tiny homes
Brittany Hambleton
Brittany Hambleton
August 7, 2020 ·  5 min read

A ‘Fundamental Shift is Occurring’ as People Flock to Tiny Homes

Over the last several years, tiny homes have been increasing in popularity. Despite the growing interest, however, they have still remained more or less part of a fringe movement of people who want to escape the confines of materialism, or the “more is better” ideals of society.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the attitude toward tiny homes began to shift. As more and more people have begun thinking about moving away from large metropolitan centers like New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco in favor of more space, the tiny home has become a much more appealing alternative.

The Shift to Tiny Homes

Dan Dobrowolski has been building tiny homes for several years now and has witnessed the gradually increasing interest during that time. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, seemingly changed everything overnight.

“The trend is so strong now for 1) escaping crowded housing and 2) just escaping major metro areas like NYC, LA & SFO, it is almost overwhelming. This is a major shift…we’re seeing this all over the US with buyers,” he said [1].

This interest is not just in the tiny homes themselves, but in communities of tiny homes. People who would have never considered living in a trailer park prior to the pandemic are suddenly seeing tiny home communities as something else- a new way of living where they actually have more space around them, despite living in smaller quarters.

Dobrowolski has been building one of these sought-after communities on a run-down, one-acre mobile home park. Since the pandemic began, a space in his community has been in such high demand that he will now be tripling the size of the project.

“We have never seen anything like this in our business. Demand is up 110% from last year (and last year was a record) and climbing fast…a fundamental shift is occurring.”

Trailer Park Vs. Tiny Home Community

So what’s the difference between Dobrowolski’s tiny home community and a traditional trailer park? 

The first, and perhaps most important distinction between the two is space. Unlike a typical trailer park where, as Dobrowolski describes it, units are stacked together like sliced bread, he is careful not to crowd them in. In fact, there are only ten tiny homes on his site.

He also put a lot of work into native landscaping, and if you want a plot in the community, you have to purchase one of the homes he built in his factory- you can’t just bring any trailer. Dobrowolski says the community has to look and feel a certain way.

“You have to be able to breathe,” he explained. “You can do all the infrastructure right and then blow it on the look. it [has to] looks right.” [1]

In the past, tiny home communities like this would have been difficult to sell people one, because those who understood and were willing to pay for a tiny home and those who understood trailer parks rarely overlapped. In today’s remote-working, coronavirus world, this has changed.

The First Customer

The first person to move into Dobrowolski’s tiny home community, the Escape Tampa Bay Village, was a young man working remotely who was tired of paying rent. One of Dobrowolski’s Escape homes starts at a mere 69 thousand dollars, and a parking spot costs 450 dollars per month to rent. If that sounds like a lot to you, consider that in most big cities, 69 thousand dollars won’t even get you a parking space.

The Tampa Bay community also features lots of outdoor space and a meeting/working zone in the middle, and when the water starts inevitably rising all over the state, you can simply hook your home up and tow it to higher ground [1].

Escape Homes

Escape Homes have been designing tiny homes for 25 years. Their designs are all based on light, and a feeling of openness and space, and typically feature panoramic windows, full kitchens, large bathrooms, large first-floor bedrooms, washers and dryers, and plenty of storage.

Their homes are all temperature controlled, and are designed to withstand extreme climates including heavy snow, as well as extreme cold and heat.

Escape Homes offers several different models to choose from, each one is very affordable, especially when compared to the cost of purchasing a standard home in most areas in the US. The most expensive model, even with the addition of several upgrades and add-ons, still costs less than 200 thousand dollars.

The company includes the following manifesto on their website:

“Our designs are based on openness, simplicity of design  and space, inspired by the mindset of two great Wisconsinites,  Frank Lloyd Wright and Steve Jobs, to not just think different but to live different.” [2]

Read: Tiny smart home looks like a space ship and can sleep a family of 4 — see inside

The Benefits of Tiny Homes

There are a number of reasons why someone might choose to live in a tiny home:

1. Cost

Not only are tiny homes far less expensive than the cost of a typical house, but you also save money in other ways. Because your living space is so much smaller, you save money on things like heating and cooling, property taxes, and home maintenance. Many tiny home-dwellers have also noted that they spend far less on groceries, because since they don’t have as much storage space, they can no longer purchase excess items that they don’t really need.

2. Less clutter

When you live in a smaller space, holding on to knick-knacks and other less-necessary items becomes impossible because you simply don’t have room for all of it. This is yet another way to save money because you have to consider more carefully whether something is really necessary before you purchase it.

3. Less cleaning

A smaller space means less area that needs to be cleaned, plain and simple. 

4. A lower carbon footprint

Tiny homes use less energy and produce less waste, so living in one is benefiting the planet.

5. Better quality of life

Many people who make the switch to living in a tiny home report feeling happier. This is because they got rid of the “stuff” that they didn’t need, and focused on what really mattered. They spend less time on cleaning and home maintenance, which frees up time. They can engage in hobbies and leisure activities, helping them to feel less stressed and more fulfilled [3].

Is a Tiny Home Community for You?

Of course, there are some drawbacks to living in such small quarters, and having less space certainly presents organizational challenges. Entertaining also becomes more difficult, since you have less space to house guests, particularly if they are staying overnight.

That being said, many tiny homes are no smaller than some NYC apartments, but they’re a fraction of the cost. The landscape of work is changing and offices are moving to permanent remote-working models. Will you be joining the mass exodus from cities and consider moving into a tiny home of your own?

Keep Reading: Seniors Are Buying Tiny Homes to Live Their Golden Years Off the Grid