(WBNG) -- The Tiny Home Movement, a nationwide phenomenon that started on the West Coast, is right here in the Southern Tier. It's a lifestyle that has people downsizing to the extreme, some as small as 80 square feet.
12 News set out to see just how functional these little spaces are and meet the people brave enough to take on a tiny lifestyle.
The first top was Boiceville, a tiny home community located just outside of Ithaca in the hamlet of Brooktondale.
Dryden-based contractor Bruno Schickel designed the community.
"We're building something and it starts with the design and it starts with the concept but we're really building something that people are having an emotional response to and they absolutely love it, I mean you know people love living in these communities " said Schickel.
He said one reason people are drawn to the lifestyle is the drive to reduce their footprint on the world and the other is cost.
"You know when you live in a small space you don't need as much stuff to fill it, it's easier to clean it's cheaper to heat, you know, there's just a significant cost reduction for the person living in a small space," said Schickel. UH
He said the rental units in Boiceville range between $1,000 to $1,700 a month.
"The one reaction most people have when they drive by and first pull up they think they're really tiny and most people after they've gone into the houses they go 'wow they're bigger than I thought they were, '" he said.
"People are just fascinated by them," he said while explaining how the village started with 16 cottages and he saw the concept take off.
"I realized there is a need for something a little smaller," he said, adding one of the unique aspects of the community is that it's filled with diversity, "you know it draws every demographic there's not one that's left out."
Schickel said the community at Boiceville was so successful his company is busy building another one on Seneca Lake called La Bourgade.
Kelly Schmid has been living small in Boiceville for three years. Her home is 850 square feet and she shares that space with her boyfriend and dog.
"I think when you watch TV, it seems complicated kind of like you have to have all of the right stuff to live there and you know there's just all these different like little places to hide things and things like that and it's easier than you would think," said Schmid.
She said she has to get creative with her storage, especially being a baker.
"We only really have one cupboard so we hung our pots and pans and kind of just really took use of hanging things and baskets and all kinds of neat storage ideas," she said.
She explained there are challenges to downsizing, pointing out she only has one traditional closet.
"Tiny home can be a shock like, 'oh my gosh it's so small,' but it's not, it's actually bigger once you're living in it," she said.
Although, she says an open floor plan, high ceilings, and plenty of light helps make the space feel bigger.
Even though her space is small, it's massive compared to the other homes just around the corner in Boiceville.
Laurie Carson lives in a one bedroom loft that's 550 square feet.
"I live pretty easy, pretty simply and travel light," she said.
Carson said she likes the feeling of being one with nature.
"Forcing myself not to consume a lot, but to be as gentle on the environment as possible and this gave me a chance to do that," she said.
But 12 News was on a mission to find the smallest tiny homes around. That's where we found Zach Mathes who builds custom tiny homes on wheels in Syracuse.
"It's definitely a different way to live," said Mathes explaining for many going tiny is all about the lifestyle of being mobile and off the grid.
"The freedom of it, being able to pick up and go and not have so many materialistic things in their life," he said.
Mathes said he builds homes typically about 250 square feet.
To put that into perspective, the average size of a single family home in the U.S. is 2,500 square feet meaning you could fit about nine and a half of these tiny homes inside the average home.
12 News reporter Jackie Prager put the functionality of these small homes to the test in a 264 square foot house built on a truck. The home was filled with a decent sized bathroom, a full size walk in closet, and two lofts for sleeping. Mathes said the loft is even big enough to fit a full-sized bed.
Showing others you can create a minimalist lifestyle that doesn't feel tiny.
"It's all about a sustainable lifestyle," said Mathes.
Mathes explained how because every home is custom they each have a story of its own. For example, the 264 square foot home came with a built in rock wall.
However, that comes at a cost. Mathes said the home we toured cost about $60,000 to build.
It's a lifestyle that pushes people to their limits, changing the way they live.