Fancy small living? Have a look at some of the world's tiniest homes

Credit: iStock
Credit: iStock

There's a lot of buzz these days about tiny living. People see downsizing as a way of simplifying their lives. And let's face it: No one enjoys being tied to a 20 year mortgage.

According to this article by Fin24, the monthly repayment on most bonds is currently about 7% higher, in cash terms, than at the beginning of 2016, and it further notes that about 9.85 million South Africans have impaired credit records.

So what goes into making a tiny home?

Some of the homes are built at very low costs often with reclaimed materials while others have been built DIY through trial and error.

Some are contemporary works of art while others are installed with the latest high-tech, energy-efficient appliances. But something all these itty-bitty houses have in common? Simple designs with no limitations.

Read more: How to keep a small house clean

Have a look:

The POD-Idladla, South Africa

This micro house was designed to be cheap to build, easy to ship and easy to set up. The 183-square-foot house was designed by Johannesburg-based architect, Clara da Cruz Almeida, who collaborated with local design firm Dokter+Misses to design the interior.  

This modular nano-home with a minimal aesthetic is powered by solar energy and can be customised to suit the client’s specifications. Its high ceilings make the loft space appear more roomy than most other tiny homes and with additional pod expansions, it can accommodate up to 12 people. 

It is available for purchase in three options: the Bare Bones at R270,000, the Starter at R320,000 and the Deluxe at R800,000.

The Eco Cube, England

This carbon neutral Eco Cube (or QB1) was designed by Dr. Mike Page at the University of Hertfordshire and at 3x3x3 metres, it boasts a small living room, dining area, kitchen, washer and dryer, a closet, full shower, toilet and a full-sized bed. 

Nido, Finland

Designer Robin Falck created this Finnish micro house six years ago at the age of 18, and did it without a permit in Finland. According to New Atlas, this was allowed as builders can bypass the permit process if the structure is smaller than nine square metres. It took less than three weeks to complete and cost him around $10,500 (R138,620).

The cabin is divided over two levels and consists of a bedroom, lounge area and storage space. When Falck found a spot that had a really beautiful view that was isolated, he felt like he had some connection to the place. When you're out in nature, you're not supposed to spend that much time indoors, he says in the video below.

Since the surrounding area was a place of harmony and peace, he wanted the design to resonate with that. Hence, it was very limited and minimal with nothing to distract him from the experience of being around nature. For Falck, the cabin is to be used as a space of reflection after spending a day outside. 

Falck has called the home "Nido", which means "bird's nest" in Italian.

The Alpha Tiny House, U.S.

There's nothing flawed about this tiny house. It was the second one to be built by David Latimer, the founder of New Frontier Tiny Homes in Nashville. It has everything you need and MORE, including a full-sized jacuzzi tub. 

In an Instagram post, Latimer says that building these homes are "about bringing that which matters most to the forefront of our daily living: developing autonomy, living debt free with economic responsibility, flexibility and freedom to travel, change careers, cultivate work life balance, time to read and learn, always accruing experience-not more stuff." 

Small House, Japan

For a city as densely populated as Tokyo, this 4x4 metre home is a fantastic idea. The nine metre high home was designed for a married couple with their child and brings in a ton of natural light and ventilation, giving it a sense of expansiveness. The inside has a very simple aesthetic, is separated by the four floor boards and is joined by a spiral stairway. Just one problem: you'll have to run to the fourth floor if you need the toilet. 


Diogene, Germany

This ultra-minimalist house was created by German architect, Renzo Piano. It might look like it has space for just your bed, but take a closer look at this 2.5x3 metre wooden house and you'll find a shower, a kitchen, a composting toilet, a rain collection reservoir and even a solar generator.  

The name Diogene is a reference to Diogenes of Sinope, an ancient Greek philosopher who was said to live in a wine barrel

The Yolo Cabin, California

This tiny cabin was designed by Butler Armsden Architects and sits on a 400-acre farm in Yolo County. It also offers 360-degree views to the horizon. The inspiration for this cabin came from the local water towers in Yolo County. The main room of the cabin is elevated off the ground to enhance the view, and the cabin is supported on two large glulam beams, which means it can be moved to any location if desired. Now this is a house I could live in full-time.

The Keret House, Poland

Could this be the world's most skinniest house? At just 1.2 metres wide, it probably is.

Polish architect Jakub Szczesny spotted the gap between the two apartment buildings and decided to make use of it. The house is classified as an art installation since, under Polish law, it's too small to be a residence. At first, it functioned as an art residence lasting anywhere from five to seven days, but Israeli writer Etgar Keret is now the official resident of this narrow home. Initially having felt like "a sardine in a tin", he later started feeling comfortable in his new home.

Read more: Lamp it up with these impressive local lighting pieces

The ground floor consists of the stairway which leads up to the main floor where you'll find a bathroom and shower, as well as a kitchen with a small stove and a small eating area. Make your way to the other side and you'll find a nook with a beanbag chair. 

If you want to reach the next floor you'll have to climb a ladder and there you'll find a desk and a bed. While this thin house might appear too claustrophobic for many, the slope-angled roof is transparent, giving off a much more spacious feeling. 

House on a rock, Serbia

Built in 1968, this famous little house has survived everything that nature can throw at it. Balancing on a rock in the middle of the Drina river, it has experienced floods and high winds, yet it stood strong. The idea was put into practice when a group of young swimmers rested on this very rock almost 50 years ago, and decided they wanted a more comfortable spot. They began to build it and completed it the following year, turning it into a one-room house. It is currently owned by one of the friends, Milija Mandic, who is also a diver by profession. The best thing about this house: You won't have to deal with noisy neighbours.

Is living in a tiny home really worth it though? These couples abandoned their tiny living lifestyles after discovering the several problems it came with. And while tiny houses are booming, this article by The Atlantic notes the health risks associated with living in very small spaces, including claustrophobia that leads to an increase in stress levels and an effect on concentration, especially among children. However, The New York Times indicates that the results the magazine reported were inconclusive, so while small spaces may pose psychological risks to some populations it may not necessarily do so to others.

It is surely not a task for the faint of heart and might seem daunting, but compared to building a big, conventional house, it is an achievable project for anyone that sets their mind to it. For design and structural purposes, it is probably best to attend a few workshops to equip you with the knowledge to get building. If you're eager to build your own charming tiny home that's easy on the environment, here are a few things you need to know:

And if you're a wanderlust person and ever felt like having a home on wheels and travelling the world, it's not impossible. Jenna from Tiny House Giant Journey visits a minimum of five new countries per year while travelling in her own cosy minuscule home.

WATCH: Woman lives in a Tiny House so She Can Travel the World

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