Whether its to save money, reduce impact on the environment or simply avoid commitment, some people are choosing to “live tiny”
Size, says Andrew Winter, really does matter. The Queenslandbased property expert, who moved to Australia from England with his family 11 years ago, reckons his new show Tiny House Australia is a barometer of a changing Australian property market.
“If you’re a house addict, it’s fascinating. We all wanted three bedrooms, one bathroom, a quarter of an acre. Now we want four bedrooms, two bathrooms, 600 square metres and a double garage.
“But this is the start of something else ... it’s the start of Australia considering more compact housing, basically.”
Tiny House Australia also serves as a barometer of the demand to see more of the stars of Foxtel’s highest-rating series, Selling Houses Australia.
Add Winter’s new effort to gardener Charlie Albone’s Chelsea Gardens specials and designer Shaynna Blaze’s World of Design specials and makeover series Deadline Design (which will premiere in 2016), and all three of the team have now had solo TV shows.
“Let’s be honest, they’d be nothing without me,” Winter jokes. “But really, real estate is not as sexy as design, so I’m delighted to have done this. Because, in fact, this (tiny homes) is one element of the market I know quite a lot about and have a real interest in.
“I’m just hoping that lots of people watch so that we get a chance to do it again and I get a bit more involvement. I don’t think anybody realised I was that interested in it.”
Winter is referring to the fact that, though filmed by a local crew, the stories in Tiny House Australia were actually made by US network A&E for their series Tiny House Nation. Winter was a late addition to give THA some local flavour and expertise.
Winter laughs that he and the Lifestyle channels team “basically completely ignored” the US script that came with the footage “because people didn’t live ‘beside the bush’ they lived ‘in the woods’.”
And whoever the host of the US version is, there’s no way he’d be able to out-quip our Winty. (Although, says Winter, “he’s probably much better looking. Possibly not browner, but certainly more toned”.)
Sample Winty quote over footage of a tree-change couple milking a cow: “I prefer my milk from plastic bottles.”
The series follows people looking to buy small, alternative housing for differing reasons. One young couple spent years travelling Australia in a bus and want to recreate that vibe in their first tiny, and possibly still portable, home together.
“Literally mobile,” marvels Winter. “I would say that’s taking it a bit too far from me. I’d like to come home, not have it moving around the country. And did you see the one where they don’t have a kitchen and bathroom? No. No. That’s not for me. That’s why I wish I’d met them, because I’d have said, ‘Stop it!’”
In another episode, a wife wants to have less impact on the environment while her husband just wants to save cash.
“People automatically think living tiny will save money, but it also very clearly emerges that it’s very much a lifestyle choice,” says Winter.
Indeed, there’s as many choices in the tiny sector (from bush shacks to container homes) as there are reasons to go small. For many young people, it might be the only affordable option in our highpriced cities. Others don’t want the pressure or commitment. For older couples, it could be about living mortgage-free and leaving something behind for the kids.
Andrew Winter (centre) has joined Charlie Albone and Shaynna Blaze in fronting a solo show.