The Rise of the Tiny House Movement – Could You Live A Downsized Lifestyle?
Tiny homes are quickly growing in popularity in the United States in recent years alongside the rise of renewable energy and energy conservation awareness. You may have seen one of the many shows about these homes, like “Tiny House, Big Living,” “Tiny House Hunters,” and “Tiny House Nation,” which leaves many of their viewers interested in downsizing their lifestyle as well. Additionally, they are providing their viewers with a new perspective on what’s important in their life.
Here’s what you need to know:
What is The Tiny House Movement?
The tiny house movement is way more than just living in a tiny house. It’s a social movement and life philosophy that promotes living minimalistically. More and more people are adopting this philosophy of downsizing and living with less, and reaping the benefits of this lifestyle. It encourages financial independence, choosing environmentally friendly alternatives, and shifting the mindsets of individuals.
What is a Tiny House?
The average American house has been growing expeditiously. According to the Census Bureau, the average size of a single-family home in 2017 was 2,426 square feet, which is an all-time high.1 However, a recent trend towards downsizing is taking the definition of living in the opposite direction. This often appeals to environmentally-conscious individuals looking to cut their carbon emissions and/or save money, including retired parents whose children have already grown up and left home.
So, at this point, you’re probably wondering how big these tiny house actually are — a standard tiny house is no larger than 500 square feet with some being as small as 60 square feet — but there are no set rules on how big or small a tiny house can be. When individuals talk about the ‘tiny life’, however, they’re referring houses that are under 400 square feet. These miniature houses come in all sizes and styles, but there is one thing they all have in common – enabling its owner to live more simply in a smaller, more energy-efficient space.
There are many reasons why people are choosing to downsize their lives, but some of the most significant reasons are saving money, helping the environment, and a change in mindset. Additionally, choosing to live in a smaller house often has to do with the desire to live a low-maintenance lifestyle, which allows many individuals the freedom from debt and stress.2
How Much Do Tiny Houses Cost?
Tiny houses vary in price depending on its size, the materials used to build it, and whether or not you hire a professional to build it or build it yourself. A typical ‘DIYer’ could spend anywhere $15,000 and $40,000 while contracting a builder could be anywhere from $45,000 to $100,000 or more for a fully customized tiny house that includes all the ‘bells and whistles’.
What Are the Benefits of a Smaller Home?
You’re probably asking yourself, “Why would someone choose to live in a smaller house?” While tiny houses aren’t for everyone, they do offer some amazing benefits that appeal to individuals looking for an alternative to a standard-sized home.
Here are several advantages to tiny home living:
- Less Expensive: One of the biggest advantages of having a tiny home is that it’s less expensive than a traditional house. The average cost to build a new house in 2018 was $286,613, while the average cost of a tiny house is around $40,000.3
- Eco-Friendly: Since your house is small, you can use a lot of recycled and repurposed materials to make it look unique and even more efficient. Additionally, you can set up your home so that you can live off the grid. By using renewable energy, like solar, you can power your house, help the environment, and save even more money all at the same time. Also, the energy needs are much smaller than the energy needs of a traditional home, so you’ll be using less energy overall.
- Downsizing: The average U.S. household has 300,000 things – which could be anything from small items like paper clips to bigger items like couches.4 With a tiny house, downsizing is a must, which isn’t easy. It will help by reducing your monthly mortgage payments or maybe even eliminate it entirely. It can also motivate a different mindset — that you don’t need all the things that you think you might need.
What Are the Drawbacks of a Smaller Home?
Now you’re probably asking, “What are the disadvantages to living in a smaller house?” While there are many amazing benefits to downsizing to a tiny house, there are still some drawbacks which can make people second-guess the idea. The concept is definitely not for everyone.
Here are several disadvantages to tiny home living:
- Financing: While tiny homes are less expensive, it’s far more difficult to finance them. However, if your tiny house meets the criteria to be classified as an RV or travel trailer, you might be able to get a travel trailer loan much easier. While the loan term for travel trailers do depend on the amount being financed, the average term for a recreational trailer ranges between $25,000–$99,000 from 8 to 15 years.5 Another alternative is a personal loan, but that’s usually has a much higher interest rate than a travel trailer loan.
- Living Space: This may seem obvious considering their name, but tiny homes are small. Living in a small house will take some time to get used to, and it’s definitely not for everyone. Additionally, tiny homes usually lack storage space, so the owners will have to get creative with their furniture to live comfortably and have reasonable storage space.
- Entertaining Capability: For those who enjoy hosting, not having a lot of room for guests could be a disadvantage. You definitely won’t be hosting Thanksgiving or Christmas, or even be able to have overnight guests, considering most tiny homes only have one bedroom.