A tiny step into the market...seems to be a grand leap.
With house prices surging, the gap between the have and have-nots is widening. It’s causing a rise in housing stress, rental insecurity, and even homelessness. In Australia, this housing affordability crisis should be further stimulating the tiny house movement, however, it doesn’t seem to be gaining significant traction.
While the tiny house movement has continued to gain popularity online – on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, we’re not seeing real results in the real world. Data from surveys in the tiny house community show the proportion of people living in their tiny homes remains under 20%, which is fewer than 200 people. And that figure hasn’t grown in the last 7 years. These surveys were posted on social media sites, so may not be extrapolated to the whole community, however, many advocates do belong to these groups.
So, what’s stopping people from moving into tiny houses?
There are potentially many reasons holding people back from tiny home living. Some argue it’s due to obstacles like restrictive planning and policies, as well as difficulties getting access to finance and land.
Further research into these obstacles has found that even if they were removed we may still not see an increase in the movement. So, what are the motivations and aspirations of the candidates for tiny homes?
They have 3 main motivations:
• Have access to affordable housing
• Achieve economic freedom
• Live in a more environmentally sustainable way
If you’re looking at the cost per square metre of a tiny home, it can cost 3 times more than standard houses with the most popular sized tiny home around 27 square metres costing upwards of $80,000. This makes it a cheap entry into the market but not necessarily a strong investment in your future.
Taking this into account, it’s likely that many members are more committed to a sustainable lifestyle. There’s also the sense of community that can be created – with some people setting up a shared space with access to vegetable gardens, tool sheds, and community areas.
Reforms would still be welcome
Despite evidence not directly pointing to the lack of interest due to regulation and finance, reforms still could be made to the National Construction Code to ensure homes are structurally sound, energy-efficient, and achieve a minimum bushfire attack level rating. Local councils could also start relaxing restrictions on multiple dwellings on larger properties to encourage communal living.
Will demand ever grow?
Like anything new and a little left of centre, it can sometimes take time to be accepted as the norm. But with companies as large as IKEA now developing tiny homes, we can expect there is some appetite for the movement. It’s not yet confirmed whether these IKEA tiny homes will be shipped to Australia, but if they are, it could definitely be a grand step in normalising tiny house living.