Living In A 200 Square Foot Tiny House – Could You Do It?

Living In A 200 Square Foot Tiny House - Could You Do It?When we first moved out when we were 18, we moved into a very small house.

It was extremely small at around 400 square feet (less than that if you don’t count the basement), but it was cheap, had a backyard and was located very close to the college I was about to start attending.

Also as a reminder, last year Jordann also posted about how she used to live in a 400 square foot house.

I recently became interested in tiny homes again when I was watching a documentary on Netflix (we’re starting to find cable less and less worthwhile) called Tiny: A Story About Living Small. This documentary followed a man building his very own tiny home, and the documentary also showed others who lived in their own tiny homes.

I find tiny homes very interesting. They make great use of their space, they are usually very cute, and they are very affordable. Even with the positives below though, I don’t think it’s something I could do.

For me, the negatives greatly outweigh the positives. I think we could do something smaller than what we currently have, but 200 square feet is just too extreme for me.

Below are the positives and negatives of living in a tiny house:

 

Pro: Your housing expenses will be cheaper.

The average tiny home costs less than $30,000 to build. That includes the exterior and interior of the home. That is very cheap! That is much cheaper than the average home.

However, I do think you have to remember about where you are going to place this tiny home. Yes, you can buy land for cheap, but land can also be very expensive in other areas.

Your home will also be cheaper in that your utility bills will be cheaper. It’s much cheaper to heat or cool down a 200 square foot house than a 2,000 square foot house.

Repairs, maintenance and replacements will also most likely be much cheaper in a tiny home.

 

Con: I think it would be difficult with children and pets.

We don’t have children yet, but we would like to have them in the future. With all of the people I’ve seen and read about who live in tiny homes, I don’t think there’s been a single one who had children or pets.

I think it would just be very difficult with a family. People need their space… Or, maybe that’s just me?

However, I think if it were just one or two people living in a tiny home, then it would probably be much more doable. When we lived in our 400 square foot house (let’s keep in mind that we haven’t lived there in a very long time), it wasn’t completely bad. The size didn’t really bother us at all at the time. I think it really helped that there were multiple small rooms to escape too, and there was also a front and backyard and porch.

 

Pro: You’ll spend less money on material items.

I am a bit of a hoarder. Just ask Wes and he will probably want to cry just thinking about how much stuff I have.

My closet is jam packed to the ceiling with stuff, and then I also have things in the guest bedroom and in our basement.

Moving into a tiny home would probably be a lifesaver in that I would be forced to think about each purchase I make. Since there’s only so much room in a tiny home, you will buy fewer items.

 

Con: Having guests over won’t be comfortable.

I remember watching in the documentary when the main person being filmed had guests over.

He invited his family over to see the home he just built and it was extremely cramped. It was almost like everyone had to bend over in order for their to be room for everyone.

Now, I’ll be honest, I don’t throw raging parties or anything, but I would like the option of having people over when I can. This is especially true since we plan on moving to a new state and we would like people to visit us occasionally.

 

Living In A 200 Square Foot Tiny House - Could You Do It?Pro: You may be able to bring the tiny house when traveling.

Okay, this doesn’t apply to every single tiny house, but there are some that are small enough where you can actually travel with it.

You can bring your tiny home to where you want it to be, and you may even be able to do some road trips in it as well.

This makes the list of possible places to live pretty much endless.

 

Con: Not a lot of personal space.

This is no surprise. They are called tiny homes for a reason. According to the documentary, tiny homes are homes that are 200 square feet or less. That is extremely small.

That’s smaller than my bedroom, and my bedroom is not huge by any means.

Since I work from home 24/7 now, I would like to have more space since I’m at home more. I think I would get a little crazy if I was in the same exact room hour after hour, day after day.

 

Would you ever live in a tiny home? Why or why not? How small could you go?

How big is your home currently?

 

Also, if you live in a tiny home (less than 250 square feet preferably), I’d love to hear from you and possibly conduct an interview for this blog. Please send me an email if you are interested.

 

Images all via Flickr by Tammy Strobel

What We’re Looking For When We Move

What We're Looking For When We MoveOkay, okay, I’ve talked about moving a lot in the past.

Last year, we were thinking about selling our current house and buying a new one in the St. Louis area again. But, then I left my day job for full-time freelancing and there were just too many things going on.

Good thing we put our home purchase on hold, because now we are thinking about leaving the St. Louis area and buying a home in a different state.

The two main states we are thinking about now are Colorado and Florida.

Yes, I know, these are two completely different states. Florida is hot and humid and doesn’t get any snow. Colorado experiences all four seasons and isn’t humid at all.

Below are some of the different things we are wanting and are thinking about when it comes to our potential move.

 

A beautiful area.

I used to really love the St. Louis area, but that was before we went to Colorado. After hiking and camping in Colorado, nothing in St. Louis is even remotely comparable.

I love how there are so many things to do in Colorado.

We can visit national parks, national forests, amazing trails, lakes, and so on. There are several outdoorsy things to do in this state and I think it would be impossible to ever feel bored if we moved to Colorado. Colorado is also closer to many other beautiful areas in the country, so it would be much easier to have beautiful outdoor vacations than where we are in Missouri right now.

What we love about Florida is the warmer weather and the beaches, of course!

We are also interested in getting a sailboat, and living in Florida would mean that we could travel the Caribbean potentially with a sailboat. That is a dream and sounds a little crazy though, and I’m not sure if that would ever realistically happen.

 

Good schools.

No, we don’t have children yet. However, we are thinking about having them in the next few years.

This means that we are looking into the school system for wherever we move. We forgot to do this when we bought our current house, mainly because we were so young when we bought and we knew we didn’t want children in the near future at that time.

The only way I really know how to check this though is with the website Great Schools. Does anyone know if this is a good way to check? Or are there better websites?

If you live in Colorado or Florida, or know of any school systems, please let me know. I’d love to hear!

 

Budget.

We will, of course, have a budget wherever we move. I’m not the type of person who could live in Los Angeles or New York City where the cost of living is extremely high.

I want a decent house that is within our budget. I’m not exactly sure what our budget will be, but somewhere between $300,000 to $400,000 I think would be good.

Also, we want a home with at least a little bit of land. At least one acre would be great. I just want a little bit a land, a pretty view, and possibly an area where I can attempt to grow a garden.

I’m not sure if all of this is possible in Colorado though. We have been looking at Realtor.com and Zillow and it seems like housing is a little bit more expensive there then it is here in St. Louis. $300,000 to $400,000 in St. Louis could buy you a 4,000 square foot brand new McMansion!

If anyone wants to help with a budget (how much is the average home in a city in both of these states?), cost of living, property and income taxes in each of these states, how is the social life like, and so on? I know this can vary greatly, but I would like to hear anyone’s input about these areas.

 

Not too, too far away.

Colorado is around 12 hours from where we live in St. Louis. That is definitely a long car drive, but it is something that we can do within one day. Also, a plane trip wouldn’t be too terribly long, so that is doable as well.

Florida would be a minimum of 12 hours from our home, and some places in Florida could even be 25 hours a way. That is definitely a long drive!

One reason why we are thinking about leaving the St. Louis area is because we don’t have much family here in St. Louis anymore. Wes’s parents and his younger siblings all just recently moved to Memphis, and my whole family lives in Chicago.

 

Would you ever move to a new area? Why do you currently live where you live?

What must a city have for you to want to move there?

 

Image: The picture above is one I took with my iPhone while we were driving when we went to Colorado in June. No editing or anything, that’s just how beautiful Colorado is!

How To Buy A House At A Young Age

How To Buy A House At A Young AgeIt’s no secret here on Making Sense of Cents that I am a homeowner.

However, what some people might not know is that I bought my home at the age of 20.

Yes, I was TWENTY YEARS OLD.

I know this isn’t the norm for most people, and I know that just because some are able to do it and make it work doesn’t mean that it’s for everyone. Most of my friends bought homes when they were around my age as well, so maybe it’s a St. Louis thing? :)

Anyway, we both had okay full-time jobs at the time.

We moved into our home in October of 2009, and I graduated in May of 2010, so we did buy our home thinking that we would have a higher income coming May 2010. Luckily, that worked out in our favor, but I don’t think I would ever recommend buying on an expected higher income unless you knew for sure (150%!) that it would happen.

We bought in 2009, when there was the $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit and when the housing market was cheap for buyers. Also, buying a home where I live is cheaper than renting, so that was something that definitely influenced us.

Before we bought, we were renting a house (for super cheap – like $350 a month, if I remember correctly) but had to move because we had a crazy neighbor who had the SWAT team at his house on a monthly basis and he started to threaten our lives as well (some of you know exactly how that ended – not good at all).

Also, I found a snake in my bed one night (yes, an actual SNAKE!) and I was pretty much scared to sleep in that house ever again because of the neighbor and the snake.

Even though we were both very young, houses were a steal at the time, and we needed a new place to live.

Here are my tips to help you buy your next home:

 

Do you actually want to buy? Or should you rent?

Before you decide that you absolutely want to buy your next home, you should stop and think about the positives and negatives of both home ownership and renting. Not everyone is meant to be a homeowner. And not everyone wants to rent.

Some different things that you should think about include:

  • Do you want to travel a lot? If you want to travel, then having a permanent home where you have to pay the bills even if no one is there may be a waste of money for you.
  • Do you plan on moving for your career? If you are young, then you may still be early in your career and you may decide that you want to leave your home city one day. I actually was offered a position right after I graduated from college (around 6 months after we bought our house) and they wanted me to move. Luckily, the position kind of sucked and the town they wanted me to move to sounded absolutely horrible (I think there were around 100 people that lived in the whole COUNTY of where the position was located) so I didn’t give the position any thought.
  • How’s your credit? If you are young, then you may not have even established any credit. It would be very hard, if not impossible, to buy a home without a good credit score.
  • Do you have time and/or money for home maintenance? If you own your home, then there will be home maintenance that goes along with it – it doesn’t matter if your house is new or old, stuff happens. Something may break, grass needs to be mowed, and so on.

 

Read my past article Is A House Right For You for more information.

 

What kind of home do you want?

Each person is different. Just because the “American Dream” is said to be a suburban house with a white picket fence, doesn’t mean that it’s everyone’s dream.

You should really think about where you want to live and what kind of home you want.

  • Do you want to live in the suburbs? Maybe you want to live right on the beach? Or is city living more for you? Or do you want to live far away from everyone and live 20 minutes away from the closest grocery store?
  • Do you want a house, a condominium, a townhouse, a duplex, a farm, or something else? Maybe you want to live on a boat? I don’t know! There are so many different options out there

 

How To Buy A House At A Young Age

Find a realtor.

If you are buying a home, please find a realtor! I have met a few people who think that they have to pay the realtor if they are a potential homebuyer. That is not true.

The realtor receives a commission from the seller, at no cost to you. Or at least this is how it is in the United States. Can others in other countries chime in about this?

There are many positives of having a real estate agent. They can help you negotiate (they are professionals at this), they can help you find the perfect home for you, they have experience in buying homes, and they can help you with all of the paperwork that will need to be done (and trust me, there is so much paperwork!).

 

Think about the total cost of the home that you want to buy.

This is something that some/many people do not think about when they buy a home. When you buy a home, there are so many factors that go into how much a home truly costs.

These include:

  • The home price. This is the number one thing that potential homebuyers look at, but don’t forget about the below!
  • Utility bills. You would be surprised to see how much utility bills can vary. One home may have utility bills of $200, and another may have utility bills of $700. You should be able to get a detailed past expense list or at least a realistic estimation of how much utility bills will cost you for that specific house from the current homeowners.
  • Private Mortgage Insurance. If you didn’t put a 20% down payment on your home, then you may have to pay PMI.
  • Property insurance. Insurance can vary greatly depending on where you live and what type of home you have. I pay around $700 a year for property insurance, but I know others who pay over $2,000 a year.
  • Property taxes. This can be a rather large amount of your monthly mortgage each month. I pay around $150 each month towards property taxes, but I know others who pay over $500 each month (and that is just crazy to me!).
  • Maintenance. Things will break in homes, like I said earlier. Also, you may need to paint eventually, mow the lawn, buy more efficient appliances, and more.

 

Rent out a room in your home for some extra money.

I wouldn’t recommend buying a home unless you can truly afford it. However, if you are young and there is plenty of extra space in your home, then it probably wouldn’t hurt you to rent out some of that extra space.

Renting out a room in your home can add an extra few hundred dollars to your income each month, which can be really helpful if you are a homeowner.

We have four bedrooms in our house and we only use one (our bedroom). So when my sister needed a place to live a few years ago, we invited her to live with us. It’s been working out very well. She’s been living with us since May of 2012 and pays around $325 per month.

We also haven’t really noticed an increase in any of our bills, but with some renters you may notice that. It’s always a good idea to try to estimate how much things will increase, wear and tear, and more in order to see whether renting a room in your home is worth it for you.

Read Debunking 5 Myths About Renting out a Room to a Stranger for more information.

 

What advice would you give to someone looking for a home?

Is there anything that you wish you would have done differently when home shopping?

 

Flickr Image by Michael Gil