Are tiny houses becoming the new American Dream? The economic and literal climate would help support a population's mindset to be glamored toward more sustainable, cost-efficient living.

The internet is full of dreamy pictures of people opting to live with fewer square feet. These drastic downsizes offer more contentious quarters that reflect some people's need for a more efficient home. The smaller space helps reduce heating and cooling costs, minimizing carbon footprint. What's more, the average price of a tiny house is around $23,000; likewise the amount of taxes you'll pay for a sub-500-square-foot cottage, compared to a 15,000-square-foot suburban dwelling, will be much less. Also, these micro-homes travel well.

The tiny house has some great selling points, but Eve Andrews from Grist is skeptical about the recent movement, writing:

“Is all this hype a real push toward more sustainable lifestyles, or is it just a manifestation of widespread preoccupation with cuteness?”

Coverage of tiny houses has appeared in many magazines and internet news outlets. There are Pinterest and Tumblr pages dedicated to showcasing how beautiful these micro-homes can be. But almost every shot appeals to our primitive ideals of design: a house in the middle of a field or overlooking a valley; green forests surrounding the structure — some have even appeared as tree houses.

The tiny house is a wonder of design, one that tickles our obsession toward minimalism in an adorable, convenient package. So, to find out what's driving our obsession toward micro-housing, Andrews talked to an expert: Sally Augustin, an environmental psychologist and founder of design consultancy Design with Science. She said to Andrews in an interview:

“If you go back to [prehistoric times], when we didn’t have all the tools and such that we have now, certain types of environments were really desirable to us. They’d be places where we were protected, felt secure, but we could survey the world around us easily — think of the mouth of a cave in a hill, with a view out over the valley. I think a lot of tiny homes have that sort of arrangement, and so appeal to us at a really fundamental level, psychologically.”

Then again, these micro-living structures offer us another driving appeal — to be individuals, to distinguish ourselves from the mansions and suburban sprawls. We can make a statement about our values. It's a reflection on a multitude of changing attitudes that were likely helped along by climate concerns, issues over affordable housing and student debt, and smaller families.

Regardless of the reasons, it's nice to see that the way some people are approaching living has become more contentious.

To read more on the tiny-house movement, check out the full article on Grist.

Photo Credit: Tammy Strobel/Flickr