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10 Reasons to Minimize House Size

Macy M15 comments1818 views

So I realize I go a bit to the extreme with my tiny house, 196 s.f. is not SUPER feasible for many people for one reason or another and your living space ought to fit your comfort level, not challenge it, TOO MUCH ;-).  196 s.f. works well for me still, for now, I would honestly even consider going smaller now that I’m here.  I think I could find a way to cut out about 4 foot of length (~32 s.f.) ad still be pretty comfortable.  This house has pushed my boundaries a little on size but I never thought it wouldn’t be ‘doable’.  As of right now this house is serving its purposes very well, I have learned A LOT about construction, I think I am MUCH better at my job because of it, at least more comfortable and confident with the theories I’ve learned in school.  I am continuing to learn the technical and practical sides of things like my composting toilet (had my first hiccup today, I will update on that and how I fixed it as soon as I figure out if it is actually ‘fixed’), I am learning about radiant floor heat (love it), I am learning that even the spaces I thought would maybe be a little tight are actually very sufficient since they are designed well!  To date for me, there is no prouder moment than sitting inside, warm and dry when it’s raining and snowing outside knowing that I did that myself.  Well, maybe taking a really LONG and hot shower in the shower I created from scratch!   Pretty amazing feelings still, even 8 months later! 🙂

I want to point out my favorite ten things I have gained from living in my tiny house.  I have been asked a bit ‘how to convince others that this is a valid/great lifestyle choice when they aren’t necessarily ‘on-board’.  While you can’t make someone do something they don’t want to do it is a great discussion to have, perhaps 400 s.f. is more do-able than 200.  Even getting to 1,000 s.f. is a great direction to head from the average ~2,200 s.f.!  Here are my top ten counter-points :).

  1. Knowledge gained.  There seems to always be things that need done and when you built the thing entirely you know how to do it all!  There is a lot of pride that comes with that, and a sense of accomplishment! (and you become a trusted resource for friends, not sure that’s a ‘pro’ 😉 )
  2. More cost effective. When building your own tiny house there is a lot of room for finding deals and saving money.  Even though there are typically the same base costs in a tiny house as there are larger houses you can find deals and make a house for considerable less than the square foot cost of a traditional house if you choose to.   Also considering labor fees saved of course if you’re doing that yourself.
  3. Ability to pay off debt and live debt free. With minimized  housing costs, even if renting the land to park on you are able to pay greater portions toward debts and realize the debt free lifestyle much faster than you could while paying a larger mortgage/rent. (in MUCH less time!)
  4. Less ‘stuff’ to maintain.  Owning things is a lot of owning maintenance (even just dusting around them stinks!), living smaller allows less space to accumulate unneeded ‘wants’ which can clutter life and require more time of you to maintain.  Smaller houses help you to be more intentional about what you collect (not to be confused with not being able to have what you want).  Having less stuff is a surprisingly freeing feeling.  It also happens to makes the things you have ‘mean more’.
  5. Less time spent cleaning.  This one is self explanatory, it’s nice to be able to clean everything top to bottom, including mopping in 20 minutes!  Aside from that, its easier and logical to put things away in their correct place when there is a correct place for it and not a lot of extra surfaces to clutter.
  6. Knowing that you are impacting the environment less.   No matter what you choose to put in your house, if your house is a little bit smaller rather than a little bit bigger you will impact your environment less and have a big impact on how much waste you put out whether it be in the form of  ‘stuff’ (that require production and all the waste that goes with it), garbage or utilities wasted.  The BIGGEST ‘sustainability measure’ you can do is not to invest in some gadget but to make your physical footprint smaller, simpler.
  7. Encouraging closeness inside of families.  There have been hundreds of studies on the damages the growing house sizes are having on family units socially and psychologically.  It is undeniable.  If I were to guess based on my own perceptions, parents think they are doing good by giving everyone their own room and their own space, to them that feels like success.  What families need though, children mostly, is closeness and a sense of bonding with other human beings.  You get that by learning how to work together, by forced interactions, by getting mad and then working it out, by learning boundaries, not by storming off to your separate part of the world and slamming the door behind.  If everyone is allowed to disappear into their own room at will you allow families to bypass this critical component and decrease overall happiness, closeness and mental health.  A small house is not the ONLY solution to this but it makes it harder to avoid one another for sure.  In the same breath, I think we tend to get caught in a consumer cycle, ‘bigger is better’, which then takes more hours of work to pay for, and then you feel bad for not spending time with your loved ones so you buy them things that take up space to make yourself feel better about not spending more time with them.  It is a vicious cycle.  Purely opinion on my part but some of the families I look up to most are the ones with really simple lifestyles that allow them to spend time together as a family, I believe they are happiest, which is my point in life, and worth emulating to me.
  8. Working less/More time.  If you have less stuff to maintain, less bills to pay and less ‘chores’ to do you have much more time for hobbies, friends and family.  Simple, more time for the things you love!
  9. You can afford to use your community.  Often times I found myself not going out for drinks with friends, not trying out the new restaurant, not going to the big cool event because I simply didn’t have the money for it (within my comfort level), it was going to my mortgage, my utilities (I had utility payments one winter month of nearly $600 for gas and electrical in my big house! That is beyond insane to me now!).  Without those bills piling up you can afford to try out the new food place around the corner, or see some live music (and tip them!).  It is not only good for you and your social life, it’s great for your community!
  10. Debunking the saying “We buy things we don’t want with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.”  There is a certain amount of criticisms you get by escaping this notion, mostly, it feels pretty good to debunk the social norms ‘financially’ :).  (as someone told me, learn to be a duck and let the criticisms roll right off! 😉 )

With that, I would be curious to hear from others on what they think are the redeeming qualities?  What are the main concerns from others if not purely ‘space’?

 

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Macy M
I am an artist, a steward, a minimalist at heart... I love being out in the sunshine... I love animals of nearly every kind, at least the furry ones, I am trying to be a gardener... I believe people are good at the core but are also capable of very bad things when they aren't intentional about their actions... I love my family, my passions and my life... I am just me :)

15 Comments

  1. Macy,
    Just in the interest of discussion, I wanted to counter your points about mental health and closeness with a caveat. When doing some scanning of the literature and recommendations for sq ft per person, I came across some good information about how being TOO close can have the same mental health effects as being too spread out. Also, lots of people in a small space raises the risk of disease transmission.
    Now, I do think that the data is taken from low-income/low-education/low-socioeconomic status groups, where mental health and physical health issues are more likely anyway, and may only be partly to do with over-crowding.
    I say all that to say that I do agree with you, to a point. I think there is a happy medium for everyone concerning closeness vs personal space. Although I have 850 sq feet with 2 kids, myself and 2 cats, I honestly think we could go even smaller and be fine. My kids would both rather pile into the bed with mommy at night anyway!
    Please don’t feel I am saying you are wrong, Not at all! I just wanted to add some intelligent discussion. 🙂
    Keep at it girl, and post some belly pics of minimiller!
    -Courtney

    1. I SO agree with you! There is a middle ground to be found! I have had several people ask how they can ‘convince’ their significant others to go tiny and I don’t think it’s always right! Shoot, as MiniMiller grows I already have another plan in the works for something a little bigger (this house paid itself off in rent saved already AND allowed me to save money! And I will probably continue to have it as a rental after I move on). I take no offense at all, contrary to my other ‘you hurt my feelings’ post it is not that easy to do! (they just said some really really mean things! :)) I do need more belly pictures, I think she grew 10 pounds, at least that’s what I’m claiming! I have definitely moved into the comfortableness of the third trimester!

    2. Just to add to this, there was recently (last week?) a study on the negative effects of living too closely, but with a HUGE caveat: this study focused on low-income housing. Most studies on the negative effects of smaller housing are also generally sponsored by those with a vested interest in the results being negative.

      The rest of the world lives much smaller than we do, and look at some stats for the US as regards gun violence and imprisonment (both speak to alienation) and the stats on raising “attached” children versus “cry it out” children (not to enter that debate, but the family bed is relevant!).

      I could go on, but I need to turn off the screen. To end, for some people it will never be a viable choice; they just can’t wrap their head around the fact that less is sometimes a whole lot more. And that’s okay. Sort of. I’d better go. 🙂

      1. I totally saw that Suzannah, it irked me because it was jaded toward low income rather than the intentional small dwellers, I think there is a world of difference!

        1. U.S. policy on one hand can be supportive of affordable housing while another hand says ok, you win but we won’t fund the maintenance – making the 2nd hand slum lords. In 50 floor high rises, never built to have air conditioning (despite the humane availability of it) and elevators that quit at the 11th floor – that is abuse (and only a cursory glance). I imagine any family would prefer a tiny home to living in such conditions.

  2. I’ve been researching tiny houses for a while now. I think yours is one of the best that I can see actually working for me. Most have the bed in a loft space- I’m 52 and live with three dogs! Although I’m fully mobile, I know I’m not going to want to climb a ladder and my dogs will whine because they can’t get to the bed! So kudos to you and your design!!

    I’m slowly starting the “downsize” process, moved from my 1800 sf house to a 450 SF condo- with the intention of building a tiny house this year to move into eventually- it is so liberating to get rid of stuff I’ve accumulated in the “big” house- but it is a process that is taking quite some time- getting there.

    Your point #10 is so true- everyone I know says I’m crazy- “What are you thinking??” It does make me question this whole move to a more minimalistic lifestyle because its hard to get support sometimes- but trying to be that duck and let it roll off my back.

    Thanks for your blog, you’re an inspiration!!! I’d like to chat with you more when it comes to time to putting my design on paper for my house.

    Happy new year.

    1. Thank you Paul! I am glad you can see it working out for you! I had the same thoughts when I was thinking of designs. It is surprising how long downsizing takes! Definitely be a duck, it’s been SO worth it! It is very hard sometimes, I admit. Thank you so much for your kind words and please do stay in touch! I am happy to be support and encouragement for others! 🙂 Happy New Year!

  3. I found that with young children, there is a lot stuff. We did cloth nappies, for example, which required a daily wash. And then there’s the furniture, baby proofing, and so forth.

    But now that they’re out on their own, the priorities have shifted and I’ve been progressively downsizing. In my case, over some years. I went from a house to a townhouse to a loft, to a studio, then a dorm room for grad school. Already small, I’m planning a cost-effective retirement.

    Like Paul, I love your design because I know a loft isn’t going to work long term.

    Working from home, there is simple convenience. No commute. Desk to dining room is basically rotating the chair. 😉 Being a geek, it’s also very convenient to have everything closer together and connected. Music gear, computer, media, NAS, TV, etc.

    One of the big downsizing techniques for me was going digital. Instead of a bookcase of CD’s and DVDs, its all on network storage. Old photos all digitized. Much of my reference library digitized and easily searchable. Mementos? many to digital photos, set up in a slide show on TV. Papers? you have to keep a few but many can be digitized and made searchable with a nice pocket scanner like a Fujitsu.

    End result – less storage furniture, more stuff, that’s more accessible. 200 sq ft no problem and nothing lost.

    Not for everyone, I know, but a great way to go small.

  4. I love all of this!! I’ve been doing lots of research but I think I needed these words of wisdom and encouragement. A mobile, tiny house is going to be our first big project as a family, so #7 is particularly poignant. You have me feeling optimistic and full of purpose! 😀

    1. Awesome, thank you for reminding me of this post, I wrote it almost a year and a half ago and I had forgotten, I read it again and this much later, I STILL agree wholeheartedly! Good luck! let me know if I can ever help!

  5. I have just gotten into tiny house living. I watched a document on it and was so inspired. I have been looking into all I can for info on how to get started. I am a carpenter so I hope to one day build my own THOW and live in it! Do you have any advice on building codes or restrictions? I feel that might be the first thing to look into???

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