Purchasing a home is a big deal. Not only financially, but emotionally as well. Most people spend years planning and preparing to make the leap to home ownership. But, what about tiny houses?
Purchasing a tiny house instead of a traditional home is a whole different ballgame. Some think that because the home is smaller, there will be less planning to do.
This is because moving to a smaller house is a complete change from what you may be used to. And your family and friends may not have any experience to help you out.
This means that there are several unseen problems to consider.
Don’t let the extra planning discourage you either. The tiny house of your dreams is totally within your reach. With the right amount of advice and preparation, anything is possible. Here are some of the main things to consider before buying a tiny house.
Time Your Purchase Well
Most things in life come down to the timing.
From when to start a family to when to make a leap to a new job, timing is everything. The same thing can be said for purchasing a tiny house. However, this is much more than when to buy your home.
Here are some things to consider when it comes to timing your tiny house purchase:
Seasons and Weather
Most tiny homes are built from the ground up. This is because even though tiny houses have been around for over a decade, finding one is harder than you think. With not many tiny house properties up for grabs, many soon to be homeowners need to build their own.
Instead of seeing this as a roadblock, try looking at it as an amazing opportunity. This is the perfect chance for you to customize your tiny house so that it will work perfectly for your needs. However, in order to start construction, you need to make sure that the weather is on board with your timeline.
Even larger, more traditional homes are not meant to be built in the colder months. During snowy seasons it is harder to get work done as well as wait for deliveries. This is why you should plan to purchase your tiny home during the spring-fall seasons.
School and Life Changes
If you have children, consider planning your big move around your kid’s school schedule.
Nothing is more valuable than education. The last thing that you as a parent would want is for your big move to interfere with your child’s progress. This is why you should plan on purchasing your new home at the end of the school rotation.
This way you can be moved into your tiny home and settled before the start of the school year. Also, consider any huge lifestyle changes before purchasing your tiny home. While it is important that your tiny home works for you, you also have to be able to work within your tiny home.
One thing to consider is the stress level of purchasing a new home. Most people say that purchasing their home was one of the most stressful purchases in their lives.
You can imagine that this can be even more stressful when it comes to making the change to smaller living. With any home, tiny houses also have their problems.
This is why it is important to make sure that not only the weather is on your side, but your strength as well. When you are at your best, you are more mentally prepared to handle unseen challenges thrown your way.
Get Your Finances in Order
Perhaps the most obvious step to take before purchasing a tiny house is to make sure that your finances are in order. This is true with any large purchase. A good rule of thumb is to make sure that your incoming finances versus outgoing finances are at least 30%.
This means that your current debts and monthly payments should not exceed 60% of your monthly income. This is because homeownership is full of unseen costs. Banks tend to not want to lend assistance to clients they view as “unreliable”.
If you find that you’re debts are much larger than what is considered appealing to lenders, there are some things you can do. This way you can still finance the tiny home of your dreams without spreading yourself too thin. Here are some ways to get your finances in check before making the purchase:
Banks want to get paid. Some are willing to work with you in order to get your debt down.
Once your debt drops enough to get you to that 30% mark, you are in a great position to buy your tiny house. Speak with lenders and creditors to see if you can find a plan that works for you.
Slowly chipping away at painful debts can bring you one step closer to your tiny living dreams.
One thing people choose to do before purchasing their tiny home is to plan ahead by saving.
Do the math and figure out what your monthly payments and expenses will be for your tiny home. Each month, try to put that amount away in savings. This is hard for most since they still will be paying their regular rent or mortgage on top of this.
However, the more you put away, the better shape you will be in to make the home purchase.
One good thing about looking to finance a tiny home is that you don’t have to do it alone. This is especially true if you live in a state that is accepting of a tiny house.
These financial experts have been through it before and can offer you some much-needed guidance.
These experts can help you put together a savings plan as well as help you to get a grip on your financial situation. This way you will be in a much better position to purchase your home.
Buying a Tiny House Vs. Building a Tiny House
Something to consider before making the switch to living in a tiny house is how you want to obtain the home.
Do you want to move into an already existing home or build your own? Each one of these options comes with their own set of perks. At the end of the day, it comes down to what you need from a tiny house.
Here are some things to consider before settling on one option:
Buying a Tiny House
The popularity of owning a tiny home has grown significantly over the past few years. This means that builders have gotten in on the ground floor of this amazing movement. Specific search engines are now available to help you find your perfect tiny house. Sites like Tiny Home Builders are a great resource for you.
A great perk for buying a tiny house is that the price is right.
Most tiny homes will run anywhere from 15-thousand to 40-thousand dollars. There are many factors that go into the pricing of tiny houses that include:
- Water access
If you have found a tiny house that hits all of your boxes while still being within your price range, consider yourself lucky! There are even tiny home communities where you can live among like-minded people. When it comes to buying a tiny house, you have options.
Building a Tiny House
Another option to consider before buying a tiny home is building your own.
This is the best way to ensure that you will get exactly what you need. While it is easy to adapt to set surroundings, nothing beats making your own rules.
This is especially true for larger families who need more specific measurements.
The first thing you will need to consider when building your own tiny house is where to live. Once you have your dream location in mind, you then need to find a property that is zoned correctly for a tiny home. From there the real fun starts.
From picking out eco-friendly appliances to finding that perfect bamboo flooring; your options are endless.
However, building a tiny house from scratch will be a larger financial investment. Not to mention, you will need to find builders who are experienced in this medium. It typically takes 6-12 months to build a tiny house.
Building a tiny home can run anywhere from 20-thousand to 40-thousand dollars. Also, much of these costs will be out-of-pocket. While you still can obtain financing to build a home, you should expect to pay for many of your custom choices up front.
Zoning Permits Are Important
One of the biggest frustrations about building your tiny house is getting by all those pesky zoning restrictions.
It’s no secret that many areas have yet to get on board with the idea of smaller living. The lack of information has led many places to consider tiny houses illegal. This isn’t because they are unsafe to live in but because the state doesn’t know how to regulate them properly.
However, you shouldn’t let zoning restrictions from living your life. If you are looking for creative ways to work with your particular area’s laws, check out this article about legal issues with tiny houses for some helpful tips.
Here are some things to consider when it comes to keeping your tiny house legal:
- The type of tiny house
- If your tiny home will be on a trailer
- Living in your home part-time
Legal issues are something that not all potential owners consider when purchasing their tiny home.
However, keeping your house up to code is an essential part of avoiding heartache. A good way to make sure that all of your permits are in order is to consult help. Along with your buying agent, you should look into seeking counsel from a real estate lawyer. While this is an unforeseen cost, it can keep you from getting into some serious trouble.
Get The Home Inspected Before You Buy
One common problem that future tiny homeowners face is misinformation. When someone is trying to make a big sale, like a house, they will do next to anything. This isn’t to say that people are lying to you, but it doesn’t hurt to get a second opinion.
This is is especially true in the case of purchasing a tiny house.
With so many restrictions when it comes to building and permits, you want to make sure that you are getting what you are paying for. Nobody would buy a traditional larger house without getting it properly inspected, so why should you do any different?
Make sure that you find an inspector who has experience with looking over tiny houses. Tiny houses only work when everything is working together. So make sure that kitchens are set up properly and that living spaces get enough sunlight before making the purchasing leap.
Here are some things that your tiny home inspector should be looking for:
- House up to code
- Running water and leaks
- Outlets spaced apart
- Properly installed electrical wires
- Working plumbing
- Smoke detectors
While some of these problems may seem minuscule, in the grand scheme of things, they are vital.
This way you can be sure that there are no major safety concerns with your purchase. Also, you want to be sure that you are buying a home that won’t end up costing you more than it’s worth.
Small problems like leaks can quickly turn into much larger concerns when buying a tiny home.
Are Your Plans Realistic?
One of the most important things to consider before buying a tiny house is whether or not it will be the best move in the long run.
Everyone has a vision in their head about what living in a tiny home may be like. However, the reality is far different than a vision. So, are your plans realistic?
Knowing what is doable for you and your family can save you some serious heartache in the future.
How Much Space Do You Need?
The average size of a tiny house will run upwards of 150 square feet.
This isn’t a great deal of room to work with when you consider that traditional homes will be an average of 1500 square feet. This first thing to think about is the size of your family. While younger children can easily adapt to a smaller sense of living, what about older children who have come to expect a certain level of privacy?
Another thing to consider when you think about space is what you are going to be using your house for.
Besides the typical living, do you plan on working from your home? If so, what kind of working space do you need? These are not questions to make you rethink moving to a smaller home, but instead to get your find creative ways to use the space.
Most space issues can easily be solved with some creative thinking. Beds can be easily lifted away to give room to play spaces for children. Dining areas can easily be doubled up as office spaces.
Instead of seeing the space as lacking, try to view it as a way to challenge yourself to think outside of the box.
Keep Your Expectations Grounded
It is important to note that living comfortably in your tiny house will take more than a day.
Through living your normal routine, you will learn what works and what doesn’t for you. Learning to adapt and change to your new surroundings can make all the difference in the world.
Also, the longer you live in your tiny house, the more accustomed you will become to keeping your expectations grounded. Don’t expect to move your 6 person family into 150 square feet. Also, don’t limit yourself to traditional standards either.
Feel free to expand your tiny home overtime to find what works best for you. The first step to living a more reductive life is to find a way to make it work for you.
Give It a Try!
The last thing you should consider before buying a tiny home is trying it out before you buy.
You wouldn’t buy a new car before giving it a test drive right?
So why not take your tiny home for a “test drive”? While finding tiny home rentals is easy to come by, you can also look for more short-term trials.
Using services like Airbnb are a great way to try out some more non-traditional homes, even for a short amount of time. While this may be an extra cost, it is totally worth it. You won’t really know if a tiny home will work for your family until you test your limits.
We stayed in a tiny house for a couple of nights to see whether this was something we could do long-term. You can see our experience here:
So, get out there and find some adventure with your family.
Who knows, you may find that you are perfectly suited for the tiny house life. We did!
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Maria is the founder of GoDownsize. While studying architecture in Denmark she became fascinated with designing living spaces for boats, tiny houses, RVs, and other small spaces.
She mainly writes about space optimization, interior design, and downsizing. She’s also in charge of our YouTube channel. Read more about Maria here.