First and foremost, I’ve been dying to try a tiny house out, and even have toyed with the idea of buying one to live in! I’m sure you’ve seen these either in person, HGTV or may have even seen one being towed… the phenomenon of tiny homes and living in small spaces that are eco-friendly, allow you financial freedom and are less than 500 square feet.
So what is this “phenomenon” or “movement”?
It’s not such a new idea in actuality, and can be traced back to Henry David Thoreau as its starting roots in the book “Walden” as an early inspiration (Wikipedia, n.d.). It’s a social movement where all kinds of generations are appeased by the thought of downsizing to a livable space. The average American new single-family home is around 2,600 square feet, whereas a tiny home or small house is between 100 to 500 square feet on average (National Association of Home Builders, n.d.) So why are we starting to hear more about them now? According to Thom Stanton, a tiny-home builder in West Virginia, there are two groups that are fueling this; one is the millennials, and the other are baby boomers. Two different walks of life, both compelled to buy small. “Millennials, because their college loans have put traditional houses out of reach, and retiring baby boomers looking for affordable homes with minimal maintenance…and meanwhile, traditional homeowners are contributing to the trend by building tiny houses on their properties to shelter guests, family members or caregivers, or putting them on vacation property.” (The Washington Post, 2015) I also think that with the housing market crash in 2008, those that were affected or can no longer buy a “traditional” home are looking to purchase a smaller, like house. They simply have no interest in purchasing a large home, and having to upkeep it as well.
So what are the benefits?
Financially, most Americans contribute up to half of their annual income towards housing. According to The Tiny Life, most Americans also carry a 30-year mortgage and with 4% interest, making a whopping total amount of $481,000 when all said and done. The average tiny home is $25,000 all-in. You can see the appeal.
Environmentally, tiny houses are now equipped to basically be off-the-grid. Traditional utilities are not needed with the technology of solar and energy-efficient lighting, appliances and even toilets that are 100% composting. This also means overall less of a carbon footprint, and up-keep for your house is also lower in turn. Even the construction of a tiny home is far less than a traditional house, and can be built by the owner themselves. There are many builders now that offer a variety of services from providing blueprints, to a full-scale build depending on your budget and level of comfort of a DIY-house.
The Quality of Life paradigm is shifting, and between all-ages. The idea of a simple life, less chaos and living smaller and more sustainable is heating up. The idea of having the freedom to stay or go when you want is appealing, which has many people exploring this idea. The idea of being self-sustained and financially less dependent on living paycheck to paycheck is also increasing this quality. There are all types of small homes as well, with the choice of literally being built on a flatbed, and others on a foundation. It’s all personal preference and how you envision “living the dream”.
It makes you realize how much – or how little – you need. You do downsize from your giant L-shaped couch, or even TV. You may have half the refrigerator you are used to, or perhaps a composting toilet. You adjust and live in one space at-a-time. Things will break, leak or stop working – those of which you fix or hire someone to fix it, much like a home-owner is responsible for. You also have some zoning issues to meander through depending on your location and if your house is on a foundation or trailer, but all these things are workable.
It’s certainly not for everyone, but it’s something I think I could live in! I also love the outdoors though, and would create not only a place for my tiny home, but also an outdoor living space with a vegetable garden, outdoor kitchen (in a sense) and a fire-pit. My living the dream, of course.
Ready to explore tiny houses a bit more?
This housing trend is here to stay and companies are sprouting everyday on this sustainable living option. Google search terms like “tiny house in West Virginia”, “tiny house nation” or “tiny house builders” and a plethora of sites will pop up. HGTV and other networks have show’s based around the small living spaces, and apps like Pinterest and Houzz are including Tiny House inspiration boards that will get you excited about this movement! Tiny Home builders and those living in them, even have resources for ideas at annual conferences nationwide, and on blogs like the popular Tiny House Blog. More recently, there was even a Tiny Home Village at the annual Denver Home Show in Denver, CO, which is why I’m so excited that a company now has started a VRBO/Airbnb-esc business meets tiny homes market.
Getaway was created by The Millennial Housing Lab and was launched to help grow the Tiny House Movement. The group started getaway to be the first ever startup that helps you get out of the city, and into a tiny home to revive, relax and regenerate yourself. “Our goal is to help you hike your way back to balance”. I could tell you all the benefits of seclusion, peace, natural settings and the smell of firewood or charcoal on the grill, but really…do I need to say more? In addition to this, you navigate to a secret location and are supplied with a secret code (and even provisions if requested to make packing easier!). In a pinch, they also have a help line if needed and your tiny home is located within two hours or less from the city. Sounds great to me! So where do I sign up….?
The semi-sad news
While solely based in Boston at this time (sigh…), the company IS taking nominations for future cities, and honestly, DENVER should be on the top of the list (YES!). So I would immediately go visit Getaway now to nominate!
Luckily, there are similar experiences available now like WeeCasa in Lyons, Colorado. The self-acclaimed “first Tiny Home Hotel” is right down the road from Denver, CO and gives you an opportunity to experience comfort, high quality spaces that liberate you from clutter, debt and stress. They even have event space, and the ability to purchase your own Wee-Home. Plus, the town of Lyons always has some great festivals, events and brews. I certainly am going to check them out, and their house designs are too cool.
You can also check out VRBO or Airbnb in your location or one you’re visiting to hold you over (although it’s a small selection in some states…no pun intended). My hopes are that sooner, rather than later, I’ll be motoring around my own tiny house!
Christmas is a part of the Subaru Adventure Team, an organization dedicated to exploring, finding new adventures, and inspiring others to do the same. Christmas and her fiancee, Randy, travel the world and share their stories along the way. You can find weekly adventures with them on their social media pages at www.facebook.com/TrueSubaruCouple or on Instagram as @TrueSubaruCouple.