I’m a fat woman interested in living small. What do I need to know?

August 31 |
P1060029
Tight squeeze?
Photo by Terry Bone. Used under Creative Commons license.

Ducky writes in:

I love your posts about tiny spaces and tiny homes and I dream of someday having a tiny place of my very own. As a self-identified fat woman, though, I wonder if that would be a comfortable situation.

During a recent discussion about RVing, a friend asked me if I thought I would be comfortable in such tight spaces (especially the bathroom) and, honestly, I'm not sure if I'd be cozy or cramped.

Are there any fatties in tiny spaces that I could take some inspiration from? Any special considerations?

My first thought? Look for an RV or outdoor living expo in your town and get thee to the exhibition! Even if they don't have the awesome, cute, retro models most people dream about, there should be a good range of vehicles out there you can get on up in. Plus! You can ask any other questions you may have while you're there.

What have you got, Homies? Who has experience and advice in this area?

  1. I'd second Cat's advice about going to an expo, but I'd say whilst you're there, work on a list of what you'd need space wise. Write a list. So it might include a minimum size shower or minimum doorway, or little things like the ability to replace the built in table with a moveable TV table (if fitting in the table is an issue). You can make a similar list for small space living if an RV isn't you're thing.

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  2. My wife and I just bought an RV and we are both fat. The only time it feels uncomfortable is the ity bity walking space between the stove/table/bathroom. It really only has enough room for one person. If she needs to get by while I am cooking, I simply move to the side for a moment. Our RV has a fullsize bathroom with an inclosed shower. Even though it is a bit cramped we have enough room to move around. We LOVE our RV! Go check them out, see what size feels comfortable. I am sure you will find one that feels just right!

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  3. Love the expo idea! If this is a someday project, try one out before you buy, and rent one for a vacation.

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  4. I second the expo idea; try it before you buy it on a short vacation. If it's for you, that's probably the easiest way to find out.

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  5. My aunt and uncle were both 'fat'. They RV'd all the time during the summer and never had a problem (with myself and or another niece in tow as well as a dog and a cat.). The expo seems like a good idea that way you can see what you like, what you feel comfortable in and all of that. Also if you plan on spending time outside and want your own grill and chairs you'll need to store that as well.

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    • Bizarre, off the topic question for you- did the cat or dog get motion sickness in the RV?

      Here's why I'm asking. My dog used to travel in her crate and barfed constantly. Finally, I did I would do for a human and let her sit in the front seat with a window cracked for fresh air and the barfing stopped. Cat #1 barfs unless he's in a travel carrier, but Cat #2 is the opposite.

      Cat #2 is not allowed out of his crate, regardless of the barfing, because he likes to crawl down my legs near the brake and the pas pedal, which, HELL to the no. I've often thought about RVing with the pets but have no idea if the cozy, homelike environment would be better or worse for the motion sickness, and I don't really want to try it in a rental. Do you remember if your aunt and uncle's cat and dog barfed, by any chance? Thanks!

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  6. When you're looking at small homes, I think it's good to remember that small can be relative. We home-blog-lovers tend to fetishize small and think that the less square footage, the more accomplished someone is. But it doesn't accomplish anything for us to live in homes that aren't comfortable or functional for our own preferences. So if a small shower, tiny closet, or a loft bed aren't comfortable for you to use, prioritize those. You can still find that charming studio apartment and make it home. It's okay to want/need/use a few more square feet if that makes it truly the right place for you. Home should be comfortable first and foremost.

    A great place to test out small home design is Ikea, if you live near one. They do amazing things with tiny spaces, and you can walk through the homes and see how they'd work for you.

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  7. Take the advice of expo and step it up one more – if you can bring yourself to do it, look for other people there who many have similar needs to yours and strike up a conversation, or hunt around for places online where RV enthusiasts hang out and speak to more people who are doing it – What areas would they recommend you keep in mind that you haven't thought of? What customizations do they recommend? What resources do they know of that you can look in to? Good luck!

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  8. Make sure to stand in the shower. We are tall in our family and my husband is a big teddy bear. When we went RV shopping, we made sure the shower and the john were comfy and fit us.

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  9. When my family had our RV (the six of us, two of whom were 'bigger') it really seemed to be all about the storage. We came up with lots of creative ways to store things that kept them out of the way and made the space even more comfy. I agree with the other commenters, priortize those things that are the most important to you and then maybe look at how you could creatively store objects to make more space.

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  10. My stepmom's dad was rather large, and he lived in RVs for many years with no problems. He was also elderly with health problems, and insisted on really open designs in his RV to make sure that, if he ever needed a walker, it would fit through all essential areas. "Fat" is relative, but depending on your size, you might be interested in a design like that. For example, he had a HUGE shower in there, which was accomplished by having it separate from the toilet room. Stuff like that. Definitely go to an expo and check things out :)

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  11. I don't have any experience with RVs but I'll share what I can when it comes to tiny apartments.

    My boyfriend and I are currently living in bachelor apartment that is maybe…350 square feet? We've made due for the past year and it hasn't been too frustrating. My best advice is to minimize the stuff you have and use height for storage (shelves as well as tall storage units). Mutli-purpose items are also super useful.

    Here are the two things I have found very frustrating though:

    1. The tiny bathroom.
    The shower isn't a bad size- it's actually rather large for a stand-up. But there's hardly any room to sit and I have to turn sideways to get past the counter to the shower. And you can forget about being in there with my boyfriend at the same time.

    2. Being in a small space for a long period of time.
    If I'm just hanging out in the apartment for a couple of days without much to do (and especially if I'm alone)I get bored, frustrated and irritate really easily and can sometimes take it out on my partner.

    The reason I share the frustrations with you is to show that I really only have one problem when it comes to my bigger body fitting into smaller spaces. I am also in an unusually tight spot. Chances are, if you buy a small house or condo, it'll be more reasonably sized than where I live. I think I would need at least 500 sq ft to be comfortable all the time.

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  12. The internal space of my boat is about 35ft by 7ft. I'm about a UK size 14-18. My ass is the 18 bit and i'm forever knocking into stuff and knocking stuff over with it! lol
    The other weekend I knocked over two glasses of water and a tea. I so needed to get out by then end of that day!
    The bathroom does feel small and we can only have curtain on the shower (no doors) so that does stick to me a bit which is a little frustrating.
    It works best if one of us does stuff while the other sits down aswell. Like if someones cooking the other person can't be washing up it just gets annoying.

    We've been in the boat for 3.5 years now and I think generally day to day i'm totally used to the small space though I do have odd days (or weekends) like the one above when I need to be anywhere but the boat!

    Does anyone near you do RV rentals or do you have any friends that have one you can stay in? When people start looking at buying a boat the first bit of advice they are always told is stay in one first to see if you like it. I have to admit I didn't take that advice but I did look at plenty.

    I'm still trying to get round the 'stuff' issue as well.

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  13. Apparently you can now RENT RVs. What? Awesome. So if you REALLY want to see if you could hack it in an RV, I would go to an expo first, see what kind you like, and then try to rent one for a weekend or a week. Even if you just park it at a local campground with electric and sewer hookups, try out the shower, bathroom, cooking, etc.

    And if you're not into RVs, just because you want to live in a smaller place doesn't mean your bathroom or kitchen has to be teensy weensy! The easiest spaces to downsize are bedrooms, living rooms, and storage space. Not living somewhere with a warren of rooms and a more open floorplan might also help.

    In college I lived in studio apartment with a roommate (yeah, I know) and we had a decent-sized bathroom and what I will call a one-sided galley kitchen: the stove, fridge, sink, a teeny bit of counter space, and all of the cabinets were against one wall and the back was totally open to the living/eating room. The bedroom had a sliding wall divider (in crappy vinyl, actually, so we never closed it) and a double closet. There were I think three windows in the whole place. It was much bigger than a dorm room, but much smaller than a traditional apartment, and although it was a little tight with two of us (we had bunkbeds), it would be just perfect for one!

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  14. My husband and I (both a bit above average weight) rented an RV for our honeymoon, and went to an expo while we were shopping for one – there are definitely many RVs that you would be comfortable in! It's just a matter of finding out what features you like.

    We purchased a fifth wheel, and the bathroom is between the bedroom and living area – while there are doors between each, and the toilet is in it's own room, we tend to close the door to the living area and just have the whole space for use. Much less claustrophobic, and often we leave the toilet door open during a pee (but then we do that at home too :P)

    In our rental it was tight squeezing past each other, but now we have 3 slideouts so there's plenty of room to walk around. Rather than a booth, we have a table and 4 chairs (less storage, but nice for versatility and easier getting in and out!)

    So yeah – go to the expo! It was useful to us even though we couldn't afford the price tags, and keep an eye out for bathroom layouts that you like.

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  15. Can I just say that I LOVE you for posting this question! I've wondered this MANY times!!!

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