After living full-time in our RV, we've discovered a few pros and cons to the tiny living lifestyle. Here's a breakdown of the ones that stand out the most:
Pro #1: Every Purchase Has a Purpose
Prior to moving into an RV, we bought a lot of junk. We purchased things just because we liked them, or because we thought we might use them. Despite conducting bi-annual purges, we kept accumulating more and more possessions, filling every corner of the house.
Now, we can’t do that. And that’s a positive thing. I constantly pass items in stores that I would have purchased in the past, but instead, I smile and move on. We have to really want or need something to get it, since buying a new item means making room for it by getting rid of something we already have. And the things we own are the things we felt were important to keep.
It’s almost impossible to impulse shop now that we live tiny. Before we make a purchase, we have to think about how important an item is, where we’re going to store it, and how long it’s going to last.
Pro #2: Cleaning the House Takes a Fraction of the Time
Our family previously lived in a 1500-square-foot house. Even in that home, which is significantly smaller than the size of new construction single-family homes, I was constantly cleaning. The kitchen and bathrooms always needed scrubbing because of their constant use. But I came to realize I was cleaning rooms that we didn’t use for any purpose (other than filling them with stuff).
It took me days to clean the windows alone. We had a dining room we didn’t use, plus an odd space off the living whose purpose we never determined in over a decade of living there. All of those spaces required constant upkeep.
I’m amazed at how easy it is to clean the inside of our RV. We cover our entire tiny living space in the time it used to take to clean one room. But it’s not just the inside that I don’t have to worry about.
Pro #3: No More Lawn Care
Though we still have to wash the outside of our RV (it’s like washing a big car), I don’t have to care for a lawn anymore. No more mowing, weed whacking, and pulling weeds, for a half a day every week.
(View of our old front yard with a vegetable garden/fruit trees. The backyard and sides of the house had grass.)
Our family no longer needs to keep and maintain lawn equipment. This has not only saved us money but also cleared up free time to do the things we actually want to do.
Pro #4: Save Money
Living tiny can cost as little or as much as you’d like. For our family, going tiny has saved us up to $1000 per month while we’re stationary. When we travel, those savings go away. Though we spend more on travel months than we do when we're stationary, it's still cheaper than living in a home. Plus, we’ll get to have more diverse experiences on the road.
Photo by Joslyn Pickens: https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-putting-coin-in-a-piggy-bank-3848193/
Between the lower cost of living on a month-to-month basis, the inability to impulse shop, and having fewer items to own and maintain, we’ve saved a lot since moving into the RV.
The cost of living can vary depending on where you live. Here in Florida, the cost of homeowner’s insurance is soaring. Within the last year, many home owners have lost their coverage as their company fled the state or shut down. People are reporting paying two to three times the annual rates they paid just a few years ago.
For residents in environmentally sensitive areas, constantly under threat from hurricanes, fires, and other disasters, and facing increasing living costs because of it, going tiny might be another way to save money. Since we sold our home, we’ve avoided further increases in insurance.
Photo by Kelly: https://www.pexels.com/photo/dramatic-view-of-village-houses-damaged-by-thunderstorm-4170461/
Tiny living isn't all perks though. Here are a few cons to living small:
Con #1: Finding the Room to Get Things Done
Though we’ve found space to store the things we wanted to bring with us, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to find space to work.
My husband no longer has a garage to use when he’s working on a project. This means he has to use the concrete pad at our RV site, which doesn’t provide protection from the elements. So, whether he can complete a job on a particular day depends on the weather.
In our area, this time of year, it rains almost daily. This has created a slowdown in the number of things we can fix on our RV.
My designated desk space in our first RV.
Before we moved into our RV, I believed that the dining table would suffice as a desk for the kids and myself. I had visions of the kids doing their schoolwork while I was on my computer. We would quietly get our work done in an organized fashion – just like the couples on YouTube who worked out of their van or RV. Except, that wasn’t our reality.
It turns out, we all needed our space. In our first RV, my husband built a designated work space for me. But since we've downsized again, that space is gone. Now that we travel, we spend more time working outside when the weather permits, or taking turns using the dinette table.
Con #2: Morning Routines
One of our requirements in going tiny was to have the kids in their own room, behind a closed door. I’m usually the first one up in the morning, and I didn’t want the kids to get up when they heard me making coffee.
Photo by lil artsy: https://www.pexels.com/photo/photo-of-coffee-mug-on-top-of-book-3216564/
Most mornings, we dance around each other vying for space to get through our morning routines. From eating breakfast and brushing teeth, to finding a space to work, we're trying to figure out how to balance what each person needs to do while providing them with the space to do it. Finding individual, private space is not easy, and we’re still learning how to make it work for us.
Image by <a href="https://pixabay.com/users/12019-12019/?utm_source=link-attribution&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=image&utm_content=80479">David Mark</a> from <a href="https://pixabay.com//?utm_source=link-attribution&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=image&utm_content=80479">Pixabay</a>
Was It Worth It?
Going tiny has its pros and cons. For our family, I would definitely say that the pros outweigh the cons. We’re constantly re-arranging, re-organizing, and re-imagining what we can do with our space. Maybe the answers to some of these cons lies in getting an RV with a different layout. Maybe it involves getting more creative. Only time will tell.
If you’re planning to downsize, or completely go tiny, check out this article to help you get there: 5 Steps for Downsizing Your Life: Practical Advice from a Family Who Went from 1500 to 350 sq ft.
Do you live in a tiny space and have ideas you’d like to share? Do you want to go tiny but you’re not sure if it’ll be worth it? Leave a comment below. We’d love to hear from you!