Big Surprise: Tiny homes aren't for everyone

Kimberley Mok
CC BY-NC 3.0 Kimberley Mok

Business Insider is a hugely successful business website that has been accused of many things including Linkbait headlines. In TechCrunch, editor in chief Henry Blodgett defends his practices, saying “You know what the definition of ‘linkbait’ is? It’s a story that people want to link to and share.” [Many websites, including this one, try to do the same thing to greater or lesser success]

So when Business Insider launched a spinoff, Tech Insider, on July 27th, they did it with a bang, a story that is racing through the internet titled Living in tiny homes was much harder than these people realized.

First there are the Gibsons, who find that it is hard to raise children in a tiny house with no fixed address.

“The small space for my wife during pregnancy was just a bit much, so we just needed to move into town,” Gibson said. “And then some pretty crazy unexpected health challenges came and ran us over in 2012 and we ended up moving in with family. The house just became this thing that we were [literally] hauling from place to place.”

Then there is Jonathan Bellows, who came up against the law, namely the zoning bylaws that prohibit tiny houses because municipalities do not like people living in what are essentially trailers.

I was aware of [the law], but the compulsion to build a house was so great that I went ahead and did it, knowing full well that I would have to address that issue later.

There is the couple that built an expensive tiny home which burned down, so they built a new one quickly to meet the schedule of a TV reality show. They both work on the internet.

But what finally drove them out of their new tiny home was when they were told the internet they had enjoyed since 2003 would no longer service their area since they had changed the location of their towers and repositioned antennas. In fact, no internet would service their area.

They all talk about the isolation of living far away from everyone and everything.

“If you live in a town or a city, you have a coffee shop and a grocery store a block away, or within a mile or 10 minutes' drive away. But if you’re in the total boonies where you could be stranded, it’s a different kind of thing.”

Now every one of these problems has been discussed on TreeHugger and in the Tiny House world for years, summarized here in Why Hasn't The Tiny House Movement Become A Big Thing? A Look At 5 Big Barriers It's why we get so excited about Tiny House communities where people actually are not out in the boonies on their own. Or why we show bigger units like the Lumbec that Kim showed earlier, that have enough room to actually grow a bit in.

The issues discussed in the Tech Insider article are so obvious that it almost came off sounding as much of a parody as Lauren Modery's Dear People Who Live in Fancy Tiny Houses…Do you ever wake up wondering, “I’ve made a huge mistake?

There is no doubt that tiny house living is not for everyone, and that it's hard, particularly if you are parked illegally off grid and off pipe and miles from the nearest grocery store. I suspect that the failure rate is pretty high. I suppose that Tech Insider has done everyone a service by discussing a few of them but it certainly isn't a surprise.

Gawker did its own take on this story, interviewing a few other imaginary Tiny House owners.

We had all these things you see on blogs, like a table that was also a bath, or whatever. A toilet that’s a stove. One book. A bed up on the ceiling or whatever. And it was all surrounded by glorious nature. I loved it.

Tags: Less Is More | Living With Less

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