4 August 2020
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1.5 metre distancing, 2 metre homes: the ‘Tiny House’ movement thrives during COVID-19

Sophia Katsinas
22 April 2020

The Tiny House movement has been around for a while now. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a pretty straightforward concept. Instead of living the ”Aussie Dream” in a big house, you’re humbly shacking up in a small one.

As minimalist and environmentalist revolutions grow in popularity, the tiny home movement has become quite popular amongst this demographic. But during the COVID-19 era, interest in tiny homes has grown for another reason – they’ve become the new, mobile granny flat.

In an article posted by Domain, Aussie Tiny Houses managing director, Fabio Paulucci explained how a demand for tiny homes has increased during isolation.

With children having to move back home due to job cuts, or elderly parents needing to keep their distance from their kids due to coronavirus transmission, ‘tiny homes’ have become an efficient way to keep distant without needing to purchase or rent a new property.

“What we’re noticing is the urgency, which is [unusual]. We’re being asked, ‘when is your next available delivery?’” Mr Paulucci told Domain. “We’ve got so many people coming after us, that we’ve doubled our production and we’re hiring staff. It seems that we’re in the right industry at the right time.”

A fully constructed, mobile tiny home can cost between $31,000 and $150,000, which is significantly cheaper and much less work than building a granny flat per se.

Despite the small space they take up, tiny homes have stepped on a lot of toes. As it turns out, people are very vocal about “tiny house propaganda” and the slogan that drives the tiny home movement: “going smaller actually means living larger”.

Economist Leith Van Onselen vocalised his opposition to tiny homes in an article for macrobusiness.com.au, where he states: “the cold hard reality is that tiny houses are little more than re-branded caravans, which have been used for generations to house residents living on the edge of homelessness. The only difference now is that tiny homes are being sold to Australia’s youth as a genuine alternative to traditional home ownership.”

He also notes that coronavirus lockdowns have highlighted the multi-purpose functions of our homes, as we are all staying in and adapting our living spaces into gyms, cinemas, schools, workplaces etc.

The Tiny House Festival Australia was expected to go ahead in Victoria on March 21-22 and in NSW on October 17-18, 2020 but they have been put on hold until 2021, due to coronavirus. Tiny Houses Australia explains that the popularity of the tiny house movement is intertwined with a growing attraction to minimalist living, “People want to have less debt, less stress, and want to lead a happier, healthier, more sustainable and more intentional way of life, and the Tiny House Movement is something that can really help them achieve this.”

However even its critics admit that tiny homes have found a reinvented purpose due to COVID-19, and have actually become a very practical, affordable and timely alternative to granny flats, renting, renovations, or other alternatives to help Australians adhere to social distancing measures.

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