Mobile Home Nation?

When I walked into the family room this morning, my Beloved was tuned into a show with a topic he’s been interested in for several years. The show was Tiny House Nation on the fyi tv network. (Truth be told, I’ve never even heard of this network before!) Because I know my Beloved’s interest in the tiny house concept, I sat down to watch with him.tiny-house-outside

Word of warning, my Beloved watches lots of house renovation and do-it-yourself shows. I’m more likely to watch the HGTV’s HouseHunters International because I enjoy seeing what kind of living quarters people can locate overseas. It’s my idea of vacationing without having to go out my front door.

My more practical spouse is thinking about the temptations (his, not mine) to down-size and simplify life. When he contemplates the tiny house concept, he’s not thinking 1500 square feet (which would be about two-and-a-half times smaller than our current living space). He’s closer to thinking in the 300-500 square feet of space. So far, he hasn’t offered me a convincing argument for the reduction. But he hasn’t given up on the idea.

As I watched the episodes of Tiny House Nation this morning, I considered the transition required of the featured couple. This young married couple with one toddler were moving from 1500 square feet into 172 square feet. In some ways, it was a sensible move for them. They’d sold their traditional home in anticipation of a move to an area where the husband would attend pharmacy school. They’d be rolling their tiny house down the road to live close to his school. From the perspective of no mortgage payments, having only school expenses and the added luxury of having their lives de-junked, they appeared to be living the dream. Doesn’t it sound tempting?Wonderwash

Truthfully, during the episodes, I saw doubt etched in the woman’s face and body language, a tentativeness she wasn’t willing to express for the cameras. (She was getting paid, after all, to make this tiny house thing look appealing, right?) When she and the toddler moved to the front yard with a hand-held “washing machine,” I got the sense she’d prefer to be anywhere but in front of a camera at that moment. She later confessed the thing she missed the most about their living arrangement was her washer and dryer. (Ya’ think?!!)

The question I’d like answered:  Is this a fad or a movement? From my research, answers vary and generally depend upon the responder. When you query a tiny house enthusiast, of course, they’ll use superlatives and claim tiny houses are definitely the wave of the future. Other observers look at it as a fad that will eventually die out.

Salon did a write-up of the concept in June. From the author’s point of view, tiny houses are becoming ever more popular. Again, I’m not convinced.

I’ll be the first to admit tiny houses probably make sense for some people. Instead of paying rent for four years, a college student with a tiny house (on wheels) could locate a place to park his or her unit and drive it off following graduation (or sell it to another college student). Given that college students tend to congregate in places where their friends are, their need for spacious living space isn’t compelling. A tiny house could be an ideal situation for some.

vwbusBut I’m going to challenge the tiny house mindset. There are other places in our world where the tiny house concept isn’t a fashionable way of living … it is the necessity, the daily reality. In third world countries, corrugated metal roofing, sheets of aluminum or cardboard and dirt floors are common. An individual from the third world would laugh at the idea of “downsizing” to such luxury as the tiny house model. And it seems (to me) vaguely insulting to suggest that adopting the tiny house concept anywhere in the United States will somehow translate to improved conditions for people in the third world. (It’s the same silly idea of cleaning my plate at mealtime, because children are starving in Africa. What??!)

Here’s my point and you’re welcome to agree (or not). Living in the United States affords me with opportunities to live in a large house, to employ time-saving devices and inventions (dishwasher, range, stove, washer, dryer, hot water heater, air conditioning, central heating) that might not be available in other countries. I don’t have to spend all day at the river bank beating the dirt out of my clothing … and I’m glad!! Why shouldn’t I avail myself of these inventions? Would I be holier, closer-to-the-earth, more virtuous to shun them? I don’t think so.

I told my grandson the only tiny house I ever expected to need would be my coffin. I won’t be unhappy with that because I’ll have no need of a washer or dryer at that point. Until then, I’ll be thankful for my current home and all the blessings I’ve been given. Thank you, Lord!

Renée