Across North America, home prices are rising. In both the United States and Canada, the price of housing a family continues to grow, and in most areas it does so faster than wages can keep up. This reality inevitably presents challenges for the average family. Parents who want to own their own home have to balance their expectations with their abilities.
Statistically speaking, while family sizes continue to shrink, the square footage in the houses families occupy continues to grow. However, there are myriad of interesting trends within the housing market that point to a willingness to buck the status quo in favor of more substantial gains than those of a material nature.
What this means for a family looking for affordable options is that there are increasing numbers of examples of how your family can live with fewer things and less space, and actually feel more aware of the fullness of life.
Why Tiny Living Is Trending
Living in smaller spaces comes as a direct result of individuals fed-up with the excess of consumer goods, the high cost of living, and the way big houses impact the planet. In a way, it’s a return to previous standards of living, wherein families lived in much closer quarters.
Home construction experts note, “With the downturn in the economy and the hard hits the home building industry has suffered, a new building trend has come into the spotlight. Along with building green and energy efficiency, the concept of ‘Less is More’ is quickly growing in popularity. The housing market is turning away from high-end amenities and unnecessary spaces for smaller more practical homes that do not waste space or energy and are more budget conscious.”
Not only does living with less space have a wide array of practical benefits, which larger houses simply can’t compete with, it is also prone to foster a sense of unity in relation to family dynamics. A, perhaps, unintended consequence of huge houses is that everyone has their own physical space to retreat into. But small living quarters allow individuals to work at doing life more together, and what veterans of the lifestyle are finding is that that’s a really good thing.
How To Downsize For the Adjustment
If your family is pursuing a smaller space, one of the most likely challenges will be changing not just how you live, but the amount of stuff you used to do in daily life. While living with less can be rewarding, it can also be challenging, especially if you have kids in tow.
But because you’ll be working with less space, it means you and your family will have to work smarter and harder to decide what you keep and how you can best use the space you will have.
Get rid of the excess: The prospect of downsizing is likely daunting, and that’s okay. In fact, there’s even research that demonstrates there is a psychological component to our attachment to things we shouldn’t necessarily be attached to.
Whether it’s because we have a sentimental connection to items or because we hope we’ll get around to utilizing them, we often have clutter for reasons that are important to us. Thus, cutting out unnecessary stuff is largely a matter of taking it one step — or item — at a time. Don’t allow yourself to be so overwhelmed you don’t start. Just take it one item at a time.
Be an organization maven: Obviously, a lot of what we own we need or are unwilling to part with. The first foundational piece of making less space work is to keep everything that stays organized. When you live in smaller rooms, you have far less space for unnecessary space-taking elements.
Be prepared to make decisions about where each and every item will fit into your smaller living quarters.
Think creatively: If you’re willing to live tiny, then thinking creatively is likely something you already excel at. Bring that propensity to look at situations with ingenuity and apply it to the would-be problems that arise.
The good news is that you’re not alone in this, so even when you do find yourself facing an issue you don’t know how to navigate, you’re likely just a search away from good counsel. Whether you’re looking for innovative storage ideas or you need help cooking real food, the conundrum has probably already been solved.
Find the Right Space
Small living doesn’t always mean a traditional house, in a tinier version. There are so many options out there, that a family truly interested in making it work has a great chance of finding the perfect fit. Finding the right home to buy is a matter of considering just how small of a space will work for your family, whether or not you want to be mobile, and whether or not you have the land for your tiny house.
Beyond just small, traditionally-built homes, some of the most common and easily attainable versions of tiny houses include:
Manufactured Homes: Two things make manufactured housing a worthwhile option. First, on the horizon are possible deregulations in the United States. The Department of Housing and Urban Development is reviewing regulations currently complicating the process of owning and living in manufactured home.
Second, manufactured homes are full of design potential. As Rick Polito wrote for Dwell, “When it comes to real estate, the trailer park gets a bad rap. But some designers think that this forsaken corner of the market is worthy of reevaluation—and even resuscitation.”
Already, there are a plethora of examples of manufactured homes with such on-point design elements, it’s hard to imagine turning your nose up at them. Additionally, as with many traditional homes wherein fixer-uppers can be purchased at a fraction of cost, mobile homes in need of some love can be bought, and remodeled to reflect the dream vision of their new owners.
RVs: RVs are, in contrast with traditional homes especially, the jackpot in terms of affordability. Not only that, they give the gift of mobility. Many a parent has lamented not being able to travel more with their kids, but RVs make it so much easier.
Shipping Containers: It’s a weird thought, right? And yet, shipping containers maximize many of the strengths of tiny living. They are not costly, they leave very little footprint, and they can be customized into homes that are welcoming and unique.
According to Kenneth Rosen for The New York Times, “Building with shipping containers isn’t exactly new, but until recently it hasn’t been exactly mainstream either. Now, though, it is becoming a lot more popular, as eco-friendly practices begin to influence market trends. Containers are loved by the hip and the practical, artisans and DIY-ers, engineers and construction foremen, as they are both sustainable and affordable.”
They come in varying degrees of size and move-in readiness, and are certainly a choice for a family willing to suffer a few raised eyebrows and ready to embrace living small in a unique manner.
While there is certainly validity in the numbers that show tiny home trends are growing, it’s also still fair to say that truly affordable housing will sometimes mean embracing a living situation that isn’t quite normal. Or is even far from normal.
However, what is also valid is recognizing that experiences and family bonds have the most beneficial impact on our kids, and for some, tiny living is the way to make that happen. It can be an avenue to forgo separate living quarters and endless piles of toys for a budget and a lifestyle that instead promotes relationships, travel, the outdoors, and new experiences.