Tiny House Communities: The Next Big Thing?

Maura B. Conley, Gettysburg College
Kylie C. McBride, Gettysburg College
Siobhan R. McIlhoney, Gettysburg College

Environmental Studies Senior Thesis


In recent years, the tiny house movement has emerged as a response to the growing size, economic costs and environmental burden of the average American home. In both the news and social media, claims abound that tiny houses – and tiny house communities – can save the planet, simplify lives, lower housing costs and even be the answer to homelessness. But is this really true? Are they the next big thing? The purpose of this project was to systematically assess the claims made about tiny house communities and attempt to confirm or deny them via empirical analysis. To examine claims, we conducted a textual analysis on the top 100 google hits for tiny house communities. We then determined the actual amount of tiny house communities in the United States using a variety of online, textual and other data bases. Results show that of 41 identified tiny house communities in the United States, approximately 22 are functional communities. Of these, the vast majority demonstrate realization of claims related to environmental sustainability and psychological benefits. But given the unique characteristics of the movement, including the huge potential number of tiny houses outside of community settings, more research will be required to discern the full extent of this burgeoning movement.