The small house movement encapsulates both architectural and social movements that promote simple living. Author Sarah Susanka’s well-received book, “The Not So Big House,” describes the value of building beautiful homes on a small scale, and explores ways that people can make a small house feel like a home. Since Susanka’s book was published in the late 1990s, the small house movement has grown in popularity, stemming from a backlash against supersized homes, materialism, the housing market crash and bad state of the environment. People are attracted to the reduced carbon footprint that small homes promise their owners.
What are the requirements for being part of this movement? The house in question is generally 500 square feet or smaller, which is tiny when you think about the average size of a new house. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average size of homes has increased by almost 1,000 extra square feet over the last 40 years.
Living in a small house can be challenging, but it also has a ton of benefits. Those thinking about making the plunge into a small home should take into account some considerations.Picture via tumbleweedhouses.com
How Will You Organize Your Small Home?
A disorganized home, regardless of its size, will drive anyone to the brink. Obviously, your organization efforts will become challenged when you move into a small home. Luckily, many small houses offer dual-purpose features (such as Murphy beds) and space-saving equipment. If you’ve ever been accused of being a pack rat or just have a lot of “stuff,” you may want to consider downsizing your things before moving into a small house. “Even a family that is committed to reducing “stuff” may still have need for room for serving dishes and a pantry for dried goods and winter vegetables,” says Monica Neubauer, broker at Benchmark Realty LLC.
To find out how much stuff you have to organize, store everything you own in a room that is roughly 500 square feet, then remove what you think you can live without. Do you still have a lot of stuff? You aren’t alone in your organizing efforts. Small-house designers are becoming even more creative with how they design homes. Storage spaces under beds, decorative shelving, and attics give people opportunities to store their stuff. Even with creative storage options, many living in small houses commit to buying less as part of their “live simply” mantra.
Raising Children in a Smaller Space
It’s easy to join the small house movement when you are single or moving in with a partner, but you’ll have to think about what you see in your family’s future before moving into a small home. When looking at small houses, Nebauer suggests asking yourself, “Is this comfortable enough for the number of people who will live in it?” Kristie Vossier, director of online communication and PR for Prudential Preferred Realty, says, “Rooms in small homes are often very open and have multiple uses – those living in the small home will be living in very close corners and sharing space.”
Many fans of small houses love raising children in tight quarters because it gives them a chance to keep an eye on the kids. However, children tend to want more privacy when they get older. It’s important to look down the line at your family’s goals when shopping for small homes.
How Much do Tiny Houses Cost?
The cost of a small house is one of the largest selling points for this movement. Small houses can cost between $20,000 to upward of $50,000, according to the Huffington Post. While the cost of a small home varies depending on geographic region, their low price tags compared to large homes are undeniable. Those wanting to build their own small house can easily purchase a blueprint, which cost as low as $400 to $1,000, from companies such as Tumbleweed Tiny House Company. Also, owners of small homes save money each month in utilities, cleaning supplies and home maintenance. These savings make a huge difference for those paying off debts or saving money.
How Big of a House do You Need?
The size of the home you pick is entirely a personal choice, but it’s essential to consider certain factors. Many people don’t live out their days in smaller houses. Often, a small house suits an owner’s needs for a certain amount of time and then is either sold or used for another function like a guest home or office. Living in a small space can require a big life change. The small amount of space will dictate what you can do in your home, how much stuff you can own, and possibly the size of your family. Because the benefits are so attractive, it’s worth giving it some thought. You never know – the new talk of the neighborhood might be the Jones’ tiny house.