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Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Exploring the Tiny House Movement

Carlie Back South Mountain Real EstateIn 2013 the average size for a home in America was 2,662 square feet. That number grew from 2,379 sq. ft. in 2007 and 1,780 sq. ft. in 1978. This move up in the size of the average family home continues to increase despite the fact that the size of the family has been decreasing. The increase can be attributed to gain in wealth and prestige. There are two house movements changing the size of homes in America; Small House Movement and Tiny House movement. The Small House movement is homes less than 1,000 square feet and the Tiny House Movement are homes less than 800 square feet, with some as small as 400 square feet.

Many families are finding the Tiny House Movement attractive for many reasons; they are less expensive to build or buy, the utilities, maintenance and taxes are lower, less impact on the environment and the appeal of a simpler lifestyle and having the ability to travel and have life experiences with the money that would have gone into their home. Smaller homes use less energy for heat, cooling and light benefiting the environment, it is also said that they release less greenhouse gas into the environment.  This type of living also allows a family to save and invest a much larger amount of their income. The benefit of a simple lifestyle seems to be the most attractive element for families moving into tiny homes. Many of them state that possessions do not bring happiness and humans are more comfortable with less, and the coziness contributes to family closeness and a return to the past where kids shared rooms and played outdoors. It also takes less time to clean a tiny home and to maintain it, which allows more time and money for fun, adventure and travel.

Most Americans spend one-third to one-half of their income on their house. This amounts to 15 years of working to pay for your house. The average home costs a borrower approximately $1,073,000 over the 30-year term when you include interest, taxes, insurance, repairs and maintenance. Only 29.3% of typical homeowners in the United States own their house out right, while 69% of tiny-home owners do not have a mortgage. Fifty-five percent of tiny-home owners have more savings than the average, and 89% have less debt, while 65% have no debt. Two out of five tiny-home owners are over the age of 50 and 10% more women than men own them. Their average income is slightly higher than the national average. With the growing number of Baby Boomers rising, many are buying tiny homes to allow them the ability to travel. Many tiny homes are being bought as vacation homes and as accessory dwelling units for existing typical homes. For example guest homes, homes for aging parents or returning children and studios and offices. In 2012, the average price of a tiny home was between $20,000 and $50,000 and accounted for only 1% of all houses built.   The recession also made this movement an attractive way to live in a way that would be more affordable and less impacted by any market downturns.

The Tiny House Movement is so popular that there are several television shows on HGTV, and a popular show on FYI called The Tiny House Nation. On the show Tiny Home Nation, the builder spends a long time interviewing the new homeowners as to their lifestyle and goals for living in a tiny home. Design is key because in order to fit all of the necessary components into such a small space is challenging. Most tiny homes have high ceilings and use the ceiling space to build loft-style bedrooms, some have bunk beds that can be lowered and lifted to create head space while not sleeping. One family wanted to keep their large dining room table, which created a big challenge, the designers built a one piece picnic-style table that could be lowered from the ceiling for family dinners and raised when not in use. A couple that loved wine needed a place to store their bottles, and the design incorporated a wine rack in the kitchen floor, with a Lucite cover so they could see their wine collection and walk on it. A family with young boys wanted to get them unplugged from their phones, computers and video games and enjoy the outdoors. They designed a home with a zip line from the house to a tree house and a dirt bike track that circled the house and a fold down ping-pong table between their beds for rainy day fun.

A tiny home is not for everyone. It is a challenge to part with possessions and get into a routine around cooking, bathing and living in such tight quarters. One thing we can all learn from the designers of these homes is how to make the best use of space.


By Carlie Back

Contact Carlie Back at Carlie@carlieback.com.


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