One of my favorite Brazilian bloggers living in the U.S. recently posted about the “tiny house” movement in the States (original post in Portuguese or Google translation into English). Although I applaud the trend (fad?) of simpler living, I also shake my head at the fact that a small house is considered so “radical” in the U.S. People say “Oh, I could never do that” – but it’s simply normal for a huge slice of the world’s population. Christian’s family lives in a house only about twice the size of ours, and they are five adults and a newborn.
The average size of the American house has gone from 983 sq. ft. in 1950 to 2,349 sq. ft. in 2004 (source). Why? Is “small” just considered “not good enough” anymore? Of course there’s nothing intrinsically evil about increased square footage, but unless you have a very strong base of values that helps you resist the temptation, more space can lead to more consumerism and individualistic attitudes.
When each member of the family has his or her own TV in his or her own bedroom, why learn how to compromise or resolve conflict when two people want to watch something different at the same time? I once read about an Orthodox Jewish millionaire who, although he certainly had the means to live in spacious mansion, required his young children to share a bedroom so that they’d learn how to share and be considerate of others.
You can see that Christian and I don’t have a ton of stuff, and yet we still don’t have anywhere to put it. But I actually like the fact that the size of the house acts as a natural “check” against extraneous purchases – every time we consider buying something, we have to think about where to put it and/or what to get rid of to make room.
What do you think about the big house / small house debate?