If you're starting a family, conventional wisdom says you'll need a bigger home and lots more stuff, right?
A growing number of young parents say the answer to that is no.
While raising children in a small space is no easy feat, they found that living with less square footage packs plenty of lifelong benefits that don't come with living with more.
How so, you may ask? The following explains how tiny house living has paid off big for two families.
Raising Kids Costs More in Big Houses
For a child born in 2013 and up until age 18, the bottom line for middle-income families is $245,340, not including projected inflation according to the USDA.
What's the largest expense? Housing. It accounts for 30% of the total, and it includes all the bills you pay to keep and power your abode like mortgage or rent payments and heating and cooling costs. What you spend on products like appliances and furniture also falls under this umbrella.
So it makes sense to say that upsizing your living space can significantly boost your overhead.
However, if you downsized that roof over your noggin, like Idaho architect Macy Miller, you can seriously slash your housing costs.
Goodbye, Mortgage Payments
It cost Macy $12,000 to build her tiny house called Mini Motives. When construction was completed in 2013, it was a cozy 196 square foot abode that she shared with her husband James and their 140-pound dog, Denver.
Later, they converted their home's attached patio into a nursery for their growing family. Today, Mini Motives measures 232 square feet, and it's home to two beautiful new additions, their daughter Hazel and their son Sam.
The investment Macy made in her tiny house was money smartly spent. It freed her family from a mortgage, which, by the way, is the biggest debt most homeowners carry.
Living mortgage-free has allowed her and the hubby to spend fewer hours working so they can devote more time to their kids without using store-bought baby gear. Not buying the latter, not only further reduced their childcare costs, but it also gave their children a healthy boost.
Let Go of Unnecessary Baby Gear
"We live in a time where we're repeatedly told that babies need a lot of stuff," says Macy Miller. "But in reality things like rockers, high chairs and pack n' plays (aka playpens) are convenience items that while makes parenting easier, slow down a baby's development."
Experts agree; gear parents buy to keep their infants entertained like walkers or rockers can slow down a child's motor development according to the American Pediatric Physical Therapy Association.
Being able to spend plenty of time with their kids allows Macy and James to take a very hands-on approach to childcare. Says Macy, "When my kiddos want to be rocked, I can sit down and rock them, instead of using a bouncer or jumper. Also, we don't need to confine them to a pack and play in our tiny home because they are always within sight."
Tiny House Living Doesn't Have to be Forever
For Hari and Karl Berzins, the parents behind the Tiny House Family, small space living was their way out of tough times after losing their business and home. Building their 320 square foot mortgage-free homestead in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, provided an invaluable learning experience for their two children, Archer and Ella.
"Our kids watched us work hard building our tiny home. It has wired them to be creative in their approach to life's problems," says Hari.
Tiny house living doesn’t have to be forever. The Berzins saved a chunk of change while living debt-free in their little abode. They used their nest egg to build a bigger mortgage-free home.
Living Tiny in a Big House
But don’t think their kids have ditched their less is more mindset. As their mother shared, they're quite practiced in letting go: "Now that we live in a big house, their bedrooms remain tidy, and they keep few possessions. They have a low tolerance for clutter! They also don't ask for things. I honestly can't remember the last time one of them asked us to buy them a toy."
"Don't get me wrong," Hari continues, "they've plenty to entertain themselves with, as the vine swings in the woods, their walkie-talkie that they bought with their own money, and their imaginary games, which they still play at ages 10 and 12."
Seems like tiny house living isn't just about living with less; it's also about positive character-building experiences that allow you to live a more fulfilling life.