“Can We Come Inside?” - Privacy (or lack thereof) In a Tiny House
The other day, my good friend Jenn and I were talking about one of the weirdest things about living in a tiny house, camper, or van - the fact that total strangers think it's just normal to try to look in your windows or ask to come into your living space.
I mean, if you think about it - this is SUPER STRANGE.
Because when you live in a tiny house or camper, even though it might seem novel to other people, you are in YOUR HOME. It's no different than any other home - and yet people think it's okay to show up at your doorstep and ask for a tour at all hours.
This has happened to both of us, and SO MANY other tiny house friends I know, again and again.
So many times I've been chatting with Jenn online, when she says "oh wait - there's someone trying to look in my door window, let me see what they want".
This is weird! People need to have boundaries and feel safe.
And personally, I really don't like it.
After having this happen to me many, many times while on the road, I've gotten used to telling people firmly to please not try to look into my house at night, and telling people not to bother me. After a while you just want some peace!
I asked Jenn to share a little bit about her story as well, since she deal with the same thing. She's even in a rural area - and people still pull over and ask for tours, press their faces against the windows, and more.
If you're a tiny house hopeful, this is meant to give you a little help with what to expect and how to respond to this strange occurrence.
If you're tiny-house curious, I ask you to please respect the homes and the people inside the homes - we don't like being gawked at like we're in a zoo!
I'll let Jenn take it from here.
If someone had asked me before I moved into my tiny house, what I thought the biggest surprise about tiny life would be for me, I probably would’ve said something like feeling claustrophobic or needing more space for shoes.
But the biggest surprise for me by far, has actually had nothing to do with the build of the house itself.
It’s privacy. Or more accurately, the lack thereof.
When you move into a tiny house, it’s kind of like moving into a fish bowl or the zoo.
People want to look. A LOT.
Of course, there’s just a lot of curiosity around tiny homes.
Some people have seen them on TV and always wondered what one looked like close up. While others didn’t even know they existed and are dumbfounded the first time they see one.
But when it comes down to it, people just can’t get enough of them and they tend to lose all “normal” manners of behaving when it comes to boundaries.
In a normal week, I’ll get multiple people slowing down or even stopping in the middle of the road as they look at my house from their car.
Then there are those that take it a step further and park in my driveway to look.
Or those that go even FURTHER and come up to the door and knock.
It definitely is a bit of a shock the first couple times it happens, because it is after all, your HOME and you’re not used to people just randomly approaching you in your own space, much less wanting to come inside and look around.
(Imagine for a moment, how you’d feel if a random parade of strangers starting knocking on your door to look at your house the way it is RIGHT NOW!)
I do understand their curiosity because I was every bit as curious when I first starting looking into tiny homes.
They’re different, they’re unique, they’re exciting… and you want to see them up close!
BUT as a tiny house dweller, you have to be prepared for the flip side of the coin.
It will probably be awhile before tiny houses are the “norm.” And until the novelty wears off, you are going to get a lot of “Looky Lou’s” as I like to call them.
You’ll get the drive-by’s, you’ll get requests to see it on Facebook and Twitter and you’ll probably even start to get recognized in your community (“Hey! Aren’t you the one with the little house??”)
So if you’re considering building a tiny house, the best thing you can do regarding your privacy is prepare early!
Decide ahead of time what your response/strategy is going to be.
You don’t want to be caught off guard (that’s how I’ve ended up with everyone from a grandpa to a 19 year old grocery store cashier “touring” my house!).
Know that you ARE going to have visitors and they ARE going to ask to see your home, so decide what you want to do before it happens.
- Are you going to let them look around the outside of the house but not inside?
- Are you going to show them the inside too?
- Are you going to ask them to come back at another time for an “open house”? Are you willing to host “open house” events?
- Are you going to allow them to take photographs of your home?
These are all things that WILL come up, so you don’t want to be making these decisions on the spur on the moment.
1. Try to organize the masses.
If you decide that you DO want to allow people to tour your home, setting up an “open house” or designating a specific day/time to see it, may help cut down on the feeling of chaos or the stream of interruptions.
If you want to be open with your neighbors about tiny living, but don’t want to feel like your house constantly needs to be “showroom ready,” an organized open house may be a good compromise.
If you worked with a builder, you may also be able to work out a small commission or compensation for opening your house up periodically to potential buyers.
2. Be safe.
Just like with any other home, you want to be weary of who you let into your space. So the most important thing is obviously to look out for your own safety.
- Trust your gut and if you feel like something’s not right with someone asking to see your home, politely say no. It is YOUR home and you are allowed to decline.
- Set up boundaries that work for you. Maybe you shut the blinds and turn off the lights at a certain time to indicate “no visitors.” Or perhaps you’ll let someone in to see the inside but only if you’re not alone and the front door remains open. No boundary is too extreme or too ridiculous. Do what feels right for you.
- If you don’t want visitors or want to maintain your privacy, it’s okay to let people know. Install “No Trespassing” or “Private Property” signs. Or install a security system (or just the signs!). It is YOUR property, so you are allowed to protect it.
The reality of tiny living is that it IS unique. It IS different. And people ARE going to be curious.
So it’s best to prepare for this aspect of tiny life ahead of time and try to take it in stride as part of the journey.
Share your experience with others and join in on their excitement and enthusiasm, but most importantly, do what works best for you.
It may be a tiny house… but it is your HOME!