Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Tiny home insanity.

It's really a strange phenomena that relatively rich people are choosing to live in tiny houses. I grew up poor and my family lived in a mobile home. So, I've been watching this movement with great disbelief.

To be clear, I'm not judging anyone's lifestyle choice, I've done my share of alternative living. Even being a beach bum and spent some time living out of a van (before it was fashionable). I had a home to go back to if I wanted to, but I was young and it's the lifestyle I chose at the time.

I am however judging their financial choices.

Last weekend I strolled up to Home Depot and saw their garden sheds and proclaimed it to be a tiny house. The cost was 16 grand even with the windows and upgrades for your tiny garden shed. Otherwise it would have been around 6 grand roughly. But I've seen these tiny houses list for 80-120 grand. Which is mind boggling. Just for reference - a mobile home sells for 30-80 grand. And these are virtual MANSIONS compared to a tiny house which averages maybe 3-400 square feet. The mobile home is 1300 square feet!

So.... I just don't really get it.

Additionally, mobile homes don't really carry any value. They almost never turn over on the market and you basically almost can't sell them. I will say it a million times, the reason why home prices go up is because of the land and superficially the house. But the land costs are 80% of what your home actually costs. Just look at your insurance bill to see the replacement cost of your house, and it's no where near what you paid in total. But this tiny house movement continues to persist.

Now, I know what it's like to live out of a van. And it's fine for a few years especially if you are just hanging out at the beach anyway and don't have many possessions, but that isn't going to work for most people long term. So, I think the tiny house movement is faddish in the worst possible way. You still have to pay rent to SOMEONE to park your tiny house on their land and you are subject to the whims of the land owner/landlord. What happens if say you've lived on that land for 20 or 30 years and the property owner dies and his kids sell that property? When you are old - that is a huge problem and frankly, you could wind up on the street.

Also a side note - it's sort of strange for people to actually leave the wheels on their mobile homes. They aren't really designed to be carted around. Usually people park them somewhere and strip the wheels right away. With tiny homes - you just can't do that.

I also find it interesting that the media is now sort of revising history when it comes to tiny house communities alleging that people think that tiny house communities will bring down their property values. Which is not really the reason. I live in a pretty nice area own town and I literally have a mobile home park 10 blocks over (roughly) The reason people are objecting to these tiny house communities is because they are trying to use them to house the homeless who obviously don't make the best choices. People are objecting to the crime that comes along with this demographic. Not the tiny house movement per se. Mobile home parks don't really bring down the value of other properties. That is fiction. But they are trying to normalize these houses so I guess they are going to say stupid shit which divides people.

I will never believe this is an actual market until these homes are able to be resold. And I guarantee every single person who bought these is going to lose money. I mean, these are not fixer-upper shacks. They are basically the equivalent of an extravagant bathroom. You have no room to improve the place. And you don't even own the land.


  1. Yep, those people are idiots


  2. OMG. I just love your nym to death. You might actually be more entertaining than my whole blog. When I get a minute I'm going to take a picture of my girl Lacy and show you how much they can look like goats.

    And for some reason your comments keep getting spam trapped and I'm not sure why. I get them in email and have to go fish them out. I don't moderate here. But that's why comments might not show up right away.

  3. Yeah, the wheeled tiny house thing is ridiculous.

    Everybody promoting them carefully skirts the logistical/practical considerations:
    -- Where does the poo go (legally)?
    -- Where does the water (especially hot water) come from?
    -- Where does the electricity come from (to building code?)

    These things aren't RV's. They don't have holding tanks, generators, etc., You pull them up somewhere, and you have to use (and generally overload) the pre-existing sewer/septic/power connections. That will end well.

    That said, it would be nice if municipalities were more amenable to building smallish houses on nice size lots (but that's just a continuation of the current real estate model...)


  4. Capital of Texas RefugeeFriday, October 27, 2017 2:22:00 AM

    This is what you get when people think they can gold-brick their present standard of living into making changes to what they presume will be a less income intensive one ...

    I know someone who's selling a huge chunk of real estate so he can become one of those guys who's tooling around with his wife in a giant motor home, all because he thinks he's "retired" and that once this pile of not-so-loose change is settled into this moving beast of burden, he can begin to enjoy his "lower income status" or something like that.

    Enough money is involved that he could leave it in the bank and draw on it for an extended tour of really nice hotels in Europe for the rest of their lives. That would actually be less risky and more enjoyable.

    He could have a huge yard sale, sell off or donate absolutely everything, ditch the current vehicles at a dealer that'll buy them, shack up in the best hotel in town before heading off to Monaco for a few years, and hardly even dent the pile of cash.

    It would not surprise me at all to find out that upon arrival in Jackson Hole with his massive road hog of a mobile home, he's decided he'll be one of the "tiny house" experimenters ... but just in case, the massive road hog will stay parked next to the smaller Chick-fil-A Dwarf House designed by Ikea.

    And here I'm actually looking at getting more space under one roof (or ceiling) ...