For the last few years, tiny homes have been all the rage, but how much longer can the trend continue? As more people move into these scaled-down spaces, many are realizing that to scale down, they also have to absorb more costs. From increased storage costs to the expenses associated with outfitting a tiny space with specialized products, shrinking property sizes aren’t necessarily an unmitigated good.
The Cost Of Larger Homes
One of the primary reasons that people began scaling back their properties in the first place is the fact that large homes are wasteful; they’re packed with spaces that no one uses. That means that owners are consuming resources, including lumber, land, and electricity, that they simply don’t need. And in the face of growing global populations and climate change, that degree of consumption isn’t sustainable. Concerned citizens, in turn, countered suburban sprawl with tiny homes.
Storage Sprawl Counters Property Shrink
When people attempt to transfer their lives to tiny homes, they have to make an important decision: throw everything away, donate it, or put it in storage. In many cases, people opt for a combination of these choices, as well as investing in specialized storage products for their tiny homes. Their offloading, combined with general consumption, then, has led to an increase in available storage spaces. Storage companies keep constructing new units, and people are snapping them up. It makes perfect sense that, in order to live in smaller homes, people have to spend more on storage.
Striking A Balance For Space
The increase in outside storage use triggered by the tiny home movement raises the question of how much space an individual family needs, and experts have attempted to quantify it. The conclusion is that there’s no precise answer. Rather, how space is used plays a significant role in how much square footage a family needs. First, a smaller space with more rooms might better accommodate a family with several children than one with fewer rooms where children must share, while parents whose children are on the brink of moving out may opt to move into a smaller home because a larger one would be wasted within a few years.
Another factor families need to consider regarding tiny homes and space needs is that, while small spaces may be novel and exciting for a few years, some worry that they will go the way of the RV industry – that people will get tired of tiny homes and have to scale up again in a few years. That means they would likely be re-purchasing many items they got rid of just a few years prior, as well as selling their tiny home. This is a different waste problem than that associated with overly large spaces.
House Rich Or House Poor?
Ultimately, if Americans are to find a balance between tiny homes and sprawling houses, they need to figure out how to live in a way that makes them neither house rich nor house poor. Sprawling homes are associated with greater debt, and most of the time they’re unnecessary. Smaller homes, but not tiny homes, could help more families live within their means and reduce consumption, without forcing them to embark on an experimental living style. Most people can’t live in tiny homes for the long term, but almost everyone in the United States, at least those engaged in these debates, can live with less than they do right now.