The Tiny House Movement
The Tiny House Movement as a social ideology began in the 1970s, but even early civilizations used small, mobile shelters as houses – the Mongolian people had yurts, and the Native Americans had tipis.
Tiny houses really became more popular in the 1990s, with entrepreneurs like Jay Shafer creating plans for making small, eco-friendly, and considerably cheaper houses that could fit onto a trailer, solving the problem of home ownership, and allowing for a more itinerant lifestyle. While this type of counterculture might have seemed quaint or the provision of those who want to go off-grid, when the market took a nosedive in 2008, tiny homes really came into their own as a legitimate option for a less cluttered, less expensive, and less environmentally damaging lifestyle.
What is a Tiny House?
Although there is no strict definition of a tiny house, they typically have a footprint between 100-400 square feet – and in comparison, to the average size of an American house (2600+ square feet), it is easy to see why they would be described as tiny.
Tiny houses tend to be constructed on the bed of a trailer, which means that they can be portable, but even those that are on a solid foundation are characterized by innovative design ideas that focus on function and making the most of every single bit of space available. In tiny homes, you will often find the access to the bed is via a ladder, the living area converts into a dining area, and the compost toilet and shower facilities are in the same place.
Benefits of a Tiny House
For the people who are interested in getting a tiny house, their motivations are all about the benefits that the lifestyle will provide for them. Some people are in it for financial reasons, while others are looking for that eco-friendly life.
In today’s world, many people are priced out of the housing market, and in some cases even the rental market. The opportunity to own a home outright at a tenth of the cost of a traditional house or apartment is one of the main reasons that a tiny house might be the perfect answer. 68% of people in America that have a tiny home do not have a mortgage, compared to the US average of just 29.3%. Whether an off-the-shelf tiny home kit, or a bespoke construction, the initial costs of getting a tiny house built is negligible in comparison – and so are the ongoing costs for repairs, taxes, and everything else.
For the environment, living in a tiny home means being really conscious of clutter and waste – there is just no room for unnecessary items. Everything in a tiny home is built for efficiency, and this is so much better for the environment. Tiny homes are often off-grid, relying on solar and wind power, collecting rainwater, and using composting toilets, for example.
Of course, some people are shunning the establishment and the trappings of capitalism to live closer to nature, unfettered by possessions, and less driven by the consumerism that is rife in the US and beyond.
Challenges of Tiny House Living
Of course, living in this way can be challenging – and there is a lot to think about before you dive into constructing your perfect little home.
- Legalities: The legalities of living in a tiny home, whether on wheels or on a solid foundation, is fluid and changes. In some places, the tiny homes are regarded as the same as RVs, which means you cannot live on them in your property for more than 30 consecutive days. There is also insurance and taxes to think about, as well as repair and maintenance costs.
- Shared spaces: You might really love your spouse and your family, but this degree of shared living can put relationships under pressure. While this lifestyle is doable for a couple and even a family, you will be awfully close to each other all the time.
- Utilities: Even if you are aiming for that off-grid life in your tiny home, you will need to ensure that you have a reliable source of heating and lighting, as well as facilities for removing waste – trash and from the toilet.
Living in a tiny home is an accessible dream if you can put the work in – and there are so many ways to do it that are better for the environment and your bank balance.