have made an absolutely terrible teacher. I’m impatient, not good with kids and have a nasty habit of cursing when I shouldn’t.

More importantly though, being constantly told by the adults in my life how my life was going to turn out did not sit well with me. It was like I had no choice. Or, at the very least, that my family didn’t trust my judgment. To my 16-year-old self, it was suffocating to not have the trust of those closest to me.

Because of this, I now have a bit of a rebellious streak. Anytime someone says I ‘should’ do something, I instinctively want to do the opposite. Maybe that’s why I found the tiny house/minimalist movement appealing in the first place. It goes against the grain of how an ‘adult’ is ‘supposed’ to live their life.

All of this is to say when I read an article critiquing tiny houses, it reeks of people trying to convince me that what I want in my life isn’t good enough. And, that’s on me. It’s an embedded pattern that I need to work on. Because what I want for my life matters to me. And that’s what I need to remember.

Are you working towards a goal that is counter to the mainstream(i.e. childfree, early retirement, tiny house/alternative living etc)? How do you deal with people who criticize your choices? Do you find it easy to brush it off?

If you missed last week’s episode of Tiny Bites, all about whether or not we can have meaningful interactions with social media, you can listen to it here. All past episodes of Tiny Bites have been re-embedded into the blog, so they will play no matter what device your using. Aka, now you have an excuse to listen anywhere!

Image Credit: Tiny Ambitions

  • Mary in Texas February 10, 2018 at 10:18 am

    My family of four lived in 400 square feet from the time I was ten years old until I was 20 and left home. We had the bare minimum of everything. We got by fairly well, but both my sister and I turned into avid accumulators as a result of literally having nothing that we could not justify to our parents. They cared nothing about personal possessions and kept no books, antiques, or small personal treasures. It has taken years for me to get my possessions to a reasonable limit. My sister is still accumulating. Fortunately my daughter found a happy medium as her children seem to be doing also.

    • Britt February 10, 2018 at 12:01 pm

      Thanks for sharing, Mary. It’s interesting how we find our way back to minimalism, one way or another.

  • Sara November 14, 2017 at 5:30 pm

    Some of these “articles” are influence pieces which are peddled by special interests who haven’t yet figured out how to monetize tiny homes (national association of realtors being the most active). Due to all the grey areas in the US associated with small living I opted to purchase an old (back when homes were modest) 800 sq foot stick built home (not tiny but definitely small in today’s market). Trust me when I say I got a lot of “are you sure?” and “is that wise?”. I have just finished a thoughtful remodel to ensure we can age gracefully in it and finally feel like this is the perfect size for us!

    • Britt November 14, 2017 at 6:04 pm

      I think you’re right- some articles are clearly influenced by special interests who have a stake in either seeing tiny houses fail, or succeed (at a cost). Congrats on your remodel! 800sqft sounds like the perfect size. There’s actually a lot of houses where I live that are around that size. It’s almost convincing me to buy one. Thanks for reading!

  • Lisa | Simple Life Experiment November 11, 2017 at 11:21 pm

    I love this post Britt! You have a wonderful way of voicing your frustrations that is constructive and insightful. With your measured and rational response to criticism, you are truly an inspiration to anyone wanting to live an alternative lifestyle! I can relate to so many of these points and while I don’t have a tiny house dream (or at least not yet!), as someone living in an unusually small living space with an unusually small number of possessions, I can definitely relate to people judging your tiny house plans. Like you say, doing what’s against the mainstream is always difficult. It’s never, ever the ‘easy way out’. Personally, I have some days when I cope well with the outside world’s criticism and expectations and just block it all out, and others when I really feel the weight of choosing to live and think against the mainstream. Like you, I am SO tired of the assumption that people know how to live my life better than I do – definitely when it comes to minimalism of course (story of my life!), but more recently with being childfree as well, as hubby and I are now being a lot more open about this choice. I usually make sure my responses to criticism are assertive yet polite, but what I often really want to say is how about you live your life and I live mine? That way we both get what we want and you can leave me alone… 😛

    • Britt November 12, 2017 at 12:38 pm

      Ha! I’m glad my frustrations didn’t come off as ranty (which is often my biggest fear). If you’re dealing with someone who is really negative about your life choices, the easiest way is often to do what you suggest. They are free to live their life without your judgment, and you should be able to live yours free from theirs. I’m getting to the point now where I might need to be more vocal/assertive about our decision to be childfree, because if I hear one more relative say ‘you’ll change your mind’, I might lose my mind! Worse comes to worse, I know there’s an online community that understands my lifestyle. And, I’m happy to be supportive of their lifestyles as well.

  • Cynthia November 8, 2017 at 6:52 am

    When I told my boss I was moving to a 250 square foot apartment, he said “Why are you punishing yourself?” 🙂

  • Barbara November 7, 2017 at 11:56 pm

    I have had a similar experience being an ethical vegan. So many people feel the need to tell me why they “can’t” be vegan. Yet, I never, ever tell anyone how to live their life. I think it is because when you live differently, the other individual quickly imagines themself in that lifestyle. But quickly, without really thinking through and then they feel compelled to tell you about it.

    • Britt November 8, 2017 at 6:25 am

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Barbara! I think you’re absolutely right.

    • The 76K Project November 9, 2017 at 10:56 pm

      I’m a vegan, too, and it astounds me how often people feel compelled to tell me how they feel about what I eat or don’t eat (even though I never push my lifestyle on anyone). Just… What is the point of that?

  • Sarah November 7, 2017 at 9:11 pm

    I am definitely the person who knows she couldn’t live in a tiny house, but I certainly don’t believe the people who do (or want to) aren’t making the right decision. I feel the opposite! I have mad respect for anyone who can live that lifestyle. I think you’re doing an amazing thing for yourself but also for other people, since the environmental impact is so much smaller. I don’t necessarily feel the same about people who live in McMansions…sure it’s their call but McMansion has a much bigger impact on everyone else than your tiny house ever would!

    • Britt November 7, 2017 at 9:36 pm

      Thanks, Sarah! That’s really so nice of you to say. Environmental impact of housing is something I haven’t really talked about here, but it is an important reason why I want to go Tiny!

  • Kris November 7, 2017 at 7:00 pm

    I am guessing some of these writers slam tiny houses because of the exposure it’s getting by being shown on HGTV and the movement is increasing. They may see that as an opportunity to give their thoughts and get that ‘click-bait’ they want so more readers can view their articles.
    It’s unfortunate this happens because you’re not bothering anyone by deciding how you want to live so why they have to be critical about it. It’s mind boggling!

    • Britt November 7, 2017 at 9:31 pm

      I think you’re right! I’m normally not a sucker for click-bait, but these kinds of articles get me every time. Thanks for reading, Kris!

  • James McSherry November 7, 2017 at 6:05 pm

    So much resistance comes other people when, even when not being pushy, you are by default showing others something they don’t like about their own lives. If I was someone with millions of dollars swanning about my McMansion I likely wouldn’t feel too threatened by/give a toss about your Tiny House idea(ls). However, if I’d mortgaged my life away to afford one, it might raise some serious questions about my choices.

    It’s a bit like coming home from travelling brimming with wide-eyed excitement and tales, only to find some friends couldn’t give a shit – they’d rather talk about what the local Billy Wotsit got up to three weeks ago. Not that they are wrong either, maybe they just aren’t interested. Often they don’t want to talk about it because it’s something they would like to do, but have been unable/unwilling to do.

    Feck the naysayers and plough on 😉 !

  • Leigh November 7, 2017 at 3:00 pm

    My in-laws (and many other people) see having a house as an asset builder/investment/forced savings and better than throwing your money away on rent. We live in a condo that I bought before we started dating. My in-laws used to regularly ask my husband when he was going to buy a house. They seem to have finally stopped asking, which is really lovely. I can’t recall if they stopped asking after we got married, they figured out that I had a strong head on my shoulders with respect to saving money or when they figured out that I don’t plan to have children. I’ve gotten surprisingly little pushback on my child free ideas. I get way more pushback on the idea to retire in our early thirties…

    I agree with you – I feel it’s unoriginal to be so critical of an idea just because you don’t want to do it.

    • Britt November 7, 2017 at 9:34 pm

      Wow, you’ve got the trifecta of controversial lifestyle choices (in some people’s opinions). Good for you for sticking to your guns no matter what. My family also believes a house is an “investment” and I just don’t see it. Thanks for reading!

  • Dave @ Married with Money November 7, 2017 at 9:37 am

    My only beef is when folks slam my decision to buy a McMansion. I know you’re obviously not like that (and I don’t slam anyone who DOESN’T buy a McMansion…different folks want different things) but there are people out there who are.

    But yeah it just makes no sense. Like, you do you, I do me, and as long as we’re both happy then that’s all good.

    I love the idea of a tiny house – but my wife hates it…so it’s not in my future unless she dies or something.

    Something we do get more flak on is not having (or ever wanting) kids. Especially after you get married and buy a house, everyone expects you to have kids. That’s not what either of us want. I think we’d be okay parents, but we have many other things we’d like to focus on, and raising a child isn’t on that list.

    I don’t get why it’s such a taboo thing, either.

    I haven’t gone to the doctor yet to get snipped but it’s on my list for 2018 and, at the ripe age of 30, I have a feeling I’m going to get flak from the doctor. I’ve heard stories about it before – guys go in for a vasectomy and the doctor won’t perform it because they’re too young – and it’s BS. I hope I don’t have that experience but if I do I will have no problem telling the doctor off 🙂

    • Britt November 7, 2017 at 10:19 am

      Thanks for sharing! It’s very interesting that people give you flak for not wanting kids (my experience has been that the female in the relationship often has to deal with more of that).

      We also don’t want kids (and I can’t have them), so we’ve been dealing with some parental blowback on that as well. But I’m used to that at this point! They’ll just have to deal with the fact that we’re only going to have fur babies!

  • Lily @ The Frugal Gene November 7, 2017 at 8:04 am

    I never understood why people fussed over things that would never otherwise effect or take away from their own lives.

    We own a rental and besides work to maintain, we’re also more rooted than what I like (which is to be free and able to take off whenever).

    I was aiming to being childfree for a while and people just looked at me like I told them I was born on Mars. I’m no longer planning to be childfree but that’s more of a “I love my life partner” thing than a pressure thing – which can’t be said for a lot of people.

    • Britt November 7, 2017 at 8:08 am

      I think that’s absolutely true. People often cave to societal pressure. And, even if you change your mind, you’re allowed to! But people often get a “I told you so” attitude when that happens. Thanks for reading, Lily!

  • Penny (@picksuppennies) November 7, 2017 at 7:15 am

    In general, I try not to listen but it is difficult to ignore at times. I do also like to read things that I disagree with to some degree because sometimes it helps me keep a bit of perspective (if I’m chasing a goal too hard or losing sight of how well/poorly I’m doing, etc). I think it’s great that you’re so clear about your future goals, and I’m glad you’re not letting anyone sway you!

    • Britt November 7, 2017 at 7:43 am

      That’s a really good point Penny! Reading critical tiny house articles has actually helped me recognize that I was holding a little too tightly to the idea of the tiny house itself, as an object, than a lifestyle strategy. So it hasn’t been all frustrating I guess! Thanks for reading!

    Hey! I'm Britt. I write about living a tiny, simple, intentional life. Because life doesn't need to be lived big.