One of my favorite type shows on TV lately is about tiny houses. That is home less than 400 square feet. It seems that tiny houses are becoming a strong national trend and I can certainly understand why on several levels. They are simply more attuned to 21st century living than the current monoliths that most of us at least in the U.S. live in. Let’s start out with some words from Wikipedia:
The tiny house movement (also known as the “small house movement” is a description for the architectural and social movement that advocates living simply in small homes. There is currently no set definition of what constitutes a tiny house; however, a residential structure under 500 square feet is generally accepted to be a tiny home.
In the United States the average size of new single family homes grew from 1,780 square feet in 1978 to 2,479 square feet in 2007, and to 2,662 square feet in 2013, despite a decrease in the size of the average family. Reasons for this include increased material wealth and prestige.
The small house movement is a return to houses of less than 1,000 square feet…
Sarah Susanka has been credited with starting the recent countermovement toward smaller houses when she published The Not So Big House (1997). Earlier pioneers include Lloyd Kahn, author of Shelter (1973) and Lester Walker, author of Tiny Houses (1987). Henry David Thoreau and the publication of his book Walden is also quoted as early inspiration.
Source: Tiny house movement – Wikipedia
Even with the near zero interest rates of today the average house in the U.S. costs in excess of $250,000 and that is a large chunk of most people’s income. When the utilities needed to support these structures is taken into account along with taxes and insurance they cause a major burden for most families.
I was forty years of age before I bought my first house. Back then you needed at least 10% down before you could qualify for a double digit mortgage so that kept many of out the housing market for years. I was also a bachelor and having a mortgage just didn’t appeal to me. To the right is a graphic that helps explain why the movement is gaining so much traction. But I kind of think it makes sense on even more levels. It has been widely stated that the average person will change jobs seven times during his working live. Since job markets move pretty frequently from one part of the country to another it makes no sense to buy a house and then take a 7%+ hit along with closing costs when you need to sell it. Having a portable small house allows for more easy movement to where the jobs are.
I have this strong feeling that we, especially in the U.S., are now much too addicted to our “stuff”. We never have enough. One of the most successful small businesses now are the personal storage facilities found in almost every community in the country. Even our 2,000+ square foot houses are not big enough to hold all our stuff. We need to get over that feeling and living in a 200 square foot house would go a long way toward that happening.
I wish I could move into one but my wife has too much stuff that she is not willing to part with. 🙂