With a tight rental market and steadily increasing home prices, many would-be homeowners are exploring other, less conventional options.
The tiny house movement, while easily labeled a trend, is an example of the truism, "Everything old is new again." In past generations, homes were smaller. And in much earlier times (and still in more nomadic cultures), it was common for homes to be compact and simply constructed. From Henry David Thoreau's petite cabin in the woods to the 1950s-era trailers occupied by many Millenials parents and grandparents to the mill cottages that dot Bend's west side, it's clear that bigger wasn't always better.
And that sentiment is making its way (back) to Bend. The City recently adopted new "cottage codes," making it easier to develop a plot of small homes around a common green space. And Bend even has its own dedicated tiny house company—Tongue and Groove.
Today, many Americans are rebounding from the pre-recession mcmansions into built-for-simplicity tiny houses. And it's not hard to see why this approach is catching on. While the median home price in Bend hovers around $330,000, Tongue and Groove sells a complete tiny house for just $55,000. For the more adventurous, kits and plans can be purchased from a variety of sources for far less.
But it's not just about the upfront cost. Advocates of the tiny house movement say those savings carry over. According to Tiny Life, the average cost to self-build a tiny house is just $23,000. It's not surprising then, that tiny house owners tend to have more money in savings than the average homeowner and are less likely to be tied down by a mortgage. Nearly three quarters of tiny homeowners own their homes outright. They also make more income (which then goes further, thanks to a small or non-existent mortgage payment) and have less credit card debt (thanks in part, no doubt, to having lower household maintenance costs).
Of course, it all comes with a tradeoff. The folks at Tiny Life say that the average tiny house is a mere 186 square feet, while the standard home is upward of 2,000 square feet. But, as the saying goes, you get what you pay for.
Living in a house that is less than 400 square feet won't appeal to everyone. A growing number of people, however, have concluded that more square footage doesn't lead to more happiness and actually adds complication to your life. Living smaller allows you to focusing on the quality and quantity of your experiences; having time to contribute to your community; and creating space to live a meaningful life. A tiny house isn't a cure all, but it can have a hugely positive impact on the way that we live.
21285 NE Butler Market Rd.
Bend, OR 97701
3 beds; 1 bath; 1,008 sqft; 5,662-sqft lot
$209,000 | Built in 1987
320 NW Staats St., Bend, OR 97703
2 beds; 2 baths; 1,099 sqft;
$349,900 | Built in 1920
2946 NW Celilo Ln., Bend, OR 97701
3 beds; 3 baths; 2,798 sqft; 0.42-acre lot
$739,000 | Built in 2006