Big binging on Tiny House Nation

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I find the tiny house phenomenon really interesting. In between 1950 and today, average new house sizes increased almost two and half times. And it wasn’t because there were more people expected to live in the house - the opposite, in fact, with space per person increasing almost five times. It was largely down to developers realizing it cost them less to build the extra square footage than they could charge for it.

So now we’ve got a bunch of oppressively large and increasingly unaffordable houses people are reacting to, wanting something on a scale/price they can cope with. I wonder, though, how many people don’t think it through, how much is an over-reaction and they end up, in short order, moving into something bigger or expanding what they have. (And how many people will want to do that, but can’t afford it.) The phenomenon seems new enough that I haven’t seen anyone track how people get on with their tiny homes, just a lot of stories about people having problems with tiny homes and/or moving on.


Eh - rent a studio apartment or buy a used travel trailer for $10 grand.


Trailer Trash were Tiny House pioneers.

When I read “binging” in the headline, my first thought was that somebody was trying to popularize Microsoft’s search engine a-la googling.


I couldn’t even grok that far. @garethb2 try ‘bingeing’.

how many of them are still in those houses a year later, five years later?

Not many if they have kids in the interim. A couple can get away with living with an infant in 350SQF or less, but sooner or later they’re going to need more room.

That’s not to say they have to move into a 2000SQF+ house, though. A small family can live nicely in 800SQF.

How much of this movement is a faddish desire for more simplicity and a hop off the middle class treadmill and how much of it is a genuine, long-term and sustainable lifestyle change?

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to downsize, and some of the space-savings ideas you see in these videos are really nifty. Getting away from the expectation that middle-class success = living in a McMansion is a good thing.

The issue, as I’ve noted in other topics on tiny houses, is that most of the people “hopping off the middle-class treadmill” in these videos are using large amounts of undiscussed or glossed-over financial and social capital unavailable to even most middle-class people. The tiny houses are often put up on land owned by a family member or a friend, are often built with donated expertise and materials, and the future occupants have time to spend on the project because, for one reason or another, they don’t have to work a full-time job.

The unfortunate term aside, you’re right that there’s a classist element to this tiny house movement. As @KathyPartdeux also notes, there are other, less designer and twee ways for people to live in and equip a small space if they want or need to do so. I’d love to see some of the space-saving innovations incorporated into new affordable housing rental units by developers.


Both spellings are acceptable.


I am Trailer Trash. It’s a family tradition for at least four generations so far. Sure, not-too-trashy trailers may be called “manufactured homes” but a single-wide modular still sports axles. “You may be trailer trash if your house has wheels and your truck doesn’t.”


Apparently not to some. And not if, as a writer, you wish to avoid ambiguity or confusion. Hence my suggestion that you try ‘bingeing’.

But you bing if you must, I’ll be the one bingeing on binge. :wink:

ETA Singe/singing? No: sing/singing, singe/singeing.


Anyone who likes the tiny homes ethos but a bit wackier, should try to get to see George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces. There’s some amazing ingenuity in there. And some small spaces made out of the strangest things. Each programme sees 2 or 3 builds and each series sees George, and his mate Will, build something extraordinary.

I believe some of them may be on YT. He’s been doing it for years, so bingeing on it could take many days, if you manage to get access to them all.

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I lived comfortably in a 400 sq foot, 1 bedroom apartment for 20 years, in NYC. It was long and narrow, with windows along the long side, and it was nicely laid out, with no wasted space. I enjoyed it a lot.

When you look at average home size, the U.S.A. is at the big end of the range, with lots of people living in McMansions now, and the British are towards the small end of the range - most people there still live in small houses and apartments. They don’t seem to be less happy than Americans.

It’s good to see more Americans down-sizing - a small house or apartment takes less energy, is easier to clean, and can be very comfortable. Truly tiny houses are more difficult to live in - but a place that’s just small is easy.

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I found the biggest problem of the tiny house to be this: where do you put it? I recall one article a few years back, the woman was renting a pad in a mobile home park for $900/ month, or roughly $50/ month more than my apartment which also had the benefits of my landlord being responsible for maintenance, and of course more space.

I think there could be a bit more of the sort of thinking that goes into tiny homes in apartment and condo design to make better use of the space, but tiny homes themselves aren’t really all that amazing unless you just happen to own some land that you can put it on.


I grew up in a trailer. Please don’t refer to us as trash. I know no offense was intended, but it does irk me some. Thanks!

EDIT: Never mind, I see that you, too, are trailer trash. Self deprecation is completely fine of course. :slight_smile: All hail the trailer dwellers!


These YouTube clips are mostly geoblocked.

I have such mixed emotions about tiny homes.

They are really cool, and really cute. I kind of want one.

But… I’m in my 40s, my wife is in her 50s, and neither of us are small or lithe. There are already some mobility issues, and the potential for them to get worse. None of the tiny homes I have seen would be good for living in with a cast or a cane or a chair. Many have small doorways. A lot have sleeping areas in lofts which require climbing furniture to get into bed. (Yep, this is my sleeping area! In order to get into it, you just pull out this drawer and put this cutting board on it - no, it locks into place, then climb up onto the counter top, step on the microwave, then climb the rest of the way into this 4’ tall space! I mean, it’s only 3’ at the foot, and the mattress is 8", but… just don’t startle in a dream and sit up! You’ll really knock your head! Don’t just step out of bed either, it’s a 8’ drop with no rail or guard!)

We won’t discuss the things in most tiny homes mistakenly referred to as “bathrooms”…

I am low key horrified at the concept of forcing people into these homes. I am also kind of horrified of relaxing the construction codes because so many of them are written in blood and tears and landlords tend to cut every corner they can at other people’s expenses. If someone wants to live in one, great for them- but I am afraid if they become legal they will become mandatory or the general housing stock will adopt some of the features and become less livable for many people.


Grandma Bea shared her daughter and son-in-law’s trailer after Grandpa died. Before then, my grandparents lived in an old suburban house with a set-back garage of 400 square feet – which they converted into a cottage for a cousin. Garage conversion is another route to tiny houses.


Yeah, it’s a big problem. Many people have insurmountable issues even putting it on their own property - local ordinances often prevent houses being built under a certain number of square feet. I was reading about people who were getting the run-around on whether it was acceptable, decided to build it anyways and then work things out with local authorities - only to be forced out of their homes once built.

What’s surprised me is the cost issue. Mobile home parks are total rip-offs, so there’s no saving money there. The houses themselves are often really expensive. I was reading about a home featured on Tiny House Nation that ended up costing $100,000 more than they expected it to. The expected cost was $160,000. So they spent $260,000 on a tiny house, that was apparently also built around a kit, no less! And that was just the house itself - they were replacing a house that burned down on land they owned. It seems like the only way tiny houses definitely end up cheaper is if you own the land and do all the labor yourself, or at the very least are putting it on a friend’s property and are actively involved in building it.


I’ve watched a bunch of these types of videos and I find the homes fascinating, especially the space saving and multi-purpose design elements. While I don’t think living in 400-600sq ft is in my future, I can totally see myself in a small cottage that incorporates tiny home thinking in the design. In the US we spend a ridiculous percentage of income on housing compared to previous generations.

You reminded me of Jim David, the NSFW comedian who joked about growing up down south in “an upwardly mobile home.”