Tiny living is already a huge movement. A little ironic maybe? Or maybe not. Wise people say that the less you have, the happier you are. This is probably the case when it comes to tiny house living since more and more people every year choose to downsize and live the freedom of the tiny home.

While 10 years ago this was just “a hippie thing”, today there are tiny house communities all over the USA. As of 2018, there were more than 30 micro-communities, established or under development, across the country, according to Tiny House Community. So what’s the hype all about?

To be honest, there is something both romantic and challenging about the idea of fitting your whole life in a tiny house. How tiny is tiny though?

According to data, the standard size of a tiny house is 100-400 sq feet. To put it in daily terms – this is the size of anything between five typical front doors, standing side by side (100 sq ft) and the area of a two-car garage (400 sq ft). Or an area that would fit 50 to 200 people standing close to each other. Doesn’t seem like much, does it?

But… what about the foyer?

The size of American homes has been increasing in the past 45 years. According to the US Census, house sizes in America have increased by 62% since 1973. While back then the average size of a house was 1660 square feet, in 2017 it has grown to 2660 square feet. At the same time, however, the size of the American household has shrunk – from an average of 3.01 household members to 2.54 members.

This means that today a person gets about 1055sq feet in a house, which is almost double the space one would get in the 70s – 552 sq ft. And that is a huge increase! Apparently, people nowadays put much more thought in the space they want for themselves.

In the past, it was only important to have a good place to live, but now it is all about the types of experiences you want to live in your home. One thing that is more common is the allocation of specialized areas – such as guest bedrooms, bigger garages, outdoor areas, and closets. Besides that, however, we see completely new types of rooms: Craft rooms, playrooms, and at home-gyms and home offices. Not to mention the massive foyers that remind of hotel entrances.

More and more Americans buy new houses with these features. Yet, more and more people buy tiny houses, too. How do the two trends coexist? Is this hippie trend going to reverse the overall tendency towards larger homes? Why would anyone choose to buy such a tiny box? And most importantly – how would they fit a walk-in closet in there? Oh, wait. There’s an answer to that as well!

How do you decide to get a tiny house?

Tiny houses are promoted as an answer to the affordable housing crisis; a desirable alternative to traditional homes and mortgages. Many people choose to downsize because of practical and financial reasons. As it turns out you only use that extra dining room on Christmas. And that is once per year. That 3rd bedroom comes to use when your high school friend comes for a visit. And that is once every three years. Why keep them then? Especially when you think about all the additional expenses which come with these rooms. After all, they also occupy space that needs insurance, furnishing, maintenance… and our most favorite – window cleaning.

As it turns out, people who opt for a tiny living have better financial stability. On average, 55% of Americans who have credit cards have debt. According to statistics, 89% of tiny house owners have less credit card debt than the average American. As a matter of fact, 60% of tiny house owners have no credit card debt at all. They are better at saving, too. Roughly 55% of tiny house owners have more savings in the bank than the average homeowner. Maybe your transition to minimal living would help you be more financially prepared, too.

Who would buy such a house, anyway?

Apart from economic reasons, people choose to buy a tiny house because of its value. Most often these people are curious, daring, and adventurous. They want to be able to move around and see the world bit by bit.

No, they are not necessarily elderly people who have recently retired. Exactly the opposite.  According to the Tiny Society Statistics, 3 out of 5 tiny homeowners are below 50 years old. And that shouldn’t surprise us, really. Today, remote work is becoming more common, and as long as you have an internet connection, you are able to live almost anywhere you want.

But that, of course, requires a special mindset. Tiny house owners say they are constantly aware of the wheels underneath their feet when they are in the house. And to some, that may be uncomfortable.

The feeling of groundlessness is quite typical for Gen Y, however. Yet, as Millennials grow older, they feel a stronger need for being grounded and stable. Some say that tiny houses are great for camping and festival accommodation, but not in the long run.

Yet, we see more and more tiny houses that are elderly-friendly and even have features that make them suitable for people with disabilities. This could move the trend in a whole different direction in the years to come.

Before you go tiny

Yes, it does sound like tons of fun. Yet, a tiny house requires huge resources in planning and preparation. Here are some things that can help you do your reality check before going all-in:

Want to save money? Wait, wait.

The first and most important thing to keep in mind is that a tiny house does not necessarily mean tiny investment. Sometimes the amount you have to pay for a tiny house on wheels is the same, if not bigger, than that of a regular house.

You still have to pay for the land where you will park your house. And sometimes that can be quite pricy. Some lenders don’t like the fact that this is a tiny structure and that it’s on wheels. It doesn’t give them enough security. So they would ask for higher prices.

The money you pay for installations and furnishing can be quite the amount too. Most often tiny houses tend to use more energy-efficient materials, such as tankless water heaters and solar panels. Yet, these materials are pricier, too. But don’t worry, property taxes and utility bills will be lower. Whew.

Treat it as an investment? No, no.

If you think of your tiny house as a long-term investment, stop right now. Even though the trend of tiny living keeps on growing, it does not mean your house will be worth more in 10 years than it is now. This is exactly the opposite of the value of a regular house.

Why is that? Mostly because people who opt for tiny houses, customize them. Thus, the number of tiny houses increases. Yet, their value remains the same over time. The value won’t increase but at least you will be able to own your home more quickly than if you opt for a larger regular house.

Going tiny for good?

The minimalism trend has been a hot topic for over five years now. Today we celebrate people like “The Minimalists” who preach living with less, and Marie Kondo and her method of decluttering. And it is not surprising that their influence keeps spreading globally. The minimalist concept is entering every area of life, wherever we live.

Naturally, it will keep on penetrating the field of real estate, too. The number of tiny houses bought has increased over 20 times in the past 15 years, and the trend keeps gaining popularity.

There have been several TV shows that celebrate people who chose to downsize and opted for a tiny house. “Tiny House, Big Living,” “Tiny House Nation”, and “Tiny House Hunters” are just a few of them. Thanks to such formats and social media, people who have opted for a tiny house on wheels gather followers quickly. Not only that, but people keep exploring other various formats of minimalist housing. There are more people of all ages who choose the van life or move to a cabin in the woods.

Somehow the reality of the “brave new world” is making us go back to a slower pace of life. And if you get an urge for the faster pace again, you always have those wheels beneath you. Just turn the engine on.


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