The move towards tiny houses is not just a fad. Neither is it limited to millennials and dropouts.
It is part of much larger trend: a growing rejection of Western consumerism, insidious advertising and marketing, crippling debt, and the “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality that goes with all of this.
A recent Stuff article about a study of 32 American families highlighted seven problems with the modern home, from the mountains of clutter to garages too full of boxes to store a car. This study also showed the average family regularly uses only around 40 per cent of the space in its house.
The average American home is now more than two-and-a-half times the size of an average home 60 years ago, when families were larger. Why? To accommodate all our junk. People do not need all that space, and many of us are now turning away from this.
Baby boomers (I am one) are now in retirement or approaching it. Most of us have homes far larger than we need, but most are not downsizing because decades of marketing have made us fear it.
Reverse mortgage companies entreat us to stay in our huge unsuitable homes, and beguile us with the idea of “unseen” debt that will suck up most or all of the capital value of our homes. Banks want us to put cars, boats and overseas trips on our mortgages, to keep us in debt longer. Interest rates are low, but homes are less affordable than ever. When baby boomers finally get round to selling their homes, they may find that they are not desirable to the next generations.
Tiny houses are the solution to some of these problems. Let me clarify what I mean by tiny houses – they are not simply homes on wheels. They are also small homes on traditional foundations.
They are an attitude, a belief that we should all be doing our part for the earth by minimising our consumption. They are a desire to return to a simpler time, when people were not burdened by huge mortgages or rents, and were not made time poor by having to work long hours to pay for a roof over their heads. Tiny house advocates want to be able to enjoy life and the world around us.
Tiny houses are not for everyone. They are certainly not for the backward-looking or those with inflexible attitudes. They won’t suit people with large families. They will, however, provide excellent homes for young couples, for single people, for older people. Government and local authorities should be providing for and encouraging the tiny house movement, by loosening planning restrictions and making it possible to have tiny house communities across the country.