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Apartments versus Tiny Houses and Small Homes

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By Laura LaVoie

Someone asked me the other day what the advantages were of small houses versus apartment living? Why, she asked, would someone prefer living in a small house rather than renting an apartment? Certainly one is not superior over the other. The simple answer comes down to preference, but here are some other reasons people may consider tiny houses rather than apartment living.

  • No Shared Walls. I’ve lived on the 16thfloor of a high rise apartment. I really liked it there.  And I would do it again. There were occasionally issues with a neighbor playing music way too loud at 2 A.M. or us needing to be cautious of our television volume or playing the guitar too loud and bothering other residents. This is simply a fact of apartment living.
Tiny Houses versus Apartments

Photo Credit Brownstoner.com

  • Ownership. In most cities, apartment complexes are rentals only. In larger cities, like New York, and with condos you can certainly buy your own space, but if you want your very own home, a tiny house can be built or bought for less than a conventional house in most cases.
  • Mobility. You can’t move an apartment. Well, you can move out of an apartment but it isn’t the same thing. If you have a tiny house on wheels, you have the flexibility to live wherever you want. If you wish to live in a different town every 6 months, go for it.
  • Community. This will vary based on where you live but there is some movement within tiny house circles to build smaller homes on smaller lots within cities where density is becoming an issue. This type of intentional living is possible in an apartment but since most of the renters are individual entities who applied to live there through the management company, it is less likely. However, small houses on a lot with some type of shared space can create a lovely intentional community setting.

I think it is fair to say that the tiny house movement isn’t just about replacing the idea of conventional urban or suburban living with tiny homes. There is a transition that comes with downsizing enough to fit your life in a 300 square foot or less space. When people are willing to change the way they think about how we interact with our own lives the tiny house movement becomes reasonable option.

Photo Credit: http://www.brownstoner.com/blog/2008/10/brooklyns-own-t/

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Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!
{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Andy Hawkins
    September 16, 2012, 6:10 pm

    Truth is, the tiny house movement is essentially taking the apartment out of the high rise and in many cases just putting it on wheels. So next time someone tells you were not supposed to live in such small spaces, point them in the direction of your nearest big city.

    • September 19, 2012, 11:16 am

      On top of that, you can also point to many places in other parts of the world where small homes are still considered normal.

  • Steve W.
    September 16, 2012, 7:53 pm

    Very interesting article, Laura.

    I’m in the early stages of my own tiny house building, and some of the reasons have to do with the ones you mentioned. In the city where I live, condos are way out of my price range. Most of the more affordable apartment complexes have had major issues with noise, safety, and cleanliness. Plus, the mobility is a major plus — you have the option of moving your house if you have bad neighbors! 🙂

  • Granville Rice
    September 16, 2012, 10:47 pm

    I have always lived in small apartments and condos. My current home is 775 square feet and is the second largest space I have lived in. I don’t drive/own a car. My current home is less than 50 yards from a light-rail station, is three blocks from an organic grocer and is surrounded by many ethnic restaurants and shops. I love my home and I love living in the city.

    • September 19, 2012, 11:15 am

      Absolutely! I think apartment living is just a different type of tiny house experience. We loved our apartment while we were there but for us it was a transition between our too-big-for-us house and our tiny house.

  • Roseann
    November 2, 2012, 4:13 pm

    I live on the second floor of a two-flat in the heart of Chicago. It’s less than 1000 square feet for three individuals, and I think it’s way too big. There’s a living room that’s never used and a dining room that’s used even less. For the price and the amount of space I want, living in a tiny house is much more desirable than an apartment.

  • April
    December 11, 2012, 11:52 pm

    Does anyone know if there is a tiny house movement in Salt Lake City, Utah? I am very interested in becoming part of this movement. I think the whole thing is a great idea if it fit’s you and your lifestyle.

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