Big dreams come with tiny homes

Brian Hawkins of The Tiny House Movement talks about the significant advantages in store for people who downsize

Brian Hawkins is owner of The Tiny House Movement.

Brian Hawkins
Brian Hawkins

What is the Tiny House Movement?

Hawkins: The Tiny House Movement has been around for more than a decade, but it’s really taken hold the last three years. It’s become much more mainstream with the help of TV shows on HGTV, Netflix and the DIY network.

The movement is really about two things: minimalism and financial responsibility. People are looking to downsize because they’re looking to get rid of the clutter in their lives and they’re sick of paying high prices to live in 1,500 square feet.

How small of a home can people realistically live in?

Hawkins: I love this question because it’s all relative, right?

The typical definition of a ‘tiny home” is something 400 square feet or smaller. The average tiny home on wheels is about 240 square feet and people are living in that full time!

We’ve built homes for families of five that are 320 square feet and that home has a main level bedroom and two lofts. We’ve also built a 400-square-foot tiny home on wheels with one bedroom for a couple.

It’s really relative to what works for you and your family.

Why is this movement gaining popularity?

Hawkins: I think this movement is gaining popularity for a couple reasons.

People are starting to realize the importance of letting go of their possessions and having more experiences than material things. Living in a smaller space helps you focus on what you really need in order to live. It also helps you understand you don’t need as much to survive as you thought. You can still have all the electronics and smart home devices you need in today’s society, but not all the other clutter that typically comes with a ‘normal’ size home.

The other big reason is the affordability of tiny homes. Housing prices have gone through the roof and people are finding they can live in a tiny home for a lot less than the average apartment, condo or house.

Who typically looks to live in tiny homes?

Hawkins: This is another great question because when I first got involved with tiny homes I wouldn’t have thought the demographics would be what they are. It’s two different ends of the spectrum.

The first group is 18 to 25 and just finishing school. They’re looking for flexibility and don’t want to be tied down to one location or the long-term commitment of a 30-year mortgage.

The second group are the baby boomers. They want to get rid of the maintenance on the big home, the yard work and they want to travel. Having a tiny home on wheels allows you to take your home with you on vacation. Or if you have a tiny home on a foundation, the monthly savings allows you more money to spend on travel.

The family segment is starting to grow but the other two are much bigger segments right now.

Do you see the trend growing and if so, why?

Hawkins: The trend has been growing and will definitely continue to grow!

A lot of people thought that minimalism was a fad and that tiny homes would fizzle out, but the opposite has happened. People have found a lot of reasons to ‘go tiny’ and as the concern for affordable housing continues to be an issue, tiny homes will be front and centre to give people options.

As more and more tiny home communities pop up and the financing options become more available, this market will not only grow, but it will explode!

– Mario Toneguzzi

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