Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Honey, I Shrunk the Household


With the wild popularity of the "tiny house movement" and "living tiny," people of all ages are downsizing. Many are shunning boatloads of possessions and big houses for cozy, small square footage and a lifestyle not defined by largess. Older folks on the other side of raising family also find, at some point, that they have too much house. Longing to reduce expenses, maintenance, stuff and time spent on upkeep, they seek to downsize. Remember the definition of "stuff" ~ something that has weight and takes up space.

            The "tiny house movement" is synonymous with "small house movement" and is attracting much attention across generations. Roughly speaking, a tiny house is less than 400 square feet, and a small home has 400 to 1,700 square feet. Most people who move to smaller digs find it quite appealing to live in less space, do less maintenance, spend less money and live more efficiently. Some opt for outdoor deck and patio living instead of maintaining a formal yard of grass, shrubs, mulch, trees, etc.

            With more than 130 senior living 55+ community lifestyle options in the Tampa Bay area and some tiny and small homes on the market as well, it's not hard to find something that suits your style and budget. If you cannot quite embrace the tiny ones, low maintenance bungalows and ranch homes abound in the Tampa Bay-Clearwater-St. Petersburg region. Townhouses, lofts and condos benefit homeowners by sharing walls, exterior maintenance costs and common spaces. Homeowner dues cover parking lots, trash pickup, roofing, exterior building maintenance and landscaping. Many singles, couples and families report a renewed closeness, not just in proximity, but emotionally, when they downsize.

            As with any project, it takes planning to pull off a successful downsize, and one can begin well before signing a contract on the new place.

  • List items that you think you cannot live without. Check off how many times you use each one over a month or two months. Be realistic.
  • If you opt for condo living or a neighborhood where a homeowner association handles landscaping, pass along your lawn mower, weed eater, hedge trimmers and garden tools.
  • Sort through clothes, shoes, linens, excess furnishings and drastically reduce the collections, keeping only what you need, use and love.
  • Envision smaller rooms similar to what you have now. Your new living room might be the size of your guest bedroom. Move furniture in there the way you want your new space to function.
  • Trade exercise equipment for a good pair of walking shoes. 
  • Measure furniture and figure room space and square footage on graph paper or an app.
  • Use this as a great opportunity to bless others with things they may want or can use in their big houses.
  • Consider closet and storage systems which maximize space utility.
  • Look into Murphy beds and clever conversion furniture.
  • If you've lived a long time in your home and/or have accumulated things that have been water damaged or become moldy, piles of newspapers or broken items, you may as well order a Bin There Dump That dumpster. It will save you all the hassle of dump or landfill trips and fees and make the whole downsizing adventure run more smoothly.

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