Aging in place in a tiny house: Talk about downsizing


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Categories: TinyHouse, Homes / Dwellings

Tiny home builders Tyson and Michelle Spiess of Tiny Heirloom in Oregon City offer lots of elderly friendly features in their new homes made from Park Model RVs (starting around $65,000). Photo provided by Tiny Heirloom.

How do you envision your life after you've stopped working? Your retirement plan includes building a nest egg. Does it also involve building a home? Maybe one smaller than the one you live in now. Maybe one that is a lot smaller?

If so, you're not alone in dreaming of being comfy and carefree.

As more baby boomers inch toward calling it quits with their careers, they're figuring out that a tiny house – a compact abode around 400 square feet, more or less – might best serve their retirement dreams.

After all, aging in place is all about living in a home that's energy efficient, comfortable and safe. What could be easier to maintain than a house the size of an area rug?

You could spend days on leisurely pursuits rather than time-consuming chores. Or if your tiny house is on wheels, take it with you while you travel the country.

Tiny home builders Tyson and Michelle Spiess of Tiny Heirloom in Oregon City offer lots of elderly friendly features in their new teeny homes made from Park Model RVs (starting around $65,000). Their clients buy these classy travel trailers to skip paying property taxes and to have more options on where to live. The company's motto: Home is where you park it.

"Since we are a travel trailer manufacturer, the retired person can live in any RV park," says TysonSpiess.

Mariah Coz of Worcester, Massachusetts, transformed a 1960s' Avalon trailer into the COMET (Cost-effective, Off-grid Mobile Eco Trailer) and she teaches 8-week-long eCourses on living simpler with less. She calls the course "downsizing boot camp."

"Most of the people I work with are retiring or retired," says Coz, who enjoys teaching "awesome and inspiring and cool retirees [who are] building their own homes, embarking on big adventures and for many of them, for the first time feeling 'free' and unburdened by all the stuff that accumulates over a lifetime."

She says cost is a factor – "People want to retire in a tiny house because they are on a modest income"– but they also don't want to pay for a big house now that their children have grown up and started their own homes.

She knows of retirees moving into campers, RVs, houseboats, sailboats. "We also see a lot of people needing a smaller house with a first floor bed," she says.

Ron Rusnak ofAshland retrofitted a trailer with a shell into a custom, contemporary-style, 200-square-foot house. He sold it to a Portland landowner three weeks after listing it for sale for $36,500.


The tiny house, with a tall ceiling and a removable 5-feet by 16-feet cedar deck, will be used as a guesthouse, but Rusnak thinks tiny houses could fill the growing need for affordable, tiny in-law units.

As parents and grandparents age, they can live on the family's property, if zoning allows it, he says.

Tiny house advocates says that the dwellings can be designed on one level and with 36-inch doorways to suit people in wheelchairs or with accessibility issues.

The compact homes can be built close to the ground, with a ramp to eliminate the need for steps to reach the front door, and can include baths and showers with grab bars, says Rusnak.

Typically, the benefits of tiny houses serve people of all ages and income: The homes can have a small, efficient kitchen, easy-to-access storage and their energy efficiency and size cuts down heating and cooling costs.

As for creature comforts in retirement, Tyson Spiess reminds house seekers that these homes are custom build. Whatever you want, just ask. That's what is means to be boss-free.

via OregonLive

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