The Story Behind Magic Island
Learn about this historic landmark and how it has evolved.
Believed by some to have gotten its start around the 1970s, the tiny-house movement, as it is widely known, gained traction once more in recent times during the Great Recession as an affordable housing option. Now popular for reasons that extend to environmental and minimalist ideals, the tiny home craze shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Instantly recognizable for their rather slight features, tiny homes in Hawaii have become especially numbered throughout the luscious valleys of the Big Island. Measuring in at anywhere from a mere 100 to 600 square feet, there’s much more than meets the eye when it comes to these eye-catching petite dwellings.
The benefits of joining the small-house movement, as it is also referred to, are legion. Beyond requiring considerably fewer funds to construct one, it also comes without the hefty long-term cost of a 30- or 15-year fixed mortgage, making financial independence within reach.
From a social perspective, tiny homes are substantially more beneficial to the environment, as well. In addition to calling for far fewer building materials during construction, a tiny home also will leave less of a carbon footprint in the long run. With less space to keep cool and scant appliances to power, tiny home dwellers ultimately rely on less electricity compared to the typical single-family household. Some tiny homes may even be configured so that they are entirely self-sustaining for a truly off-the-grid style of living that continues to lure many.
And perhaps among the simplest of reasons some choose to shrink the size of their homes is to keep life simple. Without closets and rooms to store odds and ends in and any number of piled-up stuff, homeowners can cut back on worldly possessions and focus on other, more profound matters in life.
Cutting back on size doesn’t mean having to skimp on the overall aesthetic of a tiny home. In fact, with fewer costs in general, it’s a golden opportunity to have the best of both worlds.
Take, for example, this Dreamy Tropical Tree House, located in Fern Forest on the Big Island. Constructed atop stilts and surrounded by the dense greens of Hawaii Island that provide natural shade and endless eye candy of the surrounding area, this tiny home is brought to life with a vivacious and modern style that makes the one-bedroom, one-bathroom abode feel anything but cramped.
Elsewhere on the Big Island in Pahoa, The Phoenix House offers unparalleled views of the active Kilauea Volcano just feet away — all in a contemporary, minimalist setting that manages to make the home feel much larger than its simple one-bedroom, one-bathroom structure.
With the right combination of creativity and imagination, anything and everything is possible.
Created in any manner of shapes and sizes, it’s no wonder that tiny homes also can be constructed with a variety of materials and in many different designs. Here are just a few:
Though these certainly are a step up from the average tiny home, luxury tiny homes still won’t cost nearly as much as a regular single-family dwelling. Small in stature just like their modest counterparts, luxury tiny homes instead often feature high-end amenities like cleverly hidden top-of-the-line appliances, spa-like bathrooms, and custom furniture. The appeal of luxury tiny homes seems to have captured the interest of many, as well, inspiring an HGTV show called Tiny Luxury.
Part of the appeal of working with shipping containers to construct tiny homes is its environmental allure, as the shipping containers used in these projects are believed to be recycled. But turning to this particular material has other benefits as well. Its cost, for starters, tends to be predictable and minimal, and shipping containers usually don’t take very long to arrive at their final destination and can help to cut down on a significant portion of the construction time.
A tiny home doesn’t necessarily have to be a freestanding structure. Micro-apartments also qualify as “tiny homes” and have begun to attract individuals who aren’t able to afford rent in expensive urban cities. Typically measuring in at less than 400 square feet, micro-apartment rent usually covers a private room and shared common spaces that help to cut down on the overall cost of living.
It’s no secret that housing in Hawaii can reach exponential heights. So what happens to those who just aren’t able to afford it?
A new tiny homes initiative called Kauhale, spearheaded by Lt. Gov. Josh Green, hopes to find a solution by offering low-rent permanent housing to homeless individuals and those in need throughout various communities in Hawaii.
Kalaeloa Kauhale, for example, spread out on 1.5 acres of land features 36 tiny homes — 10 intended for U.S. veterans and 26 for homeless individuals. Managed by U.S. Vets, residents receive far more than rent, which costs anywhere from $200 to $400 each month. Along with shared amenities that include open-air cabanas, a commercial kitchen, a community resource building, a lounge area, storage and an event gathering space, those who reside at Kalaeloa Kauhale also gain access to support services that run the gamut of case management and on-site medical care to housing and employment help, therapy and more.
Another Kauhale located in Waimanalo across from Waimanalo Beach Park, meanwhile, welcomed 17 tenants to 11 tiny homes in March 2020. Rent there for units that for one resident measures in at roughly 100 square feet costs a mere $200-$300 each month.
If all goes according to plan, once complete, there will be 12 Kauhale throughout Hawaii, including eight on Oahu, two on the Big Island, and one on Maui and Kauai.
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