The smaller a home is, the easier (i.e. cheaper) it is to heat and cool, and the less overall energy and resources it requires. Construction and maintenance are also less: less effort, less material, less cost, and less space (land) required to contain the structure. As homeowners downsize for lower costs, more stable home values, and more sustainable lifestyles, some homeowners are going to the extremes in a growing movement called Tiny House.
A Tiny House is a very small home; a mere 400 square feet, or less (MUCH less in some cases; there are Tiny Houses less than 100 square feet!). These houses are designed to be compact, simplified, minimalistic living spaces. Other aspects of the Tiny House movement are its emphasis on self-sufficiency and environmental activism.
In many ways it’s a reaction to the overt consumerism and supersizing of the American lifestyle. These revolutionary homeowners are actively looking for ways to downsize their lives, decrease their impact on the environment, and their dependence on product consumption. By decreasing their living space, they decrease their accumulation of “stuff,” automatically decreasing their financial output, environmental footprint, and addiction to purchasing and owning items. Meanwhile, less indoor space encourages Tiny Housers to appreciate and incorporate the outside as a part of their living space, increasing their interaction with the environment.
There is no one leader of the Tiny House movement. Some members are focused on the financial downsizing of their lifestyles; others are environmentally focused; others are focused on self-sufficiency and independent living; some incorporate all of these aspects. Some are off-grid (electric-free or energy neutral self-providers), others are high-tech and wired-in. Each homeowner has a different perspective, different goals, and different needs, and their homes reflect that variety.
Whatever their motivation, Tiny Housers do share a common emphasis on quality over quantity. Tiny Houses are not shotgun shacks; they are purposely and intelligently built or converted living spaces using high-end materials, construction methods, and designs. Tiny Houses can be purchased complete, but it’s also common for homeowners to purchase a kit or blueprint and build their own. Their size makes them highly mobile, and many are built on wheels, maximizing mobility and gaining mobile-home classification to sidestep federal housing regulations. Don’t be fooled though, these are not your standard mobile homes and trailers. Exteriors are beautiful: quaint, cabin, cottage, luxury, modern, futuristic – any design aesthetic the homeowner desires, and interiors utilize advanced design and methods to maximize every inch of space.
A Tiny House is not for everyone, and can be a challenge for families with children. Yet, in a climate of reduces expenditure and lifestyle re-envisioning, there seems to be something very appealing about the idea. Tiny Housers overwhelmingly report increased satisfaction and increased quality of life, living “bigger” in a tiny space. If you are worn out on standard American living and looking for a smaller home, perhaps one relevant question is how small do you want?
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About Tom Davidson — Tom Davidson is Vice President of Colibri Real Estate, LLC. which operates online education providers Colibri Real Estate, Insurance License Express and License Tutor. Follow him on Twitter.