Tiny houses are, perhaps, one of the greatest/worst legacies of late capitalism. Forced into increasingly minuscule apartments because of housing prices and baby-boomer landlords trying to maximise their income, millennials are getting into house ownership the only way they can: by purchasing (and, sometimes, building) property that crams as much house into a tiny space as possible.
You can find a whole community on YouTube where people build houses on trailers, in buses, and on teeny tiny little spits of land that they scraped together to buy. There’s even that one guy in Hong Kong who has all of his separate rooms stored like sliding bookshelves, as if his entire way of living is basically the same as going through a jukebox catalogue.
For some reason, people who play The Sims have really gotten into the tiny house trend. Ignoring the fact that you can summon thousands of dollars from thin air, these builders are creating houses with smaller and smaller footprints, using cheats, tricks and finely honed Sims know-how to build something that you literally could not swing a cat in.
You can check out Gita Jackson’s own attempt at tiny house building to see what sort of compromises need to be made—it usually involves things like open bathrooms and sleeping in the kitchen. Seems ludicrous? Sure, except once I lived in an apartment where I slept in the kitchen, and also there are those London and New York apartments that are literally just a sweaty shoebox that costs $1000 a month with a toilet in the shower.
Why are we romanticising tiny houses? Why are Sims builders so keen to recreate the horror of living under the stairs? Is Harry Potter to blame? Isn’t The Sims meant to be about living out your fantasies, which usually involve mansions and being able to hire a butler?
It seems like the best part is the challenge of fitting an entire life (or two lives, if you’re feeling daring) into a small space. Efficiency is important, but so is knowing the intricacies of the Sims 4 building tools. No one walks into a mansion and is immediately blown away by the clever layouts, because it’s easy to decorate a house with infinite money and space. Challenges are what keep the Sims building community alive—limited budgets, limited colour palettes, and limited space mean more opportunities to show off.
There’s also a growing love for minimalism, as evidenced by the new Netflix series, Tidying Up With Marie Kondo, which is about throwing out all of your possessions that don’t “spark joy.” If millennials can’t afford luxuries, then why not make a whole way of living about it, so they can pretend it was a choice? It’s much easier to be minimalist when you don’t have so much space to waste.
It might be simpler than all that, though. A tiny house layout minimises the amount of walking between the bed and the toilet. My sims really love pissing themselves. So...that’s always a factor.