Is Tiny Living for You?

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        Where we live. Seems simple but it affects every part of our lives, from our bank accounts, commute times, privacy, and autonomy. Making that decision can be difficult, many feel they need a large house to keep up with others, to show as a status symbol for their success. Some are so desperate to have the big house with the white picket fence they become house poor. Choosing their mortgage over experiences, and dealing with the stress of the debt hanging over them. This is a road I never plan to go down, but many choose it and I personally don’t believe its worth the sacrifice. Although I am partial to more sustainable and low-cost living I plan on making a case of all housing options. Everyone chooses to live in different ways, that doesn’t make one better than another, only different.  At first glance, many assume tiny living to be for crazy hippies. I believe if you take a step outside of your social construct you’ll gain a new appreciation for this lifestyle even if you choose otherwise.

pushback for tiny living begins with the belief that bigger is better. Downsizing has never been held in high regard, especially if you plan to keep up with the jones’. Although many attempt that race, few ever win. The definition of the jones’ is ever evolving. As of 1949, the average single-family house was 1,100 square feet, but by 2008, the average size had increased to 2,500 square feet. In 2013, the average home size was 2,598 square feet. As the bar is always raised a little higher, the quota of feeling unfulfilled will always remain. The tiny house movement is about breaking this notion, getting out of the race of consumerism and choosing to live more simply by bringing down living quarters to under 1000 square feet. To be frank, living in smaller housing isn’t a new idea,  New York is loaded with small apartments, and there are many trailer parks throughout North America. What’s different is their perspective.

When you live in a tiny house it’s a choice, you are choosing to live this way. Many who live in apartments or trailer parks don’t see this housing arrangement as their goal or final stop. This movement no longer perceives smaller as negative. They believe it brings them abundance in other ways that take priority over square footage. With fewer items brings less space, fewer items, therefore, fewer decisions, these individuals don’t waste their decision making with trivial choices. With the silencing of consumerism noise, time is spent on hobbies, family time, education and relaxation.  The tiny house community is still choosing to own their own property, in order to have the autonomy to customize their space without the approval of a landlord. With the lack of consumerism results in financial gains, there are significantly fewer expenses and with the financial freedom allows individuals to feel comfortable taking more risks. Currently “ between 1/3 and 1/2 of Americans’ income is dedicated to housing expenses. Some who have moved into a tiny house have done so in order to leave a job that brought them stress and despair. For some this way of living has allowed a mother to stay home to take care of her children full-time without stress. For others, it has allowed them the freedom to live on the road.

So maybe you’ve joined the bandwagon. You agree that there are some redeemable benefits and this may be a housing situation for you. Before you pack a bag and throw out the rest, there are some things to keep in mind. Unfortunately, tiny houses are in this strange point where they aren’t legal in most areas. Due to zone and coding laws, many tiny houses are too small to meet the requirements to be approved. “Municipalities have imposed minimum floor space requirements (among other requirements) in order to drive up the cost of housing in their neighbourhoods and communities”. Increasing the size of houses also increases the property tax assessment on the house, which pays for municipal services, particularly public schools, and emergency services.  Not to despair, there are ways around the laws with these helpful tips.

 

4 Ways to Legally Live in a Tiny House

  1. Put your tiny house on flatbed so it can be considered an RV.
  2. One of the better loopholes is using a tiny home as an accessory dwelling unit which is essentially just a smaller home or apartment located behind the principal dwelling on the same property lot, you’ll need to check if this is available in your area.
  3. Currently, the best option is to get a variance.This is the only options where a tiny home can be deemed legal. Unfortunately, if the variance permit is denied, then the building inspectors will now be aware of the possibility of an illegal tiny home within their jurisdiction. Further, applying for a variance can be costly and time-consuming.
  4. There are a few areas that are tiny house friendly…
  •   Spur, Texas
  • Fresno, California
  • Walsenburg, Colorado
  • Brevard, North Carolina

Here is a list of some Great resources I personally own and have referred to!

1) Tiny Houses: A Beginners Guide To Tiny House Living

2) Tiny House Living: Ideas For Building and Living Well In Less than 400 Square Feet

What’re your thoughts? 

1 Jack N. Barkenbus, Supersizing the American Dream in an Era of Climate Change, 38 ENVTL. L.REP. 10857, 10858 (2008)

2 ” ”

3 What is the Tiny House Movement?

4  NORMAN WILLIAMS JR. & JOHN M. TAYLOR, 2 AMERICAN LAND PLANNING LAW § 65:1 (rev. ed.2013).

5 Louisville/Jefferson County Metro Government Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, LOUISVILLEKY.GOV (June 2008), https://louisvilleky.gov/sites/default/files/management_ budget/cafr/fy08_cafr.pdf.

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