What is a tiny house?
I remember back when I bought my first house. I had spent 3 years living in an 800 sq ft 2-bedroom apartment with my young daughter. The apartment had been cramped but we loved it. Then we moved into our 2000 sq ft home and it was cavernous! fast forward 7 or 8 years and this 3-bedroom, 2000 sq ft home with full basement was packed! So packed we couldn't use the basement at all! That was the point where I realized that all my friends were in the same situation but I didn't want to live like that anymore because just knowing the basement was too packed to use stressed me out.
In 1973 the average American home was 1660 sq ft, in 2018 the average American home is now 2600 sq ft. That's a whole house bigger! During that time the average family has apparently shrunk, so fewer people are living in bigger homes but those homes are still packed to the rafters with stuff so that every time we add a new family member we think ' we've got to get a bigger house'
And then having to get a bigger house, and bigger mortgage and all the stress of having to pack up all that stuff, move it and unpack at the other end puts us to the point where we feel buried under the weight of it all.
One fix for the ever increasing burden of modern living is to downsize your stuff, your space and your way of life and for some, me included, that downsizing is radical; to a tiny house.
What IS tiny?
Strictly speaking a tiny house is 500 sq ft or under with those 500 to 1000 called small. By American standards 1000 sq ft is tiny too! Tiny homes come in all shapes and sizes, some mobile and some not. From RVs and boats to tiny houses on wheels (called THOW in the tiny world) to city apartments, little bungalows and granny flats. There is a tiny situation to fit anyone who wants to radically downsize.
But a tiny home isn't just a bigger house that got shrunk in the wash, the design is different. The use of space within a tiny home becomes much more intentional. When you have 2000-3000 sq ft to play with you don't have to do much thinking: your life will fit into it easily. Unfortunately, that often leads to accumulation of a ton of stuff we don't really need but that occupies space. This in turn leads us to "outgrowing" our home, except often it is the stuff that outgrew the home not the people.
Tiny homes pack the features of a bigger home into a much smaller space firstly by eliminating space but also by requiring you to think about how you live and operate in the house.
The biggest fear that holds people back from making the move into the tiny home they dream of is not knowing if all their stuff and their lifestyle will fit into such a small space. So often, paralyzed by this fear and not knowing how to overcome it keeps us stuck in a big home with an overwhelming amount of stuff. Some people go off the deep end and jump into tiny house living with both feet. For some that works out but for most it doesn't. I watch the tiny house shows all the time plus I'm signed up for the tiny house listing website where you can sell your tiny home when you no longer want it. Often, I will see a tiny house build featured on one of the shows where the people go from a packed 3000 st ft house to 300 sq ft in one weekend. Then 6 or 7 months later I see their home featured on the listing site. It was too much of a shock to make such a dramatic move so they back track to a bigger house.
Taking time to Consider the move into a tiny home and evaluating your needs and use of space helps you come up with a more realistic idea of what you actually need, helps you prepare for the actual move and helps you become more intentional around the things you allow into your space.
Please let me know where it is you struggle most with the idea of beginning to declutter your life and space and I will address your concerns in future blogs and resources.