Could You Live in a 120-Square-Foot House?

Posted by Rebecca

What about 250-square-feet?  Or 360, or 450?

Several of my friends and I have made the leap.  I live in a palatial 450 square feet, while one of my friends lives with her husband in around 400 square feet, another is with her husband in 360, and another with her son in a little over 300.  One of my single friends shares her 232 square foot 5th wheel with her chubby cat.

How do we do it?  Organization, practice, and learning to live with less.  Why do we do it?  This article from mentions 4 great reasons:

Low (or no) mortgage. ‘This can be freeing both financially and personally. “My life is less expensive, which gives me more time to enjoy it,” says one of the individuals interviewed.  He uses his extra free time hiking, writing songs, building guitars, and growing food in a small garden.’

A few of my neighbors found their trailers for free (yes, free!), paid for renovations as they made them, and are left with no house payment, just a small monthly space rent.  I paid $5,000 for my trailer, and put about $4,000 into it.  Pretty cheap for a lovely home!

Lower utility costs. ‘Tiny house dwellers have several options for utilities. Those who are eco-conscious appreciate not just the lower utility costs but the smaller environmental impact. Electricity or a water heater that is fueled from a solar panel can be a great option.’

If you don’t have the resources for solar energy, electricity and water can still be very inexpensive in a small home.  My electric bill is around $20 in the summer and $80 in the winter.

Trailers often use propane as an energy source.  This can be affordable for cooking appliances, but may run a little high for furnaces.  For this coming winter I’ve decided to stop using my central heat, which is run on propane and can be extremely expensive in the cold months.  After a lot of research I’ve decided on an infrared heater.  Here’s hoping it does the trick.  I’ll keep you posted.

Artwork by Zan Packard – this note card can be purchased at her etsy store. Click on this photo and check it out! 🙂

Less clutter. ‘A smaller living space pushes the homeowners to cut down on their possessions, but that means they have fewer belongings to maintain and spend less time searching for lost items. “It’s amazing, we just don’t need all that room or that much stuff,” says another individual, who’s previously lived on a sailboat.  Another says, “I’m still winnowing my belongings down, but that is a liberating process.”

‘Unlike a huge house with endless rooms to fill, a small home acts as a deterrent for buying more stuff. Everything in a tiny space has to be functional.’  If it’s not, see if you can part with it.

Financial freedom.  We all know people who are never around to enjoy their big houses because they are constantly working to pay for them.  Just think of all the free time you would have if your cost of living was greatly reduced, and you didn’t have to work so hard to pay for it!

Be sure to check out the full article here.  Some of these tiny home inhabitants have even found a way to live without electricity or running water….  But let’s not go crazy now, I’m not quite ready to give up hot showers or my flat iron!

Rebecca Knabe


8 thoughts on “Could You Live in a 120-Square-Foot House?

  1. Rebecca, thanks for another great post! Yes, many of our tin houses are found free, in our case the trailer was ‘abandoned’ as in legally dumped in the Park owners lap! In Oregon, when a mobile home is abandoned, it can only be given away or destroyed. Ours is a 14 X 70 single older ‘Freedom’ model, I think around ’69 or ’70? We haven’t gutted it or remodeled it to modern standards really, just fixed up what was broken or just plain nasty looking! You know, once you paint over the dark brown paneling with a nice light color, it sort of resembles beadboard, which I love! I have tried to create a cozy cottage feel, and it aleviates the clausterphobic feeling one can get in a small space.
    I want to comment on the section about lower utility bills in a small space. This is not always true, since older trailers have very poor if not non-existent insulation especially under the floor since the trailer does not sit on a foundation. The floor can get quite chilly in the colder months. We have not been able to improve the insulation yet, and even with a heat pump & pellet stove, our electric (we don’t have gas) bill is around $150 (summer) with A/C & lots of fans, and $200 (winter). These are estimates, and there are 3 adults in the house, washer/dryer, 2 refrigerators & a chest freezer, plus we run a line out to our huge shed/pantry. I suppose the cost could be quite a bit less with a single person & less appliances running, but if you stock up on provisions like us, you need to keep them cool.
    All in all, I am very pleased with my trailer home, and don’t mind the stigma sometimes handed down from people in stick-built homes with their $200-$500K mortgages! I smile & and am thankful for how ‘little’ I have, life is good!

    • That’s great that you are so happy in your place, Mary.
      I agree – heating and cooling a poorly insulated place can be extremely expensive. Although, the smaller you go, the easier that challenge becomes. I would imagine it is just pennies to heat a 120 square foot home! 🙂 But I really don’t know if I could go quite that small.
      That being said, there are definitely some less expensive options out there. I cool with a swamp cooloer, and it is great! Low maintenance and costs about $10 per month to run. And my place is always comfortable in the summer – even when outside it’s 100+. Also, I’m in the process of switching to a tankless water heater. Because of the size of my place, one should do the trick for the sinks, tub and washing machine. I will save a lot in propane this way.

  2. Thank you for highlighting my art work….and thank you even more for inspiring the art of living small (to live large!!). I love my Airstream (about 180 sq ft) and can hardly wait to get her completed and on the road. It’s the freedom and Gypsy Spirit that keeps calling to me….and a wonderful blog to encourage me to keep it organized and fun doesn’t hurt either!!

    • Thanks, Zan! And thanks again for letting me put up your work. I will be sure to post some more. That’s so exciting that you will be on the road soon! You will have to let me know how your travels go and what you see. 🙂

  3. thank you so much for your blog! I want to live in a mobile home —- how many people say that! You keep my spirits up and give great information.


  4. When I downsized I wanted to either build a tiny home or renovate a trailer. In the end I found a 300 sq ft apartment, well insulated with an open field for gardening and the beach right across the street. It was amazing how much “stuff” I got rid of to make this change, but I couldn’t be happier. Life IS better with less.

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