Like haircuts and fashion trends, building and housing styles change over time. In the early 2000s, developers began designing and selling homes ranging from 3,000-5,000 or more square feet in neighborhoods which offered a handful of floorplans, and could be completed in a matter of a few months, weather permitting. However, after the most recent housing crisis, many homeowners began downsizing to find more affordable housing options, and the larger homes of the early 2000s were not as desirable as they once were. Today, a new housing trend is gaining traction among home buyers – the tiny house.
Tiny houses are exactly what it sounds like, a small home with an average of 300-500 square feet, but can be built on a piece of land or a trailer for easy mobility. Before purchasing a tiny home, its important to consider the many advantages and disadvantages to living in a smaller footprint. While utilities may become less expensive, storage and living space can become more challenging. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of moving into a tiny house.
Tiny House Pros
- Savings – The cost of buying a tiny house depends on how much someone really wants to spend on materials and design. There are Tiny House Kits that start around $10,000, and there’s not really a cap on how much someone can spend. Once a tiny home is complete, an affordable loan could be used to pay it off in a few years versus a traditional home with a 30 year mortgage and a four percent or higher interest rate. Many tiny home owners use the money they save from a lower housing payment to go on extra vacations, pay off debts and save for retirement.
- Expenses – The cost to heat and cool 500 square feet is significantly less than that of an average home, and there’s the added benefit of using solar and propane energy to try and live completely off the grid. There are multiple toilet options too, that could make it so the home doesn’t even need hooked up to the local sewage system.
- Maintenance – All homes must be maintained to stay in good shape, but in a tiny house less time is needed to make repairs, clean and perform regular upkeep. The extra time saved can be used for family adventures, walks outside or just relaxing.
- Mobility – A big advantage of tiny homes are they can be mobile and don’t require much land. This flexibility allows a family to move as often as they want, but not have to sell their home or furnishings as those can come along for the trip.
Downside of Tiny Homes
- Regulations – Many city and county governments are taking on tiny homes and creating zoning rules to regulate where and for how long a tiny home may occupy a space. Additionally, some communities may view a tiny home as an RV whereas others may see it as a more traditional home. It’s important to learn what the building and dwelling regulations are in the area before fully going down the tiny home path.
- Space – The name says it all, “tiny” home. This means that having a big, full size kitchen, bathroom with a bathtub or extra storage for holiday decorations are not an option. Living in a smaller home may be comfortable for a couple, but add kids and pets into the mix and the space could seem smaller faster.
- Entertaining – Families who enjoy having friends come visit may want to find alternative places to meet, and the idea of overnight visitors or sleepovers may no longer work. With 500 or less square feet, there is not a lot of room for extra chairs and beds, which means birthday parties or karaoke nights might be cramped.
- Cleaning – This was also in the “pro” category, but by living in a smaller space, even a small mess can make the whole home seem in disarray. While cleaning may not take as long, a homeowner may find themselves cleaning and picking up more often.
- Storage – A big reason people move into tiny homes is it forces them to downsize and eliminate possessions they don’t need. However, sometimes storage is still required and that’s hard to find in a tiny home. For example, sometimes its convenient, and less expensive, to purchase certain food items in bulk, but in a tiny home there isn’t room to store the extra, so it could mean more trips to the store.
To make living in a tiny home successful, the homeowner should fully understand the advantages and disadvantages of living in a smaller footprint. While utilities may cost less, there is less room to store winter sweaters and summer clothes. Financially, a tiny home may be a great investment for some people because they could save for the future, but sometimes that savings can come at the expense of close living quarters and a lack of personal space. In some cases, a smaller home may be a better fit than a tiny home.