When the idyllic term ‘American dream’ crept into daily conversation, it looked something like a Polaroid snapshot of 2.5 children, an average sized home with a white picket fence, and a golden retriever. Fast-forward to today and the average American home is over 2600 square feet, people are waiting until their 30s to start a family, minimum wage no longer matches housing costs, and most families are made up of two parents who work outside the home or a combined family versus the previously expected traditional nuclear family.
From millennials to retirees, people are beginning to realize that they cannot afford the average mortgage payment or apartment rent, especially on a fixed income. Even for those who can comfortably afford the cost of living, they no longer want to have to work 60-80 hours a week to afford a house they never enjoy.
So are we deciding to rewrite the American dream?
Tiny Living Saves Cash
The cost of living in the U.S. alone is thousands of dollars a month for housing, vehicles, and utilities, whereas many living tiny report paying a fraction of that cost (on average, $400-$800 per month). Several tiny house dwellers opt tend land or gardens or complete farm work in exchange for lot rent on agricultural land so their housing costs are next to nothing and their parking spot offers room to roam.
Tiny home owners are much more likely to pay for their house in full upon completion of the build so they are not carrying or paying for a 15 or 30 year mortgage. Likewise, many choose total DIY homes or take part in completing some of the build themselves or encourage custom builders to incorporate the use of reclaimed materials that add character to a build and end up using even less materials for construction, saving them line items in their build budget.
Tiny Homes Focus on Communal Living
In a generation where parents feel pressured to keep a watchful eye over their kids at all times, the days feel long gone when children could play in their neighborhoods together, climb trees, and ride bikes until the street lights come on. However, in tiny house and park model communities, we are seeing a growing trend in like-minded people coming together to build the foundation for future generations. Communities are offering shared garden spaces, community recreation spots, and even shared garage space for large items like bikes and snowboards. These community ideals almost offer families and retirees a renewed sense of hope in the upcoming generation.
Tiny Houses Reduce Environmental Footprints
Boasting the use of less than a third of the electricity and producing only a fraction of the CO2 output of the traditionally sized American home, tiny houses are offering a solution to many global environmental concerns. The use of less construction materials such as lumber, as well as the fuel to transport it saves both money and trees. Additionally, the average home uses an average of 45 light bulbs whereas tiny homes usually have less than 9 bulbs throughout the house. This, paired with the limited use of large appliances in a tiny house creates a much smaller global footprint overall.
Smaller living truly offers freedoms Americans are longing for, focuses on community, answers global environmental concerns, and allows consumers to simplify and save money. Tiny houses could be the next generation’s American dream.