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Tiny Houses–Tiny Costs

Lately I’ve been somewhat obsessed with the idea of tiny houses.  I stumbled on to a Youtube channel that shows lots of different examples of people living in a smaller footprint.  In this day and age, we are living in much larger houses than ever.  During the economic downturn, I started to read about how builders were starting to build smaller houses to keep costs down, but I’m still seeing lots of new neighborhoods being built with roughly the same sizes that everyone has become accustomed to over the last couple decades.  If people are living in smaller houses, it appears to be only a niche thing, as opposed to a massive change in behavior.

My family is a pretty absurd example of living in too large of a house.  There are only three of us living in a 2700 square foot (McMansion??).  We really only use about half of the space on a normal basis but we spend a lot of money keeping the whole place heated and maintained.  It’s actually kind of embarrassing to me that we have this much space but we chose it 10 years ago due to it’s location.  It’s located in a nice neighborhood with nice neighbors.  I would have loved to have gotten a one story house that’s half the size in our neighborhood but there are only 3 of those in the entire neighborhood and they’ve never been for sale since the homes were built.  Apparently the builder felt that they could make more money building larger houses.

My wife and I often talk about moving and getting a smaller, one story house on a bit larger piece of land.  I would love to have a 1500 square foot house with a wood stove and solar panels to drastically reduce our reliance on the “grid”.  In reality, we would even be happy in less than 1000 square feet.  Our second home is only 960 square feet and we are very comfortable in it (super comfortable when the woodstove is being used).  Ultimately, our plan is to retire to the second home and live very economically in the smaller footprint.

Anyway, that was a bit of a bunny trail.  While 1000 square feet is much smaller than our current footprint, it’s absurdly large compared to the tiny houses that I started talking about at the beginning of this post.  These tiny houses are usually less than 500 square feet and sometimes are even built on trailers so that they can be moved anywhere.  Some of these folks love the freedom that these types of houses provide.  If it’s a house on a trailer, there’s no property taxes to worry about and you can always move it to another location if your current scenery gets old.

Here are a few examples from Youtube:

http://www.youtube.com/v/tdAm9OFEyDg?hd=1
http://www.youtube.com/v/VMAAWABynns?hd=1
http://www.youtube.com/v/ux8tjZnEfR0?hd=1
http://www.youtube.com/v/lDbrUk2xYBo?hd=1

These are just a few examples of what you can find on Kirsten Dirksen’s Youtube channel.  The reality is that, while we’ve tried to manage our lifestyle inflation over the years, we are failing horribly at managing our housing inflation.  It’s just another way that money leaks out of our bank accounts each month.  I bet we could save at least another $200 a month on electricity and property taxes if we moved to a house that was more appropriately sized for our family.  I doubt we’ll make the move any time soon due to the cost of moving, but I definitely look forward to the day that we are living in a smaller home.

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