Regrets Living in a Tiny House: Homeowners Share Their Top 10 Mistakes

In the charming world of the tiny house in New Zealand, where every square inch counts, the dream of downsizing can sometimes lead to unexpected regret.

We reached out to tiny homeowners across the country to uncover their top concerns about their tiny paradises. From the far north to the far south, young homeowners shared their experiences, shining a light into the dark corners of tiny life.

1. Search for space

When it comes to square footage, every inch counts in a small home. Several owners lamented not going larger, with one owner expressing: “I’ll go to 7.5m instead of 6.7m.”

The desire for more space extends beyond height, with some craving a larger shower and improved storage. For some, the pursuit of simplicity seems to have led to the inevitable challenge of living in cramped spaces.

Stairs or ladder?  Sometimes saving stair space isn't worth the hassle.  Small public house Unsplash

Andrea Davis/Unsplash

Stairs or ladder? Sometimes saving stair space isn’t worth the hassle. Small public house Unsplash

2. The dilemma of stairs versus stairs

Tiny homes often feature creative space-saving solutions. One such solution is to choose between stairs and stairs to reach the loft.

Although stairs save valuable floor space, they can be stressful, especially in the middle of the night. Some homeowners now regret their decision to choose stairs, wishing they had used more comfortable stairs.

3. The battle with insurance and regulations

Living in a tiny house on wheels presents unique challenges in New Zealand, especially when it comes to insurance. Many homeowners have discovered that their preferred homes cannot be insured as residences, resulting in expensive mobile home insurance without the option of additional contents cover. For those who reside on permanent grounds, resource approval red tape looms as a prerequisite for insurance. The complexities of regulation and insurance have proven frustrating for small homeowners.

4. Material matters

The devil is in the details, as they say, and that includes material selection. Some homeowners found that their preferred materials did not stand the test of time.

The bamboo sink countertop proved to be more of a stain magnet than expected, and the wood flooring used faced the wrath of muddy paws and inclement weather. This regret highlights the importance of material choice in tiny house construction.

5. The need for an additional bedroom

For some, not having an extra bedroom has become a source of regret, especially as their circumstances change over time. The desire for a second bedroom, preferably in the basement, reflects the evolving needs of tiny house residents.

New Zealand's challenging climate requires thoughtful planning for temperature control.

Nachelle Nokom/Unsplash

New Zealand’s challenging climate requires thoughtful planning for temperature control.

6. Issues in temperature control

New Zealand’s challenging climate requires thoughtful planning for temperature control.

Some homeowners wished they had invested in thermally broken windows instead of standard aluminum windows, citing issues with moisture buildup. Others were longing for the wet back warmth of their stoves, highlighting the importance of energy-efficient choices in small living.

7. Unexpected obstacles

In the small world of life, it is often the unexpected obstacles that cause the most frustration. These factors include the futility of small appliances, uncomfortable home furnishings, and sudden expenses for experiments.

Owners have realized that sometimes tried-and-true solutions are worth the investment.


These are the best tiny houses in New Zealand, according to the judges of the NZ Tiny House Awards.

8. Sorry DIY lovers

Tiny homeowners who have taken a DIY approach have found that their dreams don’t always match their skills. For example, building meters has turned into an expensive and messy endeavor for some, leading to a new appreciation for off-the-shelf solutions.

9. Weight matters

Moving around a tiny house can be a challenge, as one owner discovered when his house exceeded legal road weight limits. The desire for ease of transport led them to consider building a lighter chassis next time.

10. Experience benefits

Tiny living is a learning experience, and many homeowners have mentioned changes they would make if they did it again. From different layouts to additional windows, their ideas offer valuable lessons for those considering the transition to tiny house living.

While living in a tiny house in New Zealand offers countless rewards, these thoughts on regrets provide a candid glimpse into the less glamorous side of this lifestyle.

Aspiring tiny house owners can use these stories as a road map to navigate their way, armed with the wisdom of those who came before them.

Sharla May is the founder and director of Tiny House Hub, Tiny House Expo, and Landshare. This story was first published in Tiny Living magazine and is republished with permission.

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