We’ve now passed the 10 year anniversary of the beginning of the recession that started to take its toll on American families at the very end of 2007. For the most part, the country has economically rebounded thanks to a Trump presidency.
Thus, the country is also experiencing a rise in housing costs. A rise in housing costs, in general, is a sign of good things. For example, two common components that correlate to an increase in housing prices are an increase in employment rates as well as an increase in income rates.
However, as Ben Popken reported for CBS News last year, “Home prices are shooting up at more than twice the pace of average earnings growth.”
At this point, the component that will keep the American Dream of home ownership an attainable goal is finding the right home to buy. Whether you’re motivated by your budget or by the allure of foregoing the rapidly expanding floor plan that goes along with the American Dream, there are multiple avenues your family can explore to buy or modify a home that is just right for you so you can live small and still save big.
A Tiny Home
Tiny houses are all the rage these days. You can watch tiny house TV shows, stream movies on Netflix about them, and follow tiny home residents on social media. Tiny houses are appealing because they don’t allow for superfluous stuff and they are less damaging to the environment.
Not only that, small houses come with small price tags. Real estate experts note nearly 68 percent of tiny house owners are completely mortgage free. That is not surprising when you consider the average amount spent on a tiny home is $23,000.
Tiny homes are not without their challenges. The same zoning laws that make it hard to legally live out of your car also make it difficult in some places to live in a tiny house; that can even be true on your own land. Additionally, the amenities are often pint-sized. However, for some, the benefits of a tiny home absolutely outweigh those challenges.
A Barn Kit
One of the best ways you can ensure you end up with the house you really want is to DIY it. Additionally, a current trend that has taken over the real estate market is that of farmhouse designs. Amanda Lauren writing for Forbes says that starter homes listing farmhouse-related amenities sold for 29 percent more than expected.
Enter: the barn home kit.
It’s the perfect marriage between DIYing your home at a price-saving amount and channeling a design trend that is dominating the market that demands housing that allows them to live small. The combination of those two things will surely add value to your home. Some individuals go so far as to attempt actual barn conversions.
However, Project Manager at DC Structures Terrell Martin writes, “The idea of restoring an old barn into a rustic barn house might sound great in theory, but most of the time it’s a lot more costly and painstaking in practice.”
While it may be tempting to see barns as a potential home, ready for remodeling, the reality is that a remodel will likely be quite costly, especially given the fact that many barns are prone to rot and pest infestation. So, if that’s the route you’re considering, a barn kit is a unique, cost-effective way to achieve a smaller living situation.
A Manufactured Home
Due to the increased need for affordable housing options, this year the Department of Housing and Urban Development has launched a review of the regulations surrounding manufactured homes.
In nearly every instance, a mobile home is more cost effective for a family that wants to live small than a traditional house. Hopefully, after this current review, the HUD will also make the process of using manufactured homes more streamlined.
Not only are manufactured homes a smaller, more affordable option, they are a customizable one as well. While they are championed by those seeking affordable housing, they are in no way limited in terms of quality.
Industry expert Dan Leighton writes of mobile home design potential, “For the prospective homebuyer, take note that these designs are incomparable in quality and uniqueness from the mobile home of days gone by. This is good news as it means the mobile home is no longer about the affordability factor. It is affordable. But it is also a quality home. Quality is no longer sacrificed at the altar of affordability.”
Manufactured homes are cost-effective, but they also are prime examples of homes with the potential for serious modern appeal, and they can even offer luxury amenities.
A Shipping Container
… A what? You read that right. Perhaps the most interesting of all live small housing trends that have recently become mainstream is that of the humble shipping container.
According to Kenneth Rosen for The New York Times, “It is becoming a lot more popular, as eco-friendly practices begin to influence market trends. Containers are loved by the hip and the practical, artisans and DIY-ers, engineers and construction foremen, as they are both sustainable and affordable.
They aren’t large — most containers are either 20 or 40 feet long. They’re eight and a half feet high and just eight feet wide. You can spend a few thousand dollars to purchase a container and have it installed on your property, or you can pay more (though, still far less than the average traditional American home) for multiple containers that are move-in ready.
Already, there are a lot of examples that prove the plain Jane aesthetic shipping containers are born with is a strength for homeowners and not a weakness. Truly, the only limit to how well they can fit a family seems to be the creativity with which that family employs on their quest to live small.
A cursory scroll through a real estate website’s listings can easily leave one feeling daunted and overwhelmed. Homeownership provides satisfaction and security. We all know it’s more than just a physical space, instead, it can be a crucial element of a safe and nurturing childhood for our kids.
For most of us, our resources are limited, but that does not necessarily mean our vision of home ownership needs to be. Instead, we can pursue unique ways to live small that will actually create more space in our budgets and in our lives for other things that matter. And along the way, we’ll have the opportunity to teach the next generation that “keeping up with the Joneses” is actually totally overrated.