Tiny Houses…

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.

2016-12-09_20-30-11.pngIn 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.

Click on the image to see a more readable version

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. 🙂


  1. I think and have read about tiny houses too. I think it is just a fad, hyped up for purposes of making TV shows…they always have to come up with something new don’t they? From what I’ve read there are many issues with these homes, not the least of which is you can’t just stick them up anywhere. They may be attractive because they are cheap, but land isn’t, and ordinances may prevail that prevent them from moving into a city. So, they often show them out in the wood or countryside. But then you have the problem of water, electricity, and sewage that may not be available there. Not to mention the reality of living in such close quarters could drive you crazy. They are also known to be stolen, hooked up to a truck while the owners are out and hauled away. I’ve read that many buyers have regrets. Anyway, that’s my take on them. As to having too much stuff….true. But, I don’t know if forcing yourself into super tiny quarters would change the culture of consumption that much. They would eventually start building sheds, garages, leantos, etc….to accommodate their stuff. Wouldn’t that be attractive?


    1. You seem to be in a dark mood today Jane. 🙂

      Yes there are zoning and building code issues with this new trend that need to be worked out but I still hold that it is not a fad. One reason is because of the nature of work today. It seems very likely that there will be many who will go for months between jobs and would likely lose homes due to mortgage defaults. The other is that many of the people who are buying into this trend simply don’t want to have to work 60 hour weeks for homes they never see. That and all the things I mentioned in the article tell me that tiny homes are here to stay.

      But as usual thanks for your counter opinion my friend…


  2. Hi, RJ — What strikes me about the tiny homes is how expensive some of them are. A nice fifth-wheel would be less money and easier to move if need be but, admittedly not as cute. I remember one episode where a 60-something woman thought she’d be okay with scampering up and down a ladder to the loft bed.


    1. HI Denise and thanks for the thoughts. Yeah, like everything else in life you need to consider your capabilities before making decisions. There are many shows now on this genre and some are done very well but many are just “Texas lipstick on a pig” variety. I especially like the one called “Tiny Luxury”. Their houses are very well designed and decorated. I would love to have almost any of them. I’m like you though, when people mention they want a home that they can travel with, I say well get an RV!!

      I am spending more and more of my summer days in my micro-RV (uRV) which I designed and has only 40 sq ft of space but it is enough for me and all my essentials at least for three day trips. But I would love to try it for weeks instead of days, maybe sometime in the future. Small just necessitates simplicity and I am very much into simplicity the last few years.


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