OPINION: Tiny homes, big impacts

Illustration by Taylor Shanklin

In 2013, the average Kansas college student left school with a whopping $26,229 of debt after they graduated. Though this is lower than the national average, which a new report from the Institute for College Access and Success said is pushing $30,000, the debt continues to rise. In fact, just one year later, an analysis of government data by Mark Kantrowitz, publisher at Edvisors pins the average student-debt at $33,000 for 2014.

Students have enough on their plates between graduating on time, finding a job and thinking of ways they can get out into the real world, without moving back home with their parents. Finding a place to live may seem like a lesser matter for college graduates, but purchasing or renting a home is one of the biggest investments we’ll make as adults.

With the burden of student loans and debt, coupled with the pressure to move wherever future job prospects will take us, students have to be flexible in where they will live after graduating. Tiny homes are perfect for recent grads because they are cheap, mobile and have everything you need.

What are tiny houses?

The idea of living in a tiny house is a growing one. For travelers, it is a great one. Living a minimalist lifestyle (fitting your worth into a suitcase) is becoming more popular. A minimalist lifestyle is one where material possessions and objects are kept to the bare minimum and only the necessities to live are made available. This could mean living without a television or cell phone, reducing your wardrobe or even something as simple as not decorating your home with unnecessary accessories.

Tiny houses are made for people wanting to live this lifestyle. Every part of the house has multiple functions. Staircases double as bookshelves, tables fold down from the walls and desks can transform into tables. Tiny houses are usually 500 square feet or less, according to Forbes.

The bigger, the better?

Many people think the idea of living tiny is an insane one. With America’s homes gradually getting larger, it is no surprise that many would never choose to live such a lifestyle. The average size of an American home has gone up by 873 square feet since 1983. The average size of a home in 2013 was 2,600 square feet, according to CNN Money.

Although the cost per square foot is significantly higher than an average size house, the benefits from owning a tiny house surpass this initial cost. Because the square footage of tiny homes are significantly smaller than that of average homes, it results in a cheaper house.

Tiny doesn’t mean compromising on much more than space. Home owners can expect a kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and living room area all within their small humble abode. Many tiny homes even have front porches, and some can fit king sized beds. The homes can be mobile, making travel easy and comfortable.

Saving the world, one home at a time

Tiny houses are most beneficial because of their tiny ecological footprint. Many of the homes are heated by stainless steel fireplaces, have their own septic and water systems and their size alone cuts down energy use incredibly.

Although initial costs like septic tanks can be expensive, micro-homes have become popular due to things like low upkeep costs.

Buying a home might not be the first priority amongst recent graduates, but purchasing a tiny home is a feasible option for those struggling with the economic aftermath of a pricey college education. What some may find claustrophobic, others call home.

Kelly Iverson is a senior in mass communications.