Social Observations of the Tiny Home Movement

I almost just put this realization about the Tiny Home Movement as a Facebook update, but then I realized it hit that sweet spot of too long for FB to kind of almost too short for a blog post. I’m hoping other people can join in on the observations and leave some comments.

“I’m going to live in a van.”

If you’re not an active member in the outdoor community, people don’t get it.

“Why don’t you just live in a camper?”

“You’ll never be able to do it. It’s too small.”

“You’re going to freeze in the winter.”

“Your life is going to be so miserable.”

“Where do you shower and go to the bathroom?!”

“I’m going to buy a $500,000 house I can’t afford but the bank is going to give me money anyways!”


“You’re going to be so happy!”

“How does it feel to be a responsible adult?”

Honestly, makes my stomach turn.

“I’m buying a mobile home.”

“What’s up, trailer trash?”

“Do you have enough wife-beater tank tops?”

“When are you going to buy a car that’s more expensive than your house?”

“I’m joining the Tiny House Movement.”

“That’s so cool!”

“You’re so trendy!”

“I could never do it, but I’m excited for you!”

Deep Thoughts

So why is a camper better than a van? Why is a camper better than a trailer? Why is a tiny home better than a trailer of equal or more square footage? And of all of them, why is a 30-year, $500,000 mortgage that will saddle me with debt for the remaining years of my life the best option of all of them?


Don’t Miss Your Chance

I was stuck in Corporate America for 9 years. I was miserable.

Then I took control.

You can too, and it starts right here.

11 responses to “Social Observations of the Tiny Home Movement

  1. I have purchased a house. Only cost me $170,000. I owe about $156,000 currently, it’s worth $200,000 (roughly). I would say at The time, a good investment. But as of right now I need to be stationary. Most people often ask me why can’t you just go live in a camper or a van? They don’t seem to get the fact that having children is a responsibility. I guess I could leave them behind? Let their mom deal with raising them. But that I believe is the exact definition of a douche bag, lazy, deadbeat dad. It’s a good thing I purchased my house when the market was definitely a buyers market, and in five years if I decide to live in a camper, Not a van, The housing market is rebounding strongly and I figure I should have somewhere between 50 and $60,000 in equity in my home. Not too bad, I should be able to purchase a brand-new pretty sweet motorhome and have quite a bit of cash left over to live on. Trick is finding a way to make money while living in that camper and still adventuring? Adventure on Dave

  2. Love this post! I wanted to live in my van during the 70’s but I had to go to high school! 😉

    When I hear someone getting a huge home / big mortgage first thing that comes to mind is– I’ll get you a sympathy card.

    A big RV with all the bells & whistles are good for retired folks who has paid on or paid off a big home.

  3. People are quick to follow a trend, and are stuck in the “American Dream” that has set a paradigm that not being a home owner makes you irresponsible, trashy, poor, the list goes on. I wish people could see that that tiny home their friend is building that they think is sooo amazing because it is an actual house serves the same purpose of a van, or trailer, or even a normal sized house. We all live in different ways. Yes, for some people a buying a house instead of a van is a better option, but that does not mean other living situations are wrong. Wonderful post! I’m so excited to follow you on your van adventure!!

  4. So. Having owned a house (with a tiny mortgage), lived in a van, lived in a camper, lived in an RV, currently living in a trailer, and biding my time before signing on the dotted line for a (normal sized) mortgage THEY’RE ALL JUST DAMN LIFE CHOICES THAT COME WITH TRADEOFFS.

    Is any one of those choices more valid than another? Nope.

    The pros of vans is that they’re cheap! Easy to move! Mobile, low-cost adventure living! Downsides include being cold, cramped, missing a couch, etc. The trailer thing I’m still trying to figure out the pros of…the 70s model i live in has minimal insulation, is built of the crappiest materials, and if I were to buy it from the owner I’d be looking at approximately the same cost as the house I plan to build (same size lots however the trailer is zoned commercial). It’s big? And might be nice someday?

    Life choices. We all make ’em. Kids or no kids? To work out or eat an ice cream cone (I choose both)? Extra hours in the office or more time on the slopes/trail/mountain/wall/etc.

  5. Great comments so far!

    To be clear, I’m not saying any one is better than the other (except saddling yourself in debt, regardless of decision). I’m just pointing out how each of them is perceived by society.

    It’s funny that a smaller, more expensive, modern tiny home is looked incredibly admirable, but a mobile home in a trailer park which is cheaper and offers more square footage puts you on the level of trailer trash.

  6. Interesting post Dave, I like it. People are quick to judge and comment regardless of your choices in life I find. Whether it’s a white picket fence house or a van, someone will have something negative to say and hopefully your loved ones will have something positive to say. I think what you are doing is awesome because it sounds like it is something you want to do. Random connection but this reminds me of being pregnant… it’s my first, and I find that people will give me their opinion whether I ask or don’t ask. They comment on my weight (or lack there of), the activities I do, how I look, what I’m eating, etc… without even being asked. Regardless of your religion, I really like what Tupac says “only God can judge me”…. 😉 Enjoy the van life. Looking forward to following your journey!

  7. It seems that people like others to do what they themselves do so they feel justified in their own decisions.

    When others go against the norm it makes them uncomfortable and they start to question their own choices. Everyone should do what makes them happy and quit worrying about what others are doing. Be cool and be happy for each other.

  8. I like Beth’s response: Every one of these are life choices and come with trade-offs.

    We were looking a place to live in 2002 and saw a new community being built. Interest rates were low, we both had good careers, so we bought a $500k home, with an affordable monthly payment. Now, we owe less than $300K and it’s worth about double our original purchase price. We are 4 years into a 15 year mortgage and plan to retire early. We didn’t see a mortgage as a looming monstrosity. Our house was simply one place to put our savings and have our money work for us.

    At one point we owned three houses. We sold one and now we own two houses and a commercial building, one of which is paid off and the other just about. If I was young and single, living in a van sounds great, but, as you get older and your back starts to hurt, being able to stand up comfortably inside and walk around sounds pretty good.

    I do think your point about the stigma difference between trailers and Tiny Homes is interesting. Perhaps it is the styling, or the idea that many Tiny Home people actually build the Tiny Homes themselves. Or the fact that Tiny Homes appears to be a distinct choice, while living in a trailer has been perceived as a last resort.

    For me, being able to close my eyes at night and sleep comfortably, knowing where my next meal would come from, and knowing I have a plan, brings me peace. It wasn’t always this way. When I was younger, I was so hungry I would drink my roommate’s maple syrup to keep the shakes away.

    That all being said. I still have a plan to buy some sort of van, not to live in permanently, but to take the Sierra and live in for a few weeks at a time, from which I will explore those beautiful mountains.

    And then drive home to my family.

  9. Also, two friends and I bought a 1953 Ford bus (Sky blue, and it read Hat Creek Baptist Church on the side) and were going to drive through South America in our early 20’s. It was hipster before hipster was a thing. 🙂 Hah, I am so hipster by saying that.

    It looked EXACTLY like this one (sans writing):

    Anyway, we rebuilt the engine, tranny, and removed most of the seats and took it to Oregon from Southern CA on a test run. On the way home, the engine blew up big time, and so did our dreams.

  10. Here’s what I think is funny about tiny houses…isn’t it basically just like living in a free standing apartment? But with a lofted room? Like, my 650 sq foot apartment fits all my crap + 2 people + a dog. And if I were in NYC, a 650 sq ft apartment would be luxury! Yes, tiny houses are smaller than 650 sq feet but sometimes they’re not – sometimes they’re bigger! So…do I live in a tiny house?!

    Also, I’m a big fan of doing what makes you happy and blowing off other people’s (negative) opinions. ‘You do what you love and f*ck the rest.’

  11. Great article. So here’s my thought’s from someone living in the UK. I believe it is all societal pressure, brought about by the media and Governments.

    Media always portray people living in trailers or campers as trash because think what would happen to there lovely little system if people woke up and said ” Screw borrowing from a bank, I’m going to live free of debt and not be a slave to them”

    Buying a house equals good because they have you nailed down for taxes and electric and gas and phone and and and,,,,,,,,

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