The tiny house movement has attracted people of all walks and stages of life. However, women in particular have taken a shine to the movement. Surveys conducted by Tiny Life, an informational website for tiny-house enthusiasts show that more women than men are opting to live tiny - about 55 percent - which begs the age-old question "why?"
The Spruce caught up with a couple of women living tiny for insight into why they chose this lifestyle and the impact it’s had. For them, their reasons for going tiny are deeply personal and recognizable among many tiny-home owners. But as women, they reflect a growing shift towards a more independent and mindful lifestyle.
A More Mindful, Minimalist Life
Loan Hy, who goes by Luwan, built her first tiny house after a divorce. A full-time network operations manager for a software company, she was drawn to its minimalism and the independence it offered.
In 2020, she built a modern 400-square-foot tiny house in Texas with Indigo River Tiny Homes. The build took about three months, and she lived in it for a year. She now rents it on AirBnB while she converts a detached garage and travels in her Ford Transit van with her three dogs.
“Going tiny helped me purge my life, start over, and live minimally – even with three dogs. Having less physical things really simplified my way of living,” Hy explains.
Her entire home can be tidied up in less than 20 minutes, she says.
But Hy isn’t the only one who was drawn to tiny living for its minimalism. Kaetlynn Daoust lives in her self-converted school bus, called Ruth Bader Ginsbus, with her rescue husky, Mako. The 32-year-old is a director of marketing and a freelance marketing copywriter. She also plays professional Ultimate Frisbee with the Arizona Sidewinders, the women’s professional team based in Phoenix, AZ.
Unlike many bus lifers, Daoust’s dream was never to travel the country or wake up in a new setting every morning, she says. Rather, it was a conviction to live a more minimalist life that led her to tiny-house living.
“Over the last few years, I felt increasingly burdened by the 'stuff' I had collected, how much waste I was generating, how much water I was using, the upkeep of a backyard I hardly ever used, etc.,” she explains. “I knew I wanted to live more intentionally with my space, my surroundings—even my thoughts.”
A Home of Her Own
For Hy, being able to create her own space, and design it from top to bottom with quality pieces that she chose, curated or designed was a huge factor in her decision to go tiny. After cohabitating in a regular-sized house for most of her adult life, having a bespoke house of her own has made a big difference in her life.
“I think it's empowering to be able to claim your space, and be able to dictate what you want and how you want your home to look instead of waiting on developers to build a cookie-cutter home from which to choose; you are able to take charge of the build,” Hy says.
For Daoust, building her own home was also an opportunity to learn building skills and develop personal endurance in the face of challenges. She bought her bus in April 2020, and spent one and a half years building it with her dad. She’s lived in it off and on since summer 2021 and moved in full time in December 2021.
“The build and my time living in the bus has shown me my capacity for overcoming adversity with grace, patience and resilience,” she reflects. “Oh, and it’s shown me the importance of keeping a tiny home clean and always, always double-checking your cabinet locks before you drive!”
Breaking Free from Societal Norms
With more and more women choosing to be child-free, Daoust thinks the tiny house movement and the movement of women choosing not to have kids go hand-in-hand.
“What else have we been fed by society for so long that we’ve internalized as the norm? Tiny home living gives us the permission—the chance—to do the things our mothers and grandmothers never did because of time, family, and society,” Daoust notes. “It empowers us to pick up power tools we’ve never used before, to make mistakes—and fix them on our own. It forces us to be resourceful and to stand up for ourselves. It shows us how capable we are of not just surviving, but thriving in challenging situations.”
Hy also sees women joining the movement to achieve independence.
“I think there is an increasing trend in independent living that women have in this modern age,” Hy says. “Instead of waiting on the traditional timeline of marriage before home buying, they veer towards their own path and can afford to live on their own and create their own space.”
A Community of Lifelong Friends
Another benefit for tiny living is the community that Hy and Daoust have found respectively.
“Many who decide to go tiny tend to flock together, and bond through shared experiences and challenges of building and outfitting a tiny space,” Hy says, referencing a group called the Tiny Homies in the Sandy Lake MH & RV Resort in Carrollton, TX that she still stays in regular contact with.
When Daoust was deciding what method she’d use to go minimal—trailer, RV or van—she ultimately decided to buy a bus based on the bus-life community she found along the way.
Opportunities for Financial Independence
Being able to afford an entire home for about a third of the cost of a traditional single family home meant that Hy could spend more money on quality finishes and even afford lakefront property to park her tiny house. Her monthly expenses were greatly reduced, which also lowered her property taxes.
Currently she’s renting her tiny home to travelers through AirBnB in order to share the lifestyle with others. Her plan is to construct a tiny home resort as well as educate and encourage more people to consider homes as investment properties.
Women in the Tiny House Movement
More and more women are finding community and the lifestyle of their dreams through the tiny house movement. For Hy and Daoust, it has been an opportunity to gain independence, freedom and buck societal norms, which they think will continue to attract more women to the movement.
“I think women are turning to tiny-home living as a way to express freedom, to show the world their independence, and as a chance to learn who they really are when faced with adversity,” Daoust explains.