Living Tiny With Kids

Recently on The Tiny House Listings Facebook page I asked this question:

“Do you live tiny/small with kids? How has it affected your life in terms of what changes have been made in the way you live, how has it effected your family, happiness of your kids, etc?”

It’s a subject I’ve thought about quite a bit and keeps popping up with many of the good folks I speak with about downsizing. Making a drastic lifestyle change, shedding square feet and clutter is very appealing and just because you have kids doesn’t mean you are exempt from living small.

Here are the responses from the question I asked on Facebook:


My husband, 18 month old, and I (along with our dog) live in an Airstream. It’s about 160 sq. ft. It has its challenges but we love the freedom from stuff. We lived in it for 2 1/2 years. Just closed it up for a few months while we stay with family but we will be back on the road in the spring. The biggest challenge is that my husband works from home so finding a quiet space to do work and conference calls can be tricky…especially with an 18 mo old. But it can be done. When we buy a home without wheels, we are definitely buying small. Love it! Doesn’t take long to clean a small space. :-)
~ Lani


There are 6 of us living in 900 sq ft. Does that count as small?
~ Shana


We are building a tiny house, 200sq ft, counting lofts. My kids are totally down with minimizing stuff. For Christmas they gave away 90% of their toys to friends they shared memories with. They seem excited, but maybe because they are 5&6 and think it’s like a cool clubhouse. I’d also like to hear about obstacles I will encounter with the kiddos!
~ Letty


When my boys were younger we moved back and forth between winnebagos and travel trailers that were never over 30 feet. It was fun and we got along and spent so much time together. Now they are teenagers and we live in a bigger place and i’m lucky if I get a hey how ya doing from them. I’m looking for a small pull behind now for me and my daughter and we are getting away from this madness. I prefer small spaces and she’s stuck up my butt it seems so its pretty fitting for both of us.
~ Misty


From the stories I’ve read and the people I’ve spoke with about living tiny/small with children the message is that their kids tend to be just as happy if not happier. They also learn some good life lessons about humility and come together as a family rather than being separated by square feet.

While there are challenges to living in small quarters with children, the overall pros seem to outweigh the cons. Here are some stories of families that have taken the tiny house living plunge.

Derek from naturalpapa.com lived in a 120 sq. ft. camper with his family which consisted of two adults, a four year old and two cats for 6 years. Several years after moving into the RV they had another child. Here’s a tidbit from his blog:

“Well, we saved paying a ton of money on rent, and our energy and water use went way down during those 6 years. We generally used less than 10 gallons a day of water, drinking and wash water together (2 adults and one child, then another baby for the last 2 years). Our four 20 watt light bulbs were in use for only several hours in the evening, and we used headlights and candles when we could.”

You can read the rest of Derek and his family’s story here.

An extreme example of living small with kids is from a documentary I watched recently about Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz, his wife and 9 kids, all living in a camper and roaming from place to place. Doc and his wife raised their children in the camper and home-schooled them, all while living on next to nothing. His children were taught how to surf and eventually opened a successful surf school. Some of Doc’s practices are controversial, but interesting nonetheless.

If you are a Netflix subscriber you can watch Doc’s documentary “Surfwise” here.

I recently wrote an article about Pat and Ali and their experiences of living on a sailboat in Mexico with their two children. Living small and in Mexico has allowed them and their children to experience different cultures and live their lives exactly the way they want to. Their story is an amazing one.

You can read more about them and their adventures at bumfuzzle.com.

Lulu, a single Mom with no building experience built a shipping home for herself and her daughter from a shipping container for $4,000. Here’s what Lulu has to say about living tiny with her kid “I mean this was really a choice about, you know, how many hours do we have to our life and how do I want to spend those hours and really about do I want to go and work more than 10, 20, 30 hours a week so that I can pay rent to have a big house so that I can be a healthy normal mom. So this was my choice and she’s definitely complained at times, but I also know that we have spent way more hours than I would have if I had to pay rent.”

Here is a video tour of Lulu’s home:

You can read Lulu’s entire story here.

Do you have plans to downsize in the near future with children? What’s your take? Or, have you already downsized and want to share your story? Please share with us in the comments below.

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2 Comments → “Living Tiny With Kids”


  1. Lesa Kosteck

    Jan 07, 2012

    We’ve downsized a couple times to get to where we are now… We lost a 2650 sq ft, 5bedroom, 3 bath, 2 living area, 20×25 eat in country kitchen on a couple acres to foreclosure and an inability to keep up with repairs due to a year of unemployment.. we moved to a smaller, but still sizable house in town (rental) on a corner lot.. we recently moved into a 950 sq ft, 3 bedroom, 1 bath, 1 living area, smaller but better set up kitchen and utility room house on a nice and even bigger lot than the last one.. AND are paying 500 less a month on the rent .. AND the utilities are noticeably lower as well… We are a family of 5.. My Husband, 3 grown children, 3 good sized dogs, one good sized cat, and myself.. We love this place and feel very at home and comfortable here.. I’d still love to one day build a “tiny” house on wheels .. but I’d like it to be built on a 40′ lowboy goose neck heavy duty trailer.. not so tiny as some, but I think it would be plenty comfortable.. Tiny on wheels says “security/freedom/choices” to me.. I think it would be a good back up in case of “disaster”, if nothing else.. nifty for camping and company as well, in the mean time.. we’ll see… never know what lies right around the next corner, but I keep turnin’ said corners to find out.. Best to All… ;) Lesa Kosteck, Central TX

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  2. Kat

    Feb 03, 2012

    We (me, husband, 2-year-old, fat dog) are thinking of downsizing from our enormous house (won’t say how enormous) for at least a year into a 160ft vardo so I can go to midwifery school. I think it will be challenging at first, but it will allow us to spend quality time.

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