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My Generation

Does Size Matter?

Step inside a tiny house and discover how to live large with less

By all estimates, Jay Shafer’s home is a normal house. It has a sitting area, a kitchen, a bathroom and a sleeping loft. The only difference is that it’s an 89 square foot cedar cabin. If you’re not good with measurements, that’s roughly the size of a couple mid-size cars. In other words, that’s one tiny house.

See also: 5 cities to live the simple life.

Shafer always felt he had a lot of wasted space and that he could live with a lot less. “My decision to inhabit just 89 square feet arose from some concerns I had about the impact a larger house would have on the environment, and because I do not want to maintain a lot of unused or unusable space,” he says. For Shafer, his tiny house is both practical and efficient. “I pay in one year what most people pay in one month for heating and gas. It just seems like a very smart way to live. As long as your house contains only what you need, then it is luxurious."

His passion for living simply has spawned into his own business called the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, where he now sells plans and builds houses of varying sizes, ranging from 50 to 100 square feet.

From McMansions and SUVs to big screen TVs, it’s no secret that we live in an era of supersizing. But this idea of simple living has created an industry of tiny house fanatics. Today, more and more people are joining the small house movement for economical, environmental and practicality reasons. They are being used around the country as primary residences, offices, backyard retreats, in-law unites and vacation homes. For many, these quaint quarters provide older Americans the opportunity to age in place while allowing them to stay close to loved ones and caregivers.

Small home building companies are popping up everywhere. Little House on the Trailer, for example, designs homes for people looking for an easier, more affordable and more sustainable way of life. Catering to clients over 50, the business builds houses with specific needs in mind like wider door widths, ramps, larger bathrooms and easier access in kitchens.

My Generation
pays a visit to some of the creators and benefactors of the small house movement to discover if bigger really is better.

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