alternative housing


What is considered a form of housing today?
The answer is usually renting an apartment or room or buying a place.

The main up- and downsides of both options are quickly explained:

+ flexibility
+ no major repair and maintenance costs
– not owning anything after years of renting

+ owning a roof over your head
+ not paying rent
– high acquisition/construction costs that an average person cannot handle without a substantial loan or mortgage
– (possibility of) being in debt
– losing flexibility

So the two options were are generally presented with today are either going into massive debt or paying rent in order to live in places that belong to other people. Having looked into ways of simplifying my life for a while now, I could not believe that there wasn’t another way. Too many people today blindly accept the fact that having a house and mortgage is ‘just the way it is’, get a loan for 200.000€ and live the next 30-40 years in a modern form of indentured servitude, paying back their debt 2-3 time in value to banks.

A video that really opened my eyes in this respect is this TED talk by Jon Jandai, a farmer from northeastern Thailand, who puts this issue it in a beautiful and simple nutshell:

So since the simple thought of being in debt to a financial institution sends shivers down my spine and the fact that I’ve grown sick of spending a considerable amount of my income for rent, I thought about alternatives to escape these two options which both are quite unappealing to me.

That is when I started thinking about the possibility of a mobile home. I got the idea from Rob Greenfield (, who is about to move into his first ‘tiny home’ (yes, that’s the witty name they came up with for … well, for tiny homes) which, admittedly, is super tiny but it really sparked one main idea in me:

How amazing would it be to stop paying rent in our twenties/thirties, without being in debt, while keeping our flexibility? Having more free time to explore the world and ourselves, getting by easily on a part-time salary? I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty desirable to me.

Since then I’ve found out that there are growing numbers of great companies and people out there who develop small ‘low impact’ (and sometimes fully energy-independent) houses which cost less than a tenth of an average apartment.

Here are some examples:

Especially the TED talk by Andrew Morrison, a tiny house owner, is very inspiring. He talks about how moving into a tiny home gave him much more than personal and financial freedom, it also helped him and his family to declutter their lives. Furthermore, he says that the closeness within their home even managed to foster the relationships between the family members.

This is something I will be definitely considering in the future; for now, I am looking into the possibility of buying and living in an old trailer or caravan and seriously, I never knew how many restrictions there are concerning living in mobile homes and how much the state apparatus doesn’t want you to live in something that is not a ‘proper house’ (even if someone provides you with a piece of land you can put it on).

Anyway, I am seriously excited about this and wanted to share it with you, I hope you find it equally inspiring!


2 thoughts on “alternative housing

  1. Lisa 7. January 2015 / 3:03

    “Inhabiting such a small space will force me to live in a simpler, more organized and efficient way. Without room to hoard things and hide away from the world, I’ll be forced to spend more time outdoors, in nature and engaging with my community.”
    Read this in an article once and yeah, it got me thinking. It would definitely bring about a major change in not only how you live but how you live your life. Worth considering, I guess, especially at a young age when you’re still (physically) able to get outside, move around and experience.


  2. bernhardhoerl 7. January 2015 / 10:38

    great article, thanks a lot for that! added it to the post.


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