I have thought of this question, what is the difference between living in a tiny house and living in a mobile home/trailer? It’s hard to put into words but I’ll give it a try.
First off a Tiny house doesn’t need to mobile, they can be built as a traditional slab foundation. The purpose of having your home on a trailer, is that it allows you to get around many building codes due to the fact that people at city hall scratching their heads saying “its kinda like a trailer”.
I feel there is a much larger push for aesthetics than your typical RV, Trailer or mobile home. The cost per square foot of tiny homes, is often much higher than your standard built homes. The limited space means you much pain painstakingly maximize every inch. The use of high quality building materials, meticulous design and some style are a huge departure from the quintessential mobile home. I would even go a far to say they are often built with these tenant (materials, meticulous design and style) more so than most traditional homes today. I live in Charlotte, NC which has see and continues to see huge growth. Thousands of new homes are being built every year and they lack these things.
A big driving cause for people wanting to live in these homes is because they want to downsize. They have been buying into the notion that bigger is better for most of their lives and have come to realize, well maybe its not better or maybe it is not for me. In our world of consumerism, our culture of ownership, we have come to see that materials things are not the most important things in our lives. While we still participate in this consumer economy, it is at a much lesser degree. We have changed the focus of importance from things to people, relationships and free time for pursuit of things which hold intrinsic value to us. The key thing to realize is that we choose to live in a small house because of the lifestyle it affords us.
There is a very strong underlying trend which is associated with living small. By doing so, you contribute much less in terms of emissions, waste, etc. A tiny house requires allot less materials to build and can be built of renewable resources. At present the average construction of a home yields over 4 tons of waste to build. While you may not be a “hippie” or a card carrying member of Greenpeace, you know that because of you, the earth will be a little bit greener and that’s not a bad thing. In addition to using less resources, it takes less resources to run and keep up. When you are heating and cooling a tiny house it takes the same amount of energy as small bedroom.
Tiny homes are built to generally be a normal house quality, often better. While many trailer/mobile homes and RV/campers are not. One thing of note is the insulation, these homes are well insulated and often better than a traditional home. This results in a greater return on energy spent on heating and cooling. This is one example, but in general, you see better efficiencies across the board.
The financial benefits are astounding, from no mortgage, to less costs of renovations, maintenance and initial building costs, you save allot of money. The average home price (before the economic downturn) was around $230,000 by conservative estimates! Tiny homes have been built for as little as $5000, much less than many of us pay in rent or mortgage in a give year.
Time and time again I here the woes of neighbors who are in financial trouble, who were laid off and had no way to pay their mortgage. I have seen people be slave to their homes, forcing them to get a second job and spend more time away from their families. Is it worth it?….maybe not. While being smart with your money and having a budget are concepts that should be used by anyone, you begin to see how its much easier to stay in the black during hard times.
The average person will spend a third of their income over their lives on housing. Crunching the numbers on the typical home in America, based off the US income average for a single person, we will typically spend $465,000 in our life time. (based off US census 2007 information) I personally would rather allocate that money to travel, education, hobbies or charity.
DIY and the Renaissance man/woman spirit:
Now this will not apply to all of you, in fact, it may not be any of you, but a large appeal is creating something with your own two hands. The costs savings are obvious where labor cost of construction often amount to about 40% or more, but its more than that. In America there many of us whom would be classified as white collar or have specialized trades/skills.
There exists a conflict within me which I find unsettling, that is: If our way of life were to cease to exist tomorrow, what good am I? I specialize in human resource consulting, where does that fit into things, if the grocery store ceased to exist, if the power was never going to come back on. While this probably won’t happen, the idea of knowing that I have no real worldly skills (carpentry, metal working, farming) is unsettling. What is more, these things interest me as hobbies as I like to tinker.
The notion of a Renaissance man, originally from the latin phrase “homo universalis” translating to Man of the world, was a phrase used to describe a person who excels in many areas. This is something that I feel is missing from modernity and perhaps creates a conflict in our world which focuses on specialization. Perhaps building a tiny house help address this….but that might be a reach.
Going against the status quo:
The paradigm of what makes you successful, a big house, job, spouse, 2.5 kids and a dog all with white picket fence sounds nice, till you realize its being shoved down your throat. While you can certainly be happy and seek this life, it isn’t for everyone, infact, I don’t think it is for allot of us. It is not that they are wrong and we are right, that their plan is flawed or drives some agenda, its that it is what society tells us we want, when we should be the ones who decide what we want. There are many socialized pressures that tell us what to do, what to buy, how to live, etcetera etcetera. This doesn’t come out of wanting to be deviant, to get back at something or someone, or to be a rebel, it is being what we want to be.
Ok that was long but it was fun lol comments etc. are welcome 🙂