how much money are we saving by living tiny exactly??

Me. Relaxed.

my zen place

One of the reasons Jon and I decided to live the tiny life was financial, just like so many other tiny house people. My perfect credit had been ruined by divorce and a short sale, and his perfect credit had been ruined by divorce and a foreclosure on a house that wouldn’t sell after he moved away. We could barely pay our bills, and we definitely weren’t able to save any additional money for retirement. We were throwing money away on rent in a neighborhood that wasn’t that great. I wouldn’t even send my kids to our neighborhood schools, so I was always stressed about where they would go. We only had $20,000 in a retirement account, and it wasn’t going to get any bigger at the rate we were going.

So we decided to cash out the retirement account to buy a tiny house! Why not, right? That $20,000 was only going to last us 4 or 5 months in retirement anyway. But if we started living tiny NOW, we could save so much more! We were scared to death, but we cashed it all out. Between the retirement fund, some cash and a large tax refund, we had enough money to buy the Bumbleshack.  

Then we needed to find land to rent, which we did by creating an ad with photos of our family in front of the Bumbleshack and posting it here on our blog and on social media, particularly the Tiny House Listings Facebook page. Our ad was shared over 17,000 times! We received over 30 offers from farms and private land owners in and around Asheville, where Jon had just unexpectedly landed his dream job, starting at $100 up to $300 a month for rent. We picked the closest one to Jon’s work, 14 minutes away. Land procurement done. Time to move in!

We have been living tiny for about 6 months now. So how much money are we saving exactly??             

BIG house Tiny house
Rent 1,400 300
Electric 250-350 75-120 (2 electric heaters, ugh)
Water 60 0 (well)
Lawn Service 225 0
Pest Control 30 (360 annually) 0
Internet 120 100
Cable none 40
Total 2,210 560

That’s a difference of $1,650 per month or $19,800 per year. Hmmm, that just happens to be almost enough money to buy another smaller tiny house on wheels for Adelaide! She can live in it as a teenager, take it to college with her and start her life out right with low rent payments, no debt and no student loans.

Or better yet, that could be our land money! We would like to spend around $20,000 to $35,000 on our land, and this seems to be feasible in certain areas just outside Asheville. Imagine being able to save enough money to buy your dream property in just one year! Even better, imagine having two tiny houses and land to put them on without taking out a mortgage! After we buy our land, we can subtract that $300 monthly rent payment from that chart up there, and we are left with less than $300 a month in household expenses. Once we get solar panels, we can subtract the electric payment too. Then we are left with internet/cable as our only household expense. Wow. That makes me happy.

Wait, let’s take it even further. Over the next 20 years, we will save over $480,000 by living tiny.

Um, WOW.

46 thoughts on “how much money are we saving by living tiny exactly??

  1. Lisa, I want to congratulate you on choosing a life that aligns with your values while empowering you to make prudent financial decisions. You’ve made a great case for the ways in which living Tiny can produce big future benefits. Good luck with the rest of your plan, too!

  2. Great story. We are very jealous. My wife and I want to move to the Asheville area. We are from Massachusetts. Your story is exactly what I have been talking about for several years. Can you guide us with any info about the area and the tiny lifestyle?
    Congratulations…..

    • Hi, Brian!

      I have spent so much time doing research, it would be impossible for me to relay it all to you. You really have to do the research yourself because everything is different depending on where you end up buying land. If I were you, I would join the Facebook groups Tiny House People, Tiny House Asheville and Asheville Tiny Home Association. That should get you started!

  3. i just bought 5 acres in twinton, TN for 3k, I’m starting my dream!!!! Now to clear a space leave the rest natural and build my tiny home!!!
    THANK U BUMBLEBEE!!!!!

  4. I am hoping to do exactly what you have successfully done. This is great! I have two young boys and thought about the same thing, they can have their own tiny home. Sounds like a winner.

    Shavon
    DMV

  5. Hi Lisa – congratulations! I live in Hendersonville and I was under the impression that the Tiny homes couldn’t be occupied 100% of the time here in WNC. Have I got my facts wrong? Could you point me in the right direction for occupancy/building codes, etc? Thanks for your informative blog and BEST to you and your family.

    • Hi, Donna!

      Tiny houses are considered RVs, so anywhere it is legal to park an RV, it is legal for a tiny house. We are currently on unrestricted county land temporarily (6 months was the plan), so we don’t have to worry about that here. We just put a deposit down on land about 35 minutes from Asheville that has a 700 square foot farmhouse from 1923 on it. The land is unrestricted, and it is legal to live in our tiny house as long as it takes to renovate that house. We could take 30 years to do that if we choose. There are ways to do it legally depending on where you buy land. Also, Asheville has just approved full time living in ADUs, which are accessory dwelling units aka backyard tiny houses. So there is hope!

  6. This is fantastic. But I do want to ask how do you plan on buying land to put your tiny house on? I have not been able to find a legal way to do it here in ontario.

    • Hi, Jackie!

      We just put a deposit on a small farm on county land, and it is completely unrestricted and legal to live in an RV there (tiny homes on wheels are considered RVs). We also have a small 700 square foot house from 1923 on it that we will be slowly renovating. I am sorry to hear about Ontario, but hopefully with all the attention tiny houses are getting that will change soon! Thanks for your question!

    • Hi, Perry~

      We are parked on completely unrestricted county land and we are only here temporarily, so there was no need to involve the county. Thanks for your question!

  7. I just read your article via Tiny House Hawaii. At 43 years old (hubby is 51), we are now empty nesters and have been considering tiny living as a form of retirement. Your site is very informational and inspirational…thank you for sharing your story!

    Amanda

  8. Awesome those numbers. In terms of savings you will be doing great! Has it become completely legal to live in a tiny house on your own property in Western North Carolina? When I was out there 3 years ago I was told that there were not only minimum square footage requirements and that I would have to build a septic system as that is state law. If that has changed then this would make awesome Asheville and surrounding counties a good bet for many a Tiny Houser. Congrats!

    • Hey, Laura!

      The zoning laws depend on where you buy property. I assume you mean Buncombe County, or do you mean in the city limits of Asheville? It is not legal to live full time in a tiny house within the city limits, however if you buy property in a surrounding county with no restrictions, there are ways to get around this. As far as a septic system, you must have that in most places, and we plan to. It doesn’t mean we have to use it though! 🙂 Thanks for your question! Come on back to Asheville! 🙂

  9. Don’t feel that you’ve been wrong to take your retirement out early, the savings you’ve gained from doing so, you could easily turn right back around and put into investments, and I bet you can gain that back with extra, more than what you’d have if you just left it and continued to pay the same ongoing. You did the right thing! Good job and thanks for sharing the nitty gritty with everyone!

  10. don’t forget to take into consideration things like property taxes, repair materials and labor, maintaining or hiring a tow vehicle for any moves, and saving to replace the tiny house in case of disaster.
    once you figure that all out then it’s certainly a good thing.
    I figure for me the best approach is build a simple tiny with solar from the start, save enough to replace the tiny if need be, save enough for land, then park and save enough to build another tiny and rent one out on air bnb with the aim of getting enough in a year to cover my costs for taxes and monthly costs. Grow my own food when possible on my land.

    That way I can get part time jobs, or sell my art or writing to save toward retirment fund or insurance against future changes.

    • Hi, Kenneth!

      Yes, we are aware of all these costs, but this article was meant for my regular blog followers who already know all about us. If you read the other sections of our blog, you will see the rest of our story, and that we have taken all of these things into account. This was just a short post about our CURRENT HOUSEHOLD expenses, and it went viral! But thanks for your comment!

  11. Love your story. Wish we had done something like that 20 years ago when we moved to East TN 20 years ago. We are headed toward retirement and are planning to live in a RV for awhile. Not sure if we will travel or stay put right now. Still in planning mode. Love your blog, keep posting.

    • Hi, Debbie~

      I have seen this addressed on the tiny house Facebook pages (make sure your roof is vented!), but we live in western North Carolina and don’t have much humidity. We only need to run the air conditioner for a couple of months in the summer, and the rest of the year we leave our windows open. Thanks for your question!

    • Yup, we are aware of this, but it will be minimal. We just put a deposit down on a small farm, and the annual taxes are $300 per year. That breaks down to $25 a month! Cheap!

    • Hi, Jim~

      Yup, we are aware of this, but it will be minimal. We just put a deposit down on a small farm, and the annual taxes are $300 per year. That breaks down to $25 a month! Cheap!

  12. I’m about 5 _ 7 years away from retirement right now. I am still excited about the money I can save living in a tiny house! I am curious to know if you have to pay taxes on your tiny house or just on the land?
    Please keep on posting!

    • Hi, Becky!

      Once we purchase our property (closing in a couple of weeks!), we will only pay taxes on the land. The tiny house is considered a recreational vehicle since it is on wheels. Thanks for your question!

  13. My wife and I have been talking about this for weeks now and we have been doing all the research. We are basically standing at the edge of the cliff waiting to jump. I have a few questions. How hard was it to find your perfect tiny house? The problem I face is, because I’m mechanically inclined I’m considering building one. The only reason is because we can design it ourselves. My 2nd question ties into this. Are you happy with the design of the bumbleshack or is there some things you wish you could have changed design wise?

    • Hi, Brian!

      I did a lot of research on builders, but it came down to what we could afford basically. We had $25,000, and that’s it! We found Joe of Tennessee Tiny Homes, and checked him out by talking to others who had bought from him…and stalking him online 🙂 Our house was not custom…we bought it on spec which cut down the cost. We made the right decision. We love our house! As far as changing anything, we might like to have a little bigger house, but that would have cost more money, right? 🙂 Thanks for your question, and good luck to you and your wife!

  14. Lisa your story is so inspiring! Thank you for taking the time to share! My husband and I are wanting to do this but have stalled out because we didn’t know where to live. Thanks for the suggestion on placing an ad. I look forward to reading more about you adventures!! Thanks again!!

  15. I have a question about the well water. It’s very expensive to dig a well, unless there was already 1 on the vacant property. Did you dig a well on that rental property? Where is the expenses for that listed? I’m trying to build my own tiny home, and I have no idea how to overcome the water/sewer obstacle reasonably. So I am curious how you managed well water on the rental property without a cost. Thank you! and congratulations on the new tiny home!!

    • Hi, Melissa~

      There was already well water on the property. That was one of the requirements, along with electricity, that we listed in our ad looking for a place to park 🙂 Thanks for the congratulations!

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