Even if you’ve never been camping, you’re probably at least familiar with the concept, right? You bring way less stuff than usual to go stay somewhere else in a much smaller version of a house, then you go home. It might be a tent or a small cabin, and when you’re done living small-scale for relaxation it’s back to the overpriced rental or mortgaged house that needs constant maintenance a new roof before the next time it rains, for example… and the bigger it is, the more time and money it takes and you starting asking yourself: Is that really what I want?
What if, instead, you downsized to the tiny-sized and the smaller scale living was home? Whether you’ve got a plot of land you want to live sustainably from or you want the freedom of not being tied to a location, a tiny home could be a way to make that your new reality - less work and expense, more relaxation time!
PHENOMENAL COSMIC POWER - iiiitty bitty living space! So we’re obviously not talking about a genie in a lamp here, but that doesn’t tell you a whole lot about what a tiny home actually is. When a person first hears it, a tiny home sounds as if someone gave their shed a toilet and decided to live there, or maybe it’s an adorable little house for one of those purse dogs? While some of the tiniest of tiny homes do in fact look like 8x8 woodsheds, most are usually between 100-400 square feet.
There’s also the wide world of RVs, from camper style to fully integrated motorhomes. There are tiny homes designed to be towed behind another vehicle, so you can go wherever your vehicle can haul. There are tiny homes more designed to remain more or less in place once they’re settled in, they’re just - well, they’re just homes that are tiny.
And, it’s not just a lifestyle suitable for the solo adventurer or couple, there are even tiny house communities cropping up all over the US. Since describing it as a tiny house doesn’t give you much information other than that it is a diminutive domicile, here are some of the options I’ve found intriguing.
Shipping Container: Some people look at shipping containers and think of action movies. Some people look at shipping containers and think of videogame environments. Still others look at shipping containers and think of shipping, but some… some look at shipping containers and think “I’m gonna turn that into a house.”. While this might bring to mind some kind of near-future dystopia where most of humanity is living in crudely repurposed shipping containers like self-kenneled dogs, that’s not the type of shipping container home we’re talking about. There’s an impressive range of them available, but to stick with the idea of tiny homes we’re looking at single-unit builds. Shipping container homes can be customized in just about any way you can imagine, ranging from the basic to the luxurious and high tech. Even though they’re shipping containers, these aren’t always designed for portability. They’re especially popular with off-grid homesteaders, being more of a recycled housing option rather than a newly built miniature house. Speaking of which…
Tiny House: This is what most people think of when someone says “tiny home lifestyle”. A cabin or cottage style house, highly customizable and most often designed to be mobile. They’re usually made of wood, metal, or vinyl, though there’s no word on which one gives the big bad wolf the most trouble. Tiny houses can find attachments in RV parks, some of which are overhauling their business model to accommodate tiny house communities, but unlike RVs they’re also suitable to be parked on any accessible plot of land for longer term living. There are also off-grid designs that are made to be set up at your bugout zone or homestead.
Tiny homes are a hot commodity these days, and the options are about as endless as building materials… but what makes a person decide to pare their belongings and living space down to a minimum? What I’ve been finding out, is that there are a lot of potential motivating factors for downsizing and taking on the tiny home lifestyle. With the waves of evictions and rise in cost of living, many people are finding themselves in a tiny house out of necessity; sometimes it’s their only alternative to houselessness, or a choice they make to retain as many of their resources as possible as they’re priced out of where they live.
At the same time, it could be simply a personal choice - it could be an affluent person that see tiny homes as a form of vacationing and lifestyle tourism, to try something new and perhaps fall in love with it. Or, some people come to the decision as they move towards more minimalist, ecologically-minded lifestyles, looking to reduce their carbon footprint. (There’s often something of a trade-off here, as the vehicles needed to tow a tiny home aren’t the most… dainty, shall we say, with their emissions.) You never know, though - sometimes their owners choose to make carbon credit purchases, paying an organization like Terrapass in contribution to projects that help the environment; or it could be that shifting to tiny home living, even if it needs a monster truck to pull it, could use fewer resources. Will a tiny home reduce your commute? Or does your profession center around travel, conferences or other events? The tiny home lifestyle is ultimately more cost effective and more environmentally sound than travel costs and hotel stays.
Whether you’re an off-grid homesteader growing your own piece of paradise or a plugged-in digital nomad going where the signal takes you, the tiny home lifestyle is increasing in popularity. With the world in a state of change, having a house you can just nope out and take with you doesn’t seem like a bad idea. Not exactly at the stage of Mad Max, but at the point where hopping into a beast-machine and touring the country as your day job seems like a pretty sweet option. I’m definitely looking to learn more about tiny homes, and I’ll keep updating this space with everything I find - so, stay tuned, there’s more to come!