Tiny houses for the millennial generation

by Ephraim Vecina24 Feb 2016
Amid a volatile global economy, unstable reliability in commodity markets, and ever-rising costs of living, a new movement in American housing has emerged among millennial would-be buyers of homes: the rising popularity of tiny houses and other forms of minimalist living.
Experts noted that this development coincided with the gradual rise in the average age of first-home purchases in the younger generation.
“A lot of millennials are paying off their student loans and that would take a big portion of their paycheque,” University of Illinois agricultural and consumer economics professor Yilan Xu stated in a co-authored report, as quoted by CBC News.
Xu’s study also observed that millennials are far more open to alternative living arrangements that are entirely different from their parents’ conception of what exactly makes a home.
Some enterprising sellers and builders have already made bank on this phenomenon. Among these is Harvard law student Pete Davis, whose Getaway venture puts tiny houses in the woods of Boston, Massachusetts for rent. The project primarily caters to those who are willing to test out the minimalist lifestyle before they fully commit to it.
Davis pointed at the waning hold of consumerism among those in their 20s and 30s as the main draw of tiny houses.
“I think it's because there's been a transition in lifestyle of what people think the American dream is. The idea of the nineties over-consumption — of showing off all the stuff you have and getting the big screen TV — has changed to the desire for more authentic experiences,” Davis said.
Expanded dormitory-style living is another concept that is gaining currency among the younger set. A pioneer in this sector is the NY-based undertaking Commonspace, which would offer 300-square-foot micro-residences connected by communal areas such as kitchens.
“It's a very warm and welcome space. It's not like you're going to be unhappy when you're in your private space. We'll give you that and a combination of public space — so trying to create that perfect balance,” Commonspace co-founder Troy Evans said, adding that their Syracuse, NY units would begin operations in May.
Evans noted that affordability has been the venture’s strongest selling point. Commonspace units would go for as low as $750 per month, far below the $1,100 benchmark cost for single-bedroom apartments in the area.


  • by 2/24/2016 5:50:07 PM

    I agree that consumerism has to stop but practicality still needs to be addressed in small space design. For example where I live in Calgary Alberta it is almost imperative to have some kind of mudrroom/closet at the entrance door. We have all four seasons almost year round so to house several coats and footwear and we usually take off shoes at the door. Also it is great to share space with others until you become a couple or a family then things get complicated. I think the millennials are just doing what we did but for a longer period of time. We were on our own normally after high school them married or living with roommates. We suffered with small apartments shared accommodations and as we got older and could afford more we did. I think we will see this happening but just later. My younger clients want compact inner city living but when the reality sets in I usually end up selling them something with a yard, a nice kitchen and a garage in the burbs.

  • by Wendy 2/26/2016 8:06:30 AM

    Zoning will, no doubt, play an important role in the location of these Tiny Houses. Will they be allowed in back yards under Residential Zoning (like small garden sheds), or, will we find them located in "trailer park" type leased lot areas? A very interesting concept of living, along with Granny-Pods .... we'll see what the Municipalities and Chief Building Officials have to say as they gain in popularity!

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