The tiny house revolution unpacked

Private Property South Africa
Jackie Gray-Parker

Internationally, many are choosing to live in small homes for environmental and financial reasons. Will the trend reach South Africa? Against the backdrop of increasingly complicated and expensive lifestyles, many are choosing to join what has been dubbed the ‘tiny house movement’ and downsize to radically smaller homes.

According to ‘tinyhousetalk.com’ the tiny house movement is a growing real estate trend where people are choosing to live simply in small homes, many of which are mobile. The movement has seemingly arisen from a desire to be more conscious of purchasing decisions; make less of an impact on the environment and find meaning in day to day living. Before you dismiss that as ‘hippie’ speak, there are also sound financial reasons behind the trend which is fast gaining in popularity.

Increasingly, people want to live unencumbered by the debt associated with the purchase of large quantities of superfluous household goods and mortgages which take years to pay off. By tapping into the tiny house movement, people can largely sidestep such financial obligations, allowing them to live more simply and freely.

By ‘definition’, tiny houses measure between approximately 6 and 37 metres and small houses measure between approximately 37 and 157 metres. This is admittedly small by many people’s standards and many would balk at living within such small surrounds. That said, for many, the associated cost benefits far outweigh the space constraints.

According to tinyhousetalk.com, a relatively “high end” tiny home on wheels will set you back between $25 000 to $30 000 or roughly R380 000 to R450 000 which equates to an entry level property in South Africa. Ready-made tiny homes typically cost between $27 000 and $68 000 or R410 000 and R1 034 827 respectively. When weighed up against the average property price both locally and abroad as well as the number of years it takes to pay off, it quickly becomes clear why the tiny house movement has taken off.

Of course there are other purported benefits to living in tiny houses. According to tinyhousetalk.com, tiny and small houses are cosy, easy to clean and maintain and cost far less to run every month. Tiny houses fitted on wheels also open up opportunities to travel affordably without ever really leaving home.

In addition to these and several other benefits of a somewhat bohemian nature, tiny homes could also potentially catalyse a shift towards affordable housing solutions for couples and small families. Depending on the nature of their manufacture, tiny homes are quick to assemble and roll out which could make them a real contender in the affordable housing market.

That said, there are of course draw backs to such homes. They aren’t really conducive to large family living, don’t offer much privacy, can feel restrictive and lack some of the mod cons many people are accustomed to. Whether or not the trend will take off in South Africa remains to be seen but it is a trend worth watching nonetheless.

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