First and foremost, I’ve been dying to try a tiny house out, and even have toyed with the idea of buying one to live in! I’m sure you’ve seen these either in person, HGTV or may have even seen one being towed… the phenomenon of tiny homes and living in small spaces that are eco-friendly, allow you financial freedom and are less than 500 square feet.
So what is this “phenomenon” or “movement”?
It’s not such a new idea in actuality, and can be traced back to Henry David Thoreau as its starting roots in the book “Walden” as an early inspiration (Wikipedia, n.d.). It’s a social movement where all kinds of generations are appeased by the thought of downsizing to a livable space. The average American new single-family home is around 2,600 square feet, whereas a tiny home or small house is between 100 to 500 square feet on average (National Association of Home Builders, n.d.) So why are we starting to hear more about them now? According to Thom Stanton, a tiny-home builder in West Virginia, there are two groups that are fueling this; one is the millennials, and the other are baby boomers. Two different walks of life, both compelled to buy small. “Millennials, because their college loans have put traditional houses out of reach, and retiring baby boomers looking for affordable homes with minimal maintenance…and meanwhile, traditional homeowners are contributing to the trend by building tiny houses on their properties to shelter guests, family members or caregivers, or putting them on vacation property.” (The Washington Post, 2015) I also think that with the housing market crash in 2008, those that were affected or can no longer buy a “traditional” home are looking to purchase a smaller, like house. They simply have no interest in purchasing a large home, and having to upkeep it as well.
So what are the benefits?
Financially, most Americans contribute up to half of their annual income towards housing. According to The Tiny Life, most Americans also carry a 30-year mortgage and with 4% interest, making a whopping total amount of $481,000 when all said and done. The average tiny home is $25,000 all-in. You can see the appeal.
Environmentally, tiny houses are now equipped to basically be off-the-grid. Traditional utilities are not needed with the technology of solar and energy-efficient lighting, appliances and even toilets that are 100% composting. This also means overall less of a carbon footprint, and up-keep for your house is also lower in turn. Even the construction of a tiny home is far less than a traditional house, and can be built by the owner themselves. There are many builders now that offer a variety of services from providing blueprints, to a full-scale build depending on your budget and level of comfort of a DIY-house.
The Quality of Life paradigm is shifting, and between all-ages. The idea of a simple life, less chaos and living smaller and more sustainable is heating up. The idea of having the freedom to stay or go when you want is appealing, which has many people exploring this idea. The idea of being self-sustained and financially less dependent on living paycheck to paycheck is also increasing this quality. There are all types of small homes as well, with the choice of literally being built on a flatbed, and others on a foundation. It’s all personal preference and how you envision “living the dream”.