Are Tiny Houses a Fad?


Tiny houses are definitely “in” right now, but are they here to stay? I’ve been doing a little reading and here is what I found out on the subject.

Are tiny houses a fad? Tiny homes are a trend that reflects changing cultural values that change with societies definition of “success.” As our idea of what “success” is changes, the popularity of tiny houses will more than likely fade.

Tiny houses are all the rage right now. I mean they are pretty cool, but that doesn’t mean they will always be that way.

Why Tiny Houses are Just a Fad

“What’s wrong with living in a tiny house?” You may be thinking to yourself. “Why, I don’t need much to live off of. All I eat is cereal and chili anyway. I don’t need a big house to feel like I’ve made it in life.” While you may think that way, most people would tend to disagree with you.

According to the real estate website Trulia.com, 33% of homeowners complained of having too little space. Only a measly 9% of homeowners would be interested in a smaller home. It would seem that most people do see bigger as better.

Some people say that the next generation of homeowners will be interested in tiny homes. After all, the reasoning goes, younger people seem to be more interested in unique experiences rather than big houses to display their success.

While it may be true that young millenials and generation Z kids place heavier emphasis on the importance of experiences, data shows that the average size of American homes keeps getting larger and larger.

From 1975 to 2015, the size of the average American home has grown by about 61%, according to a study conducted by the Wall Street Journal and the trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

While the idea of a tiny home conjures Walden like images of the wise thinker in his tiny cozy cabin, reality just doesn’t reflect the ideal. In fact, most customers for tiny homes are industrial farmers looking for a cheap way to house their migrant farm workers. Not exactly romantic.

The truth is that a “tiny home revolution” to which so many aspire, will probably never happen. I think tiny houses are cool just as much as the next guy, but data would indicate that most Americans just aren’t interested.

What is the Appeal of a Tiny Home

While tiny homes may never become the standard across America that doesn’t mean that they still aren’t cool. A lot of people get tiny houses for a lot of different ways, but at the heart of it seems to be a very human desire for adventure and freedom.

Let’s take a more in-depth look at why some folks are going gaga for little homes and why they may want to reconsider. 

A Changing Definition of “Success”

If you didn’t then your parents definitely wanted the whole nice house with a big backyard and a nice suburban out front thing, but today’s kids just don’t seem interested.

With the advent of social media we are connected more today than at any other point in human history and it has changed the way we look at and think of each other.

While in the days of yesteryear the only time you ever got to see old friends was to invite them over to your home, today we can hardly go a minute without seeing some kid we knew in high school doing something super cool on Facebook.

In other words, you used to be able to signal success in your home, nowadays success is signaled by how much you are out of your home. Think about it!

How many tweets do you read from people bragging about how much they watched TV today? Probably not a lot. So what does all of this have to do with little homes?

Little homes are a reflection of the “success is measured by my experiences” mentality. Its romantic and cool to be able to take your home anywhere you want. One day I could be living next to the foamy waves of the Pacific ocean and the next I could be in the snowy foothills of the Rocky mountains, or so the dream goes.

As our definition of success continues to change from “what do I have” to “what have I done” so will the appeal of tiny homes grow.

The Myth of “I Can Live Wherever I Want!”

Another big incentive of the tiny home movement is the idea that you can live anywhere you want. And who doesn’t want a change of scenery from time to time?

Although is an appealing idea, harsh reality has an awful way of cutting into our dreams and providing a pessimistic pound of pragmatism. It turns out that you can’t actually put your tiny home, “wherever you want.”

Most R.V. parks don’t allow you to park tiny home. Trailer parks may allow you to park, but only if you pay the same fee all trailer pay, which can be anywhere from $200-$700 a month depending on the location.

If you want to live somewhere closer to a city, you will often have to buy land in a residential neighborhood to place your tiny home, but most zoning laws exclude tiny homes from being built.

Yes, it is difficult to find a place that accepts tiny homes. Searching for the perfect location that also accepts tiny homes is hard and something that dissuades a lot of folks from getting involved. Who knew a tiny home could drum up such big problems?

Tiny Homes are Inexpensive

Tiny homes are, well, tiny. That’s the whole point, isn’t it? I don’t want to buy a huge expensive home, so I might as well buy something smaller and save some pennies, right? Well, yes and no. While a tiny home is a lot cheaper than a regular residential home, it can still be expensive.

Your average tiny home will cost about $23,000. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but considering that banks usually aren’t thrilled with the ideas of tiny homes, that much money can be hard to get, but if you have that cash on hand, then it will be a lot cheaper than a more traditional home.

The lowest that I have seen a tiny home being built for was about $10,000 and that was done by an expert. The price for this DIY project can get higher and higher the more inexperienced you are.

Tiny Homes are Good for the Environment

A lot of people invest in a tiny home in an effort to reduce their carbon foot print. While a tiny home does use considerably less energy than a regular sized home would, it’s important to remember that you will be consuming energy in different areas of your life.

Transportation for example will now be a larger expense, especially if you plan on moving often. In reality, most tiny home owner move less than once a year, but if you plan on moving more than that, you may not be saving on much energy.

Why a Tiny House?

Don’t get me wrong, tiny houses are very appealing. Who wouldn’t want the adventure that comes with moving around the country in a tricked out tiny home? But let’s not live blind to reality either. Tiny homes may seem cheap, but they can be expensive. Maybe even more expensive then renting a home depending on where you live.

Tiny homes cannot go everywhere either. Zoning laws still apply and RV parks may not allow you to park there. Your dream of living right next door to Panda Express may not become reality just because you have a tiny home.

Finally, tiny homes may seem like the bee’s knees right now, but it’s just a fad. And all fads fade with time.

Is it Worth Living In a Tiny Home?

Tiny homes may just be a fad, but that doesn’t mean the lifestyle it represents will soon go out of style. Everybody wants to experience something unique or different, and everybody is looking for a way to feel more free.

If you are looking for a big change in your life then do not feel shy about getting a tiny home. However, if you are looking to make a good investment I suggest you look elsewhere. Tiny homes are cool, but they aren’t super valuable and they probably won’t be worth a ton in the future.

Additional Questions

Could I raise my family in a tiny home? By definition, tiny homes do not usually contain more than one or two bedrooms. There are, however, plenty of families with several children who have made the minimalist leap. There are options with multiple bedrooms that still come in at less than 400 square feet, but such homes are not as mobile and will require a larger vehicle to tow them.

How much longer will the tiny home fad last?  Only time will tell just how enduring this trend is, but minimalism in general is still on the rise. Most home fads tend to last between one and two decades, but this one hasn’t lost a whole lot of steam just yet.

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