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When I want to clear my mind so I can get to sleep I watch shows about tiny houses. “Tiny House Nation” on FYI, “Tiny House Builders”, “Tiny House, Big Living” and “Tiny House Hunters” On HGTV are the ones I watch. I’m intrigued by the creative ways the builders find to use furniture that can fold away to add space or be used for several purposes. No nook or cranny is overlooked when it comes to storage places both inside and outside the home. Buyers who consider tiny houses are members of every age group and can be single, coupled or even have a family. In this blog the discussion will be slanted toward single Baby Boomers, but there’ll be information for anyone who’s thinking about going tiny. I used Ryan Mitchell’s website http://thetinylife.com/ for most of the information, but I kept in mind that he’s a single, tiny house enthusiast who lives the tiny, minimalist life. While it works for him, it may not fit into what a single Baby Boomer needs and wants.
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In his blog Ryan said, “The typical American home is around 2,600 square feet, whereas the typical small or tiny house is between 100 and 400 square feet.” A 1000 square foot home can still be considered a tiny home. Even when I had a family of 4 we lived in less than 2,600 square feet quite comfortably. Now that I’m living alone, I don’t feel the need for a large home to clean and maintain. It’s convenient to have more room for visitors, but I don’t need the space often and live close to a number of hotels I could rent for them at a lower price than paying for another bedroom I don’t use. Since most of my friends and family are used to having their own space, it can be a suitable option. So maybe a tiny house would work for me. You may not consider me the typical single Baby Boomer, but for argument’s sake let’s see if I could live tiny.
- I could afford to buy it for cash. Homes sell from approximately $15,000 if you repurpose old items and do some of the work yourself to over a $100,000 if you want a larger home with top-of-the-line appliances, fixtures, and furniture. This might eliminate a house payment. Depending on where I put it, I may not have to pay property tax, but there may be a rental fee for the parking space. Tiny homes like any movable structure decrease in value unless they’re on a foundation and even then more of the value is in the land than the building. Some utilities would cost less in a tiny space, but others like cable, internet and garbage disposal would remain the same. Maintenance would be less since it’s smaller. If quality house building materials aren’t used and construction is below recommended building standards, problems like a leaky roof may develop. You may also have difficulty getting it insured.
Originally a self-governing tent camp of homeless adults in Olympia, Washington, Quixote Village now consists of 30 tiny houses, a community garden, and a common space with showers, laundry facilities and living and dining space. See more at http://www.shareable.net/ .
- I could move my tiny home. If I bought a truck, built my tiny home on a trailer and kept in small, I could live anywhere. But could I or would I want that? When I had my 28” travel trailer, I took it on a few vacations. It was difficult for me to maneuver and set up by myself, so I ended up parking it on a relative’s property so I could use it on weekends and when I came back from Japan. A tiny house would pose similar problems for me. You may never have to move without help, but you need to consider how you’d do it alone. Also, where would you put it? Zoning laws in many locations haven’t addressed the issue of where you can legally put your tiny home. If you have a relative or friend who’ll let you park in their yard or on their land, you may be able to get away with it if you can hide it and fly under the radar. If you get caught, then you may have to move or go to the local governing body and plead your case. Some places have allowed them and others tell you no dice. RV parks may be an option, but they also have rules for their renters. There are Tiny House Communities, but they’re not always where you want to live. I want to know if I decide to move, I’ll have a place to put my tiny house where I don’t have to jump through a lot of hoops. You may enjoy the challenge. The Tiny House Movement needs new advocates. The Tiny Life website has an eBook titled “Cracking the Code” that may help with this. Order it at https://resources.thetinylife.com/store/cracking-the-code/?
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If you’re going to move your tiny house on wheels, it has to be roadworthy and able to withstand stresses far beyond those of a traditional housing. When you’re on the road, everything must be secured so nothing falls down, is torn off the outside when moving or breaks, like windows, because it wasn’t built to tolerate being moved. When it’s in place hurricane strapping can anchor the house to the ground more strongly than most houses are built today.
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- But it’s so cute. Cute sucks me in all the time. That’s may be why I have a red Mustang convertible. It’s a great looking car that gallops away from a stop sign like the animal who gave it its name. I get honks because men mistake my white hair for blond. It’s funny when they speed up to get a look at me and see I’m a Baby Boomer. Anyway, I digress. Miniature cabins, cottages decorated with gingerbread trim and sleek modern styles catch our eye. When we see cute, our neighbors may see a trailer. Added architectural features like dormers, porches, cupolas and old barn wood siding look great but aren’t light or aerodynamic and create drag when you move your home. This may not matter if you don’t move it often but can make a difference if you use it like a travel trailer.
- I can redecorate to suit my taste. You own it, so that’s true. It can be tailored to meet your needs with decorative, but useful items. You can add extra storage options and a fold-up bed for guests, if space permits.
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- My pet is always welcome. Unless your pet is gigantic, they adjust to a smaller place if you make room for their bedding, food, water and for my cat, a litter box. Dogs will need to go outside for exercise and to relieve themselves, but if they’re like my baby, they’d rather lie on a bed than even bat a treat toy around to get a snack.
- The loft gives me additional space. This feature is often one of the biggest selling points of some tiny houses. While it’s great for an office, studio, storage or a younger guest, we single and partnered Baby Boomers often need to use the facilities in the middle of the night. Even stairs can be difficult to navigate when you’re half asleep and a ladder is a real hazard. In one tiny house the owners built in drop-down boxes in the ceiling under a loft for additional storage. Lofts make for low ceilings, so if you’re not vertically challenged like me, you may need more clearance both downstairs and in the loft.
- I’m a small person so in this case size doesn’t matter. Yes, I’m a petite person, but I may not always be as mobile as I age. Could a walker or even a wheelchair fit into such a small place? Would I be able to reach the counters and high cabinets in the kitchen? Could I maneuver around the bathroom? If I had a larger than average tiny house bedroom with a twin bed on the lower level, that wouldn’t be a problem. I’d have less to clean and maintain and that’s a plus. A ramp could be built to get into the home and stored when moving it.
Photo credit: thekenshow via VisualHunt / CC BY-NC
- I could live off the grid. Yes, I could, but do I want that? You may want to leave a smaller environmental footprint or be the adventurous type who enjoys a solitary life surrounded by wildlife and scenic views. You may just be someone with a piece of land in the country and don’t want to pay for extra services. In the blog “Making a Living Out of Living (Off-Grid in the Wilderness)” at https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/design-your-path/201304/making-living-out-living-grid-in-the-wilderness John Jungwirth gave his take on the subject. He’s lived in a small cabin for 25 years on 80 acres of remote wilderness in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with his wife Victoria. He said, “It keeps my brain healthy. It’s a paradise.” He added, “It’s nice to be alone and have time to think, but when you don’t have many people around you do relish people.” Although the Jungwirth’s live for the most part like their Ojibwas neighbors did in past years, they do have a solar powered T.V. and Victoria uses the internet at her job at the food coop.
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There are many innovations that make living off the grid in a tiny house possible such as solar panels, water collection systems and composting toilets. Just a note about composting toilets, it’s illegal to throw the compost in the garbage in municipalities. You need to bury it or use it to fertilize decorative, not edible, vegetation. See the additional information below from https://www.creditloan.com/blog/the-true-cost-of-living-off-the-grid/ before you decide.
At this point in my life, I don’t want to own anything that requires maintenance other than my car. That may not be what you want so a tiny house could be the home of your dreams. If you buy one, please invite me for a visit. I’d love to see how you make it work for you.
By the way, the 30-day Minimalism Game is working well and I haven’t even gotten to my clothes yet. I have faith I can actually make a dent in my clutter.
Continue the adventure!