The housing and economic crisis has effectively ended the days of the mini-mansions. Opulence is seen as indulgent, and the size of such homes effectively prices them out of the market for many families. In fact, there has been a growing trend toward simple living by downsizing home sizes and reducing the amount of material possessions. Some have gone as far as to minimize their lifestyle as much as possible by buying a tiny home, or micro homes, which typically have about 200 square feet. Some homes have fewer than that (as little as 90 square feet) and some homes have a little more. These homes can be purchased already made, or you can buy a plan and build it yourself.
While living in a tiny home can take some adjustment, such a lifestyle offers many advantages, both for your pocketbook and for the environment.
Financial Benefits of a Tiny Home
Of course, a smaller house means a smaller sale price and a smaller mortgage payment – or, if you plan well enough, no mortgage payment at all. If you’re handy, you can even build the house yourself. Many companies offer the option to buy the building plans for the house or to buy an already made home. With a lower sales price, you can also expect to pay far less in taxes and in home insurance.
The mortgage is, of course, only one part of the financial commitment of buying a home. The cost of maintenance and increased utility demands (such as power and water) can create a significantly greater financial responsibility each month. However, with a tiny home, you will significantly reduce the amount of water and power you use – in fact, some tiny homes do not have indoor plumbing and rely on alternative systems such as rain collection or fireplaces for heating. Maintenance will also cost much less: Need to replace the carpet? It will likely cost you the same as replacing one room in a traditional home.
Finally, you may have to replace some of your furniture to adjust to a tiny home, requiring an initial investment. Although you may pay more up front, you will still end up saving in the long run.
Environmental Benefits of a Tiny Home
Tiny homes use far fewer resources, both in their construction and in their maintenance, which lessens its environmental impact. Specifically, tiny homes minimize (or even eliminate) the amount of wasted space used in a home, with transitional spaces such as hallways eliminated, roofs lowered, and many spaces pulling double duty (such as a bed being placed over a storage space).
Because of their size, tiny homes also require less energy to heat or cool, and many do not use wasteful plumbing. In fact, many take advantage of rainwater collection or use low flow toilets that do double duty with composting.
Living in a tiny home also requires that you downsize your lifestyle, eliminating unnecessary possessions and limiting the impulse to buy new ones. This helps to reduce your consumption and minimize your contribution to the creation of new goods and the use of newly extracted resources.
Finally, living in a tiny home means that you have less food storage space for food, requiring you to buy fresh food more often. Doing so reduces the amount of food waste that you create and ensures that you are eating fresh and nutritious food.
Have you considered down sizing to a tiny home to save money and lessen your impact on the environment? Will you think about it when you are purchasing a home?
44 thoughts on “Why You Should Consider Buying a Tiny Home”
“Tiny” might be too small for most of us, but “small” is definitely feasible. I live in a 900-square-foot house; there were four of us living here for a year when my stepdaughter and her boyfriend lived with us, but there was a family of seven living here for many years before we bought the place.
For inspiration, my favourite book on the subject is “Space: Japanese Design Solutions for Compact Living.” It shows brilliant and ingenious solutions to the space problem (e.g., drawers built into stair risers) developed by Japanese homeowners and architects over the years. Much better in my opinion than the “Not So Big House” series, but it’s a matter of taste I guess.
brad – is that a single floor house or is there a basement? (they usually don’t count in square footage)
I have to admit, we don’t live in a small house but the idea is intriguing. Sites like Renest should some really great ways to live using less space.
Two floors and a basement, but the basement can only be used for storage (ceilings are too low to turn into extra rooms). When the family of seven lived here, the four boys slept in one room, the girl had what is now our living room, and the parents were in the bedroom. We actually have three bedrooms now; according to the real estate specs when we bought it the house is a little less than 900 square feet but I’ve never bothered to verify; it might be a bit bigger.
This would be an interesting house to see a picture of! 450 square feet per floor. 20’x23′?
Well, you motivated me to get out the tape measure — in fact it’s more like 35 feet by 20 feet, so 1,200 square feet total. I think the discrepancy with the real estate listing is that our kitchen and a dormer were added on during renovations before we bought the house, so the listing must have been using the old square footage (and even that doesn’t sound right). We live in what used to be a summer cottage when it was built in 1912.
Still – 700 square feet living space is impressive. The other 700 is handy storage and perhaps a deep freeze and/or laundry?
Er, make that 1,400 square feet, not 1,200! I never can do math very well after a beer :-)
Wow, I can’t imagine doing this myself – I think I would go insane over the long winters here in Canada. Altough, I’m sure I could adapt and as this article points out it could make some very positives changes to the way we live.
Interesting concept. Do you know anyone at all who does this SPF?
I’m pretty sure my sister lived in a VERY small home in B.C. She rented out an insulated, heated, powered garage that had 2 floors. It was a lot like an apartment. Perhaps around 500 sq feet.
I would love to get a few acre on the Big Island and put a few of these tiny houses down. Then I can rent them out for cheap travelers. :)
I don’t think I can live in a tiny house permanently though. We are soft and cushy now.
Buying a tiny home is like asking me to shower in cold water in order to save on energy. Definitely not for me, there’s a limit to what I can give up in terms of lifestyle.
Come summer I rarely take a warm shower.
People do down size over time – when the birds leave the nest.
Very nice layout of the positives and negatives, but I’d have to argue against this. If you have the money for a large and comfortable home, then buy it. This seems like it’s really up to one’s personal preference, but why make a purchase that you may regret!
A lot of people in Europe or high density places like NY or SF in the US have small places. It really depends where you want to live and subsequently what you can afford. A 900 square foot place in NY city or Vancouver isn’t cheap!
I wish I had bought a smaller lot! I have half an acre, and it takes a lot to maintain, both time and money. I love it, but would have gone a little smaller if I could have found the right place.
We’re actually happy about our lot size – 50′ x 100′. Seems to be a good size to have a yard for the dog (and kid on the way) and to allow us to grow a good veg garden.
My house is about 2000-2400 sqft and that’s a little too big. I can’t imagine having something 3,000+.
I think the perfect amount of space is 500-600sqft per person.
Our house is about 1800 sq ft but once we finish the attic space we’ll be about 2400 sq ft. With a 100+ lb dog and a growing family it feels like the right amount of space.
I saw a piece on 60 minutes or something on a woman with a 90 sq ft apartment. It seemed more like for a laugh or the “unique” factor; I could never do it. Never in your life would you be able to entertain, raise kids, have a dog, anything. It’s giving up too much. Granted, most Americans DON’T need the 3000 sq ft homes they live in. but there are limits…
A 9×10 room – I just can’t see. But, if we lived in a REALLY nice climate we could make due with 400 square feet. The site Renest shows AWESOME ways to make due with small spaces.
Okay — WHERE do you put the kids?
I assume this type of home is for single people or couples without kids.
Still, at my cottage – 20 ftx 20ft we have space for 3 double beds in separated “rooms” (curtains), a living room space and quite a large kitchen given the total size of the space. 400 sq ft.
This would definitely take some adjusting. I can see the benefits, but with three kids, we would be at each others throats.
As I commented earlier I think this is a choice for small families and single people. However, there was a time when people lived on a farm in a cabin and they made due.
To all of you commenters who can’t see themselves doing this….
Go visit one of the historic log cabins our ancestors lived in – one or two rooms max. They pretty much had to make do with that amount of space.
We could all do it IF we had to. Most of us don’t WANT to do it.
That said, I think the McMansion craze our country was in for the past decade was just plain stupid. I’m glad to see smaller more practical homes.
That was my point to an earlier comment – people made due w/ tiny spaces to live in for hundreds of years – and families were usually larger back then!
We live in a 1400 square foot home that we’ve raised 7 children in. So there were 9 of us here for years and now that we’re down to 3 kids at home – this place feels huge. lol
A perfect example of doing more with less! As we mentioned, there was a time where people had larger families and likely made sure with less than 1400 sq feet.
I wish my parents would move into a smaller home. It was fine when there were three kids living with them but now I think they just spend too much time cleaning, repairing, etc. A smaller home would make their lives much easier. I also think they should move to a bungalow on the beach. I would totally visit then. LOL!
The way things are going, buying a tiny home might be the only way for us to own a home. hehe. Really though, I’ve seen pictures of these and floorplans and they seem like a really smart way to go. I’ve never actually been in one, so I won’t know for sure until then. It would be fun to build it ourselves if we ever do get one.
I live in a 920 sq. ft. house with two large sons, and it’s plenty big… and it’s pretty poorly designed, with a lot of wasted space. We could easily live in 700 sq. ft. or so. In fact, if I ever renovate the house, I would consider reducing the square footage (by turning some of the space into a warm-weather-only solarium).
But from a sustainability perspective, I don’t get the tiny/small home movement. Especially the Susanka stuff — all those “small” houses are built with expensive materials on huge lots somewhere in the far suburbs or countryside. A smallish apartment must be much more efficient, in terms of materials and energy used, even if it’s not super cutting edge in terms of sustainable design.
A small(er) house is a good idea for many people, but don’t overlook the insulation. Sometimes a well-insulated house can have lower energy bills than a smaller house. Homes built in the 1970s energy crisis often were insulated much better than homes at any other time period. We have one like that built in 1978. Our heating and cooling bills amaze people whose homes are newer. Before you buy a house ask to see the energy bills. You might be surprised.
If we were to buy any home (and we did 18 months ago) we would ensure it had insulation or could be insulated. We did a retrofit on our 105 yr old house as it had no insulation and we’re snug as a bug now!
SPF, I’m glad you did! Nothing like warmth in the winter! We are snug too. We got a new furnace last year that keeps our house at a steady temperature all the time. We’d never experienced that before & it is amazing. As they say, all I need is a cup of tea and warm socks!
We detailed how we retro fitted our home here: http://sustainablepersonalfinance.com/ecoenergy-retrofit/
Then discussed the rebates we got for doing the retrofit here: http://sustainablepersonalfinance.com/our-ecoenergy-retrofit-rebate/
Thanks for those links! You have a lot of very helpful information there. I hope more people do this to reap the benefits of lower energy bills for years to come!
A friend moved from her large home into a tiny home, while moving in between homes, and loved it, however I’m not sure if they could have lived in it for good. It was a bit too small. There was no room to even swing a cat.
The true “tiny houses” do not keep their value at all and are screamingly expensive per square foot. They are also rarely acceptable for aging in place and aren’t big enough to raise a family in–they typically have only one loft for sleeping, and no bedrooms.
Much better to buy a REAL small house–and a used house is better than a new one for the environment, as long as you insulate it well.
When you said tiny I thought you were going to 600-800 sq ft. Never heard of one at 200 or under 100 sq ft. I thought we were being modest by moving from 1200 to maybe 1500-1800 sq ft for a family of 5. Not sure we could make it in 200 sq ft!