As most of America goes bigger with its houses, some are looking to go smaller. The average American house has increased by 1,000 square feet in size over the last 40 years, according to the American Enterprise Institute.
In an attempt to combat this culture of “more,” the tiny house movement has garnered a following. Typically 100 to 400 square feet in size, “tiny houses have a lot of appeal for people to create a more laid-back lifestyle and not to be slaves to their homes,” says realtor Kevin Vitali.
But, like with any big financial decision, it’s important to consider both the benefits and the drawbacks before taking the plunge.
Compare the pros and cons to make a better decision.
- They are cheaper
- Force you to have a minimalist lifestyle
- Less maintenance
- Small carbon footprint
- Lower energy bills
- Easier to clean
- Limited room for storage
- Can be hard on relationships
- You need to rent or buy land
- Can feel claustrophobic
- Harder to get a loan
Tiny house pros
More money for other things
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average sales price of new homes in the U.S. reached $406,400 in May 2017. On the flipside, a contractor-built tiny house costs $35,000 on average.
A tiny house “creates a minimalist lifestyle which means reduced expenses and maintenance giving more time and money to live life,” says Vitali.
The low price tag also comes with a smaller commitment. With mortgage loans maxing out at 30 years, tiny house loan repayment terms range from two to seven years.
A tiny house creates a minimalist lifestyle which means reduced expenses and maintenance giving more time and money to live life”
So, if you enjoy traveling the world or want to become financially independent sooner, a low-cost tiny house can be just the ticket.
Many tiny houses are built on wheels, giving you the option to move around to different cities without having to commit. These types of tiny houses are perfect for people who aren’t yet sure where they want to live.
Of course, keep in mind that you can’t just settle down anywhere. “Many towns have minimum size requirements that single family dwelling must meet,” says Vitali. So, make sure you understand the zoning issues before choosing a destination.
Small carbon footprint
Buildings account for 38% of carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S., according to Environmental Protection Agency. For those who are concerned about the environment, downsizing can be a great way to help lessen your impact on the environment.
When your living space is minuscule, it takes a lot less energy to make it warm in the winter. And, with the right amount of insulation, it’ll cost a lot less to keep it that way. It’ll also take less time to clean, and you’ll be motivated to keep the area less cluttered.
Tiny house cons
Less room for everything
The tiny house’s biggest strength is also its biggest weakness. Such a small structure can make it difficult to do a lot of things. For example, less storage space means more trips to the grocery store. And, since you can’t buy in bulk, you’ll end up spending more.
But, if you get in an argument, there’s not another room you can escape to – it’s all connected.”
If you plan to start a family, that tiny space can feel even tinier, even if it’s a tiny human. You also won’t be able to host family or friends, ever. There’s simply no room for them.
Can be hard on relationships
People like the idea of a tiny house “because they want to live a more stress-free life and spend quality family time together,” says Vitali. But, if you get in an argument, there’s not another room you can escape to – it’s all connected.
Plus, if you’re an introvert, it can be hard to get time alone.
You have to have land
While it is technically possible to move your tiny home, you can’t just park it anywhere. Besides the zoning issues Vitali mentions, you either have to rent or buy land on which to place your home. Otherwise, your options are an RV park or someone’s backyard, says Vitali.
And, depending on where you want to live, land can be expensive. “This is counter to the popular TV show ‘Tiny House Nation,’ in which they build these incredibly thought out tiny homes placed on wonderful pieces of land with sweeping vistas,” he says.
Can feel claustrophobic
With just the basics of everything, tiny houses aren’t necessarily meant to be “lived in.” In other words, if you’re a homebody, it likely won’t take long to develop cabin fever.
Should you buy a tiny house?
Tiny houses aren’t for everyone. For someone who has already succeeded in living a minimalist lifestyle, a tiny house can be the next step. It’s not, however, a good option as a first foray into minimalism.
If you are interested in a tiny house, make sure you get your finances in order. Compare rates and terms from lenders for different types of loans, like personal loans and home loans. However, different personal loans come with different rates, fees and requirements, so check out what the best personal loans are to ensure that you choose the best option for you. Consider getting pre-approved for a loan before you start building so you can have a good idea of what it’ll cost you in the long run.
Ben Luthi is a personal finance writer and a credit cards expert who loves helping consumers and business owners make better financial decisions. His work has been featured in Time, MarketWatch, Yahoo! Finance, U.S. News & World Report, CNBC, Success Magazine, USA Today, The Huffington Post and many more.