Downsizing to a Tiny House in Seattle? | Read This First

Are you considering downsizing to a tiny house in Seattle or surrounding areas? Dramatically decreasing your possessions, minimizing your footprint, and living a simpler lifestyle sounds stupendous, but it’s no easy feat if you’re used to living-large the American way. This post will cover some of the pros and cons of tiny house living, what to expect before making the move and some general tips about becoming a tiny house owner. 

What You Need to Know Before Buying a Tiny House

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There are a lot of elements to take into consideration before buying or building a tiny house:

  • Where are you going to place it? 
  • What are the laws and regulations? 
  • Where can I buy a tiny house?
  •  How will you minimize your stuff? 

Organization and storage are going to be key on this adventure! 

What are the advantages of tiny house living?

Downsizing to a tiny house gives you freedom of lifestyle; having minimal expenses and little to no debt means you can live life on your own terms. Just about everyone can get behind taking more time off work or traveling more. 

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Retirement no longer has to be a far off dream. A tiny house could enable you to invest extra cash for retirement and even retire early if you plan to stay in your next longterm.

Cleaning is a snap when downsizing to a tiny house; with a minimal surface area, wiping and dusting take no time at all.

With very little baggage and your new mastery of organization and storage, you’ll spend a lot less time cleaning up and more time doing whatever the hell you want. 

Environmental impact reduction seems obvious but how much less energy do we consume after downsizing to a tiny house? A study from Maria Saxton (Ph.D. Candidate in Environmental Planning and Design, Virginia Tech) identified that residents reduced their consumption by a whopping 45%.  Check out her diagram below on, “Exploring the Ecological Footprints of Tiny Home Downsizers.”

Image Credit: Maria Saxton 

What are the disadvantages of tiny house living?

Transitioning to micro-scale has its pitfalls as well. There are many sacrifices that must be made to fit your new lifestyle and home. 

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Depending on your local municipality, zoning, permitting and regulations can be a problem, preventing you from residing in one place. 

The need to continually downsize can be vexing for some; every time you bring a new item home, you’ll likely need to replace something else or generate additional clutter. You’ll constantly be reevaluating your storage and reorganizing making way for new items as your life changes. 

Custom features like smaller appliances, heating, cabinetry and built-ins are not cheaper because they’re smaller. They usually come with an increased price tag and are more difficult to repair and get parts for. 

Families can have a tough time downsizing to a tiny house less than 300sf.  As you family proliferates, so does your stuff. Even using the strategies described in this post, if you have a family of three or more it can be difficult to carve out space for everyone. Moments of tension it can be exasperating without having private spaces to cool off. Don’t let this deter you however; there are lots of blogs on tiny house living that have innovative ideas on making tiny house living with children an amazing experience.

Tiny House Laws | Zoning & Regulations (King County)

In King County, WA – the zoning codes do not call out tiny houses or specifically regulate them differently than other housing standards. Regardless of size, all residences are required to meet the same health, life/fire safety, structural, and energy building code requirements, as well as local zoning code requirements.

When building a tiny home on land, if the structure includes permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, kitchen, and sanitation (water closet, lavatory, and a bathtub or shower), is more than 70 square feet and requires plans or blueprints, a building permit is required. 

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Tiny houses built off site, will need to be inspected by Labor and Industries. L&I will inspect the unit as a modular structure. 

If your tiny house is built on a trailer with wheels, the city treats it like a recreational vehicle; since it’s considered an RV, you can’t park it in the same location for more than 60 days at a time during a rolling 365 day period. 

Zoning codes for tiny homes can be tricky. In King County, most properties are allowed one primary residence and one accessory dwelling unit (ADU) if the lot meets certain size requirements. Some tiny homes can be qualified as ADUs; contact your local municipality for more info. 

Where can I buy a tiny house?

Here are some great sites to find tiny houses for sale in the Seattle area: 

Cost to build vs buy a tiny house?

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GoBankingRates reported that the average cost of a tiny house in the U.S. is around $45,000. 

Building yourself can range from $10,000 – $35,000 but can be done for less than 10k if you use free or recycled materials. 

It really comes down to affordability and how much time you’re willing to spend on the construction of your tiny home. It’s either your time or your money but well worth the effort in either way.

If you’re somewhat handy and have the skill set to perform most of the construction on your own, this may be the path for you (if you have the spare time on your hands). Consider contacting an electrician or plumber for some of the work since these areas can cause major problems if not done properly. Building a tiny house yourself will also ensure you know every aspect of your home in and out and can fix issues on your own when they inevitably arise. Rich’s Cabins has amazing plans for sale if you decide to build your own tiny home.

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If 800+ hours and lots of handy work doesn’t sound like something you can accomplish, maybe opt to contact a contractor after you have your building plans or buy a pre-built home using one of the sites above. 

Where can I park my tiny house?

Where you can park your tiny house depends on your local municipality but here are the most common places to set down:

Farm or Residential Land: A lot of agricultural locations hire season help and allow RV or ADUs to reside on the property during their stay. Depending on the city, this may be a good option for your tiny home. 

Camper or RV Lot: Some tiny houses are manufactured with a RV classification and enable them to reside at RV campgrounds. However,  some RV campgrounds have tiny house restrictions.

Tiny House Communities:  These are designated tiny house locations where landowners have spaces available (some with utility hookups) for tiny homeowners to park. http://mytinyhouseparking.com has a parking map to help find a spot to park your home. 

Consider also running a newspaper or Craigslist WANTED add to find a spot to reside. 

How do I downsize my belongings?

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Ignoring your sentiment and parting with your belongings can be regretful, but the life you’re able to live after downsizing can more than make up for it. 

When it comes to downsizing, a lot of folks tread on the heels of Marie Kondo. In her method, one room at a time, you throw (carefully) all your belongings into a heap in the center of the floor. Pickup each item individually and observe how it makes you feel. Does it give you profound joy? If not, kick it to the curb! Do this for each major area of your home. I think you’ll find you need a lot less than you originally considered. This is a tested method whether your moving into a tiny house or just need to de-clutter. 

Downsizing to a tiny house doesn’t mean not having some cherished belongings that bring you delight. If you’re into books or musical instruments, these can be the focal point of your home design. 

Once you’ve set everything aside that you can part with, donate and sell the rest. There are plenty of online platforms to choose from like ebay, craigslist ad offer up. You could also have a good old fashioned garage sale. 

Another method of reduction is to aggregate single use items into multipurpose tools; like this 3-in-one breakfast station!

How do you downsize to a tiny house?

After you’ve downsized your belongings, how do you go about downsizing your house so you can fit everything left into your tiny house? This starts with assessing your actual needs first. Keep the items that match your life’s activities. 

Since you won’t be hosting guests as much in your new teeny domicile, it’s safe to assume that a lot of your furniture can be sold. If you have furniture that you might want to keep, measure it to make sure it will fit. 

Your existing washer and dryer will likely not fit, so think about selling them and getting a combination unit or doing laundry with a manual washer and drying your clothing on hangers or take them down to the laundromat. 

Top washer dryer combos and alternatives for tiny homes

A weeks worth clothes and a couple pairs of shoes are probably all you need depending on your circumstances. 

If you’ve done all the downsizing you can but still can’t quite fit into your new square footage, consider getting a storage unit for items that you use only seasonally or  aren’t ready to part with. 

Selling Your Existing Home to Downsize

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Thanks for reading! If you’re ready to hurl yourself into the tiny house movement and need to sell your existing home in the Seattle Metropolitan Area, Contact Us. Team Sno-King can help get your home sold fast and get you the most cash from your listing so you can put it toward your downsizing adventure. 

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