Small Space Prepping Lessons I Learned from Living in a Tiny House

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Author of The Ultimate Guide to Frugal Living and the Build a Better Pantry on a Budget online course

The ultimate test of small space prepping has to be living in a tiny house. So I was pretty excited when I came back to the US from Mexico and my daughter located a tiny house that I could rent near her. It was absolutely adorable, incredibly well planned out, and perfect for some prepper experimenting.

Unfortunately…I only got to live there for a month. Years ago (2016 to be precise) I wrote an article about how HUD officials wanted to make tiny house and RV living illegal,  Of course, lots of folks scoffed, I got “fact-checked” by people who decided I was wrong, and the story was mostly forgotten.

Well, except for those living in tiny houses. There are ordinances and rules out the wazoo for tiny house living – where they can be parked, how the utilities can or cannot be hooked up, and you must beg the local Lord – um – government – for permission to put one on the land you allegedly own.

So, I got a big fat dose of that a month after moving into my itty bitty abode. My landlady got a notice from the city and had to, in turn, give me notice to relocate. For me, relocation isn’t a huge deal – I’ve been living a nomadic lifestyle for several years now. I told her out of all the people to have this happen to, I’m probably one of the ones best able to take it in stride. (But it really was disappointing not to have a chance to experiment for longer.)

That being said, I learned some valuable small space prepping lessons that I’m taking with me to my new studio apartment because I’m still determined to write that small space prepping series I promised you.

Where to Put Preps in a Tiny House

Here are some of the things that I learned from my month stocking up my tiny house.

Look for storage nooks everywhere.

The architect of my tiny house had the most amazing little nooks and crannies in which things could be stored. The apartment-sized refrigerator was raised up on a platform with a large, deep, drawer underneath, the perfect size for canned goods. There was a sliver of space between the back wall of the bathtub and the stairway that had a deep narrow cabinet. Inside the bathtub/shower was a deep storage area that had doors to protect the things inside from getting wet. This is where I stored extra soap, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and all my bed and bath linens.

Each step going up to the sleeping loft was a drawer. There was a shelf all around the toilet I stacked high with toilet paper, as well as a small vanity and sink with room for two baskets underneath that.

Rethink your furniture.

The furniture I’m getting for my new studio will either have storage built-in or will be able to have some storage adapted. In the tiny house, there were really only a couple of pieces of furniture. A built-in couch and a built-in bed. The couch contained 2 large, deep wooden drawers, and one space that looked like a drawer, but the bottom was the floor. I used that one for heavy, 5o pound bags of dog food and put lighter items in the other drawers.

Upstairs, the bed had 2 drawers on each side and one long skinny space (similar to the 3rd faux drawer under the couch) at the foot of the bed. I used the side drawers for storing clothing, undies, swimsuits, and PJs, and the long one in the center for my small vacuum and broom. If you had a bed frame that lifted up, that middle space could be much more useful, and a great place to stash extra water in gallon jugs.

So what if your furniture doesn’t have built-in storage? Look for under-bed storage drawers. They come in all sorts of materials – everything from fabric to plastic to wicker to wood. Some have wheels and others you just pull out and shove back in. If your bed isn’t tall enough, you can get risers like this to make some added space. And don’t forget to shove some stuff in the middle that you would rarely need access to, like food buckets or gallon water jugs.

My yard-sale purchased couch is of a more vintage style and under-bed drawers made for twin beds fit perfectly underneath. It’s an ideal home for canned goods or dried goods and nobody will even notice it’s there.

For other pieces of furniture like consoles, tv stands, coffee tables, and end tables, think about cabinets, trunks, and drawers for even more places to stash your stuff.

Use matching containers.

This may be something that a lot of folks won’t care about, but I was very careful to get matching containers for my supplies that would be visible. Having everything brown, green, white, or in clear glass really helped to cut down on the visual clutter, making it a more peaceful and tidy-looking place.  This may not matter to you, but some of you will totally get where I’m coming from.

Use closet space.

My tiny home only has a tiny closet with some shelves and a half-height hanging rack. I shoved some buckets of food all the way to the back on the floor to make use of that otherwise ignored space, and then put my shoes in front of that.

Find extra room.

Finally, my tiny house had a secondary loft. It was definitely not tall enough to stand up in and barely tall enough to sit up in, but it could house a lot of preps as long as I was organized and left enough room to crawl around to get to things. Best of all, I blocked the whole stash with a TV that I could see from my bed on one side and used decorative burlap bags on the living room side. Nobody ever would have known there was a stockpile up there.

Other Tiny Home Prepping Lessons

Of course, adapting to life in a tiny space isn’t all about where to put the food and ammo. There were other lessons learned as well.

Multipurpose items RULE.

You know the old prepper adage, “One is none, two is one?” Well, when your space is extremely limited you can’t always stash away two of everything. For example, I have an Instant Pot that also serves as an air fryer and a crockpot and a bunch of other functions I haven’t tried yet. It’s like 8 appliances and takes up the space of one. For minor fixes, I have a little hammer that’s like a Swiss Army knife – it has a variety of tools like screwdrivers, etc, in the handle. It’s not this one but it’s similar. I wouldn’t try to build a house with it but for minor repairs and assemblies, it works well. I do have other, more rugged tools for bigger repairs, but I had them stashed in the storage loft.

You may need secondary storage.

For all the stuff I was able to fit into my tiny house, I still have a storage unit. It’s within easy walking distance of my daughter’s house and a few hours’ walking distance from mine. It has more preps. More ammo, more food, more filters, bigger pieces of gear for a real all hell is breaking loose scenario. In fact, it’s set up with sanitation options so that if necessary, a person or three could lock down in there and escape notice for quite some time. We jokingly call it “the bunker.”

I consider the storage unit to be a cache of survival supplies. If I had reason to flee the tiny house, I’m not totally without gear and food.

It’s difficult to harden a tiny house.

If it was MY tiny house and not a rental, I’d be able to harden it a little bit better and at least devise a couple of areas of cover, but as it stands, the tiny house in which I lived could not withstand much in the way of an attack. The only place in the entire house that offers the tiniest bit of cover is the deep, old-fashioned cast iron tub the owner installed. Huddling in a bathtub isn’t really a great position from which to defend yourself.

The benefit is that by nature, a tiny house is a “fatal funnel.” Anyone who breaches the door is in line of fire from either the sofa or the bed upstairs. Just as there’s no cover for me, there’s no cover – or even concealment – for anyone who comes, unwanted, through the door.

If you were building your own tiny house, you could make different choices in materials, but if it’s a tiny house that’s meant to be mobile, you have to be careful with weight.

A tiny house wouldn’t fare well in a tornado, either, unless it was solidly built and set in a foundation. Otherwise, it would be the same as trying to ride out a tornado in a camper or mobile home.

Would I do it again?

I would absolutely live in a tiny house again. I love all the cleverly built-in storage, the nooks and crannies, the low utilities, and the overall convenience of everything. But, if I were to buy one, I’d have some additional requirements for security and I’d make a few slight changes in the overall design.

What about you? Have you ever lived in a tiny house? Would you consider it? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

About Daisy

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

Small Space Prepping Lessons I Learned from Living in a Tiny House
Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

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  • These are actually a wonderfully effective way to get the homeless off of the streets without funding the bureaucracy, which is one of the reasons the nobles don’t like them. Honestly, they remind me of the Gypsy caravans and how they lived, only adapted to this century. RVs also have a very clever storage system and have proven to be an option for the homeless as well. An old boyfriend lived in his RV for a number of years; he was a longshoreman and traveled between Seattle-Tacoma-Olympia-Portland to where the work was. It worked very well for him.

    I love my small house with a yard for a garden, but that ties me to this spot and it’s financially more expensive. That includes a considerable slice for the nobles, of course, which is why it’s encouraged. That tiny house can be attached to a truck and moved. But overall, great experiment and great information! It CAN be done, with some creativity and application.

  • I lived for several years after retirement in a 25 foot travel trailer traveling around the country, it was utterly amazing and fun! I did not make it specifically for prepping but I did keep all the amazing little cubby holes full! It can get full when you have a second person living with you but if you are compatible you can have a lot of laughs at the silly things that happen!

  • After growing up “in” the Bradley Woods Reservation of Cleveland, being Balkan, and a daily follower of you and Selco… and being a Mother Earth original subscriber in my prepping plans for the Alaska Homesteading act (up until Woods killed the yuppie versioned pub), during which time I wanted “out” of my Marine Engineering career of designing, building, and outfitting of (mostly) under 150 foot boats.

    At some point age vs. experience puts you at a fulcrum point, in my case, I was to reexamine and reapply my disciplines into habitation (a long tale of schoolies, home trucks, narrow boats, busses, earth homes, barges, cabins, live-aboards of all types, be it in mountain communes, the S.F. mud flats, harbors, campgrounds, the slab, desert, or ?) long-before the newly invented “RV” and “Tiny Houses” terminology came about or was accepted by Western society.

    Living aboard full time for many years, in foreign harbors, I still almost daily encounter landsmen wanting to become seamen, and listen to their wide-eyed ideas of the process, minimization, cost, technology, skills, and maintenance (always land based as RV or shitty low income house perspective).

    A 12 foot wide 40 foot cabin cruiser (yacht) has around 325 sq. ft. of indoor habitable space, a sailboat of the same size only about 225. With the homeless, senior, immigrant, and pseudo-new-green/earth/socialist populations, the town hall/elitist battle for legality, zoning, finance, social acceptance, energy supply, and legitimacy is still with us (even here on the west coast), and we cannot seem to commit to live as the rest of the world does (Asia-Europe-Africa-South merica… in under 500 square feet of space (for very long time spans), the “London Plan 2021” even takes the Isles to over 500 sq. ft.

    I write articles on the full time live-aboard lifestyle, for non land owners… and have much to say about our sick society of physical space-energy-air consumers who live by habit, tradition, and lack the skills of self.

    • My parents did the live aboard thing on a 38ft Camper & Nicholson for several years.
      Amazing the meals they could make on that tiny two burner stove.

      +1 on the ” sick society of physical space-energy-air consumers who live by habit, tradition, and lack the skills of self.”

  • Some random thoughts:

    One of the phrases to use when researching the legalities of tiny homes in any proposed area is GRANNY FLATS. Those are typically built on private property, originally for elderly relatives, but frequently converted to rentals. The political opponents can especially be politicians and the home building industry that despises lower cost competition. Because those laws, regulations, and local ordinances can be a constantly changing mess, you have to learn and monitor what the obstacles are in the specific area of interest to you.

    I really like the idea of multi-purpose cookware such as the Instant Pot mentioned. Rice cookers are another (if under-appreciated) multi-function cooker. The problem is that they are typically dependent on the power grid. In this era of “Great Reset” threats of nationwide cyber attacks to shut down the power grids (plural) such as was simulated about a week ago in the Cyber Polygon exercise by the same globalist thugs who simulated a pandemic in the fall of 2019 a few months before the real thing was unleashed (that was used to shut down small businesses nationwide in the Spring of 2020), it is likely that having your preps capable of handling a nationwide power outage of unknown duration could be vitally important.

    Some examples of non-electric power cooking might include any of the variety of solar cookers. Some of those take up a lot of space — a significant issue for tiny home living. All of them are subject to the typical 1/3rd of the time when sunlight is blocked by cloud cover or all of the time at night. At those outage times, reliance on stored fuels might be critical — especially if you don’t have access to nearby bio-mass fuels. So you have to ask … what kind of fuels do you have room for and legal permission for SAFELY keeping in either your tiny quarters or rented storage space?

    Another example of cooking to stretch your use of either short-time solar or stored fuels you paid for is to learn thermal cooking. There are websites and plenty of books on Amazon to explain the how and why of that method. But that learning, planning and practicing needs to happen well in advance of a long term power outage.

    Back to cooking during that long term power outage when the sun is not available: Have you practiced cooking with any of your non-electric non-solar gadgets so that you know what you can depend on? There is a learning curve in starting and maintaining an outdoor fire in a portable wood-gas camping stove. Your thrift store deal on a Coleman multi-fuel camp stove might be a disappointment if you discover in times of need that you don’t have the parts on hand to replace pieces that are worn out or maybe leaking, eg. This is just one example of gotchas to head off from a whole industry of off-grid cooking gear — where tiny home living can really highlight the need for advance planning.

    It’s worth remembering that most rental storage businesses have a regular business on the side of sponsoring auctions of the contents of storage spaces where the tenants have stopped paying (for whatever reason). You don’t want to ever be the victim of such an auction.

    How long can you keep the payments current for such rented space during a long term power outage when your charge cards and checks can’t be processed? How long can your cash reserves hold out?

    Multi-function use of space is a must. Even something like a Murphy bed might be larger than you can tolerate. Back in my long ago college days I once camped out with a buddy for six months using a take-down backpackable camping cot. Very comfortable, and a great way to free up that space during the day.

    Another issue is your decision whether to live in a fixed tiny house location — OR to live in anything that has wheels on it that you can either tow or drive. In this era of constantly changing politics, how “stuck in one place” can you afford to risk? YouTube.com is full of how-to videos on RV and similar mobile living. If you choose to live on wheels … that is an excellent encyclopedia for learning — at least while you still have grid power and the internet is still working.

    Enuff incomplete thoughts for today.

    –Lewis

    • I fell victim to the predatory practices of one of the national storage chains once and could not recommend it to anyone – they kept raising the monthly rate until it was almost double what I started at, and yes, it was in the small print of the contract. I would still try a family owned, local storage unit business but never one of the national chains again. I would really like to see a class action suit for those auction practices – I have heard of evicted families losing literally everything they owned when they did not comparatively owe that much money and I feel that people’s already-paid-for personal belongings should NOT be collateral for rent owed on an empty space. Note that if someone has not paid they will change the locks the unit and hold their items hostage until they pay with no correlation between what is actually owed and the value of items in the unit.

      I am also (even as a non-driver with a mountain of a learning curve ahead of me) having researched everywhere I am really starting to move in the direction of a van conversion or RV ultimately to allow for more flexibility until I find a place I think would work for me.

      I’m more than a little overwhelmed by the potential for an extended off-grid situation – does that mean a cold place with brutal winters is highest risk? I’m still only about 3 hours from the mass population center of New York City and the entire east coast and the closest potentially safer areas for me (that are not also crowded and becoming high population density such as North Carolina and Tennessee ) are very cold places in north and mid-west). I’m really only focusing on getting further inland right now until I can figure out what I can realistically manage. That said, I value all of the random thoughts I read here!

      • Storage facilities are not warehousemen. You are under contract to make payments on a monthly basis. If not, they will sell your belongings between 68-90 days. It is legal. They usually raise rent annually. I worked at one for 12 years. You will get fees and charges applied through the 90 days until auction. I made every attempt to contact delinquent tenants throughout those three months including certified mail. YOU are obligated to pay your rent just like your mortgage.

  • Sort of works with regards to what Selco and others have said about being willing and able to walk or run away from home base due to some external threat. Being small, organized and mobile seems like a good plan.

  • I lived in a 350 square foot casita with no kitchen in New Mexico for 7 years. And though that doesn’t really qualify as tiny, it’s pretty small for most people. It had one small closet with a rod for hanging clothes and a shelf above it and a water heater closet with two full width shelves and two half shelves that became my kitchen. The two half shelves held a microwave and a toaster oven and below was an office sized fridge with a separate freezer. I added two sets of nine cubbies for storage and put a huge cutting board on top for food prep. On one long wall I had a huge floor to almost ceiling bookcase that came with the rental, I used half for food and prep storage and the other half for books. For furniture I had a full size antique iron bed with wheels that was higher than most regular beds with rolling storage bins underneath, a big comfy chair instead of a couch that had more storage space underneath and a storage ottoman. I also had a sewing machine in a table at the end of the bed, because I make quilts and sell them for extra money. I also had a desk made out of an old door and saw horses to use as a work surface, and more storage space around the edges and a tiny desk to hold my computer for my freelance editing business, and for streamed TV. there was also a small storage space in the carport where I stored my out of season clothes, my ever expanding fabric collection, and the bulkier preps.

    I absolutely loved that space and would probably still be there if I hadn’t fallen in love and moved in with my guy, though it was getting a little crowded with trying to start a craft business that included specialized machines and very bulky supplies. I’m not sure I could ever go really tiny but I would absolutely give really small a shot again if circumstances change.

  • Thanks for sharing your pics! In my mind, I’d love to try the tiny house thing, but it’s a struggle to purge my 2 bd house as it is! That must have been extra cozy with your 2 big dogs! 🙂

  • I have lived in a tiny dwelling before (I’d rather not specify what it was). I agree with pretty much all the advice here. Especially that it’s easier if you have additional storage space, and storage units being rather cheap these days, I can’t see any good reason not to get some, unless you are one of those minimalist people that would rather own as little as possible.

  • I was Drywatchman in the Oklahoma/Texas oil patch for six years. I lived in a 19′ travel trailer (which is a 15′ long box on a frame with 1′ of rear bumper and 3′ of front hitch. I could only leave the property once a week, for no more than four hours maximum to get groceries, do laundry, get water, dump sewage, etc.

    Most of the time I could hook up to a water faucet and have pressure water. A couple of time I had to haul water to fill the trailer’s tank and use the 12vDC pump.

    One place where I was assigned I could hook up to an outside faucet and was able to use a 5-gallon bucket to transfer waste from my holding tank to a flush toilet inside the facility.

    The longest period, around four years, I had pressure water but had to purify it for drinking. Waste was gathered and stored in 5-gallon buckets. Every month to six weeks I had a porta-potty service come out and empty my buckets with a vacuum truck the same way they did their rental toilets. I had AC power at that location, as well as a telephone line. I paid for the phone and sewer service. The water was just there. That one was an oil rig storage yard, so only a small three-room building was used for auction people when the equipment was up for sale. I was able to use one of the rooms to store some of my preps. It was not climate controlled, so I had to be careful what I stored in it at certain times.

    The last place was a shut-down foundry in one of the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri. There I was able to park my trailer inside a large warehouse. I had water and electricity there and was able to dump my porta-potty I used in a sanitary sewer manhole. I also paid for a phone line at that place.

    That six years living in a smallish travel trailer taught me a great deal about that type of prepping. Before I had always had quite a bit of climate-controlled storage space. And normal social activities were available, though I was not really a social person.

    I did good with the isolation, often going a few months with only that one trip per week to do everything I needed to do. Seeing and speaking to clerks and such, and every once in a while a server at a restaurant where I occasionally stop for a quick meal was enough socialization. I did have broadcast TV with the rabbit ears on my TV, too, so I had that and the weather channel, plus the once in a great while someone would stop to inquire about the equipment. That was plenty of people time for me.

    The occasional auction was too many people for my taste, and some of them were not nice people. Keeping an eye on things and making rounds regularly, but on a random time schedule kept me drained and tired all the time the auctions were going on, from delivery of additional equipment, the cleaning, repairing, and painting of the equipment, the sale day, and then the few days of picking up the sold gear were exhausting. Which really does not have much to do with the subject. Just background.

    The lessons were that I simply could not have everything in the trailer and my truck that I felt comfortable with being ready for enough different things for long enough periods. I needed more than that 120 square feet or so of space. Which is, admittedly, smaller than what is available for reasonable amounts of money.

    Even with a nice size tiny house, a 300 to perhaps 400 square feet, would not be enough for everything, with it being the primary location. Before I still had my home base with my father where there was over a ton of additional gear of many types located. When I moved from the location in Oklahoma to the one in St. Louis, it took one trip with the truck and trailer both loaded to the maximum, plus a second trip that probably overloaded the truck a bit to get everything home, and then what I needed to St. Louis.

    I had far more storage room in St. Louis available, however, there were people getting in to steal copper wire and such that would take anything they could when I needed to be gone for my weekly trip. I was able to get my father and one of my uncles set up so they could cover for me so the risk of my gear was less. The risk was there, however, far more than it was in Texas and Oklahoma.

    One of the more satisfying lessons I learned was that I was comfortable living in that small amount of actual living space, though I did need the additional space just for storage. That means, that as long as I can have a decent storage building, I can live in a very small Tiny house. And if the storage building is large enough to park the tiny house inside and still have a storage room, then I can expand my bad weather living area significantly and have some good weather living amenities that I could not otherwise. It is not a requirement, but it is nice if doable.

    While having only the Tiny house climate-controlled storage areas would work if I was very careful, it would be better if I could have some of my additional storage space climate-controlled. I could do this fairly easily myself as long as I owned the land by using ground-based heating and cooling units. The climate-control storage, unlike living areas, only needs to be kept between 35I was Drywatchman in the Oklahoma/Texas oil patch for six years. I lived in a 19′ travel trailer (which is a 15′ long box on a frame with 1′ of rear bumper and 3′ of front hitch. I could only leave the property once a week, for no more than four hours maximum to get groceries, do laundry, get water, dump sewage, etc.

    Most of the time I could hook up to a water faucet and have pressure water. A couple of time I had to haul water to fill the trailer’s tank and use the 12vDC pump.

    One place where I was assigned I could hook up to an outside faucet and was able to use a 5-gallon bucket to transfer waste from my holding tank to a flush toilet inside the facility.

    The longest period, around four years, I had pressure water but had to purify it for drinking. Waste was gathered and stored in 5-gallon buckets. Every month to six weeks I had a porta-potty service come out and empty my buckets with a vacuum truck the same way they did their rental toilets. I had AC power at that location, as well as a telephone line. I paid for the phone and sewer service. The water was just there. That one was an oil rig storage yard, so only a small three-room building was used for auction people when the equipment was up for sale. I was able to use one of the rooms to store some of my preps. It was not climate controlled, so I had to be careful what I stored in it at certain times.

    The last place was a shut-down foundry in one of the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri. There I was able to park my trailer inside a large warehouse. I had water and electricity there and was able to dump my porta-potty I used in a sanitary sewer manhole. I also paid for a phone line at that place.

    That six years living in a smallish travel trailer taught me a great deal about that type of prepping. Before I had always had quite a bit of climate-controlled storage space. And normal social activities were available, though I was not really a social person.

    I did good with the isolation, often going a few months with only that one trip per week to do everything I needed to do. Seeing and speaking to clerks and such, and every once in a while a server at a restaurant where I occasionally stop for a quick meal was enough socialization. I did have broadcast TV with the rabbit ears on my TV, too, so I had that and the weather channel, plus the once in a great while someone would stop to inquire about the equipment. That was plenty of people time for me.

    The occasional auction was too many people for my taste, and some of them were not nice people. Keeping an eye on things and making rounds regularly, but on a random time schedule kept me drained and tired all the time the auctions were going on, from delivery of additional equipment, the cleaning, repairing, and painting of the equipment, the sale day, and then the few days of picking up the sold gear were exhausting. Which really does not have much to do with the subject. Just background.

    The lessons were that I simply could not have everything in the trailer and my truck that I felt comfortable with being ready for enough different things for long enough periods. I needed more than that 120 square feet or so of space. Which is, admittedly, smaller than what is available for reasonable amounts of money.

    Even with a nice size tiny house, a 300 to perhaps 400 square feet, would not be enough for everything, with it being the primary location. Before I still had my home base with my father where there was over a ton of additional gear of many types located. When I moved from the location in Oklahoma to the one in St. Louis, it took one trip with the truck and trailer both loaded to the maximum, plus a second trip that probably overloaded the truck a bit to get everything home, and then what I needed to St. Louis.

    I had far more storage room in St. Louis available, however, there were people getting in to steal copper wire and such that would take anything they could when I needed to be gone for my weekly trip. I was able to get my father and one of my uncles set up so they could cover for me so the risk of my gear was less. The risk was there, however, far more than it was in Texas and Oklahoma.

    One of the more satisfying lessons I learned was that I was comfortable living in that small amount of actual living space, though I did need the additional space just for storage. That means, that as long as I can have a decent storage building, I can live in a very small Tiny house. And if the storage building is large enough to park the tiny house inside and still have a storage room, then I can expand my bad weather living area significantly and have some good weather living amenities that I could not otherwise. It is not a requirement, but it is nice if doable.

    While having only the Tiny house climate-controlled storage areas would work if I was very careful, it would be better if I could have some of my additional storage space climate-controlled. I could do this fairly easily myself as long as I owned the land by using ground-based heating and cooling units. The climate-control storage, unlike living areas, only needs to be kept between 35I was Drywatchman in the Oklahoma/Texas oil patch for six years. I lived in a 19′ travel trailer (which is a 15′ long box on a frame with 1′ of rear bumper and 3′ of front hitch. I could only leave the property once a week, for no more than four hours maximum to get groceries, do laundry, get water, dump sewage, etc.

    Most of the time I could hook up to a water faucet and have pressure water. A couple of time I had to haul water to fill the trailer’s tank and use the 12vDC pump.

    One place where I was assigned I could hook up to an outside faucet and was able to use a 5-gallon bucket to transfer waste from my holding tank to a flush toilet inside the facility.

    The longest period, around four years, I had pressure water but had to purify it for drinking. Waste was gathered and stored in 5-gallon buckets. Every month to six weeks I had a porta-potty service come out and empty my buckets with a vacuum truck the same way they did their rental toilets. I had AC power at that location, as well as a telephone line. I paid for the phone and sewer service. The water was just there. That one was an oil rig storage yard, so only a small three-room building was used for auction people when the equipment was up for sale. I was able to use one of the rooms to store some of my preps. It was not climate controlled, so I had to be careful what I stored in it at certain times.

    The last place was a shut-down foundry in one of the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri. There I was able to park my trailer inside a large warehouse. I had water and electricity there and was able to dump my porta-potty I used in a sanitary sewer manhole. I also paid for a phone line at that place.

    That six years living in a smallish travel trailer taught me a great deal about that type of prepping. Before I had always had quite a bit of climate-controlled storage space. And normal social activities were available, though I was not really a social person.

    I did good with the isolation, often going a few months with only that one trip per week to do everything I needed to do. Seeing and speaking to clerks and such, and every once in a while a server at a restaurant where I occasionally stop for a quick meal was enough socialization. I did have broadcast TV with the rabbit ears on my TV, too, so I had that and the weather channel, plus the once in a great while someone would stop to inquire about the equipment. That was plenty of people time for me.

    The occasional auction was too many people for my taste, and some of them were not nice people. Keeping an eye on things and making rounds regularly, but on a random time schedule kept me drained and tired all the time the auctions were going on, from delivery of additional equipment, the cleaning, repairing, and painting of the equipment, the sale day, and then the few days of picking up the sold gear were exhausting. Which really does not have much to do with the subject. Just background.

    The lessons were that I simply could not have everything in the trailer and my truck that I felt comfortable with being ready for enough different things for long enough periods. I needed more than that 120 square feet or so of space. Which is, admittedly, smaller than what is available for reasonable amounts of money.

    Even with a nice size tiny house, a 300 to perhaps 400 square feet, would not be enough for everything, with it being the primary location. Before I still had my home base with my father where there was over a ton of additional gear of many types located. When I moved from the location in Oklahoma to the one in St. Louis, it took one trip with the truck and trailer both loaded to the maximum, plus a second trip that probably overloaded the truck a bit to get everything home, and then what I needed to St. Louis.

    I had far more storage room in St. Louis available, however, there were people getting in to steal copper wire and such that would take anything they could when I needed to be gone for my weekly trip. I was able to get my father and one of my uncles set up so they could cover for me so the risk of my gear was less. The risk was there, however, far more than it was in Texas and Oklahoma.

    One of the more satisfying lessons I learned was that I was comfortable living in that small amount of actual living space, though I did need the additional space just for storage. That means, that as long as I can have a decent storage building, I can live in a very small Tiny house. And if the storage building is large enough to park the tiny house inside and still have a storage room, then I can expand my bad weather living area significantly and have some good weather living amenities that I could not otherwise. It is not a requirement, but it is nice if doable.

    While having only the Tiny house climate-controlled storage areas would work if I was very careful, it would be better if I could have some of my additional storage space climate-controlled. I could do this fairly easily myself as long as I owned the land by using ground-based heating and cooling units. The climate-control storage, unlike living areas, only needs to be kept between 35℉ and 85℉. Nothing would freeze, and though a bit hotter than I would prefer, usually achievable in areas where the nighttime temperatures do not stay above 90℉ with daytime temperatures 90℉ for several days in a row.

    Given a few other options, that if I could incorporate them, living in a tiny house with on-site climate-controlled storage of 200 square feet or more, a powerhouse with the solar PF, battery banks, generator, and associated equipment, an outdoor multi-fuel furnace & hot water heating, car port or at least a one-bay garage/workshop, and I would be happy with the situation.

    Yes, a bit more than the article describes, but if everything is planned for in advance, whether or not it is all incorporated at once, I think it can be done staying within a reasonable budget and timeframe.

    Just my opinion.

  • Hi Daisy. For a newly-built tiny house, can you recommend any additional requirements for security or other changes in the overall design? Thanks.

  • I love the instant pot too, I cook whole broiler chickens in it which i also use to add to my dog’s food, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, brocolli and other veg, hard boiled eggs, steam tortillas, and I even cook pasta in it when traveling. It doesn’t get to as much of a boil as a pot but it still works when needed. I bought the extra inner pot and a storage lid and the collapsible steam basket. I plan to keep hauling it around with me while trying to learn alternative cooking methods (on top of everything else I am trying to learn as a newbie). It’s one of my favorite purchases, especially because you can get them for around $70 or even less on holiday sale days and you can find creative ways to cook alternatives to most things in it, at least as a portable/small space option.

    I wondered also if anyone who has moved around a lot, lived in travel trailers etc has any thoughts on “luggage” – I know everyone is mostly traveling in vehicles but do you use suitcases or backpacks or boxes? I have been moving from hotel to air bnb and so on for the last year or so as I plan my long-term move and just using conventional luggage. But since I am also traveling with a large dog I wonder if I could find a more mobile, practical way to move all my stuff each time I move because at this point I am definitely that person trying to move a luggage cart with a big, excited dog and I’m wondering if I should try something different.

    I really value these articles and also the comment section – I take notes every time so thank you!

  • Re: the question about luggage…

    I was very surprised recently to see a video warning people NOT to rely on TSA lock based luggage for anything other than airline traveling. The narrator explained that anybody can buy a TSA master key off of eBay for dirt cheap money. I found some there in the $10 range. That means that any bad guy who knows that tidbit can easily loot your TSA lock approved luggage in a heartbeat.

    That even suggests that if you have a hospital stay, for example, where security is typically pitiful … you’d be far better off to have some other locking system on whatever container you use for your “hospital go bag” contents. If you didn’t know there was a need for that, run some searches for details.

    The same insecurity with TSA locks would apply anywhere else your stuff might be out of your sight and control for a while. A non-TSA approved combination lock might make better sense although I’m sure there are other ways to handle this. Remember this is an issue regardless of whether you live in tiny quarters, with or without wheels, or in a mega-mansion.

    –Lewis

    • Wow. Thank you. I had no idea about this but these days the advice on just about anything is almost to do whatever is counter-intuitive.

  • I have a 4×8 shed in the backyard. My gardening supplies are there and so are most of my canning supplies. Under my bed are two plastic trays with winter bedding and the othere for pillow cases sheets ect. Two stackable produce bins are along the edges of the bed with boots in them. Bed pockets tucked in under the mattess hold facial tissues, flashlights, a book and glasses et along the edge of the bed. The closet has shelves stood in one end to hold my foldable clothing. Shelves hold bins of underwear ect. A desk faces the foot of the bed. I don’t have a table. We use folding tv trays. Where a table might have fit I have shelves of canned goods instead. A folding metal step stool fits in a tiny nook. It’s used to access the top of the kitchen cabinets that hold Picknick and serving dishes. The cabinets are all full. Pretty things go on top. A metal set of shelves sits in the kitchen infront of windows holds the trays for sprouts and to hold my glass jars of home canned meats and vegetables.
    I have a 12×20 shed to use as a woodshop. Freezdried food is stored there with my tools, paint ect. That’s maintainance for the property. A bit of everything from roofing, to electrical, solar, plumbing, it’s there. an antique folding cot with a new twin mattress is in the livingroom. Under it are air matresses and storage for company. It’s piled in soft bedding and lots of pillows so its used as a daybed. A 34″ tv sits on a small cabinet with 2 drawers and 2 doors. Storage is everywhere. A tall 1930s waterfall dresser sits beside the shower .. no tub. The dresser hold towels and other bathroom items. Slelves are above the toilet and more for a shallow wall area are planned. Every nook is used or will be.

  • I keep the office coffee cans that run out from our office. Very handy for projects and small item storage. They are mainly Folgers containers, so the color red is very prevalent. Stackable, a content list can be written and secured on the outside. Two containers can be attached at their bases for a longer unit when needed (cutting out the bottoms and duct taping outsides together).

    I don’t know if a wall can be left unfinished on one side. As in a common wall between a bedroom closet and the hall, the space between the studs can hold an amazing amount of items. Being inside a closet, also ‘hidden in plain sight’.

    Thanks for the article.

  • Hi Daisy. Maybe I missed it in the article, but I’m curious about the square footage of this tiny house. I’m currently considering converting a shed on my property and am looking for ideas. Thanks for this article and everything you do!

  • I’ve long been interested in gadgetry that makes living in small spaces practical. I still have an antique day bed with a missing trundle pull-out section that an ancestor of mine slept on when he was about 4 years old during a covered wagon migration to the midwest in the late 1800s. A more modern day commemoration of such a covered wagon non-electric lifestyle was the 1947 movie “Golden Earrings” with Marlene Dietrich and Ray Milland — a combination spy/romance/gypsy life story set in pre-WWII Germany. Full length videos of it are easily found online.

    Today it’s easy to find both retail and DIY versions of Murphy beds for doubles or singles — which would free up much more space in daytime than that antique day bed.

    Non-electric cookware is another relevant topic. Asian communities have long used a cooker called a hot pot that’s ideal for cooking with charcoal — if you have really good ventilation and high ceilings, or a covered outdoor place. These show up at thrift stores quite often. “There is a whole cooking literature for using hot pots. Another highly portable cooker is the Volcano stove that burns wood, charcoal, wood pellets or propane, although my long discontinued smaller Volcano Jr preceded the propane feature. And boating people often use alcohol fueled cookers.

    Then there are multi-fuel burners like the GasOne product line which feature both propane and butane capabilities.

    Finally, there is a variety of compactible solar cooking gadgetry such as panel cookers that fold up such as the Copenhagen design and the All Season solar cooker. In addition, Fresnel lens cookers (using the lens from discarded rear projection TVs) need a homemade wooden frame to hold them in place and permit adjustment for sun position changes, but such frames can be made easily with take-apart features.

    –Lewis

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