A few weeks ago, tiny home enthusiasts gathered at the St. Johns County Fairgrounds for 2016 Florida Tiny House Festival. The “tiny house” craze swept the nation in 2016 thanks in part to television shows like Tiny House – Big Living, Tiny House Builders, and Tiny House Hunters. To many, the appeal of a tiny home is part liberation, part simplicity. If you’re not familiar, a “tiny house” is a small home structure which is portable and typically under 500 square-feet. Those who decide to own a tiny home often go through an extreme downsizing of their lifestyle as they attempt to fit as much into as small a space as possible while still having it be livable. Some tiny homes are even under 100 square-feet and are known as micro houses.
The reasons why people decide to “go tiny” vary as much as the designs of the homes themselves. For some it is to reduce their environmental impact while for others it is a financial decision. “I just paid off a credit card. I have no rent, no utilities, no water. Well, not much water. I have a tiny garbage can it takes me three weeks to fill,” said Renee McLaughlin who owns an 87 square-foot micro-house. Her previous home, a 3,300 square-foot house, is rented out and used as a source of income. She now travels the country visiting tiny home festivals as people marvel at her small living space.
This first Florida Tiny House Festival featured roughly 90 homes in styles ranging from micro-cabins and converted horse trailers to yurts and converted shipping containers. The festival was truly unique in that it has been registered with the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest gathering of tiny structures on record (all under 500 square feet).
Tiny homes have gained popularity with many groups including retirees, Millennials, and even large families. To many, the advantages of mobility, low to no property taxes, no utilities and minimalism far outweigh any cramping they may feel.