Tiny homes: a trend getting bigger in New Zealand

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.

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. 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."

Practical considerations

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 the 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. Generally speaking, to meet our underwriting criteria, your tiny home should be at least 30m2, permanently sited (for example wheels removed, fixed to piles, positioned on a platform), connected to local services and/or self-sufficient, and self-contained. Toka Tū Ake EQC defines self-contained as a dwelling that "contains the facilities necessary to meet the occupants needs for day-to-day living on an indefinite basis. They do not have to be in one building but must be for the exclusive use of the dwelling. There must be somewhere to:

  • cook

  • sleep

  • live

  • wash

  • carry out ablutions"

If you're looking to insure your tiny home, get in touch to see how we can help.

After some inspiration?

The number of building companies specialising in tiny home builds is 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.

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.

Any questions?

Now’s a great time to review your insurance. We recommend checking your details are up to date and ensuring the policy and cover you’ve chosen is right for you and your insurance needs.

If you have any questions about your insurance, need to update your AA Insurance policies or would like a quote, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re open from 8am to 8pm weekdays and from 8am to 6pm weekends and public holidays.

This blog provides general information only and is not intended to be a recommendation or personalised financial advice. Excesses, terms, conditions, limits and exclusions apply to AA Insurance Limited’s policies. Please check the policy wording for details of cover. The provision of cover is subject to the underwriting criteria that apply at the time.

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