The tiny house movement has been around for quite some time, but it’s gained a lot of traction among two distinct demographics: Millennials and senior citizens. Although one might assume these two groups have entirely different needs and wants for their housing, it seems that the low-cost, minimalist lifestyle is becoming more appealing to those on both ends of the age spectrum.
For one thing, these homes are far more affordable than average-sized homes. The U.S. construction market was worth approximately $1,162 billion in 2016, but that’s not good news for those who don’t have a sizable nest egg set aside for a home. All across the country, houses have become more expensive to purchase, leaving many young buyers with few options for homeownership. In addition, many seniors don’t want to spend a lot of money on a larger home in their twilight years or be stuck with substantial mortgage payments later in life.
Enter: tiny homes. Although NPR reports the size of the average American home has nearly tripled over the past 50 years, the tiny house movement counters that trend and appeals to buyers who would rather buy a house upfront and live minimally. Many seniors have found tiny houses can allow them to downsize and ease the burden on their children later on, while Millennials who want to live off-the-grid and opt for a more eco-friendly domicile have gone tiny in droves.
These tiny houses do have their challenges, though. For seniors, the desire to age in place becomes a bit more difficult to put into practice with a tiny home. Many of these houses are designed in the loft style, requiring the use of stairs and vertical storage options. And for buyers of all ages, municipal zoning laws have proven to be a problem in many areas.
There are actually tiny house builders who design properties specifically for seniors, offering wheelchair ramps and single-level homes to eliminate the need for ladders and steps. Living independently may prove a problem for seniors down the line, but planning ahead for accessibility can allow them to remain in their small home for as long as possible.
And as far as zoning laws are concerned, it’s promising that cities seem to be coming around to the idea of more tiny homes in the vicinity. Many metropolises grappling with high levels of homelessness are starting to realize that tiny houses could curb the issue, offering affordable options to those who need them most.
While the trend is still a bit on the fringes of society, these tiny homes have certainly become much more visible — and much more popular — in the last few years. Although the size of these homes continues to shrink, the movement itself may grow bigger yet.