April 22, 2021

When Is A Tiny Home Too Tiny?

Too tiny - have to sleep standing up.

I read about a Hong Kong developer turning a former hotel tower into residential units. The average size of the units is 300 sq. ft.. 

A 300 sq. ft. average means some units are smaller than that, bringing me to wonder,

"When is a tiny home too tiny?"

One hundred years ago the average North American home was about 800 sq. ft., and they had more people living in them than the 2500 sq.ft. homes of today.

Because of that, average personal living space over that time has increased by 200% to just under 1000 sq. ft. per person.

Linda and I would like to downsize from our current 600 sq. ft. per person rental home. 

It is too big for us, and I can think of better things to do than spending time cleaning it.

We have been looking at real estate for several years, but accessible homes in our area are very rare. If we are going to get anything here, we are going to have to do it ourselves.

We actually began saving money to purchase land shortly after we started living together. We both wanted a little piece of nature to nurture and call our own.

That was back when classic rock wasn't classic yet, but over the years the opportunity never arose. 

It has now.

The current plan is to buy a few acres of woods in our area, and make a tiny dwelling suitable for our needs.

But how tiny? That is the question. 

As far as we are concerned, the tinier the better, but where exactly is that sweet spot that balances both the positive and negative aspects of living in a micro-home?

It wouldn't cost a lot to build a Hong Kong-sized super tiny home. It would be about the size of a garden shed, small cabin, single car garage, or walk-in closet.

People in other places seem to manage quite well, and we think we will, too. 

Way too tiny, but amazing setting.


  1. Anonymous4/23/2021

    My little family of 3 lives in a good sized 2 bedroom 1 bath condo- giving us 255 sqft per person. To me, this is incredibly spacious. Could be quite a bit smaller and still be perfectly comfortable, but bigger would feel hollow and wasted.
    The only reason ours has the square footage it does is to retain the 32"+ accessibility for walkways (rollways).

    I think people adapt to small spaces easily, even if they are used to the north american standard of Ridiculously Huge, if their heart is in it. Building or renovating is a great way to make even the smallest space feel like home.

    1. We lived with 255 sq ft each in a west coast condo before we moved to Nova Scotia in 2014, and we lived there for 9 years. It was a bit cramped at the time, but after our last move we have WAY LESS STUFF. That, or smaller, would be more than adequate for our needs now.

    2. Anonymous4/23/2021

      Layout can make a huge difference- I've been in places the same size as ours, but with narrow doors and a lot of wasted space, and it feels very cramped. Then again, we only had enough stuff that it all fit in half of the smaller bedroom when boxed up.

      I recall a past thing you wrote, about your neighbors wanting to give you a dining room table, and figured you'd enjoy this- we attached some second hand butcher block to the wall with a piano hinge and suit case latches, and created a fold up 'everything table' that functions as an art station, work space, kitchen prep area, chalk board (when folded up), and a plain ol' 5 person dining room table. Super easy, and worth its weight in gold in functionality for us.

      I hope y'all find or build your ideal place. It's wonderful having a place that really fits you, instead of having to fit yourself into it.

    3. For sure - we are thinking a lot about layout. Love the Everything Table. We will have one of those. Maybe a Murphy Bed as well.

      Our new space will be more defined by what we DON'T have. We look forward to NOT having a couch/sofa, and large dining room table. No dressers or night tables. No bureaus. No large screen TV. We don't have a lot of that now, but what we do have will be carefully scrutinized for functionality and efficiency.

      Our new little space will not have much evidence of the 21st Century Consumer Phenomena.

      Design will be "Early Monk Cell - 15th Century.

  2. If people don't can, sew, have hobbies or paying work they do at home, I suppose any tiny place will do. That is just existing, not living, to me.

    1. Anonymous4/23/2021

      I've got plenty of hobbies (and way too much fabric saved for sewing, lol! Definitely too much for someone who usually focuses on mending) and don't have an issue with my small space. I have an 18 inch bed frame with plenty of room for all of my craft supplies, as well as storing out of season clothing and lesser used household items.
      I think that the more nature you have outside, the less time you need to be indoors- meaning the whole world is your home. If I'm overwhelmed by other family members or need more space, I just bring my work outside (or to a library during non Covid times).

    2. Just existing sounds like a good outcome these days, given the state of things. So much better than the alternative.

      Buying a small bit of land, and building something tiny and cozy might be the only way Linda and I continue to exist.

      Like the commenter above says, what we are most excited about would be what is outside our home - beautiful Nature. Helpful neighbours would be nice, too.

    3. My sewing machine and serger and ironing board are not outdoor toys. Nor is the electric dehydrator. I love being outdoors, but there is no substitute for activities that need to be done indoors. When my allergies are bothering me, outdoor is torture, no matter how much I want to be there. I cannot sleep in an 18 inch wide bed!

  3. I'd love a tiny one bedroom bungalow. Small cosy sitting room and tiny kitchen/diner. But I would love a huge garden and sadly tiny bungalows aren't built with huge gardens here in the uk

    1. Our goal has always been small home, huge garden.

  4. I live in a 620 sq. ft. apartment with a cat. Lots of room - actually larger than the first house we bought. Having spent most of the last fourteen months in lockdown I have been happy for the space. Where I live November through April are cold, grey, and at times, sub-Arctic in temperature (it snowed night before last). When I was a child we once lived - two adults, a five year old and a baby - in a Boler trailer for almost a year. But, that was in the lower mainland of BC. Big difference.

    1. Wow. A Boler trailer is tiny, tiny. That sounds like an interesting story.

      That does prove that it can be done. Linda and I have done quite a bit of van living in the past, and loved the small space. It was enough at the time.

      The lower mainland must be about the only place in Canada one could do that. And it does still snow there from time to time.

  5. The tiny house is quite impractical for anyone who wants to provide food for themselves and make and repair things for their needs. I think a very small home with a good shed is a much better idea. If your home is tiny you cannot bulk buy foods, you have nowhere to store a lot of food and nowhere to preserve your food.

    Multi-purpose tables always seem like a good idea and indeed our dining table is used for working, writing, sewing, food prep, and of course eating. The issue I have with it is often having to clear it off in the middle of a project so that the next activity can take place. If your home is genuinely 'tiny', where do you clear off to? That said, if you go small good design can really save you.

    For myself, I love having a big pantry and mine has plenty of space on top. Not for decorator items or clutter! Currently on top of my pantry I am waiting for red wine to turn to vinegar, I have corn silk from my own corn drying for tea , the last of the sage also drying for tea, eggs shells piling up to be crushed and used to stop snails in the garden, citrus peels soaking in vinegar to be used for cleaning and so on.

    A verandah space is also incredibly useful. My block had not a stick on it when I bought it and I do regret not building the verandah sooner. Aside from providing cooling shade in summer I can now walk straight out my back door and to my left is a row of hooks on the wall hanging all of my most used garden tools. Nearby are three big metal bins containing chook food and food for the wild birds who we started feeding when the drought hit. There is a large table and bench where I lay onions and garlic to dry before hanging and storing them. I also shell my dried beans here. If we are in the middle of a project such as repainting the windows and doors, the paint gear can also be neatly stacked on the verandah saving us a long walk to the shed. I have a huge wood basket and two big baskets of kindling too.

    So I guess what I am in favour of is a 'big enough' home, rather than I tiny home. Big enough to provide for all of our needs but with no excess. On the other hand, if you are unable to grow and preserve food and do not need to work from home a tiny home could be excellent and sensible. If I were building from scratch now I would only include one bedroom as the kids have moved on, and I would combine the bathroom and laundry. The space that would have been the laundry would become a south-facing cool room to store dry goods and preserved foods. I think I would do without the hallway and perhaps be very open plan, possibly with sliding walls like in a traditional Japanese home. It's fun to dream about the possibilities!


    1. Thank you for your extensive comment highlighting a bunch of very important considerations. We have a pantry now, and love it. Also an attached single car garage that allows a space for all kinds of activities (since we don't have a car in it) from gardening to food storage and a place to stage and recover from outdoor adventures. It is nice, but it is too much.

  6. I remember reading obout Hong Kong's cage homes back in 2015 or so:

    1. Amazing the variety of living arrangements across this crazy globe of ours. Says something about the resilience of the human race.


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