The Tiny Home Trend: The Advantages and Disadvantages of Downsizing

Mobile home - The tiny home trend

As we become more aware of our impact on the environment and the increasingly urgent need to change the way we live, downsizing has gained traction.

Downsizing, for many people, could mean paring down the number of material objects they own. For others, it could mean going to great lengths to quite literally shrink their ecological footprint by living in a much smaller space.

Tiny homes have been growing in popularity for a few years, but now, with the rise of minimalism and Marie Kondo’s decluttering methods, they seem to be trending more than ever. They’re also an attractive alternative in an era of booming home prices and crippling consumer or student debt.

Freeing yourself of material possessions that don’t “spark joy” or serve a purpose can be liberating in so many ways. When you own less, there’s less to organize or tidy up, less to maintain and less to move as your life evolves. After all’s said and done, it’s not like you can take it with you when you’re gone!

Tiny homes can come in many shapes and sizes. Some of these include:

  • A small apartment or condo
  • A small house
  • A shipping container home
  • A tiny home made of cobb
  • A yurt
  • A mobile home
  • A converted bus or trailer
  • A cabin

When it comes to tiny dwellings, the possibilities are endless, and the less you own, the more housing options you have.

The Advantages of Tiny Homes

Besides the fact that tiny homes encourage minimalism, there are numerous other benefits that come with tiny-home living. Tiny homes are usually fairly inexpensive to buy or rent due to the decreased amount of square footage; often, tiny home buyers don’t even need to take out a mortgage.

Living in a tiny home that’s made of sustainable materials, such as a recycled shipping container or a converted bus, is an even more economical and environmentally friendly option. These also tend to be incredibly customizable.

A smaller living space automatically means that there will be a decreased need for utilities, and far less maintenance will be required. It’s often much easier to live “off the grid” in a tiny home, as opposed to a standard-sized one, due to the minimal energy requirements.

Moreover, many tiny homes come with the added benefit of being mobile—whether they’re literally on wheels, or can be easily moved with the right transportation logistics in place. It’s much simpler to take your home with you than to move all your worldly possessions! Can you imagine the possibility of taking a road trip across the country, while being able to bring the comforts of home with you every step of the way?

Drawbacks of the Tiny Home Trend

While there are so many attractive benefits associated with tiny homes, there are also some drawbacks that are important to consider. Although tiny homes are less expensive than standard-sized ones, they’re also incredibly difficult to finance, so the costs of a tiny home are often required upfront.

A tiny home means, obviously, much less space, which can be difficult for a multi-person family. In a tiny home, it can be hard to find privacy or a quiet space to work or relax, let alone the space to host friends or your extended family.

Less space also means very limited storage space; while a broom or other cleaning supplies may not “spark joy,” they’re certainly necessities that you’ll need to store somewhere in your home.

Testing Out Tiny-Home Living

Woman sitting on bed inside tiny home - The tiny home trend

Should you decide to venture into tiny-home living, you can first make small adjustments to your lifestyle, starting right now! In your current home, you might want to experiment with emptying a room and pretending that it doesn’t exist anymore—don’t use it for storage or living space, and see how you do with losing that square footage.

Another way to try out the tiny home life is to rent a tiny home for a vacation via Airbnb, campsites that offer small cabins or other rental agencies. There are various options available to meet a wide variety of needs. For example, if you think you’d want your tiny home to be off the grid, you can choose to rent a cabin or home that’s off the grid to test out that style of living.

Downsizing Responsibly

As you pare down your belongings, it’s incredibly important to be mindful of where those things end up. To avoid having them end up in a landfill, there are lots of ways that you can redirect them to better homes.

You may be able to sell many items at a yard sale, or online by using websites like Kijiji, Craigslist, Letgo and more. The extra cash you make can be saved for either your ultimate tiny home or customizations for your new tiny dwelling.

Another alternative would be to try exploring your local sharing economy via local trading or buy-and-sell groups. These can be found through social media, The Freecycle Network, Buy Nothing groups and the Bunz trading network. Often, in these groups, you can trade your material possessions for other items or consumable goods that may be more useful to you.

Donating items to organizations that make use of as much as possible is also an excellent way to give new life to old (to you!) belongings. As they say, one person’s trash is another’s treasure!

If you think something may be destined for a landfill, and it can’t be sold, traded, donated or recycled, consider repurposing it in your own home—to highlight just a couple of examples, old clothing can be used for cleaning rags or in an animal shelter, and containers of all kinds can be used as creative storage solutions.

Of course, we can’t prevent everything from ending up as trash, but we can explore a lot of options before things meet that fate. Some of these efforts may require time and patience, but it’s well worth it for the sake of the planet.

You Can Downsize Without Going “Tiny”

Tiny-home living may not be for everyone. However, you can still downsize and reduce your ecological footprint without going to that extreme.

As an alternative, you might consider renting or buying a smaller home that isn’t extremely tiny. Most people who transition to tiny-home living actually do so over a number of years, by transitioning to smaller and smaller living spaces.

Here, watch a video on a family that now lives in a repurposed shipping container»

image 1: Unsplash; image 2: Unsplash

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