10 Most Surprising Things About Staying in a Tiny Home

During a trip to Miami, I booked a tiny home on wheels that I found on Airbnb. It was full of surprises.

The author sits on the steps in front of the tiny home


The author sits on the steps in front of the tiny home.

Joey Hadden/Insider

For around $100 a night, I stayed in a tiny home in Miami that I found on Airbnb to see if the lifestyle seemed right for me.

At 250 square feet, the home was half the size of my apartment.

For full disclosure, Insider paid for the Airbnb accommodation, according to our reporting standards.

Since it was advertised as being on wheels, I figured it would feel like a mobile home, but this house didn’t look like it was going anywhere.

the outside of the tiny home with arrows pointing to cinder blocks


Cinder blocks are seen underneath the house.

Joey Hadden/Insider

The type of tiny home I stayed in had wheels meant to be pulled by a trailer, but this particular home didn’t look like it had been moved recently.

Located in the hidden yard of a larger home, the home was positioned against a wall with cinder blocks for a foundation. Its wheels were not visible from the accessible side, and I thought that moving it would be no easy feat since it was far from the street.

This didn’t deter me from the lifestyle, since I wouldn’t want to move my hypothetical future tiny house, even if I had the option.

Inside, I was surprised that the house felt so much bigger than it looked on the outside.

side by side photos show the outside (L) and inside (R) of the tiny home


Outside and inside the 250-square-foot home.

Joey Hadden/Insider

From the outside, the tiny home looked to be the size of a bedroom.

But inside, there was a kitchen, a bathroom, decor, and storage space, all without feeling cramped. High ceilings made the space feel even bigger, and there was just enough room for me to do yoga on the floor, which I didn’t expect. The tiny home also had electricity and plumbing.

The spacious quality was mostly due to the windows — eight, in fact — an unusually large number for such a small building.

tiny home windows are seen on the outside (L) and the inside (R)


Four of the eight windows are next to the front door.

Joey Hadden/Insider

I arrived at my Airbnb at night. Seeing how much larger the room felt with the window curtains drawn the next morning made me realize that windows can make a small space feel more open — especially with so many plants right outside.

I was surprised to find so many space-saving hacks that all made the home feel larger, including some I’d never considered.

side by side photos show the sliding bathroom door


The sliding door leads from the kitchen to the bathroom.

Joey Hadden/Insider

Some space-saving hacks in the tiny home were expected, like a mounted TV or table that doubled as storage.

But the sliding bathroom door was unexpectedly clever. I never would have thought of using a door to save space. The sliding feature saved room that a swinging door would take up, and I thought that the decorative nature of the door made it double as a piece of art.

Similarly, next to the shower, a storage closet had a curtain rather than a door, which I thought looked better while saving more space.

The bathroom was about twice the size of the one in my apartment, which shocked me since the home is half the size of my entire apartment.

side by side photos of the bathroom


The tiny home bathroom’s sink and closet.

Joey Hadden/Insider

My bathroom in New York is just big enough to brush my teeth, but this tiny home’s bathroom could fit about four people in it comfortably.

The bathroom felt spacious because there was no furniture in it either, thanks to clever wall storage to hold toiletry items and towels.

Read more: 12 space-saving hacks I picked up from staying in a 250-square-foot tiny home

Back in the main room, I wasn’t expecting to sleep in a Queen-sized bed.

The bed is seen inside the tiny home


The bedroom area in the evening.

Joey Hadden/Insider

Since the square footage was so limited, I was expecting to have to sleep in a Full or Twin-sized bed. But seeing this Queen-sized mattress made me realize I  wouldn’t have to compromise on the size of my bed in a smaller space.

While a smaller space means less to clean, I wasn’t prepared for how quickly and easily the inside can start to look messy.

The home is seen in the morning with the bed unmade


A wide view of the home first thing in the morning.

Joey Hadden/Insider

When you’re in a tiny space, every mess can quickly feel like a big one. That’s because something as harmless and typical as an unmade bed or some clothes on the floor can be enough to make you feel like you’re living in filth.

Because of this, I found myself cleaning up between every task, more than I usually might otherwise.

I used to think that tiny living was only for minimalists, but this home had a maximalist style that seemed unexpected.

wall decor and storage in the bathroom (L) and main room (R)


Wall storage and decor in the bathroom and kitchen.

Joey Hadden/Insider

This home’s use of color, unique storage spaces, and wall decor was inviting and made me realize that filling a small space with decor doesn’t have to make it feel cluttered.

Paintings, prints, and sculptures went all the way to the ceiling, and in effect, drew my eyes up and elongated the space.

The home had a yard full of plants and furniture, and it was much more important to me than I thought it would be.

side by side photos show outdoor furniture in the yard


Tables and chairs decorate two different parts of the yard.

Joey Hadden/Insider

Although I don’t have a yard in my NYC apartment, having additional outdoor space to work, relax, and hosts guests outside would be crucial for me to live happily in a tiny home, I realized during my stay.

I pictured myself working in the tiny home’s lush backyard and thought this outdoor space made the tiny home seem more livable.

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