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Field Guide to the Small House Movement

Does size matter? The current economic climate as well as a desire for a greener lifestyle has driven some Americans to examine how much space they really need. The small home movement is hardly a novel concept—just ask New Yorkers who often spend decades in studio apartments. This field guide shows the various aspects of living in a smaller home, as well as links to those considering the ultimate in downsizing.

Home Sizes and Home Buyers

  • Median size of homes purchased from mid-2011 to mid-2012: 1,900 sq. ft.
  • Median home size, first-time buyers: 1,600 sq. ft.
  • Median home size, repeat buyers: 2,100 sq. ft.
  • 16% of all buyers reported making compromises on home size

Source: NAR's 2012 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, Chapter 2.

Small Home Trends

Big Lessons From the Tiny House Movement, (WiseBread.com, Apr. 24, 2013).

Prices say it's time to think studios, (New York Times, Mar. 25, 2011).

The big thinking in condos now is to get small, (MSN.com, July 8, 2010).

When Home Shrinks, (New York Times, Sept. 9, 2009).

The incredible shrinking home, (CNN Money, Aug. 11, 2009).

Home sizes shrink as downturn continues, (American Institute of Architects, July 31, 2009).

Tiny homes getting to be a big deal, (ABC TV, New York, July 28, 2009).

Architects Turn Gas-Guzzling Hummers into Earth-Friendly Micro-Homes, (Good Design, July 27, 2011).

Low Impact Woodland Home [The Hobbit House], (SimonDale.net).

Big things in small homes, (Cape Cod Times, Aug. 2, 2009).

Homebuilders think small, (Business Week, July 28, 2009).

Living in small spaces, (Associated Content, July 13, 2009).

The Bohemian dream, in 350 square feet, (New York Times, July 8, 2009).

Tips for downsizing your life, (Boston Globe, June 28, 2009).

Downsizing in high style at Lambeth House, (Times Picayune, May 16, 2009).

Tiny apartment wins national award for swankiest space, (Seattle Times, May 2, 2009).

Very little house on the prairie, (The Economist, Feb. 21, 2009). Q

Dense neighborhoods, smaller homes need not sacrifice design, (Builder Online, Jan. 21, 2009).

The Green Impact

Smaller homes lessen carbon footprint, (Cascade Business News, Jan. 3, 2011).

Tiny homes are attracting the thrifty and the green, (Globe Life, July 31, 2009).

The first step to downsizing your life, (Small Living Journal, Apr. 4, 2009).

Americans are moving on up to smaller, smarter homes, (USA Today, Mar. 17, 2009).

Live simply and decrease your carbon footprint with a tiny house, (Green Building Elements, Feb. 9, 2009).

How to downsize your house, (Wall Street Journal, Jan. 29, 2009).


Tiny Houses, (Tumbleweed Tiny House Co.).

Small space design guide, (HGTV).

Small homes, (Coming Unmoored).

The art of living in small spaces, (Back Woods Home.com).

Small House Society resources, (Small House Society).

5 Absurdly Cramped Houses and Cramped Homes, (Web Urbanist, Aug. 7, 2008).

Jay's tiny house tour, video of a 100 sq. ft. home, (YouTube.com, Dec. 12, 2007).

eBooks & Other Resources


The following eBooks and digital audiobooks are available to NAR members:

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Green Building and Remodeling (Kindle, Adobe eReader)

Choosing Green (Kindle, Adobe eReader)

Green Building A to Z (Kindle, Adobe eReader)

Green Building Products (Kindle, Adobe eReader)

Greening Your Home (Adobe eReader)

Green Zone Living: 7 Steps to a Happy, Healthy and Peaceful Lifestyle (Kindle, Adobe eReader)

Field Guides & More

These field guides and other resources in the Virtual Library may also be of interest:

Field Guide to Green Homes & Green Mortgages

InfoCentral Blog

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The inclusion of links on this field guide does not imply endorsement by the National Association of REALTORS®. NAR makes no representations about whether the content of any external sites which may be linked in this field guide complies with state or federal laws or regulations or with applicable NAR policies. These links are provided for your convenience only and you rely on them at your own risk.