I find the small spaces concept, and the more fringe housing ideas, like shipping container homes, WikiHome, etc, to be pretty interesting.
Cabins and small homes are just as bad of an investment, if they follow the same pitfalls as the original example. Every one of those you can eliminate, the better it becomes. But unless you are buying something severely undervalued, it’s unlikely it will be a good move.
The argument that you are just throwing your money away when you rent is shortsighted. It doesn’t factor in opportunity costs from being so massively illiquid as a homeowner.
For example: two effectively equal people, let’s say twins with the same exact job, one lives in an apartment for $800 per month rent, one has a $500 per month in house payments.
Apartment twin has a higher monthly living cost, but almost no other financial obligations. No plumbers, roofers, property tax, basic appliances, etc. Even bigger than that, he has no temptation to sink more money into his home to build equity. He’s not going to have to consider if he should put in a pool, or radiant heating, high efficiency windows, and what not. This might sound stupid, but when you get approved for a $250,000 mortgage on a $200,000 house, these considerations suddenly come into play, and logic often goes out the window.
So even though his monthly costs are higher, his purchasing power is much greater, as he has fewer surprises to worry about, and is in a much better position to get his remaining money working for him, either starting a business, or investing.
If your plan is to only play video games in your free time, and work in middle management until you retire, a house is still a bad decision, but you reap none of the benefits of renting, so you may as well buy. If you want to make moves and be bold, a house is going to be a money pit that holds you back.