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Wiehan and I moved to the U.S. two years ago, without any job prospects, for immigration purposes. We moved in with my parents, as a temporary arrangement, while figuring out our job situations. Living with your parents in your 30's obviously has its stigmas in 21st century America. Though from a historic standpoint, it makes a lot of sense to live as a larger family unit to support one another. We get along well with both our sets of parents and we see the opportunity of living in close quarters as a way to spend quality time together. We’re incredibly blessed in that way, to be so connected with our families. But we definitely would love a place to call our own. However, now that we can afford to rent elsewhere, or even consider a downpayment, we have our drawbacks, unsatisfied with the common options in today’s society.
With the housing prices in the current area where we reside, we could rent a one-bedroom apartment, which is in our range of affordability, for what would be about $20,000 for one year of living, not including pet fees for our two kitties. But that just feels like throwing money away that we’ll never see again. Or we could purchase a one-bedroom apartment for about $189,000, in an outdated building that probably will only continue to depreciate, no matter what kind of renovations we’d put in. We don’t know if we want to stay in the D.C. area forever, and with an investment like that, we’d need to stay for the next 8 years to begin to make that purchase worthwhile.
We’re not the type to want to stay in a concrete jungle. Just driving toward Washington D.C. gives Wiehan a panic attack. And I desperately want to be able to walk out my front door onto a small patch of land. The idea of living in a high rise apartment gives me a panic attack. We love the area we currently live in, but it is WAY too expensive. My family is fortunate to have inherited land from my grandparents, who moved to Northern Virginia in the 1950s when it was all farm land and not home to ginormous mansions. Now when I drive through our town, I’m just constantly bewildered by the notion that a single family would need 5,000 square feet. What are you going to do with all that space and how will you have time to deal with all the maintenance?
So we’re questioning the housing market and looking into alternative options, namely: tiny houses. The idea, if you haven’t heard of them, is to build a small house, approximately 20x8’ on the foundation of a trailer. You can then move it wherever you want, with less mobility than a recreational vehicle. One of the huge benefits of this option is the cost savings. A tiny house can cost as little as $20,000, depending on size, labor and amenities. We’ve seen that more expensive options can run up to around $170,000. The houses we’re drawn to are in the $45 - 65,000 range. So we could build a basic tiny house for the price of 2 -3 year’s rent in a one-bedroom apartment.
The other huge benefit is the issue of sustainability. We are getting increasingly bothered by the inefficiency of standard housing. The larger rooms and spaces mean the requirement for more energy usage for heating and cooling. The cheap materials and poor insulation also add to this expense. And mainstream housing is set up to use water in such an inefficient way. This issue hits home with us more than ever, as our friends and family and Cape Town have been on the brink this year of running out of water due to a lack of rainfall and a huge increase in the population, with a drastic overuse of water resources. Among other procedures, Capetonians are currently limited to 90-second showers each day and restrictions on flushing toilets. Depending on where it’s positioned, a tiny house can easily and affordably be run completely off the grid, on solar and wind energy, with rain water collection and the use of a composting toilet.
It’s likely that the majority of the population would not feel able to live within such a confined space, let alone with another person. I don’t think that would be an issue for Wiehan and me. For one thing, we’re both very tidy. And for another, we really like being around each other. It also would not be in our long-term plan to live in a tiny house on a trailer. Or at least we might want to upgrade to a container space on a purchased plot of land? You never know - the possibilities are endless! For now, we’re going to continue researching until we’ve come up with a living solution best for us. Join us on our adventure! And if you want to find out more on the subject, follow Bryce at Living Big in a Tiny House. He travels the world making videos about cool tiny houses.
Have you ever considered living tiny?