The tiny house craze doesn’t make sense for many Canadians

If you turn on HGTV, you’ll be bombarded with shows about the small living craze, like Tiny House Hunters and Tiny Houses, Big Living. And who doesn’t get caught up in the cuteness of those little doll-like houses? But more and more, people are rethinking their decision to cram themselves into small spaces. Given Canada’s harsh climate most of the year, many are realizing that the dream of living small may have to stay just that.

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For 10 weeks every summer, Erin Anderson and her family squeeze into a teeny tiny 320-square-foot house in Nova Scotia. “This puts our cottage within the ‘tiny home’ range, making us part-time members of a high-minded, green-friendly, cost-saving movement to live small in a world of super-sized mansions,” writes Anderson in The Globe and Mail. Like most people in the tiny house scene, the family uses a composting toilet. “We bring in our own water by boat, take sun-heated showers outdoors and cook on the BBQ. On rainy days, we convert the dinner table into a Ping-Pong table,” explains Anderson.

Tiny House Portland
Image: Wikimedia Commons/Tammy/Weekend with Dee

Sound idyllic? Sure, but Anderson says there’s no way in the world she could keep it up year round, not in Canada with our fierce winters: “Could I handle 12 months of banging my head on the roof when I wake up in the morning, clambering down the loft ladder in the dark, having no place to read in private while cabin fever set in?” Of course not — who could?

Some Canadians are falling out of love with the tiny house trend. When Joanna and Collin Gibson got married, they decided to start their life together by building a tiny house in a remote Ontario community. “We started looking at Facebook, Pinterest posts, pictures, that sort of thing,” Collin told Tech Insider. “And gradually over the space of a couple of weeks, we thought, this is crazy, we should totally do this.”

The couple spent $26,000 building their “wee house.” Everything was going well until Joanna got pregnant six months later: 

“The small space for my wife during pregnancy was just a bit much, so we just needed to move into town,” Collin says. “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.”

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“It’s very easy to fall into the romanticism of the trailer-based tiny homes,” says Marc Davison to The Globe and Mail. Davison is one of the organizers of YEG Tiny Home, a group dedicated to living small in Edmonton.

After touring several model homes of small houses in Portland, Oregon, the idea of actually living in a 150-square-foot space seemed less romantic. “It didn’t feel homey. It felt like work, where you had to watch every step, every movement, watch out for bumping your head,” says Davison. “This is not practical in Canada.”

People are regretting buying tiny houses south of the border as well: Melanie Sorrentino and her husband Mark purchased a 150-square-foot home in Arkansas.

“It was insane,” recalls Sorrentino to The Globe and Mail. “At the end of the year, I was seriously worried I was going to have a heart attack from stress.”

She urges anyone enamoured with the tiny house craze to really try to envision themselves living in the house first and think before they buy: “My advice for anyone looking at a tiny house — or any lifestyle painted so perfectly — is to try to imagine whether you can grow as a human being in that space.”

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