The Tiny House Movement Comes to California

Simply stated, the tiny house movement is a social movement where people are consciously simplifying their lives and downsizing the space that they live in. It is an understated, multi-faceted revolution, embracing minimalism and both environmental and personal financial sustainability. Americans from all walks of life are ditching the traditional script of keeping up with the Jones’ for a life in a simple quality built space. The tiny space doesn’t define the entire movement. The alluring lifestyle approach is quite contagious. Less things and more experiences equate to a higher quality of life.

In the United States, consumerism has long been a national pastime. The more you have, the bigger your house, the more successful you are supposed to be. A small self-empowering grassroots phenomenon is creating a nationwide paradigm shift away from the bigger is better mentality. We should know, after building our 130-square-foot tiny home on wheels in 2015, we hit the road on our Tiny House Expedition, a three-year road trip to work on a documentary and community-education project about the tiny home movement. In this short time, we have seen it grow from obscure to a hot trend. There is an allure to simple living and beautifully designed small spaces that appeal to millions of HGTV fanatics and Pinterest dreamers. This interest can be seen this at tiny house festivals that are attracting tens of thousands per event.

An underlying reason for all the interest in tiny houses might be that the less is more concept, profoundly resonates with Americans. As a culture, we have seen countless examples of how excess can be incredibly destructive. Initially fueled by the US housing crisis in 2008, in which 7 million lost their homes, the number of tiny house dwellers has slowly but steadily been on the rise. Tiny house dwellers are bootstrapping their own housing solution, so they can find break even each month, enabling them to save or create more disposable income for luxuries like travel.

The tiny house movement is centered on the concept of self-empowerment, of taking direct control of your life by reprioritizing what’s most important to you and crafting a home around that. A tiny house is a tool to help you achieve your lifestyle and financial goals. It is not a status symbol.

A critical mass of tiny house rule breakers, those living in structures not technically allowed most places in the US, are beginning to influencing community development policy, the mainstream perception of success, and the meaning of home. A new American Dream is emerging, one of reduced debt and greater flexibility. For a growing number of Americans, this means redefining what personal success looks like and feels like to them. By embracing minimalism in smaller than average homes (typically under 400 square feet), tiny dwellers are showing their neighbors that the key to a fulfilling lifestyle is by valuing experiences and relationships over things. 

by Alexis Stephens, co-founder of Tiny House Expedition

Don’t miss our presentation, The BIG Tiny House Trend on 11/28 at The Global Glamping Summit, California at 11:45am!