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.
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.
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 Facebook, Pinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.