it all started in new york city...
We had stepped out of university and straight into enviable jobs in Midtown Manhattan. We loved New York City; we had our own one-bedroom apartment, and we were making it... barely.
We had median-income jobs and even with the outrageous expenses of living in New York City, it was enough for someone to live off of, frugally. For us however, we lived paycheck-to-paycheck, nearly a quarter of our income going to crippling student loan debt. We were constantly stressed from the financial strain. And, because those student debt payments were off-setting any savings we had been hoping to accrue, we were in a position of having no financial future.
We left New York City out of necessity. But the student loan debt remains, still consuming nearly a quarter of our income. We aren't projected to pay it off for years (if not decades) to come.
For us, a tiny home is a solution to many of the financial and lifestyle hurdles we've faced as young, mobile professionals shouldering crushing student debt and desiring a form of secure financial investment as we approach our fourth decade. With an investment that is equivalent to (if not a fraction of) a standard home mortgage, we can be debt-free home owners. We can reduce our cost of living considerably by functioning off-the-grid while also reducing our environmental impact. And we can move freely around the country as job opportunities present themselves, without the hassle of selling or buying or negotiating rent leases.
And our home will be our own. Having lived together for the better part of a decade, we know exactly what we need and how it should be arranged. We will no longer have to suffer the excess of poorly-arranged apartments or the oppression of small windows.
It would certainly be wonderful to own a spacious, charming home in a nice neighborhood in a nice town. Or a country home, with a garden and a view. But things as they are (and we are a common case), this is not feasible, not unless we want to tie ourselves to a mortgage and a particular income. And even then, we would not be secure - if we lost our jobs, we could lose our home.
A tiny home will be, well tiny. It won't be luxurious. But it will be ours. And it will afford us tremendous freedom of means and mobility.
where does it start for you?
The above is our story, but everyone pursuing the tiny life will have their own and will value a tiny home differently. The sections below outline what we believe to be a sound, critical argument for promoting tiny homes and low-impact lifestyles.
debt-free home ownership
Tiny home ownership has the potential to eliminate the necessity to acquire debt through a mortgage to own a standalone home, with tiny homes costing consistently less or even a fraction of the standard down-payment on a home mortgage. The aim of our Case Study 1 tiny home is to accomplish a fully-functioning and self-sustaining home in $30,000 USD or less.
The mortgage that an average American family shoulders is shown below. The chart on the left is monthly mortgage by income, and the chart on the right is monthly mortgage by age group.
MINIMAL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT
Ownership of a tiny home can also aim to minimize environmental impact through the use of renewable energy, rainwater catchment, integrated and multifaceted building systems, recycled and recyclable materials, and high-efficiency, low-energy appliances and fixtures. Additionally, the inherent size of a tiny home obligates its owners to minimal (and highly selective) product consumption.
Minimal environmental impact additionally obligates the construction of a tiny home to responsibly sourced building materials and products. The aim for the Case Study 1 tiny home is to purchase items responsibly sourced, manufactured, and sold in the United States or continental North America. And to purchase items produced only by companies who legally and appropriately compensate and oversee the safety of their employees.
The Case Study 1 tiny home also aims to be built and operate under Energy Star and LEED standards and certifications, as they demonstrate current, attainable, and genuinely effective means and methods for significantly reducing environmental impact.
As demonstrated in the diagram below, in the past 35 years the standard American home has grown by 65% while reducing it's occupancy by 8%. This drastic increase in size relative to occupancy seems unwarranted given its contribution to the United States debt economy and its considerable environmental impact.
Tiny home ownership can enable home owners to move quickly, easily, and efficiently between cities, states, and even countries, free from the burden of selling a home, buying a home, refinancing a mortgage, and/or acquiring a second mortgage. This benefit even extends to minor implications of moving, such as the necessity to pack and dispose of items too difficult to move and then later repurchase those items in a new location.
The data in the below diagrams shows average annual moving statistics for residents in the United States. The chart on the left demonstrates which type of moves comprised the entirety of moves in 2015. The two charts on the right demonstrate the approximate cost of local versus cross-country moves.
It's clear from the data that in the United States, 1-bedroom moves comprise the largest percentage of moves, costing an average of $150-250 USD for local moves and up to $1500 USD for cross-country moves. Studio and 1-bedroom residents are the primary demographic that would likely be compatible for and attracted to tiny home living and ownership. While the magnitude of moves for this population may stay constant or even grow, with tiny homes, their cost per move and time spent planning and packing would become a fraction of what it is now.
how can we help?
This website is intended to serve as a platform for many aspects of considering tiny home building and living. If you are feeling out the lifestyle macroscopically, we recommend that you evaluate the above sections, which address why a tiny home is competitive with a standard single-family home, and our FAQ page, which addresses probing questions, such as the initial cost, insurance, and eventual lifestyle of a tiny home.
The larger scope of the website addresses questions around the design and construction of a tiny home. Eight fundamental sections (foundation, structure, electrical power, water treatment and sanitation, thermal comfort and air quality, appliances and furniture, building codes and motor laws, sustainability) outline design considerations, construction methods, and online resources.
The above is supplemented by our own process of designing and building our own tiny home, demonstrated sequentially in our blog and the Case Study portion of the website. If you find our website to be helpful or interesting, please consider signing up for email news and updates or following us on Instagram @paperspace.ink. Welcome to the TINY LIFE!