Tiny Houses and the Tiny House Movement

  • Posted on May 7, 2017


With modern technology marching into almost every aspect of our daily lives, the world seems to get smaller and smaller. With few exceptions, tiny computers are replacing large, clunky desktops that in their own generation replaced the room-sized computers of old. Tiny phones that fit in our pockets can reasonably be called the next generation’s tiny computer. Home and living standards have not escaped this trend of miniaturization. Waves of young people are catching on to what the camp community has known for generations: that mobile and tiny living may be the best way to reduce costs and shrink your carbon footprint.
The trend is by no means restricted to hipsters and trendsetters, though. In fact, what is called tiny-living and tiny homes by tiny house owners is something we in the mobile living and sheep camp community have known for a long, long time. Living frugally, living close to the outdoors, and living with just the essentials, is as satisfying as any luxury high-rise condo.

Two Communities Sharing Lifestyles

While there are certainly differences between the sheep camp community and the tiny home community, the values and goals of each tend to be very similar once you get past the first couple of layers.
On the surface, camp living appears to be more like mobile living and recreational vehicle living spaces. Tiny homes often take the form of miniature versions of more traditional living spaces such as houses. Many tiny homes featured on tiny home and tiny living blogs actually look like miniature homes or tiny cabins. They often use traditional building materials in non-standard ways to maintain the same feel of living in a traditional home. Oftentimes tiny homes will be constructed from scrap or surplus residential building supply sources, even to the point of including gabled windows and planter-boxes in beneath the windows.
Other tiny homes are more modern and innovative with their use of space and are able to minimize the impact of downsizing their lifestyle. What results is a tiny house that may not look like anything you have ever seen before, but ends up being remarkably comfortable. Such decisions may even end up making the lifestyle for tiny home owners more sustainable in the long-term.
The camp community shares many of the same goals and values of the tiny houses and the goals of tiny homes. When reading the experiences of tiny home owners, you will often find them expressing how much freedom and choice transitioning to tiny living has created in their lives. The ability to make life choices based on your immediate needs and desires for adventure is instantly simplified when you no longer have to worry about booking accommodations at overpriced hotels, renting another person’s home (as is the case with some services in the sharing community and their movement), or having to decide how to move your possessions.
In addition to accomplishing a freedom of movement, tiny homes also provide a sense of freedom from traditional ties. Some young people have not only found that most of their accumulated possessions do not bring happiness (and can therefore be strategically discarded in the transition to tiny living in a tiny house), but they also find that tiny homes create a freedom from traditional systems designed to tie people down into communities.
You certainly do not have to have any issues with community and social living, but often your choices to live life out of a camp and the choice of others to do the same from the porch of their tiny home are actually a reaction of fabricated sociality. The sad fact is that communication and media giants quite literally try to tie customers down through cable television subscriptions and they actually prefer traditional living. Electric companies build infrastructure the knits consumers together and your water bill is (or used to be) the evidence that where you live is largely determined by the network of civil infrastructure.
Breaking free of these utilities by taking a step forward into small, sustainable living is a unique and invigorating experience for tiny homes and trailer camps alike.

Range Camps and the Tiny House Movement: Paths that Cross and Diverge

Of course, as part of the camp community we value our tiny-home neighbors and celebrate their achievements and hope that we, as seasoned members of minimalist living, can support them as they work through the hiccups of transitioning to their tiny lifestyle. As often as our paths cross, though, there are some aspects that differ between tiny homes and sheep camps. Your path may be similar to that of the owners of tiny homes, but it is also your own.
Camps and tiny houses are both mobile, but camps are built tough and built to last. You may see some tiny homes perched upon an overlook or nestled in a grove, but chances are, if they are there now they will probably not be moving any time soon. Camps, on the other hand, value the freedom only accomplished by turning off of the beaten path. Taking your home to somewhere no one else has lived breathing the air and then battening down the hatch  to see what is just over the horizon.
Sometimes the charm of tiny homes is in their visual similarity to other full-size houses, but this same charm can also be restricting. Mobility may be a convenient feature of some tiny homes, but mobility is a part of camps. It is factored into every design decision from materials to layout and to longevity. In the end, if you want a house that is tiny and that you can park around town or the county, a tiny house may be for you. But if your adventures include turning off the paved in search of adventure, or if parking it for a several weeks or months or years just isn’t an option, the camp is going to be your home where you never thought a home could be.

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“First, thanks for all of the help and patience in preparing to order our camp. You made sure that we really got what we wanted. From the time we picked up our camp we have really enjoyed it. It pulls great, and is easy to park and set up. This camp is so comfortable. Cooking and cleaning is easy, and everything is easy to get to. You can have people in and not feel crowded. We have camped in camp grounds, by lakes, and in the hills hunting with no problems. We like camping in it best when it is cold so we can use the wood stove. There is nothing cozier than that stove. Summer is nice to; the windows are placed so there is good ventilation. The door coming in from the front is more secure feeling. The kids are fighting over who will inherit it, but we are determined to wear it out before that happens.”

- Pat and Ernie , Sparks Nevada

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