Back in September of 2007 when people blogged on stone slates, I wrote an article, Get Rich by Thinking Small, that covers the idea how living in a very tiny house could jump start you to financial freedom.
The idea is that living small has fewer expenses. You don’t require as much land. It has fewer building materials. You pay less in taxes. In some areas of the country it wouldn’t be crazy to pay it off in a few years eliminating most people’s biggest expense, their mortgage or rent payment.
So it was with great interest that I saw that the FYI network was airing a show called Tiny House Nation. (If you haven’t heard of the FYI network, I don’t blame you, it’s a rebranded Biography channel.)
I’ve always been interested in tiny houses. I’m fascinated by the really intelligent design used to make almost everything serve multiple purposes. They are a model of efficiency. In some cases, they can be too extreme to a fault like someone spending 20 minutes to get the last drop of ketchup out of the bottle. Still, I think there’s a happy middle ground.
I’m so enthralled by tiny houses that when finishing our basement, I’m thinking about using some of the tiny house ideas to maximize the space.
Tiny House Nation focuses on a family looking to live in a tiny house. They seem to have different reasons. One show it was about financial freedom… it was the best way the couple could see living on one income. Another show focused on the family’s love of the outdoors, so they didn’t need a big house. Yet another show focused on a traveling nurse who needed the flexibility to bring her home and her “work from home” husband with her. It’s a good mix.
I particularly like how the conflict isn’t contrived. If you watch a home flipping show, there’s always some surprise expense that “dooms” their budget only to find that in the end, they make tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on the flip.
On Tiny House Nation, the challenges are real. How do you get a family of four to live in less than 250 square feet? How do you deal with their two dogs? How do fit a recording studio, which is necessary for a person’s business? How do you fit a full kitchen and full bathtub in such a small space? How do you deal with the psychological ramifications of being at maximum 10 feet from your significant other?
Not to give any spoilers, but at the end of the show, you find that not everything comes up rainbows and puppy dogs. I think they are always happy to have made the tiny house decision, but you see the compromises that people make. They aren’t usually big compromises, but it is a lifestyle change.
Finally, the show tours other tiny homes and shows off the innovations that they have. For example, they covered the apartment of LifeEdited.com. That means you get to see the best of the tiny houses while they are constructing the tiny house that the show is focused on. It’s a nice win-win.
Maybe after a dozen episodes the formula will get old, but they’ve only aired a few so far. Set your DVR for Wednesday at 10PM like I do… and let me know what you think.
P.S. While I love tiny houses, I’m clearly crazy as I can take the completely opposite view and go for a “Monster House” if it’s priced at a good value.
P.P.S. One of the reasons I blog, is to create a journal for myself. When I look back to that Get Rich by Thinking Small article, I suggested that an 1800 square foot house would be a good fit for us. Two children and a big dog later, we live in a house that is exactly 1800 square feet. I had forgotten about the article at the time.
I loved watching the documentary on Tiny Houses on Netflix. I personally could live in a tiny house and although it would take some time to adjust to, I would love and enjoy the perks of saving so much money.
Lazy Man says
I need to add that to my list. I heard it was good, but I haven’t had a chance to sit down to it yet. Thanks for the reminder.
michele a says
You know, I really dont get the whole tiny house thing. two people living on top of each other. The price of these “mobile homes” are more than some traditional houses where I live.
I live in a 1400 square foot house that my family grew up in. Its got its drawbacks, but its plenty big enough for two people,
Lazy Man says
I’m hoping that it goes more “mainstream” and they don’t have to be so customized. I think that would cut down on the costs.
Living in 250 square feet is a bit of a novelty. I also think it is a bit of a challenge, like climbing a mountain.
In some places where real estate is particularly pricy, I could see it making a lot of sense. The writer of Life Edited, for example, does it in an apartment in New York City. I looked at the cost of some of the furniture and it is very, very expensive. However, getting a bigger apartment in NYC is probably even more expensive.
There are many reason why tiny homes make sense, and many reasons why they don’t. The issue is what are your needs, and what are your resources (cash, land, etc.) Living in New York City or Boston is a lot different than living on 8 acres of old farm land in a 4000 sq foot old farm house passed down through generations. I am not going to poo-poo anyone’s decisions they make for themselves if they are happy, are not hurting anyone, and environmentally sound.
As for me, I am working on my own “tiny house” .. not as tiny as these, but 600 square feet (1200 if you count the basement). I have an out building (or garage) which I will have all my extra stuff in (cars, power tools, etc.) and be used as a more social area. The house itself will be small and work for what I want. Just because I am single, with few guests and a single child doesn’t mean I have to have a 3200 sq ft place I live in now. A few years ago I had parents living with me, and a child in school (he is now in college) so 4 people in my house was nice. It is just time to downsize.