Monday, July 20, 2015

Tiny House

The tiny house craze sweeping the nation is interesting for many reasons. For one, you would think that it would be a money saver. For another, most Americans cannot imagine living in 64 square feet of heaven. I had the opportunity to shop at Ikea the other day, and they had a ton of "small living" options. You could purchase furniture for a whole apartment that would fit in 256 square feet (etcetera). Not exactly the smallest "tiny apartment" or "tiny house" but still interesting to walk through.

I read a post on another financial website about saving money by living in the smallest location possible. They were basically talking about a downtown apartment in a big city. Well, here's the only problem with that. It may be cheaper to sleep (unless you're comparing a closet-size Manhattan apartment to a 4-bedroom house in the South) but it won't necessarily be cheaper to live.

His suggestions included the fact that all you would be doing was sleeping and maybe eating in the apartment, and everything else could be done within walking distance. That may be a great idea in theory, but I think that's the big downfall of a lot of tiny houses, it's only a theory. When it rains or you're not at work or you work from home or your dog or kids are driving you insane, you kind of have to throw those theories out the window. Even with my insanely busy social schedule last week, There were still times when the kids needed to be at home for naps, or I needed a place to work from home, or we wanted a big chair that the two kids and I could snuggle in and read, or a place to lay next to my husband and watch TV or an adorable "table" and chair set that I bought for the kids homeschool room.

We could probably lose the formal dining room and not miss any space, and some of the rooms we have are larger than they need to be right now. But, that gives us the option to do other things with the house when the kids are older. If we decide to have more kids, the dining room could be a bedroom for an older child, if they don't do well sharing a room. If we continue homeschooling, the sunroom will make the perfect school-room and doubles as a guest room for my parents when they visit.

I definitely agree that location is highly important when choosing a place to live. But our "things to do" is fulfilled by being in suburban American. Most of our neighbors have kids around my children's age. There is a culdesac and walking trails and a pool in our neighborhood. All of these "free" things are included in our HOA fee, but if you were in a downtown tiny apartment you would have to buy a gym membership, and museum passes, and you would need to eat out at restaurants because you can't fit cooking equipment in your tiny apartment, and dry cleaning, and taxi rides since you have nowhere to park a car. I'm just saying that while the idea is great, you aren't always saving money by living in a tiny house. For people interested in country tiny house living, think about where you will buy your groceries, and what you will do in your tiny house with small children or three big dogs when it rains.

HOAs can definitely have their problems and drawbacks, but suburban living appeals to Americans for many reasons. I use very little gas even though I drive somewhere almost every day, because everything is nearby. I live in a safe neighborhood, I live in a community where people know each other. I live in an affordable house, and can drive 15 minutes to the city (with free museums and special events) or 15 minutes to the country to ride a horse. Sure, my house needs a bit of work, and is probably a bit larger than we need right now. But overall, the reason we purchased was the neighborhood and location, and we were willing to give on a few of our "must have" items for the house that was perfect for us.
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