Tiny Living Phenomenon: Small & Sustainable Housing

By Max Maxwell | Sustainable Living, Urban Design

A new trend is sweeping across the United States and Canada. With the rising cost of housing and utilities, more and more people are turning small sustainable housing and tiny houses to serve their housing needs. What exactly is a tiny house? Well, that answer can vary depending on who you ask. It seems there’s no one way to live tiny.

Small Sustainable Housing Trend


A tiny weeHome by Alchemy Architects. Image via weehouse.com

In the last few years, tiny houses have been popping up all over the landscape. They’re ridiculously low square footage and thus ridiculously low cost. Ranging anywhere from 120 sq ft to upwards of 1300 sq ft, these living spaces are built with minimal space but with much consideration towards living. Just one eight by twelve dwelling can be outfitted to accommodate a family of four, including spaces designed for office, dining, food preparation, sleeping, bathing, storage and more.

There are a wide variety of options for sustainable housing including DIY spaces made from old shipping containers, old retrofitted trailers and boats, and even ultra-modern modular houses that are designed to ship anywhere you need them to. Recently, a family of four went on Anderson Cooper to talk about their own tiny abode. After buying property and paying to have things like having a well dug, they found they didn’t have much money left over so they thought outside the box and used salvaged materials and discounted left-over materials to build their dream home. For under $12,000 they were able to build a home big enough for a family of four!

For those who aren’t quite so handy, there are numerous other options. For example, Alchemy Architects has an entire line of “weeHomes” for a wide variety of consumers. For 10-15% LESS than the cost of a traditional home, you too can be the owner of a sustainable green weeHome. Employing such sustainable features as solar power, rainwater collection, green roofs, geothermal heat, passive cooling/heating and wind power, going green doesn’t have to necessarily mean paying more. Built on a modular design, these tiny dwellings can be made to order in six to nine months and can even be added on to each other to make “not-so-weeHomes”.


A tiny mobile home by Tumbleweed Tiny House Company.

Tiny Living

There are numerous documentaries that are popping up lately on this subject as the word on tiny living spreads. One of the first that started to make its round on social media was called “Livin’ Tiny: The Search for Powder”, which follows a group of snowboarders who built a mobile cottage on the chassis of a trailer. In the same vein, you can also learn more from the documentaries “Tiny: A Story About Living Small” and “We The Tiny House People” which can be found via streaming from your friendly neighborhood Google search.

No matter which route you chose, tiny living is becoming a reality for more and more people. As the movement picks up speed, more and more people are evaluating just what it takes to get by and perhaps realizing that they can do more with less and not have to sacrifice form or function. Perhaps the next move you make will be a tiny one.

Feature Image: A prefab minimalist home by Dwelle of the UK.

About The Author

Max Maxwell
Max Maxwell is a 28 year old journalist, artist, and rock musician from Calgary, Alberta. He is a regular contributor to FREQ. Magazine and Beatroute Magazine in both Alberta and British Columbia. When he’s not writing about arts and culture, he can usually be found frolicking along river banks or terrifying the neighbours with his band The Shear Ups. Photo Credit: Mala Moulik