Monday, 25 August 2014

Home Sweet Little Home

I have been inundated with posts this week (thank you, Huffington Post!) about Little Houses.  The tiny homes movement has been growing with many being built in various American cities (hello, Canada!) to address the homeless population's lack of housing.  Built in community with social services at hand along with laundry and administration facilities within the small "villages", the homeless are speaking out about what 500 sq. ft. or much less can mean to someone who has been sleeping outside on cardboard for years.  I have not studied it, cannot address all the issues that could arise from it, but in this moment, I have to say it sounds like one type of solution for some homeless in some communities.  Much cheaper than building big apartment buildings that require large outlays of cash and ongoing maintenance of hallways and heat and air conditioning.  Many tiny homes have solar energy, composting toilets and small maintenance concerns - plus affordable rent for someone making $15 K or so a year.   There is also the invaluable sense of community and pride that these small abodes render.

With the many pictures accompanying these articles I realized that our seniors - yes, you Boomers - are also embracing this in different ways as they seek a retirement solution that will provide them with economic independence.  I have personally downsized into a small, two bedroom home in a lower, economically developed region.  I would never choose this area if I was working - jobs are scarce - but the winter is warmer, the climate is dry and - glory be - the real estate is cheaper than most major cities. Our downsize is not as dramatic as the tiny house movement (and we did actually look at tiny apartments as one consideration but they were VERY pricey!), but it has no basement, is just over 1000 sq. ft. and fits us to a "T"!

I do have friends who have chosen to go the Little House route but, in our lingo, we call them "park models!"  Everything you could want including granite counter tops and cathedral ceilings in 500 sq. ft!  Selling their multi-level city house enabled them to follow their dream.  They now own two park models - one in Canada and one in Arizona.  They get to embrace two various locations, avoid the much-maligned Canadian winter and only have to move some clothing from one site to the other.  The park model in Arizona is what many snowbirds call home for the Canadian winter.  Mind you, most retain their 2000 sq. ft, 3-bedroom home in the city too.  These friends threw caution to the wind and chose to free themselves from the weight such a home creates in maintenance and heating bills and found a small park just miles south of their city home that garnered them a riverside paradise in Canada.  They have retained their temporary trailer as a "visitor dorm" in case of grandkid-sleep overs but had a new park model moved on to the site this spring!  I think their vision is brave and innovative.  This is Year One and I have to say that the Facebook posts are all positive and speak to the allure of friendships and activities in both countries!

What would it take for you to give up your suburban abode?  The vision of freedom to pursue our travel plans and a little corner of the world we can still call home was all we needed!

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