The tiny house movement has captured the attention of countless homeowners looking for alternative ways of living all over the world, and one demographic that has really been going tiny the last few years is retirement-aged couples.
So that leads us to the question: can you actually retire in a tiny house? Of course! Tiny homes can be modified to meet all the needs of a senior citizen. Instead, the question you should be asking is, are you capable of retiring in a tiny house?
Going tiny means changing your life in quite a few significant ways that you may or may not be comfortable with in your retirement. Read on as we discuss what those changes are.
Why More Seniors Are Choosing to Retire in a Tiny House
Thousands of people around the world have chosen to start living tiny over the last few years, and while most tiny house homeowners are young adults and young families, a growing number of them are older residents.
According to the Merrill Lynch Retirement Study, after surveying retirees on why they sold their larger homes for smaller homes, they found the following reasons:
Here are a few more reasons why the tiny house movement has become more appealing to seniors over the last few years:
Tiny house builders are starting to offer senior-focused modifications with their tiny house builds to make the lifestyle more accessible to the older demographic. Features such as railed staircases instead of ladders, and designs that keep shelves and items low to the ground.
For example, a sleeping loft doesn’t actually have to be a loft at all; it can be an easily accessible sleeping area with storage space on the ground level. Tiny home builders can always make these modifications in tiny homes to optimize your tiny living experience.
Cost is a crucial factor to consider for senior citizens, especially those who have been on fixed incomes that didn’t support their Social Security and other retirement funds.
In the US, 60% of Americans aged 55 and above have less than $100,000 in savings, while 24% have no more than $1,000 in savings. With tiny homes costing as low as $10,000 to $20,000, many seniors are looking tiny for permanent retirement.
When you’ve spent the last twenty, thirty years raising a family, you end up accumulating a lot of stuff that you simply don’t need. When your children move out of the house, you end up with a home full of toys, clothes, and other knick-knacks that no longer have a purpose.
Senior empty nesters are always looking to downsize according to studies, as extra clutter means extra care and maintenance that they would rather not do. Moving into a tiny house is an easy way to downsize painlessly, by forcing yourself to get rid of everything you don’t need.
4) Your Own Space
For seniors, there is always the problem of balancing the need for privacy and independence while relying on others for care. Tiny houses allow seniors to have their own space while still living near enough to their family for any help or care they might need.
These tiny houses are also known as “granny cottages”, and they are usually built in the backyard of the family home. They have all the home features you would need to live on your own, but they are also tricked out with the amenities that older residents typically require – elevated toilets, wheelchair access, grab bars, and barrier-free showers.
5) Time for Yourself
When you retire, the last thing you want to do is waste any time. Owning an overly large home can feel like a ball and chain that you and your partner are shackled with – any existing mortgage, maintenance and upkeep, and the other responsibilities that come with being in a house bigger than your needs.
By moving into a tiny home, you let go of that obligation, giving you and your partner more time and money to focus on yourselves.
Many seniors who turn to the tiny house movement find that they have tons of newfound time and money to enjoy hobbies they might have abandoned decades ago – travel, cooking, golf, crafting, and more, simply by letting go of an unnecessarily giant house that had overshadowed the rest of their lives. Retirement can truly feel like retirement.
Is Tiny Retirement for You? Considerations to Make Before Tiny Retirement
Is your retirement coming up and are you strongly leaning towards selling your current home and going tiny? Stop right there: going tiny is a big decision, and it can be years before you truly reverse the consequences of your choice if you end up not liking your tiny home decision.
Here are some considerations any senior citizen should make before making that “tiny” choice:
1) Where will you place your tiny house?
One of the biggest challenges that tiny house homeowners face is where they will place their tiny houses, and what kind of tiny home they’ll get. Since tiny houses are relatively new, they aren’t addressed in most building and zoning codes.
Tiny houses might be smaller than the required minimum square foot area of your local municipality for all permanent residences. Check out your local codes before investing in a tiny home.
2) Do you enjoy hosting friends and family?
If you or your partner like asking your friends and family to come over regularly for dinner or just for fun, that might be something you can no longer comfortably do when you move into a tiny home. While there are many modifications you can make to your furniture to squeeze in a party full of people, this might not be very comfortable for several senior-aged individuals.
3) Do you have hobbies that require space?
Your tiny retirement means you are going to be home all day, and what else is there to do at home than work on your hobbies?
One thing you never have to think about in a normal-sized home is the amount of space that your hobbies take up – storing all the items involved in the hobby, and then having the room to take those items out and spread them out without hogging all the space from your partner.
Once simple hobbies like scrapbooking, quilting, building figurines, and any kind of crafting can suddenly become very difficult; you just won’t have the square feet unless you heavily adjust your tiny home model.
4) Are you certain you and your partner can live comfortably together in cramped quarters?
The novelty and allure of tiny house living fades away almost as soon as you officially move in. While many young families can happily live in tiny homes for years, there are also some who eventually move back into normal-sized homes eventually.
As an elderly couple, moving into a tiny home would be making a statement that this might be you and your partner’s home for the rest of your lives. Is that something both of you can comfortably commit to doing? Cramped quarters, little room to truly spread out, and appliances and utilities that require more work to keep them going than usual – these are all normal parts of tiny house living that you might not want to do during your golden years.
5) Are you prepared to throw away a vast majority of your possessions?
Getting to the ripe old age of retirement leaves you with a life’s worth of mementos, souvenirs, and memories, from photo albums to old knick-knacks to sentimental, meaningful items you could never get rid of.
But when you decide to go tiny, that’s exactly what you have to do. The tiny home lifestyle is all about downsizing and just living with the necessities. When you’re in your 20s, 30s, and (to a lesser degree) your 40s, this isn’t very difficult to do.
But as someone at the end of their career in the golden years, you might have a small mountain of items you can’t possibly part with. That, or your choice is to leave them to rot in a storage closet, which might be just as bad as throwing them away. So you really have to ask yourself – can you live tiny and say goodbye to most of your possessions?
Your Ultimate Tiny House Retirement Decider
|DO Retire Tiny If…||DON’T Retire Tiny If…|
|You don’t mind and actually are looking forward to the idea of a major downsizing of your possessions||You aren’t ready to say goodbye to an entire life’s worth of sentimental items and important mementos, as a tiny house won’t have the proper space to store all your valuables|
|You are looking to invest entirely in activities to do during your retirement rather than invest in your home||You would prefer a home that is comfortable and meets all your needs as you grow older, since a tiny house will always require a higher level of involved maintenance and personal mobility|
|You are ready to put in the research and work involved to build or buy a tiny house from tiny home builders that truly works for you and your partner||You have special health needs and requirements that require certain higher levels of care or equipment that will be more difficult to accommodate once you live in a tiny house|
|You and your partner are the type of people who spend a lot of time outside, because tiny homes will give you more of that||Hosting is a major part of your life and hobbies, as a tiny home won’t give you the dining area and party space you need to comfortably host your family and friends|
Retiring Tiny: Do the Research and Do What Feels Right
Retiring tiny isn’t for everyone. Some of us want to spend our retirement years doing the stuff we didn’t get to do when we were younger, while there are others who would prefer to spend their retirement years relaxing, resting, and not worrying about the day-to-day worries a tiny house would bring.
So do the research and think long and hard before selling your house and moving into the unknown with tiny home builders – decide what works best for you and your family, and then live your best life, tiny retirement or not.
Hey, there! We're Ivan and Manuela from Croatia, and we're crazy about tiny houses. We don't own one (yet).
This website is a result of our passion to share all the knowledge, photos, tips and tricks that we were able to learn while studying everything possible about the tiny house movement.