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Trend watch: The scope of the ‘Tiny House Movement’ in India and its possible repercussions on the industry

Trend watch: The scope of the ‘Tiny House Movement’ in India and its possible repercussions on the industry

The 2010s were exciting times for the housing industry on a global scale. Among the many micro trends that cropped up across the world was one major trend that got the attention of several countries. This was the Tiny House Movement. Also referred to as the Small House Movement, this architectural and social trend has been gaining ground predominantly in the United States.

A preview of the Tiny House Movement across the world

Up until the early 2010s, houses in America saw a steady increase in size. The average size of new single-family homes grew from 1,780 sq. ft. in the late 1970s to 2,662 sq. ft. in 2013.[1] The Tiny House Movement aims to encourage people to adopt the practice of returning to smaller homes for a number of reasons ranging from strengthening their communities and helping the environment to spending more time with their families or cutting costs.

The exact definition of ‘tiny’ may vary slightly from one part of the world to the other, but predominantly, there’s an active distinction between ‘tiny’ and ‘small.’ Tiny houses are generally up to 400 sq. ft. while small houses could be between 400 and 1,000 sq. ft. in size. Although this movement gained greater traction in the 2010s, the notion and the practice had been both essential and popular in parts of the United States much earlier, during the time of the Great Recession.

Today, although America appears to be the hot spot for the Tiny House Movement, parts of other countries like Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom are also embracing this trend.

Will India embrace the Tiny House Movement ?

In the context of housing trends, India is a truly diverse nation. The average size of houses, for instance, varies a great deal from one city to the other. The difference exists not just between Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities, but even between different cities in the same tier. The average size of houses in Mumbai, for example, comes in at 700 sq. ft. while the average in Bangalore is around 1,260 sq. ft.[2]

So, will India welcome the concept of tiny homes? The answer to that may not be unequivocal yet, but a closer look at the trends sweeping across India’s housing market makes it easier to speculate on the possible future.

Here are some key observations.

  • The average home size has been on a downward trend

There has definitely been a marked growth in the number of compact homes in the country. Reports show that between 2014 and 2018, the average size of housing units decreased by around 17% across metros in the country. Looking beyond the average, some metros seem to have recorded a steeper decline in home sizes than others, with the Mumbai Metropolitan Region seeing a 27% decline and Bangalore seeing only a 12% fall in home sizes.[2] Should this trend continue, India may be ready to embrace the Tiny House Movement sooner than later.

  • Millennials are choosing smaller houses [3]

It’s no secret that Indian suburbs are dotted with expansive houses, while the housing units closer to the heart of the city get progressively smaller. Millennials, it appears, are increasingly prioritizing location coupled with affordability over size, since it gives them the flexibility to not be tied down to a particular locality the way the Gen X was. Millennials are also actively preferring smaller homes that do away with the higher maintenance costs and added efforts needed to maintain larger properties. All these signs point to a possible readiness to adopt the tiny home culture.

  • Tiny houses align beautifully with another growing trend – affordable housing

Affordable housing for all has been a very real problem for India – a country of 1.3 billion people. In a bid to resolve the housing problems, the government of India launched the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), with the target of building 20 million affordable houses by 2022. The concept of tiny homes can help bridge this gap and give the impetus needed to fulfill this dream of housing for all by 2022, while simultaneously making homes more affordable for people.

The possible impact of the movement on India’s housing industry

The impact of the Tiny House Movement on the housing industry in India cannot be quantified as of yet. However, when we speculate upon how this movement could impact the industry, the major development would likely be positive in nature. Tiny and small homes will mean a rising demand for units, since more people will find themselves capable of affording homes. This would, in turn, benefit the housing industry and its allied sectors like construction and logistics. The Tiny House Movement will also make India’s housing industry more capable of competing with its global counterparts, since the movement is already active in many countries abroad.

The takeaway

The pandemic has reinforced the need for affordable housing. And when affordability becomes a top priority, downsizing becomes a natural consequence. So, whether for environmental reasons, affordability or the need to house India’s rising population, the Tiny House Movement may just be what our country needs right now.

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