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In Search of the “Good Life”: The Appeal of the Tiny House Lifestyle in the USA


  • Severin Mangold

    (Department of Sociology and Human Services, University of North Georgia, Dahlonega, GA 30597, USA)

  • Toralf Zschau

    (Department of Sociology and Human Services, University of North Georgia, Dahlonega, GA 30597, USA)


Over the past decade, tiny houses and the lifestyle they promote have become a world-wide phenomenon, with the trend especially impactful in the United States. Given their broad appeal and increasing prominence within popular culture, it is surprising how little research exists on them. To help to better understand what motivates people to adopt this lifestyle, this paper presents insights from an exploratory study in the United States and offers the first contours of a new conceptual framework. Situating the lifestyle within the larger economic and cultural forces of our times, it argues that going “tiny” is seen by tiny house enthusiasts as a practical roadmap to the Good Life : A simpler life characterized by more security, autonomy, relationships, and meaningful experiences. The paper ends with a brief discussion of broader implications and directions for future research.

Suggested Citation

  • Severin Mangold & Toralf Zschau, 2019. "In Search of the “Good Life”: The Appeal of the Tiny House Lifestyle in the USA," Social Sciences, MDPI, vol. 8(1), pages 1-21, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jscscx:v:8:y:2019:i:1:p:26-:d:198541

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Leonard-Barton, Dorothy, 1981. "Voluntary Simplicity Lifestyles and Energy Conservation," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 8(3), pages 243-252, December.
    2. Leonardo Nicolao & Julie R. Irwin & Joseph K. Goodman, 2009. "Happiness for Sale: Do Experiential Purchases Make Consumers Happier than Material Purchases?," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 36(2), pages 188-198.
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    1. Chelsey Willoughby & Severin Mangold & Toralf Zschau, 2020. "Small Houses, Big Community: Tiny Housers’ Desire for More Cohesive and Collaborative Communities," Social Sciences, MDPI, vol. 9(2), pages 1-33, February.

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    tiny house; lifestyle; movement;
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