Tiny Homes and Trending Minimalism

Downsizing to a tiny home or living as a minimalist might be a way to save money or live a greener life. But the small-living trend is a lot larger than some people might believe.

The UK housing crisis frequently makes the headlines. However, we could argue that potential solutions are appearing at the same time. For example:

Property Crowdfunding: With the help of the crowd, property investment can be hassle-free. You no longer need to scrape together a large amount of capital to get started, nor do you have to worry about a mortgage.

Home Ownership Programmes: Government home ownership programmes have included HomeBuy (2005), Open Market HomeBuy (2006), First Buy (2011) and Help to Buy (2013). The latter scheme is said to have helped over 100,000 individuals or couples become homeowners. (1)

And Now…Tiny Homes and Trending Minimalism

“Simply put, it is a social movement where people are choosing to downsize the space they live in.” (2)

tiny home 1

(Source: Tiny House UK Gallery: 3)

Tiny homes are slowly catching on in the UK, according to Tiny House UK (4). Downsizing, or “small living” is becoming popular for a number of potential reasons:

  • To live a greener, more environmentally friendly life. (4)
  • To live cheaply, therefore allowing you to put money aside for a deposit on bricks and mortar. (4)
  • For mental clarity. “Studies show that the larger the home, and the more time you devote to maintaining, cleaning, and servicing, the more financial and personal stress you will experience.” (5)

“For many in the UK, the hopes of getting on the property ladder is a far off reality. The cost of living is so high and the current property prices are so far out of reach it seems impossible to be able to achieve.” (4)

“Tiny Houses are very cheap to run. They are fully insulated, can have everything you would expect in a small property and use very little energy to heat them. The compact design creates an ideal mix of space and functionality giving you everything you need to live economically.” (4)

How Does Minimalism Tie in to Tiny Homes?

There is no single object or thing that could ever, ever come close to giving us or measuring up to that sense of freedom that we have, that peace of mind that we’ve experienced since downsizing.”

 – Angela Horn, The Less You Own the More You Have (6)

“The Tiny House movement sprung up in America in 1997. As much philosophical as it is practical, Tiny Housers are masters at living in minimal square footage, in highly-thought-out and well-engineered spaces. By refining their living quarters to an area which is quite literally the size of a large shed on wheels (400 square feet), they are truly dispensing with the unnecessary.” (7)


(Source: Tiny House Blog: 8)

An Interview with Mark Burton, Tiny House UK

I got in touch with Mark Burton, of Tiny House UK, and asked him a couple of questions about the trend. **

Q: There’s a trend on the horizon known as ‘Minimalism,” influenced by the impulse-driven consumerism we live in today. It involves downsizing to studios and ten-item wardrobes. The trend runs on the premise that the less you own, the more you have. Would you call Tiny Houses “minimalist” at all? Or does the focus lie more heavily on providing green, sustainable solutions to the housing crisis?

A: I think both. I have noticed different people with very strong views in downsizing and living a greener life and “saving the planet”. However, this is not a new trend, it’s been going on for years.

Q: Can you draw any similarities between Tiny Houses and flatpack homes?

A: We now build tiny homes in kit…so in effect they are very similar. Some people like the idea of building their own home and kit houses take most of the skill away that would be needed. We have noticed a rise in self build kits in the last year.

Q: What does the future of housing look like to you?

A: I think the housing industry will run pretty much as it has done for the last 20 years which is how long the problem has been going. If building on designated small areas of greenbelt or farmland becomes acceptable, and timber framed tiny homes or micro homes become acceptable, we will see a massive change and a drop in property rentals.


(Source: Tiny House UK Gallery: 3)

It seems a lot of people are adopting the downsizing mentality. But just because what you’re downsizing to isn’t portable, it doesn’t mean you’re not part of the Tiny Home trend.

Your Downsizing Story

We threw the word out that we were looking for anyone to comment on either downsizing or minimalism. * It turns out; the trends are really catching on.

Felice Cohen, author of “90 Lessons for Living Large in 90 Square Feet (…or more)” got in touch. She explained how she had moved from a large 2-bedroom property to a 90 sq. ft. studio in New York City. She wrote, “Living small made my life larger… I had put 77 boxes of stuff into storage when I first moved in and every year that I agreed to stay for another year, I went back to storage and went through my stuff and got rid of things based on the fact I hadn’t needed or wanted it. By the end of those 5 years, I had gotten rid of everything. I had realized that less gave me so much more.” Last year, Cohen spoke at a number of “tiny house festivals” around the country and in Canada.

William Bauer, Managing Director of ROYCE in New York, downsized from a 6 thousand sq. ft. home into a tiny studio to bring minimalism and clarity into his life. He wrote, “What catalyzed my transformative move was a desire for clarity, as I became inundated in excessive materialism and wanted to lead a simpler life. So the downsize was not for financial reasons, but rather for a desire for contemporary minimalism. My life had been defined by Gatsby-esque greed, and the move to minimalism reflected my desire to become more humbled and down to earth.”

Holly, an industrial designer, recently moved from a 1,200 sq. ft. apartment to a 250 sq. ft. guest house in Venice, CA. She wrote, “I, like many others, had read “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” which teaches you to remove anything from your life that doesn’t spark joy. I had been practicing this in my larger apartment, so thankfully when it came time to move, I didn’t have much to part with in the first place… Being a designer means I am constantly thinking about how to improve things, and that is what I have been trying to do in every aspect of my life… Having a tiny house has made me realize that I don’t need to fill up a bunch of space with stuff I don’t need or want. Everything I own is within arm’s reach, and brings me some sort of joy. Living this way has made me think about every single thing I’ve bought to make sure it fits in my life, saving me a lot of time and money.”

So for saving a bit of extra cash, decluttering your mind or living a greener life, downsizing seems to have its perks!

Written by Jenna Kamal

property investment


*Correspondence for ‘Real Life Examples’ was secured via Help a Reporter Out (HARO) and took place over email.

**Interview with Mark Burton was conducted via email

  1. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-38418289?intlink_from_url=http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/topics/38a2903a-b068-486e-bda2-58c035e1490a/housing-market&link_location=live-reporting-story)
  2. http://thetinylife.com/what-is-the-tiny-house-movement/
  3. http://www.tinyhouseuk.co.uk/gallery.html
  4. http://www.tinyhouseuk.co.uk/property-ladder.html
  5. http://www.collective-evolution.com/2015/07/01/six-reasons-why-the-tiny-house-movement-is-going-to-be-big-over-coming-decades/
  6. http://singjupost.com/angela-horn-the-less-you-own-the-more-you-have-at-tedxcapetown-transcript/
  7. http://boxman.co.uk/blog/2015/08/tiny-houses-movement-uk/
  8. http://tinyhouseblog.com/stick-built/lofty-lofts-uncharted-tiny-homes-mansion-mansion-jr/

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