Two competing movements are taking place in housing across America. The U.S. Census Bureau tracks the square footage of new homes built. In 1973, new homes averaged 1,660 square feet. In 2014, the average new home has grown to 2,453 square feet. The idea of “bigger is better” is being met with the “less is more” theory. Goliath is being greeted by David. Despite the trend of increasing home size, a growing interest in tiny living is taking root.
Although tiny living is not new, the growing interest is. Therefore, there are not significant statistics to determine the number in existence in the U.S. It does appear there are some indicators impacting traditional home size and ownership. In 2013, the average new home was 2,598 square feet. In addition, traditional home ownership is close to the record low set in 1965. The second quarter of 2015 shows that home ownership rates make up only 63.4 percent of the housing market.
The average sales price of a new single-family home was $345,800 in 2014. Assuming someone put 20 percent ($69,160) down, this leaves $276,640 to be borrowed. A 30-year mortgage at 5 percent will cost another $257,982.80 in interest. This brings the total principle and interest to $603,782.80 to purchase the home. This figure does not even include taxes, insurance, utilities, or maintenance. Once these figures are factored into the equation, the final figure is easily approaching $1,000,000 over the 30-year period. The reality is, not many people stay in their home for 30 years anymore. Thus, they are often paying much more even if equity is built up. The increasing costs of new purchases often eats up the equity.
Faced with the financial burden of purchasing a traditional home, it is easy to see the reason for the growing popularity of tiny homes. Financial freedom only accounts for a portion of the equation. The tiny living movement encompasses multiple motivations. Some want to get out of the rat race and off the treadmill of going nowhere. Others are seeking adventure or a simpler lifestyle. Whether it’s high schoolers, college students, 20-somethings, the environmentally conscious, minimalists, downsizing retirees, travelers, or even multi-millionaire CEO’s, people of all walks are calling tiny homes their new homes. The tiny home movement is becoming a way of life for increasing numbers of people.
Regardless of motivation or walk of life, dealing with “stuff” is something all must resolve. Purging possessions can be a struggle in adjusting to a smaller space. However, the shift allows for an increased focus to be placed on what matters most. Whether that is the experience of travel, the nurturing of relationships, or the the time to enjoy other areas of life, the decluttering can pay huge dividends.
My own journey has allowed me to meet people from all walks of life with unique stories and experiences. I have met and visited with a lady who was part of a college tiny home build. I have shared time with an active grandmother that has found the tiny living lifestyle perfectly suiting to her way of life. I’ve met a family that sold everything from the home they lived in and a home they rented to move into a tiny home. This has allowed them to move from Georgia to the Zion National Park area. Then there’s the active grandfather who once lived among the financially elite and had all the toys yet has since chosen to quit following the high-dollar career path and live the tiny living lifestyle. I’ve met the family of a young high school girl that decided to build a tiny home. Several full-time RVers have chosen to live a life of travel and adventure. Even the organizers of a tiny home jamboree in Colorado (where 10,000 were expected but 40,000 attended) have been open to sharing their story.
An entire new world has opened up for me as I have discussed the pros and cons with these people and so many more. So far, each story has been told with enthusiasm. Sometimes it almost feels like a revival with an eager preacher ready to baptize me fully into the fold. Their enthusiasm and passion for life is contagious. Being able to utilize these people’s knowledge is a hugely beneficial resource for my preparation in my transition from one place to another within the tiny living movement. Being able to gain their knowledge allows me insight I may have otherwise missed. Connecting with others and developing relationships with many philosophically like-minded people is very rewarding. It feeds my soul. Being able to share some of their stories, the beauty of their individualism, and their personal experiences is something I cherish greatly. The connections are able to show the individual uniqueness of each person while also demonstrate the interconnected thread that weaves together the community.
I get excited making new friends in the tiny living community. Each new tiny home community friend feels like a new neighbor of sorts. Whether we live next door or not, we are able to share in the joy and challenges of living our dream.
Make it count!