By Maria Saporta
Move over MacMansions.
Tiny Houses are gaining popularity as people look for innovative ways to balance their budgets while living in a more environmentally-sustainable way.
Over the weekend, Tiny House Atlanta held its first-ever Decatur Tiny House Festival – selling out on both Saturday and Sunday – attracting a total of more than 5,300 people.
Long lines formed of people wanting to peak inside the wide array of tiny homes – openly wondering if they could live in less than 500 square feet of space.
Some of the Tiny Houses felt much larger than their actual size – such as the one owned by Will Johnston, founder of Tiny Houses Atlanta; and his business partner, Kim Bucciero.
Although their Tiny House on wheels (available for lease) is less than 300 square feet, it has a full kitchen, a bath as well as two separate sleeping quarters. Their Tiny House is on the upper end of the scale – valued in the $70,000 range.
Most Tiny Houses are more economical – some selling for less than $25,000 – with most of them in between – in the $50,000 range.
Inexpensive quarters and compact living are two of the greatest appeals of Tiny Houses. It’s easy to see how Tiny Houses could become a lifestyle of choice for a multitude of populations.
Think of the working poor or of homeless populations living in a mixed-income community of Tiny Houses. These homes can be the either land-locked or mobile versions of a single-room occupancy apartment buildings.
Or imagine students or singles or empty-nesters with limited earthly goods choosing to live with less rather than more. One of the biggest selling points is that living in a Tiny Home forces people to remove the clutter from their lives and only own what they truly need or want.
Johnston brought the Tiny House movement to Atlanta about two years ago, when he started to spread the gospel.
The Decatur Tiny House Festival was a place where Johnston and other Tiny House believers shared their view of how smaller spaces can lead to a new way of living. To see a video of the event, click here.
Tiny Houses do face some challenges – a combination of building codes and logistics on being able to connect to plumbing and electricity.
But there are other signs that society is adapting to a desire for Tiny Houses. The proceeds of the Festival will go to the Decatur Housing Initiatives Corp. – a nonprofit dedicated to developing affordable housing in a city where property values continue to rise.
A group is looking to develop a Tiny House community in East Point.
And perhaps most significantly, Lew Oliver, the town planner for the Pinewood Forrest development in Fayette County said there will be a wide variety of housing types, including Tiny Houses for millennials or others who want to live with less.
Although I have never lived in a Tiny House, I did spend a year living in a rooming house in Brookline, Ma. near the heart of Boston. My room was super small, but it had a grand three-bay window and a sink in the room. It was amazing how living in a smaller space translated to living more simply – with fewer clothes, electronics and stuff.
Now I live in a much bigger home with lots of stuff that we have collected – probably because we have had the space for it.
David Bitter, an Atlanta architect interested in sustainable living, is hoping to design unique Tiny Houses, and he hopes to soon be able to construct his own and move out of a traditional home.
As one of the Tiny House leaders, who likes to consider himself as a senior advisor for the younger leaders of the movement, Bitter was thrilled with how the weekend validated that there is trend to downsize and to live with less.
No matter what, Tiny Houses show that we have a wonderful point-counterpoint to all these monstrous houses that appeal to people who measure their life’s worth by how much they own rather than by the value of the lives they lead.
It boils down to the simple concept – quality versus quantity.