Big house, big success. That’s the American stereotype. But a new trend is trying to show us all that all that square footage is actually adding stress to our lives. More cleaning, more debt and more clutter. Today, an ample amount of people are saying enough is enough and downsizing their homes significantly. Try under 300 square feet.
Welcome to the Tiny Homes Movement. One that’s not so much about sacrifice as it is about thoughtful, innovative design and a simpler way of life. When we first started creating permanent shelters, they often weren’t more than a single room with minimal square footage. Because you had to build it yourself. And tiny homes take a page from this textbook.
People who live in tiny homes don’t own extensive wardrobes that still have nothing for you to wear, they don’t have items that get lost in some box somewhere, and most of all, they don’t have a lot of debt. Although pricier per square foot, there is less, so tiny homes cost significantly less than traditional homes therefore leaving their owners nearly or completely debt and mortgage free.
Sound good? Tiny homes aren’t for everyone. They’re great for those who want to live off of the grid and are pretty DIY handy. They also require a lifestyle change and some getting used to, but for the right person or family, they’re absolutely worth it.
If we’ve peaked your interest—whether you’re just intrigued or seriously considering a tiny home—we have a basic overview of what you need to know. This lifestyle change will require extensive research to make sure it’s a fit for you, but we’re happy to help you get started.
- Fewer costs to build ($300–$600K) which means you’re mortgage free sooner
- Environmentally friendly, low footprint and sometimes has a positive impact
- Easy to use recyclable material like pallets or old trailers
- Can be portable
- Different housing regulations (can also be a con)
- No property tax or rent
- Easier to take care of
- Simple and affordable to maintain
- Less cleaning, less clutter
- Leads to a larger life outside of your house
- Significant lifestyle change
- Small kitchen (if you love to cook)
- Not ideal for entertaining large parties
- Downsizing belongings and keepsakes
- Can be hard to set up for amenities like electricity, running water and plumbing
- Building code can be very difficult or illegal in some counties
- Banks won’t finance
- Not a substitute for a mobile home (hard to tow, though not impossible)
- Parking regulations due to height
Tips for Your Tiny Home
1. Follow the contour and shape of a trailer when you design your home since these are street legal and will give you the least amount of legal trouble.
2. Don’t let anything be one-functional. Think daybeds with storage underneath or shelves that double as a ladder.
3. If you build on a trailer, it counts as a trailer load and housing codes will not apply.
4. If you don’t build on a trailer, it has to be a minimum of 261 square feet with the smallest room being larger than 75 square feet.
5. Codes differ by city and county.
6. Tiny homes are ideal for suburban or rural living.
7. Do your research! Tiny homes not only range in size, but in luxuries and styles. You can buy plans if you want to build your own, but there are also many kits and companies who will build you one for you.
Tips for Downsizing
1. As yourself, what creature comforts can you do without? Do you want a refrigerator? Do you need a dryer, or can you dry your clothes outside? Wash your clothes by hand?
2. We spend 80% of our time wearing 20% of our wardrobe. Let go of what you don’t wear. A good trick with items you’re hanging onto is to look at the piece and ask yourself if you’d purchase this at a thrift shop or wonder why it’s even on the rack.
3. Make technology pull double duty: transfer movies to a hard drive, use a laptop with a TV tuner or connect it to a monitor.
4. Never use single-function items.
These tips just scratch the surface of the tiny homes community—which is a very strong and supportive one. Although daunting, tiny homes really can be an amazing lifestyle change for the right people. It significantly reduces your carbon footprint and can actually have a positive impact.
It’s not impossible to sleep multiple people in with careful planning, and it reconnects you back to the human feeling of actually living in your home. Appreciating each luxury and the most basic necessities of a bed and roof. To turn a phrase, go tiny; and go home.
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