What Is The Tiny House Movement?

what is the tiny house movement

NAVIGATION


What are tiny houses? What is the tiny house movement? Why do people choose tiny homes and what does tiny living mean?

Simply put, the trend toward tiny houses has become a social movement. People are choosing to downsize the space they live in, simplify, and live with less. People are embracing the tiny life philosophy and the freedom that accompanies the tiny house lifestyle. The tiny house movement is about more than simply living in a small space (although, a small house is certainly part of it).

How Big is the Average Tiny House?

What is a tiny house? How big (or small, rather) is a tiny house anyway? Well, the typical American home is around 2,600 square feet, whereas the typical small or tiny house definition is a home with square footage is between 100 and 400 square feet. While of course there aren’t any rules to joining the tiny house movement, when people refer to “the tiny life,” their tiny house generally falls under the 400 square foot level.

Tiny homes may be rented or owned. You may choose a mini home on wheels or your small home may set on a foundation. Most tiny houses are independent structures—some are parked on land with other buildings or a larger home. Other tiny houses are parked on their own lot. Some tiny houses are designed and built by the owner themselves, while others are purchased, adapted from trailers, or built from a tiny house kit. Tiny houses come in all shapes, sizes, and forms, but they all enable simpler living in a smaller, more efficient space.

Why Join the Tiny House Movement?

To those who haven’t tried tiny house living, it may seem daunting. Why would someone choose to live in a small space? But “bigger is better,” right?

It turns out there are many merits to the tiny home movement and the tiny life philosophy. Of course, people may join the movement for any number of reasons, but the most popular reasons include environmental concerns, financial concerns, and the desire for more time and freedom.

The tiny life provides huge financial advantages and the ability to live a lifestyle filled with adventure. For most Americans, 1/3 to 1/2 of their income is dedicated to the roof over their heads! That means many people will spend a lot of time figuring out how to afford their homes. Buying a house often translates to at least 15 years of working over your lifetime to pay for it. Because of the high cost of owning a “typical-sized” home, as well as the associated expenses (and culture of “buy now, pay later”), 76% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.

We work hard to afford bigger houses than we need. We continue to work, so we can fill our houses with more stuff…items we may not need but buy anyway. Many Americans are overwhelmed by their packed schedules and obligations. They’re tired of running in the rat race.

So, what’s the alternative to this high cost of living? One solution is to live smaller—and it’s that realization that brings many people into the tiny house movement. While small homes aren’t for everyone, tiny house costs are much lower than a full-size building.

In my own journey, I started out in an apartment that cost me $1000 per month once you added in utilities, insurance, etc.  Once I moved into my tiny house, my bills virtually disappeared, it now costs me $15 (yes you read that right, fifteen dollars!) per month.  The cost of building my own tiny house was recouped in under 2 years’ time, allowing me to bank a lot of savings.  Even if you’re not ready to take the plunge, there are lessons to learn and apply to escape the cycle of debt in which almost 70% of Americans are trapped.

The cost of buying an average-sized house over 30 years can be much higher than you think. The initial cost of a $290,000 home includes the purchase price, of course, but also includes the interest, taxes, insurance, maintenance, repairs and improvements. All of this can add up to a total cost of over a million dollars during the lifetime of your home.  This is the “true cost” of a home.


cost of buying a house over 30 years

Why is the tiny home trend becoming so popular? Because the average cost of a tiny home is much lower than that of an average house. Once you’ve purchased your tiny home (current tiny house market trends show tiny houses cost between $10,000 and $40,000), the cost of upkeep is relatively low. Depending on where you park your tiny house, you may need to pay for land rental and insurance, but in the long run, the savings on a tiny house is huge.

The Small Living Movement and The Joy of Living with Less

As you see, it’s no wonder many people are overwhelmed by the cost of their homes.

The tiny life is a growing movement, for sure! With international attention on CNN, AP, Guardian, Huffington Post, NBC, Oprah, PBS, and so many more (find links at the end of this page), the tiny house movement has helped people learn about another way to live their lives. Every month thousands and thousands of readers come to my site hoping to learn how they too, can simplify, downsize, and learn how to live with less. I know many other tiny house owners who blog about their experience, and they report the same trend toward the small living movement.

My website focuses on tiny house living or living The Tiny Life. It’s where I like to share my journey. Since I began, I’ve been able to experience many adventures, travel to new places, and enjoy my freedom.

Tiny houses are the focal point in a broader system to address issues, concerns, and problems of the current day. They offer a path to a smaller environmental footprint, greater financial freedom, and ultimately a self-sufficient life. The tiny home movement enables you to live a life on your own terms.

So if you wonder who buys tiny houses? Anyone who is concerned about life simplification, environmental consciousness, self-sufficiency and sound fiscal plans. The tiny life allows for you to have more time and freedom to enjoy life adventures.

tiny living encompasses: tiny houses, life simplification, environmental consciousness, self sufficiency, sound fiscal plans and life adventures

What Tiny House Living Looks Like

Because the tiny life is lived on your own terms, it looks a little different for everyone. There are definitely commonalities amongst tiny house owners, though. There are also impressive savings many members of the tiny house movement experience. Here’s a great infographic to illustrate all the important tiny house statistics and tiny living by the numbers. Wondering what is a tiny home? This will help paint the picture.


Some of the tiny house info above may surprise you. 68% of tiny home owners have no mortgage (compared to 29.3% of all U.S. homeowners). It’s no surprise then, that more tiny home owners (78%) own their own home—plus, 55% of tiny home owners have more savings than the average American. 32% of tiny home owners have more than $10,000 tucked away for retirement.

A tiny home is easier to maintain because the average tiny home size is significantly smaller. Imagine the time you’ll save keeping up with the average tiny home square footage (just 186 square feet). The average “regular-sized” home in the U.S. is over 11 times larger! That’s much more time spent on upkeep.

Who buys tiny houses? More women than men (55% compared to 45%). Tiny house people are twice as likely to hold a Master’s degree and are on par with the average college graduation rates. 2 out of 5 tiny house owners are over 50. The average income is $42,038, which means that on average, tiny house owners are earning $478 more annually.

Why a Tiny House? Tiny Home Owners in their Own Words

There’s no better advocate for the tiny life movement than those who are living the tiny life themselves.

Below I’ve compiled a few tiny house videos explaining exactly why so many people choose to embrace the tiny house movement. These owners of tiny homes share the benefits they’ve seen from making the switch to a simpler lifestyle. Even if you don’t own a tiny home, per se, there are plenty of truths you can apply to start living the life of your dreams.

The Tiny Life: Tiny Houses, Simple Living

What is the tiny house movement all about? Here are many different perspectives from tiny home owners about why they chose to follow the small house trend. Simplifying, freedom, sustainability—the tiny house movement is about finding housing to fit your lifestyle. It’s about not only decluttering your home and space, but decluttering your obligations, your social life, and your stress. The tiny life is about financial freedom and living a more engaged life with the luxury of time to do what YOU want.

Special thanks to Dee Williams, Lina Menard, Macy Miller, Laura LaVoie, & Chris and Malissa Tack.

How to Start Designing a Tiny House

Thinking of joining the mini house movement, but don’t know where to begin? Here’s how to start designing a tiny home, including the steps you should take before you decide to buy. Gather as much tiny house information as you can before you take the plunge. Before you start finding tiny homes to live in, spend time in tiny homes, talk to other tiny home owners, and even consider renting a tiny home or apartment. Once you’re ready, learn how to use design and packing strategies to your advantage to make the most of your small space!

Special thanks to Lina Menard.

The Next Step in the Tiny Life

What happens after you move into a tiny house? So much is said about purchasing tiny house plans and learning how to build a tiny house. But once all the logistics are in place, what happens after you move in and start living the life you’ve always wanted? It brings up interesting questions to explore: with financial freedom and a simplified life, what are you going to do? Now that you have time, where will you set out for your next adventure? I made this video explaining how I faced this question and what I discovered about life after you join the small house movement.

Learn More About The Tiny House Movement

Since The Tiny Life began, we’ve been featured many times discussing the tiny house movement and what it means to live the tiny life. Here are more places you can go to read about the small home movement and lifestyle:

Tiny House Living: Ideas for living well in 400 square feet or less – The best selling tiny house book
What is the Tiny House Movement – Plans, Resources, Pros & Cons from Money Crashers
What is the Tiny House Movement from Neighbor, Inc.
Why Hasn’t the Tiny House Movement Become a Big Thing: A Look at 5 Big Barriers from TreeHugger
What is a Tiny House from Living Big in a Tiny House
Factors to Consider Before Joining the Tiny House Movement from U.S. News & World Report
Tiny Homes Offer Convenience, Affordability to Owners from CNBC
This Tiny Life: Ditch the Square Feet, Gain the World from Creative Loafing Charlotte

Your Turn!

  • What questions do you have about the tiny house movement?

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85 Comments
  1. Have you seen these houses? https://www.ruralzed.com/43.php

    • Awesome! It is great houses with high quality design that we will need to shift to. Compact and community oriented will be the future weather we want it or not, we just have to make the decision to do it well and with good aesthetics.

    • These houses are McMansions they are NOT tiny houses.

  2. Ok, all great – but what about KIDS? Raising a FAMILY? Perhaps having kids is not eco-friendly, otherwise I'm hard pressed to explain the total absence of family perspectives in this blog.

    • A Tiny House is relative to the number of people. While a 1000 square foot house sounds big, but if 5 people live in there, that is only 200 sq/ft per person. Further you are able to share common areas, which you could argue has less of an environmental impact.

      • wow you’ve peaked my interest! what part of nc are you located? I would love to see one of these in person 🙂 i’m in North Charlotte between North Lake and the Whitewater Center

    • Orit… What you, and unfortunately so many people, are overlooking is that different people have different needs during different parts of their lives. Maybe people are evolutionarily adapted to think about what they want for when they have kids, but the fact is, that is only for 20 years or whatever of your 62 year adulthood.

      Older people and younger people can still make use of smaller living spaces quite effectively. Secondly, the average time people have between when they move is 56 months, or 4.5 years. So people are always moving from one house to another – moving to a bigger house when you have kids is no big deal. And in the mean time you are spending less money on housing, and after the kids have moved away you again save money, and reduce your environmental impact. that money can be put towards college funds, or buying a better bighouse if/when you do need one.

      The idea that a house is an investment is a common misunderstanding, but financial experts all say that it is wrong – just do a quick googling now if you don’t believe me. The more housing you are using, the more money, that you will not get back, you spend each month, period.
      Why spend any more than you need to to live comfortably?

      • I totally agree with your comment…we are in our late 50’s our kids are grown, we want to downsize to a very small house,maybe a tiny house for each of us..lol…but to say that the concept isn’t family oriented, is rubbish. More space when you have more people, smaller space when the need for more space isn’t required.

        Love the tiny house movement and am hoping to be able to find some land to put one on without fearing issues with the government.

        • It’s funny…relating both mopdog’s comment and fendel’s comment to my life. As my sister and I grew up we moved every 7 years and into bigger and bigger houses (I think the biggest was 3000 sf)- that is till we got to high school and moved to Naples, FL where we were essentially priced out of living in a larger home. We lived in a 1300 sf villa that had essentially no yard (but there was beautiful landscaping in the common areas) and I slept on a futon for most of high school. My parent’s had a lofted bedroom that overlooked the living and dining room. It was my favorite house by far. The spaces felt more intimate, we were all “forced” to share spaces together- which strengthened the family bond. We couldn’t sequester ourselves in a space because it was a fairly open floor plan and my mother had a knack for barging in unannounced- bedroom, bathroom didn’t matter. We didn’t have massively sized rooms that we had to fill with more stuff. Now my parents have moved out of the country and live in a smaller apartment.

          I miss my 450 sf apartment in Brooklyn. My husband and I live in a 1800 sf 3 bedroom house built in 1905 with the anticipation of starting a family (though right now that constitutes or two cats, two dogs and a fish)- but if we ended up not having children we will definitely downsize.

    • Some of the ideas behind the tiny house movement seem applicable to and desireable for family living and I suspect we’ll see more on this as the movement matures. For instance:
      *critically thinking about your needs and building smarter rather than larger
      *building affordably (avoiding debt)
      *living in a way that fosters a connection with your resource use (reducing and actively managing your resource use)
      *building in a way that maintains a connection with the outdoors

    • You ask about kids. I have 3 and I am here to tell you that by the time I pay my outrageous rent, huge electric bill, water bill, etc…there is no money left for any FUN. I would love to own a camper to take my kids camping with, or to be able to stay longer than 2 days on a vacation. I would love to be able to afford for all of us to go to a movie more than once a year. I am a college graduate with a decent job and even at that by the time I pay to live the way society tells me I “have to” to be a Stepford Parent, there is nothing left for anything but to sit in our house and stare at each other. My kids and I have discussed this repeatedly and all agree we would rather downsize, live smaller and more efficiently and be able to take longer vacations, go camping, buy a boat for fishing etc…Life is NOT about quantity, it’s quality. We need to think more about what is best for us and not if we look like big shots to our neighbors!

      • I completely agree with you. I have a good job.I support not only myself and my son, but also my Mom. All over our money goes to bills, bills, bills. My son is 10 and we have been looking into more sustainable living arrangements. Our plan, along with my Mom, is to move into a small house on property out of the city that we will be building ourselves. I’d rather live in a smaller home, with less THINGS (which take up time and money) and enjoy a siplified life with my family. It is so worth it to us!

      • I have a 2 year old daughter and will be moving from a 2 bedroom, 850 sq. ft. apartment to a 1 bedroom, 500 sq.ft apartment. This is by choice. I do not want a space to fill with stuff we don’t need. I have an overwhelming desire to downsize to only the necessary and sentimental material things. I am hoping it will shift my materialistic focus and shift my priorities to the more important things in life. I am also wanting to raise my daughter in an environment that promotes environmental and social consciousness, and shifts away from frivolity.

    • You’re right, in that there isn’t much thought to where kids are going to be put in these tiny houses. But I think that if you look at this as a first step i.e. people in their 20s-30s without families living in just the space they need with the bare minimum of stuff, then even if/when they have kids and get a bigger house, the mentality of only having what you need will still be applied.

    • What about kids? Fact is that not everything can be for everyone.
      This blog is about tiny houses.
      Just as gulf blogs may not of interest to bicyclists. Tiny houses may not be of interest to people with children.

    • As for kids, as a father of a now 4 year old who has lived with me in my Tiny home for three years, I could offer two pieces of insight. First, the finances (much less the mental clarity and enlivened spirit)that are born from releasing excess, has in my opinion much more enriched both our lives than a those unneeded sq ft ever could (3-4 days a week free to explore, expand and enjoy with my daughter, think of that alone!), Secondly now as she grows and DOES need room to expand into, my plan is to have a second mini home… One; my space + kitchen, bath and living. And a second; for my daughter and my workshop. Serves two functions, keeps us close yet allows independence to naturally grow. Think circling the wagons. And when she’s grown, consider the joy and satisfaction of giving your child on the day they leave the nest, both a home, and a sense of true needs.

  3. If you want kids, build a bigger house and that’s it

  4. The concept looks fantastic! How is production going? Unfortunately for me it’ll probably by umpteen years before you’re in production, but I’ll keep checking back here for updates. An ambitious project to be sure, but if you’re successful it’ll be a great boon to homeowners and the planet. Godspeed – Shaw

  5. In America, where BIGGER is almost always considered better, the idea of tiny houses is more apt to elicit my 12-year old daughter’s reaction. She looked my square in the face, patted me sympathetically on the shoulder, and murmured, “You have small dreams, my friend!” Hoo, boy. Maybe it was something she’d seen someone say on a talk show, I don’t know, but it was a real Art Linkletter moment. It’s possible you might only find any respect amongst fellow tiny householders. It reminds me of a cartoon I saw. Two “homeowners” lounging in an alley in front of their refrigerator boxes, sipping from paper bags. Caption:

    “The Sub-Zero may offer more curb appeal, but for sheer comfort and liveability, you can’t beat your basic Electrolux side-by-side!”

    • lol Love it!

    • Bigger wasn’t always better, even in the U.S. Our grandparents and great-grandparents valued thrift more than conspicuous consumption, which was often looked down upon as too much ostentatious show. Since then, our economy has been dependant on consumption and concepts such as “velocity of money,” or how quickly money changes hands. If we were to switch to a savings economy, GDP would suffer and we would all end up downsizing our lifestyles, living in smaller houses and probably having to turn to even growing some of our own food… Wouldn’t that be a disaster?

  6. Where are people in the tiny house movement placing these houses? The RV parks cost as much as renting an apt. The building codes require at least 2500 sq feet on a private lot. I am very excited about The Tiny House Movement, been researching and reading books. I just am looking for ideas on where to put the tiny house. Thank you so much

    • In a backyard of a family member, on the property of a friend who lives in the country. RV parks are not your only option, research the codes in your area and get creative.

    • That is exactly what we are trying to figure out, where can we legally place a tiny house on wheels, or just a tiny house? Has anyone found out which states are more open and receptive to allowing smaller homes? If I find anything, I will post it here.

  7. I love these houses. I love the details in making it all work. Someone wondered on their post how you live in a small house with kids….. I had two preschool kids in a 900sqft house with no problem. You share space and a have a lot less stuff… Now we have 1600 sqft and it feels absolutely huge.

  8. I would love to see more posts about tiny living with children. We currently live in a 1000 sq. ft house with two small children. We are building our own home that will be about 1200 feet plus a loft. We intend to have more kids. I wonder if we qualify as tiny house people? I know my kitchen and bathroom are tiny enough.

    Tiny living isn’t just for the very young and very old. It’s for families, too.

  9. [comment removed, violation of terms and agreements]

    • Well, that’s a real non-judgemental, open-minded response! To each his own, live and let live. If you like to pay the high cost of owning more home than you actually need, more power to you, but you needn’t insult those of us who like tiny houses. I prefer to have a tiny house and thus have more free time, more freedom, and more money, instead of being a slave to a house that’s bigger than I need.

    • Why would someone say something like that then immediately apologize? Must not have a backspace button.

  10. I live in a 20x20ft small house; very challenging if you have guests but it’s managable and mortgage-free. You don’t accumulate “stuff” and truly love what you have.

  11. If anyone knows of a tiny house “community” where the codes actually favor tiny houses or allow them in the back yard please let me know. I would like to learn about how you change the laws to allow these structures in a community to increase affordable housing. Seattle has a law that allows accessory dwelling units that are rentable as a way to densify housing without building high rise apartments. I am not sure if the tiny houses on trailers qualify for being allowed as an “accessory dwelling unit”.

    • I’m looking for the same thing. My original plan is to buy a couple of acres of land to put my tiny house on, but it would be great to be part of a little community of tiny home owners, if I could find one. I think I read something somewhere last year about a group that bought up an RV park that had gone bankrupt, and the group was working to make it into a tiny house community. Wouldn’t that be neat? I wish I could remember where I read that. I’ve seen some small home communities but the houses aren’t on wheels – they are on permanent foundations – and you have to buy one of the houses and they are astronomically expensive, which kind of defeats the whole purpose of down-sizing, doesn’t it?

  12. This idea has been around for well over a hundred years in Alaska and still has a strong following there today.
    I spent 5 years living in Fairbanks in the late 80’s to early 90’s. I knew many people that lived in log homes they built themselves that commonly measure 12’x18′ or similar sizes. Many of the people were highly educated and financially well off, they simply chose to live like this,although some others did it out of financial necessity.
    They were all happy, they never judged each other and there was no “keeping up with the Jones” behavior. Actually they spent most of their money living life to it’s fullest, travel, hobbie, etc.
    It leaves me envious to this day, so much so that as soon as my 3 children are on their own in a few years I plan to head back and try the lifestyle myself. In fact one of my sons is planning on going too.
    For those that don’t agree with this, that’s your choice and the freedom you are able to enjoy. Now if only those that want to live like this could enjoy the same freedom of choice without having ordinances and such forcing us to live in homes larger than we choose.

  13. I have been fantasizing about this lifestyle for years. Alas, family needs demand a compromise. Maybe when my kids go to college my wife and I can entertain the idea.

    One more point. Building a home (any home) is never “eco-friendly”. Recycling is the only true eco-friendly thing to do in that it does not require new land or building materials. Reduce Reuse Recycle. I suppose one of these houses could be built with mostly or all recycled materials but that would be tough to get good quality.

    I think the smallest carbon footprint we can make would be to live in a small apartment in the city and bike/walk to work. Own land in the country and pitch a tent.

    • I’ve heard that Portland, OR, is fairly open to the idea of Tiny Houses. I would guess that other areas with a reputation for “liberalism” would be good areas to begin to look, as well…

      On the theme of Reuse/Recycle, a number of very clever and creative architechs and regular people have come up with some pretty interesting smaller living/working structures made from used shipping containers, both here and in Europe. I understand these containers can cost about the same as the flatbed trailers so many Tiny Houses are built on, and that ones built for shipping refrigerated/frozen foods are good candidates because of the built-in insulation.

  14. I like everything I see.

    The real question is WHERE are you allowed to have a tiny house? Do have to go to a camp ground?

    I and sure many others would appreciate any links or info as to finding a place to put a Tiny House.

  15. I would love to buy land and build my own tiny house – less than 200 square feet. Off the grid, solar powered with composting toilet. The question, as many have already asked, is where? Where can this be done without violating some code? Also, I would like to be a reasonable bike ride to a town. I still need to buy groceries, and have a social life! Book stores, libraries, coffee shop… Any comments on where or where someone can build their own tiny house would be much appreciated!

    • My partner and I had planned on buying land and building a tiny home in Maine. I regularly checked the real estate sites for prospects. Then in October last year, I lost my job. I took my severance pay and we purchased a “camp” in Northern Maine fir less than $25k. I have over an acre of land with loads of mixed wood trees and a 550 square foot home, a two car garage/workshop and a shed. We put in a new woodstove and did some repairs on the house, including a new roof. The beauty of living here is labor is inexpensive and there are no zoning issues. I have a garden and am getting chickens shortly. My goal is to be as self sustaining as possible without giving up certain luxuries..satellite. television is one! No mortgage and about $200 in monthly bills. Not bad if I say so myself!

  16. What we need are Villages that are self sufficient in every way…cities should be banned from this planet…DIVIDE THE CITY INTO VILLAGES AND SPREAD THEM OUT..thats the formula for sustainable living

    • The idea of the citizen farmer and a country comprised of villages and towns was originally part of Thomas Jefferson’s conception of how America should be settled and developed. I understand that it was Alexander Hamilton who pushed the idea of cities and a centralized banking system as the most economically promising… Looks like we already tried one theory, and now it may be time to try the other…

  17. I think as more and more people come to the shocking realization that it is not “stuff” that makes one happy, you will see this movement skyrocket.

    One main reason for minimal sq. footage is the towns/cities can charge more for taxes than with a little house. It was also a way to keep out mobile home owners who are also always looking for a “litte piece of heaven”. I was one of those and purchased ten acres in AL 18 years ago for my retirement. Was never sorry. Love our home and our little homestead we have created from raw land.

  18. It appears to me that many of the tiny houses on wheels are similar to the “Park Model” mobile homes in RV parks here in Arizona.
    I have considered building a really tiny home to donate to one of the homeless people that live on the streets in Phoenix. It would be about 3 feet wide by 8 feet long and 4 feet high, just big enough for a bed and a couple shelves and hooks to hang things on. It would have ventilation openings for the summer heat. It would be very light and mounted on bicycle type wheels so that the user could relocate by pulling behind a bicycle. I think, for the right person, it would be an improvement over the shopping carts the homeless use to contain their possessions.

  19. OK, I’ve been living in my 500 SF 4-story home on the Treasure Coast of Florida for over twenty years. A 10 mile view of the Indian River and Savannas State Park is available through any window above ground level. It took some timeto locate, but in St. Lucie County several Zoning Classifications have NO minimum area requirements. Most local towns & cities require over 1000 sf of A/C area + at least a one car enclosed garage.

    As an architect, I designed several small homes, chose one to detail and had a General Contractor build two (a friend built an identical house next door.) Because of the small size, limited framing spans & “action direct” detailing total cost was less than $40,000. Unfortunately, the County Commission has lost it’s collective mind and approved “impact fees” of OVER $14,000 per new home irrespective of size. Last year a 1 bedroom, 763 sf home paid more than $15 per square foot in impact fees alone. Water & sewer hook-ups (if service is available you MUST connect) would run about $20,000 more !

    Over the ensuing 20+ years over 200 bird species have been spotted, the gopher torotise population has doubled and our native coffee and cactus thrive since we removed vegetation for our homes 20′ x 24′ footprint.

    I have long contemplated construction of a lightweight “teardrop” trailer able to be pulled by my 1500 CC 4-cylinder car – another option for the MicroHome since it has the living space on the outside of the trailer. The base trailer is available in kit form for under $400 and I would use lightweight “honeycomb” for the sides & roof to keep overall weight to less than 450#.

  20. Where I live, impact fees or proffers are absolutely essential. They’re all we can do to keep up with housing developers, and the main reason is the cost of schools.

    Each new home brings 2 or 3 children which at $11,000 per kid per year means up to $33,000 in operating expenses for schools alone. Capital expenses we slough off to future generations via bond issues. And then, of course, there are roads, utilities, police …all of the physical and social infrastructure that developers don’t otherwise pay a penny for.

    This economic collapse has a silver lining in that we can all take a deep breath–and maybe change some of our bad habits as a society. Unfortunately on top of everything else we’re supposed to pay everyone else’s mortgages for them now too. Sorry for the rant, I veered a bit off-topic!

  21. Lest anyone think property taxes pay for schools, consider that the average house here pays $2200 per year in property taxes. Doesn’t even make a dent!

    Nonetheless, I think the death of the suburb is a bit exaggerated. All my neighbors have to do is to trade in their guzzler SUVs for Prius wagons or Chevy Volts and we get another decade or two out of this carcass!

  22. I am glad I found this website (through an article in NY Times). As one who lives alone in a small basement apartment, with a total livable area of about 250 square feet, I agree that the sustainability of the planet requires that we find strategies that conserve the planet’s resources. The biggest single obstacle in developed countries is that people equate having a large home with status and comfort, and that becomes a game they play in order to satisfy their ego needs.

    Ironically, even with such a small domicile as I live in, it amazes me how much of the planet’s resources I need to survive, including the trash I put out because I have to buy food that comes in containers, the gasoline I need to use to shop for food (I do not live in walking distance from a supermarket), and the electricity I need for lighting, heat, and hot water (I can’t train myself to take cold showers!).

    Perhaps we can’t all live in tiny homes, but everyone can make improvements in their lifestyle to create less of a drain on the planet’s resources, and we in the developed countries have the most to learn, as well as the most go gain.

  23. Many of you question the building codes which prevent tiny homes from locating just anywhere. Part of the reason municipalities regulate construction is to prevent sewage from contaminating groundwater, surely a good thing for anyone concerned about the environment. Smaller living is a necessity going into the future, just keep in mind the whole picture.

  24. We live in England in a 2 bedroom terraced house total space about 800sqft we love it! We share our house with two cats and have a separate dining room, lounge, kitchen bathroom and bedrooms. There’s a garden at the front about 2.5msq and a wood/park to walk in locally. We don’t need or want a bigger house because living is the priority and that can be measured in stuff you DO not stuff you OWN! If one of us loses our job the other can afford the mortgage and all bills on their own. This seems to us to be sensible planning. Bigger houses get filled with more things which will eventually break and probably end up in landfill. If you only buy what you need you are better off financially and environmentally. Our new year’s resolution is to buy non material presents. So far…concert tickets for hubby’s birthday…. We’ll take loads of photos so when we’re old and grey we can look back on a fab life together (nobody looks back and says ” yes, but that designer tie you got me back in ’94 was fab).

  25. I think the tiny house movement is a good thing, only thing is once this starts catching on city’s will start taxing the heck out of these homes and communities. What about safety during tornadoes. High winds, Hurricanes. But I still see a future, would be cheap to live in. A family would have to go bigger. More than 400 sq ft. You can’t raise a family of 6 or 8 or 12 in a small house less than 1000 sq ft.

  26. I think the one thing people often overlook when it comes to the question of tiny house living just how little “living” we actually do in the home no matter big our houses are.

    We eat and sleep at home sure, but most of the actual living we do takes place away from home.

    We seem to be developing in to a generation of people that would rather waste hours on end at home in front of a TV, computer or games console rather than getting out and doing any actual living.

    • EXACTLY! We are rarely home. People have work and errands to run. The home is for sleeping and storing a bunch of random junk we NEVER use. People need to start truly and HONESTLY analyzing the stuff they own and ask themselves if they NEED it. I believe at that point they’ll realize how much stuff they never really use. The main question to ask is, In case of an emergency, is this of any use to me? Would I take this with me? If the answer is no, then you don’t need it.

  27. I am 26 yrs old, I have no children and currently own a 4 bedroom home with my sister & my bf. I am looking into getting a tiny house. I see no point of owning a big house when I only use one room all day (plus the bathroom). My room is my office, my entertainment room, it’s everything. I don’t need all this extra space. My mom wants my bf & I to get a 3 bdrm house of our own. I don’t see as to why I would want that much space. Quite frankly, seeing how we’re both always at work, we could easily live in a studio. Seeing how everyone has grown accustomed to having the giant “dream home”, most people don’t allow themselves to conform to living off of only what they NEED. I was forced to live in my car for half a year so I can do very well in small spaces.

  28. This tiny houses concept is interesting! you say you are in North Carolina, what part? I’m in N. Charlotte… I’m interested in seeing what the tiny house looks like in person (if you’re close of course).

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