Finally, 2015 is the year when small became sexy.
“Sustainability” is as much about good use of space and resources, as it is about building materials. Yes, most Australians still continue to think ‘big is best’ when it comes to the residential development, but we can see ‘the Tiny House Movement’ is getting much more than just tiny, as some very nice small houses appeared in the press recently.
And although the Aussies still build some of the largest new residential buildings in the world, because our population is growing and our cities expand, we begin to question the “bigger is better” thinking.
Many city dwellers are beginning to trade the crowded cities for greener environment, choosing to live in rural areas. Country can be a great place to live – and not just because of more space – it’s about the fresher air and freedom to breathe, too. People want to live closer to nature again.
There are millions of people out there who are living lives of quiet desperation, inner screaming, who work long hours at jobs they hate, just to be able to buy things they do not need, to impress people they do not like.
Our work life and real life are out of balance. With everyone focusing on making money, it seems that there is very little time left for themselves or to cultivate relationships with our families and friends.
Between 2002 and 2015, the mortgage books of National Australia Bank, ANZ, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac grew by 388%, 435%, 475% and 554% respectively. Put it another way, the big four’s mortgage books escalated from a combined $242bn to a whopping $1.13tn.
Australian homes are the third-least affordable of OECD countries with only New Zealand and Canada having a higher price-to-income ratio, according to a recent report. The proportion of people in rental stress, in which households pay more than one-third of their income on accommodation, rose from 35 per cent in 2007-08 to 41 per cent in 2011-12.
No wonder there is a growing trend of those who would rather live outward life experience than the home life of materialism. Many people are beginning to realize that their lives could be put to better use than to work just to be able to pay their mortgage payments.
And so we often ask ourselves: ‘is larger living area really worth the debt, unnecessary stress and environmental deterioration?’
“What is your interpretation of freedom?” We asked in our last blog. A question, which was presented by philosophers for thousands of years without any final conclusion, perhaps because freedom has been and will always be subjective.
We are living in the era of consumerism, and if you choose not to answer this question, commercial interests will happily provide an answer for you.
This is why, in the 21st century, many people think that freedom is to be able to have anything you want. When happiness of a new purchase diminishes, they define freedom by what item they will buy next – whether that’s a new, bigger TV or the Thermomix they saw on a late-night infomercial. People tend to identify themselves with their objects. Sadly, we have mixed up net-worth with self-worth.
The social movement for small houses that were so common only 100 years ago, is now attracting younger generations and is on the rise. People are redefining their conceptions of freedom and building smaller houses and larger lives. With fewer taxes and less investment, heating and maintenance, people are finally cutting their chains on 9-5, having time to pursue a passion over profit.
Small houses emphasize functionality over size. To use as little space as possible, many furniture pieces are multifunctional. Designing small house to optimize space while using the least amount of building material requires a huge amount of creativity.
Lately, we have seen people build their homes on wheels, in trees or floating in the water. These homes are self-sufficient and work with, not against, mother nature, whether implementing solar panels or rainwater filtration systems. And we reckon small can be sexy.