Want a property and a life? Build a tiny home
Can't afford your own house? Don't rule it out yet. The key is to think small.
Meet Sarah Smethurst, she knew she wanted to own a home, but she wasn’t interested in working full time for three decades to service a mortgage. So she turned her attention to 'tiny homes' and built her very own shack on wheels for just $43,000.
The tiny home movement was documented as early as the 1970s, but as housing affordability problems collide with environmental issues, it’s really taking hold.
In 2017, Sarah, now 29, resolved to build a home that provided a roof over her head and the flexibility to work a three-day week in the family violence sector. In the process, she became an advocate for creative, sustainable and meaningful living. Sarah documented the highs and lows that come with learning to build on her blog Tiny go Lightly.
‘I’m passionate about the idea of how we explore alternative options without buying,’ she says, and adds that she had the opportunity to put her home on her sister and brother-in-law’s land in Victoria’s Gippsland, which is something she's very grateful for.
Sarah suggests that our generation could completely re-think our traditional views of housing. The problem, she explains, is that such hefty investments rob us of precious time to really live. Right on, sister.
In return for access to the land, Sarah is home two days each week to spend time with her nephews. ‘I can pick them up from school and start dinner. That’s a far greater contribution I can make,’ she points out.
‘Time is a valuable commodity,’ she says. One that many of us are sacrificing in spades just to get ahead. Her build, much of which was founded on Google research, a stack of trips to Bunnings and some professional help, is more than a few walls and a water tank. It’s proof we can all live better if we’re committed to reducing our impact. ‘It’s about finding somewhere safe and secure to live and maybe living communally to interact with people and the environment,’ Sarah says.
Though she’s quick to say that living in a tiny house isn’t for everyone, it will perhaps inspire millennials to think about investing in their relationships as much as their bank account balances. 'We get so fixated on money,’ she says. When we think first about what we want to our lives to look like, a mortgage mightn't be aligned with our values, even if it's an option.
Sarah’s not sure what the future holds. Perhaps she’ll find her own block of land in time, but for now she’s happy, which is a far bigger luxury than owning a designer dwelling.
Follow Sarah's tiny home journey on Instagram.