Unlikely solution to housing crisis
THE average new home in Australia is 189.8sq m - but now, more and more of us are moving into houses a fraction of that size.
That's thanks to the "tiny house" movement - a concept which has seen scores of Australians and people from all over the world reject traditional homes in favour of more minimal living.
While there's no set definition of tiny houses, they are generally custom-made, transportable and less than 46sq m.
Ferne King, co-founder of Australian tiny home company Tiny Footprint, said the "average" Australian tiny house was 7.2m long and 2.5m wide, although they can be up to 12m long and 3.5m wide if the owner gets a special permit to transport the home on the road.
She said they were growing in popularity thanks to environmental concerns, cost of living pressures and changing priorities.
"People usually think, 'I can either rent, share rent or get a mortgage' and they're the only three choices people typically think they have, as well as living with family. But tiny living is another choice to put on their list," Ms King told news.com.au.
She said most people spent 40 to 50 per cent of their take-home pay on rent or their mortgage, whereas "tiny living" typically cost just 10 per cent of the owner's take-home pay.
"I think tiny homes are an absolute necessity given the socio-economic pressures people are facing," she said.
"If you're renting for $350 a week, you can buy a tiny home for $80,000-$100,000 and a small block of land and if you compare the two over five years, you will have around $60,000 more in your pocket after five years when you are tiny living versus renting."
It's a sentiment echoed by Australian Tiny House Directory founder Elle Paton, who said people were often surprised by how well-designed and comfortable tiny houses could be.
"I think housing affordability is definitely contributing to why tiny houses have become so popular, and I also think there has been a shift in the market with people starting to question their consumer habits and the resources they're consuming, so there's an environmental component as well," she said.
"I'm finding people are becoming more motivated to do more with less and to experience more freedom - another big driver is people wanting to break the model of living to work rather than working to live.
"There has been a shift in values and there's a financial component too - people want to reduce and clear debt and save money, so there's been a big surge in people at the moment wanting to get into tiny homes to save a deposit for a much larger home at a later date, when they'll either sell off their tiny home or rent it out as an asset."
She said anyone who was worried about tiny houses being too small or claustrophobic should rent a few on Airbnb to try it on for size.
"They're not for everyone and you need to be committed to the concept, but they are incredibly well-tailored to your needs so it shouldn't feel too poky. Everything has its place and they are usually well designed with the client in mind to suit their unique lifestyle," she said.
Given the growing popularity of these homes, the upcoming 2018 Melbourne Home Show will feature a "street of Tiny Houses" this year for the first time.
The biannual building and renovation event will feature five tiny homes showcasing the latest custom-built tiny homes on the market.
Exhibition director Peter O'Flynn said the feature was set to inspire tens of thousands of visitors.
"Influenced by the tiny house movement taking Australia and the world by storm, the Street of Houses will showcase some of the latest custom mini-homes on the market," he said.
"Whether you're on the hunt for a cost-effective new home, looking to reduce your carbon footprint, tight on space or simply on the search for a simpler life, a stroll down the street is sure to inspire."
The expo will be held from held from August 16-19 and further details can be found online.