Tiny house living becomes more and more popular each year. Since 2012 or so it has gone from a relatively obscure, DIY, movement to a full fledged lifestyle trend birthing national television shows, podcasts, mass media attention, and even library catalogued books. In order to live a more purposeful life, in a more environmentally responsible way, with less consumerist habits, tiny house advocates have all but dismissed more traditional sticks ‘n bricks homes in favor of much smaller living situations. While tiny houses do not adhere to a certain size standard they are typically relegated to those houses that hover around 300 sq.ft.

According to the American Enterprise Institute, the average house size has increased more than 1,000 square feet from 1973 to 2013. With that statistic in mind, it’s not hard to understand why some may reject this notion of living. A home – be it a starter home, a suburban two-story, or a retirement domicile – few families need upwards of 3,000 sq.ft.

A smaller home can mean a decline in consumption, a more sustainable lifestyle, and a healthier outlook on the experience of life. There are other factors to be considered though before going tiny and they may very well be perfect reasons to look to the small house market (500 sq.ft. to 1500 sq.ft.) instead of one of the extremes. Tiny house living can actually be a rather expensive affair.

TINY HOUSES AREN’T TRULY SUSTAINABLE. For a house to be truly sustainable it would have to be a house that made perfect sense, as is, for an extended amount of time. It would need to be upheld for years to come. But what happens if your family grows out of its tiny house? What if a family member reaches a stage or age that requires more privacy? What about when you are perhaps too old or uncomfortable climbing up and down into a sleeping loft? And where do you keep personal treasure you don’t want to part with? Whether it be ditching the tiny house for something a little larger and more compatible to your family needs or renting a storage unit for your priceless memories, neither scenario speaks highly for tiny house living to be more sustainable.

TINY HOUSE ARE TOO EXPENSIVE. How can a tiny house be too expensive? There is less to build which means the price should be less. Relatively speaking though tiny houses oftentimes cost more than small homes. Recently Forbes reported the average cost of a tiny home is $200 to $400 per square foot. Compare that against what a standard house costs per square foot. The 2010 Census breaks down the average cost of a new, single-family house at just over $84. The highest region of the county, the Northeast, averaged just over $110. Quick math shows that building a tiny house can cost between 2x to 5x more than the cost of a single-family home.

cost-breakdown

TINY HOUSES STILL HAVE THE ABILITY TO BE LEGAL NIGHTMARES. While several are fighting the good fight and headway is being made on tiny houses becoming legal they are still very much illegal in a number of municipalities. If you desire to live on the up and up without having to watch your back, placate your neighbors, or move every 3-4 weeks, tiny house living may not be for you yet. This doesn’t even take into consideration the safety issues, potential difficulties hooking up to utilities and more can that can become both expensive and time-consuming.

As long are you are aware of these challenges, tiny house living may still very much be for you. However, a better, more fiscally sound option, may be to enter the small house market and live in a more traditional sticks ‘n bricks. Small house living can still be quite sustainable (if not more so), can still be affordable, and can still free you from consumer debt and wreckless spending.

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