Image supplied by Tiny House Living in NZ blog
In the case of the tiny home movement, less isn’t more, it’s simply less. But for some, having less stuff and space, has given them a lot more freedom.
Over the last five years, living smaller is becoming an increasingly popular option for Kiwis across New Zealand. But why are people opting for this cosy lifestyle? For some, it reflects a trending shift towards wanting to live minimally, reducing waste and enjoying a clutter-less life. For others, it’s an answer to the housing crisis affecting large cities across New Zealand. Realistically, it could be their only chance to step onto the property ladder, tiny homes are changing what it means for people to own a home.
So, what makes a tiny home, tiny?
As a rule of thumb, a tiny home is generally less than 50m2. There are several different types of tiny homes, ranging from converted shipping containers, kitset, bespoke designs or even trailer homes. However, homes built on the back of a trailer are often 15m2 or below, due to trailer and road code restrictions. Those living the lifestyle are advocating for the big benefits to living small, a tiny home can mean reduced living costs for electricity, water and heating. There’s also less cleaning, less decorating and less ongoing maintenance. Trailer based homes also have the benefit of being mobile, an attractive option for those really looking for freedom to move.
From suburban renting to off-grid tiny living
When Kasia and Jake, from the Tiny House Living in NZ blog, were considering the lifestyle, they knew it was a trend internationally, but weren’t aware that tiny living had made its way to New Zealand. They ran some calculations and found out that they could afford to pay off a loan for a tiny house, and it would cost less than what they were paying each week on rent. After being told that their rent was about to increase, they decided to take the plunge and move out of their large three-bedroom home with a double garage, into a tiny home, off-grid on the back of a trailer. It’s been two years since they made their move and so far, haven’t missed living in a “normal” sized home. They’ve enjoyed the challenge that living small brings, so much so that they turned their passion for tiny homes into a small business. With Jake’s 11-year experience as a cabinetmaker, and Kasia’s DIY project flair, they work with other tiny home dwellers to create and build custom designs.
When you are forced into a smaller space, you tend to think more outside of the box with how you can use a space, and you prioritise what is important to you. It’s amazing to find how much stuff you hold onto that you never actually use.
While the thought of living in tiny homes becomes more popular in New Zealand, if you’re seriously considering embracing the lifestyle, it’s important to consult your local council during your planning process. There are a few grey areas in building tiny homes, with no definitive guidelines and regulations in place in a one size fits all capacity, it’s all on a case by case basis. The council rules can differ depending on location, size and structure of your tiny home, so it’s important to do your research.
Insuring your tiny home
It's a good idea to consult your insurance provider to get advice on how you can ensure you will be eligible for home and contents insurance cover. Because tiny homes are so unique, at AA Insurance we assess cover on a case-by-case basis. So if you're looking to insure your tiny home, speak to us to see how we can help.
After some inspiration?
As the tiny home revolution continues, the number of building companies specialising in tiny home builds are also increasing. There’s a close-knit community of tiny home dwellers across social media platforms, sharing their experiences and giving tips and inspiration from around the world. This year will see the NZ Tiny House and Alternative Living conference return in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch after selling out in 2017 and 2018. An event that sees knowledgeable speakers, exhibitors and supporters come together to share experiences, plus presents a good opportunity to learn more if you’re curious about the lifestyle benefits and take a good look through a tiny home.
Top tip: If you want to test the waters of tiny living, how about a trial run in your own home? Try marking out a small space that fits a portion of your kitchen, bathroom and living room and see how you go living within the area for 24 hours. For a true experience, there are a few tiny accommodation homes available to book across New Zealand and a perfect way to immerse yourself in the lifestyle, plus enjoy a getaway at the same time.