It is the dream of many Americans to live in a huge home; whether it be a mansion or just a large luxury home—and that seems natural, right? Bigger is better, right? Isn’t that the American way? For some Americans, the dream of a stately mansion is far from their ideal living situation. Over the last decade or so there has been a group emerging that have decided to go against the grain and start building smaller and smaller. They aren’t just building smaller houses though, they are building what they call Tiny Houses.
A tiny house, in contrast to the ever growing American home’s average square footage of 2000+, is only about 500 square feet. Many Americans would cringe at the thought of packing their whole lives away into that small of a space, however, those who chose to live in tiny houses argue that they offer a much simpler lifestyle.
Tiny houses are tiny on account of their foundations; usually, tiny houses are built on long trailers for easy transportation. This means, however, that floor plans are very limited and designers must be creative in how they use the space. Most tiny houses will come in studio models, but there are some models that have one and two bedrooms in addition to the common areas of the home. Due to their small size a lot of people believe they won’t be able to enjoy the amenities of our first world nation, but the tiny house is almost always outfitted with bathrooms with showers and kitchens with sinks and ovens.
As you can imagine, the price of tiny house is significantly lower than a 5 bedroom 2,000 square foot home, but when you break it down, it is quite intriguing. When it comes to the actual building materials, you will only need a fraction of what you would for a normal home. This means a lower mortgage, if any at all which will save you a lot more money over the long term. However, the cool part about tiny houses, and the reason why many people are switching to these miniature homes is for property tax reasons. Tiny houses, when built on trailers, are counted as RVs under most state laws which lowers property tax exponentially.
Money, however, is not the only reason why a lot of people like the tiny houses, new found freedom is another plus for many people that have made the switch to tiny living. This freedom comes in many forms, financial being the first; but the freedom from clutter and cabin fever is the biggest benefit. It may seem counterintuitive, but many people feel like they are more free without having tons of stuff, they feel like they aren’t bound to junk or clutter because you, frankly, don’t have the room for it in your new home. Owners of tiny houses have also said that they enjoy the fact that it is small, because it forces them to go outside, which then makes them interact with people. With more human interaction they have found that their lives are more fulfilling and more fun.
There is one question that still lingers: where did this all start? When did people start trading their luxury for little living? It all started with a woman in Minnesota by the name of Sarah Susanka. In 1997 she published a book called ‘The Not So Big House’ that outlined how to have the desired feeling and functionality of a home, without the extra space and constrains. With the publishing of her book she started what is known as the ‘small house movement’ challenging the traditional mantra of bigger is better.
So, now for the numbers. The average American home in 1973 was 1,660 square feet, which is a decent sized home, but compared to the average home size of 2,392 in 2010 it feels tiny. With all that extra space it’s no wonder why we, as a nation, have started accumulating more and more stuff. Most of the time the amount of stuff we have expands when we move into a bigger home to make it feel less empty. This growth in space and stuff may have made people feel larger and more important, but it has also slimmed their wallets down quite a bit as well. Not to mention the advent of the suburb has caused many Americans to feel disconnected from the world. According to Ray Oldenburg, a ground breaking sociologist, the more time we spend at home or work away from social interaction, the more unhappy we become. Luckily, the answer to both of these dilemmas is the tiny house. No more will people accumulate more stuff than they need or spend too much time indoors. They can now be free to move about as they please.
The small house movement is still very—well small—so getting a tiny house can be a bit of a trick. Currently there are only a few ways to get a tiny house. The first way is to build it yourself. Several tiny house enthusiasts and builders have released designs and plans to the public so those who want to build one, can. There are also plenty of how-to videos and articles online to help the process along. However, if you are not the do-it-yourself kind of person, you can always contact companies like the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company to have them make it for you.
As the American housing market continues to grow larger and larger, tiny house enthusiasts will continue to live small. It isn’t for everyone, but if you want to break away from the large blueprints and mortgage payments, you should look into it. You may find yourself in a tiny house.