I remember the moment I knew tiny houses were right for me: when I first got to see a tiny house in person. You see these amazing photos and great video tours online, but nothing compares to walking into a tiny house in real life.
The best part of running the Tiny House Conference is seeing that look on hundreds of faces as our community comes together to tour a ton of tiny houses in person. The feeling of seeing so many houses is pretty magical.
Each year we have a lot of houses at the Conference. This year we’ve confirmed 8 houses with many more soon to be added. With each of these houses we have their builder/owners on hand to answer all your questions. Since each house is as unique as its owner, you get to see a huge variety to help you figure out what works and what doesn’t work for you as you design your own tiny house.
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.
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.
It’s officially 2016 and with that, many folks are looking forward to this new year and planning what they want to do. I’ve written a lot about this topic before. I’ve shared my goals in years past and even written how goals and New Year’s Resolutions aren’t effective. You can read some of the older posts here on goals. This year it isn’t just me here at The Tiny Life, so Amy and I each wrote a bit for this post and shared it below.
I have to be honest, this year I have been struggling a lot with what the future looks like for me. I have concrete things I want to do, but they don’t feel like lofty goals that I must strive for, but just something that I need to put in the work for; work that I find interesting, fun, and achievable, but nothing that is going to push me to my limits. I’m in a very good place with my tiny house, with my career, with the relationships that I have, and with other important parts of my life, but there is something I just can’t quite put my finger on.
Tiny houses force you to ask some tough questions and the answers are often complex, open-ended, or spur larger questions. Tiny living leads you down a road of introspection and spurs existential questions. When I think about two years from now or five years from now, I don’t really know what else I want to do and what I do now, I quite like.
Perhaps I’m circling the root problem with what many call “achievement culture,” which is the idea that we have to always be chasing the next shiny thing, to always do more, do better, and do bigger. Maybe what I need to consider is not what I want to do, but instead focus on how to be content with what is. Writing this makes me think of this story:
The truth is, the happiest I’ve ever been in my life was during the times when I was most grateful. I also learned a valuable lesson: happiness is a hard won thing that comes from within when you’re willing to do the work. Barring having a home, food, and health, you can’t buy happiness.
So with that in mind I have come up with a few things I want to foster in my life for 2016. They’re a little vague at this point because I feel like I’m only touching the soft edges of what is a deeper truth, one that is within me, but I haven’t fully brought to light.
My Goals for 2016:
Learn something totally new, try a new hobby or dig into something complex
Take a class, go to a conference, workshop or other learning event
Seek out situations outside my comfort zone
Talk more to you, my readers
Test things to foster gratitude
Do more trips with friends and family
Read a book on stoicism
Book time with no phone or internet, preferably in the woods
My Long-Term Goals:
Sail from Florida to Mexico, arriving to see the Giant Sea Ray migration
Do a river boat tour down the Danube or Rhine
Go see the fall colors in New England
Go on the Trans Siberian Railroad in luxury class
Learn to play the harmonica
Continue being self-employed
Pay for my next car with cash
I love this time of year, because I get to do two of my favorite things at once: set goals and make lists. My friends can attest to how much I love New Year’s resolutions – last January 1st, I holed up in my apartment and set goals the entire day, and no one saw me leave my room until dinner time.
Last year was also my first time taking a new approach to goal-setting. I followed Chris Guillebeau’s method of conducting your own annual review, which you can learn more about here. It helped me analyze what went well and what didn’t in 2014, and helped me chart the course toward a more productive 2015.
I didn’t accomplish everything on my list, but in my defense, I had one heck of a whirlwind year. From an insane winter in Boston, to the Tiny House Conference in Portland, to moving down to Charlotte and starting a new life, I’ve learned how to recognize opportunities when they arise – and more importantly, how to grab onto them when they do!
This year had a lot of ups and downs, and I had to grow and adapt very quickly. I like to tell people that it’s been a crash course in “adulting,” but it has certainly changed me for the better. After a year and a half of living in transition after graduating college, I feel lucky that I have a new city to call home and put down some roots. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for me.
We officially have 1,000 posts on The Tiny Life! It’s crazy to think that I’ve done a thousand posts on this blog that I started six and a half years ago. So today I wanted to look back to the start of The Tiny Life and share some thoughts about what’s next.
I started back in 2009 with a laptop and a book on how to code HTML. I had this thing called WordPress, but I didn’t really “get it”. I had no money at the time and spent $120 for a year of website hosting just so I could try it. This is what the site looked like back then during the first month I started:
We’ve grown a lot since then: a staff of two, a small army of contractors and a huge base of amazing readers. I wrote the top selling tiny house book in 2014 and 2015, launched our conference several years ago, started a podcast, wrote several ebooks, and traveled all around the world talking about tiny houses. We’ve had the good fortune of being featured by The New York Times, Bloomberg, TreeHugger, Mother Earth News, NPR, BBC, ABC, NBC, Popular Science, Apartment Therapy, Forbes, and countless others.
What’s more, we’ve met so many of you! At the Tiny House Conference, at other events, and by chance. I say this every time, but it’s true: tiny house people are just awesome!
Moving forward we have a lot going on. We’re currently hiring a video producer, so if you know someone who might be a good fit, let them know! We of course have the Tiny House Conference coming up in April 2-3 in Asheville for 2016. Our next print book is coming out this spring which we are very excited about. Finally we have a lot of projects coming out this year that we aren’t quite ready to talk about yet, but have been in the works for a few months now.
What has been your favorite post from The Tiny Life?