This Teeny-Tiny Home on Wheels Is What DIY Downsizing Is All About
How small can you go and still be able to call your living space a “home”? The answer always depends on who you ask, but in this case, it’s something along the lines of “teeny-tiny-kind-of small.”
Like everything else in life, downsizing is relative, which explains the wide array of options possible. Naturally, if you’ve lived in a mansion all your life, moving into a ginormous fifth wheel will feel like downsizing to you. The same goes for making the transition from a city apartment to a tiny home, which is how such a teeny-tiny construction like the one we’re going to talk about today becomes a suitable downsizing solution.
This isn’t the smallest tiny house in the world, but its compact dimensions rival other DIY (do it yourself) builds that may have started more or less as a joke. It’s one of the smallest single-axle tinies we’ve covered, and the fact that it still has sleeping accommodations for three people and proper living facilities makes it all the more impressive. It might not be suitable for long-term living – it is most definitely not, who are we kidding? – but it can serve the purpose of showing what downsizing is all about.
This tiny is a personal project of vanlifers Roman and Ioana, whom we covered before with their Volkswagen LT 35 van conversion called Leni. They’ve traveled all through Europe in Leni and their previous mobile home and have seen more than a fair share of this type of houses on wheels, including tinies, buses and vans, and anything in between.
Roman built this tiny in his hometown of Riga, Latvia. When he and Ioana are not using it as their own towable for shorter stays, it functions as a secondary guest room. At camp, when used this way, it’s offered with an add-on sauna, a separate 10-foot (3-meter) long structure that adds a touch of coziness and luxury to the very compact layout of the actual tiny. Also at camp, it gets an exterior deck and skirting, with garden furniture expanding available space on the outside.
Even without these add-ons, the tiny could still work for a small family looking for basic comfort and protection from the elements. It’s 11.6 feet long and 7.2 feet wide (3 meters by 2.21 meters) and weighs just 3,300 lbs (1,497 kg), so it boasts a higher degree of mobility than the majority of tiny houses. Roman doesn’t get into the construction details, but we can see it sits on an apparently standard single-axle trailer and is rigged for water and electricity to the grid with RV-style hookups. It also has a small solar power system that probably runs only the lights and some appliances.
The interior is plywood, with Ikea furniture, to keep costs down. Describing it as “compact” is actually an understatement: it’s the teeniest-tiniest space that still has the main characteristics of a home. You get a wardrobe space, a small dinette area with fold-down table and foldable chairs, a small galley, a lounge area that becomes a bedroom, and a small bathroom. You get it, everything is small in this house.
At the same time, though, it still seems cozy. The L-shaped couch in the living room becomes a two-person bed at night, and there’s another drop-down bunk above it with a safety net and the dimensions of a single-person bed. The kitchen is a single-block unit with very little in terms of appliances or storage space, but you’ll still find a fridge and freezer in there, a sink fed from a 13.2-gallon (50-liter) water tank, and some counter space to prepare meals during a vacation.
The bathroom has a standard-sized shower and separating compost toilet and hides behind a pocket door right by the kitchen. The arrangement is not ideal, but it’s fairly standard in this type of mobile home, especially in those of this particular size. Roman promises the compositing toilet emits no odors, so there’s that for small wonders.
The advantages of such a compact mobile home, other than the possibility of developing a closer bond with whomever you happen to share the space with, include more mobility. It takes much less time to prepare a tiny like this for the road than it would with a much larger one, and it takes a smaller vehicle to pull it. Expenses are also reduced considerably since you’re heating a smaller space, not paying rent, and watching consumption of limited resources like water and gas, whether willingly or not.
These are the same benefits you get with any other type of downsizing but amplified proportionally by the size of the layout. The smaller the tiny, the bigger the benefits. Downsizing is not a “win some, lose some” kind of situation, but more of a “give up a lot, win ever more” scenario. As long as you’re willing to get through that first part.