The Tiny House Movement

Recently I was asked if I thought the increasing popularity of the Tiny House movement was a fad or a more permanent phenomenon; one that could even replace the more traditional house.   There’s no denying that Tiny Houses are becoming increasingly popular with a raft of manufacturers springing up across Australia; several in New South Wales.  Given the miniscule space that constitutes a Tiny House, it begs the question –  what is the appeal?

Since Tiny House interest groups started appearing on Facebook in 2013, such groups have proliferated with numbers of followers growing exponentially.  It is clear the appeal is broad and caters to a diverse number of people.

For millennials struggling to raise the deposit for a more traditional-style property, Tiny Houses represent an affordable entry into the property market – particularly if retained on wheels and located to the family block.  They are also a wonderful way to gently loosen the apron strings and make moving out a little easier for teenagers – and parents!

Another demographic for whom the Tiny House movement holds enormous appeal is the single, older female (50+) market for whom living in a large home, with a large garden might no longer hold appeal, or be viable.  Relationship breakups, workplace bias against older women and the superannuation gender gap are all factors contributing to the need or desire to downsize.  For this demographic though, it’s not all doom and gloom that drives women to pivot to Tiny Houses.  The desire to downsize; lead a simpler, lifestyle is also a strong driver.

For those in the hospitality industry, Tiny Houses present as an important, unique and easy to manage form of holiday accommodation and given the reduced outlay, the financial benefits are undeniable.

Another undoubtedly key factor in this movement’s appeal is environmental concern.  There is an increasing awareness on the need to reduce our footprint. With large homes on large blocks consuming large amounts of time, energy and money to service and maintain, Tiny Houses might be viewed as a pushback from the McMansions of the past few decades.

With housing affordability becoming more of an issue by the day and homelessness a direct consequence, Tiny Houses are being touted as a cost-effective response that would provide governments with an opportunity to meet the needs of those contributing to a worrying trend.

Of course, the movement is not without challenges, mainly in relation to urban planning and Council regulations, which are generally quite fixed.  But as with all things in life, changing trends necessitate changing regulations.  Local governments are starting to understand that Tiny Houses may well be here to stay and that in order to meet the needs of constituents in an ever-evolving housing environment, a more lateral approach is beneficial to everyone.

Despite their obvious appeal, Tiny Houses are not for everyone, especially large families and they will not usurp the traditional home. Certainly not in my lifetime!  I mean, everyone has a kitchen, but we still enjoy a restaurant meal.  The two live happily side by side. Tiny Houses will play an increasingly important role in the housing market, for an increasingly diverse market.  And they are cute.  There’s no denying it!