Crystal Cove Beach Cottage
Crystal Cove Beach Cottage

I don’t live in a house (yet), instead I live in a fairly large apartment compared to the average “apartment” size. However, 50% of my time is spent in one room, my office, and the other 45% of my time is spent in my bedroom. I roam the other parts of the apartment throughout the day, but only to get something to eat or use the bathroom.

Out of my 1,690 square foot living space, I utilize 400 square feet 95% of the time. The analysis of my behavior is what has led me to believe that I could live in a tiny or small house.

Not only do I recognize my living patterns and know I could live in less space, some of the tiny house designs I’ve come across are the most space-efficient designs I’ve seen. Partly because they have to be, given the small square footage, but also because there seems to be a trend towards living with less – less square feet, less material items lingering around, less income dedicated to a mortgage or rent payment. When it comes to some of my favorite tiny house designs, less is really more.

My all time favorite tiny house company is, of course, Tumbleweed Tiny House Company. I’ve been singing their praises for a long time. However, they’ve recently added six new designs called Box Bungalows. Each one under 110 square feet with plans selling for $49.00. These plans are different from their original tiny houses, which are now labled “House to Go,” which are intended to be built on a trailer for mobility. The Box Bungalow plans are meant to be stationary with concrete footings for the foundation, though there is some flexibility on foundation choice. The really nice part about these tiny houses, is you can purchase them in a kit or pre-assembled for those less handy with a hammer, and they cost under $20,000!

Tumbleweed Tiny House Company
Tumbleweed Tiny House Company

While reading Westways Magazine, I came across a local real estate company that purchases small houses, renovates them, and then resells them preserving their originality. Better Shelter renovates small houses in the Los Angeles and Orange County area. A unique real estate niche for people who are tired of the McMansions of the early millenia. When the time comes to purchase a small or tiny house, I’ll be investigating this company a little more.

I can also “test-drive” a tiny house by renting one at Crystal Cove Beach, a state park in Newport, CA. In a concerted effort, the Crystal Cove Alliance and the CA state park has renovated the 1930’s beach cottages and rent them out by reserving them through Reserve America. However, I quickly searched for availability on the individual cottages and had difficulty finding available dates from now until next March! I guess the tiny house trend is more popular than I thought.

Not only do tiny houses cost less to build, relieving the owner of a hefty mortgage payment, they also are more energy efficient saving lots of money on utility bills. If you want to learn a little more about tiny or small houses, be sure to check out my house plan page. I’ve done extensive research on small and tiny house plans.

Could you live in a house under 400 square feet in size? Do you find that the majority of your time at home is spent within a smaller space than what the house actually provides?


  1. 20's Finances Reply

    Tiny houses is the way to go! It also saves on taxes as well. A lot of people get too big of a house. I will not make this mistake!

    • @20’s Finance – I totally agree. Too big of a house can be a headache – just thinking about the cleaning makes me cringe!

  2. I am not against a tiny house, but I want more room than that. Although I could live in a smaller place, I do not want to. My next place will be smaller and all on one level, but larger than 400 square feet.

    • @Krantcents – 400 sq. ft. is small, but when I was thinking about the rooms where I spend most of my time, it equals about this much square footage. Now, I do have quite a bit more available to me, but if I had to live in a smaller home, I think I could do it!

  3. @Elaine – That’s great. I like the idea of a smaller home with a lot of land – for exactly that reason: gardening (or and grilling outdoors!)

  4. I LOVE these houses! I want to build a vacation home when the house is paid off in ten years, and one of these would be a perfect cabin!

    • @Christa – I like the idea of a cabin as well. However, if I don’t own my own house in the next few years, this is the way I’ll go!

      @ Hunter – That’s exactly why I posted this article; because of the HGTV’s Design Star! (I get a head’s up about these things ahead of time sometimes 😉 ) I’d agree that it would be really difficult living in a tiny space with kids – maybe when they get older, they can have their own tiny house on your property! 🙂

  5. Hunter @ Financially Consumed Reply

    I really enjoyed reading your article. Just last night I watched the three finalists on HGTV’s Design Star each decorate a tiny house. They looked amazing. I could live in one, but it would require a major lifestyle adjustment. This would have to be after our children leave home too. Love the low price-tag.

  6. Squirrelers Reply

    I COULD live in a space 400sq feet, but that would be a ridiculously tight space for the family. Maybe for a single person by him/her self, or a couple that doesn’t need much individual personal space. But not me:)

    Still, it’s a topic that’s interesting to me. When we start looking at fantastic price tags like that, it does make me start to think about how that could work. Maybe getting a tiny plot of land in a high priced area could be a way to sneak into a more expensive area. Location is king, after all.

    • @Squirrelers – I’d have to agree that tiny houses realistically only work for a single person or couple. It’d be quite difficult squeezing in a couple of kids and a dog, as an example! I love the idea, though. It’s a great low-cost way to own a home. 😉

  7. LH, if you have not tried this already, try exactly @ 8 AM. That is when they open the reservations. Rest of the day it is just the cancellations that are available for rebooking. I really like Crystal Cove. I had to try for quite a few days before I got one.

    • @Suba – Thanks for that tip! I really want to check out one of their bungalows. Did you already go? How did you like it?

  8. I grew up in a 700 square foot house (no basement) and there were five of us and a bunch of pets. So, 400 square feet would be doable if it were just me for sure. I wouldn’t want to live there as a family if I could help it though, and I would probably really miss a big kitchen.

    It is an interesting concept. However, it would be great for vacationing. You could afford tiny houses all over the place!

  9. I would love one of these as an inlaw suite/guest house and/or rental. We want babci to eventually live with us but also have her own private space. This would be perfect.

    • @First Gen American – That would be a perfect house for Babci! The only thing would be making sure there’s a sleeping area on the ground floor. A lot of those tiny houses have a loft sleeping area. I wouldn’t expect an older person to climb up and down a loft ladder.

  10. Cherleen @ The College Investor Reply

    I can’t imagine myself nor my entire family living in a 110-sq foot house! no offense but I don’t think I can even breath inside that cramped space.

    • @Cherleen- I would think that anything under 400 sq. ft. would be difficult for a family of more than 2 or 3. However, a single person could probably make the small space work. Also, some of the tiny houses have sleeping lofts, so the bottom floor is really the living area.

  11. I love small house but not to small, at least a 120 sq. meters in floor area. As simple as that.

  12. Brittany Paull Reply

    Hi I live in Huntington Beach and I love the idea of a tiny house. I am very intrigued and have been researching tiny house but I have come to a road block and was wondering if I could get your expert help. I have no idea where to look in my area to purchase or find land. If you get a chance if you could reply I would greatly appreciate it.

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