The Rise Of The Small House

In 2013 AT&T embarked on an ad campaign called “More Is Better”. The commercials released under this campaign featured actor Beck Bennett talking to a small group of kids about which is better. He would literally ask, “What is better? More or less?” The kids would then respond to how more is better because…well, you get the picture. If you don’t know, here is an example:

At this point in time my family was four years deep into the modern tiny house movement. We had learned a ton of about our needs -vs- our wants. We were living with what we had made priorities in our lives. When I saw this commercial one day at the laundromat I stood there, mouth agape. I admit that the kids were cute; their honesty and innocence. But as I continued on my mind kept running back to the story of the commercial. It was literally teaching children as well as reinforcing to adults a national value system based on consumption and acquisition all in the name of AT&T’s new, larger 4G network. I was more convicted than ever of my family’s choice to live tiny. But our daughter was only 2 then. She required little and seemingly wanted little more than our attention and a few random things to bite on. Fast forward 2 years.

Our daughter was in between 4 years old and 5 years old and we were homeschooling her in a part-preschool / part-kindergarten way. She had more toys, more clothes, and more wants. She had a bike. She had dolls. She had clothes for dolls. I was getting more and more interested in multi-media and I had amassed more: more camera gear, a second computer screen, more cables, etc. My wife had also rekindled her love for cooking and we had more spices, more cookware, and more kitchen tools lying around. Our needs were quickly changing. While I never consciously thought about it, I guess we were beginning to undergo a “more is better” transition. Ours was not so divisive though. It was based on a change in life. Our family dynamic is changing. By 2015 we had come off the road full-time and found ourselves trading in the tiny life for the small life. In October 2015 we had purchased a 2-acre plot of land and a house just under 900 square feet.

With 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and the rest just an open space, it seemed perfect for what our life had become. See, we were living bigger but still living tiny. Our ideas of consumption had not changed. Our notion of need -vs- want was stronger than ever. But again, our needs as a family had changed. Is this becoming a trend though? Maybe a tiny house v.2.0 sort of thing?

In the last 2 years, I have had 6 sets of friends go from their tiny house to a small house. Their resolve to live a purposeful life had not changed. Only their needs and their space requirements had. Here is what interesting though. None of them built houses or opted for anything larger than 900 square feet. In fact, my own house may be the largest of them all. Each of the 6 families (ranging from a couple to a family of 4) had purchased pre-existing homes that were older, needed some TLC, and had a lot of potential for creativity and customization. Want to know the truly interesting fact? While all 6 families are in different parts of the United States, no purchase required more than a 15-year loan because none of the houses exceeded $110,000. Considering the median sales price of an existing home in January 2017 was $227,300, each family had beat the odds and claimed a future for themselves that was manageable and approachable. Like tiny houses and tiny houses on wheels the homes were still easier to maintain, took less time to clean, had less debt risk, had less environmental impact, didn’t create a huge temptation to accumulate “stuff”, required less decorating and furnishing, and allowed for a wider resell market.

So is this the new phase of the tiny house movement? Are tiny houses acting more as transition homes? Are they a means to an end, so to speak? Or are they going to take the place of tiny houses in so much as they are 100% legal, are more available, are easier to find financing for, and yet still allow for so many of the wonderful freedoms tiny house provide? What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below or visit our Facebook page to continue the conversation! 

 

 

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Elisabeth in CT - March 21, 2018 Reply

Yes, I also think tiny house living is more about values rather than square footage. Of course, size matters, but it’s the focus on quality of life and responsibly dealing with the objects we truly need that is at the core of the tiny house movement. So yes, since some members of the tiny life are now growing their families, which is a natural expansion of life, they will also need more room than a THOW can provide for their family activities. Renovating small older homes is a great solution: ecologically sound, elegant and a wonderful way to connect with the past. Thanks for bringing these idea to the forefront. I think you’re right on the mark. As my father, who was born in 1921 used to say – quoting his own 19th century mother – Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without! Aside from the alt tech progress made in things like LEDs, the internet and solar power, newer is not always better!

Jake - March 21, 2018 Reply

Hi!
I am planning on purchasing some land and building my own Tiny House that I want to be lived in as ‘off the grid’. I am also thinking that it would be a great idea to encourage others that are wanting to do the same thing, that may not have the land available to come and live there also. To create a small community of sorts. Does anyone know the realities of this? Where I could find them out? Or, do I just screw the man and go for it?
Cheers!

Denton Roofer - March 22, 2018 Reply

I have also come around the idea of less is more because as you very rightly put in, always give priority to needs over wants and any body doing that honestly would eventually live off the grid in a tiny house, peacefully for the rest of their lives.

John - April 13, 2018 Reply

Some tiny houses of 100 sq ft to 200 sq ft are cute, expensive, & nearly unusable.

Really think around 400 sq ft is about where the sweet spot is at.

Park Models are 400 sq ft with full size appliances, & they seem spacious.

With a Park Model, you have breathing room & you aren’t on top of other people.

When you go too small, you have nowhere to go for any privacy.

Love the tiny house movement, & believe Park Models are about the best compromise.

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