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The fad of the monstrous McMansions has come to an end—thankfully.
These mass-produced homes, built with low-quality materials and poor craftsmanship in the vain hope of emitting a sort of wealth, mostly went away when the housing bubble burst. The disappearing act of these architectural eyesores left plenty of room on the market for tiny homes to move in. And they’re popping up everywhere—for good reasons.
But how small does your home have to be for it to be part of the tiny home revolution? There are no hard rules, but with the typical American home consuming an average of 2,600 square feet, a tiny home usually weighs in at about 100-400 square feet.
USA Today hits the nail on the head when they explain that millennials are buying into tiny homes for many reasons that include:
- Significant student loan debt
- Bad credit
- Inability to buy a standard home
- Fear that resulted from seeing their own parents struggle after the recession
- Not wanting to be tied financially to a larger investment
- Wanting to reduce their carbon footprint
- Freedom to be mobile
…And simply because minimalism is a better way of being.
Though millennials might be driving the trend, their logic holds for nearly anyone who doesn’t have a family too large to comfortably live in such an economical space.
Tiny Home, Huge Savings
For many, the choice to own a tiny home (note the word “own” not “rent”) is due to economic factors.
According to CNN, 76 percent of Americans are living from paycheck to paycheck. This is partly due to the fact that so many working-class Americans are spending more than 50 percent of their incoming on housing.
With a tiny cabin costing anywhere between ~$3,400 dollars to $10,500, depending on size, it doesn’t take an accountant to realize that the overall savings over just a few years can be astronomical.
Leading the charge in the tiny home takeover are, of course, millennials. Despite the general heat this generation gets online, they are dialed in on the reasons to shop small and save big.
According to Bloomberg, student debt is a major reason millennials aren’t buying houses. About 70 percent of college students are graduating with a significant amount of loans, which translates into more than 44 million Americans collectively having nearly $1.5 trillion in student debt. Such debt is crippling many would-be home buyers, making traditional homes impossible to purchase and putting these people on the hamster wheel of paying rent.
Keep on Keeping on
Unlike a traditional home—which is merged with the plot of land it was built on—many tiny homes can be picked up and moved to new locations.
If a new opportunity crops up in a different part of the country, it’s easy enough to move house—because you’re literally moving your house. And, if for some reason, you choose not to take your tiny home with you, you’re looking at a much smaller asset to sell: sometimes either making money on your original purchase or, at the very least, losing less money than you would for breaking a lease.
Minimal Needs, Clutter-free
You’ll find that living in a 100-400 square foot home requires a serious amount of decluttering. Some first-time, tiny-home owners struggle with this, choosing to purchase space in storage units to keep toys, tools, and memorabilia that they’re not ready to let part with.
However, there is more to decluttering your life than trying to make it fit into a tiny house.
“Decluttering, or removing unneeded and unwanted things from your home or office, is not a new concept, but its health benefits have become increasingly recognized,” Kristine Crane writes for US News.
The physical benefits of you living in a minimalist, tiny home are pretty straightforward: there are fewer dust particles and toxins in the air, which can improve allergy symptoms and overall wellness.
For mental health reasons, there are also serious benefits to cutting down on the amount of stuff you have. You might not be able to score a place on the TV show “Hoarders,” but that doesn’t mean that you’re not going to uncover some baggage when you start getting rid of stuff. According to Patty de Vries, director of the Stanford Health Promotion Network, many people collect clutter to make up for some sense of loss in other areas of their lives.
There are plenty of classes out there to help you declutter your life. However, nothing is better for jump-starting the process than the necessity of trimming back your possessions to fit in a tiny home.
Where to Put Your Tiny Home
Having friends or family with large plots of land can make all the difference when it comes to establishing your tiny home kingdom. It’s rare to find residential neighborhoods where you’re allowed to construct a house that’s less than 1,000 square feet. However, it’s usually possible to allow accessory dwelling units on the property.
Even if you don’t have friends or family members that are going to allow you to plop your tiny house down on their property, don’t fret. There are still plenty of options out there. In fact, there are a number of communities across the country that do a great job catering to tiny homes, giving rise to entire tiny home communities.
There is Spur, Texas, which has declared itself “the nation’s first tiny house-friendly town,” as well as the ecologically-friendly tiny house community of Green Bridge Farm in Guyton, Georgia. These are just two of dozens of places that are excited to welcome tiny-home owners into their community.
If all these logistics for finding the perfect place to put your tiny home is starting to stress you out, take a deep breath. It’s easy enough to find a place to put your tiny home outside of city limits, where zoning is going to be less of an issue.
Final Thoughts: The Tiny Home Solution to the McMansion Disaster
With the McMansion craze leaving far too many people with a less-than-happy meal of debt and architectural eyesores as homes, it is no surprise to find that people are warming up to the idea of tiny homes.
The simplicity, clutter-free lifestyles dictated by a tiny home, as well as the economic freedom the modest investment gives homeowners, allows these structure to be the foundation of happier, healthier lives.