A Look Inside the Tiny House Movement

On a typical Tuesday after a long day of work and school, I’m always ready for some relaxation. But when I join my roommates on our comfy couch, we always run into the same argument: What are we going to watch?

As my roommate, Zoe, flipped through the channels, we were unable to agree on a show until my sister suggested, “Tiny House Big Living!”

Zoe appeared skeptical, but she changed the channel over to the program anyway. As we watched the episode, Zoe was turned from a skeptic into a believer.

“I can totally picture myself living in a tiny house at some point in my life,” said Zoe.

“Yeah, I would live in one after I graduate.  It would be the same as paying for an apartment for four years, only I would have a tiny house at the end of it!” my sister agreed.

As my roommates continued to gush about tiny houses, I realized I wanted to learn more about the movement and the benefits of downsizing!  And the idea wouldn’t leave my mind until I sat down to write a blog post about it! Over the course of my research, I learned that tiny houses are an engaging, educational topic that not only represent sustainability, but also inspire people to lead more sustainable lives!


What is a Tiny House?

Today, more and more people are joining the tiny house movement across the country.

A tiny house is exactly what it sounds like.  The average size of a tiny house is around 200 square feet. To put that into perspective, the average size of a normal house in the United States is 2,164 square feet. That is 10 times the size of a tiny house!

Why are people choosing to live in a smaller space?  According to Ellen Sturm Niz, a writer for Country Living, “Some homeowners have discovered a small house actually leads to a simpler yet fuller life, connecting them with family, friends, and nature while freeing them from mortgages.”1

For young adults who’ve just graduated from college, a tiny house is an affordable alternative to purchasing a traditional home and more economical in the long run than renting an apartment. Millennials are embracing the tiny house trend because Do-It-Yourself tiny homes can cost as little as $10,000 to $15,000 to construct – and when compared to a single-family residence with a 30-year mortgage, tiny houses are an affordable upfront investment without an ongoing monthly payment.2

“The small house is more affordable, easier to maintain, and you own it,” writes Laura Schaefer.3 “Every payment you make to pay back your home loan goes to you – not a landlord. As young people get creative and look toward the benefits of simpler living – the small house is having a moment.”


5 Reasons to Join the Tiny House Movement

Living in a tiny house many not be for everyone, but there are lots of benefits to downsizing in general that can help you live a happier, more sustainable life. ABC News4 has created a list of the top 5 reasons to join the tiny house movement:

Bookshop_Nice2_5251. Cut the Clutter: Today, consumers are often encouraged to buy products they don’t need or even have space for in their home. Living in a smaller space encourages homeowners to think carefully before every purchase. In a tiny house, “every item has a specific purpose and place, and you own nothing that you don’t use, need or want” (ABC News). There is no room for clutter in a tiny house – because otherwise you wouldn’t have any space to move around in!

2. Spend Less Time Cleaning: Cleaning a typical two-story, four bedroom house from top to bottom can take hours! That’s valuable time that you could spend enjoying a good book, taking a walk outside, or doing virtually anything else. Downsizing to a smaller living space can cut cleaning time dramatically. Compare cleaning two to three small rooms to the time you’d spend cleaning 6 to 8 large rooms!

Money Pile 00 dollar bills

3. Save Money: Living in a tiny home can save money in many different ways. Homeowners don’t need to spend nearly as much money on heating, cooling, property taxes, or home maintenance. Transitioning from 2,000 square feet to 200 square feet can reduce utility fees by at least 90%! Today, the average household spends around $200 a month on utilities; by living in a tiny house, that figure could be reduced to only $20 a month!

together-enjoying-nature-2363704. Improve Quality of Life: When homeowners shed their “stuff” and begin living small, quality of life and overall happiness improves (ABC News). These homeowners no longer feel weighed down by all the frivolous items they used to own, they no longer have a huge mortgage, and they spend less money on cleaning and maintaining their home, which allows more time and money for hobbies and other leisure activities!

maxresdefault5. Save the Planet: Living in a tiny house can drastically reduce your carbon footprint! Tiny houses use less lumber in construction and they also use less electricity and produce less Carbon Dioxide emissions! According to ABC News, “Tiny homes are green homes, as they use less energy, produce less waste, and consume less resources (in the form of products that are no longer being purchased) than larger homes.”

Overcoming the Challenges of Tiny Living

Some common challenges that homeowners face when living in a tiny house include: organization, letting go of possessions, and finding new ways to entertain. ABC News has come up with creative solutions to these tiny house problems!


1. Organization Made Easy. Organization is key in a small space, otherwise your tiny home can end up looking like a cluttered closet – and no one wants to spend time in a cluttered closet! By effectively maximizing every nook and cranny, it’s possible to organize even the smallest of spaces. Buzzfeed has put together a list of 31 Tiny House Hacks to Maximize Your Space (which you can view here).

2. De-cluttering Can Be Freeing. It can be difficult to decide what possessions to take with you into your new tiny space, especially if you have a large abundance of sentimental knick knacks. But de-cluttering is part of the “freeing” process! It can feel as if a weight’s been lifted off your chest when you learn to let go of items you no longer need. And if you’re really worried about keeping all your possessions, you can always rent a storage locker for some extra space.

3. Become a Creative Host(ess).  Entertaining in a tiny home does have limits.  It can be difficult to fit your twenty closest friends into your tiny house for a party.  As a solution, move your gatherings outdoors!  Cold weather doesn’t have to end the fun – you can still plan to do winter-themed activities like sledding, skiing, or building snowmen.

Author: Madi VanGundy, Live Green! Campus and Community Engagement Intern
Editor: Laurelin Haas, Live Green! Campus and Community Engagement Intern

More information: 

To take a virtual tour of a tiny house, visit CypressTinyHouse.

To view more pictures of tiny houses, visit hgtv.com.

Bonus! This tiny house is built to look like a castle! For more information, visit  Castle Tiny House!



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