Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Is a Tiny House in Your Future?

Like many retirees, I see myself rightsizing one more time. While I love living where I am, I see myself going smaller, flatter and easier.  In a perfect world this is a small first floor condo or an apartment rental close to one or both of my offspring. In fact, I've looked at many patio homes-all of which seem to be pricier than a 3000 square foot home. There are a great many options out there for right sizing, or going single level, in my case.

One of those options would seem to be a Tiny House. As I think anyone who watches TV or reads the news can see, the Tiny house movement is flourishing. There must be at least five shows on TV about Tiny house building, decorating or purchasing. At first glance it might seem like many of the tiny house folks are young couples or early empty-nesters. The truth is, almost a full thirty percent of Tiny House owners are seniors.

I can see why. Depending on property laws and zoning guidelines, for some seniors this can be an alternate to the mother in law or grandma suite or room. A smaller tiny house can be an "in law apartment" in the back yard. For retirees with small homes but yard or driveway space, a smaller tiny home can be a studio, office or workspace, or even space for a live in caregiver. Tiny houses will fit many places, and there are other advantages. No mortgage is required, and tiny houses range from about 23 thousand dollars for a build your own unit, up to around forty thousand or so. In theory at least, with a large vehicle, changing locations is less of a big deal. Also in theory, I suppose, you could move and follow kids or grand kids or move someplace for half the year.


Other reasons for buying a tiny house in retirement can be having less stuff, lower utility bills and generally a much, much lower cost in terms of where you are with those major costs like home improvement and maintenance. Some people also buy a tiny house now to use later, and make money from the rent, increasing their bottom line.

Tiny houses come in all types, from the basic to the boutique. My church is building a tiny house village for the homeless in our parking lot, with the most basic model possible, so that each house fits in the parking place assigned (and with shared shower, toilet and dining and social facilities). On the other hand, some tiny homes are fully appointed, if you will. And homes can range from just under 200 square feet up to 400 square feet and even more. The variety, style, decor and location can very widely. For every person and taste, I suppose there is a tiny home. 



As the tiny house movement grows and we age, new uses and designs are popping up all the time for tinny homes. There are retirement villages that have tiny homes. A company has recently designed a MEDcottage for seniors who have limited mobility or need assistance or care. We are also seeing more one level tiny homes and other accessories that retirees consider an advantage.  



Up to now I have not considered a tiny house. Most tiny houses with decent floor space seem to be lofts and that's not for me, for obvious reasons. I would need a single level shotgun style which would of course take up more space, I'd be looking at closer to 600 square feet. While I am not a hoarder, I have two hobbies which take up space by nature-I need a dedicated sewing space, for example. At least for now, my grown kids do not live in places where I could reside, meaning I would have to rent space or buy land-not somethi ng I want to do. 


Don't get me wrong, I'm not ultimately opposed to a nice tiny house. But it would have to be set in place already, all on one level, with at least some grass and the ability to rent at least to start to see if it is really "for me". Downsizing is not in my immediate future, to say the least, so I have time to look, see and explore whether a tiny house would actually work for me-on any level at all.

What about you-where are you on small square footage living. Would a tiny house work for you?

21 comments:

  1. Our current house has less than 800 square feet, but has two bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and fit four of us comfortably when we moved in (one daughter has since gone to college). I was kind of worried about living in such a small area, but the house flows nicely and there is enough room for all of our stuff (we do have an attached 2-car garage that holds some stuff, but not a lot). My husband and I would actually like to get rid of more stuff, and move to something smaller once our youngest leaves for college! We've discovered that if your windows are big, a tiny/small house doesn't really seem all that small! I'm sure you'll find something perfect for you once you start looking.

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    1. I agree that big windows and light make a whole lot of difference. I am not ready to look but I am sure I will find something smaller!

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  2. I love watching shows about tiny houses, but I don't think I would ever live in one. I love having people around. ..love feeding people and having the whole family together and celebrating milestones. It feels like a tiny house would only work for people who don't want friends and family to visit.

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    1. I also love sthe shows. I have friends who have tiny houses and entertain well and have lots of guests so it can work out. the ones I am looking at have two small bedrooms and a loft. Also, i would be South, so I would probably build a screened in patio if I were to stay in one place

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  3. I love tiny houses but I too couldn't do a loft type house or anything with stairs. I think it's wonderful what your church is doing for the homeless. xx

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    1. Me either, I would need one like th plan above with no steps. Yes, I am happy that over 90 percent of our church voted to do this.

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  4. I've heard of the tiny house movement; haven't seen one in real life. Anyway, B and I went from 2800 s.f. to 900 s.f. We find it's a little small for two people so now we're looking for something a little bigger, in the 1800 to 2000 s.f. range. Trouble is, it seems most of the housing being built these days (at least where we are) are either McMansions or if they're smaller, then they're condos. So he search goes on.

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  5. We are not ready to go that small but will be trading our 2400 sf 2 story house with large yard and basement for a single story 1400-1700 sf one in the next 2 months. Having lived in a 1700 sf house with our 2 sons for years before moving to this house I have to agree that it is important to get the layout and flow right.

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  6. We lived in the same 4 bedroom house for 45 years. Down to just me, the maintenance, snow removal, grass cutting and just plain constant cleaning of all those rooms was too much. After a brutal down-sizing, I moved to a 650 square foot senior (55 and up) apartment.
    After a year, I'm still getting adjusted but I'm glad I did it when I did. It would have been harder had I waited. This place suits me. Looking out my patio doors, I feel like I'm living in a snow globe. I can walk to a drug store, grocery store and post office. My neighbors in the building are friendly and welcoming. Most of them are a lot older and I don't find much of interest in the planned activities at this point. My church is quite far away now so I'm visiting a closer one and may adopt it as my second church home. I found my way to the library last week. I'm still working on finding my own 'community' but I will get there.
    Joan, Michigan

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  7. I moved from a 2400sf house to a 1200sf house near my kids. Two years ago I sold it and moved into a 890sf 2 bedroom condo. Just one of me. It's been a good move, one floor, no stairs. No snow shoveling, lawn mowing, etc. all taken care of. I do miss my yard but I can go sit in my son's yard and grow a few tomatoes there. I'm hoping I won't ever need to move again but then you never know.

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    1. My goal is to never move again. This house is actually lovely but I would have to make a ramp (three steps front door) and there is no place to bringthe washer upstairs so I would have to hire someone. otherwise it is perfect.

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  8. I'm impressed that Denver (that's it right?) will allow a tiny house village. My city in a western red state won't allow that. Were there a lot of hoops to jump through?

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    1. Hi Jim. I cannot speak for other states although there are many in Seattle which was our example. the thing is that buildings onchurch property dont need to meet zoning requirements, and this is on our property. The city is making us jump through some hoops. mainly as to how we are siphoning water and electricity from the curch to the villiage.

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  9. I don't know why builders have not caught on to the small house thing. My group, from 56- 70, are all looking to be in about 1000 sq ft. I stopped to ask a new builder near my house, you would have thought I was asking for the moon. We have money, we just want a smaller house that is not a trailer. I'd like heated floors, a functional kitchen, a huge shower, a big master and a nice sized den (guest room) Hummm. They just put in a bunch of double wides nearby and called it a day. Really missing the boat on this one!

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    1. Janette, I think it's that builders make more profit on McMansions. We live in a great 1,000 sq.ft. house built in the mid-1970s. It's an end-unit townhouse, but it's one floor, two bedrooms, a big living room, one bathroom, and an eat-in kitchen. There is one of these built on the end of every row of houses in the development. It's perfect for retirees, which we are. It's not like nobody builds townhouses any more, but even those are huge. I wish builders would listen to what our demographic really needs, and build more of these.
      That Other Jean

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  10. for 4 years, my husband and I lived in our 34 foot motorhome and we had a blast! We paid off debt, saved money and life was simple then. After about year 3, the one-butt kitchen started getting to me. Now we have our home - I often dream of that simpler time.

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  11. Back in the 40s and 50s, there were National Homes, prefab houses made in Lafayette, Ind. My first house was one of those, it was around 600 square feet. I was single at the time, and it worked out fine for me (It also had a screened porch on the back). At this point, don't know if DH and I could go to something like that. We'd certainly need to haul a few truckloads of stuff out of here, LOL!

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  12. Watching a lot of Tiny House on HGTV hasn't made me want a tiny house, but has made me realize my 1500 sq. ft. house is perfect. I heard a radio show with realtors and they were saying the biggest housing shortage (at least in Columbia, MO) was for 1500 sq. ft. starter homes. Builders make more money on the big houses.

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  13. We right sized to a 1400 square ft condo. The ground level has everything we need. The second floor has a guest bedroom, loft and full bath. Really the first floor is enough for us but when family comes to visit the second floor is fully occupied. There a few things I wish had been designed a bit better but really it's pretty darn perfect for us. This was the best decision we could have made. The tiny homes aren't practical to me. I'd rather have an apartment then be that cramped in. I've always preferred small homes but the tiny homes often seem to awkward

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  14. Have been intrigued with Tiny Houses since first viewing TV stories about them. I've lived in different size abodes (no mansions!), six months in the smallest which was on wheels with our family of three and two dogs when I was a pre-teen; later this young single working girl was in an efficient apt. I can adjust to any size. Presently I'm content in my single story home of 40+ years, well-situated for living in place 'til the end of my days in a small city community and climate I like. Started thinking about aging needs as my mother entered that period, when my 7 yrs older husband developed health problems, retiring long before I did, and I started to become aware of the differing special needs we could develop with aging. So, I've been able come to this point in time in my life with having had the good fortune to know what I thought I needed and being able to see I pretty much have it right here where I live. Of course, especially as we age, it's possible a major sudden health change could alter everything.

    That said, I can see tiny houses as being desirable to some in various situations, but might be too confining for others depending on all the other important factors of location, services, amenities available and maybe climate.

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  15. My niece is collecting "found" lumber, windows, and other building materials and plans to build herself a tiny house. She's in Ann Arbor and has gotten permission to build it on a friend's land. (I'm guessing he is on the fringes of the city and has a fair chunk of land for this to work.) I see more and more of the tiny house movement, but maybe I just notice it because of her plans.

    We downsized to about 2200 sq ft with a large open plan downstairs and a lofted two bedroom/two bath 2nd floor on one end. It's great for us right now, but I can see downsizing again in the future for any number of reasons. We're on one acre, so upkeep and gardens are work intensive, and I'm not sure I would live out of the city if I were alone. We'll all have decisions to make as we age, and I would look for more social interaction closer to home if I were widowed.
    --Hope

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