The United States of America: it’s the home of baseball, apple pie, and most recently, enthusiastic adopters of temporary trends and alternative lifestyles. America is the land where every new hipster fad springs to life, only to seep into the rest of the world’s collective conscious weeks, months, or even years later. From drinking jars to crocheted crocs, it seems the new wave of everything from clothing to cocktails begins in Brooklyn and spreads swiftly to the streets of Shoreditch. So is it any surprise that the latest development in housing options should also begin in this neck of the woods?

Gaining momentum in the mid-2000s, the Tiny House movement markets itself as luxury for those who live simply. It’s 40, 20 or even 8 square meters (about 400, 200, or 80 square feet) of the dream home that every American imagines owning.

The small house movement (also known as the “tiny house movement”) is a popular description for the architectural and social movement that advocates living simply in small homes.

But is there a real rationale behind this latest fad? And could luxury in bite-sized pieces be the answer to chronic housing shortages and excessive waste?  The main proponents of this new movement believe that it can, and they have faith that the trend towards smaller living will be more than just a passing fad.

Tiny house interior [Photo: by Tammy, via Wikimedia Commons]

Tiny house interior [Photo: by Tammy, via Wikimedia Commons]

The financial crisis that took the world by storm in 2008 caused citizens in many parts of the developed world to begin to question the practicality of the bigger is better mentality. Meanwhile, small homeowners save money in multiple ways. Not only is the initial investment far less pricey, but having a smaller space encourages people to cut back on buying. And in a considerably consumerist culture, there is something to be said for living in a space that doesn’t permit endless accumulation.

According to members of the Small House Society, people are opting for smaller living for a variety of reasons. Not only are smaller houses more affordable, but concern for the environment and a desire to live more simply are also motivating factors. A smaller house can also be a time saver. The less time you spend cleaning and fixing up your house, the more you can spend doing other things. Why waste an hour cleaning the kitchen when you can do the same amount of work in 5 minutes and spend the remaining 55 improving your mind, spending time with your family or singing up for new, quirky classes?

Tiny houses require much less energy to heat and cool, simply because they have much less interior air space. Refrigerators and hot water heaters, two big energy consumers, also tend to be smaller in a tiny house.

Dee Williams, one of between 100-1,000 Americans who chose to abandon their more traditionally sized abodes and give a new lifestyle a chance, claims that her 8 square meter (84 square foot) home allows her to live so lightly on the land that her utility bills are less than $10 a month.

Considering all of the numerous benefits, it is no wonder that there are now over 1 billion search results for small houses on Google.

Luckily, for those who are interested there are now a plethora of options. The Tumbleweed Tiny House company offers potential homeowners the opportunity to build their own tiny home for a fraction of the price of purchasing a home ready made. You can even buy small house insurance or search for a mate who shares your propensity for diminutive dwelling. It remains to be seen whether the number of people living in tiny houses will continue to rise, but in the meantime, the small is beautiful sentiment seems to be making its long awaited comeback.

Cover photo: Tiny house in a windstorm by Tammy Strobel on Flickr

 This is a non-profit explanation.

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