Tiny Homes, Big Ideas
The tiny home movement has sat on the fringes of Australian real estate for years now and offered minimalists the opportunity of home ownership without spending big. In the world of COVID, however, the idea of a tiny home is appealing to more than just those looking to do more with less. Many at-home-workers, downsizers and reuniting families are stepping into tiny homes, but could these miniature mobile dwellings offer more than just a small place to live?
Fabio Paulucci, the Managing Director of Aussie Tiny Houses, says while business was slow during the immediate onset of the pandemic, it soon after took a massive spike. “We started seeing a bit of an increase and now in the past couple of weeks we’ve been bombarded,” he tells. But why would a pandemic lead people to purchase tiny houses? At its core, a tiny home is just that; they typically comprise of one room that fits a bed, kitchenette, dining table, some space for storage and a separate (hopefully) area for the bathroom. Internally it certainly doesn’t offer much in the way of social distancing, but perhaps it can aid pandemic-stricken Australians in other ways.
“There are young singles, young couples and even young families that have been affected financially whose parents or families are now supporting them,” explains Paulucci. Having everybody at home together under the one roof is reassuring but does lead to a lack of space and privacy, and the possibility of getting on each other’s nerves. Many families are looking to tiny homes as the solution. A tiny home can be placed in the backyard, meaning those moving in aren’t pressured with the financial burden of paying rent or purchasing property, yet they still have the comfort of a roof over their head without feeling as though they’re imposing upon their family’s space.
It isn’t all about not-so-empty nesters, though. As well as added financial stress, the COVID-19 pandemic has made working from home a widespread phenomenon. The problem is that not everybody’s homes are perfectly suitable for this kind of operation. Whether it’s a lack of space, an excess of children or simply preferring to keep work and home separate, the idea of an external office in the form of a tiny home is gaining popularity. “We’ve been getting a lot more inquiries about mobile offices, and the reason is because a lot of people are learning they don’t have the right structure to work at home,” Paulucci says, further adding that tiny homes can be used as studies, offices, meeting rooms or virtually anything to do with one’s profession such as audio recording and editing or creative endeavours like painting. While using tiny homes as mobile offices was happening pre-COVID, Paulucci says it’s certainly gained traction.
Images courtesy of Aussie Tiny Houses.
There are also those who may be struggling with financial pressures but either choose not to or aren’t able to head back to the family home. Tiny homes offer a solution here too, in the form of downsizing. Certainly downsizing is no new concept but it doesn’t traditionally involve moving to a home around one eighth the size of the last one. Tiny homes still have to be placed on private land, so this option is a lot more viable for homeowners than renters, since it allows the owners to sell their current property in favour of purchasing or renting a far smaller piece of vacant land upon which to place their new mobile tiny home. This option is particularly popular because the sale of their home leaves them with extra finances to get through this uncertain time.
A lot of these demographics represent the same kinds of people who would normally be interested in tiny homes, but Paulucci highlights the key difference now is urgency. “It’s very similar, we’ve just been finding that it’s getting more traction Also customers are coming in more certain of what they want to do, and they need to do it sooner,” he says. “This situation is pushing people to start making these decisions more quickly.” While this foretells of a situation wherein many are left with tiny homes after their immediate need for them has passed, owners will likely opt to lease them out, giving the tiny home a chance to pay for itself.
Paulucci predicts that many, after experiencing the simplicity and low-maintenance living in tiny homes can offer, will be in no rush to go back to traditional houses. “Once people start moving into this type of lifestyle and this type of new financial scenario, a lot aren’t going to go back into conventional homes,” he believes. If the rising popularity in tiny homes does in fact persist after the pandemic, it’ll be interesting to see whether developers catch on and begin dramatically subdividing their properties into much smaller parcels of land for the use of tiny homes – for purchasers and renters alike.
For now though, tiny homes offer families, grandparents, stay-at-home workers and many who are struggling with finances and isolation an opportunity for reprieve – so long as they’re on board with sleeping, cooking and eating in the same room!