Tiny House Movement ‘Exposed’ as a Lie is the Lie

You may have heard that we journalists in the news media have a saying, “when it bleeds it leads.” Heads up to those in the Tiny House Movement if you haven’t noticed, the vultures are circling.

Front of the house showing the covered porch

Front of the house showing the covered porch

The media is looking for stories of tiny house dwellers “failing” at living the tiny life. There have been a few articles in the media recently with provocative headlines such as, “Teeny Tiny House: Big Lie: Why so Many Proponents of the Tiny House Movement Have Decided to Upsize,” and “Is the Tiny House Movement a Big Fat Lie?”

These articles point to the fact that some people who have appeared in media or have written blogs about the tiny life have given up on it and upsized.

I’ve written that all of the media attention the Tiny House Movement has generated in the past two years or so has been a double edged sword. Yes, it’s brought attention to what is really an old way of life – living simply and within our means in accordance with our established values – which is how our ancestors lived.

The other side of that is, like those old westerns or television series such as “Little House on the Prairie,” it has also glamorized and romanticized life and has brought in the people who ride the fad waves.

Life, no matter where you live it, is a challenge and living in a tiny house is no different. In my upcoming book, “Living Large in Our Little House: Thriving in 480 Square Feet With Six Dogs, a Husband and One Remote…and More Stories of How You Can, Too,” I describe a lot of the challenges we’ve encountered, not just with living in a smaller space, but in a very rural area.

The second thing that people need to remember is that life is a journey, what worked for us in our 20s and 30s, may not work for us in our 40s, 50s , 60s and beyond. If someone had told me when I was a newlywed at 22 that I’d be living in a 480 square foot cabin in the woods, I’d have laughed. At that point in my life, I wanted a 2-story rambling Victorian in the suburb where we grew up. That isn’t who I am anymore.

The third point to this is that sometimes shit just doesn’t work out. Sometimes it’s because we didn’t plan and set realistic living goals (I think most people have an idea in advance if they can truly live with a composting toilet); Or ignored warning signs (one guy in one of the articles forged ahead with his build knowing his planning and zoning board had codes against tiny dwellings. He “hoped” he could change their minds) or the life was indeed fiction to start with, as was apparently the couple featured in the documentary “Tiny” who never really lived in their house full time (note that some of the stuff you also see on some reality television is just for the camera).

Dale and Kerri /Photograph by Kevin Pieper for Mother Earth News

Dale and Kerri /Photograph by Kevin Pieper for Mother Earth News

But let’s be clear here, these writers aren’t “blowing the lid off of the tiny house trend” as the Realtor.com article proclaims. The writer in The Globe and Mail article claims that “it’s not hard to find up-sizers, even among the movement’s keenest enthusiasts,” and that she hasn’t been able to find one builder (at least in Canada) who is living in their tiny creations.

I know it’s hard being a journalist because really, we have to know a little bit about everything we cover and it appears this is the case with the ones now circling to find “failure” stories within the movement.

If these writers haven’t been able to find more stories of people who are thrilled with Living Large by living small than people who are upsizing, then they haven’t been looking very hard, or in the right places. There are certainly builders all through America living in their own creations. Tiny house dwellers and builders living in those homes are literally all over the Internet.

But for those who have moved – and at least it’s pointed out in The Globe and Mail article that most who are upsizing aren’t moving into McMansions – then that is part of their life journey. It has nothing to do with being “successful” or even disillusioned with the Tiny House Movement.

It’s not for me or the media to decide what that journey should be, even if some of us have chosen to make our lives public on blogs, in articles or books or on reality television.

Our lives evolve and change and grow and sometimes that means we change addresses and the buildings those numbers hang on might grow, too.

That doesn’t mean their lives or the premise behind it was a lie, it just means they’ve lived and taken the lessons of a more intentional, sustainable life with them, which can be done in any square footage.

That’s what Living Large is all about.

Tell us what you think in the comments section.

You may also like...

11 Responses

  1. Horacio says:

    I see you don’t monetize your website,i read interesting article
    how to earn some additional money and increase traffic using one simple method,
    just search in google for: Twardziel advices

  2. You’re so right, Kerri: Different times of your life call for different spaces. We’re in a smaller space, a condo, now, and use every square foot of it, which is such a pleasure.

    • Kerri @ Living Large in our Little House says:

      I found once I hit my 40s, I didn’t want to spend a lot of time cleaning. I expect I will stay in a tiny abode now through retirement.

  3. Jane Boursaw says:

    Exactly – you have to glide through life with whatever works for you at that particular time in your life. And what works for some people doesn’t work for others. I often dream about getting rid of all my stuff and living in a tiny house, but could I REALLY do it? I’m not so sure. I’ve become accustomed to this life, this square footage, this house we built with our own two hands 20-some years ago.

    • Kerri @ Living Large in our Little House says:

      If you are happy in the house you built with your own hands, that’s where you should be. Maybe one day a tiny house will be more to your situation, but only you can decide.

  4. Brette says:

    I hadn’t heard this spin that it was a lie. You are living proof that it works. But of course one thing likely won’t work your whole lifetime. How silly for anyone to criticize it on that basis.

  5. Sherry Goolsby says:

    I would love a tiny house with an extension on it for my greenhouse and closed in patio /porch, for my two birds a few house plants. Living alone or with one other person, would be ideal in my later years. I could still enjoy my gardening and sharing of vegetables, and still be the awesome person that I am! 😁

  6. Living Large in our Little House says:

    Don’t give up, there are plenty of small/tiny homes that don’t have lofts and that are on the grid. Ours is on a perm. foundation with no loft and perm. water source.

  7. Bev True says:

    Most of my life, i have lived in around 1,000 sq ft. I had family to raise and needed the space. Also was mostly living in rentals. I still have the sane size but now own my own house. I am retired now and have learned that i don’t want or need even half this STUFF. I would truly LOVE to be in a much smaller space. Less to clean, heat, take care of, etc. Can’t imagine why that would be considered a failure.
    Can’t climb ladders, don’t think i could handle off grid, but wish i could. Used to love to garden.