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I spent four months in the Spanish mountains sharing, with one other person, what was basically a goatherd's shed - you get used to it and there is something very refreshing about the simplicity of not having space to store junk.
“That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.”
I know several people in the community here that have built or are currently building a tiny house to live in. There's a fun movie to watch ( Tiny-The Movie ) [^] that documents one guy's process of building one (not someone in the community here.)
No pets, GF does not live with me (she has her own bigger apartment)
She could not handle a small apartment, she needs an office and at least a guest bedroom (and a couple, or more, closets).
The thing with tiny houses is that you restrict yourself in a lot of situations, you cannot have more than 1 or 2 friends over for diner; you cannot have people sleep over; if you live somewhere with more than one season, then you need to have some more space to store clothing (especially winter cloths) and if you are into sport, then you need storage for that also.
If it's a tiny house or a cardboard box under a bridge, I think most people would find a way. If they'd invented e-books 30 years ago so I didn't have to make room for yards and yards of shelving I certainly wouldn't say no to it as an alternative to renting as I do now.
I lived in a 10x50 mobile home for around 5 years. It was right next to my grandparent's house in the sticks. Right outside my front door was an 8 acre pond my grandfather had built in '76. I still dream of cool and foggy summer daybreaks in the canoe with my flyrod. That was the life!..but I'm daydreaming and way off topic. Sorry.
As for living in small places, that's about as small as I could ever go. (500 sq. ft.) The way I made it work was to sacrifice a bed for an office and sleep on the couch. Also, I could have a clothes dryer or a stove/oven, so I used a microwave oven and hotplate for cooking. (solar clothes dryers are way overrated!) There was barely room to walk between the TV and coffee table (I've still got scars on my shins from it!) and I could touch the ceiling with my elbows...but it was home and I made it work. The benefits were that my average utility bill was about $60/month and best of all, I got to really know my grandparents as real human beings (from an adult perspective) and make a difference in their last years. It's the only reason I'm where I am today, or probably even here at all.
500 square feet is probably the minimum for 1 person with very few possessions based on personal experience.