Are you worried that your mortgage debt will reach right into your retirement? Are you concerned that you’ll never be able to afford a place of your own? Or maybe you’d rather live in a way that is easier on the environment? If so, you may enjoy the peace of mind that comes with living in a tiny house community in the beautiful province of Ontario.
A tiny house is a fully self-contained dwelling that is typically smaller than 500 square feet. While many of these homes are built on steel frames with wheels, like mobile RVs, quite a number are built like standard wood-framed homes, just on a smaller scale.
The key to tiny house living is the use of well-designed and well-used space. Bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens and living space are all established within the small footprint of the home based on flow and use—quite often providing dual-purpose for space and furniture and maximizing the use of built-ins while minimizing or eliminating the need for hallways.
Tiny house communities in Ontario
Across Canada, groups of people are now forming tiny house communities. According to the Tiny Home Alliance Canada, these communities aren’t interested in making extra mortgage payments on large homes with large mortgages; these communities focus on a minimalist lifestyle, that is more manageable and more sustainable.
This more affordable choice resonates with many middle-class Canadians. According to Smart Communities Ontario, the bottom 40% of earners in Canada spend more than half of their income on food and housing. By reducing the cost of accommodation, but providing ownership options, tiny homes could be a key solution in helping create more financially stable communities within Canada.
Here’s a sample of a few tiny home communities currently established in Ontario:
Keewatin, Ontario: Lake of the Woods Tiny Home Village
This particular village in Keewatin, ON is built on 50 acres of property near the Winnipeg River. The village includes 10 tiny homes as well as five hamlets. There’s also a common workshop and garden. Owners of these tiny homes live “off the grid,” grow their own food and generally live a more sustainable life.
Kingston, Ontario: Smart Communities
Smart Communities Ontario is a nonprofit organization that develops tiny house communities in Ontario using economic and legal solutions. Originally formed after the recession of 2008, Smart Communities wanted to find a solution to the high cost of housing in the province. At the time, many in the province were selling off their houses to live in an RV—a solution that was rife with problems when the snowy, cold winter weather returned.
Part of the Smart Communities solution is to offer tiny homes that are well-insulated and able to withstand Canadian weather extremes. The organization then organized groups of people that would band together to buy small parcels of land. Each individual became an equal shareholder in the development and was able to build their own private accommodation in the community. The total cost for the land and tiny house was under $25,000 per person, making it an extremely affordable housing option in the Kingston, Ontario area of Canada.
Hamilton, Ontario: Tiny village for at-risk women
The Social Housing and Research Council of Hamilton (SPRC) is building a tiny house community for women at risk of homelessness in Hamilton, Ontario. CBC reports that the project is about creating affordable housing options and includes solutions, such as laneway homes. The tiny homes built in this community are located on a property on Clarence Street in Hamilton.
Given that housing prices increased by 20% in Hamilton and Burlington in 2016, many people are now unable to get into the Hamilton property market. The aim is to help those struggling by making these tiny homes affordable, but no less comfortable. That’s because each aspect of the build takes into consideration how to effectively maximize less space.
Living in the tiny house space
For some, the idea of living in just 400 square feet of space sounds daunting, but advocates of the tiny house movement are convinced it’s a viable answer. Smaller space living requires less energy to clean, heat and cool and less material to build. This translates into upfront cost savings—keeping the purchase price significantly lower—as well as ongoing and long-term savings, through reduced gas and electricity usage. It also means more units can be built in a smaller space, providing housing and independence for more people. It’s a win-win and for politicians, like Hamilton Ward 2 councillor Jason Farr, a necessary solution to an ever-increasing housing shortage problem.