June 2008

10 Reasons to Go Small

by Tammy Strobel on June 20, 2008

Weekend with Dee

Friends and family always inquire about our tiny house obsession. Usually they ask: “Why a tiny house?” Living a tiny lifestyle appeals to us on a number of levels. Below are the top 10 reasons for choosing a tiny solution:

1. Exiting the Consumer Lifestyle

Living in a tiny house is one way for us to exit the consumer lifestyle and decrease our consumption of stuff. (Watching the The Story of Stuff drastically changed how I view my own consumption patterns).

For instance, there is no reason to go shopping for more stuff when you don’t have a place to put it. I don’t need 20 pairs of shoes or 50 different outfits to wear to the office. Earlier this year, I downsized my wardrobe and personal items. For me that meant donating an incredible amount of books and clothing to the thrift store.

My policy is 1 in, 1 out. Every time I buy something new, one of my personal things must go.

2. Saving Money

The cost estimate for our tiny house is about $25,000 (about 2 years worth of rent). The low cost of the tiny house will enable us to save money for future expenses and help friends and family members in need. Our tiny house will be about 200 square feet. Our heating and cooling bills will be so tiny! Right now we live in a 400 square foot apartment and our PG & E bill ranges from $4.00 to $25.00 a month. I can’t wait to see what our power bill will look like in a tiny house. :)

3. Freedom

Downscaling from a suburban, 2 bedroom apartment, and 2 car life to an urban, 1 bedroom apartment, and no car has given me a sense of freedom and lightness. Our stuff doesn’t own us anymore. As long as we have each other and our cats, we will be good to go. :)

4. More Free Time

Last summer one of our family members became suddenly ill and almost died. Since then, I’ve changed my life dramatically and have chosen a simpler lifestyle that allows me to spend more time with family.

Downsizing to a smaller apartment (and eventually a tiny home) enabled us to devote more time to outdoor activities, writing and the important things in life like friends and family.

5. Debt Free

Within the last year we sold our car, paid off our student loans and moved into a smaller apartment. These changes have allowed us more flexibility in our finances. If all goes according to plan we will either build or purchase our own tiny house in 2010.

6. Working Less

Eventually, I want to work part time. The United States is notorious for a workaholic culture. So owning a small home will enable us to work less and pursue career goals that didn’t seem possible a few years ago. Eventually, I want to get out of my cubicle and telecommute. Telecommuting is a feasible alternative to the cubicle forest because it allows people to do their job from any location.

7. Less Cleaning

A tiny house requires significantly less cleaning and maintenance and that make me very happy. I didn’t realize how much time we spent cleaning our large apartment until we moved to our new home in Sacramento. Instead of cleaning we spent more time riding our bikes outdoors. Yay for less scrubbing, vacuuming and sweeping!

8. Ease of Movement

Ease of movement to a new location is a great feature. Being tied down to a traditional home doesn’t appeal to me because they can’t be moved. But with a tiny home, if we decide to move we are free to bring our tiny house with us.

9. Going Off-Grid

We plan to take the tiny house off-grid. Hopefully, this will allow us to learn how to live more self sufficiently and insulate ourselves from a system we believe to be unsustainable. The looming peak oil energy crisis is scary.

10. Economic, Environmental and Social Merits of Compact Housing

Last year, I read a few books on tiny tiny homes. Two of my favorites were: The Small House Book and Little House on a Small Planet. After reading these books I realized there are enormous economic, environmental, and social merits of compact housing.

Here are some interesting facts from the books:

  • The average American house, which is about 2,200 square feet, emits more green house gases than the average American car;
  • The average American house, produces 7 tons of construction waste and;
  • The size of New Jersey is lost each decade as a result of urban sprawl.

I see over-sized homes as a debtors prison rather than a source of enjoyment. The average American has a 20 to 30 year mortgage. By going small, we will have our tiny tiny house paid off in less than 1 year.

For the sake of the environment and economic sanity (ex. sub-prime mortgage fiasco), it is clear that we must change our attitudes about house size, building codes and the basic home financing structure.

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