What It's Really Like Living in a Tiny Home, from an Expert Who’s Done It

Precious Price, who built a tiny house in the backyard of her Atlanta home, shares the biggest surprises about the minimalist lifestyle

<p>Precious Price</p> Precious Price

Precious Price

Precious Price's tiny home in Atlanta

Precious Price didn’t intend to build her own tiny house shortly after she purchased a three-bedroom home in October 2019.

However, when the pandemic hit, the Atlanta realtor and entrepreneur tells PEOPLE she found herself looking out the window and thinking about what she could do with the property’s “huge” backyard.

She had the idea to live in a tiny home in her yard while renting the larger house for extra income to pay her mortgage.

By June 2020, she was drafting floor plans and working with the city to get the proper permits to build the second structure. Later that year, she began converting a 12-by-24-foot shed into an accessory dwelling unit (ADU), a term for a small secondary home, and the build was finished in March 2021.

<p>Precious Price</p> Price's tiny home has an open layout

Precious Price

Price's tiny home has an open layout

While the total price tag of her home was $35,000, Price says the current cost of having a tiny home built may be upward of $60,000.

For the following year, she opted to rent out the tiny home and remain in her original house. But at the beginning of 2023, she decided to move into the small space herself, which she calls “a really cool experience.” She stayed in the tiny home for about six months before moving out to rent it again.

Price, who cofounded a startup called Gather ADU to help homeowners create tiny houses on their existing property, shared takeaways from her time living in the unit to prepare prospective builders for what to expect.

Downsizing Can Be a Welcome Change

Price says her biggest realization was "the attachment that so many of us have to things."

She notes that with larger homes, “Because the space is there, we want to fill it.”

However, she discovered that there were items in her bigger house that she hadn’t looked at for months, such as unnecessary beauty products in her bathroom. Having less storage encouraged her to be more minimalistic.

“You move into a smaller space and realize, ‘I don't even use this,’ or ‘I have no need for this, I'm just holding onto it,'" she says.

“We've just created an unhealthy attachment to over-consumption,” she adds. “There's no reason why I need 10 facial cleansers and five moisturizers.”

Related: We Found a Two-Story Tiny Home for Under $10K at Amazon — and It Has a Roof Deck

<p>Precious Price</p> Price has room for a full fridge

Precious Price

Price has room for a full fridge

Spaces Can Do Double Duty

Price didn’t think she’d have room for a workspace in the open-layout tiny home — but she was pleasantly surprised.

She ended up getting a drop-leaf table, which serves as a dual space for working and eating.

“I can convert my dining area into an actual desk space,” she says, “which was really important to me, because for the most part, since the pandemic, I've primarily been working remotely.”

<p>Precious Price</p> Price's kitchen

Precious Price

Price's kitchen

You Can Still Have a Full Kitchen and Bathroom

My two primary spaces I refused to compromise on were the bathroom and the kitchen, and I feel like I got everything that I needed,” Price says.

The bathroom has a full shower, vanity and a toilet with working plumbing.

And Price says she was able to fit a full-size refrigerator, plus an induction cooktop, two burners and a deep sink in the kitchen.

“There's an ample amount of counter space I really enjoyed when I was there getting up in the morning and cooking,” she adds.

<p>Precious Price</p> Price's bathroom

Precious Price

Price's bathroom

Still, There Will Be Trade-Offs

Price says the two things she didn’t make space for were a washer and dryer, since she figured she could use the ones in the bigger house. However, she admits it was “a hassle” not to have them close in the unit.

“That's probably the biggest strife of the design and the layout that I did with my house,” she says.

You’ll Save Time on Cleaning

Not surprisingly, Price says it’s “so much easier” to keep the tiny home clean, given the much smaller space.

“I can do a quick deep clean on a weekly basis,” she says, explaining that it only takes her 40 minutes, at most.

“That's been the best, just being able to get that type of time back, and also the money,” she adds, noting that her larger home could take a whole day to tidy up, prompting her to pay for a cleaning service.

<p>Precious Price</p> Price's shower

Precious Price

Price's shower

You’re Less Likely to Misplace Items

Price says another one of her favorite parts of tiny home living is not having to walk across the house to retrieve something she needs.

“I didn't leave anything in another room — there is no other room,” she says. “It might sound lazy of me, but everything I need is legitimately right there. I don't misplace anything.”

Visitors May Be Surprised When They Step Inside

Price says people are often taken aback by how much the interior of her tiny home “looks like a house.”

“The outside looks like a shed, and you walk in and it's like, ‘Oh my gosh, I would not have guessed it looked like this,’” she says.

She adds that it’s “definitely the aesthetic of it that surprises people.”

“They're also surprised at how spacious 300 square feet feels,” she says. “Once you get inside of it and you see it legitimately has all of the essentials that you could think of, they are very surprised that 300 square feet can feel like that.”

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Related: 384 Sq. Ft. Home Sells for Over Its $1.7 Million Asking Price — Here's Why

<p>Precious Price</p> Price's porch

Precious Price

Price's porch

Outdoor Space Is a ‘Game Changer’

Price says adding a porch to the house was “a game changer.”

“Something really important for homeowners to think about is figuring out how you are able to leverage that outdoor space or the space that is around the home to make the habitable space feel bigger,” she says. “Many times, I would have breakfast on the porch. I'd be able to just go out there and sit and take in the nature within the backyard."

When people ask if living in a tiny home feels isolating, her answer is “no” — thanks in part to the outdoor space.

“I still invite my friends over,” she says. “Your friends don't feel cramped inside of something that feels like a shed. You're outside at the fire pit, you're on the porch or what have you, and you can really still host people.”

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