In America, prosperity often equates to an accumulation of things. Success is measured by your annual salary, the number of lavish cars in your driveway, how stocked your walk-in closet full of designer clothes is, and the total square footage of land your home occupies.

Essentially, materialism has become the facade of wealth and, somewhere along the way, happiness has been lumped in with it. When we are young, we begin envisioning our dream homes. Expansive spaces filled with top-of-the-line appliances and products and luxuries beyond our wildest dreams.

But there has recently been a movement that is growing in popularity that is challenging the way that society views success, at least in terms of how we live. Some people believe that a fulfilling life cannot, and should not, be defined by materialism. In reflection of this, they have committed to downsizing, ridding themselves of unnecessary possessions, starting with the size of their homes.

The Tiny House Movement

People are dedicating their time and resources into building tinier homes and moving their lives into these smaller-scale models. The term tiny is crucial and intentional in defining this movement because these are not just smaller homes that the middle and even lower classes occupy. While the standard home covers an average of 2,600 square feet, to be considered a tiny house, these new models can’t exceed more than 400-500 square feet.

This might be difficult to picture without context, so here are some examples of tiny houses that were featured in The Washington Post and PBS:

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What are the benefits of a tiny house?

The choice to live a tiny-house lifestyle is inspired by many different reasons. The most common reasons are for financial benefits, environmental betterments, and the freedom to travel.

Whether you choose to purchase or build a tiny house, the savings are substantial. They typically sell for between $35,000-$80,000, compared to the average cost of buying a home, which is around $188,900. To build one from start to finish will usually cost around $25,000 for the needed materials.

Their environmental footprints are almost non-existent, especially because tiny house advocates take great effort in making sure they can live sustainably with little negative effect on the environment, like using solar panels for energy, hand-washing all dishes and clothing, and collecting rain to use as a water source.

In addition, tiny houses are usually built on wheels so that they can be easily transported from one location to another. Many retirees and millennials take advantage of these portable homes as a way to travel while saving money, transporting their homes with them wherever they go.

While tiny houses may not be suitable for every person, family, or living situation, there is a lot to take away from this movement. It addresses the issues that we currently face in regards to environmental concerns and debt. An alternative to the tiny house movement would be downsizing to a home that is just big enough to fit the size of your family and, in the process, ridding your life of clutter and unnecessary expenses.