People can be motivated to downsize for different reasons, the most compelling one being financial stability. But it turns out that going tiny isn’t just great for your pocket - it can also do wonders for your health.
So, what are the health benefits of living in a tiny house? More opportunities for physical activity, improved mental health, and better social bonds are just three benefits to going tiny. Various studies show that spending more time outdoors can significantly improve stress levels, inflammation, and even provide an immune system boost.
But it’s not just these that make a tiny house healthy. With the option to build your own house and decide what goes in it, you can choose toxic-free, natural products that’s 100% safe for your family.
Why Do People Get Tiny Houses
The advent of tiny homes has evolved into a full-blown movement, and it’s not hard to see why. Beyond the glamor of towing your home halfway across the country, tiny homes offer benefits that traditional homes can no longer provide.
In today’s economy, acquiring a house can be a taxing financial endeavor. With residential costs rising in major cities, finding the right space to build a family involves a never-ending effort to pay off rent or the mortgage.
1 in 4 renters spend more than half of their income on housing costs.Joint Center for Housing Studies
Tiny houses represent the financial and mental flexibility no longer associated with traditional homes. Instead of spending years paying off mortgage, tiny house owners take it to themselves to build a house within their budget, using the materials they find most adequate for their lifestyle and health needs to create their dream home. The best part? It can come around below $20,000.
Health and Its Social Aspect
The benefits of owning a tiny house go beyond financial freedom. There’s a lot to a person’s health than just physical ailments. Studies affirm that poor housing conditions can be linked to a host of health problems, from respiratory ailments to compromised mental health.
A study published in the American Public Health Association illustrates how a person’s home could impact their personal health. Scientists affirm that subpar housing conditions -- poor ventilation, crowding, inadequate amenities -- can lead to health risks in the household.
In the US alone, 13.5 million nonfatal injuries involving chemical poisoning from poor building components and physical injuries, occur around the house. 2 million patients report to emergency rooms because of asthma attacks.
Tiny homes offer a safer alternative for households limited by their housing budget. Instead of settling for subpar builds, families and individuals can dictate just how safe their tiny homes are by being a part of the build and ensuring every material that becomes a part of the construction process has been vetted for safety.
Are Tiny Houses Healthy
Any house can be conducive to your health if you build it with the right materials. However, the interesting thing about tiny homes is that their design and construction principle is inherently founded on naturalism and minimalism. Families, couples, and individuals searching for a new way to live inevitably translate their principles into how they build their tiny home.
This involves researching the best tiny house materials for hours on end just to find something that fits them perfectly. It’s efforts like these that make tiny houses inherently safe and healthy for those who live in it.
Other health benefits to living in a tiny house include:
1. Improved Psychological Health
Adults stressing over their mortgage were found to have higher rates of depression. With a tiny house, households don’t have to worry about breaking their backs to pay the rent or meet mortgage deadlines.
Whenever interviewed, you’ll hear that tiny house owners are motivated to downsize more for their mental well-being than anything else. Paying sky high rent and mortgage takes a toll on you, and anticipating deadlines every month can really impact your psychological health.
In a tiny house, home owners are free from those worries. By spending a fraction of what they would spend paying off a house or a year’s rent, they can build a home that’s completely theirs with no strings attached.
Without having to worry about stability and income, tiny house owners have more mental energy to focus on themselves, their family, and enjoying everyday life.
2. Encouraging Physical Activity
A tiny house may not have the space for a small gym, but it’s exactly its petite size that encourages movement. Instead of staying glued to one corner of your house (as you would in a bigger house), tiny house owners are compelled to make the outdoors a part of their routine.
The smaller square footage encourages homeowners to explore their surroundings. This is especially true for roving homeowners who leave the city life and settle down in areas closer to nature. It’s not unusual to hear personal stories of happy campers going on daily walks, trekking the nearby hills, or spending the afternoon kayaking after moving into their tiny home.
Spending more time outdoors means more than just getting extra exercise. A study published in Biomedical and Environmental Sciences showed that students who spent their time in a forest had lower levels of inflammation that city-dwellers. Another study suggested that interaction with nature can improve human immune functions.
3. Foster Closer Social Relationships and Human Interactions
Traditional American households are trained to think that bigger houses are better for families. But newer generations of families see that bigger homes aren’t a benchmark for a happy family life.
Spending every day in close proximity with family members may sound unthinkable, but it’s worked out for a lot of families.
Husband and wife Tim and Laura, who downsized with their family of five after renting an apartment in London for years, are another testament to how beneficial tiny house living can be for growing families.
“As an architect you tend to work on the assumption that a family house is X number of bedrooms, arranged in this particular way to a particular set of measurements, but those are quite sloppy assumptions about what a home is or should be,” said Tim.
The Fruit Store, which is what they’ve taken to call their tiny home, has been helpful in bringing the family together.
Since moving into the tiny home, the family talks about spending more time together outdoors, doing activities like gardening and other outdoor activities they couldn’t have done in their London flat. It’s not just Tim and Laura who enjoy tiny house living - Tim recalls a conversation with his son who responded “I like it. We’re like a herd” when asked what he thought of their tiny living space.
Healthy Options For Tiny Houses
In order to make your tiny house conducive to your health, you must first make sure that you make the right choices during the build. The key in building a healthy tiny home - or just about any kind of home for that matter - is involvement in the creation process.
From choosing toxic-free paint to selecting only natural, allergen-free materials, there are tons of things you can do to make your tiny house safe for your family.
Ventilation and pollution levels determines a person’s health in their home. City dwellers who live in close proximity to traffic and industrial zones may be compromising their health with regular exposure to air pollutants.
In a tiny home, you can protect the air quality of your home by installing a ventilation system. A ventilation system has four main purposes:
- To reduce the risk of fire by allowing hazardous chemicals to move out of the house
- To maintain comfortable temperature and humidity levels
- To remove airborne toxins and contaminants
- To provide a supply of fresh air into the home
Ventilation systems adequate for tiny homes are either ERV (energy recovery ventilation) and HRV (heat recovery ventilation). While both ventilation systems ventilate heat and regulate temperature, it is only the ERV that controls moisture.
This is crucial in small spaces like tiny houses. After showering, you want to make sure the humidity leaves the rest of the house for good. After cooking, you want to allow harmful gases that could be trapped inside your tiny house to leave through the ventilation system.
By having a ventilation system, you can rest easy knowing that the air inside your tiny house is always fresh, even without opening a window. This prevents energy loss from cooling or heating efforts and helps maintain fresh air inside your house.
Toxic poisoning is a common horror story in the RV community. RV builders still use components that have formaldehyde to build the interior of their vehicles. Formaldehyde is commonly found in the glue used to piece together particleboards that line the inside of the RV. At times, this chemical could “leak” into the air when exposed to heat and humid weather, causing headaches and even respiratory problems.
Carbon monoxide poisoning, caused by unvented generators and gas ranges, is another silent killer for RVs.
On the other hand, tiny homes are built with materials you’d find in a traditional home. If you’re going the DIY route, you can choose what goes into your home. From chemical-free insulation options to all-natural materials, tiny house owners have the freedom to decide what goes inside their tiny house.
Corrine’s home is an example of a VOC-free, non-toxic tiny living space. By using materials like cotton batt insulation, magnesium oxide board for the walls, and hemp oil for staining wood, she was able to get around harmful materials and build a toxic-free tiny home.
The use of natural materials is big among tiny house owners. Eddy’s tiny house build is a great example of an all-natural tiny home.
"I built this home with two points in mind. One, use primarily untreated wood and natural materials and finishes as much as possible. And two, create as much open space possible.”
Eddy’s tiny house is built mostly with wood - from the flooring to the doors to the very furniture that’s inside the tiny house.
Environmental Benefits of Tiny Houses
Living in a tiny home isn’t just good for your health - it’s great for the environment too:
1. Less Energy Consumption
The average household uses 12,773 kWh (kilowatt hours) of energy per year, whereas tiny homes consume only 900 - 2,000 kWh annually.
Whether it’s choosing propane appliances instead of electric, or the fact that smaller homes are simply less demanding when it comes to cooling and heating, there’s no denying that tiny homes contribute to smarter energy consumption.
2. Contribution to Sustainable Living
We often hear that moving into a tiny home is always associated with a smaller carbon footprint. A study devised by environmental design and planning doctorate Maria Saxton explains this in tangible terms by calculating the group’s spatial footprints in terms of global hectares. This measurement allows goods, services, food, transportation, and housing consumption to be visualized in terms of space.
After following 80 tiny home owners in the United States, Dr. Saxton found that their ecological footprints were reduced by up to 45% on average.
A global hectare is about 2.5 acres, which is the size of a standard soccer field. The average footprint of people living in traditional homes requires 8.4 global hectares (20.8 acres) to support their lifestyle. Compare this to the 3.87 global hectares (9.5 acres) average after moving into a tiny home.
And it’s not just because people moved into a smaller home.
My most interesting finding was that housing was not the only component of participants’ ecological footprints that changed... On average, every major component of downsizers’ lifestyles, including food, transportation and consumption of goods and services, was positively influenced.Maria Saxton
3. Less Waste During the Build
Building a tiny house involves using fewer materials. In situations where DIYers choose pre-assembled structures, you don’t have to worry about construction waste because manufacturers have already calculated the exact dimensions of the framing for you.
The use of reclaimed wood, a common trend among tiny house owners, is another great way to upcycle old materials and add character to your own roving home.
The New Benchmark for Healthy Living
Tiny houses are feeling less like a trendy experience and more like a necessary evolution. Tiny homes ease anxieties involving money, the environment, and happiness - a lot of which stems from the pressures of owning traditional real estate.
With this option now available for households, families and individuals no longer have to settle for subpar builds, harmful neighborhoods and environments, and mortgage stress just to put a roof over their head.
Now that state officials are acknowledging the need for proper regulation for tiny homes, there’s no reason why these tiny abodes can replace bigger ones in the future and become the new benchmark for a happy, healthy life.
Hey, there! We're Ivan and Manuela from Croatia, and we're crazy about tiny houses. We don't own one (yet).
This website is a result of our passion to share all the knowledge, photos, tips and tricks that we were able to learn while studying everything possible about the tiny house movement.