Years after experiencing one of the greatest financial disasters of our time the future of tiny houses keep looking better and better because of the low demand lifestyle that comes with living in a tiny house.
The future of tiny houses keeps getting brighter because more people every day are gaining interest in a simpler lifestyle. And this is because it makes sense financially, environmentally and even spiritually.
Tiny House Talk: The Future of Tiny Houses
Image © lenm
How Many People Are Into Tiny Houses?
The growth over the recent years has been amazing. I estimate that there are now officially over one million people or more that are seriously interested in tiny house living in the United States alone.
I also estimate that we will reach millions more within the next few short years and tens of millions more within a another decade. So what does this mean for you? What does it mean for us? For society? For our kids?
Tiny Housing in Today’s Real Estate?
It means things are getting better! It takes time to innovate, especially in an industry like real estate. But it’s happening thanks to people like you. The tiny house community now has and continues to attract even more tiny house builders, investors, community organizers, designers, events, influencers, products, open source breakthroughs, more affordable housing opportunities, construction technologies, and so much more.
Growing Opportunities for Tiny Living
Image © bloomua
All in all, it means slowly but surely, more tiny houses are becoming available for us (and our children) to live simply, peacefully and passionately in. And we will be seeing more than one type of tiny house lifestyle becoming more available to us because it turns out that there are a variety of people interested in the benefits that come with downsizing our homes.
Who’s Interested In Going Tiny?
We’ll see ready to move in $300,000 luxury tiny houses for people who are downsizing from million dollar homes to the more ordinary $45,000 tiny houses. But it doesn’t stop there because we’ll continue to see a variety of tiny and small homes from Do-It-Yourself $20k gems to custom built $55k masterpieces. And we’re already seeing some people pay up to $1 million for tiny spaces in highly desirable places like New York City and Paris. Crazy, right? Even financially wealthy people feel that downsizing is uplifting. And that’s not all!
Tiny House Communities Near You?
Image © devteev
We’re already seeing official tiny house communities beginning to prop up around the United States and other parts of the world. But this only the beginning because serious real estate developers haven’t even come on board yet. And the tiny house movement is just beginning to make major progress and breakthroughs right now in areas like zoning, codes, social acceptability, awareness, and so on.
More Than One Type of Small House Community
I believe we’ll continue to see more options when it comes to communities completely dedicated to tiny houses on trailers but in addition we’ll also see more park model communities, foundation-built small house communities and subdivisions, and finally we’ll also see even more small apartments, studios, and condos to meet the demands of people who want smaller, smarter and more affordable homes throughout the world.
Image © lenm
What Do You Think?
Where do you see the future of tiny houses? Will it continue to grow? What sort of communities will we see? Do you see tiny houses sticking around the long-run? I definitely believe so. How about you?
If you enjoyed this report on the future of tiny houses you’ll absolutely LOVE our free daily tiny house newsletter with even more! Thank you!
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I think the biggest obstacle for tiny houses is the existing amount of normal homes that are already in place. The 800+ sq. ft. houses that are out there now are not going away. People will not buy them and tear them down to build tiny houses.
The other obstacle is zoning. In my town the smallest size home you can have is 900 sq. ft. This is not going to change any time soon. I live in a pretty densely populated suburb and there are not many building lots for sale. The lots that are for sale are restricted by zoning laws.
If the tiny house movement keeps growing it may have an impact on larger homes values. We may see a time where tiny homes are more valuable per sq/ft. This could be the case now, I don’t really know.
The trouble with the housing market is it’s not very dynamic. Once a house is built, it generally stays very close to the original footprint, or grows over time with additions. These houses are then a permanent fixture in our society.
Maybe in a severely depressed market such as Detroit, where you can buy a home for very little, you may see a change. One could buy a property, tear down the existing structure and build tiny. I don’t see it happening in strong markets.
Great points here TB, thanks for sharing
I own an 1800 sf foundation house sitting on one quarter of an acre of land. If the zoning permitted it, I’d tear the place down and build a tiny house instead.
The biggest problem is the current hold the McMansion people have on the whole housing industry which demands big homes to support big businesses from big building contracts to big property taxes for big City Council salaries to big realtor fees.
We need to change the existing stranglehold these groups have on everything. Just because they got there first with the most doesn’t mean they should have the right to dictate to the rest of us on how we MUST live according to their wishes and wants.
The rest of us have a right to tiny living if that is our choice and we need to make them give us the room to do it.
Not sure where you live but living in metro areas does have built in limitations. Smaller outlying communities are likely to be far more flexible and easier to work with.
There are restrictions in most locals. Factory built tiny homes like Tumbleweed or the 5000# lightweight Leaf in Whistling Horse, Yukon, Canada can properly meet IRC codes when personally built homes don’t. Buying your plans online from either of these companies, or any other mftr, doesn’t qualify your tiny home to meet the IRC code.
Some stipulations to consider for overcoming municipal regs…some require a foundation. Sometimes you can overcome that with a post frame foundation and taking off the wheels and axles. If the wheels stay on its considered an RV then you’re limiting how long the tiny home can stay on that site, generally a max 180 days which means you have to move 3 yimes/year. In someone’s back yard or driveway limits you even more, even if you own the property.
Sometimes hooking up to municipal utilities helps overcome city regs.
Biggest thing is kindness kills. Sarcasm defeats the purpose with every government entity known to mankind.
It’s a movement in its infancy. Communities that see the advantages will eventually make changes to their regs. Larger, more restrictive communities will see examples set eksewhere and in time, with patience, regs will be less reatrictive. But with anything, it takes time and patience and working together to foment change.
You’re being very condescending. The thrust of what you have to say is not about the problems we are trying to deal with by talking about them, your comments are ad hominem attacks to prove how wonderful you are. If I were a man, you wouldn’t dare talk to me this way. Tone it down.
A 900 sq ft house is a reasonable size! I can think of nothing worse for a place than to tear down viable houses. It’d be more beneficial to remodel and modernize existing houses, likely constructed with better materials and better hands, than to rip them down and replace them with less diversely functional tiny houses. Tiny houses have their place but in the long run small ones will almost certainly outlive them in terms of practicality. I’ve designed, built and lived in both sizes and feel that small houses are the way to go for most people. Besides, houses not attached to places, intended to be removed from them, might not be all that good for places over time. We need people to care about places.
In most communities, if it’s on wheels, you can legally circumvent zoning ordinances.
You might be surprised about strong housing markets not supporting the tiny home movement. The fact alone that Tiny Home builders are located in Portland, OR and Seattle WA just north has a suprising number of tiny home residents and it’s the strongest housing market in the nation, several years running.
Remember, like anything else, it’s personal choice to downsize; eliminate unnecessary clutter and live a simpler, richer life style.
My concern is that the prices amenities on Tiny Houses appear to be going up too. This defeats the whole purpose of living simply with a small carbon footprint.
I agree! Some are more expensive than my 1600 sq. ft. home without any land!! Crazy!
Curious where you live in a 1600 sq ft house WITH land for less than $40K?
Like anything there are less expensive tiny house alternatives. Cost increases,are inevitable, for everything, it’s called inflation . You can build it yourself; buy the shell and furnish it yourself with less expensive or fewer accutraments and/or buy used. There are alternative mftrs also. Look on line, they’re there.
I am a pro tiny house person. I’ve lived in a 1 ton van and then a converted school bus while working on the road. That said, I believe the tiny house market is a niche market for young people, single people and empty nesters.
I see young families with a child or two living in these tiny homes but I would shudder to think this could continue as these children grow and require/demand more personal space.
I guess what I’m saying is this: There is definitely a market for this type of home, I don’t believe we’ve seen the the end of the growth in interest in tiny home living, however, I don’t think it is for everyone in all phases of life.
Good point. I think that’s why we’ll also see more small homes being developed and rehabbed because tiny is great, but doesn’t work for most people. So small can be just right for many.
I see families with small kids living together in a tiny house and then when the kids get older, they will each have their own tiny house. Then the family will be a community.
Similarly, large footprint traditional brick & mortar homes aren’t for everyone either. The environmental concerns are a driving force…to reduce fossil fuel consumption(for heating); possibly reducing it altogether if solar becomes the sole source of power. Flexibility to move your home due to job changes are another reason to go tiny…just think of the myriad of people who moved to Williston ND to work in the Bakken Oil Fields. It was a community of 10,000, now 40,000, that had no additional housing nor could they build hones (much less schools, hospitals and infrastructure)fast enough. The tiny homes are perfect tho greater insulation of R38 in the floors and R68 are required for traditionally frigid winter temps of minus 80F with wind chills are common in ND. It’s coming and being offered by other builders.
Tiny Home program on TV every Monday night shows families of 4, with 2 teenagers, living quite comfortably in a tiny home. It all depends on the understanding that the clutter people surround themselves with is hard on them, their surroundings and the environment. Living a simpler, less cluttered life is a very healthy option.
Curious about your 1 ton experience as I’m considering renovating a school bus or better still a stepvan/box truck
I’ve still got the van. I moved it the other day and the thing gives me the jitters just to get in it. Makes me want to hit the road. The freedom one gets from living in a vehicle that can be parked anywhere is positively enlightening. It’s like cutting the tether that binds. I don’t think a step van or a bus give you quite the same sense of freedom. I went to a bus because I wanted to have something a little larger in the northern winters in the Dakota’s, MN & WI where I spend most of my winters working. When you can’t spend some of your living time outside; a van is a little small.
That depends how you approach living tiny. I’m lost why you would conclude just because a couple’s children are growing up that that would mean they have to abandon their tiny house and lifestyle for a larger house. A tiny house was the original solution for the couple. Who says another tiny house can’t be the solution for their growing child who needs their own space? It would seem to me using the construction of their own tiny house as a teaching device would be a prime opportunity for a lesson in DIY self-sufficiency and not giving in to the status quo. I plan to have multiple tiny houses lined up for when my family requires them. And because a family doesn’t change over night, I can take my time to prepare and save the money and material I’ll need for each one. Ideally, in the beginning, I would prefer a nice one for my wife that I don’t make messy and then a less expensive self-built one for myself to knock around in. The constant battles wife and husband have over cleanliness when there is just one big house is an area where tiny houses can provide an obvious solution some people still overlook.
Zoning regulation and building codes must change for tiny house communities to become a reality. Also, trailer mounted tiny homes are restricted and frowned on by local government because they by-pass normal real estate taxes.
We lived on a yacht many years and found most communities/ local governments / educational systems laws, regulations, and ordinances where roadblocks to a simpler lifestyle.
Yup! And we also need more small housing in the 350 to 800 sq. ft. range and even 800-1200.
You’re pretty limited to the more common sizes currently being offered, due to highway limitations, width & length(of roads much less drivers license requirements for home owners). The 13′ 6″ height limitation on US hwys a perfect example. Perhaps a modular approach to achieve your 800 -1200 sq ft needs, but then you’re defeating the purpose of downsizing and eliminating the clutter of unnecessary ‘things’ we all tend to fill our lives with.
In thinking “small”, people usually think “size”, but maybe there is a way to get people thinking small PRICE! There are areas around Canada and the USA that are VERY affordable. With some repairs and some clean up you could find properties that can be acquired for a lot less than these overly heavy, expensive “trailers” – and that is what they are folks – TRAILERS! It is unrealistic to think that you are going to be comfortable cramped in with your trailer-mate for a long period of time. If you think it can work, buy an old Class C motorhome from the 80’s or travel trailer, and see how it goes before you dump $40 or $50 grand into a “thow”! Resurrecting a “beater” home is the way I’m doing it. eg) $32000 for a 1000 sf 2 bed bungalow with full basement under 600 ft of it. Sgle det garage, heated and insulated all on a lot 150′ X 120′. And it livable throughout the renos which will likely bring the total investment to $45000. But the joy of living in someone else’s backyard is something I will have to do without.
I am with you, Gary. I love the term “beater” house and I’m going to share it with my friend from 6th grade who is looking into doing that very thing in the location she would like to live in for the rest of her life. She’s contemplating finding a cheap, existing house to avoid establishing the plumbing and electrical utilities and to “take it to the studs” and perhaps re-configure the floor-plan to suit her now. I like your thinking and applaud your efforts on the “beater” house!
I’m also excited and intrigued about all the different ways people are down-sizing, or right-sizing or whatever it is to use what we need and even, sometimes, what we prefer and want.
Yup! Best way to keep the price down is to labor away with friends and family. 🙂
The “THOW” folks have missed the fact that what they want already exists… sort of… and they are trying to change the wrong thing in my opinion. Without direction from HUD, how the tiny home on wheels is classified can be different in each state, county, and town but most classify it as an RV. Park model RVs (PMRVs) which have been around for years are less than 400 sf and built like a cabin BUT they are usually wider than 8.5′ so not designed to be portable. The THOW folks will say that their version of a tiny dwelling on a trailer is built better than an RV but most park model RVs have the same insulation and structural integrity of a stick-built home. The problem is, RVs, no matter how well built, are not approved for full time living. If HUD would change that part of their definition of an RV or include some sort of exception criteria, PMRVs could be the answer to the affordable smaller home that is taxed as personal property. And, because they are readily available from RV manufacturers, you don’t have the safety issues that you have with an “uninspected” THOW. I believe in building code and zoning reform as they have not been updated to reflect technological advances and we can do much more in much smaller spaces now. But, I believe the THOW group has the toughest row to hoe.
No one says you have to park in someone’s back yard. Off grid or in town, lots are available for less than you paid. Tiny Hime communities ate pipping up all over the nation. Plus taxes are far less than the brick n mortar approach. Maybe you’re accepting of city life whereas others aren’t. There are variables for both sides of the argument that you’re overlooking. Your side is commendable, but others may want more flexibility to pull up stakes and actually ‘move’ their home…lock, stock & barrel
Gary, To each their own. Not everyone needs to be surrounded by the clutter of things and unused space. I’ve personally preferred smaller living spaces but that doesn’t mean you have to. Freedom of choice and beliefs are still cornerstones of the nation, despite government resistance to change(that affects their tax revenue stream).
Hmmm – TB. Interesting comments, but I have first-hand experience at working with city planners to allow the location of Granny Suites and Tiny Houses in the back yards (Eastern Ontario). It gives me great encouragement to see this kind of re-thinking, enabling what is best for the community.
Thanks Linda! I think we’re seeing progress.
Getting around living in tiny house communities, zoned as campgrounds, has posed issues with legal longevity. How to get around the two eek limit? One creative solution I came up with is to ‘rent’ space for 13 days at a time. The 14th day is off the books, and you start over again with a new rental period.
Hopefully, zoning commission boards will wake up to the potential of tiny house communities. Even those with private land are facing scrutiny and insecurity thanks to ridiculous ordinances. If a tiny house is what you want, you build it to safe code standards, and don’t turn the area into a trash an or junk car lot, you are not hurting anyone with your responsible living choices.
My goal is to have an Eco community that also serves as a research center for the many aspects tiny living.
There is no “better” way for everyone. All options should be available.
Well said Karen 🙂
Karen, I agree.
Some of the most major obstacles to building small cabins and tiny homes in Australia are local planning laws that won’t allow more than one dwelling on a site and problems relating to sewerage and parking. I have a couple of small blocks of land but can’t build on them without breaking the rules or incurring major costs and beruacratic bullshit .. I’d go into more detail, but I have to go to an underpaid job so I can pay the mortgage on my house ..
I hear you, buddy. Everyone should have the option of a home regardless of their ability to pay for a mortgage on a house that is “code”. Codes are fine for those that can afford them but check out some other countries where people can make a home to their own standards and incomes. Many would argue that a small house of tin and straw is preferable to public housing or a homeless shelter that are built to code.
Well- I am not as optimistic as the author and there are many forces at work that do not want tiny houses. The building industry, housing developers. rental owners, appliance and material suppliers,grid power, big oil, insurance, and food industry would all take a big hit if many people decided to downsize and that is why you see many of these people sitting on the state and local boards that determine housing sizes and codes. I think you will see some states embrace the movement that have a housing shortage for the short term but once it starts cutting into profits you may see even tougher regs trying to stop the movement. So if you are going to go tiny I would not wait but while you are going tiny I would also consider going off grid and cutting that umbilical cord that keeps you a slave to corporations and may/will be used against you to control your lifestyle. -LaMar
Youre too pessimistic. Look to Seattle WA as the antithesis to your beliefs. For several years running it’s the fastest growing and strongest housing market bar none in the entire nation…with a large contingent of tiny house dwellers. Taxes are outrageous in and around Seattle. Smaller footprint homes are a way to reduce the tax burden for home owners. It may not be YOUR lifestyle, but it is for a surprisingly larger demographic. Keep in mind the old saying, ‘too each their own.’
You should probably re-read what I said Art: ” I think you will see some states embrace the movement that have a housing shortage for the short term but once it starts cutting into profits you may see even tougher regs trying to stop the movement.”
Seattle is exactly the state I am talking about that has a shortage of affordable housing but that is a temporary situation and there is already a lot of backlash from housing developers in that area.
As for the rest of your comment I live in a 14×14 cabin and if you search this website you will see many small houses I designed so please do not assume to know my intentions. -LaMar
Didn’t mean to offend you. I spend a great deal of time in and around Seattle as my entire family live thereabouts. I’ve found outlying areas far easier to work with, Skagit & Snohomish in particular. King County land is too expensive in the first place but I’ve stayed in and visited tiny homes in Ballard & Bellevue so somebody’s figured put how to overcome municipal regs.
Admire your living in a 14 x 14 home. I lived once in a similar log cabin for a number of years w/o indoor plumbing no less. Challenging but fun. Even raised my kids in a 450 sq ft home, a public museum at that, built in 1844. Talk about challenges! But what an experience we all shared.
The tiny house movement is in its infancy. Larger, overly expensive municipalities will always be a challenge with their endless politically inspired regs and under the table payoffs. New blood in their planning committees are needed and that’s a grass roots effort
But more than anything positive thoughts from those of us that ARE interested in seeing the movement grow is imperitive. Even our opponents read these boards. The less they see infighting, the better we’ll all be. Good luck fighting city hall, in King County especially.
Well Art here is a suggestion: You can visit my website and click on the client cabins page and see over 20 small off-grid houses and cabins that were built from my designs. I promote land ownership for your houses and I have been designing affordable housing for about 12 years. I have been fighting city hall succesfully and teaching other people how to get around the codes for many years. Just google Simple Solar Homesteading to find my work.- LaMar
My thoughts, too. 45K is not “regular” for a tiny house. Or at least it shouldn’t be.
Combine that with the price of the land to put it on, and there’s no advantage at all.
Many ‘done for you’ tiny homes (ones that are 18′ to 24′) will easily cost $45k with materials + labor. Do the labor yourself (DIY) and you can cut the price in half.
I disagree with the amount of money it may cost to build a tiny home. It WILL cost 45,000 if you insist on a completion date within a few short weeks. What people don’t realize is time is their friend. If you realign priorities and make low cost your first priority; you can build a tiny home for a fraction of that figure. If you put rapid construction at the top of your priority list it will cost you.
I did the inside of a bus with used material, done over time, around 1,800. That was insulation sheeting for the inside,
REAL hardwood flooring, 12V & 110V wiring. The diesel bus cost 1,500. I’ve got a living area on a rolling chassis that is 160 sq. ft. I can drive and part almost anywhere for a total cost of 3,300. That is 1/10th the cost you are referring to above. The key is patience and creativity; two things that are hard to buy.
Just a follow
Udahman! The thought of a snub nose Blue Bird or Thomas bus or even a stepvan/box trucks is what I’m considering too. Don’t like the diesel of the bus, 9 mpg tops, so if I want gas it has to be an older bus but there are 10’s of thousands of used buses alone available for CHEAP. Thought about converting to propane and altho it’s half the cost, the mileage is cut in half too. Most already are air conditioned. Buses have higher clearance, most are automatic trannies, no special CDL license to drive if you declare it an RV. Old bowling lane or basketball floor reclaims are perfect for the flooring. Lots to consider to keep the cost low, but easily achieved
The follow should be here.
I am building a tiny home myself, 27ft. I hear of people building a tiny house on wheels and spending unimaginable amounts of money, like 40-60K. I guess building materials are priced outrageously in these other states. I am in midwest and I cant figure out how people come up with these numbers. I do see solar systems on some. I could build a lot of tiny houses for what some have paid. If I had to spend over a few thousand I would just buy regular frame house somewhere. I have advantage doing it myself and I think this is where tiny house stands apart. Its just for the right people with the right situation and timing in life. We recently checked into a secure gated rv park to put out tiny house and they are wanting 500 per month. Well, I can rent apt or buy home that cheap. If it weren’t for it being mobile I might not even build one. We are planning on taking it some places too.
Linda Pond could you please reach out and contact with me? I have questions for you. Alex perhaps you could help if needed.?
When I was a kid the area we lived in had a lot of old mansions formerly owned by single rich families that had been converted into apartments. Some were done really cheaply and horribly but most were nice, affordable options. No reason why other ridiculously large houses couldn’t be converted in a similar manner rather than torn down. Our 7 person 4 generation family converted a single family home to have 3 apartments to share between us. If zoning allowed it we’d convert the garage too and get another relative in here.
Alice, what you speak of is becoming more common than people realize. Turning the McMansions of today into multiple family (same family) housing is certainly a viable option and very common in other countries. I think it will be more common here too. Here’s to you and yours for figuring out how to beat the system.
Google ‘tiny house communities’, they’re out there, and all but begging for residents whether your own home or some already in place
Alex, thanks so much for the work you do to share information about tiny houses. I learn something new every time you post Tiny House Talk. It’s great to learn about all the different kinds of tiny house solutions.
Thanks Emily I appreciate that!
Alex, this is an especially good subject. Not only does it get the juices flowing; it is of the utmost importance during a time when cities are widening there limits (and tax bases) as well as strengthening the already stringent building covenants. Some of them are positively shackling.
I love what you say, but is there research to back this up? Any links to research would be helpful.
I used Facebook to guesstimate the figures of people who are interested in tiny living by just looking up popular Facebook Pages and adding up the Likes so the ‘data’ is mostly from Facebook.
Thanks Alex, I am an Occupational Therapy student who is designing a research project aro9nd tiny houses on wheels and ‘aging in place’. Thus the question on research. Keep me in mind if you ever come across anything that might help me with my research. I love the movement and believe it is an answer to many peoples needs.
Lisa, hello! I’m an Occupational Therapy student interested in researching the effects of tiny house communities on senior populations as well. I’m currently creating a capstone project on this topic and would love to talk with you about your findings and if you are continuing work in this arena. If you’re interested, you can email me at [email protected]. Thanks! -Alex
The prices on these tiny houses are crazy…someone is making a pile of cash of these …seems great on the selling side. and isn’t the tiny home on wheels a homemade trailer ..I remember when it was called camping. get a vintage Airstream or Spartan.( imho)