When I was a little boy, I would occasionally find myself daydreaming about buying a wooden storage shed and living in it. All I would need to survive was a small refrigerator, a microwave, and my Sega Genesis. I would be able to live on my own terms: carefree and independent. Even one of the awesome sheds with a loft and a front door and windows would be far less expensive than a house. But there was always a dissenting voice in the back of my head that said such a thing would not be possible or worse… just plain weird.
Eventually, I abandoned that fantasy for a more mainstream line of thinking. Drooling over episodes of MTV Cribs was a requisite part of being a teenager in the late-90’s. Right?
Much later, when I started hearing whispers of a so-called “tiny house movement,” I was unsurprisingly enamored by the possibilities. I was starting to question the societal mandate to acquire things. In the two years since then, I’ve spent plenty of time on the /r/tinyhouses subreddit filling my adult imagination with images of living spaces well under 400 square-feet. And I’m still drawn to the simplicity and freedom that is central to the movement.
It seems like the general perception has—for the longest time—been that more equals better. If you’re smart and you work hard, you can have a big house filled with lots of cool shit and your life will be totally freaking awesome. It’s a message that we’ve heard not just from the bombastic MTV Cribs but also from programs like Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, the Real Housewives of [Insert City Here], and dozens of other TV shows (some of which are legitimately entertaining).
But the presence of a tiny house movement represents at least a gradual decoupling of this perceived tie between happiness and square-footage. Now, the fyi network has begun airing episodes of Tiny House Nation as the antithesis of nearly every other lifestyle program that reminds us that our house isn’t big enough, that we don’t live in the extravagance that we deserve. I think it’s a wonderful thing. It invites us to move toward a much more reasonable version of reality.
That’s not to say that the tiny house movement isn’t without some caveats, but I’ll visit some of those thoughts some other time.
For now, I urge you to consider what your life could be like if you weren’t beholden to a house-payment the pushes your budget to it’s limit. Would you work less, spend more time with your family, go on vacation, be more generous with your money, move to a different city, leave the job that you hate, or something totally wild and wonderful? Perhaps, you can have a smaller house with fewer possessions and your life would be totally freaking awesome. What do you think about that?