Primitive societies used to live in limestone caves or small mud huts. Back then, humans’ living quarters were simple and rudimentary; there was no need for more. The main purpose of this important habitat was to provide humans with a shelter: a refuge from the snow, the cold wind, the heavy rain, and the harsh sun. It also served as a cozy spot to rest and keep essential belongings.
Over the centuries, that basic concept of the home suffered a metamorphosis. We are no longer satisfied with the essential. We have embraced the idea of living big, and when we say big, we mean it.
Our home is usually the place where we spend most of our time. In the search for perfection, we have shown a clear preference for ample areas and diverse spaces. As reported by the American Enterprise Institute, “Today’s new homes are 1,000 square feet larger than in 1973, and the living space per person has doubled over the past 40 years.”(1)
The average home in the US has a living room, a dining room, a few bedrooms, an office, a couple of bathrooms, and a two-car garage. To fill in all of these areas, we need big flat screen TVs, comfy couches with recliners and cup holders, ultra-size king beds with extra pillows, and an extra-large capacity refrigerator—stuffed with more food than we could ever eat. Ahhhh…What can I say? There is nothing like the comfort of one’s home, right?
Unfortunately, having a large house comes at a high price, for example, the anchor of a never ending mortgage, a lot of cleaning, a more consumerist lifestyle, less free time and more stress. Decoration, furniture, upgraded appliances, electricity, water, property taxes…Bills, bills, and more bills. Moreover, the larger the house the more frequent the problems. There is always something breaking or in need of a replacement. Big house=lots of bills=more hours at work (and more work at home because there is always something to fix or clean!). On the other hand, making our houses so appealing and accommodating makes us forget that there is a world out there, with cool places to visit and people to socialize with: new experiences. Large spaces tend to disconnect people and encourage you to stay indoors.
According to the 2013 American Time Use Survey, the average citizen spends 8.5 hours a day sleeping and 2.8 watching TV (2), two activities that we do from the comfort of a bed or couch.
After all, how much room do we really need to satisfy our lifestyle?
Switching from the modern ample living quarters to a tiny home may sound asphyxiating and monotonous at first, but the advantages and possible improvements that going small can bring to our life could make the American dream house look like a prison.
In a tiny home every space has a purpose and there are no useless items in the drawers. Everything is useful and important, especially YOU. By living in a small house, you will save much of your time and money: less organizing, less cleaning, and less shopping. More saving! You will also reduce your consumption of energy and resources: less lighting, heating, cooling, electronics, cables, wires…Less stuff= smaller carbon footprint.
My husband and I lived in a 130-square-foot RV for six months while I was working for the Sequoia National Park. Living in a tiny space was like having a kitchen and a bathroom in your bedroom, and we absolutely loved it! Our whole mentality changed and we became more resourceful. For instance, instead of having a dining room and an office, we had a versatile table in the kitchen where we ate and worked. Rather than shopping for a pair of sneakers and some work shoes, we purchased a pair of high quality good looking hiking boots. Most importantly, on my days off, we always had lots of time to go hike, explore the park and enjoy ourselves. We learned how to do more with less, and we were proud of it!
On the whole, downsizing means less space to hold on to unnecessary belongings and less interest in acquiring new stuff; no food going to waste, no rooms getting heated or cooled in vain, and less natural resources wasted. It also means more money in your pocket, less hours working to pay the bills, and more time for leisure and fun. You will be able to go out more often and take a longer vacation. Thus, you will also stimulate the economy!
Carrie and Shane Caverly, a young couple from Arizona, decided to get rid of their three bedroom home and its expensive mortgage payment, and build their own tiny house. Their living expenses dropped to $350 a month, and that includes all of the bills. They claim that their new simple life in a 204-square foot mobile home has many advantages: “Intimate connection to the outdoors, very cozy in the winter, affordable to build, mobile, very cheap to live in, very efficient to clean, easy to renovate, small environment footprint, and great conversation starter!” (3). You can read everything about their experience in their own website: clotheslinentinyhomes.com.
The average DIY (do it yourself) tiny home costs between 15 and 20k. These cabins are mobile, so you can hook yours to a trailer and take it to a place where the sky is full of stars! Your house will have wheels and you will grow wings!
Time is priceless, and only you can decide what you want to do with yours. As Leonardo DaVinci once said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Even if a tiny home is too tiny for you, consider downsizing for a change. Freeing yourself from material things is invaluable. Once you become proficient at it, it feels like a superpower. You can start by detaching from things—sell, gift and donate—and being a more responsible consumer. Opting for a more frugal lifestyle can open new doors and enrich your life. Many people have already decided to live big in a tiny home. I also want to live more simply instead of simply live. What about you?
When you want more than you have, you think you need
And when you think more than you want, your thoughts begin to bleed
I think I need to find a bigger place
Cause when you have more than you think, you need more space (4)
- Mark J. Perry. “Today’s new homes are 1,000 square feet larger than in 1973, and the living space per person has double over the past 40 years.” American Enterprise Institute. Feb. 26, 2014. http://www.aei-ideas.org/2014/02/todays-new-homes-are-1000-square-feet-larger-than-in-1973-and-the-living-space-per-person-has-doubled-over-last-40-years/ 17, 2014.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics. “American Time Use Survey.” Unites States Department of Labor. http://www.bls.gov/tus/charts/ 10 Oct. 2014.
- Carry and Shane Caverly. “Building and Designing Simpler Lifestyles through Smaller Homes.” Publicity. 16 Apr. 2013. http://clotheslinetinyhomes.com/ 10 Oct. 2014.
- Eddie Vedder, “Society.” From Into the Wild https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lm8oxC24QZc