5 ways to test out tiny home living before committing to it

While the tiny home craze is not going away anytime soon, jumping on the wagon too fast could prove wobbly.

One of the best ways to experiment with the tiny life (typically 500 square feet or less) is to try before you buy.

It looks so perfect, doesn’t it? Photo: Courtesy of Dan Powell
If you can connect with an existing tiny home community, you might be able to check out different setups and styles while interviewing real people about how they get by.

This one in Portland is just one example of how people with similar mindsets are downsizing while still hooked to the city grid.

There’s also a huge variety of small- and mobile-home rentals that you can line up for a weekend — or a summer.

And there are plenty of unconventional hybrid options, from plush campers to freight cars, that may not live up to the haute houses you see on HGTV, but will give you a taste of tiny to see if you’re ready (or if you might be biting off more than you can chew).

Here are five more ways to test out what it actually feels like to go tiny before you take the leap.


Ahhh, the serenity of small home living. Photo: Courtesy of Ball and Albanese
If you love being outside, book a weekend or two at a mini rental unit.

Getaway has built a small network of escapist tiny-home rentals on the East Coast, all within a 2-hour drive of either New York or Boston.

Getaway’s Salvatore, or the Nature House, the site describes as “perfect for group retreats, spontaneous city escapes and getting off the grid.”

Maisie, the Wooded Retreat, is ideal “for family outings, reconnecting with friends, and getting back to basics.”

“In addition to disconnecting and recharging in nature, Getaway offers folks looking to live in a tiny house full-time an opportunity live tiny before they make the leap,” co-founder Jon Staff, who has lived on a boat, in the basement of a yogurt shop, in the college library and in an Airstream trailer, told GrindTV.


A more DIY option is to survey what’s already available in your area.

Do you have a friend whose hippie mom happens to have a yurt in the backyard? Is there an existing storage shed that you can re-imagine? Can you borrow an underused RV to park in park for a month and visit on weekends?

Here are some other unconventional living structures that could work well for experimentation: shipping containers; utility trailers; wooden playhouses/treehouses; barns; garages; trucks/vans.


Photo: Courtesy of Dylan Engels
Online is an easy place to explore some of your tiny-home fascinations, questions and quandaries.

Seeing how creative people have become around the tiny house trend might inspire your next step.

For example, some design students in Atlanta tried a few different green models coined SCAD PADs in the size of a parking spot.

If you have found the property of your dreams (or have a big backyard) and want to try living small before you give up a bigger home, there are prefab tiny-home kits available right online that could help you start making a plan.

For under $10,000, arched cabins are an interesting test choice that won’t break the bank.


Anything on wheels with living space could be your tiny-home trial, too. If you can plan a sabbatical or take your work on the road, using a mobile-ish home to explore some of the outdoor locations on your bucket list will quickly reveal whether you could live tiny permanently with a girlfriend, or small children, or pets or all your outdoor gear.

Does your active lifestyle translate to tiny — or does downsizing make you feel too claustrophobic rather than freer than ever?

One possible solution is an expanding tiny home, like this model from Tiny Idahomes, which travels teeny like an RV but gets bigger with the press of a button.

It complies with width requirements for transportation on the roads, but pops out entire “rooms,” expanding to 250 square feet when stationary.


Photo: Courtesy of thebearwalk.com
A great place to try real-life living tiny is somewhere away from home where you can be stationary — and not blindsided by the beauty of the open road. A local RV park might fit the bill.

Here, you’ll have access to the outdoor activities you enjoy, but will still have to come “home” to cook a meal, sleep small and share a space in anchored ways that could be the wake-up call — or awakening — you need.

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