What is the small house movement all about? Many refer to it as the “tiny house movement”, but I prefer a slightly more general term, as everybody downsizing their home doesn’t necessarily move into a tiny house, but rather a smaller house or apartment.
There is definitely a sector of the community committed to actual tiny houses, but the majority downsizing are not all adopting a tiny house mentality. They just want a residence that’s not as big as the one they’re currently in.
Even the term “small house movement” can be a little restrictive for some people. Maybe “smaller” house movement would be more accurate.
Anyway, for the sake of this article we’ll basically be referring to all three: Tiny, small and smaller.
A house is generally considered a tiny home if it is 37 square metres (400 square feet) or less. A small house is usually defined as being about 93 square metres (1000 square feet), but no smaller than 400 square feet.
In comparison, the typical American home is about 2600 square feet (around 247 square metres) these days.
As you can see, there is a vast difference between the size of a typical standard house when you compare it to the floor space of a tiny house.
The Small House Movement
One interesting fact to consider is that all throughout history, unless a family was of royalty or noble descent, the majority of the world’s population actually lived in rather small houses. It’s really only been in the last 100 years or so that the average family dwelling has increased in size rather dramatically.
It seems that for 1000s of years most were content with a smaller and more cozy environment, but since the industrial age, that seemed to change and suddenly everybody wanted more living space.
It’s all a part of modernisation and progress, but in the past few decades, that’s all been getting turned on its head.
At least in some sections of the community.
Initially many tiny houses were on wheels and therefore mobile. These days more and more are being constructed as permanent housing, and that’s obviously the same for smaller homes that are not tiny houses.
The main thrust behind this movement to downsize the home is to simplify one’s lifestyle, and that generally means downsizing more than just the house.
People are getting tired of having huge mortgages hanging over their heads all the time. Then there are all the extra costs associated with running and up keeping a much larger house. Power bills are higher. So too is the water, gas, maintenance and so on. And then there’s all the cleaning that has to be done regularly in large houses.
It’s a lot of money all round and also a lot of work and time involved.
People are getting sick of this, feeling like there is no life outside of work and looking after (and paying for) their “dream house”.
It was basically this discontent with the materialistic and time consuming direction their lives were heading that led to this downsizing movement and the pursuit of alternative housing options..
It’s all about simplifying one’s life on a number of levels, spending less money and time on the home and actually getting out there enjoying and living life again.
It’s certainly not so much about a group of people who just love living in small, cramped or claustrophobic spaces. It’s about getting out of the house more, decluttering one’s life, cutting back on the pursuit of material possessions, less time on cleaning and maintenance, and more time focusing on what’s important, as well as getting outdoors more.
The small house movement has been a way for many to get out from under the banks and heavy debt. This frees up money for getting out and living life, travelling, funding the kids’ education, saving for retirement, going on a road trip. Anything really.
It’s also about freedom. When you’re not so financially and physically tied up in your house, have little or no debt, and aren’t constantly chasing the next shiny new material possession, you do feel a sense of freedom, and that’s gold for many people.
These days there are even TV shows dedicated to the tiny house movement, such as:
Downsizing to tiny houses and smaller homes isn’t a phenomenon restricted to American shores either. This is a worldwide movement, covering Asia, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. More and more people are seeing huge financial and lifestyle benefits in downsizing, and as each year passes and this movement grows, it’s making more sense to more people.
Tiny/Smaller Houses and the Environment
For many embarking on this movement it’s also about leaving a smaller footprint on the environment.
Most of us are far more aware these days of our impact on the world around us, and tiny and smaller houses help in this regard.
Many of these smaller homes are constructed from recycled materials (at least partially). Less electricity is used, less water and gas. Many of these little homes are fitted with solar panels. Not as much land space is required to accommodate a permanent small house and so on.
People who are downsizing just generally seem to be more conscious of the environment as well, and are playing their part to make a difference, even in small ways.
Tiny Houses Helping the Homeless
Many people in the modern world found themselves homeless because they couldn’t afford to keep paying for their big houses and had them taken off them.
The small house movement – and tiny houses in particular – are now coming to the rescue of the homeless by providing temporary accommodation until these unfortunate folk can get back on their feet again.
Tiny houses also have become a way for these people to have more permanent housing, as they are far more affordable to buy and upkeep than a larger, more standard house.
Home Is Where the Heart Is
That may be a well worn cliché, but it doesn’t mean it’s not true.
The modern world has become somewhat obsessed with living in large homes and the endless pursuit of material wealth. So many have lost sight of what’s truly important, and that’s living life and enjoying all the simple, everyday things it has to offer.
These things are so often overlooked when we have our blinkers on, focused on the next career or material pursuit, and we are often just too damn busy to take time to smell the flowers.
Living in a genuine tiny house isn’t for everybody, but downsizing your life, your bills and your stress levels doesn’t mean you have to live that small. You can achieve a lot just by downsizing to a smaller house or an apartment.
A home is important, but it’s just a dwelling after all. There is far more to life and the world out there than just the house we live in.