Tiny homes movement a trend or a lifestyle?

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The tiny home movement seemed to come out of nowhere, inspiring new and seasoned homeowners alike to invest in smaller-than-usual homes to save money, spare environmental damage, or both. For the past several years, more and more people have adopted the “tiny home” mentality, striving to shrink their living space and living needs, but will this trend continue indefinitely for the future? Or is this just a passing trend?

Motivations for the Tiny Home Movement

Let’s start by looking at some of the root causes of the tiny home movement, and what motivates people to pursue it:

  • Tiny homes are less environmentally impactful than their bigger counterparts. A smaller size means they can be built using fewer materials, which means they take less from the environment. They’re also easier to heat and cool, which means they’ll consume less energy. The carbon footprint of a tiny home is far smaller overall, and they’re easier to maintain.
  • Some people simply like tiny houses for their designs. Working with a smaller space means you have to get more creative in your floorplans, and every piece of furniture or decoration you include in the home is significant. Designing a tiny home, inside and out, grants you significant creative flexibility, and could possibly fall in line with your aesthetic preferences more than a full-sized home.
  • Tiny homes have gotten popular in part because they’re cheaper and easier to build. If a traditionally sized family home is too expensive for your budget, or if you’re stuck in an endless cycle of renting, a tiny home could be an affordable alternative. Depending on where you build, the materials you use, and the overall quality of the architecture, tiny houses range in cost from $10,000 to $180,000, making them approachable for almost anyone.
  • A de-emphasis on materialism.The millennial generation has also taken steps away from materialism, decreasing priorities of acquiring more, bigger, or better possessions. Young people are more likely to want to live a good, comfortable life than to acquire as many things as possible, so they’re less inclined to buy a big house than their parents or grandparents were.

Retention Factors

There are several factors that could sustain the movement indefinitely, or even accelerate its reach and power:

  • 3D printing. 3D printing has the power to revolutionize the construction industry, with advanced 3D printers capable of building a tiny house in less than a day, and for less than $10,000. More advanced architectural projects would require more resources, but for now, 3D printers could easily create affordable living for the majority of the world’s population in record time. As 3D printing gets even more efficient, the tiny home movement will likely grow.
  • Each tiny house is designed to have lasting power, capable of existing undeterred for decades, if not a century or more. Over time, the supply of tiny homes will increase, encouraging more people to buy and live in them, and possibly fostering the development of full tiny home neighborhoods.
  • New opportunities.There’s also no shortage of opportunities for tiny home construction and development. They serve as viable options for homeowners in the developed world, but in the developing world, there’s an even higher demand for affordable, reasonable housing. With the right funding and a replicable process, tiny houses could improve quality of life for millions, if not billions around the globe—which represents an enormous untapped market.

Abandonment Factors

However, there are some factors that could decelerate its growth, or cause people to abandon the movement:

  • “Fad”ish If you’re not actively living a “tiny home” lifestyle, you probably see tiny houses as a fad. Interest in tiny homes may be based more on their novelty than their true practicality, and if that’s the case, it’s only a matter of time before interest dies down.
  • A resurgence of materialism.Generational values tend to occur in cycles. Each new generation is usually politically and culturally distinct from the last. This generation opposes materialism in stark contrast to the generations of materialism that came before, so it’s entirely possible that the next generation will come with a surge of materialism.
  • Frugal, environmentally friendly houses.Many of the benefits of tiny homes can be achieved with full-sized homes as well. If a traditional house can be made environmentally friendly and for an affordable rate, the advantages of a tiny home would start to diminish.

It’s unlikely that the tiny home movement will disappear in the next few years, especially with homeowners staking so much on building and living in their tiny spaces, but the long-term future of the tiny home movement is uncertain. There are enough push and pull factors to justify the continuation or cessation of the movement after a few more years of development.

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