Extreme Housing Downsizing – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

extreme housing downsizing

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Have you ever done something completely outrageous like sell everything you own and then downsize your housing?

Well I did something similar to this and what I learned surprised me.  A few years ago I got completely burned out after being in business for 10 years and decided I needed a change.

I sold my house and bought a diesel pusher motor home with a slide out then hit the road as a contract worker. This turned out to be quite an adventure.  I lived and traveled in that motor home for 3 years, and worked from coast to coast.

Wow, what fun.

The Good

I learned that anyone can downsize if they set their mind to it.  As difficult as it may seem, you can live in a smaller place, a lot smaller.

Think tiny house.

My total square footage was less than 300 ft.²  This was a huge change from my 1500 ft.² home.

So, what’s good about it?

Well for one it’s less expensive

In my case, I paid $60,000 for the motor home and the rent was about $500 a month, utilities included. That’s pretty cheap and it’s a lot less expensive than a house or an apartment.

There were some property taxes and insurance but it wasn’t too bad.  Now I might have been able to crash in a temporary housing such as at an Extended Stay hotel. The problem is that they generally don’t allow dogs.

Secondly, they are not always located in rural areas and that might be where you need to work.  Living in a motor home has the advantage of allowing you to bring your pets with you wherever you go. That’s a win.

You will have more money for the future

I would estimate that my expenses were cut in half by downsizing such a dramatic amount. That extra money was used to invest for the future.

As you already know, the earlier and more you can save results in you being able to retire earlier and more comfortably in the future.

It’s a more simple life

Living in a smaller place can be stressful in the beginning but surprisingly results in a more simplified life.  What you will find is that you will be forced to organize everything and it does not matter if you posses organizing skills or not.

This is a do or die situation so you have no choice. Just buckle down and get organized.


After you get organized, you will memorize where everything goes. There’s an old saying:

A place for everything and everything in its place

This is probably the single most important thing I learned while living in such tiny living quarters.  It took some getting used to but within a month or so I knew exactly where everything was and could get to it quite quickly.

You can too.

You’ll also learn that you do not need as many possessions as you thought you did. There simply is not enough room to store everything and when it’s gone, well by golly, you survive.  You need to make some serious decisions on what’s important and what is trivial.

The Bad

Ok now let’s talk about some of the issues with extreme housing downsizing.

1. No Yard For Motor Home Travelers

If you have a dog this can be a real challenge. You’ll be forced to exercise your dog on a leash almost everywhere unless you can find a dog park. You also have to clean up after your dog relentlessly.

That’s quite a bit different than having your own yard.

2. Less interaction with your friends

This one’s a toughy.

If you are traveling like I did, then you will no longer be able to see your friends on a one-on-one basis at the drop of a hat. Email, chat, and phone calls to the rescue but it’s not the same.

I have no advice for this one.

The Ugly

There are some consequences to this type of lifestyle.  Some of them down right suck.

It’s best to do all of your homework ahead of time so the you don’t get yourself into a mess.


Be Prepared For Extreme Cold Weather

Well my motor home had the so-called “winter package”. So I confidently took off for Denver right smack in the middle of winter.

Bigga Mistake

First off, the water froze up a solid as a deep freezer.  Then, when it warmed up in the middle of the day, all hell broke loose.

Water sprayed like geysers everywhere and I had my own sprinkler system in the middle of winter.  It took many hours to hunt down all the leaks, repair them, add insulation, and put heat tape everywhere.

It was miserable.

Almost Zero Privacy

If you have a tiny house this might not be a problem.  However, the walls of motor homes are only a couple of inches thick. You can hear a lot of things through those walls and you give up a lot of privacy.

Everyone outside can hear exactly what you’re saying or doing on the inside. I can’t tell you how many times I had to listen to the TV from my neighbor who was a mere 8′ away.

The solution here is to learn to talk quietly, take long walks, or if you can’t sleep at night, wear ear plugs.

Should You Downsize Like This?

Well over the years I met a lot of friendly people, some of which I’m friends with today. They made it a lifestyle to live in trailers and motor homes.

They all had their reasons. Some of them didn’t have enough money for a house or just wanted to save money during their retirement. Others still did it because they enjoy the lifestyle on the road.

There seems to be a mix as to whether people were happy with their decisions or not. What I did notice is that younger couples had a tendency to get frustrated with the problems of living in such a small space. Older couples seemed to be more tolerant of the situation.

The decision is ultimately yours. However, you need to carefully consider every aspect before you make any major decision.

Ask yourself if you are willing to give up most privacy. If you are married, the walls come in closer day by day. It’s like living on a boat. There’s no way to escape.


Extreme housing downsizing is not for everyone. There may come a time in your life when you are forced to do it. If so, keep in mind that with a little planning you can live comfortably for the most part.  There are some things you’ll be giving up like storage space, privacy, and interactions with old friends.

I would love to hear your experiences if you have ever done something like this.

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