Today, we’re introducing one of our new speakers for the upcoming 2016 Tiny House Conference: Lora Higgins! Lora runs TheTinyHouseTeacher.com and helps people transition to living the tiny life. If you went to the Tiny House Conference last year, you may remember her as one of our sponsors. We’re so excited to have her back on board this year as both a sponsor and a speaker. She’ll be giving a speaker session called Downsizing Your Space and Life, an essential component of preparing for tiny house living. Not to mention, you’ll get to see her tiny house at the conference too!
I thought it would be fun to put together a “State of the Tiny House Union” 2015 edition! So looking back at 2015 here are some of the things I’ve noticed, lessons I’ve learned and trends I’ve seen.
Results From The 2015 Tiny House Survey
In early 2015 we started getting the word out about the Tiny House Survey, which is the single largest census for the tiny house movement. We had last done a survey in 2013 and it was clear that a lot had changed with our tiny little movement, so we launched a new survey. This time around we learned a lot from the first survey and improved it a ton, this time we were able to capture a lot more really meaningful data that was designed to answer some very important questions about the tiny house movement. It is important to note that we of course couldn’t survey everyone in the movement and our survey wasn’t perfect, but we were able to get a large enough sample size (just shy of 2,000) to clearly understand trends.
More Female Tiny Housers
In 2013, the last time we conducted the Tiny House Survey, women lead the movement accounting for 52%, in the 2015 survey we saw a dramatic increase to 64.1% of the movement being made up of women. This is particularly interesting because most tiny house folks want to build their own tiny house, meaning we have a lot of women builders, it is in stark contrast to the construction industry that is high nineties percentile for men.
Age And Locations Stay About The Same
Overall we saw very little difference in change (+/- 1%) with the tiny house community when it came to the make up of our movement when it comes to age and location.
I wasn’t able to compare 2013’s survey data with 2015’s data because our scales were different, but as a whole, it seems that tiny houser’s income is normalizing more to US patterns. In 2013 we saw that tiny housers were typically more affluent by a good margin, but in 2015’s data we are seeing income following standard patterns for the USA.
Household income for 2015 survey
Data source: http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/cpstables/032015/hhinc/hinc01_1.xls
As a whole, tiny house people are more likely to hold a college degree or a graduate (advanced) degree that the average person in the US. College degree attainment for the US is 34% while 35.2% of tiny house people hold a degree. For advanced degrees like a graduate degree, Master’s etc. 5% of US citizen have graduated from such a program, while tiny house people are more than three times more likely to have graduated at 19%. Data source: https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=27
The Rise Of The McMini Mansions
Over the past year we’ve begun to see tiny houses that are pushing the limits of what you can fit on a trailer. Triple axles and 30+ foot tiny houses are becoming more the norm in the tiny house movement. A large tiny home used to be around 24 feet, but I’ve seen 32 footers with huge pop outs and even 34 foot tiny houses.
Part of me wonders why all of a sudden are we seeing these large homes being built. Is it because more designs are coming out, is it people want more space, or is it something else? I’ve noticed on TV show builds and custom ordered pro built homes seem to fall in the larger category, while I see more DIYers tend to stick with the smaller homes; this is, however, anecdotal at best.
What does this mean? What does this say? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Part of me wonders if your mentality, which you gain working for a year plus on a build like most DIYers, actually changes. I know when I first started my build, I knew I wanted a tiny and I thought it was right, but during my lengthy build something shifted for me quite dramatically. It simply took time to sink in, to reprogram old consumerist habits, and shift my thinking. The verbiage of talking to some (not all) of the larger tiny homes seems to be how to jam a large house’s function into a small package, not examining what must be cut out to simplify.
When I talk about downsizing material possessions, I often say “it’s not about organizing what you have to fit a small space, but reducing the things which you must then organize to begin with.” It gives me pause when I see these McMini Mansions because I’m not sure the tough internal mental work has been done; that said, I don’t know every facet of the dynamics for each person, so I do put a large asterisk here.
TV Shows Galore
If I had a dollar every time that a studio emailed me begging me to promote their show, casting calls or the like, I’d be rich. Tiny House Nation, Tiny House Hunters, Tiny House Builders, Tiny House, Big Living, and Tree-house Masters. The ironic thing is, I haven’t had cable TV for over a decade now! I remember me and the other bloggers trying to find someone with cable so we could see the first show and we ended up giving up because none of us did.
All that said, the shows have brought a lot of awareness to tiny houses. It is astounding how much general public awareness there is about tiny houses.
Tiny House Fight For Their Rights
We are beginning to see a lot of tiny houses built and as a results, more legal battles where tiny housers work to secure a legal existence in their own community. Sarah Hastings has been a recent tiny houser to take her house to the city and push for acceptance. We’ve also seen some cities allow tiny houses to slide by, Portland has been allowing tiny houses to flourish while still not coming out and fully endorsing or legalizing them yet.
People REALLY Want Tiny House Communities
There are a ton of folks looking for places to park their future tiny houses, but more specifically people want to do so in communities. Countless community layouts have been proposed and even some folks have tried to develop their own communities. There are some folks that have found parking in trailer parks etc. Legal barriers still exist, but some headway has been made.
There are two communities that exist that have actually moved from idea to reality an import note, I think all these communities are full and may not be open to public tours: The community of the Tacks of Tiny Tack House, Sean of Unboxed and Baliey of Little House Big Adventures. The second community is Lina Menard‘s tiny house community which I’ve had the good fortune to meet all of them and tour their community in Portland.
Finding A Place To Park & Building Codes/Zoning
Tiny Housers still face a lot of challenges when it comes to finding a place to park and making it legal. There is a lot of misnomers around building codes and zoning. There is a huge percentage (almost 34%) of people in the tiny house movement who report that the legal ambiguity of tiny houses hold them back from going tiny.
Last week, I voyaged to the far-off land of Las Vegas to speak at the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show 2016. The kind folks at the National Kitchen and Bath Association, who were hosting the event, asked me to discuss luxury elements in small kitchens and baths, using tiny houses as a lens into the downsizing trend. It was a trip of firsts: my first solo trip ever, my first time to Vegas, my first industry conference, and my first big industry speaking engagement. Needless to say, it was very exciting. Follow me, Internet, as I recount my adventure!
I had a layover in Salt Lake City, and it was my first time seeing the snow-capped Rockies. I snapped this photo of a river of clouds right before our landing.
I’ve arrived! The airport was as full of slot machines and liquor stores as one might expect.
The KBIS folks did not skimp on accommodations! This is a picture of me feeling perfectly at home and not awkward at all in a very luxurious hotel room at the Encore. In all seriousness, the hotel was great and I had a lovely stay.
Here’s a panoramic view of the entrance to the Encore, as viewed from the cab line. The weather wasn’t that great that day – 46 degrees and rainy. Right after I landed, the guy next to me on the plane looked out the window and said, “Are we in Las Vegas or Bangor, Maine?”
It’s the big day! I got a beautiful view of the Wynn, the Encore’s sister hotel, from my room. The weather turned out beautifully, too.
KBIS 2016! This event was mind-bogglingly large. My cab driver told me that he heard there were 160,000 people attending the conference. Whether or not that number is exact, it’s clear that KBIS does not mess around.
Here’s a glimpse into the madness. This was only one hall at the convention center, and it was packed to the gills with booths of all kinds.
This is the NKBA Center Stage, where I gave my talk on Wednesday afternoon. I’d guess there were between 75 and 85 people who listened to my session. People came up afterward to tell me they enjoyed it and asked me great questions. It’s always fun to talk shop with industry folks! And no, that is not a photo of me on the stage – I didn’t transform into 5 people. I am in fact only one person.
One of the coolest things about the speaker sessions was an artist who illustrated each talk in real time, as it was happening. Here’s my talk, cartoonified!
Here’s the core of my talk: small is here to stay, and adding beautiful elements is important to making your home feel joyful – no matter its size!
After my talk, I traded my high heels for sneakers and explored the expo. Gorgeous appliances and hardware could be found everywhere. I love the satin brass shower fixtures above.
Corbelbot says hello!
This dapper-looking gentleman was demonstrating an app-responsive refrigerator. Fancy!
I fell hard for this super tiny, retro-styled enameled cast iron stove. Perhaps this will make it into my tiny house someday!
I also came face to face with what might be the cutest bathtub ever.
Drawer pulls for days! If you live in a tiny house, you better make sure that all your hardware choices are easy to use and nice to look at. It’s all in the details!
I wanted to run around in this shower display at the Delta booth, but I have a feeling they wouldn’t have been too happy with me.
Anyone else a fan of the HGTV Dream Home? This was one of the highlights of my year when I was a kid. No, I’m not kidding.
After a crazy day at KBIS, it was time to catch my flights back home. Catch you later, Vegas! I can’t wait to come back and explore more someday.
Here’s a very flattering selfie of me looking unenthused about my impending red-eye flight.
One of the highlights of the whole trip was my 11:15 PM takeoff over Las Vegas all lit up at night. It was honestly one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen. I wish this photo could do it justice!
I had a fantastic time attending KBIS 2016 and representing The Tiny Life. I met great folks, saw some very beautiful and innovative kitchen and bath designs, and got to experience Las Vegas for the first time. I want to thank the wonderful folks at the NKBA for this fantastic opportunity. I’m so glad I got to share the tiny house movement with a new audience!
How do you plan to make your tiny house kitchen or bathroom luxurious?
What are some of your favorite tourist spots in Las Vegas? (I want to know for my next trip! ;D )
Ethan Waldman is one of our new speakers for the 2016 Tiny House Conference. We’re excited to have him on board! Check out the videos below to hear more about his speaker sessions: Lifestyle Design and Tiny House Utilities. Learn more about the conference by clicking here.
Now that it’s 2016, the Tiny House Conference is officially right around the corner. The conference will be even bigger and better as it moves into its third year. It will take place in Asheville, North Carolina, April 2-3. We’re having a blast organizing the event and planning out all the great features and special extras we have in store for you guys.
This year we’re bringing back Andrew Morrison, tiny house designer and builder extraordinaire. Andrew is one of the big movers and shakers of the tiny house world right now. In addition to offering resources to tiny house builders, he teaches strawbale building workshops and travels the world to give talks about the tiny lifestyle.