The tiny house movement is a social movement where people are downsizing their living spaces. Many people are downsizing for a number of reasons, those of which include environmental concerns, financial concerns, and the desire for more time and freedom to live, travel, and do the things they love.
The typical American home is about 2,000-2,6000 square feet, while most tiny homes are around 100-500 square feet (many tiny homeowners suggest to allot 100 square feet per person living in the space). Tiny houses allow you to live simply in a smaller, more efficient space with fewer possessions and less financial obligations.
Why do people go tiny?
The cost of buying a single family home over 30 years can potentially cost the average American close to 1 million dollars. That includes the purchase price, down payment, principal, interest, taxes, insurance, maintenance, repairs, and improvements (keep in mind that the cost of the average American home differs based on location). The cost of building a tiny home (often custom built) can range from $25,000-$80,000+. Overall, our research has revealed that tiny homes are still the best cost-saving alternative to living.
Energy saving efficient appliances are typically a must in most tiny homes, and those appliances can get expensive. Building a tiny home means you need to be frugal, practical, and realistic, but you also want to choose appliances based on your tiny lifestyle, which brings us to the environmental concerns that are making people go tiny.
Some tiny homes rely on solar panels, rainwater catchment systems, and composting toilets, which go a long way in successfully living off the grid. If you’re not into the whole living off the grid thing, no worries, you will also be using less energy, as less electricity is needed in the space since there is less square footage. Another bonus to tiny living is that owners produce less waste since they are buying less food, and they rely a great deal on recycled materials for the build. They also produce a fraction of greenhouse gases compared to the average American home. Fewer emissions contribute greatly to reducing global warming. Yay!
Barriers to Going Tiny
A difficult part of living tiny is where to place your tiny home. Tiny homes are typically built on foundations or trailers. Those built on foundations have to meet local building and zoning regulations. However, most tiny homes are built off-site without knowing where to place them, which makes it difficult to know which codes to meet, especially if the owners plan to move from place to place. Few cities allow stand-alone tiny houses, and most communities have minimum square footage requirements for single-family homes. When cities require the same permitting for tiny houses on foundations as they do for traditional homes, it often doesn’t make financial sense to build tiny. For those who are looking to live off the grid, it’s also important to keep in mind that some cities have rules requiring that dwellings be hooked up to utilities. That being said, if you plan on going tiny, do your research, have a plan and a location in mind, and be wise during the build.
On the other hand, some cities are allowing communities or clusters of tiny houses to help the homeless. Tiny houses for the homeless are built with donated materials. Often the electrical and insulation are very basic, and they do not have plumbing. You can learn more about it, and SquareOne Villages, a nonprofit organization that creates self-managed communities of cost-effective tiny homes for people in need of housing.
In society today, bigger is better, and we are conditioned to want more and more stuff. These type of cultural norms are a very strong current in maintaining the status quo. Shifting to life in a tiny house can be very difficult for some. After all, some people work their entire lives to accumulate as much stuff as they can. Parting with some of this stuff is crucial in going tiny, which can cause some people to get defensive. This can lead to a fear of no longer having all of this “stuff” (which is the whole idea of going tiny).
Tiny living is simple living, which means you have to make some sacrifices when you make the move. Can you live in a small space? Many people fear they can’t live in a tiny space, and often don’t want to get rid of some of their belongings. You can’t bring everything in your 2,000 square foot home into your 200 square foot tiny home, it just won’t work. It helps to downsize gradually. Do some exercises to get you prepared for tiny living. In FYI’s Tiny House Nation, John Weisbarth helps couples, families, and singles downsize and go tiny by designing activities for them to do in tiny spaces, which seems to be an eye-opening reality for all future tiny homeowners. So, give it a shot and see if you could truly live in a tiny space.
Is this trendy minimalist movement for you? If you’re going tiny, make sure to do your research and plan beforehand so you know what you’re getting yourself into. Overall, people who live tiny are believed to be more self-sufficient and environmentally conscious than those who don’t, and they have more time and money to travel and do the things they love. Go tiny or go home (pun intended).