I have long had a fascination of sorts with things that are not the color they are supposed to be, there is something visually appealing about things that are the wrong color (don’t know how else to articulate it). A couple of examples include the blue turf at Albertson’s Stadium where Boise State plays football or fire apparatus that is a color other than red (I have been a volunteer firefighter since 2003). The extent to which a football field must be green or fire truck red is maybe isn’t such a big deal but it is unconventional on a small scale.
Taking on and defying convention in other arenas can be important in terms of quality of life issues (happiness), quality of life issues (physical health) which in turn can have a profound impact on quality of life (personal financial matters).
One form of convention is the idea of buying a house, it’s viewed as a sign of accomplishment and maturity. Ever since the financial crisis, this bit of convention has been scrutinized repeatedly for perhaps not being as great of a thing as many think. This provided impetus for the tiny house movement and likely, FIRE which stands for financial independence/retire early. I have written extensively about tiny houses and FIRE, they are fascinating ideas.
Today I waded through a long read about tiny houses from believermag.com(via Abnormal Returns) that seemed to be a circling back to the idea to see who really is living in tiny house beyond “mediagenic” 20-somethings. The article focused on a community of tiny houses in Colorado called Peak View (there is a view of Pike’s Peak). Part of the cohort that lives there is a group I have written about, retirees needing to downsize to make their financial plans work. The way I have framed it is that with the current median home price in the $250,000-$300,000 range (examples, $300,000 in Las Vegas, $305,000 Phoenix, $257,000 in Dallas), someone close to 60 either way, nearing retirement could sell their hopefully paid off home and buy a tiny house all in for $100,000 and add the $150,000-$200,000 to whatever retirement savings they might have. The context is people with less savings than they probably need as opposed to people who have no savings. This sort of trade down could be a huge difference maker.
I write all the time about taking bits of (investment) process from various sources to create your own process. What that really is about is allowing yourself to be influenced by something like a tiny house. I have no interest in living in a 200 square foot “house” but the tiny house movement validates the notion that people can be quite happy with less, with a smaller house than they think they need. If you look long enough, you’ll find stats along the lines of average square footage for houses built in the 1950’s & 60’s being 1300-1400 square feet versus well over 2000 square feet now. From the believermag article;
We sat in his living room, which was, of course, small, but nonetheless accommodated a flat-screen TV, a dog bed, and a pair of recliners.
As someone who loves watching sports and has dogs (we’re at five these days) that sounds pretty comfy and cozy to me. Think about your living room. What’s in there versus how much you actually use? The house I grew up in had three rooms on the main floor that we used maybe once or twice a year. Arguably, my parents didn’t need that space. I think the tiny house movement has served to alter perceptions (this is influence) and gives permission to live in a very small house even if not a true tiny house.