I think the main financial benefits of small living are pretty apparent.
These are the obvious up-front savings you should expect to see with decreased rent or purchase/construction cost. Add to that (or subtract from it!) the limited utility and maintenance costs associated with small living, and we’ve got most of the financial benefits of small living accounted for.
So much money can be saved right here that I can say with some certainty that there are loads of people out there who don’t identify as small-housers, (or even know that such a thing as the small-living movement exists) who nevertheless choose to rent or purchase tiny apartments or houses simply because they cost less; the money they’re not spending is instead salted away or put to better use.
Minimized Consumer Spending
This is probably the second biggest financial benefit to small living. The small house, as we have all no doubt observed, offers scant quarter for superfluous items, (so little in fact that it may present a bit of a problem when Christmas or birthdays roll around, because one can begin to dread the presents purchases by clueless but well-intentioned loved ones.
So obviously, the small-houser is prohibited from excessive consumer spending simply by virtue of space issues. This should contribute to financial strength.
Simple Living, Organization, and Finance
I’d LIKE to think that the practical steps taken when moving towards the simplicity and organization that the small house demands would have salutary consequences in the realm of financial organization, budgeting, and spending etc. This is however, merely a speculation on my part. Financial discipline is it’s own realm, but I can see it going hand-in-hand with the discipline of small-living.
The single biggest roadblock to small living is, in my opinion, the excessive regulations that appear in the form of minimum-size requirements. Many of you that are reading this are likely looking for ways to live small yourself, and chances are that this is one of the reasons you haven’t been able to yet. But the limits of bureaucracy are not just visible in minimum size. In the county where Tyson lives, land parcels must remain a certain size with one main house on them in order to keep the area “rural.” In Portland, where Steph has her houseboat, no new houseboat slips can be created.
Finding ways to live small within a system that promotes the rapid spread of suburbia and limits or bans creative solutions is one of the biggest challenges we face, as can currently be seen in the stalled rebuilding efforts in New Orleans post-Katrina. So much red tape has kept Marianne Cusato’s Katrina Cottages from being built, despite the fact that they were hailed as lightyears better than FEMA trailers, since they could be expanded upon to create permanent dwellings. Although there is no one solution that we at SLJ have hit on, hopefully, this issue will get your wheels turning.