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“Extreme Downsizing” a Growing Trend in Housing Market

Living green & mortgage free

The sluggish economy, a very iffy housing market, and an aging population with changing housing needs all add up to a new living trend: extreme downsizing. While empty-nesters and newly single older adults have been downsizing in modest degrees for quite some time, the traditional shift from a large home to a smaller condo or mobile home is becoming increasingly, well, extreme.

In Texas, where folks usually like BIG everything, a couple who was planning on building a 3,000-square-foot retirement home decided on extreme downsizing instead. They opted for a 336-square-foot country cabin built from vintage salvage materials. The total cost? $70,000. The home was built by Tiny Texas Houses, which specializes in what they call Salvage Building. According to owner Brad Kittel, “I believe we don’t need as much space as we have become accustomed to in this country… [we can] downsize our carbon footprint, simplify our lives, and live in a house with a soul that will be energy efficient as well as beautiful.”

Newsweek reported on a family who extreme downsized from a 6,000-square-foot custom home to a 370-square-foot recreational vehicle. For $150,000, the family bought a Fleetwood Discovery RV and put all their remaining possessions into storage (19 crates’ worth of stuff). The parents agree that “living in tight quarters has made the family much closer.”

Downsizing to the Extreme was featured as a concept on NBC Action News, and people are responding to it like crazy. Showing teeny, quaint houses of only about 100-square-feet, viewers can see how cozy the lifestyle can be. Imagine annual utility bills of about $100 a year. One of the people interviewed in the story says his extreme downsized residence is just what he wanted. “I’m living on less than $15,000 a year, mortgage free,” he said. “I didn’t want to pay rent or a mortgage forever. My plan was to escape that rat race.”

Yet another very recent piece showed up on ABC’s Green Right Now. The feature asks, what’s the appeal of a home that ranges 100 to 800 square feet? The answer is that in addition to the economic factor, mini homes are of growing interest to people who want simpler lifestyles and less energy consumption requirements. One new owner of a tiny house says, “We’ve cut out a lot of things. It’s taken a lot of trips to the local thrift shop to donate what we don’t use. There’s no room for storage.”

If you’re considering downsizing, why not take it to the extreme? People everywhere seem to genuinely love it.

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