Buying a home
Could you live in a tiny home?
What is the tiny home movement?
The Big Banana, the Big Merino and the Big Golden Gumboot… Yep, we like things big here in Australia. But with housing prices becoming increasingly expensive, it’s time to start thinking about smaller houses. More and more Australians are turning to the ‘tiny house’ as a downsizing option, embracing the uncomplicated lifestyle it brings and seeing it as a solution to provide more financial freedom.
Ranging in size from a car-parking space up to a semi-trailer or shipping container, tiny houses are liveable homes that make the most of innovative storage design and space-saving architecture. They can be built at a fraction of the cost of a full sized home, so it’s not hard to see why they’re one of the most popular housing trends of the decade.
In Australia, most tiny houses are built on top of trailers so they can be classified as temporary structures, which means they don’t have to comply with the minimum housing sizes stipulated by council regulations. You may still be able to live the tiny house lifestyle with the assistance of a home loan – if you’re eligible.
Spotlight on: Jodie and Carla
"[In my opinion] the council restrictions are a bit bizarre, really", says Jodie Coleman, who lives in a tiny house on the New South Wales Central Coast with his girlfriend Carla and their Burmese cat Simon. “You can build a house as large as you want – get a $2 million mortgage that will cripple you for the next 40 years – but you can’t choose to build small on your own land... at least not everywhere, not yet.”
Jodie is living and breathing his own financial wellbeing movement by embracing the tiny house movement. Why pay a mortgage for decades when you can still enjoy the Australian dream by simplifying your life and live in the debt-free simplicity of a beautiful tiny house?
Jodie and Carla built their home on the back of a triple-axle trailer with the help of Jodie’s father, a retired carpenter, and some friends. The total build cost Jodie and Carla a little over $30,000.
“We really tried to take advantage of the fact that we were designing something for our own needs,” Jodie says. “So we’ve got a split staircase up to a loft bed and spare space for storage or a single guest to sleep in. We’ve got a ton of slide-out clothing storage for Carla and cat flaps hidden under benches for Simon.”
“It wasn’t an easy decision to let go of all those things we were used to – big-screen LCD television, body-length couches, big kitchens and all the stuff that goes with them, but now that we’re here, we’d never look back. It’s actually really liberating.”
Spotlight on: Timothy Delaney
Timothy Delaney, who keeps his tiny house on a friend’s property in Victoria, feels the same way. “When I go to bed at night, I don’t have to worry about what will happen to me if I lose my job tomorrow or if I have an accident or anything,” he says. “I sleep peacefully.”
Timothy built his tiny home out of reclaimed local timbers and second-hand fittings where possible. “I went to junk shops and recycling centres and I put word around with my mates that I needed this or that… you’ll be surprised how much extra stuff people keep around for no reason that they’ll happily give you,” he says. “For example, all of my windows are from one mate – he’d been storing them for years and his wife was so thankful I’d taken them that she came and installed herb planters on the windows after they were up!”
Timothy’s tiny home is only 2.4m wide by about 6m long, but without needing to arrange furniture to face a central point – like a television – there’s plenty of room to live comfortably. “I do my sleeping inside and my living outside,” Tim says. “It’s a beautiful world – why would I want to lock myself away inside some walls and not experience any of it?”
Could a tiny home be right for you?
If you’re after a mortgage-free lifestyle, a tiny house could be an option to consider. For guidance on how to effectively manage your finances and achieve your savings goals, you could talk to a Suncorp Financial Planner.
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