Have you seen the Tiny House Movement? Imaging choosing a simpler life, with fewer possessions, less debt and more freedom. A tiny house might be the perfect match for those choices, with only a few hundred square feet. To me, the simpler life, fewer possessions and more freedom sounds perfect for small towns. Why not bring these two together?
Imagine a group of Tiny Houses on those empty residential lots in your town. The new residents walk or bike downtown and to your community center or gathering hall for a shared meal or a special program. They only spent on average $23,000 to build their own house. They have more free time. They aren’t looking to accumulate “stuff.” They want to be part of your community.
“The community aspect is actually a big part of what we like,” Tiny House enthusiast Ryan Mitchell said, quoted in Grist.
So small towns have the community aspect, the low cost land, the walkable distances, and some shared facilities like community centers. (You probably call yours something else: community building, maybe?)
You would have to work with your town to get flexible about zoning. Most town or state zoning calls for a larger minimum square footage. Maybe you could zone a certain area of town to allow for smaller houses, or allow them as additional housing on lots with existing homes. To get around the square footage minimum, many tiny houses are built on wheels, like little travel trailers. The city of Olympia, Washington, has managed to make their zoning be accommodating, so maybe you can, too. “For the most part, tiny houses have existed in smaller towns, on the edge of a city or in rural locations,” Mitchell said. How about using tiny houses to combat your local homelessness problem? (You didn’t realize you have a homelessness problem? Well, if you have people, you do. Most are living from their car or staying with another family.) Read more about this use of tiny houses in the Grist article. Take some time to learn more about the Tiny House Movement. I think it’s a smart fit for small towns.
PS – The future of your town doesn’t belong to somebody else, someplace else. That was my closing message from my talk at Elliot Lake, Ontario, and it’s my message to you, too. Here’s the 1 minute video they put together and shared on Facebook: