Could You Live in a Tiny House?

Could You Live in a Tiny House?

Bigger isn’t always better for many homeowners. The proof: the ever-growing popularity of so-called tiny houses, where full-size people live in small-scale homes of 80 to 400 square feet. That’s quite a leap from a typical single-family American home, whose median size is 2,467 square feet, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. If you’re looking for affordable, sustainable housing where every inch is put to good use, then a tiny home may be for you. Here’s what to keep in mind if you’re thinking of a dramatic downsize.

1. You’ll have to pare down big-time

Since there’s severely limited storage space in a tiny house, you’ll end up giving away most of your stuff – furniture (in favor of fold-down beds and tables), full-size appliances (compact models rule), books, clothes and much more. But following a minimalist lifestyle and keeping only the things you truly love and need often leave people feeling not deprived but exhilarated.

2. If you put the house on wheels, you can move it

While some tiny homes are built on a foundation like a traditional house, most are constructed on trailers. Being on wheels makes packing up and heading for the highway when you want a change of address a snap.

3. Finding a place to build or park your tiny home may be difficult

Zoning regulations in many states require a minimum square footage – far greater than a tiny home’s – for new construction built on a foundation. But building a home on wheels and parking it on land you own or rent may not be possible either since it may be considered “camping” by the local or state jurisdiction. And recreational vehicle (RV) parks may prohibit tiny houses on wheels too because of their concern with liability, says Elaine Walker, a cofounder of the American Tiny House Association. “Since about sixty-five percent of tiny houses are self-built, RV park owners are worried that they aren’t safe.”

4. You’ll leave a smaller carbon footprint

Many people are attracted to a tiny house not just for the simpler life it promises but also for its environmental advantages. “It reduces the use of resources like fuel,” Walker says. She estimates that 25 percent of tiny homeowners live off the grid and use only solar power.

5. Cleaning your home will be a breeze

With such minimum square footage, there’s only so much dirt and dust that can accumulate. That means less home maintenance and more time to pursue fun or educational activities. Or take naps and relax!

6. You’ll make more trips to the store

Your Costco membership may get little use – a tiny home can’t accommodate a giant box of Cheerios or enough toilet paper to last three months. More shopping means more driving and more gas, time, and carbon emissions.

7. You may have trouble finding a mortgage

Many moneylenders won’t offer a mortgage for a tiny home. “It costs as much in overhead to prepare a small loan as it does a large one, so banks typically don’t lend for houses that are worth under $50,000,” says Walker (some won’t lend for less than $100,000). “Loans for tiny houses on wheels are generally RV loans or general non-secured loans rather than mortgages.”

8. A small house can hinder or help relationships

If you live with someone in a compact space, it involves a dilemma that people in full-size homes don’t have: When you need alone time or a post-fight hangout, there’s no place go. On the flip side, “Some people say it improves their relationships,” says Walker, “because they have to resolve issues rather than ignore them.”

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