Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tiny Homes Allow More Space for Adventure

        I recently read an article discussing the falling popularity of McMansions, and all I have to say is... I called that one. 

        December 2007, I was sitting on the front porch of the ex-in-laws house, having a cigar with my father in-law. I looked out across the stretch of suburban sprawl, and sighed. When he asked why, I told him I didn't know how he did it. Living in this area where every house is the same, every family trying to be the Joneses, and all of them suffering for it; that kind of lifestyle would kill me. He said thanks sarcastically, laughing it off at the time. I wasn't joking, though. The thought of living in one of those hulking excesses, those giant statues to the infallible American economy, made me sick.

       These days, I like to think of myself as being ahead of the times. I always loved the idea of living in a small house with little nooks everywhere, and it is coming back into fashion. Older houses have so much character. Even if you insist on a new home, there are options available now for tiny homes. The Small House Book, by Jay Shafer, is filled with designs of these beautiful, tiny houses that have lots of space for living creatively. Houses with square footage that make my mother gasp and ask how anyone could possibly live like that (I like to cite whole families livings in one room all over the world at this, but to no avail.), contrary to pre-Recession thinking, the new vogue. 

       Why is this happening? Well, if you're here, you probably have felt the change in the winds, too. This collective unrest of the population without meaningful jobs or a purpose in life... Ah, well, before I get too philosophical, let's look at the facts.

       Americans have less money right now. What has this resulted in? According to the New York Times, it has changed our time-use habits to put a focus on experiences.  We seem to be realizing that the newest clothing trend may not bring us as much happiness as spending time with people we care about. It just so happens that a giant house isn't necessary to see people we love. When everybody has less, there is less perceived pressure to have the biggest house with the biggest television. 

       Eco is in. Green is the new gold for this century, between the concern over global warming to worries over species extinction to how our carbon footprints will affect our grandchildren. Environmental concern is as stylish as owning a Prius, and it is part of what is forwarding the idea of a minimalist lifestyle. By living with less in a smaller space, we demonstrate not just our feel-good commitment to saving the environment, but also our actual, physical manifestations of what we are doing to make a difference. It is trendy, and somehow, I am very okay with that. If saving the planet is a trend, let's hope it never goes out of style.

       Tiny homes and minimalism really go hand in hand. If you have less, you need less space to put it. Then, you can focus less on making money to buy all of the stuff and get off the work-spend treadmill. Open your time up and go on an adventure. Continue your lifelong learning journey. Get in touch with your creative side. You can do it; all you have to do is remove the clutter and allow it to come to you.

       Experiences matter. Saving the planet matters. Your challenge today is to come up with an idea that combines both of those ideas and make it happen. Take a hike and revel in nature with your friends, or find an organization you can plant trees with and make some new friends! Friends of Trees is a great one. Go forth, and have an adventure!

The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life       The Art of Being Minimalist: How to Stop Consuming and Start Living              The Happy Minimalist: Financial independence, Good health, and a better planet for us all                   

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