Jason Robie: Cottage Consciousness

There has been a lot of talk about the “tiny home” movement in the last couple years. Folks are downsizing and making use of smaller and incredibly efficient spaces in which to call home. In the 1950’s the average home size was just less than 1,000 square feet. In 2004 it had ballooned to over 2,300. An article I saw yesterday noted how baby boomers were getting stuck with their “McMansions” since nobody was buying those unnecessarily large (and soul-less) monstrosities. Turns out bigger really is not always better. Let’s take a peek at the benefits of downsizing into a smaller home. Who knows? Maybe a cottage-sized home is exactly what you need.

First and foremost, for those of us budget-minded folks, a smaller home is simply going to cost less. Of course the materials and actual cost of the home will be proportional to the size and therefore less, but the associated ownership costs will be much lower as well. Because it is a smaller space, it will be cheaper to heat, cool, furnish and “accessorize”. The other costs related to home ownership will also be less including your taxes, insurance and even repairs. Consider replacing the roof on your current home versus a home that is around 1,000 square feet in size. You can imagine that everything related to updating or remodeling, with a smaller or “tiny” home is going to be far more budget friendly.

A “side” benefit to those items costing less is your ability to increase the quality of the renovations you decide to tackle. If the hardwood flooring you really want is twice the price of the affordable version, remember that you likely have half the floor area to cover. If the goal is to minimize spending, this logic does not help you at all, but the lesser coverage areas for paint, flooring, fixtures, etc. can translate into higher quality furnishings and updates while maintaining the same budget. It also stands to reason that with a smaller home, you will likely have a smaller footprint to landscape. This is another area where you can choose to stay budget-conscious or treat yourself to some higher-quality materials since there will be much less to purchase.

By taking the budget-friendly approach you will very likely improve your quality of life as well. I know this sounds like a bit of a stretch, but living in a smaller home can have far reaching (and often unintended) benefits for you and your family. The savings you realize on those items noted above can translate into less stress, less time at work and more time spent doing the things you love. You also have less space for “stuff” (hooray!) which means a trip to the mall or that “big box” store is simply out of the question. There’s no room for more crap in your life, so there’s no need to waste that money.

A smaller home also means less time cleaning, landscaping and mowing and, in general, less maintenance and upkeep with those normal household items that we all deal with. I tend to sneak away from my desk during the week to clean the house and do the laundry. This frees up my weekends to “play”. With a tiny home, those tasks are shrunk even further and take less time out of your life (except maybe the laundry part if you tend to get dirty like me!).

Living in a smaller home tends to shift your focus outside of the 4 walls in which you live. Try and take notice of the amount of time you spend thinking about your house (inside and out). With a tiny home, there’s less house to think about which allows you to focus on more important things like outdoor activities, a garden, spending time with friends and even just sitting on the front porch in the afternoon. Almost identical to the benefits of unplugging your television, living in a small home gets your brain thinking beyond the normal and beyond the walls (figurative and literal) within which we live.

“The tiny home movement has shifted the priorities of countless people over the years,” notes Badger Realty agent, Debi Davis. “Though home ownership is still a priority for these folks, they have learned they don’t need to be held hostage by a massive mortgage and the associated upkeep that goes along with a large home. A shift away from our addiction to consumerism has become a refreshing change of pace for them,” she continued.

Debi hit the nail on the head with those comments. Making the shift to a smaller home will most certainly create a change in your thinking and your outlook on your place in our society. I recognize this all sounds pretty “hokie”, but much like cutting the chord to your cable company, as soon as you make the change you immediately start to see a shift in your thinking. I encourage all of our readers to take a peek into their daily lives and see if there’s a place where they could make a similar shift towards a smaller global footprint and a baby-step away from consumerism. I am confident many of our readers have already taken similar steps and would be happy to share their experiences with you. Let’s go unplug!