So why embark on “the tiny life”?
The answer is found in stewardship– the wise use of one’s time, energy, fiscal and other resources.
Are you wisely using the space in which you live? Which room or rooms do you live in the most? What happens to the others? Are you bothered by all the space within your dwelling that is least occupied?
“Tiny” is the efficient use of space. Admittedly, there is much less space to “expand” one’s lifeâ€”one’s possessions and one’s decorative sense are two examples. Where do we really live, thoughâ€”in our dwellings or in our hearts and relationship space?
But “tiny” also means less money expended to maintain a larger space that has become for many of us an idol. In 1963, my parents took on a 25-year mortgage on a new, two-story house with four bedrooms that cost $17,500. That same home today can sell for close to $300,000.
How scales of economy have changed! “Tiny” addresses the buying power of present dollars as much as it reflects the desire not to buy into the myth that bigger is better.
Bigger is not necessarily better. For most of us fascinated by tiny living, the exploration of all things tiny imparts hope.
Bigger is not necessarily better. Bigger can certainly be beautiful! And there is nothing inherently wrong in bigger. But bigger can be quite costly in both the short and long term and can bring with it many headaches.
It’s important to be compassionate: many of us could not but help buy into the belief that as we grew up that we, too, could purchase the type of homes our parents did– homes just as “spacious” and stately– even if we were raised in a row home or semi-detached dwelling.
But for chiefly economic reasons– many of which readers of “The Tiny Life” are aware– the purchase (and sustaining) of long-term mortgages has become less likely, less possible, and fraught with more risk.
For the sake of example, let’s suppose you and I can purchase such a home. My father worked for a corporation and was employed 33 consecutive years with that same employer before he retired. In general, such job security today, let alone with a single employer, is not the norm nor the reality for the vast majority of us.
Therefore, taking on a 20-35 year mortgage brings with it the worries of what will happen if one or both incomes become imperiled. What happens to our long-term investment if 23 years into our 25-year mortgage we lose either our jobs or our health? What if savings and the help of family &/or friends is not enough to “save” our home?
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The Tiny Lifestyle affords us to living in the moment, to enjoy life unburdened by not having to vacuum 6000 square feet, to have to get a second job to make the mortgage payment this month. You are able to focus on the two most important things: your relationship with others and yourself. Its about being able to take time for important things in your life, to do what matters most and pursue your passions.
For some time now I have been aware of “The Slow Movement” which touts taking time to savor whatever you are doing. The two main groups that have really jumped on board with this are travel and food.
The Slow Food movement and the Slow Travel Movement are all about taking the time to really enjoy, living in the moment and developing connections with others. Slow food movement was obviously a response to Fast Food. In the US 1/3 of Americans eat Fast Food every single day. The main reason is because its convenient and easy. For those of you who don’t know I am 25, and I can easily say that 90% of everyone my age that I know don’t know how to cook a simple meal. A friend of mine who had been living for several years on their own, I had to teach how to boil pasta…. No…..I’m not even kidding.
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There is obviously a strong case for having small house, its affordable, its simple, its well…allot of things. But one thing that hadn’t occurred to me as of yet was that a Tiny home is ethical. How so? In a world of finite resources, we are using more and more of natural resources, well beyond our fair share and not accounting for generations to come. In the past 10 years, Americans have consumed conservatively 25% of the world’s natural resources! Now do that math which means in 30 more years, we will be out of wood, coal, oil, minerals and folks, that’s something we are going to see in our lifetime.
So living Tiny means we use much less resources, thus reducing our impact on the world. While I don’t expect so many people to selling off their mansions and living in 100 square feet, I foresee a strong trend to downsizing.
Tree Huger has a great article on this saying
When I hear the question, “Can large homes be green?,” I think the questioner is really asking, “Is it right for some people use more resources â€” live in big homes â€” when they could live in smaller homes like the rest of us?” That question is not really about green building; it’s more about moral or social equity
Check out the arcticle here
The tiny life is indeed a creative solution. So much fine work is being done by people far too numerous to mention here who have chosen to live more simply in so many ways.
So much of life is stuffâ€”stuff we accumulate, stuff we buy, stuff we are given. Another word for “stuff” is possessions.
Now there is nothing inherently wrong with stuff or any of our material possessions. The trick is developing and then sustaining the discipline to make wise choices about what to retain, what to give away, what to throw away, and then what to buy.
The tiny life in all its dimensions requires necessarily that one look at one’s “stuff”. What used to fit in a former dwelling is most likely not going to work in a smaller one. It might indeed become difficult to part with stuff.
Maybe one criteria can be, “Will keeping this possession help further my goals and what I believe my mission in life to be, and help me actualize the talents I was given to develop?”
What do you think though? Feel free to share your criteria.