Tiny House Obsession

The concept of tiny house living is intriguing to me. The idea of keeping a small footprint and being mobile is appealing. I also like the idea of having less stuff. It all sounds great.

After all, the more house you have, the more there is to pay for, insure, heat, clean, pay taxes on and furnish. That means more money and more time spent on the house instead of on other things that may be important to you.

There’s a show called Tiny House Nation that follows homeowners as they design and downsize into tiny homes of under 500 square feet. Sometimes they’re very small and mobile. Sometimes they’re a little bigger and the owners have no plan to move.

I’m always amazed at the people who want to do this and how unrealistic they tend to be. A family of seven moving into 350 square feet in Montana from an enormous home with an attic, basement and garage? That one was painful to watch, partly because the wife was clearly struggling to let go of the family dining table. Plus, where do you store food for seven people and how do you handle the laundry?

The average 3 star hotel in the US offers rooms of about 300 square feet. I wouldn’t want to spend a night much less a lifetime with six other people in a space like that.

It seems like it’s always the clothes horse or the shoe collector, the entertainer, or the person with a room full of scrapbooking supplies. These folks seem genuinely surprised that they can’t keep all 96 pairs of shoes and that there won’t be space for a dozen friends to sleepover after a party. Really? What party? Where will everyone stand?

I always feel bad for the kids who have to leave behind favorite toys, teenagers with no privacy and the pets who will be cramped.

It makes so much sense for many people but I can’t help but wonder what some are thinking. At the end of the show they do a big reveal and it always looks so nice. But they come back for a follow-up interview in a couple of months and it’s always cluttered or the homeowners have had to retrofit something to make it livable.

I have some friends who downsized to tiny homes and they seem quite happy. All of them seem to have done it to save money to travel and were realistic about letting go of the extras.

I am not a materialistic person. I could walk away from most of my possessions. At the same time, I like to be surrounded by things that I associate with happy memories like family heirlooms and travel souvenirs. Decorating for the holidays is something I enjoy but there would be no room to store seasonal decor.

Houses have gotten too big and mass produced goods have created too much clutter. Prewar homes were about a thousand square feet. Closets were tiny, bedrooms were small and kitchens weren’t equipped with elaborate cabinetry. People did quite well in these homes for many years.

There has to be a happy medium for some of us wishing to occupy less space and to consume less stuff. Meanwhile, I guess I’ll stick with the bigger house – after all, it provides plenty of room for Scout to run around!

18 thoughts on “Tiny House Obsession

  1. As I have gotten older the desire for a smaller house is more appealing. I don’t like a lot of clutter but I have a very decent collection of diecast cars that I won’t get rid of. It’s also my 401K.

  2. I lived in a 300 sf apartment for a year and a half while I waited for my divorce to work through the court. It had some distinct advantages, the primary one being that I could clean it end to end in under an hour. A disadvantage was that it was hard to be truly comfortable in it. There just wasn’t enough room for real furniture. The bed took up a large portion of the living space.

    • I listen to a podcaster who lived in an RV for several years while paying off debt and she talks a lot about how cleaning was so much easier. She now lives in a bigger house but, to this day, she struggles to buy things because she doesn’t know where she’ll put them!

  3. My house was built in 1946. It is very small. I am working on trying to get rid of things and change things around. Everything feels too big for the house! The cost of living is nice however. Lower bills are always a plus. Four people living in 1,200 space is not pleasant at all!

  4. There is one tiny house in our neighborhood. North of town, there is an entire neighborhood of tiny homes! So some people are making it work. I fantasize about it a bit, but I think our home is “right sized” for us and two dogs. Me alone might be a different story.

  5. I hear yah. The more house and stuff you have, the more time it takes to maintain and manage it all. I have certain possessions, like some pieces of furniture from my grandmother, that I wouldn’t want to part with either. It’s all around finding the right balance and being more mindful about our stuff. I must admit, ever since we moved from an apartment into a house, we’ve accumulated more stuff. But my cat seems to enjoy the extra space as well!

    • I bet your kitty loves the extra space to play and climb!

      I have some collections I would hate to part with. My books in particular would be hard to leave behind. Luckily, I’m not in the market to downsize! Plus, I have many sentimental things like a family clock, pictures and dishes. They have no street value but mean a lot to me.

      As it is, I keep my cost of living down as much as possible and my house is reasonably energy efficient so I think I’ll stick with what I have!

  6. Now that I’ve been living alone here in Mom’s house for the past 2 months, I can honestly say I’m happier in a smaller space. This house only has two bedrooms, a livingroom / dining room, and a kitchen, so it’s not really a “large” house, but it’s too large for me. I spend all my time in either my home office or the bedroom or the kitchen. The livingroom and diningroom are just wasted space, even if I were to think of other uses for those spaces. I think I would be quite happy in one of the “tiny houses” on that TV show, which I love.

    • Perhaps someday! That show is so cool and I enjoy seeing all the creative ways they tackle problems. Some of the people get on my nerves though. “What do you mean I can’t keep all 107 pairs of shoes in my 250 square foot home that I share with my Doberman?” Lol. I just have to shake my head.

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