tiny homes like this cabin in the woods are on the rise

Why tiny homes are on the up

Cheaper to build and run with greater off-grid potential, miniature housing is getting big

By Victoria Purcell | 6 January 2022

Unconventional living is becoming an increasingly popular choice. The latest trend is tiny homes. More and more people are opting to live off-grid in converted shipping containers, cabins in the woods and vans transformed into mobile homes for globe-trotting adventures.

Tiny homes cost less to build and to run, and they require fewer materials to build, meaning a smaller carbon footprint. They have really taken off in America, where there are some 10,000 dinky dwellings. Even Elon Musk is on board, selling six of his seven properties and relocating to a 375sq ft prefab in Texas.

There are thought to be just 200 official tiny homes in the UK, but the movement has so far remained chiefly underground, mostly due to tricky planning laws. But with house prices and homebuilding targets regularly hitting headlines – and around 15,000 people already living on houseboats – perhaps tiny homes could be the next big thing?

How big are tiny homes?

Tiny homes come in all shapes and sizes, from houseboats to treehouses. There’s just one rule uniting them: Tiny Homes must be under 400sq ft – that’s smaller than the minimum space requirements for a London flat. If you’re up to the task, you can build or refurbish your own for as little as £6,500.

With tiny homes saving on average £780-£1,057 per month, dependant on where you live, it’s no wonder the demand for miniature housing is rising. From healthier finances to a minimalist lifestyle, there are many benefits to downsizing, but you don’t have to go without your creature comforts. Tiny homes can be equipped with off-grid gas so you can still enjoy a hot shower and cosy evenings, however remote you go.

If off-grid living sounds good to you, take a look at some of the most inspiring ways to embrace the tiny homes movement.

inside an off-grid cabin house in the woods

The interior of a tiny rustic log cabin (also pictured top). Photo: PPA

Houseboats

Houseboats are perfect for the free-spirited, offering adventure, the chance to meet new communities of boaters, and easy afternoons of fishing, reading and exploring the countryside.

The reduced costs are obviously a bonus, too. Boat licences cost between £500-£1,000 per year. And mooring fees, depending on location, can cost as little as £15-£20 per foot per year. To avoid paying mooring costs, live life on the move and avoid staying in one place for more than 14 days.

a houseboat is an ideal option for free-spirited adventurers who like to move around

Wooden houseboat on the river Lahn, Germany. Photo: Birgit Reitz-Hofmann