Living Little...The Tiny House Movement
What is considered "Tiny"?
Most "tiny houses" are between 100 - 400 square feet...basically the size of my living room. That said, as with all homes, there is an amazing variety of not only size but also shape.
As a bonus, since these homes are so small the owner can often afford much higher quality materials, customize in ways a normal home owner can only dream of and in many cases build it themselves.
Cabin in the woods
I can't be the only one who has dreamed of retreating to a little cabin in the north woods Anne Labastille style. That said, the reality of actually being cut off from friends and family, leaving my job and the occasional delivered pizza is more than enough to keep me from skulking off into a permanent hermit life, for now anyway.
That said there is an interesting new trend, or rather a recycled one, for those of us who long for simplicity in an increasingly materialistic world...a tiny house. Perhaps even a tiny house on wheels if you are of the vagabond mentality. For those of you who haven't heard of it, here are some facts, who knows maybe this is the escape you've been waiting for.
Some Examples of Tiny HousesClick thumbnail to view full-size
Who Lives In Tiny Houses?
Contrary to what you are probably thinking, not all tiny house owners are hipsters in their 20's, there are a large number of retirees, empty nesters and even celebrities who have embraced the lifestyle.
In fact, according to thetinylife.com (incidentally a great source for any of you looking for more information) two out of every five tiny house owners are over the age of fifty. Less surprisingly, to me at least, the majority of them are also women. For more factoids check out the chart below.
Tiny House Owner Statistics
2012 U.S. median household income = $51,371.
2012 U.S average mortgage = $235,000.
2011 U.S average new home size = 2,480 square feet
Less Space = Less Mortgage
The average American's mortgage amount for 2012 was $235,000...nearly a quarter of a million dollars. Does that seem insane to anyone else?
Especially considering that according to the 2012 census the median household income was $51,371 (that's for everyone in the house over 15 years old).
I'm not saying we should protest the banking industry or go live in a commune but maybe we need to shift our priorities a bit, just ask ourselves, what do I really need?
What do I need?
The catalyst of this article is the fact that I just inherited 20 acres of old farmland and am considering that very question in the process of deciding what kind of house I want to put on it; what do I really need? How much of the space I am living in now do I actually use in comparison to how much I've just managed to fill?
Being a homebody, bibliophile and artist, I like my space, so I'm thinking I want something a little more than the 356 square foot Tumbleweed house below but a lot less than the average American's 2,480 square feet.
Surprisingly, as I read through blogs and articles of tiny house owners, square footage has become secondary. I sense in all of them that somewhere along the way they all seemed to have struggled with their new reality, embraced it and then finally loved it. The common theme being that the less you have the more you appreciate what you do. Kind of like the new appreciation you have for fresh vegetables after a week of camping on Ramen noodles and Cliff bars.
Tumbleweed Tiny House
Tiny House Virtual Tour
Lovably Livable Tiny House
For most of us the adjacent tiny house is a bit small, but the idea of it, and in ingenuity of it strikes a chord. Could we downsize, even just a little bit?
How about that storage unit? According to Slate Magazine 1 out of 11 American's pay for storage in a country whose home size has risen and household size has fallen...do we need it? Could we donate it to someone who does?