In some cities across America and in most of Canada, our generation is having a really hard time finding affordable housing. Rents have gone up faster than wages and housing prices have risen even faster with the advent of low-interest rates and the overflow of foreign buyers. In Canada, for example, the average house price has not dropped in the housing crash that the U.S. saw after 2007 and our housing market kept growing. Home prices have risen far from the long-term averages such as portrayed in the graph below:
In major urban centers such as the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), house prices have parted far from the median hourly wage. Back in the 90s, salaries were on par with home prices but since, residential real estate prices have grown to almost twice the adjusted median hourly wage.
No wonder almost half of millennials choose to stay with family longer than ever! Home ownership can feel like a distant dream for some.
Almost 40% of young Americans were living with their parents, siblings or other relatives in 2015, the largest percentage since 1940 – The Wall Street Journal
Many chose to delay home ownership or simply cannot even imagine ever affording a house in the near future. Sometimes I think back at my grandparents who were able to, not only afford a house early in their careers but could afford to live on only one salary. They even have a second home, by the water and all of this on a middle class salary. Single-earner households were the norm.
The solution might be to live even further out in the suburbs, where prices might still be in reach, but then you need to drive hours in traffic to get to work. Others might just bite the bullet and rent a luxury apartment downtown at exorbitant prices but then have nothing left to save for retirement or other goals.
What if there was another solution. A solution right at the crossroads of nature and tiny downtown apartments. What if you could afford to live in a brand new, custom designed, luxury house and own it outright. No need of an exorbitant mortgage and you will never have a rent check to write out. You might think this is impossible to own a house outright in 2016, but you could own a whole house for only $30,000.
Meet Robert & Samantha
Samantha and Robert, are tiny house dwellers. They have designed and built a 204 square foot tiny house on wheels. It is 24′-0″ long, 8′-6″ wide, 13′-5″ tall for a total of 204 square feet. It weighs only 9,930 lbs and all materials added up to an economical $30,000.
Seeing the possibilities was an eye opener for me. Robert & Samantha’s website offers the resources to build your own house on wheels including plans, processes, and material lists. I had seen some tiny homes in the past but the technicalities of them always escaped me. I like how Robert & Samantha are so open and are showing the world how practical a tiny house can be.
Just like us, they are outdoor adventurers and own all the equipment you could ever need. We stuff all of our toys in our garage (which alone is 12′ by 20′!!!) but they have designed their tiny house to stuff and hide all of their things in an elegant manner.
Being able to live in smaller quarters allows for more mobility. Building a house on a trailer base allowed Robert & Samantha to become neighbors with their friends months at the time, travel around the country, and live a free life.
Tiny house dwelling lowered their expenses and saved the rent payments they previously had. This meant the house practically paid for itself after the first year. Financially, it makes sense. Why own more than you need? It’s not like we need our 5 bedroom house.
Having a bunch of space can be comforting but, actually, it is only more space for more stuff. Aiming to lower your spending is much easier when you do not have rooms to fill and garages to pack full of stuff. Robert & Samantha have everything they need, from the basic necessities to the outdooring equipment. Just like us, they value nature and the great outdoors and living right in it enables them to fully embrace it.
Living where you want, in a space you fully use, is a not only better for you but also for your wallet. This option allows practically anyone the joy of home ownership. Even if you were to take out a loan for the build, this would only add up to $157.81 per month in payments, even if considering a high 4.00% interest rate.
Meet the Gada family
Most of the world’s population can only afford small living spaces and unfortunately, don’t always have access to all the luxuries we can afford. The Gada family, for example, lives in Mumbai, India. Bavesh works as a shopkeeper and lives with his wife and his 2-year-old son in a 2-bedroom house they rent. They have been living there for 3 years on a total budget of $466 per month. The following pictures and story come from the Gap Minder, an amazing site that compares families across the globe, across all path of life and income levels.
The Gada’, and most of the world’s population are living in minimal quarters because of necessity. We (by we, I mean most of us in highly developed countries) have the choice to limit our real estate consumption and should consider living with just what we need.
Maybe it is time to rethink the American Dream since it has now turned into a nightmare of debt. According to Statistics Canada, the debt-to-income ratio rose to an astonishing 165.4 percent in the last quarter of 2016. With historically low interest rates and easy access to credit, most millennials jump on the idea of home ownership, often buying the biggest house they can afford.
“Most of the growth was in mortgage credit, up 6.3 per cent, which has accelerated considerably since 2014 and is now increasing at the fastest pace since late 2012,” – TD Bank economist Diana Petramala.
The tiny house movement is great for anyone aiming to save more for other things like travel, hobbies, or early retirement!
We have talked about our own living situation in the past and we are definitively living in way more space than we need. We bought a 5-bedroom house with a yard, a garage, and a pool but the more I read about and discover the tiny house movement, the more I think we could adapt to such a lifestyle.
We got a large home thinking about our future. I don’t see the benefits of the “starter homes” mentality and we did not want to move again in the near future. Why spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a house you can’t grow in and upgrade after just a few years? The moving fees alone are a killer but the biggest hit would come from the mortgage penalty for selling your property early and the closing fees.
Since we are planning to have kids in the future, we opted for a house that would suit our needs at all stages of life. We also got a great purchase price by selecting an up and coming neighborhood and finding an eager seller.
For now, we found a way to fully utilize our space by renting out our spare bedrooms on Airbnb, it generates good side income and allows us to meet a lot of new people. 🙂
What about you, what are your living arrangements and what do you think about tiny houses?