tiny houses

A Growing Number of Homeowners Are Thinking Small

By Rieva Lesonsky

I love watching HGTV (the home and garden network) and last year I noticed they were broadcasting a lot of programs about tiny houses. Apparently this reflects a new trend toward downsizing.

According to MarketWatch, the tiny house and micro-apartment movements are “burgeoning.” These homes are generally smaller than 400 square feet, and MarketWatch says they appeal to budget-minded and environmentally conscious Millennials, Gen Xers seeking to slash living costs while lessening their environmental footprint, and older people at or nearing retirement age.

MarketWatch reports about 10,000 Americans live in tiny houses. Particularly popular areas include the Pacific Northwest, Colorado and the Carolinas. The website talked to Ryan Mitchell, owner of the website TheTinyLife, who says that in more expensive cities many people are choosing micro-apartments.

The primary reason to live in a tiny house seems to be to save money—MarketWatch says tiny houses are “relatively inexpensive to build, buy and maintain. It usually costs between $10,000 and $100,000 to buy or build one.” Compare that to the average price of almost $200,000 for a regular-sized home.

Some seniors are locating their “granny cottages” in the yard of their children’s homes, says MarketWatch, which allows them “to live both independently and close by.”

There are a few entrepreneurial opportunities here that capitalize on the tiny homes trend. Of course, you could design or sell these tiny homes. These homes also need specially designed furniture that often serves dual purposes.

And often, says MarketWatch, seniors need “modifications” of these homes, making them more accessible, “such as staircases rather than ladders and designs that keep everything easily reachable. They’re often fitted with [senior] amenities, including grab bars, barrier-free showers and elevated toilets that can reduce falling risks, and wheelchair access.”

If you want to see the phenomenon before making a move, tune into HGTV on Monday nights at 8:00 Eastern and Pacific or 7:00 Central Time, when the network airs two hours of tiny house programming.