Tiny homes sit at the intersection of the housing crisis and the climate crisis. And they look super sleek doing it.

The tiny home community is often dismissed as a bunch of idealists. Coworkers and brothers-in-law across the country ask, “Who would want to live like that?” When eyeing the housing crisis and the climate crisis, the practical say, “Well, nothing can be done.” But, of course, something needs to be done. So, the idealists start doing.

Photo: Sunshine Tiny Homes Photographer: Damon Berryman

Tiny homes are categorized by the homebuilding and architectural establishment as a culturally idealistic response to financial desperation. I think the tiny home community would respond with a “Yeah, so?”. Are tiny homes idealistic? Yes. But in this case, I think it’s an ironic situation of the financially desperate leading the way for those with money. Because, of course, it’s not just about looking for an affordable home. It’s about living sustainably, reevaluating priorities, and reducing consumption.

This is not the only ironic thing about tiny homes. Most tiny homes are made to order, completely customized for every buyer. Who among us can afford to have a home custom constructed like a tailored suit, with deep respect for how we move through space and what we value? This is an experience available only to the very rich and to the tiny home buyer. As a pioneering tiny home builder put it, “My clients are independent empty-nester women like me and I honour their needs. Everyone wants to feel honoured.”

Tiny homes stand out among affordable housing options because they make people dream. It’s why basement apartments don’t have a cult following. #basementchic 

What came first, the minimalism or the tiny homes? It’s a chicken and egg thing – perhaps tiny homes made it cool to be a minimalist. Or maybe we’ve been looking for a way to live smaller and respect the planet.  

Photo: Left Coast Tiny Homes

A tiny home by the virtue of its physical constraints creates a certain lifestyle and effect on its environment. Tiny house dwellers can’t own as much stuff as would fit in a conventional home. They don’t shop for fun. They share, borrow, and co-own rather than buy. There’s less to do at home, so they spend more time outside and in their community. They care.

How many people do you know who care about the sustainability rating of insulation that is used in their home? This woman is a marketing agency co-founder and web developer. She lives in a tiny home and she cares. 

Photo: @casa.duro

If you don’t think that living tiny is for you, that’s completely okay. But, you should be aware that tiny homes will be coming into your life and into your peripheral vision. This is good news! What will happen when your municipality starts welcoming more tiny homes? One of the tiny home owners I interviewed put it like this: “an influx of thinkers who are closer to their heart.”


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