Tiny House Living in Retirement

I recently discovered a new book about tiny houses that’s packed with photos and interesting information from people who live in tiny houses; some of them even built their own tiny houses.

Now, while I don’t think a tiny house is for me (we use our basement almost every day for our work and our hobbies), I can see how well the concept works for some people. In the new book Tiny House Living: Ideas for Building & Living Well in Less than 400 Square Feet, author Ryan Mitchell shares the stories of a variety of tiny house residents.

My favorite is that of Kathy, a retiree whose son began building her a tiny house without her knowledge (“He knew if he told her ahead of time it would be a much harder sell, so he waited until it was almost done to show her.”) Kathy now lives in the tiny house with her husband, and has found that the tiny house has made some big positive changes in her life:

She can do all that she needs to do in her home, without a mortgage and with very low bills. Her power bill tops out at $25 a month and water is about $12—not because she uses that much, but because that’s the minimum charge to keep the service on….Since she is retired, it is very important to keep her living expenses low and it means that she can do much more, like visit her grandchildren more, go out to eat with her friends more, focus on her hobbies and simply not have to worry about the bills as much…..For the first time she has had the money and the time to visit her grandson for his birthday….

So many Baby Boomers don’t have big pensions waiting for them and were unable to save up much for retirement; a tiny house might be one answer to living successfully in retirement on only Social Security and some modest savings. If that sounds like you or someone you know, you should check out this book!

In the story about Kathy, she says that her friends with large houses are beginning to wish they had smaller homes to care for and more free time like Kathy does. But she says something holds them back:

“It’s because they don’t know what to do with all their stuff that they spent their whole lives trying to pay for. They are so inclined to having stuff that it’s scary for them to think of paring down.”

To Kathy’s friends, I say “Downsize, people, downsize! Lose the clutter and gain your freedom!”

One more thing: in most tiny houses, the sleeping area is always up in a loft. Who wants to risk falling down that tiny loft ladder in the middle of the night when they need a bathroom? But Kathy’s tiny house has a futon in the living area that turns into a bed, so she doesn’t climb up into a loft to sleep. Smart!

Creative Retirement: 7 Reasons to Sell Your Big House…Now!

Although financial experts urge us to think about retirement soon after we begin working as 20-somethings, most of us don’t think very much about retirement planning until we reach a certain age…you know, once we start feeling that age, with the usual aches, pains, and thoughts like, “They stopped recording good music in the 70s.”

The fact is that most people don’t like to think about planning for retirement. And with all the experts out there insisting we have to have at least $1 million saved up (right, that’ll happen for most of us), who can blame them?

But there’s one thing you can do right now that can only help your retirement plans: sell your big house.

A big house is nothing but a burden to anyone in their 40s or older. Here’s why you should sell, now:

  • A big house requires many hours of your time paying for it and keeping it up, hours you could be spending on the golf course or reading good books.
  • A big house usually means higher taxes, costing you dollars that you should really be putting away for retirement, especially if you have no pension or retirement account to speak of.
  • A big house encourages your adult kids to move back home, or to never leave in the first place. Times are tough, I know, but how will they learn to cope if they have your basement to hide in?
  • A big house lets you keep the clutter instead of dealing with it. One reason people postpone freedom in the form of downsizing their lives is that they don’t want to go through their possessions and make decisions about what to keep and what to give up. But if you don’t do it now, the job will just hang over your head until you (or your heirs) are finally forced to deal with it.
  • Big houses aren’t as popular as they used to be, thanks to smaller families and a lousy economy. Sell now so you don’t take a bigger loss down the road.
  • Big houses are often two-story or multi-level houses; at some point you’re not going to want to deal with stairs, or you may not be able to. So it’s unlikely that you’ll want to stay in the house in your old age.
  • If you have enough equity in your big house, selling it and using the proceeds to buy a small house, townhouse or condo will let you face future retirement with a paid-for abode.

I think that last point is especially important if you don’t have a pension waiting for you. The biggest item in most budgets is the mortgage payment or rent. Imagine not having to pay that someday if you have only a modest retirement income to live on!

 

How to Live Economically in Retirement

How encouraging this video is to those of us who won’t be retiring on a huge pension. Note how relaxed this man is and how he ended up doing this: sounds like it was for the joy of it, not because he’s financially limited. I love how he emphasizes the convenience of living like this. After all, a lack of housework, fewer things to repair and lower costs are all benefits of this way of living. What a great video!

 

 

A Life Unencumbered with Stuff

Imagine spending your retirement on a cruise ship. No cleaning or cooking, just relaxing and dancing every day, if that’s your thing. Sounds great! Of course, not everyone can afford to spend over $150,000 a year doing this, but if you don’t require such a fancy stateroom, and you have enough retirement money saved up, you might get to enjoy the good life, too.

I think this goes to show that you can have a good time without a house full of possessions to weigh you down. This lady sold her house and car before embarking on her life on the seas. Even if you can’t afford to retire to a cruise ship, living lightly is absolutely doable.