Tiny House, Tiny Living, The Tiny Life.

State of the Tiny House Union – 2015

state-of-the-tiny-house-union

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.

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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.

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Household Income

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

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Data source: http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/cpstables/032015/hhinc/hinc01_1.xls

Education

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

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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

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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.

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I think it also goes to show that one of my most popular videos is this video about finding land and the most popular tiny house ebook on the entire internet is on building codes and zoning

 

Your Turn!

  • What other trends did you see in 2015?
  • What do you look forward to in 2016 for tiny houses?
4 Comments
  1. My THOW would be long, between 32 and 36 feet long. I would have a room on the end on the main floor, semi-dedicated to a room for cat rescue, but also have a murphy bed in it for when it is needed. I would also have my own cats who would have free range of the rest of the house. As I am disabled, I would need real stairs, with storage. Privacy in one extended loft by having a mini closet and door available. The bed would be in an enclosure which would have more storage space by doors that open vertically rather than horizontally, that I could kneel on without breaking through. The stairs would serve double duty by having storage below them and in them, likely for pantry type stuff.

  2. Thank you so much for the interesting statistics from the Tiny House survey. I did not fill out the survey, so I will add my info now. I am a single Mom with 2 children, college educated, and building a 26 foot Tiny House with a little help from my friends. I bought a 6 acre property, and offer Tiny House Camping to people who want to visit lovely Washington State!

  3. Hi Ryan (and team),

    Thank you for conducting this survey. It is exciting and insightful! I enjoy helping the movement grow throughout the U.S. We are in Texas. I have a couple of questions for clarification re: the survey. Thank you!

    1. For the individuals who participated in the 2015 Survey are they already living in a tiny home? Or, are they a mix of people living tiny and others who want to live tiny?

    2. Location: Do you have more data on a regional breakdown within the U.S.?

  4. I am really hoping for a tiny house community in the Matthews/Mint Hill, North Carolina area. Lots of land available, and it is so close to Charlotte. Would love to know if any headway has been made with zoning in the Charlotte area. I really want to downsize, but all the smaller houses are located in dangerous areas of the city.

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