Top Strategies for Living Well in a Small Space
By: Lydia NoyesIt's a sad reality that the average American spends almost half her income paying for the walls and roof surrounding her. While housing costs continue to rise, Americans have been steadily increasing the size of their homes, from just 983 square feet in 1950 to over 2,400 by 2010. With these facts, it's no surprise that there is an underground housing movement afoot; a population of people willing to buck the big house trends in order to go small. Really small. The tiny house movement is catching America by a storm. Rather than shell out their life savings to live in a McMansion, many people are choosing to live in houses smaller than 500 feet, and some smaller than 50. While this dramatic change in lifestyle has many perks (like less space for clutter and lower utility bills) there are some facts that every would-be tiny home dweller should be well aware of. Below are some of the best tips from seasoned tiny home owners about what to expect and what you will need to adjust to.
- Get Rid of Stuff: Most of us know we have more possessions than me need, but you won't have idea just how MUCH more until you move into a smaller space. One major issue that tiny home dwellers deal with is not having space for their belongings. If you plan to move into one, mentally prepare yourself to get rid of close to 90% of your belongs, including almost all your furniture. What you do keep will need to be assigned specific places in the house to go to ensure you aren't tripping over every earthly possession you own whenever you walk in the door.
- Limit what comes into the house: Though it might feel counter-cultural to no longer view shopping as a recreational pastime, living in a tiny house means there simply isn't space to collect knickknacks. This required change in behavior is a big appeal for many people that move into tiny homes. They find that they spend far less money on unnecessary purchases and even waste less food because they can't fit as much in their refrigerator. Need an easy way to cut back on your purchases? Watch less TV! Seeing fewer commercials for consumer products will help you to avoid temptation to go out and splurge.
- Enhance Your Space with Color: Living in a small home means you have minimal space for creative expression, so live it up a little! Though people disagree about whether bright colors or dark colors make a room look larger, you can experiment with your own preferred palate to create a space that fits your needs. The right color combination can be all it takes to make a cramped space feel open and inviting, so don't be afraid to experiment.
- Work with Your Utilities: Though it's a major perk that the average monthly expenses for a tiny house can be less than $50, many first time tiny home owners have a difficult time understanding some of the differences between ideal tiny home appliances and regular ones. Though plumbing can be the same as a standard home, many tiny home dwellers opt for more eco-friendly options like a gray-water system or a composting toilet. This reduces waste while also making tiny homes easy to move to hook up again somewhere else. For convenience, kitchen appliances often run off propane. Incredibly efficient and ascetically pleasing, these units fit well in small spaces and can run for a long time without needing a fuel refill.
- Change your Opinion on Closeness: More than most cultures, Americans enjoy their personal space. However, living in a tiny house with another person will challenge your personal bubble, often in good ways. Many married couples believe that their relationship became stronger when they moved into a tiny house because it created a level of intimacy and togetherness most people don't get in big, rambling homes. So celebrate your lack of privacy. Embrace the fact that your “man cave” might have turned into an arm chair in the living room. It will make the process so much easier.