Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Small Houses

Could you live in a 100 square foot house? I could not live in a tiny house. My current house is 1722 sq. ft. I think I would feel cramped in anything smaller than 1000 sq. ft. If you don't have pets and a family, it's doable. This would be a great house for a young single person and a student who wants to live on their parent’s property but wants independence. Jay Shafer of Tumbleweed houses designs tiny houses using technology from RVs and boat houses. He uses smaller appliances, sinks, shower, toilet, waterless water heater, etc. According to Jay, these houses cost at least $200 a square foot (not including land); mostly due to the quality of materials used but also because the house has many details. The beauty of these tiny houses is the lower expenses of maintaining them. In addition, the house is on wheels and treated like an RV, therefore, there are no property taxes, city sewer fees, and waste management fees. Utilities, cleaning supplies, maintenance, property insurance, and clothing expenses (less room to store) are all significantly lower.

The downside of owning one of these "RV" houses is where to "park" it. You need someone who is going to allow you to plug it in to their electrical. That's why I think these tiny houses are great for a young adult. If you know someone with acres of land and you could pay them a small rent to stay on their property or maybe do some chores in exchange for rent, then that would be ideal. Storage might be an issue. On one hand, moving into a tiny house would help rid you of most of your possessions. On the other hand, where would you store emergency supplies like food, and any collectibles like photo albums?

This concept reminds me of our priest's sermon in church last weekend. If you are climbing a mountain, the lighter load you have, the easier it will be. When we are loaded down with possessions, the climb is very difficult indeed. Unloading possessions makes the climb easier and leaves space for enjoying the journey. I do think this is the same with our journey through life. The more we burden ourselves with, the more difficult the journey. Having possessions doesn't free us, it imprisons us. Why? We worry about our possessions. Do we have enough car insurance, property insurance, liability insurance, and health insurance? Then we have to maintain our possessions. The house needs painting every 7 years, appliances break down and need to be repaired or replaced, the grass needs mowing, the trees and shrubs need pruning, furniture needs to be repaired or replaced every few years, flooring needs to be cleaned, and cars need to have regular maintenance and repairs. And if you own a second home, boat, swimming pool, spa, and/or pond, the work can be overwhelming.

If we have fewer expenses to pay, we don't need to work at our paying jobs as much. If we don't need to work as much, we have more time to do what we love. Most Americans spend Monday through Friday, and frequently Saturday working for someone else to earn a living. When the weekend comes, most Americans spend their time doing chores and shopping. We shop to buy more possessions because we deserve them. We worked so hard all week. We spend a decent amount of money going out to eat instead of cooking. We deserve that for having to deal with office politics all day.

We don't need to sell our houses and build a 100 sq. ft. house but we all need to look at our lifes with honesty. Are we really happy and living an authentic life? Or are we living a life that we think society, the media, the government, or our friends and family think we should?

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