(MoneyWatch) How much space do you need to live comfortably in a home?
Think 112 square feet will cut it?
Most people would reject a space that small -- it doesn't even have a bathroom -- but there are a growing number of homeowners that are willing to sacrifice space.
Tiny homes have popped up everywhere over the past decade, and the trend continues to grow. While you may think of the tiny home movement centering around the micro-apartments that cities like New York and Seattle are championing, there's a whole other trend in single-family homes that's taking hold.
These homes are typically less than 700 square feet. Think of them as two or three average-sized parking spaces. That's a lot less space than the average-sized home, which runs at 2,392 square feet, according to the new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
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The tiny house trend really started to pick up in the last phase of the housing boom, around 2005, when builder were looking at available land and not finding much, said Leslie Piper, a Realtor.com consumer housing specialist and an agent with 12 years of experience. "Over the last couple years, when the market turned, things were at a bit of standstill, but we're now starting to see the next push for these smaller homes," she said.
Why opt for such a small amount of space? It's all about lifestyle for these tiny-home dwellers. They want access to all the amenities of a desirable area. Whether it's a major city where prices for an average-sized home are through the roof, or unparalleled scenic views -- these tiny homes can be had for a tinier price. Frequently, they are used as second homes or vacation properties.
"There's also the younger generation, individuals under 30 years old, who haven't decided to do the traditional route," Piper said. "They are opting for quality of life over quantity of space."
Many are also interested in sustainability and reducing their carbon footprint by reducing the physical space their feet occupy.
Because there's so many different types of buyers, there's also many different types of small homes. Some are quite old, built out of necessity long before the trend took hold, while others are newer with all the modern amenities. Some are so small they have no bedroom or kitchen or bathroom, while others are large enough for two bedrooms and a living room.
There are thousands of small homes out there, but these are some of the smallest.