By Brad Beckstrom AKA The Frug
As I write this, I’m sitting in an office filled with a lot of books and dusty CDs, but the future will be different. I’ve been paring down books for years. Getting rid of old tech manuals and binders, DVDs, and other junk. Only keeping books I would want to re-read or give away.
I know that the digital world will require less space.
For many, music, books, and movies have already moved to digital. And the digital world requires less space. When I say the digital world, I’m not just talking about music or movie downloads on iTunes or downloading Kindle books on a tablet. I’m talking about something better than owning or downloading stuff and taking care of it, storing it, getting rid of it. I’m talking about accessing anything on an as-needed basis via high tech sharing or streaming for small rental fee.
This is now
In the future
(which is basically now) this won’t just apply to digital entertainment streamed on an as-needed basis. It will include many of the things we used to own and store. Things like power tools, bikes, cars, boats, vacation homes. Sharing is still tricky now even with lots of apps and web access. Sharing still involves credit cards, reservations, communication and e-mail confirmations. In the future, all of these items will be handled within the app so a wave of a smartphone or device will be all you need to jump in that three wheel electric car for a day trip.
A lot of it will be free.
I am writing this on Google docs, the best and simplest word processing software I’ve ever used. All I need to access it is a free Gmail account. Software I used to pay for on my Mac is now available for free in icloud. No discs with installation instructions, no downloads, no training manuals on the shelf. It’s all is just there, all the time, free. I can listen to music personally curated to my tastes free with access to millions of songs. If I want access to higher fidelity or commercial free listening, I pay a small annual fee on Pandora or iTunes Radio. For what I used to pay for a few CDs, I listen for a full year of anything. Sure this price will go up over time, but by then I’ll be able to move on to another competitive service.
AirBnb and Uber have changed how we travel and how we get around. Services like these will only get better. Home and dwelling sharing will become commonplace. Want to go to Italy? You can swap your home with the family who’d like to visit the US. Need a free house or dog sitter? You can do that to. This is all happening now but it’s going to get much easier.
The McMansion is on its way out
Sure, there will always be large homes and mansions in the US. However, in urban and middle-class neighborhoods, smaller homes will come back into vogue. “buyers will prefer efficiency and location over square footage”. Builder Magazine 2014
We won’t need a huge two or three car garage. We will be doing less commuting and more working from home. Even working from home will require a lot less space. That four drawer file cabinet in my home office will be gone very soon. Replaced by a 3TB portable hard drive combined with cloud storage from Dropbox and Evernote.
The Tiny Home Movement
The trend will move from physical storage to digital storage and sharing. Stuff will be replaced by experiences.
“We sacrificed some space to pay off our student loans, live mortgage free and see the world”
This attitude doesn’t just apply to millennials, it includes over “70+ million baby boomers who are about to chant downsize me in chorus” Brad Kittle, Texas Tiny Home Builder.
With no mortgage and less stuff to manage, store, maintain, and eventually get rid of, people will be able to spend their time and money on a more experiential lifestyle. If you’re out seeing the world, you don’t need a lot of space at home.
The tiny home movement is growing exponentially with small dwelling projects and builders across the country in both high and low income communities, urban and rural.
High-tech tiny home communities will use sophisticated sharing applications allowing them to share all types of things we buy and store today. Need a camper or a lawn mower? No problem, one click and done. There are literally thousands of startups working on these problems right now. The close proximity of these dwellings will allow a stronger sense of community and sharing among both younger and older residents.
As I write this, it sounds a bit utopian. But when I think about a future when people are less burdened by mortgage payments, student loans, car payments and managing piles of stuff, it looks kind of cool.