As confirmed coronavirus cases rise nationwide, a tiny house can be a refuge from the world — or a place to go stir-crazy at lightning speed.
Marek and Ko Bush, a husband-and-wife team with a YouTube channel documenting their lives inside a tiny home, live in a 200-square property built two years ago. Because of it size, it’s been fairly easy to transport — the couple paid off over $125,000 in debt while moving from Jacksonville, Florida, to Dallas, Texas. Once in Texas, they settled into jobs in retail loss prevention and teaching.
“We were looking for a housing situation that combined ownership, rental value and flexibility,” Marek Bush told Inman, adding that they pay $30 for utilities and $500 for space in a lot. “This was kind of win-win because we can rent out if we ever decide to go in a different direction.”
But when coronavirus struck, the Bushes hit roadblocks much like the rest of the country. Ko was laid off from her job while Marek is on leave while waiting to see if an anticipated promotion will still be available after the pandemic is over. At the moment, they are self-isolating in their tiny home and monitoring their budget more closely amid uncertainty.
“It feels like an even better decision now,” Marek said, adding that the space has come to feel cozy while the lack of any close neighbors has also been beneficial amid the pandemic. “Every dollar counts at a time like this while it still affords us the opportunity to pick up and move if necessary if we need a lower cost of living or find a new job opportunity.”
Dan Dobrowolski, the founder of Wisconsin-based tiny house builder Estate, said that there has been an increase in customers looking to buy tiny houses in isolated locations. Some of it may be panic-based but in some cases those who were already interested in the minimalist lifestyle have been pushed into making the leap amid calls for self-isolation.
“People are flocking to tiny houses,” Dobrowolski told Inman. “Many have commented that they make them feel safe. It is private and separate from people. It is your own world.”
So I have been extremely blessed with my timing on completing my tiny house. I was thinking of creating a page for updates on living tiny and stuff like that. Who would like this? pic.twitter.com/5w5zgu906z
— Justin Tate (@UltimateSgaming) March 24, 2020
And while tiny houses can be both a primary residence or a vacation home, some derive security in knowing that they have a place to go in case of pandemics or natural disasters. Some, however, are discovering that others have struck on similar plans.
Another tiny house owner, Moline Nelson-Shraeder, owns a 344-square-foot property at the Big Bear Lake mountain resort in California. She and her husband spend spring and summer there but chose to hunker down at their primary residence in San Diego after the outbreak began.
“So now with people running from Covid-19 they flocked to the mountains,” Nelson-Shraeder said, adding that people went out and spent time together before the state mandated self isolation. “These tourists have nothing to do and [they’re] abusing these homes beyond belief.”
Tapani Pekkala, the CEO of Allwood Industrials, which produces a variety of vacation homes, including a $7,000, build-it-yourself version that went viral last May, said the interest in alternative living and build-it-yourself housing has always existed. Now, however, it could end up being a lifesaver for caretakers and those who need to be quarantined away from other family members.
While Pekkala has not seen a surge in interest since the outbreak began, he has seen orders come in and expects interest in off-the-grid and other types of minimalist living to continue long after the pandemic is over.
“They can be assembled quickly so that is a big plus,” Pekkala said. “We just had one customer who bought a kit to construct behind his elderly parents’ home so he could be close by in case they fell ill to the virus.”