The average size of an American home has been increasing since the 1970s. The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) reports that, in 1973, the median size for a new home in the United States was 1,660 square feet, still larger than the average bungalow in Chicago!
Over the past 45 years or so, this increased by more than 1,000 square feet. The median size of a new home is now 2,687 square feet.
The Problem With Big Houses
At first, a big house is appealing until one tries to clean it or pay the utility bills. Many baby boomers, who are now nearing retirement age, are downsizing, especially if their children have all moved away.
Moreover, Millennials are the first generation of Americans to experience a reduced standard of living when compared to their parents.
Many millennials see big houses as wasteful, environmentally destructive, and not sustainable. Also, with the challenge of paying off massive student debt, these young adults are delaying buying a home or may remain renters for their rest of their lives, foregoing the chance to have their own home.
One solution for the problems with big houses is to make homes smaller.
The Tiny House Movement
There are strong motivators for the social trend called “The Tiny House Movement.” Many want a smaller space to live in, which they can more easily maintain and afford. Tiny houses are no more than 400 square feet. That is like living in a compact studio apartment.
TheTinyLife says that tiny houses are being built all over the country. They come in almost any style imaginable. The median price for a quality tiny house is about $40,000, although do-it-yourself types can build one for a lot less.
Some are built on a trailer bed that makes them portable. Others are built to function properly in off-grid locations using solar power. There are even tiny houses that have been printed using 3-D printing technology.
Tiny houses can be luxurious, or they can be built to provide inexpensive solutions for housing that helps the homeless.
The Denver Tiny House Community
Denver is trying an experiment with a group of tiny houses called The Beloved Community Village. This is a group of private one-room units that share a communal kitchen and bathrooms. They started with 11 units and plan to expand to 20.
The challenges they experienced were not necessarily construction related. They needed to change the zoning and occupant density rules to allow the development.
People make a conscious choice to simplify their lifestyle for the freedom that a minimalistic philosophy brings. It is quite possible to live well while also living with less. Tiny houses may even be part of the solution for the approximately half a million homeless people living on the streets in America as the successful tiny house community village in Denver is now demonstrating.
If you want to talk tiny homes or purchasing a full sized home in Chicago, let me know when you are free, 630-430-1091 or [email protected].