Tiny living: why living in a small space can make your life better
For many Australians owning a home on a quarter acre block is the ultimate dream. Statistically speaking, we also like these homes to be big.
Between 1984 and 2003 the average size of a new Australian house increased from 162.2 square metres to 227.6 square metres, a jump of 40%. According to ABS data from 2012 three in every four homes has a spare bedroom and the average house has 3.11 bedrooms.
But is bigger always better?
For Emmet Blackwell from The Woodbutcher’s Tiny House and a proponent of the tiny house movement in Australia, the answer is a resolute no.
“I first read about the tiny house movement in a book about simple living. I’ve always had a thing for recycled and small carbon footprint housing. As I didn’t own land, having a tiny house on wheels seemed like the best fit for me,” Blackwell says.
“It meant I could own my own home and have affordable secure housing and I could go travelling or go through periods of time where I wasn’t earning a lot of money, and still knew that I would have somewhere to go”.
So passionate is Blackwell about “tiny living” that he left his government job and built a small house on wheels that would allow him to live a flexible and sustainable life.
For $5000 Blackwell constructed his home from recycled materials, and while there is no bathroom, he says it is still a home that he can thrive in.
“I’ve started really simply. I have gutters that can collect rainwater. I have a small solar set up, and we are going to be bumping that up by putting donated panels onto the roof,” he says.
“This means I’ll have LED lights and won’t need to rely on candles. I can charge my phone and computer and I will have capacity to run a fridge and keep food cold”.
Blackwell also runs classes for those interested in downsizing. He recently held a three-day workshop at Sydney’s Pocket City Farms, where over 60 eager people turned up to learn how they could build their own mini-house.
“We had a real diversity of ages and demographics in terms of attendees. All of them showed an interest in one day getting to build their own recycled house or a tiny house on wheels,” he says.
“They were all at different stages of the project. We had some people that owned land we had some people that had got their trailers or built already. Some had plans that they had purchased and been working on for a significant amount of time, some were just at early stage and learning if it’s for them or not”.
Blackwell says that all Australians, even those who are still coming around to the idea of living in the smaller spaces, can take some lessons from the tiny house movement.
Here are Blackwell’s top ways you can bring some “tiny” into your life:
- Downsize your “stuff” – Blackwell says that he spent the last year eliminating any clothes or tools that he didn’t need. Look at ways that you can minimise what you have for a more streamlined and decluttered life.
- Stop keeping up with the Joneses – For many of us spending all our income on consumer goods can be a crippling addiction. Blackwell says he now only buys what he needs and has had a resultant feeling of liberation and less devotion to the 9-5 work lifestyle.
- Build from found materials – The majority of Blackwell’s tiny house is built from recycled materials and donated items (the leadlight is a stunning addition!). Refraining from buying new materials saves on costs, but also means your home can incorporate some unusual and noteworthy touches.
- Remember the environment – Blackwell has gutters that collect rainwater and uses solar to power his home. Consider if there are ways that you can bring this into your traditional housing for more sustainable and economical living.
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