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Tiny homes: Living large by living small

Today’s guest blogger is D. Salmons.

Today the trend for the environment-conscious consumer is to live in more modest means. Instead of searching out the next McMansion, we are looking for practical size homes that are easier to maintain and has less of an impact on our limited resources. But some people are following this to an extreme, and are living in what could be considered a tiny home.How Tiny is Tiny

When we talk about a tiny home as compared to a typical family dwelling, exactly how much smaller is it? Well, tiny homes come in many shapes and sizes, but a 500-square foot home is typical of the type. And with the diminished size comes a diminished price tag, with most tiny homes going for $40,000 — $50,000 in a ready to go state.

Of course, a 500 square foot home — or less — is probably not going to meet a lot of existing housing regulations, and for that reason you will find most tiny homes fully equipped with wheels. But it also simplifies the delivery process, and allows for future flexibility. But tiny homes are built to a higher standard than a typical mobile home, and you find them in many more eye-catching designs.

Full or Part Time Housing

Not everyone uses a tiny home as a full time homestead. Some people park them in woods or other ideal locations and use them as minimalist vacation retreats. Still others see the tiny homes as a great home office for the back yard. But most people that are buying or building tiny homes are using them as their primary residence.

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In today’s seemingly consumer driven world, downsizing drastically to a tiny home might seem to be bucking the trend, but it would appear to be a good move to make for saving financial as well as planetary resources.

Kent Griswold, the guy behind the Tiny House Blog, sees an interest growing in tiny homes from both the young starting out and the retiring. According to Griswold,

There’s been a huge interest in people downsizing and there are a lot of young people who don’t want to be tied down with a huge mortgage and want to build their own space.

Growing Interest

Jay Shafer, co-founder of the Small House Society and author of “The Small House Book”, has seen the interest in tiny homes grow a lot in the past few years. The Small House Society has seen its subscriber base expand to 1800 from only 300 five years ago.

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Another tiny home venture that Schafer is co-owner of is called the Tumbleweeds Tiny Home company, and they have seen home blueprint sales increase to about 50 per year, up from 10 or so five years ago.

The Tiny Home Lifestyle

Of course, living in a tiny home requires a certain mindset that many consumer driven types might find difficult to master. According to Gregory Johnson, the other co-founder of the Small House society,

You start to peel away the things that are unnecessary. It helps you define your priorities with regard to your material things.

Johnson should know what it takes to live in a tiny home. His experiences in living small led him to writing the book, “Put Your Life on a Diet: Lessons Learned from Living in 140 Square Feet”.

To live in a tiny home, one does need to determine what is important to their lifestyle, and focus on only that. When you simply do not have room for a lot of extra junk, you soon find that the idea of buying is simply not a driving force in your life anymore. The entire process can almost be a re-focusing of both energy and resources.

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Of course, you do not have to live in a tiny home to cut back on your excess stuff. One great place to start is probably with Peter Walsh’s book, “It’s All Too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff”. But with a tiny home you may find that taking such an approach is a requirement to comfortable living.

Other Companies Dedicated to Tiny Homes

Many other companies are popping up across the country dedicated to tiny homes. Stephen Marshall, who started the catchy named Little House On The Trailer builds and sells tiny homes that go for $50,000 and under. Marshall is quick to point out that, not only do they cost less than the typical construction project, they can be resold later to recoup the majority of the initial cost.

Apparently Marshall’s points are making sense to buyers. His small company has already sold 16 houses this year, and plans to increase sells next year. What is driving his sales? Not only are conservative minded people buying them, but economically motivated buyers as well. According to Marshall,

A lot of families are moving in with one another. A lot of young people can’t afford to move out. There’s just a lot of economic pressure to find an alternative way to provide for people’s housing needs.

By buying tiny homes that can be used and resold after the need is up, the planet’s resources can be put to better use. Not only are tiny homes easier on the immediate impact, they can also be easily recycled.

When you add up all of the advantages of tiny homes, from the better use of resources and smaller environmental impact to immediate and longer term financial advantages, it might be good for anyone wanting to conserve to take a look at tiny homes. In fact, it might make sense for anyone to take a look at a tiny home for a really simple reason — it helps you identify what is important in your life, instead of simply surrounding yourself with junk. And that is something practically all of us could use.

Guest blogger D. Salmons is a freelance writer and social media consultant for several companies, ranging from individuals to Fortune 500. She strives to reduce her carbon footprint and teach her little son how to be environmentally aware and respectful of his environment. D. Salmons is a bit of a geek and enjoys writing about tech gadgets at TestFreaks.com, a website that collects product information from thousands of sources.