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More than a trend, the tiny house movement has engendered a philosophy. It's the idea that people can do more with less, that they can cast off inessential luxuries and take only as much as they need. For many Americans, this mindset is a much-needed diversion from the country's obsessive consumerism.
But a tiny house is a giant leap in lifestyle for those who haven't experienced them. For individuals who have come to enjoy a certain degree of comfort, the constraints of a tiny house can prove disenchanting, failing to meet their expectations as an alternative way of life.
Those who want to make a tiny house their home should research the many different angles of this complicated subject. We've compiled the main points that every person should address before they invest, including advantages and disadvantages of the tiny house lifestyle.
Advantages of a Tiny Home
People seeking to buy a tiny house will find no lack of enthusiastic testimonials about the tiny lifestyle. Many of these claims are rational, with evidence to support them. Below are four reasons why a tiny house is a smart choice for those looking for a change.
1. Reduced Expenditure
The immediate appeal of owning a tiny house is the reduced cost of maintenance. It's a simple matter of scale. With a smaller property, the owner pays less for regular upkeep, while a larger property demands a constant stream of money to account for regular fixes and perpetual servicing.
For homeowners looking to downgrade, this factor might contribute to their final decision to buy, as it should. Many attribute their decision to the money they save in their monthly utilities, from reduced energy expenditure on efficient appliances to lower heating and cooling costs. These small cuts add up quickly.
2. Increased Mobility
Those who participate in the tiny house movement cite the mobility of their homes as a factor behind their purchase. As long as the tiny house is road legal and the homeowner has the proper equipment, they can hitch their house to their vehicle or transport it via trailer to a destination of their choosing.
Much like an RV in this regard, towing a tiny house allows the owner to bring their home with them anywhere. Retirees who are looking for an alternative living situation to their current property — if even for a brief period of respite — will find that a tiny house can serve as a little home away from home.
3. Lower Carbon Emissions
To add to the material benefits a homeowner enjoys, a tiny house also lessens their carbon footprint. Tiny houses produce only 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per year. Compare that to the 28,000 pounds produced by an average-sized house. This significant difference is a strong selling point.
In addition to reduced emissions, tiny houses require fewer resources to build. With the population in the U.S. rapidly growing, a sustainable method of making more houses that take up less space is needed to alleviate stress. If more citizens were to make the switch, it would aid both the country and the planet.
Individuals with an aptitude for carpentry can try constructing a tiny house of their own, without the need for outside contractors. Those who work with their hands, particularly farmers, might find that building a tiny house is within their skill set and that they have the space and materials to do so.
On average, those with a DIY attitude can build their tiny house for an average of $23,000. Construction demands more than just a rudimentary knowledge of putting two boards together, of course, but with determination and commitment, almost anyone can turn their dream into a reality.
Disadvantages of a Tiny Home
Though many homeowners with a tiny house can attest to their advantages, certain disadvantages are impossible to ignore. Before taking the next step, those interested in owning a tiny house should thoroughly educate themselves on the pros and cons that downsizing entails.
1. Lack of Space
Families will find that a tiny house doesn't afford them nearly as much room as a regular house or homestead. For a nuclear family, or parents that are expecting children, the "tiny" part of the tiny house equation can serve as a significant barrier to entry that's difficult to overcome.
In an environment that parallels the close quarters of tiny house living, researchers found that crowding-related stress can lead to higher rates of domestic violence and substance abuse. A tiny house might cause strain on the owner's mental health, especially if they're prone to claustrophobia.
2. Fewer Appliances
Homeowners who downsize will have to make compromises in the way that they live. This change is a simple fact of owning a tiny house — one that every potential buyer should come to grips with right away. With less space, there's less room for the modern comforts that most people enjoy.
Some tiny houses have to do without a washer and dryer, and others without an oven. Plumbing is its own issue, with small-scale infrastructure depending on compost toilets when standard pipes won't fit in the space. Fortunately, there's a market for compact appliances to account for this problem.
3. Trouble Socializing
Homeowners who frequently host guests should know that a tiny house is no place for socialization. It's difficult — if not impossible — to entertain an entire group within the confines of a tiny house, and those who try will soon find themselves transitioning to the front lawn for roomier accommodations.
It's reasonable to have a single visitor, but inviting multiple people is unrealistic in many cases. That said, the novelty of a tiny house is sure to attract attention, and if the property is large and the season is right, there's no reason a homeowner can't hold a successful outdoor party.
4. Legal Implications
There are legal implications to owning any type of property, but tiny houses are often under scrutiny. Without an understanding of local laws, homeowners with tiny houses can face zoning fines and in extreme cases, eviction. It can prove challenging to process and account for all of these regulations.
Grassroots organizers have pushed for a wider acceptance of tiny houses in their communities, but ordinances often differ on a town by town, city by city basis. Homeowners should research which areas of the U.S. are flexible in their laws and which will cause more trouble than they're worth.
Deciding What Matters Most
Those interested in downsizing their property have much to consider. A tiny house is no small investment. It represents a significant change in lifestyle that a homeowner will have to come to terms with, and they should set aside time to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of the shift.
A tiny house comes with challenges, of course. But as many Americans have found, even the tiniest house has a lot to offer.
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