There’s still a lingering misconception about the kinds of people who find the Tiny Home Movement appealing or even necessary. In neighborhoods all over the country, announcements by neighbors or developers looking to start a Pocket Community or location for others to bring their tiny homes are often met with fear and misconceptions about what the changes could mean for their community. We’ll start with this question; just what kind of person is interested in Tiny Homes, anyway?
Living on a fixed income in America is difficult, especially when medical care and prescriptions can eat away an enormous chunk of a retiree’s limited income. Some feel trapped in homes that are full of things but devoid of family. They might not want to keep up with the maintenance and cleaning of their home or it might have simply become too expensive, yet they might not want to live in an apartment. Healthy seniors might still be active and want to enjoy the countryside, no longer tied down by work or family concerns, yet not ready to join an assisted living retirement community.
Seniors who want to finally travel on a budget or simply reduce their monthly living expenses are often the first ones to weigh in favorably, yet family members also appreciate the movement. Adults with aging parents may have a strong desire to keep their parents as close as possible, researching similar options such as “Granny Pods”. These types of arrangements provide loved ones with independent space but keeps them within easy reach of family assistance when in need.
Retired veterans are an extremely diverse group of people from all walks of life: some of them leave the service for a range of successful careers, yet many have a host of needs that are too often unmet by the VA or the community at large. Some were injured during service or struggle with severe trauma but avoid medical help or treatment due to a combination of expense and/or stigma. A minority of them even end up homeless as a result.
Others miss the sense of brotherhood and shared purpose afforded by a military career and have difficulty holding down a civilian job that can seem unchallenging and unrewarding. Some start to feel isolated or become bored or anxious with being settled in one place, and some need to maintain an outdoor lifestyle to cultivate any peace in their lives. As you can see, veterans have a wide range of reasons to support the independent, low-cost, stripped-down lifestyle of the Tiny Home movement.
Single life is expensive enough but splitting an existing household along with legal fees and the commensurate debt and assets can break people financially, especially if there are children involved. Newly single parents must often start working long hours to support their children, which means time lost spending time with their children. More and more parents are opting for the Tiny Home lifestyle so they can still afford to take their family on trips or even so they can sit in the bleachers for a weekday game.
Divorcees may also have a desire to pay off debt and rebuild their assets or nest egg, sometimes starting over from scratch. Living paycheck to paycheck or moving in with other family members is less attractive than the promise of financial and person freedom Tiny Home life can provide, so in many ways this comes down to weighing quality of life against financial needs.
Whether fresh out of college and already mired in debt, or an employee seeking to move up in their career or start a new one entirely, students must walk down a difficult financial road. Those just entering the workforce may also have a range of other upfront costs, including things like a used car loan for reliable transportation to their new job, basic furnishings for an apartment, professional attire or gear needed for their vocation and much more. Pile on student loan debt and the likelihood that an entry-level position won’t pay enough to cover these expenses, and it becomes easy to see why the Tiny Home Movement is so appealing to young people.
Many simply didn’t know what to study in their late teens and found out after entering the workforce that their interests were elsewhere. For example, an accountant who decided he wanted to pursue an Associate’s Degree in nursing will not only have to pay off his existing student loan debt but knows he will soon accrue more. Some students were growing up during the Great Recession and watched family members lose their homes in the housing crisis, so they tend to be more strategic about their debt-to-income ratio than previous generations. Still others feel they are stuck in dead-end jobs and want to develop trade skills necessary to work in more lucrative careers like HVAC services, but it takes careful planning and money to make the switch.
Idealists and Travelers
This group is also highly diverse, but it includes people who believe in things like sustainability, environmental impact, food quality, quality of life, improving the social structure of communities, artists, and more. Some are avid recyclers and find creative ways to repurpose old housing items or things scavenged during scrap metal recycling or antiquing. Some like the idea of living in more close-knit communities or working together on community gardens that yield food they know was cultivated without use of dangerous chemicals.
Still others want the ability to see the world, to experience new places, cultures, food, music, outdoor activities and much more. This is a group of people that is passionate about quality of life, a significant change in perspective from the baby boomer generation who believed working their lives away would one day pay off in retirement. Fewer and fewer people are seeking to climb the corporate ladder in favor of having more time with family or for recreation.
Our Changing Communities
Developers and Planning Councils have been slow to adjust to the changing landscape of the American community, but the winds of change are blowing across the country. The cost of living has increased so exponentially in some places that residents feel “priced out of the market”, unable to afford to live near their families or place of work, and this affects an even wider swath of Americans than those described above. Some even find that Tiny Home living is too expensive and opt to browse their local car dealership for a van to convert, or they look for old busses or retired box vans to renovate rather than succumb to homelessness.
The affordable housing crisis doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon, therefore, neither is the Tiny Home Movement. Furthermore, the emotional toll of spending day after day unable to afford bills, medication, food, or other pursuits is fueling another crisis in our country: depression. America consistently moves down the charts of global satisfaction polls, and our citizens unfortunately find many unhealthy ways to deal with their angst that keep them locked in poverty, including addiction, gambling, and even suicide. The sooner local town councils, zoning laws and property developers begin to adapt and provide solutions to this crisis, the sooner Americans can truly return to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.