The Tiny House Movement

Every once in a while, I discover a new obsession when it comes to buying, keeping, and organizing stuff. If you are a regular reader, you will know that I discovered The Minimalists a couple of years ago and have been a faithful follower of the movement ever since. I continue to embrace minimalism in my own life as best I can. In fact, I recently moved from my 3-bedroom home to a 600-square-foot apartment! I genuinely believe that the easiest path to a life of greater simplicity is through having less stuff in my life – I love it! I have also discovered a group of people who have embraced the Tiny House Movement.

Tiny white house with windows alone it a grassy field representing the tiny house movement
Image by iStockphoto.

The coolest thing is that we have a group of like-minded people right here in Nova Scotia. I have been hearing rumblings of “tiny” or “micro” in the real estate market in larger cities. Developers are building micro condos to make downtown living more affordable to more people, no matter how tiny it might be. And younger people are looking at building a tiny house to afford to buy their first home. Others who embrace tiny house living crave the freedom of life with very few possessions.

About Tiny Houses

Defining what qualifies as a tiny house is not as simple as you think. However, my sources tell me anything under 350 square feet qualifies, and anything over 300 square feet is considered large by tiny house standards. (Yes, I did say 350, not 1350!) The average size of a tiny house is about 285 square feet. If you do the math, the dimensions are approximately 8 feet wide and 35 feet long.

One of the main struggles for this movement is building code requirements. In most provinces and states, a house must be a minimum size to be classified as a permanent structure. Halifax’s minimum requirement is 900 square feet (huge by tiny house standards). Therefore, to build a tiny house, it has to qualify as a recreational vehicle (RV). So you have to build it on a platform with wheels so you can move it. And you’re technically not allowed to live in your tiny house in the winter because it’s an RV. Do you get where I’m going with this?

I’m told Texas is the only state with tiny-house communities right now. Other tiny house villages are starting to spring up in California and Washington, and plans are in the works in British Columbia. The movement is very slow as residents must petition the municipality and pay to change zoning laws, so they can build their miniature abode. Most of the local Halifax Tiny House Movement members seem to be do-it-yourselfers. They purchase building plans online, and some have designed their own plans. I found a bunch of builders across North America who offer plans for sale and are offering tiny house building as a specialty if you don’t want to do it yourself.

Could You Do It?

Could you live in a tiny house? I’m not sure I could. After watching a few tiny house videos, I estimate I could probably manage to share a minimum of about 500 square feet with another person, but that would be pushing it. You certainly have to embrace the Minimalist movement before you even think about embracing the Tiny House Movement. Check out home and garden TV shows and magazines for more details about tiny houses. I know, one more reason to be even more obsessed!

Could you live in less than 350 square feet? Would you be willing to live in a tiny house? What would you need to do to make the move?

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