Tiny Home Living – Pros and Cons
Tiny home living is drawing much attention these days. Let's take a look at the pros and cons of this lifestyle choice.
Tiny home living does not mean putting up something like hut in an upmarket suburb. However, that’s the image many “normal” home dwellers have of tiny home fans and the tiny houses they want to build. The tiny home movement certainly has its pros and cons as we can see by a quick search of the Internet.
The topic stirs up feelings for a number of reasons.
Not least the fear amongst occupiers of conventional sized homes that allowing tiny homes into their neighbourhood would lead to a drop in standards.
Perhaps a flood of shacks like the mud hut in the photo above.
Another criticism of tiny home living is that with storage space limited by the small size, occupiers of tiny homes would store a lot of their stuff outside creating an eyesore.
There are concerns about cooking and dirty laundry odours hanging around in small spaces and many more.
This article in the Tampa Bay Times highlights a number of concerns. Scroll down to the comments and you will notice concerns about building codes and homes being blown away by hurricanes.
Those are all real concerns and we know that tiny home living is not the best choice for everyone. However, types, standards and designs of housing have been evolving for thousands of years since Neanderthals ran out of caves to occupy.
From caves, through flimsy shelters made of palm fronds, covered holes in the ground, tree houses, basic mud-walled thatched huts, tents made from animal skins, shelters made of snow to palaces made of stone or brick with leakproof roofs.
Tiny home living in the 21st Century
If changes in design, size, construction material, type of ownership and permanence is the natural evolutionary path for housing, why do critics of tiny houses see them as part of a revolutionary movement?
Many answers, vested interests being up near the top.
Fears of house prices being negatively affected raise alarm bells in the minds of house owners, mortgage providers, banks, realtors, town planners, local government revenue collectors, local retailers and more.
Developers assume that even if they can build more tiny than conventional homes on a given acreage, the lower prices of smaller homes will reduce their total revenue.
Those concerned with the aesthetics of a neighbourhood worry that a rash of tiny homes will “spoil” the neighbourhood.
Residents and planning offices believe that building codes will be ignored and safety standards affected.
Those fears can be put to rest.
The old model is broken
There is enough evidence to show that the old model of school – college, university or trade school – lifetime employment with one or very few employers – retirement and pension, is no longer the norm.
We can now see that the old model of an urban or suburban apartment (flat), condo, semi-detached or detached house of 1500 or more sq. ft. (100 sq.m.) is not working too well either. It is out of reach for a large section of the home buying or renting population. House prices have risen faster than incomes in many countries. Prices of non-discretionary purchases, the high cost of university education and tax increases have added to the burden of lower-income earners.
The need to spend more years studying means many young adults don’t start earning an income until they are considerably older than their cohorts in earlier generations. Delayed entry into the job market means a delayed accumulation of savings or investments. For those wishing to beat the biological clock and have children, it means fewer earning years before the added expenses of child-rearing.
Advantages of tiny home living
Tiny home living can address many of the problems caused by high housing prices.
A few advantages:
- Lower cost of construction = lower purchase price or rental costs
- Higher housing density = less agricultural land used for home building
- Fewer materials used in construction = fewer resources consumed
- Less energy needed for heating or cooling = less impact on the environment
- Easier availability of housing = fewer homeless people in unsatisfactory housing
- Lower accommodation costs = better quality of life
- More homeowners = more people with a stake in the community
- More safe housing = less crime and better health
Making it easier to build tiny homes on carefully selected properties in urban and rural areas would help thousands of people own and live in their own homes. Removing some of the restrictions on mobile tiny homes (currently treated as RVs in many areas) would also help.
Potential tiny home dwellers include:
- Young couples and singles
- Retirees not ready for senior care facilities
- Empty nesters looking to downsize.
- People finding themselves alone after the death of a spouse or divorce
- Singles and couples adjusting to a drastic drop in income from job loss or business failure
- People who want the advantages of both communal living and personal privacy
In North America, and I believe in other parts of the world, municipalities, county and township authorities have small parcels of land that have been acquired over decades. Some confiscated for non-payment of taxes, some donated, some just abandoned.
My sources in local government tell me it would be possible to allow these parcels to be used for tiny home construction for sale or to add to the availability of rental accommodation.
What is needed is the motivation to do it.
Some of these plots could be turned into ideal sites for tiny home living, all the advantages of country living and essential utilities while close enough to cities and towns for commuting to jobs and shopping.
Other, more remote locations could be used for communities wishing to live off the grid, growing their own vegetables and living close to nature.
There are plenty of possibilities, now we need action.
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