Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Opinion: Would Anyone Ever Aspire to Live in a Micro Home?

This last Friday, the Wall Street Journal launched a new real estate section called “Mansion.” WSJ managing editor Robert Thomson implied in a statement that it wasn’t just about the rich admiring their big homes, saying “We all like to think of our home as a mansion, even if it is a humble abode, and we all have the license to aspire.”

The section we saw featured homes like tax-shelter luxury apartments in Puerto Rico, 9500 sq ft modern homes in Napa CA, 17K sq ft Telluride ski lodges, a look at several “sky garage” condos (i.e. a car life allows you to park your Lamborghini or Ferrari in your unit) and the migration of tech moguls to multi-million dollar home in Los Angeles. Humble abodes these are not.

Truth be known, when we set about building the 420 sq ft LifeEdited apartment, we wanted to create a new variety of aspirational home–one that relied on great design and intelligent use of space rather than massive square footage and Olympic-sized hot tubs. While this aspirational model might work with select populations (and they’re probably all reading this post right now), we wonder whether a compact home would be something the greater public could get into?

What do you think? Will micro homes forever appeal to very select populations? Will the mainstream always consider them worst-case-scenarios or might they see them as something to aspire to? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Photo Credit: Susan McWhinney/WSJ

  • Nicole

    For the most part, Western society is still about consumption. Until that ideology shifts on a larger scale, our little demographic will stay the ‘little demographic’. But hey…… if the seemingly most ‘esteemed’ members of Western society (TV and movie stars?!?!!) decided to make it trendy, I bet many more would hop on board. 🙂

  • With the projects that are popping up in major cities: New York, San Fran, etc I think the movement will have some legs. I am about to be an empty-nester and I welcome less space less objects to care for and less upkeep giving me more time for the things I do enjoy.

  • Fantastic website, this site has genuinly inspired a revolutionary thought change in me, so count me in as a convert to living in smaller spaces. Well designed spaces make financial sense.

    Post-consumerism is upon us, the heedy days of Mcmansions and the ‘latest everything’ are firmly behind most of us. We’ll move into an era of well thought out purchases and energy/space saving self sustainability. During the late part of the last decade we reached a pinnacle where most people were saturated in debt. The perpetual financial crisis that continues to role on will cause either asset prices to decline or wages to stagnate they will eventually be forced to downsize into smaller spaces to bring their outstanding liabilities in line with their largest asset (in most cases) their home.

    Perhaps, the question should be posed slightly differently: will anyone not consider this a viable solution to living in the future?

  • Don MacKenzie

    I believe the micro home’s greatest appeal is to give
    financial freedom to a person of normal means. The people that own the mansions
    described have enough income to have freedom and a massive house. In my opinion
    the movement will expand because there are a great deal more of us that are of
    normal means.

  • Interesting question. I think it will be a long time before people aspire for these types of homes. It’s really hard to change the mindset of “more is better” given that we’ve been molded by society to want the “MTV Cribs” lifestyle.

  • I’m totally enamored of the micro home movement! It gives one the chance to be creative, which I long for. Can’t wait to find my micro home!

  • sorry, it was not David but Arabella who commented.
    can’t change the post as

  • I really like the idea of micro homes where they are effective. The only drawback of them, as far as I can tell, is that so much of the U.S. is not conducive to truly compact living, which is probably where the appeal lags generally. A lot of how people live today is formed around suburban living, which is at best all of the liabilities of urban and rural living, but with none of the benefits. As long as suburban living dominates, I do not think micro homes will become as popular as they might be in the more distant future.

  • Evan van den Berg

    I think that living in a small house might not become so “bad” or “weird” or “fringe” as it can be at times. People won’t say “Oh how could you live in that?!” or “Thats crazy!”. People might seem it as like living in an apartment, some people love apartment life, other prefer suburban and some prefer rural. it might just seem as the next urban step, or something.

    But in all honesty, I think people will always want big houses as it will to them be a symbol of wealth, even if it is wasteful, we might be able to reduce this by instilling in people that wasteful is bad but in the end it will always be there at the back of their minds.

  • setter Rob

    My wife and I rented/house-sat half of a small Victorian in a southern New Hampshire town. Most of the other houses on the street were historically listed and huge, and also had been split up into condos. Isn’t this the future of the Victorian, to be the times five or times ten dwellings a decade or two from now?

  • Marrena

    Even the very rich don’t always want to live out in the boonies. Living where the action is by necessity means to edit your living space, even if you are Mick Jagger, if you want to live in Manhattan. Keep on keeping on. Because it’s all about location, location, location.

  • I grew up living in an apartment most of my life. I feel guilty. I want a bigger space and a yard. Not a McMansion but something where I can really stretch out in. I guess I could downsize to a super tiny apartment (my current one is a whopping 800 square feet – huge in NYC terms but that includes closet space and even the square inches where my tub sits) but I really really really want my own outdoor space. Makes me nuts to see other people who have terraces and tiny yards that they do nothing with.

  • Holly

    I think in Australia mansions are both rare and generally seen as a little vulgar and silly…we have a more egalitarian rather than aspirational ethos. However, we do not have a strong apartment culture…it’s always been about houses with large yards and we are only recently seeing more acceptance of ‘small lot’ housing, but it is the yard rather than the house that is significantly smaller.

  • I don’t know if aspiration is the right word. Many of the people featured here have a micro home out of necessity–it’s the only way they can afford to live in Manhattan, for example. Others see a micro home as an engineering challenge. Others are clearly interested in living outside of what anyone would consider mainstream. However, I think, as a whole, we Americans are changing our views on what it means to have a successful life. Instead of outward displays of success and living on the razor’s edge of what we can afford, we are now looking at the value of the life experience. After a prolonged recession we now see the value of security and responsibility. I think people are aspiring to be content with less, but micro living is at the very end of the scale.

  • The Greatful Mom

    I would and do absolutely aspire to live in a tiny house. I wrote a blog post about it some weeks back http://thegreatfulmom.wordpress.com/2012/08/29/i-have-a-dream/ . There is absolutely nothing that is attractive to me about being house-poor. Less stuff=more life!

  • pamm

    To me, the question is, how much space does one truly need? The answer varies. Houses or apartments with many small chopped up special rooms with limited natural light are soul killing compared to a few open spaces that serve multiple purposes and explode with light and volume. Think like a boat architect and take advantage of every inch of available space, and then offer yourself a few open and bright spaces (after severely editing “your stuff”) and breathe-in the relief of small is better, quality is better and less stuff is REALLY better!

  • Aneesia

    The Wall Street Journal and Wall Street left the average person behind years ago. To them success is big and garish. It indicates consumption over happiness.