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 :).
- 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’ )
- 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.
- 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!)
- 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’.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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!
- 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’?