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Is Tiny Living For You?

Tiny Living. Interior design of a dining room and kitchen in a tiny rustic log cabin.

At one point in history, the American Dream could be summed up into a neat little picture: a nice house, a white picket fence, a husband, wife, daughter, son, and maybe even a dog. But how relevant is that picture now in 2020 with an ever-changing culture and society?

Homeownership has become less and less attainable in an atmosphere of housing crises, homelessness, and increasing debt. So it’s only natural that downsizing has become a much more alluring concept for many.

The tiny house movement has become wildly popularized as more and more individuals are starting to crave a micro dwelling that can open up their options for happiness. For architects, there is a keen desire to master the challenge of creating a space where everything has a purpose. And for individuals, the movement answers the burning questions and changing attitudes of privilege, wealth, and materialism.

While everyone has their reasons for tiny living, it’s an undeniable trend that is rewriting the narrative of how we cultivate our happiness.

Tiny houses come in a variety of styles and shapes. Some are more akin to log cabins while others are derived out of a repurposed shipping container. If you’re interested in learning about the different styles of tiny houses, take a look at the list below and see if anything strikes your fancy.

Tumbleweed Tiny Houses are a four basic house model with wood exteriors. Some are more rustic in style while others are more modern. They can range in size from 117 to 221 square feet and they are all set up to be mounted on trailers for towing. This allows buyers the option to travel around and derive their homes out of the world around them.

Tiny Texas Houses are for owners who want something a little bigger and a little more permanent. These houses come in 240 square feet or 336 square feet. They are often built entirely out of salvaged materials making for a more casual and rustic style overall. Built in Luling, Texas these builds are shipped to the buyer’s site for installation, making for a fun, custom housing experience.

Shipping Container Homes also use salvaged materials. Once these containers have served their purpose, they’re ready to be reused. For those looking into tiny houses for the sake of treading more lightly on the Earth, this can be a great option to reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Tiny Luxury Homes prove that while tiny houses may be small, they don’t have to be simple and minimalistic. These luxury homes often come with amenities such as home automation, surround sound, heated flooring, and tiny hot tubs. These houses can be expensive when priced by the square footage, but they certainly offer the opportunity to own a luxury home for less than a standard luxury car.

Micro-Apartments offer the option of rent if you’re not interested in buying. These apartments are usually 400 square feet or less and offer single people the chance to afford to live in a city where rent is usually way out of their price range. Micro-apartment buildings can also feature amenities like shared living spaces for entertainment and storage, helping to make up for the size of the apartment itself.

Small house living certainly has its pros and cons, and often because of its size, these pros and cons can be taken to the extreme. Even though you have far less space, you also have less expense, less maintenance, and less energy use to worry about. Tiny houses also offer a unique set of advantages as they can travel to different places that regular houses can’t. Alternatively, tiny houses can’t stay in places where regular houses can.

So what are the advantages of a Tiny House?

Lower Expenses. The average price for a full-sized house is often 10 times more than the price of a tiny one. Cutting back on housing expenses can also allow tiny house owners to put their money towards travel, retirement funds, or more time spent doing something you love.

Freedom of Movement. With a small footprint, a tiny house doesn’t require a large plot of land. Many tiny houses are built on trailers so owners have the option to take them wherever they want to travel. This living situation offers the best of both worlds where you don’t have to sacrifice having a home to travel and vice versa.

Easier Maintenance. Less space to clean and fewer appliances to repair means more time on work, hobbies, and relationships. Tiny houses don’t require nearly as much attention as regular houses and can provide a greater capacity for enjoyment in life.

Eco-Friendly. The tiny house movement is perfectly paired with the environmental movement. With less material to build and less energy to power, their small size makes for a more sustainable living situation while also immersing its owner or renter closer to nature.

Minimalism. We’ve all looked in our closets and groaned at the amount of stuff we’ve managed to accumulate. Tiny houses don’t really let you have that luxury. They make you downsize to the bare essentials, focusing your efforts on what truly matters to you in life. With less material items, you’ll also stay tidier and clutter-free.

The benefits of downsizing and living smaller are plenty, but there are still some cons to consider.

With less living space, you won’t necessarily have the room for a luxury kitchen or bathroom. You might not have enough space with one other person in there. But that hasn’t stopped families from living that tiny home life. Still, less living space means less privacy and entertaining capabilities. Some tiny house owners include an outdoor living space to account for these issues even adding a hot tub or deck for picnics. With limited space, there’s certainly a necessity for more creative thinking.

Less storage space also means getting rid of a lot of belongings, and not all of these are simply material things. Sometimes, tiny house owners or renters have had to sacrifice favorite or meaningful possessions that can be hard to part with.

Zoning rules also pose another challenge. While a tiny house doesn’t require much land, many towns have included zoning laws that include a minimum size for dwelling spaces. Luckily, there are ways to get around these rules. Some tiny house owners go ahead and buy the full-sized house, rent it out, then park their tiny houses in the back. Trailer parks can also provide a place for a tiny house to dwell.

Lastly, financing can pose another difficulty for tiny house dreamers. If you’re not able to afford to buy or build a tiny house with cash, it can be more difficult to get a loan than it would be for any other home buyer. Standard mortgage loans don’t necessarily apply to tiny homes as they aren’t viewed with enough value to make good collateral. But some tiny house buyers are able to finance their houses with personal loans or borrow money from friends and family.

Between the advantages and disadvantages of tiny living, several people have managed to make it work for them. Ultimately, your tiny house experience is what you make of it. So keep dreaming your dream.

by Misao McGregor