Probably because my biggest challenge has been to practice the art of simplicity, I’m intrigued by the tiny house movement. There have been times I’ve even really wanted to actually try living in one of these trendy creations – Pinterest, magazines, and now even a HGTV show dedicated to tiny living all make the endeavor seem not only achievable but comfortable. Could I do it with husband, two kids and a dog? My husband always quickly brings me back to reality – I don’t know how to live this small. Just moving from our home to a smaller condo this year has been an on-going exercise in downsizing. Living in a smaller space would most certainly require keeping only the basic necessities and a few things that you just love. There would be no room for anything else.
In order to meet the strict definition of a “tiny home”, the dwelling should not exceed 400 square feet. Anything under 1,000 square feet is considered “small”. There are lots of reasons people have chosen to start living smaller. Finances, however, are often the primary reason people first start looking at renting or owning a smaller home. If you live in Juneau you know that “affordable” and “housing” rarely belong in the same sentence together unless the topic is the lack of both. The 2014 Alaska Housing Assessment is a wealth of statistical information on the state of housing in the City and Borough of Juneau. According to this report, the average size of a home in the City and Borough of Juneau is 1646 sq ft. Depending on the source you site, the national average is somewhere around 2700 square feet and growing. The lack of availability for these smaller than average size houses also pushes greater than 32% of Juneau’s households into what is considered a cost-burdened living situation, meaning they spend more than 30% of their income on housing costs. The affordability of renter-occupied units is even lower, with 40% of renters considered cost-burdened. This makes the move toward homeownership for renters even more challenging. Then the quality of many of these homes for the cost is an entirely different and difficult subject.
The good news is, that with the tiny house movement sweeping the nation and books like Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up becoming best-selling inspirations, you can start finding ways to live smaller and yet live fuller and more comfortably. I also encourage you to keep involved in the conversations I see happening around the topic of providing housing solutions for Juneau’s growing population. There are people involved in real estate, home re-model and new construction, city government, non-profits and more who are all passionate about addressing the needs for housing in Juneau. The new year is just barely off to a start with opportunity for it to be a great year to do things differently…..when the community comes together change happens. How can you help?
Dr. Summer Beattie, ND is a graduate of Bastyzr University. She has over 8 years experience as a Naturopathic Doctor specializing in women’s health with an emphasis on environmental medicine. Having served two terms on the board of directors for the Washington Association of Naturopathic Physicians, she has also worked in the medical aesthetics field since 2008. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or