Some day, when I’m no longer cohabitating with three other people and a dog, I’ll live in a cozy, super-efficient tiny house. I’ve been in enough well-designed and perfectly built homes of less than 500 square feet to know that it’s surely the best way to live. If you’re on the fence about how much living space is enough, check out this great list compiled by Tinyhouselistings.com founder Steven Harrell on why smaller is better. (Tinyhouselistings.com is the web’s central place to buy, sell and rent houses that are less than 1,000 square feet. It's worth checking out, whether you're seriously hunting or just dreaming.)
1. Less initial cost. Tiny houses have traditional features such as kitchen, plumbing, roof and flooring that can make the price per square foot more expensive, but because overall size is so much smaller, the overall price is only a fraction of traditional homes.
2. Less energy consumption. Tiny houses require much less energy to heat and cool simply because they have much less interior air space. Refrigerators and hot water heaters, two big energy consumers, are typically smaller in a tiny house.
3. Less water consumption and trash. If you have a small shower and small hot water heater, chances are your showers will be a lot shorter. If you have a small trash can, chances are you will generate less trash.
4. Less cost for repairs. The cost to replace a 2,000-square-foot roof will be a lot more than the cost of a 300-square-foot roof.
5. Less land to purchase and maintain. If you elect to buy a very small plot of land for your tiny house, you’ll spend less time cutting grass. If you buy a regular size lot, you’ll have more room your garden.
6. Less food. A small pantry means you’ll have a small amount of food in your house.
7. Less taxes. The savings can go toward investments, retirement, college for your children, vacations, or donations to tinyhouselistings.com.
8. Less insurance. Tiny houses cost much less to insure because they are less valuable. Many insurance companies consider tiny houses on wheels to be an RV.
9. Less interest paid. It’s no secret that over the course of a 30-year loan, you will pay more for interest than you will the house itself. Most tiny house owners elect to pay cash for their tiny house, or to pay it off quickly.
10. More disposable income. By owning and living in a tiny house, you are slashing your living expenses at every level.
11. More freedom. (OK, 11 reasons.) By living in a tiny house, you free up money by cutting expenses in a big way. You use fewer natural resources. You spend less time cleaning and maintaining your home. You trade square feet for freedom.
With this graph, Steven Harrell of Tinyhouselistings.com shows the difference in price between traditional and tiny houses. The purple bar shows the average price of a house, the interest paid and the total of both the house cost and the interest paid. The green bar shows the same for a tiny house.
Jay Shafer of Tumbleweed Tiny House Company sent me this shot to show that his beautiful, well-built homes can live anywhere. This one (my favorite design) is less than 100 square feet.