By Josie Musico
Compliments: Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
A big house and a happy family and community are all part of the American dream — right?
Well, one of those is actually overrated, say folks in a movement to reduce unnecessary and unaffordable living space.
With unanimous support of its City Council, Spur holds a new designation as the country’s first tiny-house-friendly town. With an abundance of small houses that could be renovated and empty lots on which new ones could be built, they’re now looking for new bodies to fill them.
“They thought it would be a good way to help the Spur economy and welcome new people into our city,” city Secretary Nancy Hale said. “We have a lot of vacant lots and some housing that could be torn down and a house built there. We’re hoping to see how it progresses.”
A tiny house is pretty much what it sounds like. The homes are defined as smaller than 1,000 feet, but have everything their owners need.
Some of the designs are fairly innovative. Search for “tiny houses” online, and you’ll find photos of homes with bunk beds and storage space built into the walls.
“We’re not talking about cardboard boxes here — they’ve highly engineered these spaces,” said Dave Alsbury, a co-founder of Spur’s tiny-house project.
What they don’t have, of course, are hefty mortgages and utility bills.
Some tiny-house owners might consider them a backlash of sorts to the ever-expanding dwellings that surround them.
The average size of a new home in 2010 was about 2,400 square feet, according to the U.S. Census. In the 1960s, that number was only about 1,500.
Residents of big houses might question whether tiny-house owners mind only being able to claim a few hundred square feet. Tiny-house dwellers, in turn, question whether McMansion owners are bothered by mountains of debt.
“The economic proposition is really attractive to people,” Alsbury said. “This new generation is kind of like new pioneers. They’re going back to their grandparents’ American dream — live more modestly and get control of your finances.”
Some tiny-house owners may use the money they save on housing costs for something more fun, or simply work less.
Alsbury can relate to the folks he hopes to bring to town.
The Minnesota native managed tech companies in New York and Los Angeles much of his working life. When he first drove through Spur while exploring the Lone Star State, he found the gorgeous, open landscape and the laidback way of life a 180-degree change and stayed.