Tiny Living: Some Preliminary Thoughts

11/01/2017 02:10 pm ET

What do you know about tiny living? Does the idea of living in a tiny house terrify you? Does it intrigue you? Do you know anyone who has decided to do this? Or, have you absolutely no idea what I’m talking about?

Until this summer, tiny houses and tiny living were far from my radar. Frankly, I’m not sure that I had heard of either. Then I met someone – someone special – who was in the process of going tiny. Her big and tiny dream became reality in September and – through my relationship with her – I’ve gotten to see what living in a tiny home is actually like.

Here are a few early (and modest) observations.

Space is a relative term.

My friend’s house is a little over two hundred square feet. This sounds small and of course it is, but it’s not as small as it sounds. There’s a bedroom and a living room and a kitchen. The bathroom and the shower are more than adequate. Frankly, I’d take that shower over many others in apartments I’ve lived in. There’s an upstairs area too.

During my nights there, sometimes I’ve felt like I’ve been living in tight quarters – though quite comfortably, snugly. And, during the day, the natural light that shines throughout the house is great.

Generally speaking, Americans hold distorted concepts pertaining to space and noise. We can be so loud and obnoxious; part of that has to do with the fact that so many people are used to having so much private space at home. Yet a lot of that space is superfluous; that’s likely true even if you find the idea of tiny living unappealing.

The economics are tough to beat.

If you’re living in the Washington, D.C. area, for example, you know how expensive rent can be. Well, building a tiny home can cut living costs considerably. The upfront costs could easily come under $50,000, though many people spend more than that — as sizes, situations and styles vary. You might end up paying a few hundred dollars a month to park your tiny home on someone else’s property. You could be paying even less.

Building the house doesn’t mean that you’re finished.

There’s the designing of the house and then the actual build. My friend went to Tennessee to work with a company that helped put her house together. But phase three, the “moving in” part, can be frustrating. And that’s after your house is driven to where you actually plan on living.

It’s hard to do tiny living without being connected to one’s community. That’s not a bad thing, though it may pose challenges at the outset.

Where will you park your tiny house? And for how long? How does one get electricity? What about water? And a mailing address? Obviously, these are not insurmountable obstacles, yet they’re going to require negotiation and might be more complicated than they at first appear.

Tiny living isn’t for everyone. Yet it’s easy to imagine it becoming increasingly popular. Time will tell. Until then, I hope to share more musings on this seemingly radical, subtly practical and irrefutably interesting lifestyle choice.

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