The tiny home movement and small home designs have become an increasingly popular trend around the world. There are a number of TV shows dedicated to them and a range of articles and videos interviewing those who have decided to downsize the space they live in. Everyone wants to know what it’s like to build, own and actually live in a smaller sized home, but what are the real differences between a tiny home and a small house, and what are the benefits of choosing to downsize?
Interestingly, many sources group tiny homes and small houses together as one concept, but this can be misleading. Although many of the benefits of owning a tiny home and a small house do overlap when compared to the average-sized Australian home, there are still significant differences between the two.
What is a tiny home?
A tiny home is generally a residential structure that is under 50 square metres. Many of these homes are mobile and are built with the intention of being able to move to any location the owner may like, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that your tiny home needs to be built with wheels or a trailer frame. The tiny home movement is all about reducing consumption, minimising the need for a large mortgage and in some cases having the advantage of being mobile. These tiny homes are popular among those who are really keen to adopt a true minimalist lifestyle but are an extreme length to go to and somewhat impractical for the general population to adopt.
What is a small home?
Small homes are much more like traditional homes; but slightly smaller. They generally range between 90 to 150 square meters in size and are a great way to reduce a consumerist lifestyle without committing to the extremes of a tiny home. Small homes place a higher importance on thoughtful design rather than size, and have the potential to offer solutions to many of the common housing problems Australian families are currently facing- including a much smaller mortgage and less impact on the environment.
Small homes are a great option for people who are looking to live in a reduced space but without sacrificing the features of a typical sized home, such as first home buyers, retirees, couples and small families.
As you can see, small homes are the liveable and practical adaptation of the tiny homes movement, and are perfect for our modern Australian lives. While tiny homes are definitely on trend at the moment, they offer very little space for families and you are restricted with some of the features you would typically expect within a home. Small homes are a great option for those who are looking to downsize without sacrificing practicality.
So what are some of the benefits of building a small home?
- Less environmental impact/energy efficient
Smaller homes are more energy efficient as they have less space to heat and cool and use fewer materials in the building process, which means they have a smaller ecological footprint. Smaller homes can be much more energy efficient due to the space being more compact. There’s much less space to heat and cool which helps keep your energy usage and costs down.
- Save money: cheaper mortgage and running costs
Making the jump to a small home design could save you money. Due to its size, a small home will generally be cheaper to build and maintain. This also means you will have a smaller mortgage and the cost of insurance, taxes, electricity, heating and cooling will be much cheaper than in a regular sized home. The lower cost of living also makes a small home an attractive alternative to those who are 55 and older, and wish to downsize from their original family home, but may have less savings or a lower income.
- Reduced maintenance
One major advantage of a smaller home design on a smaller lot is reduced maintenance. Not everyone wants to spend every weekend on maintenance jobs around the home such as cleaning or mowing the lawn- and this is one of the most appealing aspects of owning a smaller home. A commitment to downsizing also means a commitment to reduced expenses over the life of the home- and a great chance of affording unforeseen expenses. You’ll often find that larger homes can also carry larger price tags for general maintenance items such as painting, re-roofing and gardening and can cut into valuable family and leisure time. Infact, most people are surprised at how reducing their daily chores and maintenance can drastically improve their lifestyle and help them have more time to enjoy the activities that they love.
- Smart & useful design
Small homes feature spaces that have been created using intelligent and well-thought out design principles to make the owner feel like they are in a larger home. A small home generally has enough footage to incorporate 2-3 bedrooms with a full sized kitchen and living space and incorporates functional furniture and space saving appliances. Vertical space is also often optimised to ensure that every aspect of the home is being utilised in the most resourceful way. This is in comparison to a tiny home that often contains a couch/living space that also serves as the main sleeping area.
- Live simply
Due to the size, small homes can encourage a less cluttered and simpler lifestyle for owners. Living a minimalist lifestyle helps people to rethink their buying habits and really decide whether they need something versus whether they just want it. This also results in less hoarding and attachment to material things, which has been proven to assist with increasing positive mental health levels.
While a big home may still be a dream for a lot of Australians, thousands of people are deciding to design and build smaller homes due to environmental concerns, financial restrictions and the desire for more flexibility and freedom. As property prices continue to soar in Australia, we believe that small home designs will continue to rise in popularity as more and more people begin to discover the benefits that having a small home can bring.