“Minimal living is definitely a thing of the future” – Johannes Hogervorst
Tiny living is now a big thing, capturing the public’s imagination on a global scale. In the US, DIY and gardening channel HGTV showcases several shows dedicated to the concept that, combined, attract 5 million viewers each week, while Kiwi actor Bryce Langston’s YouTube Channel, Living Big In A Tiny House, has more than 425,000 subscribers and 52 million views.
Speaking with the Daily Telegraph, Grant Emans, director of Designer Eco Tiny Homes, says that it’s not just the cute factor that’s attracting interest, it’s the lifestyle choice and the fact that, “the cost of a tiny home is half the cost of the deposit of a regular house in Sydney”.
A sentiment echoed here.
“Minimal living is definitely a thing of the future,” says Johannes Hogervorst, who heads Christchurch-based Portable Tiny House NZ Ltd. “People want to jump on board this movement that utilises space so effectively, while being environmentally and economically friendly — they can see a way to owning their own living space. They can be mortgage-free.”
The homes are constructed on a trailer base and go for as little as $10,000. They can be purchased outright or on a rent-to-buy basis. Sometimes they’re bought as a granny flat, others buy them as a unit to let out in the backyard, while many just simply wish to simplify their lives. Johannes says that there has been a definite shift in attitude to how much space we actually need, and it’s not just the younger generation that are embracing a philosophy that’s “a plus for everyone — except the banks and mortgage lenders!” Clever designing — incorporating the likes of mezzanine floors and foldaway features — means the micro-mansions can fit such things as full shower rooms, washing machines, and a pair of queen beds.
That’s not to say the lifestyle choice is without its drawbacks. Writing for The New York Times, tiny home owner Gene Tempest describes it as “a state of mind, if not a religion”, where the term ‘cosy’, has become a “coveted catchphrase” rather than an “unconvincing euphemism”. “No one warns you that everything is more concentrated,” she adds, “things are ageing faster… Our rug is balding along our daily paths, starkly revealing repetitive routines.” Everything in her home is “worked over more” and “used harder”.
Another issue can be finding somewhere to park the trailer. But Langston tells the Herald he’s been amazed at the numbers who have offered their land, either for free, or “to get a little bit of extra income”: “I have also been contacted by elderly people who just want to have someone close by or for extra security.”
Johannes tells me part of the attraction is the sense of belonging that the concept seems to arouse. “We want to use the movement to push for tiny house communities,” he says. “People can still enjoy their privacy, but also experience that togetherness, that community spirit, with other like-minded souls who wish to do their part — whether it be recycling or sharing a vegetable garden. There are so many positives, from so many angles, and it is such a fine use of our land.”