Small houses: reduce space and expenses to enjoy another way

In the United States, a movement is advancing that promotes small houses. In opposition to the paradigm that indicates more is better, this form of architecture advocates an austere and environmentally friendly life. Its defenders maintain that the reduction of expenses that comes with reducing the size of houses allows development in other aspects of life.

According to the website of the “Tiny House” movement, the average size of American homes is 240 m2. In contrast, the homes they promote have between 9 and 37 m2. Thus, the advance of this movement implies a displacement of the traditional concept of large and spacious houses towards more practical designs that require less budget for their construction.

“A tiny house is any house in which all the space is used correctly,” said Jay Shafer, founder of the Four Lights Tiny House Company, which offers its services to build these houses, in a dialogue with the Huffington Post. With this concept, Shafer founded, together with some of his friends, the Small House society, which is dedicated to supporting the research, development and use of smaller spaces.

In their manifesto they highlight that, “people who are able to live in small houses tend to have more time and money to invest in other areas of life, such as marriage, family, education, physical exercise and their professional careers.” . As they explain, all this “helps to have a more balanced and enjoyable life.” Most Americans spend between one-third and one-half of their income on their homes, according to the Tiny House movement’s website. According to his calculations, this translates into 15 years of work dedicated solely to paying for a house.

This was the Dee Williams situation. She lived the typical American dream in a 1,500-square-foot house with three bedrooms, a patio, and a 30-year mortgage. After having a heart attack and being diagnosed with heart failure, she met this movement, she got rid of most of her belongings and built a house of 7.8 m2 for US $ 10,000. “All of that helped me see that I have a lot. I have everything I need and I don’t want anything else,” she told ABC. Williams has been living this way for six years and she wrote the book “Go home go” that provides tips for building these little houses.

According to data collected by the “Tiny House” movement, 55% of people who live in tiny houses have more money saved than the average American. This is due to the fact that 68% of those who decide to reduce their space do not pay a mortgage, against 29.3% of the owners of the North American country. Additionally, 89% of homeowners spend less money on credit cards than the average American. 65% don’t even use them.

The main reduction in expenses lies in the differences in construction prices. According to data from the “Tiny House” movement, tiny houses can cost around $23,000 when built by the owners themselves. This figure contrasts with the US$272,000 that an average-sized house costs, without counting the expenses of the requested loans. “When you build small houses, you can spend more money on better quality materials,” Jared Volpe, a web designer who writes the blog, told The New York Times.

Many of the savings also come from changing lifestyles. As Shafer explained to the Huffington Post, downsizing also means owning only what’s essential. In other words, the reduction of space forces owners to rethink their consumption to acquire only what they need.

The reduction in housing costs offered by this movement made it reach young people as well. Tara Flannery, a 25-year-old college student living in Seattle, decided to move out of her residence to a smaller space. “I wanted to buy a house when I was 30 years old, but because of the evolution of the real estate market, that is not going to happen,” she told The New York Times, referring to the increase in prices. Her house will be 9.3 m2 and will cost around US$40,000. She plans to use the money she saves on travel.

One of the best qualities of small houses is that their designs are extremely varied. Many of them are even mounted on trailers, so their owners can move them if they don’t feel comfortable where they are installed. But in addition to being an accessible way of life, it also benefits the planet. Construction requires fewer resources and involves less use of services such as electricity and gas. Those who are more committed to the environment are already opting for solar panels and dry toilets.