Ten Things to Think About Before you Downsize

Have you ever dreamed of living the simple life with less stuff, less bills and less worries? Well, if you can handle living in a space smaller than the average living room, then you might want to go Tiny.

But before you sell up your McMansion, rush out and buy your tiny house kit or cement your ingenious space saving designs for that crumbling old caboose, it’s worth noting it’s not for everyone…

Here are ten things you should think before you downsize…

1. There are many types of tiny houses…

By now, we’re all probably familiar with the miniature kit homes, but don’t limit yourself by thinking that these are the only tiny spaces available. People have converted shipping containers, caravans, cabooses, tree houses, houseboats, yurts and teepees, buses, trains, trucks, domes, cabins, cottages, garages, guesthouses, sheds…. The limit is your imagination.

2. It’s nothing new

In fact, Australia has some catching up to do.  The tiny trend took hold in the States in the 70s – but it wasn’t until they were used to house the victims of Hurricane Katrina that they attracted large-scale media attention. Fuelled by the financial crisis of 2007, the popularity of tiny house continued to grow – and now, they are seen as viable alternative to traditional housing in Japan, Spain, England, Germany and Russia as well as the rest of the world.

3. You can be really creative and ingenious

At the heart if every tiny house design is functionality and multi-purpose, space-saving solutions and a tiny space really forces you to get creative with using the space you’ve got .For example, a bed platform could have clothing storage drawers underneath, or convert to a sofa when not in use. A table can be made with shelves for storage underneath the table surface, or fold away into the wall.
“Most furnishings are built to fold away, pack down or be utilised as additional storage space,” says Recycled material builder James Galletly of The Upcyclist, who collaborated with The Bower Reuse and Repair Centre to build a tiny house out of recycled materials. “Sleeping lofts are a common option. Kitchens are often basic. Bathrooms are often ‘a wet bath’, (you close the door and everything gets wet). Toilets are often composting. Small wardrobes are generally the go. Carefully consider windows and natural light are utilised to make the home feel more expansive.”

4. But you’ll need to rethink your entire relationship with stuff.

One of the many reasons people are drawn to living in tiny houses is to get away from the tsunami of stuff we tend to accumulate over time. A tiny house could be your ticket to clutter free living – because there’s simply no room for it. The trick is knowing what to keep, and maximising what you can borrow or hire.

While some find it a challenge, many report a wonderful sense of freedom after becoming ‘free’ of their stuff, as well as reducing their environmental impact, saving money, and even making money if you manage to sell what you don’t need.
“Reducing the amount of clothing, accessories, paperwork, furniture, square footage, and in general- clutter in our lives makes room for new exciting people, things, and experiences to emerge,” writes Alex, founding editor of TinyHouseTalk.com
“When you reduce the amount of clutter in your home you are clearing up old, stagnate energy while making room for these new exciting happenings to occur. Old clothes is attached to old beliefs, same with everything else. Clear it up and make way for the new and exciting.”

5. You should really try before you buy

"Tiny houses are not for everyone, but the freedom they offer and the lifestyle they provide can really allow some people to thrive, along with tremendously reducing their environmental impact," says James. Many experts suggest renting an RV or small cabin – even a studio apartment – for a month to see how you fare before making such a drastic lifestyle change. 

6. You could cope, but could your family?

While a tiny house may suit a single or couple, if you’re a family of five with two dogs, a cat and a budgie, then you may want to reconsider – or at least re-think your design.

"I wouldn't want to be in a tiny house with a husband and children," says Elaine Walker, one of the founders of the American Tiny Home Association and publisher of the Tiny House Community website,. "Teenagers want to be able to have a friend over and still have privacy. Parents need some alone time."

Walker, who has three adult children, estimates you need at least 100 square feet per person. And don't leave your pets out of the equation. Walker found her tiny house was not big enough for two dogs and two cats.

7. You’ll probably save a heap of money

Financial freedom is one reason for the growing popularity of tiny homes, and a significantly lower price tag is a big part of that appeal.
"Tiny houses are a very powerful tool in allowing people to exit the cycle of perpetual home rental or long-term mortgage debt. Release that financial pressure and the possibilities of how you can spend your time really opens up," says James. Not only are the cheaper to build and fit out, but also cost less to run and with less space to put your clutter, you’ll probably end up buying less too.

8. But you should research regulations thoroughly

It’s worth noting that Australia has certain regulations, something that James has discovered in the process of building his own tiny house. “The reason people started to build tiny houses on wheels was to get around certain regulations. They worked out by being on wheels it could be classified as a temporary structure, not a home, and exempt from certain restrictions."
Here, in Australia if you do plan to build a tiny house on wheels you need to comply with the road rules for a trailer, which include weight restrictions, size limits and lighting provisions.

9. Consider your climate

With such limited space indoors, you’ll be spending a lot of your time outdoors – which is perfect for those that prefer it. You’ll want to make sure that you have a porch or a large deck too. However, if you’re living in a particularly cold climate or consider yourself a bit of a home-body, then consider that a small space might lead to the odd bout of cabin fever.
If the indoors are a refuse against extreme weather such as severe heat or cold then consider how well your tiny house is going to stand up to the elements – and how comfortable it will be in a heat wave, or a cyclone. 

10.  Then after all that, rejoice at how much you’ll reduce your carbon footprint.

Many tiny houses are part of the sustainable building movement by using recycled or sustainable materials and employing green building methods. And once you’ve moved in, you can make the best of solar and wind energy, rainwater retention, and decomposable toilets. Not only will you be treading lighter on the earth, you’ll be saving a bunch of money in water and electricity costs.
Have you ever considered living in a tiny house?

Make sure you tune into Tiny House Nation on Lifestyle HOME for all that you need to know!

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