Living small: The prospects for tiny houses as a solution for affordable housing in Vancouver

Finding a place for tiny homes

Inside Kayla's House

Elsewhere in Abbotsford, Kayla Feenstra has incorporated a company called Tiny Homes Canada so she can help people like her build their dream tiny home. The business hasn’t officially launched yet, but Feenstra already has clients interested from as far off as Alberta. “We’re stoked. There’s lots of interest, and lots of people saying, ‘this makes so much sense to live like this’.”

Tiny living isn’t for everyone, but for those who want to trade square footage for mortgage-free homeownership there’s still the problem of finding land. Feenstra hopes to help her customers out by posting land listings on her company’s website. “There are lots of farms that are looking for people to help on the land; … they don’t necessarily want to pay them, but they would totally give them space to stay,” she says. “The trick with that is finding the right partnership, because not everyone is going to mesh together that well.”

While living on a farm in Abbotsford will work for some tiny house owners, others need the benefits of living in a denser urban environment, like accessible transit and community amenities. Like Samuel Baron in his micro loft, potential urban tiny homeowners are willing to live with less space and fewer possessions so they can walk or bike to work, have access to a variety of restaurants, coffee shops, and sources of entertainment, and still afford their own home. But for tiny houses to proliferate in Vancouver, they need to be legally welcomed into single-family backyards. Otherwise those interested in tiny houses will have to choose between staying in dense urban neighbourhoods and moving out to suburbs like Abbotsford, where there’s enough available land to create a permanent tiny house community.