I have recently become infatuated with the idea of selling our 2,200 square foot home and moving into a smaller place with the goal of becoming financially independent sooner in life. I have done quite a bit of research around the internet and have drawn up more than a couple of my own plans, looked at a fair share of Zillow listings, and have actually swooned over gorgeous smaller houses.
Let me clarify something here, I do not want to live in a tiny house (200-500 square feet); but just a smaller house (700-1000 square feet) that fits our family better. I want to live a healthier more balanced life, which is a first for me. I used to spend time trying just to recreate the American dream and going for what I thought I wanted based on commercials and social norms, but that is not what I want to do anymore. The tiny house movement is all about rethinking our lives to live smarter and healthier by first pairing down possessions and re-evaluating life.
The tiny house movement is like a snowball rolling down hill; the further it goes the bigger it becomes. Every day more and more people are choosing to ditch their “McMansions” to try the “Tiny Life”. Averaging around 200 square feet, tiny houses are built to maximize space and functionality as well as minimizing the financial burden and ecological footprint of home ownership. Lets break down the why and the how behind this tiny house craze.
There are three major reasons people choose to go tiny, the first and foremost is financial. The entry barrier to home ownership is much smaller when looking at smaller spaces to live in. Simply put, buying a shed is cheaper than buying a mansion. Also, minimizing the space you live in also effects your utility bills which means less heating/cooling cost. A fair amount of those joining the tiny house movement are paying for their homes outright, rather than financing them, which in turn saves loads of cash in finance charges.
Another reason for some is their concern with the environment and how they interact with it. Returning to the utility cost in a tiny house; having less space for appliances reduces your power consumption, which in turn makes living “off grid” or via solar panels a reality. Using composting toilets or incinerating toilets is another way some tiny homesteaders have created a more green way of life. There are options for rain water collection and well digging to create a truly self sufficient living space.
Living in a tiny house requires you to get creative with use of space, and de-clutter your life of stuff. The modern U.S. system allows individuals to move into thousands of square feet from the outset of their adult lives. At 25 years old I purchased my first 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath, 2 car garage, 2,200 square foot home. All of that space was dedicated to two people, my wife and I. We each had our own 1,100 square feet to call our own, to fill with junk, and spend time cleaning. Having left an 800 sq ft apartment, our lives began to involve more cleaning, maintenance and yard work. Having less space directly causes you to have less stuff which in turn requires less cleaning and maintenance.
I’m sure there are other reasons people choose to go tiny, and I would love to hear yours, comment below and tell me your reason!
So where do I start? How did I get into a tiny house? Research. Start browsing picture galleries of different builds, join a forum, watch documentaries online, read books, rent one; ask yourself, is going tiny really for me? There are multiple ways to get into a tiny house you can buy a move-in-ready home from a few vendors like Tumbleweed Houses or Four Lights Houses; they have different floor plans and size options ready to go. You can purchase tiny house shells, which are done on the exterior but are left bare on the inside so you can dive in for some DIY projects. Tumbleweed sells some or you can find shed builders like Graceland Portable Buildings company which you can outfit for your tiny house. There is also the traditional route of building your own tiny house from scratch. You can order plans from a number of vendors, and read books (like this or these) from some veteran builders.
Take note; outdated building code in your area may limit your options. A common law in the U.S. states that a dwelling may not be smaller than 400 sq ft. In order to get around this stipulation, many tiny houses are built on trailers, classifying them as a non-permanent structure. It also allows you to build without the need of building inspections. As the tiny movement has grown, cities, counties and states have begun to revise their statutes and laws to be tiny house friendly. Be sure to check your local building laws for such stipulations.
Last Personal Note
I know, I know, I start this blog discussing how I’d like a smaller home; then I go and focus on tiny house resources. The thing is, the practices and values of the tiny house movement fit hand in hand with what I’d like to do, just not on the same scale.
Another hiccup which many people may run into: getting your spouse/significant other to get on board. My wife thinks I am crazy with all my talk about moving, “downgrading” to a smaller place and throwing away some of our stuff. I can’t blame her, we have been working for years to get to where we are and now I want to throw it away?! I just remind myself that we are in it together and the goal is to live smarter; and I can’t do that without her. In the meantime I will continue to drool looking at smaller houses and fewer bills to pay.
Join me and dive into some perfectly beautiful photo galleries of tiny houses.
Minimotives Full Album
These photos belong to Minimotives.com. They are here solely to be shared. Direct questions and further love to her blog.
Photographs by Ira Lippke for the New York Times. Read more at the New York Times and/or Small House Bliss. They are here solely to be shared. Direct questions and further love to their sites.
Molecule Tiny Homes
These photos belong to Molecule Tiny Homes. They are here solely to be shared. Direct questions and further love to their site.
Cottage as an Accessory Dwelling Unit
These photos were taken by the Home Owner and provided to Small House Bliss. They are here solely to be shared. Direct questions and further love to their site.