The Truth about Tiny Houses

Tiny houses continue to be popular, and I understand why people like them:

  • They’re cute, and often cleverly designed.
  • They’re good for people who want to live very simply.
  • Since they’re on wheels, you don’t have to pay property tax on them.
  • Since they’re tiny, they don’t cost much to heat or cool.
  • They’re sturdier than a modern towable trailer.
  • They’re cheap enough that you can pay cash and live mortgage-free.

Nevertheless, I can see some problems with tiny houses, particularly for those who are looking for a cheaper way to live:

  • They’re very expensive per square foot. A new 20-foot long model (226 square feet including loft) sells for $62,950 or $279 per square foot. Consider that many nice small homes sell for $100 per square foot or less. (Of course, tiny houses can be cheaper if you build your own.)
  • There’s little room for storage, meaning you can’t save money by buying on sale in bulk, nor will you have room to store the tools needed to make repairs or create things (ouch!)
  • You’ll have to find a landowner who will give you permission to park your tiny house on their property.
  • Tiny houses often have wooden exteriors, which will require regular maintenance to prevent weather damage.

Finally, there’s the fact that most tiny houses have upstairs lofts for sleeping, and they’re usually accessed by tiny ladders or steps. Being a woman of a certain age, I think I’d be courting disaster when making my routine middle-of-the-night bathroom trips down to the bathroom and back up to bed using a ladder. So tiny houses might be better suited to the younger set.

Nevertheless, tiny houses have been a popular topic for a few years now. No doubt the lousy economy has something to do with this surge in popularity.

Personally, I find that living in a small house with a basement solves the affordability problem very well. Our purchase price worked out to $84/per square foot (not counting the basement or garage). Our basement is finished, making it great for entertaining and useful for extra storage. And even though I can’t take my house with me when I travel like people with tiny houses can, I find that a well-appointed hotel room or vacation condo suits me just fine and makes a nice change of surroundings.

But that’s just me. If you’re convinced that a tiny house is the only way to go, why not rent one to see how you like it? It would be fun to spend a month in something as cute as this tiny house, and it’s in a lovely location to boot.

 

How to Live Economically in Retirement

How encouraging this video is to those of us who won’t be retiring on a huge pension. Note how relaxed this man is and how he ended up doing this: sounds like it was for the joy of it, not because he’s financially limited. I love how he emphasizes the convenience of living like this. After all, a lack of housework, fewer things to repair and lower costs are all benefits of this way of living. What a great video!

 

 

Trading a Big House for a Tiny House

This story about a company in Missouri that builds tiny houses has an interesting lede: a family is selling their big house and moving into a tiny house even though they can afford the big house. The reason? The big house eats up so much money that they haven’t been able to go on a vacation in seven years. They’ve decided to live debt-free and be able make memories instead of spending all their cash on a big, impressive home.

I get it. I used to live in a big house. It was a great place to raise our large family, but it cost a lot in upkeep, utilities and (especially) property taxes. So I understand where the woman in the article is coming from. I imagine that no matter how much you love your house, when it begins to keep you from doing other things you want to do, you start to fall out of love with it.

I suspect this woman may find her new digs to be a little constrained. She might be better off buying something a bit larger than a tiny house, but more affordable than her current large home. In any case, we’re seeing more and more of this sort of thing as people try to stay afloat financially and enjoy life at the same time.

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Young and Mortgage-Free

I feel sorry for young people these days. Most of them don’t earn nearly enough money to pay for rent or a house payment, because housing prices are ridiculously high compared to incomes in many places.

But limitations spur creativity, as Thomas Edison used to say. This young man has come up with a way to have his own space without spending a small fortune on housing each month. More power to him!