Many Americans have equated the size of their homes with their status. But after the recent twin implosions of the housing and financial markets, homebuyers began looking at large, showy homes in a different light and thinking in a more minimalist direction. Enter the tiny house movement, which has steadily been gaining steam all around the world. Here are some reasons why:

  • Tiny houses save money — TONS of money: on land, mortgage, furniture, utilities, etc.
  • They’re MUCH kinder to the environment than anything in the McMansion gang.
  • Once you furnish a tiny house you won’t waste a single minute mooning over what new stuff to buy since you won’t have an inch of vacant space to stow it.
  • After-work hours or weekends won’t be shot on boring house maintenance tasks like mowing monster lawns or painting two or three stories or repairing things that break or leak or die (the bigger the house, the longer that maintenance list).
  • And most importantly, once they’re no longer slaves to their homes, tiny house owners will be handed the lovely gift of freedom — lots of time (to go with all that extra money) to do whatever their heart desires.

At Msn.com check out the Shotgun Shack, 325 square feet of Arkansas living space that costs a big $20,000 to build. To get an on-site taste of tiny-home living, check in at the 240 square foot Gingerbread Cottage in Canyon Lake, Texas. Costing $60,000 to build, this folksy cottage looks like it’s waiting for Hansel and Gretal to come up the path. And if you’re looking for a house to pack up and go wherever you go, there’s ProtoHaus, a 125 square foot house on wheels. Built with $25,000 of recycled materials, it’s powered by solar panels and propane making it “off the grid” (meaning free of housing regulations and building codes).

Designboom.com
features a collection of tiny global houses constructed in every shape and size. A standout is Japanese architect Satoshi Kurosaki with his light filled, sophisticated spaces designed for his country’s particularly tight space restrictions. For a Colorado client, architect Stephen Atkinson designed a minimalist cabin with an open concept living area and a covered patio the same size as the home’s interior. Arvesund, a Swedish company, is behind the Hermit’s Cabin, one room with a single bed and kitchen, that wouldn’t have looked out of place sitting on a Gold-rush mountain.  Another much larger cabin is actually 2 salvaged metal shipping containers. And for pure fun, a German firm shows off their imaginative, geometrically shaped tree houses made of steel.

One of the first companies to deal exclusively with tiny houses, Tumbleweed Houses sells ready-made or do it yourself bungalows and cottages and houses -to-go measuring less than a hundred feet up to a palatial 874 square feet.

My favorites of these tiny houses are the sleek, more contemporary designs, which seem to be more prevalent overseas. The house pictured at the top here by architect, Richard Frankland is a prefab made by Dwelle and sold only in the UK.

Think you could live comfortably in a tiny house?

More on Shelter and Savings: