Every second source of information on the Internet is discussing living in tiny homes these days. A typical tiny home seldom exceeds 500 square feet (46 m2) and often has wheels underneath. The idea behind small homes is not just to reduce size but to utilize practical design that incorporates technological advances of space saving equipment and appliances. Tiny homes have become popular in the USA in the past few years, mostly as a result of the financial crisis and the inability of families and individuals to cope with increasingly high interest rates and housing prices.
Has the American dream changed?
The idea of the American Dream is rooted in the United States Declaration of Independence which proclaims that “all men are created equal”. In the definition of the American Dream by James Truslow Adams in 1931, one can read that “life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement” regardless of social class or circumstances of birth.
While this utopian phrase may have sounded inspiring in the 20th century, a growing number of people have found that richer is not so easy to get, especially in times of financial hardship for the whole world. According to Hanson and Zogby (2010), most Americans realize that achieving the American Dream with fair means will become increasingly difficult for future generations.
It has become obvious that the dream nowadays is directed to sustainability and owning what you can afford, be it a 200 square feet house. Who would have thought that evolution will get us to dream about tiny houses?
If you are considering building a tiny house, here are a few pros and cons to consider.
- No mortgage. You can pay for your house in cash and actually own it.
- Your salary will not be spent on supporting your house.
- The money you save on utility, maintenance and property tax can be invested in your dreams.
- The smaller your home is, the easier it is to make it energy self-sufficient.
- You live a de-cluttered and simpler life, which allows you to concentrate on mental development.
- Cleaning your house requires way less time and effort, considering the size.
- A tiny house on wheels allows you to change your back yard any time you want to.
- You produce less waste.
- You can encounter institutional “discrimination” when building codes require minimum size well above the size of a small home.
- You don’t have much storage space.
- While the tiny home gets cleaned up quickly it gets dirty quickly too.
- Not a good solution for people who have claustrophobia.
- Hard to keep up pets.
- It is hard, if not impossible to accommodate a lot of guests.
- It may be hard to find a place for your home, be it mobile or not.
The movement in the green community towards simplification and getting rid of unnecessary possessions as well as living in homes that are no larger than necessary is getting stronger by the hour. The Small House Society is the group advocating smaller dwellings in order to lower our carbon footprint. One of the leading manufacturers of tiny houses is Tumbleweed Homes. A full list of tiny houses manufacturers can be found here.
Living in a tiny home involves a fundamental shift in thinking about consumption, space and carbon footprint. While tiny homes are not for everyone and you don’t think you are ready to start your tiny life, you can always try to use one for an off-grid office or workshop. If you are an outdoor type tat enjoys living in close touch with the land, then tiny homes could be a pleasant, inexpensive option that you can enjoy for years to come.
[CC Photo via Tammy Strobel]