I have a feeling that most of you have heard about tiny houses. Once a small, fringe community, the tiny house movement has gained a huge amount of interest in the social media and blogging worlds, and has even spawned TV shows and documentaries.
I’ve been a fan of the tiny house movement for years, and I’m not surprised to see how much interest has been generated over the ultra minimalist community. Actually living in a tiny house may be too extreme a version of simple living for most, but the movement has managed to strike a chord with people from all kinds of backgrounds and current housing situations.
Don’t think that the tiny house movement is simply about a race to the bottom in square footage. At its heart, it’s about people wholeheartedly embracing simple living and minimalism and freeing themselves from mortgages, debt, and the physical trappings of day to day life.
Just in case you’ve missed out until now… what exactly is “the tiny house movement?”
Simply put, it is a social movement where people are choosing to downsize the space they live in. The typical American home is around 2,600 square feet, whereas the typical small or tiny house is between 100 and 400 square feet. Tiny houses come in all shapes, sizes, and forms, but they enable simpler living in a smaller, more efficient space.
What lessons on simple living should non-tiny housers take away from the tiny house movement? Let’s take a peek!
We Need Way Less Space Than We Think We Do
The most obvious takeaway from the community of people happily living tiny… even average and modest sized houses have way more space than we need.
House sizes have ballooned over the last few decades. The average new house in America is a full ONE THOUSAND square feet larger than in 1973 (source). I couldn’t find a comparable figure for Canada but I can’t imagine my homeland is much different.
Do we really need that much more room than the average family did 40 years ago? Do we just have that much more stuff now? Or have we fallen into the trap of believing we should own the largest, best house we can afford? While you may not be interested in living in less than 400 square feet, most people could easily meet their needs in a much smaller home than the current average.
Society may tell us that bigger is better, but the multitudes of happy tiny housers prove fulfillment can be found in small and cozy places.
We Can be Happy With Less Stuff
If you want a picture of how little you truly need to run a household look no further than your nearest tiny house dweller. Tiny house people are masters of minimalism!
They show us just how far we can go when it comes to purging our own closets, kitchen drawers and other hidden junk collecting spots. In a larger house we can fudge it a little, there’s more room for the “save for now” and “sort through it later’s”, but there’s no such luxury in a tiny house!
Tiny house people aren’t some strange breed of human that requires less than everyone else. They’ve just figured out and taken to heart a simple fact… it’s never our stuff that makes us happy.
Experiences are More Important Than Things
Tiny house people often cite their belief in prioritizing experiences over material possessions. That set of priorities is often the driving force behind their decision to live tiny.
By sloughing off the material possessions and financial responsibility that go with a larger home they’re able to create room in their lives for travel, adventure, and whatever else is near and dear to their hearts.
For me, this is the most powerful message from minimalism and simple living in general. Experiences like travel and adventure help us grow and develop. They help us learn how to venture out of our comfort zones and refine our understanding of the world and our place within it.
Material possessions, the stuff we accumulate – just doesn’t satisfy the soul. When your life is simpler, when you’re not directing your finances at keeping up with the Jones’s, you create space in your life to pursue what matters.
There is no material item you can buy that will provide the same enduring, perspective shifting value as seeking out travel and experiences.
Related Post: Prioritize Experiences Over Things
It’s OK to Live Unconventionally
I love the counter-cultural. I always get fired up by stories of people who do life differently. People who look at what society expects and say “That’s not quite for me.”
That’s exactly what tiny housers do when they pare down their possessions to the bare minimum and move their entire lives into a space the size of many people’s bedrooms.
They don’t plan their lives around what people consider a normal or traditional path. They don’t care if people judge them based on a material valuation of success. They’ve decided what’s important to them and built their lives around that.
If your personal priorities don’t jive with the mainstream – who cares?
Whether it’s building a tiny house, pursuing an unconventional career path or packing up your life to travel the world – Build the life you want and don’t worry if other people don’t “get it”. It’s a gift to have the courage to go against the norm and pursue the lifestyle that makes you happy.
If you are lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it
– John Irving
The tiny house movement is here to stay and is not to be dismissed as a fad or a novelty. It’s become a movement that inspires us all to keep pursuing simple. They may be doing the minimalism thing at the extreme end of the spectrum, but the core values have something to teach all of us.
So dear readers, are any of you fans of the tiny house movement? My Mr. and I are planning to start our own build in a few years. Are any of you lovelies living in or planning a tiny house? We’d love to hear about it! Leave us a comment below 🙂
** Special thanks to Alek Lisefski for graciously allowing us to use some photo’s of his tiny home. Alek’s build is one of my absolute favorites! I love how brightand fresh it is 🙂 Many more photo’s and his blog on the the tiny house lifestyle at http://tiny-project.com **