The Changing Demographics of America, and the Effects of these Changes on Housing
When it comes to popular conceptions of housing demand in America, there are a lot of common misconceptions about what Americans actually want. There is a popular perception of there being a need to build single family houses for all of the families that can’t find housing. While this is a demographic that certainly exists. It is far from the majority. For example, in Missoula Montana, 70% of households that rent are one or two people, and this is typical among many American cities. Far from a majority, large families are a distinct minority of households. And this percentage is only rising. The number of single people by choice, as well as childless couples, is only rising (See graph below). As a result, a majority of households in places like Missoula County don’t need a lot of space.
Traditionally, the solution is to build apartment buildings for these one and two-person household. Since they don’t need a lot of space, they can fit into one and two bedroom units. But many people despise having to share walls with neighbors, who can be loud, cook smelly food, and be disruptive. As such, there is a premium on single family houses and townhouses that do not share walls. However, in Missoula, a median single family house is selling for $540K, which is well out of the price range of many potential buyers. It is simply too expensive to buy large lots and build single family houses for affordable prices.
In fast-growing counties like Missoula, Montana, there is simply too much demand for single family houses, and construction is too expensive, for the market demand to be met. Missoula is currently going through a spike in job creation and population growth, and this has led to a predictable shortage in housing. With this pent-up demand, average rents rose 8.6% in the last 12 months. There is a large demand for single family houses, as few are being developed. In 2019, Missoula had just 1.09 housing units per household. That means that in order for Missoula County to reach the national average, it would have to build an additional 2,400 units. And this trend is forecasted to worsen over the next decade. Millennials, who are now the largest generation in America, are entering their peak home-buying years. They will be trying to buy single family homes for years to come.
Tiny Homes, which are structures less than 400 sq. ft., can fulfill this unmet market need. As stated above, a single person, or two people living together, can fit into these homes. To be clear, when more than one person is living in these homes, it takes some adjustments. That is where the amenities of the community are essential. First, a large lodge/clubhouse with amenities is crucial. A co-working space is crucial, so that people working from home can have a space outside of their home where they can focus. But even better, small 200 square foot “Man Caves” and “She-Sheds” can be placed on these lots without a permit, and they can be heated and air conditioned, and well designed with large windows, whatever amenities are desired, and fully finished.
These tiny homes are ideal starter homes for two main groups. One, the largest generation in America, Millennials, who are entering their peak home-buying age. Millennials, born between 1981 and 1996. They are a generation that values experiences over possessions and seeks to live a more minimalist and sustainable lifestyle. Millennials are also more likely to have a significant amount of student debt and face higher housing costs, making the affordability and lower maintenance costs of tiny homes appealing. Additionally, many millennials prioritize mobility and the ability to travel, which is facilitated by the compact and portable nature of tiny homes. This generation is well-acquainted with Tiny Homes, and have seen them on Social Media. Some have even stayed in them as Airbnbs or other vacation rentals. In addition, this generation has accumulated fewer material possessions, making the transition into smaller housing easier. Overall, the values and financial realities of millennials make them an ideal market for the tiny home movement.
The other ideal demographic for living in RVs and Tiny Homes are Baby Boomers. Baby boomers are interested in smaller homes for several reasons. First, many are entering retirement and looking to downsize, simplify their lives, and save money on housing expenses. RVs and Tiny homes offer a more affordable and manageable living option, with lower utility bills, maintenance costs, and property taxes.
Second, baby boomers are often seeking a more minimalist and sustainable lifestyle, and tiny homes align with these values. They offer a smaller environmental footprint and the opportunity to live with less material possessions.
Third, many baby boomers have children who have left home, and no longer require a large living space. Downsizing to a tiny home allows them to free up equity and have more disposable income for travel and leisure activities. The popular perception of Baby Boomers as older couples who are retired or near retirement is only half of the picture. Out of the roughly 50 million Baby Boomer households, roughly half of these households are people living alone. As Forbes Magazine put it in a recent article, “It’s estimated that 26 million Americans over the age of 50 are living solo, making this the quickest-growing demographic in the U.S.” These Baby Boomers who are living alone are an ideal fit for living in an RV or Tiny Home, as they don’t need the additional rooms for to get space from their spouse. As a result, tiny homes are a perfect fit for baby boomers who want to simplify their lives, save money, and live a more sustainable and fulfilling lifestyle.
Overall, the US is going through significant demographic changes, and these results are significantly changing the housing needs that our country has for the coming decades. RVs and Tiny Homes provide an in-demand alternative that is growing in popularity. By fulfilling this growing need, win-win-win solutions for buyers, builders, and the community as a whole.
If you are interested in learning more about the benefits of RV Parks, as well as the RV Parks that the Upslope Group is making offers on, shoot us an email at Keith@UpslopeGroup.com