There’s something strange happening around the globe… but it’s awesome!
Lifestyles and needs are changing, and consequently, our houses are shrinking. The tiny house movement has blown up in the past few years, shifting the traditional North American housing models toward a more practical, finance-friendly blueprint. The movement is garnering attention from people fed up with the current consumerist/utility-based lifestyle, which has placed millions of people in debt. Now, the idea of living your dream is no longer a cliché.
The typical American home is around 2,600 square feet, while the typical small or tiny house is around 100-400 square feet. These tiny houses come in all shapes, sizes, and forms, focusing on smaller spaces and simplified living. Jay Shafer, tiny house advocate and founder of Four Lights Tiny House Company, says that, unlike sprawling houses, tiny houses demand that their dwellers downsize to the essentials. Shafer states that tiny houses are undiluted reflections of the people who live in them.
“A tiny house is any house in which all the space is being used well,” he says. “When my friends and I founded the Small House Society… that was our definition and we’re sticking to it.”
This means that if two people lived in a 300 square foot pad and could call it a tiny house, then eight people living in a 2,000 square foot house could boast the same title. The idea is about simplicity and practical living.
Let’s be honest — who wants to spend the majority of their youthful years paying off such massive debt? The stress, money, and time wasted paying off a mortgage just isn’t worth it. Sure, houses can be a great investment in the long run, but with real estate prices skyrocketing, especially in urban centers, this just isn’t an option for most.
Another great perk to the tiny house movement comes with one of its sticky prerequisites: You have to get rid of everything. I’m talking about all the crap you keep jammed in your storage closet, garage, couch, drawers, or under your bed — it all GOTS-TO-GO! There is a massive liberation with this process, a cleansing of the old in preparation for something completely new, a fresh start that so many yearn for. Our world consumes too much, filling our spaces with décor, gizmos, and junk that only ever ends up in garage sales or, more commonly, the garbage. Living in a tiny house is the perfect incentive to free yourself by decluttering.
One of the great features of a tiny house is that you can basically create what you want. There are a plethora of varying design concepts, ranging from country cottage to euro-modern, all with unique external/internal features. People have gotten really creative in this respect.
A tiny house can cost between $15,000 and $80,000. An experienced builder who has access to great salvaged materials and friends who help out for free could construct a small, simple structure for $15K. If you have a custom tiny home built for you by an experienced builder, and master craftsmanship is the bar, you should budget $80K. According to an infographic by The Tiny Life, the “average” tiny home — built by its owners with some help from friends and some hired help, made with some salvaged materials and some new materials — costs about $23,000.
While not completely off-grid, the tiny house offers a fantastic alternative to affordable living, one which benefits not only the home owner but the planet as well. Fewer resources are needed to build and maintain these houses, and utilities are extremely affordable compared to the current average costs. Meg Stephens from Tumbleweedhouses.com writes, “I typically spent less than $170 (total) on propane to heat my tiny house during the brutal winters in Iowa. In Olympia, Washington, Dee [her friend] spends an average of $5/month on propane for heating her tiny home.”
Smaller living is the way of the future. It offers us the chance to live without debt, free from the shackles that limit our quality of life. What if you could do what you love instead of having to stress about paying off your house? Contrary to what you’ve been told, this possibility is real. So what are you waiting for? Sell your crap, pay off your debt, and do what you love!
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