Back to life
Backlash reality articles are finally critiquing the Internet’s-darling “tiny house” craze. Like everyone else, I was fascinated by the trend. As kids, we all dreamed of an awesome clubhouse or treehouse of our own.
I mused over building a tiny house in the backyard. The kids could have sleepovers in it, we could put guests out there or even AirBnB it. It could double as a writing shed, like the one my friend Ann Handley (author of Everybody Writes) has. (links below)
Despite all the hype, something about the tiny house movement struck me as iffy. I credited my suspicion to the knowledge of my township’s ban on too-small living structures (tiny house advocates scream foul when it comes to such “oppressive” zoning). Honestly, though, after my initial fascination, I didn’t lend it much thought. Turns out, my suspicion wasn’t about zoning. It was about feasibility.
Back to reality
I like simple living. Right now I’m all about The KonMari Method of simplifying and streamlining. I’m decluttering the house, room by room, following along a calendar of assignments on a home storage website. Having grown up in a very messy, very cluttered apartment and then house, and having a hoarder grandmother whose house was a death trap, I regularly revisit the amount of things I own. I keep a tidy house, but I often fall short of my “simple living” goals (Hello, craft supplies).
When I’d read about tiny houses and their owners, I would notice a few things:
- Most tiny house owners were white, single or coupled people, no kids.
- Their hobbies were outdoor-related, if any hobbies were mentioned at all.
- They were looking to save money and/or simplify and/or live off the grid/in nature.
- They worked outside the home.
- They had no pets or just one pet (generally small).
Early adopters of the movement abandon their tiny houses when one of the above criteria changes. Pregnancy and babies. Enforcement of local ordinances against housing less than a certain square footage. Loss of Internet access or other utilities. etc.
Some people just run out of the energy it takes to live in such a cramped space, especially with another person.
Minimum space requirements are a thing. Zoning laws exist for a reason (many reasons, actually). I hate to admit to schadenfreude, but I found a huge sense of relief when I finally found some articles talking about these issues.
Back from a fantasy
Living space, privacy, and community are inextricably linked to physical health and happiness. Most people need connection with many other humans. A tiny house out in the woods, far from everyone and everything may sound great, but for the overwhelming majority of people, living so isolated wouldn’t be a long-term solution. (Some of the articles below demonstrate this).
Having very little privacy and space of my own growing up was hard, to say the least. Cramped living isn’t good for anyone long term. It’s a form of poverty those of us who’ve lived it constantly strive to escape.
Tiny House, Big Lie (awesome article that says it all)
Everybody Writes by Ann Handley (I’m thanked in the credits!)
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