Back to the Basics: The Tiny House Movement

Many factors are contributing to the growing trend of downsizing significantly and living more simply.

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Given our fast-paced society, most of us have fantasized at one time or another about a simpler lifestyle – living at a slower pace, with less chaos and far fewer distractions. When these pangs hit, most of us take a vacation to get away from it all. But there are a growing number of people who are taking it to heart and making drastic changes to their lives – and their homes.

The Tiny House Movement

Basically, the tiny house movement is about living in really small (tiny) houses. People who are jumping onboard are doing it for several reasons – simplification of lifestyle, environmental (as in reducing carbon footprint), and the desire to be self-sufficient. But with more than 70 percent of Americans living paycheck to paycheck, financial concerns and abolishing debt are likely the biggest drivers.

The concept took off after being introduced through outlets like the Huffington Post, CNN, and PBS, and television shows like Tiny House Nation. From there it has become a social phenomenon of sorts. The houses are teeny tiny – 1,000 square feet or less, and they are often built on trailers so they’re portable.

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Photo provided courtesy of Tammy Strobel via Flickr
The Tiny House

While tiny houses are “officially” classified as less than 1,000 square feet, they are typically only between 100 and 400 square feet. To say they are smaller than the typical American home, which is 2,600 square feet, is a huge understatement.

Tiny houses come in many shapes and various sizes, but what they all have in common is an absolute focus on simplified living and low cost. Most tiny houses cost between $20,000 and $50,000 (as of 2012). They require less lumber and building materials to construct, cost much less to heat and cool, and the owner can hardly spend money on “things” when there’s little space to store them.

Storage space is minimal and kitchens are, well, tiny, so this type of living arrangement requires a good amount of space planning and creativity. On the plus side, less space also means lower heating and cooling posts and fewer appliances – which means a fireplace can have a big impact on keeping a tiny house warm!

Tiny house
Photo provided courtesy of Tammy Strobel via Flickr
The Details

Some people build their own tiny houses, and some purchase them. Tiny house manufacturers have existed for some time, but have become more prolific in recent years. An example is Tumbleweed Tiny House Company based in Sonoma, Calif. Founded in 1999, the company builds tiny houses in Colorado Springs and ships them anywhere in the continental U.S.

While it’s common knowledge that tiny houses are a growing trend, it’s impossible to know exactly how many exist. Currently only about 1 percent of U.S. homes are categorized as 1,000 square feet or less, but tiny houses don’t require the same building permits as larger homes and many are built discretely.

While the tiny house movement is real and happening, it’s definitely a lifestyle change that requires flexibility and determination! Learn more about this trend via Huffington Post’s infographic here.

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