Is North America the Only Place to find the Tiny House Movement?
There is definitely a tiny house movement in North America. You can find television shows about living in tiny houses, there have been movies about living small and Pinterest is bursting with boards about the tiny house movement.
What led to the tiny house movement?
Americans have been known for “bigger is better” and for huge houses. The average new house size in North America is about 2500 square feet. What has led to this desire to downsize into a tiny home? We hear tiny house advocates say that living small allows them to spend money on things that are more important to them. If they don’t have so much money tied up in house payments, they have money to travel. Looking after a large house takes time, and money to fill all that space. All those possessions take maintenance and time out of your schedule. Living small will get you to focus on what is really important to you. Tiny houses, on average, are from 200 to 400 square feet small! With this much smaller space to care for you can spend more time with family, travel or volunteer instead of all that upkeep in a larger home. Another benefit often cited is that you are living “green” in a tiny home. Fewer possessions and a smaller house will mean you are leaving a smaller footprint in your environment and destroying fewer trees. And a big bonus, you will actually own your tiny home instead of paying a mortgage for the next 30 years.
Who is involved in the tiny house movement in North America?
There are two main groups driving this “smaller is better” movement. The millennials have huge university loans to pay back and can’t afford the size of home they grew up in. The baby boomers (and there are many of them) are retiring and want to be able to travel. They don’t want the upkeep that their current home takes and they want to free up some money for travel. Others involved in the small house trend are families building a tiny home on their property for guests, for their aging parents or on rural property for a vacation home. As you will see elsewhere on my site, there are also cities looking to solve their homeless problem by providing tiny homes for homeless veterans and/or the homeless with a mental health issue.
Is there a tiny house movement elsewhere in the world?
Yes, there is.
- Take Japan for example. Seventy percent of Japan’s landmass is not suitable to build on and the population of Japan is 126,384,643. The cost of real estate is very high and yet many Japanese would like to own their own home. There are incredible architects in Japan who have designed tiny homes to use very small spaces unsuitable for a traditional house. This will allow more Japanese families to have a small home on the limited space available.
- In France there is a tiny house movement led by Bruno Thiery, a builder in Normandy. His first tiny home was built for an environmentalist and he then decided he could help other Europeans have their own home if he made tiny houses available in Europe.
- Russia also has tiny houses, some called DublDom or double house. This is a modular home and the designers are BIO Architects. There are two sizes, either 280 square feet or 431 square feet and they are designed not as cabins but as a home. They are fully insulated with electricity and plumbing.
- In Spain, Niall Burke, a structural engineer interested in green design and tiny homes developed Humble Homes while taking his masters in engineering. Local regulations in one area only allowed a house of 269 square feet but allowed a height that accommodated two stories. Ground floor had living space and a kitchen while the second level had a bedroom. They were also allowed to have a basement level that provided for another bedroom and a bathroom.
- In Australia the tiny house movement is growing. Darren Hughes is the founder of Tiny House Australia. He estimated his tiny home would cost approximately $30,000 to $40,000 to build, while the median house price in Australia is more than $600,000.
This is just a sample of how the world is looking at living large in a tiny space, to leave a smaller carbon footprint, to have more time for what is meaningful, to be able to own your home before you are OLD, and to have money to do other things than just survive!