These ingenious little houses have been around for a while, but with rising living costs and environmental concerns, they deserve a mention. In 1997 Jay Shafer set out to simplify his life, first by living in an old Airstream and then in a mini 96 square foot home he built himself. Calling it “Tumbleweed” it eventually spawned a business, selling plans for tiny homes. The compact dwellings are created with efficiency in mind, borrowing design tricks usually used in boats and campers. A kitchen, bathroom, living room and sleeping loft are all comfortably tucked into the small space. Ranging from 65 to 774 square feet, the smaller Tumbleweed houses can be towed behind a truck. Heating, cooling and electricity costs are tiny sized too. One Tumbleweed owner’s heating bill is $6 a month, and electricity is free, using solar panels.

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