(855) 321-7473

M-F 9am-5pm Eastern

Tiny House

Can a Family of 5 Live in a Tiny House?

By Tobias RobertsRise Writer
Feb 3, 2019

Tiny home living is often associated with a one or two-person household living remotely and frugally while saving up money for their first “real” home. Bryan and Bethany Flake, currently living in a beautiful tiny house on wheels in Southern California—though constantly on the move as Bryan is a travelling nurse—challenges this assumption. Their 415 square foot tiny home on wheels (255 square feet if you don’t count the loft space) is home for them, their three children, and a collection of pets that borders on being called a mini-zoo! 

The Flake’s tiny home on wheels is thirty feet long, 8.5 feet wide, and 13.6 feet wide. Two lofted bedroom spaces provide ample sleeping room for the large family while custom wood trim offers a touch of rustic elegance throughout the interior of the home. A full sized refrigerator, four-burner stove and oven, and even a microwave offer ample space for cooking needs for the family. 

Because the Flake family does move regularly, they wanted a tiny home that they could pull themselves, and they currently pull their home wherever Bryan’s work leads them with a Dodge Ram 3500 pickup truck.

We recently sat down to talk with Bryan Flake about the joys, benefits, and challenges that come with living in a tiny home on wheels. He also offers some words of advice for people interested in tiny home living. 

Backcountry Tiny Homes
Photo Credit: Backcountry Tiny Homes

1. What inspired you to purchase and live in a tiny home? 

We live an abnormal lifestyle where I am a travel nurse and we move regularly every 3-12 months. With the uncertainty of how long we will be at any given place, finding a rental that would be flexible was increasingly difficult and stressful. With a tiny home, we can take our home with us at any time. Finding a place to park for a few months is much easier than having to find a rental home. Having a tiny house on wheels (“THOW”) gives us the ability to be more flexible and take shorter assignments. 

Backcountry Tiny Homes
Photo Credit: Backcountry Tiny Homes

2. How many people live in your tiny home? 

In our tiny home there is myself (Bryan), my wife Bethany, and our three children: Felicity (10), Kai (8) and Greyson (6).  Along with our zoo: we have 4 dogs, 6 cats, a mini-pig, and a ball python. 

Backcountry Tiny Homes
Photo Credit: Backcountry Tiny Homes

3. Is it challenge living in a tiny home with so many people (and animals)?

We have lived in our tiny home for 5 months now, and the only challenging part of living in a small space with so many people and critters is leaving and coming home! Getting in and out of the door can be a challenge, but otherwise the home doesn’t seem any smaller than an average sized house. We all have our own space and little corners that we can retreat to if needed. Luckily, we’ve been living in Southern California, so being outside and enjoying the mild winter has been nice too.

Backcountry Tiny Homes
Photo Credit: Backcountry Tiny Homes

4. What has the biggest challenge of living in a tiny home?

The biggest challenge has been keeping up with laundry. We have a washer/dryer combo that is quite small. Getting through all five people’s worth of laundry is a constant battle.

Backcountry Tiny Homes
Photo Credit: Backcountry Tiny Homes

5. What is your favorite part of your home? 

I think each person has a different part of the tiny home that is their favorite.  One of our favorite features is the custom Catio (patio for a cat) that our builders designed for us. It’s the perfect spot for our six cats to get away to and have their own space. It includes two big windows for them to bird watch from and a fan that takes the litter smell directly out before it can spread to the rest of the home.  It’s definitely one of the best talking points of the home. 

Backcountry Tiny Homes
Photo Credit: Backcountry Tiny Homes

6. What are the main ways that living in a tiny home is different from living in a regular-sized home?

The main ways that living in a tiny home versus a regular size home is just that, size! Everything is much more compact, and every space is utilized. There is no “dead” space; everything has a purpose and use.  We comment often about how we never feel like we don’t have enough space, the home is just right for us and the space that we need. 

Backcountry Tiny Homes
Photo Credit: Backcountry Tiny Homes

7. Financially speaking, how has purchasing a tiny home been different than the “regular” path to homeownership? 

The path to get a loan for the tiny home was different in that most banks do not offer loans for the purchase of a tiny home. It is a relatively new item to need a loan for. Some [tiny home homeowners] are able to get an RV loan for their tiny homes, but that wasn’t an option for us. I did research on different places through online searches and found SoFi. We were able to get a personal loan through them, as opposed to going through a regular bank.

Backcountry Tiny Homes
Photo Credit: Backcountry Tiny Homes

8. What words of advice would you offer to someone thinking of purchasing a tiny home? 

The advice we would give to those considering going Tiny is first, find a builder that you gel well with, one that values communication and truly cares about what you want in your home. The builder doesn’t necessarily have to be close by you, as many deliver across the US and Canada, so don’t let location limit you from your perfect builder. 

We would also recommend visiting a tiny home before you decide. Many tiny homeowners love to show off their homes and help people new to the tiny movement see if this lifestyle is for them.

We spent several months going through our things and each time getting rid of a little. Every time we would go through our belongings, we would find something else we never used, didn’t need, or could part with.  It’s really quite freeing not to be bogged down with a ton of stuff!

Backcountry Tiny Homes
Photo Credit: Backcountry Tiny Homes

9. Is there anything you would do differently in regards to your experiencing of purchasing and living in a tiny home? 

We were fortunate in finding our builders, Backcountry Tiny Homes. Tina and Luke were the perfect fit for us and our home. With that great relationship with them, we created this amazing custom home that we truly love! There are a few things here or there that we would change if we had to build all over again—like having a full-size washer/dryer—but overall, there isn’t anything we would do differently.

Backcountry Tiny Homes
Photo Credit: Backcountry Tiny Homes

10. Any lessons you’ve learned? 

Living tiny is certainly not for everyone, but for us, it’s the perfect fit for this chapter in our lives. We probably won’t always live tiny, but it has shown us how collecting memories and moments is so much more valuable than collecting things.

Backcountry Tiny Homes
Photo Credit: Backcountry Tiny Homes

Bottom Line

As Bryan says, tiny homes are not for everyone. But by simplifying all of their stuff and living in a smaller home, they are reducing their environmental footprint. And because it fits so well with their lifestyle, they do not feel like they are making any sacrifice at all. Thanks to the Flake family for demonstrating how another version of a home can be enough!

Disclaimer: This article does not constitute a product endorsement however Rise does reserve the right to recommend relevant products based on the articles content to provide a more comprehensive experience for the reader.Last Modified: 2021-07-09T11:02:39+0000
Tobias Roberts

Article by:

Tobias Roberts

Tobias runs an agroecology farm and a natural building collective in the mountains of El Salvador. He specializes in earthen construction methods and uses permaculture design methods to integrate structures into the sustainability of the landscape.