- Tiny houses symbolize the lifestyle gap between millennials and baby boomers.
- I recently stayed at Think Big! A Tiny House Resort in the Catskills in New York for three days, and the mother-daughter duo who run it pinpointed three reasons why millennials love tiny houses.
- Tiny houses are more affordable than suburban mansions, offer a unique experience, and enable millennials to work remotely.
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Tiny houses are more than 200-square-foot dwellings on a set of wheels.
They’re also symbolic of some of the key differences between millennials and baby boomers. I experienced these differences firsthand when I recently visited Think Big! A Tiny House Resort in the Catskills in New York and stayed in a 269-square-foot tiny house for three days.
The resort is run by the mother-daughter duo Margie and Melissa Juszczak. I asked them why they thought millennials have fueled the growing tiny-house phenomenon, and their three answers made it clear just how different millennials are from their parents.
1. Millennials can actually afford tiny houses.
“People love tiny houses because the McMansion died,” Melissa told me. “Millennials can’t afford mansions.” Tiny houses, she added, are generally more affordable for millennials.
The suburban mansion is losing its spot as part of the American dream, and it’s partly because they’re too expensive for millennials, who are financially behind, Business Insider previously reported. A 2016 Trulia study found that premiums paid for McMansions declined significantly in 85 of the country’s 100 biggest cities, according to Bloomberg.
Margie, a baby boomer, said her generation “does houses in the suburbs, but the next generation is coming out of school with student loans.” Staggering student-loan debt, coupled with a higher cost of living, is delaying millennials saving for a down payment.
It doesn’t help that first-time homebuyers today are likely to pay 39% more than first-time homebuyers did nearly 40 years ago. And only 13% of millennial renters across the US will be able to afford a traditional 20% down payment within the next five years, according to a new Apartment List survey.
The median listing price for homes in the US is $285,000, whereas the median cost of buying a tiny house is $59,884. Others spend anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000 building tiny houses.
2. Tiny houses are all about the experience.
But the McMansion is also seeing a decline because millennials have different homebuying priorities from baby boomers: They prefer convenience and quality over size, experts have told Business Insider. This ultimately boils down to experience.
Margie and Melissa both told me that for millennials, tiny houses are all about the experience. “Millennials aren’t tied to their house,” Margie said. Melissa added that millennials don’t want a life full of stuff. “Less is more,” she said.
Experience is so coveted among the generation that it’s become a new form of luxury. “The world we live in thinks the more money you throw at it, the more fancy materials, the more luxury it is,” the New York-based designer Andrew Kotchen, the founding principal of the architecture and design firm Workshop APD, said in an interview with Mansion Global. “It’s not true. Certainly there are baseline conditions of quality and craft, but it’s really an experience.”
Millennials love to spend on experiences, so why should their home be any different?
3. Tiny houses offer a nomadic lifestyle for millennials working remotely.
One of the biggest experiences that tiny houses offer millennials is the ability to be on the go. Margie said more millennials could work remotely or move with a company — opportunities that weren’t as plentiful for baby boomers at that age.
Working remotely is a popular work perk for millennials, Myelle Lansat and Rebecca Aydin reported for Business Insider. About 43% of Americans worked from home at least once in 2016, according to Gallup.
Tiny living affords such a lifestyle. Consider Ryan Mitchell of The Tiny Life. He has saved more than $100,000 since going tiny, he told Business Insider. With that money, he started a new business, which he then sold, using the profits to buy land of his own. He’s also been doing a lot of traveling, sometimes spending up to a few months in a country at a time.
Tiny living also enabled Jenna Spesard to become an entrepreneur and take on a nomadic lifestyle. “I’m saving enough money every month that I can travel all over the world a few times a year while working on my own business,” Spesard of Tiny House Giant Journey previously told Business Insider. “I never would have been able to do that before going tiny.”