Last year’s inaugural St. Pete Tiny Home Festival was such a spectacular success – around 3,000 people descended on St. Pete College’s Allstate Center campus over its two weekend days – that organizers began planning the 2019 edition almost immediately.
“This year, we’re adding more homes, to hopefully make the lines a little bit shorter,” says Ester Venouziou of LocalShops1, the event organizer. “I learned that there’s a lot more interest in all this than I ever thought going in.”
The St. Pete Tiny Home Festival takes place 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, March 23 and 24. Tickets are available here.
Everyone involved, Venouziou says, expected the “novelty factor” of tiny homes, from TV exposure, would bring in the curious. “But there were so many people seriously interested in having a more sustainable way of life. I think people thought ‘Oh, this is going to be fun, we’ll see the little homes,’ but they were really interested in speaking to the tiny home owners, and seeing how they can make this their way of life – now, or maybe as they get older.”
The average size of a tiny house is 100-400 square feet, according to the Tiny House Society. Enthusiasts say there are numerous reasons to take to tiny life, from the price of a tiny house (average cost for one on wheels is $46,000, around $119,000 for one built on a foundation) to the reduced environmental footprint (essentially, you’re taking up less space on the planet and producing fewer emissions).
“You talk about creating more opportunities for affordable, sustainable housing,” St. Petersburg mayor Rick Kriseman said while touring the little guys, with his wife and son, at the 2018 event. “This is, I think, what you’re going to see a lot of people moving toward as housing costs continue to rise. This is a great option that people have available to them.
“The wide variety of tiny homes here really demonstrates how creative you can be, and the kind of living space you can create, in a very small area.”
So there’s that.
Venouziou was particularly thrilled to discover just how customize-able a tiny home can be. “One of the houses, the owner has a piano that converts into a bed.
“Somebody who likes cooking, half their house is a kitchen. But somebody who doesn’t like cooking, maybe they’ll make it a spa-type bathroom. With tiny homes, you can pretty much get exactly what you want.
“And for people who don’t necessarily want to live in a tiny home, you can get a lot of great ideas for organizing, and uncluttering your life.”
Other fun facts, provided by the Tiny House Society:
144 tiny houses could fit inside a football field
89 percent of tiny house owners have less credit card debt than the average American.
60 percent of tiny house owners have no credit card debt at all.
55 percent of tiny house owners have more savings in the bank than the average homeowner.
68 percent of tiny house owners don’t have any mortgage.
Saturday, March 23
11 a.m.: Building on a Budget (Barb Diaz, Cottage Camper)
Noon Panel: Life on Wheels (Karrie and Roan Poulter, The Travel Family; Capt Colby Biondo, Cruising Caravan; Travis Mattson, Little Blue Traveler; Sandi Blankenship, Wanderlust Beach Bus; Jim Seib, Half Pint Short Bus)
1 p.m.: Living Large in a Small Space (Pat Dunham, Tiny House Advisor)
2 p.m. Tiny Life Movement (John and Fin, United Tiny House Association)
3 p.m.: Sustainable Living (Elise Pickett, The Urban Harvest)
4 p.m.: Building Community (Debbie Caneen, Circle Pond Village)
5 p.m.: Regulations Panel (Andrew Bennett, founder, Core Solutions; JoAnne Peck, co-founder Historic Shed; Barbara Reilly, president Bildsworth International)
Sunday, March 24
11 a.m.: Going Solar (Annie Vanek-Dasovich, Solar and Energy Loan Fund)
Noon: Alternative Business Models (Karen Moniz, Melonhead Melonade; Lev Pasikhov, Smoothie Operator; Elke Lockert, Gypsy Junque mobile boutique; JB Rollo, JB’s Sweet Addiction)
1 p.m.: Regulations (Andrew Bennett, founder of Core Solutions + Trekker Trailers)
2 p.m.: My Victorian Home (Shorty Robbins, historian, Shorty’s Tiny House)
3 p.m.: Building and Zoning (JoAnne Peck, founder, Historic Shed)
4 p.m.: Small Ways to Make a Big Difference (Lucinda Johnston, Chart 411 and St Pete Earth Day)
5 p.m. Building Sustainable Communities (BJ Andryusky, founder, St Pete Time Bank; Jennifer Joern, president, CONA ; Glenn Gibelilna, ProjectHeart)