I was driving into work today when the idea came to me for this article. Why does it have to be so difficult to achieve the life so many of us would love to live? There are no simple answers to our reasons, but we need to face them head on. Since I don’t like to focus on the negatives too much, my next post will be on some of the possible solutions and approaches to overcome these barriers.
One of the largest hurdles for people wanting to live in a Tiny House is access to land. Land is expensive, in growing short supply and people want a balance of having land and being close to city or town centers where they can access services, entertainment and employment. These things are often in conflict with each other. The closer to the city center, the smaller and more expensive the lots. To have a Tiny House, you don’t need much land for the actual house, but you do need enough to be able to obscure the house from prying eyes in order to fly under the radar of code enforcement and curmudgeons.
At this point, banks don’t feel that Tiny Houses are a viable option because they don’t have a good resale value. This means their loan isn’t secured with collateral. It is this dynamic that means for us to get access to loans, we need to get creative. Some borrow from a family member, some save up years to pay with cash, others use credit cards and carry a balance. There isn’t a good answer in this area yet, it’s a tough problem to crack.
Despite the approach of putting a tiny house on trailer, this isn’t the magic bullet that it is often claimed to be. The issue comes when you look at your municipality’s minimum habitable structure definition. These definitions almost always exclude Tiny Houses from being a dwelling and give code enforcement a strong leg to stand on when it comes to condemning your Tiny Home and/or levying fines. This code does serve a good purpose; it prevents abuse on the part of slum lords and gives a mechanism for the courts to hold slum lords accountable.
In our society today, bigger is better, more is better, we are conditioned to want more and more stuff. These cultural norms are a very strong current in maintaining the status quo. Tiny Houses fly in the face of such things, questioning much of what people hold dear. People can react in a very visceral way when we suggest there is a problem with the way things are. People work their whole lives to get as much stuff as they can, to suggest that is wrong, in a way, is to suggest their life’s work is wrong. People can get very defensive and social pressures can make the shift to living a simple life in a Tiny House very difficult with some people. We need to be sure not to come off as judgmental or preachy, we want to present it simply as an alternative.
This ties into a few of the above points, but is none the less a real barrier. When faced with the prospect of bucking the system, initiating a radical lifestyle change, and spending a good chunk of money to do it, it can be scary. I know from personal experience when you are close to the moment where you must make the decision, where you have to take the leap, a whole series of self-doubts come to the surface. You are left trying to decide if these doubts are simply normal big decision jitters or if they are valid concerns your unconscious is trying to make you aware of. The sorting of these thoughts and processing of them is taxing, a little emotional, and of course scary. Even those of us who deal with change well will struggle with this significantly, fear is a powerful emotion and we must face it to achieve our goal.