Buying a Tiny HomeTiny Living

Young Canadians turning to tiny home living for financial equity, personal balance

As Canadian real estate prices go up, so does demand for creative solutions. Among young people in Canada, tiny home living is becoming more popular.

We spoke to two young Canadians living in tiny houses over 3000 km apart.

Jeremy is a young musician in Calgary, AB who lived in a tiny house on wheels before selling it this fall. 

Jeremy’s tiny house journey began as a financial decision. 

“Really the motivating factor was money,” says Jeremy. “I think it’s probably a similar decision point for a lot of people. I was pretty tired of not being able to save and feeling like my rent money was just going down the drain.”

The plan was to get a roommate in the house where he lived at the time and save on rent to buy a tiny house. Then, pay off the tiny house and build up equity quickly.

“I feel that I essentially kind of hacked the housing market.”

Once Jeremy started thinking about a tiny home as an option, everything just fell into place. “When things started to have an eerie kind of synchronicity, it just gave me more confidence.”

He found a tiny home that was built two years prior by a couple living just 15 minutes away. They initially lived in the home as a family of three, but once they had a second child, they outgrew the tiny house and sold it. 

“I’ll never forget the first time I walked in and saw the home,” says Jeremy. “I kind of knew from that moment. I’m glad it comes across in pictures too because I think they did a really incredible job building it. [The tiny home] always felt well-loved.”

The transition to living tiny was easy for Jeremy who was never one to own a lot of stuff. His biggest challenge was making sure the water tank didn’t freeze in winter. 

“I’m pretty comfortable in small places and I don’t have a lot of things so I hardly had to get rid of anything to move in there. I was still able to have friends over. I think people kind of enjoyed the uniqueness of the experience of visiting a tiny home.”

Navigating the Calgary by-laws required a bit of a workaround. Jeremy registered the tiny home as a trailer and parked it in the backyard of the house where his name was still on the lease. 

“I’ve lived in a lot of different places, in a few different cities, and the tiny home was certainly the most homey of any place I’ve ever lived.”

Unlike many people’s experience with buying their first traditional home, Jeremy’s life did not become consumed by house maintenance and renovations. “I really didn’t have to do any repairs. There’s no maintenance required. I mean, when you move it, you have to do a standard check to make sure the axles and tire pressure are ok. But that’s about it.”

“I didn’t want to be spending every weekend doing house projects. Instead, I was able to work as much as I wanted, go to the mountains, spend time outside.”

When it came time to sell the tiny house, Jeremy found that it had appreciated in value. Because the home was mobile, the market open to him was much wider. He got inquiries from as far as Vancouver Island and the home eventually went to buyers with land outside of Edmonton. 

Having sold the home, Jeremy is now in a position with many more options than when he was a renter struggling to put money aside. “Financially. It’s been a great decision.”

Halfway across the country, Zoey has been living in her tiny house for two years.

Zoey has a tiny home in Southern Ontario and her experience with the housing market is in many ways similar to Jeremy’s. 

“Getting a financial footing is getting harder for young people. You need to rent AND save to buy a house.” With rents going up, this is becoming more and more difficult, extending the timeline when a young Canadian can start accumulating equity from home ownership. “You either stay at [your parents’] home for quite a while or get creative.” 

Zoey got her tiny home on wheels two years ago as an unfinished shell, which she spent a year completing and finishing. Now, living in her tiny house full time, she is enjoying the transition. 

“I’ve been looking at a smaller, simpler, and affordable way to live in Southern Ontario. I was happy to give up the square footage, but I needed my basic necessities.”

Basic necessities for Zoey included “a sizeable kitchen where I can bake, a pantry, a downstairs bedroom, a bathtub, and the ability to entertain other people.” She got all that and more from her new tiny home lifestyle. 

“You certainly can’t own all the things you would have in a 1500 sq ft home, but for me, minimalism isn’t a chore.”

“I don’t consider myself a Minimalist in the classic sense. I don’t actively seek to own 5 objects. But everything in my home has a purpose, a utility, and everything brings me joy.”

Her biggest challenge right now is finding land to park. Even though many local municipalities have recently allowed secondary dwellings to be added to existing properties, most still do not allow tiny homes on wheels to be brought in. 

“Unless you already own a property with a house on it, you can’t have a tiny home,” says Zoey. “The tiny home community deserves more acceptance and more recognition.”

“Not everybody needs a large house, but everybody needs stability.”

Zoey’s opinion is that the tiny house movement is coming and municipalities have a chance right now to welcome it on their terms. “It should be about making space for tiny houses and planning ahead rather than allowing the movement to silently grow, straining services. It’s better than having to deal with it after the fact.” 

Long-term, Zoey’s plan remains flexible but she knows her tiny house investment will continue to serve her and support her financial goals, whether as a residence or rental property. 

“Rarely can you say – this is forever – and when you do, often life proves you wrong. But it’s always nice to have a home to come back to.”

The verdict on tiny homes for Canadians? 

Zoey says, “in terms of living situation, it forces you, in a positive way, to spend time outdoors. [Living in a tiny house], I spend more time outside. And I have big windows, much more windows proportionally than you would have in a larger home. With the windows, the scenery outside becomes your inside.” 

Jeremy recommends it. “It’s just such an incredibly adaptable lifestyle. You can move it across the country and you can get your electricity and heat in so many different ways. There are so many floor plans available.  A tiny home can morph into an infinite amount of possibilities.”

*If you live within 3 hours of Toronto, ON and have a parking space for Zoey, please leave a comment below or reach out to us at info@tinyhomesincanada.ca 

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