The Gentrification of Trailer Park Living

April 22, 2014 10:51 am

TH1Last week it was revealed that 48% of Europe’s 18 to 30 year olds are living at home with mum and dad. These are staggering figure; half of us are literally turning into a generation of leaches and losers. But these figures aren’t hard to explain. Property prices are record high, the banks aren’t leading, the energy markets are crooked and youth unemployment remains badly hit.

We’re the first generation in a long time that’s been told to expect a lower standard of living than our parents and debt has consistently been shown to be a huge burden on the Millennials, generation Y or what ever you want to call us. The good news is, if like so many, your only options are sleeping in your old single bed or living on a caravan site, the caravan site is looking like an increasingly acceptable choice.

Across American and via the Internet come the euphemistically named ‘tiny houses people.’ Hipster trailer park heroes seems more accurate to me. They’re trying to pass off their tiny houses as studio-flats on wheels, but lets be frank, they’re just spectacular bourgeois caravans. They’re so affordable because just like caravans and “RVs” they don’t require building permits, and the majority are readily portable.

TH2The idea of “returning” to homes of less that 1000 squire feet has been in revival since the 1970s, but the more recent resurgence and subsequent branding of the ‘movement’ only really started to gather pace in the US after the financial crash of 2007. It’s an architectural and social movement driven by some inventive craftsmen and designers and epitomized on a selection of popular blogs, and it’s even about to get it’s first TV show. The tiny house movement is currently trying, and succeeding, in making trailer park living not only comfortable, acceptable and civilized but trendy, eco-friendly and somewhat luxurious. I think they’re on to something.

Admittedly tiny house living really isn’t for everyone. Plainly many 21st century adults simply wouldn’t fit in a tiny house, but even if you’re modestly sized like myself a certain lifestyle adjustment is required for life in a tiny house. The philosophy and ethos promoted by tiny house people is a necessary precursor – a simple, slimed down life style. Such a life style is innately economical and eco friendly and if you happen find such a lifestyle is appealing then houses the size of a traditional caravan or shipping container are looking more alluring than ever.

tiny-houses-2014-mercers-kitchen2-600But by drawing on knowledge from house boating, cabins and caravans tiny house people are creating some functional and aesthetically impressive little buildings. Look at these things. Some are ultimate little hideouts designed for urban free-living, rammed full of gadgets, space saving mind fucks and creature comforts.

And they make sense. Comparatively affordable, hi-tech, efficient or even self-sufficient units. Thatcher sold everything she could, the little social housing left is reserved for those who really need it and the energy “market” his not serving us. The acute housing shortage has made even finding a house difficult and property prices are eye watering, especially in the south. If you are lucky enough to get a mortgage off the banks, you’ll be paying it back for a debilitating and depressing amount of time.

TH3Modern society loves to rip on “jipos” and travelers. Despite the fact that their cultures simply value completely different things to our own, we persistently label them wasters and leaches. They have failed to live up to the stupidly high standard of our culture of consumption and endless growth, the personal imperative of which are drilled into the rest of us from the moment we can understand the words, “get a job; get a mortgage and wife, pay your bills and your taxes!”

Well, in the current economic climate those standards have gone from high, to impossible for many. Apparently the recover has begun, and unaspiringly it’s the property market that’s excelling itself, with no less that 6% growth. But don’t kid yourself Osborn, it’s because the UK’s property market is little more than a monopoly board for foreign investors. Wages remain stagnant and a booming property market only benefits the people who already own the country. Many of our parents and grandparents made a killing on property, but entering that property market is a distant dream for half of young people today.

TH4It’s long over due that society made room for those who don’t want to, can’t, or con no longer, play the never-ending game of bills, council tax and mortgage/rent. Tiny houses are just what our generation (and the environment) desperately needs. I welcome the gentrification of trailer park living, but it won’t likely do a lot to change the sigma associate with the travelers who have been employing this format of living for ages. Rightly or wrongly, the ‘tiny houses’ identity has been so rigorously marketed by the ‘tiny house people’ because they’re keen to emerge as distinct from communities already living in more tradition caravans.

The big questions are obviously land, and regulation? Once you’ve got yourself a cozy little house, where do you park it? Well, tiny house people gentrified the caravans so they’ve also gentrified caravan parks. ‘Tiny house villages’ are now a thing – private, exclusive, comparatively affordable little communities. It’s only a matter of time until the UK gets its first village.

 

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