What's the big deal about tiny houses?
There's no place like home, even if it's only 200 square feet. Find out why small digs are gaining in popularity and what makes them so special.
This post comes from Kentin Waits at partner site Money Talks News.
Though the definition is somewhat loose, tiny houses live up to their name. Most range in size from between 150 and 450 square feet. Sometimes built on an RV chassis for mobility, tiny houses are otherwise traditional-looking structures, often featuring gabled roofs, shutters and generous front porches.
Most are custom-built, extremely well-insulated and designed to take full advantage of every square inch of space. You can find them on reclaimed urban lots, in suburban backyards and on acreage in the country. And because most tiny houses are truly mobile, they can easily be hooked and unhooked from water and electric services and moved as their owners' needs change.
But tiny houses can't be thoroughly described without a discussion of the broader social phenomenon they're a part of.
The tiny house movement is a social and philosophical movement driven by people who choose to scale back their living space in order to be mortgage-free, reduce their environmental impact, and enjoy a more flexible and mobile lifestyle.
And the price for all that freedom? Costs vary widely based on size and design, DIY considerations and materials used. But according to the Tumbleweed Tiny House Co., a leading builder of tiny houses, a 200-square-foot home will set you back about $21,000, not including labor.
When you consider that a traditional home is often our largest single purchase -- one we'll likely be paying off for the bulk of our working years and one that, according to Reuters, had a median price of $199,200 in September -- it's a bit easier to see why the tiny house movement is getting attention and gaining traction.
But what else is driving this movement forward and making people question the commonly held assumption that more room means more happiness? What could entice someone away from all those walk-in closets, man caves, bonus rooms, media rooms and master suites?
Here are just a few more benefits of going small:
Smaller can be smarter
Small, well-designed and well-crafted homes have less space to heat and cool and fewer rooms to furnish and clean. Besides the obvious financial and environmental benefits this offers, smaller houses challenge our priorities about time and energy and can help refocus our attention on relationships with the people around us.
Less space means less stuff
Clutter and small spaces don't mix. To live in a tiny house successfully, you've got to be a master editor. Small spaces demand that we be vigilant in stemming the tide of junk that tends to accumulate in the garages, attics, basements and closets of larger homes.
And what a wonderful thing that is -- to be free of stacks of stuff and surrounded instead only by those things we find to be useful, beautiful or dear to our hearts. It's a "luxurious limit" not afforded by larger homes that have enough nooks and crannies to hold two or three households’ worth of gear and gadgets.
Small houses go where we go
Our society has changed dramatically in the past 30 years. Today, we're more mobile, more likely to change jobs or even careers multiple times during our working years, and more likely to be moving from city to city or state to state in the process. But our housing options haven't kept up. Are we really expected to take advantage of real estate the same way our parents did when the employment reality that finances it has been completely upended?
Tiny houses give us the option of taking our homes with us, avoiding the exhausting cycle of buy-sell-pack-store-move-repeat. Though tiny houses might not be the homes we choose to raise a family or retire in, they can offer a real logistical advantage, particularly for younger singles and couples.
Designing a small space well requires an attention to detail that's simply not as critical in a larger home. Built-in versatile furnishings, tables that fold up into walls, Murphy beds, vaulted ceilings with sleeping lofts, and pocket doors are just a few examples of space-saving and design-conscious elements that make tiny houses much more livable.
If you like good design and appreciate well-considered spaces built for maximum utility, it's hard not to be a fan of tiny houses. They reflect the kind of innovative thinking that should go into everything we build.
Granted, living in a tiny house may not suit everyone. I have to confess that I'm not sure I could do it (and I've lived in some pretty cramped apartments). But there's a lesson that these little dwellings and the thinking behind them can teach us: In an era when the relentless pursuit of more is embraced without question, when "better" and "bigger" are practically synonymous, and when the resulting strain on our global resources is leading us all down an unfamiliar path, voluntarily choosing to live small may make perfect sense.
These houses and the lifestyles they reflect are an extreme that can teach us about a more reasonable middle. When you think of it that way, tiny houses are a very big deal indeed.
Can you see yourself downsizing to a tiny house? What do you think the greatest benefit or toughest challenge would be?
More on Money Talks News:
time magazine a few months back had a similar article, about how Texas is the future of america. Texas has mini-homes going up now in many places.
the REAL reason for smaller homes is because jobs have disappeared and existing ones shrank in salary potential.
marking spin will call it cute and frugal. the sad part is it's akin to camping because that's all some people can actually aford now
And no, that doesn't make me a bad American, just a bad consumer.
I can build a pole-type garage about double the size or more 480-500 sq.ft.
Insulated, bath, kitchen, utilities...Heat with wood, gas or electric..
For about the same amount of money..$21,000.
I would have to do some work myself...But they said (above) it didn't include labor.
I would hire most of the work, and it would be covered pretty close in above price.
Hmmm finally houses priced ($21,000) for the vast majority of Americans
as Half of US workers make only $16,000 a year on average this is a perfect price point for those people.
Unfortunately the small house will not generate the consumer respond businesses need to make trillions of dollars a year.
But on the plus size most people will be able to afford them and heating and cooling will be cheaper as you have only 200 sq ft and not 3800 sq ft to heat and cool cost of that should be at least 1/10th what you are paying now.
Now we just have to let India and China import $3,000 cars and the lower class can survive again
Typical culture swing.... Buy the biggest house you can! Now its Buy the smallest house you can!
Buy an average sized house a little below your means that you can live with that is located in a reasonable area.
Then sit back and watch/read articles like this and laugh...
I do admit that a lot of my time, right now, is taken up by throwing out a lifetime's accumulation of worthless junk of which I now wonder why I hoarded in my avg. sized single home with full basement and attic. I've decided a bare house is much better than a cluttered one!
The reason they are popular is because of Media hype and Realtors telling people how cool they are....
A new way to squeeze big money, out of people per square foot and tell them they are getting a great deal...BS.
12'x16' or 20'x10' is not a home or house....
Get a travel trailer or motor home....That you can take with you, when you want to.
A hell of a lot better deal...And you may have to spend small amounts on lot rent or a hook-up.
Where's the happy medium?
Why can't builders get back to building homes like the Levittown homes? - or just well laid out small ranch homes? A small ranch can even have more curb appeal than most of the McMansion plans I see.
Do two or three family members really need a home over 1,400 sq. feet?
I shake my head when I'm looking at plans for new homes to be built that are 2,500+ square feet....yes, some larger families need more space, but many people downsize as they get older and would prefer a right-sized home with a good layout and NO STAIRS as they get older.
Are you reading this builders?
Add in the finished basement for a kids' playroom, and it was plenty of space for a family with a couple of kids. Inexpensive to heat, easy to maintain, and plenty of curb appeal.
Why are little tiny houses such a big deal? They're the lap of luxury compared to the street, the overpass, the tarp down by the river.
1945 - 1975: Time, and what a time it was . . ..
"The real reason people are going smaller is the Government."
Bull. The real reason is the America born out of WWII did what always happens with empire: The society is encouraged to believe, and it gladly and widely accepts, the old lie that it can be profligate forever.
It's never been true, and it wasn't true with America. Somehow - who knew!? - what happened!? - the country got poor.
Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
ABOUT SMART SPENDING
LATEST BLOG POSTS
Saving just a single month of expenses may take longer than you think. See how your savings rate affects how quickly you can build a solid emergency fund.
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
BLOGS WE LIKE
MUST-SEE ON MSN
A charcuterie master shares his process for cold-smoking meat at home.
- Jetpacks about to go mainstream
- Weird things covered by home insurance
- Bing: 70 percent of adults report 'digital eye strain'