Very small homes can provide big opportunities for people of all ages — and the cities, towns and rural communities where they live.
by Carol Kaufmann, AARP Livable Communities – Community Connection Tiny Retirement House
Over the last 40 years, the average home in the United States has increased in size by more than 1,000 square feet, essentially doubling the amount of living space per person since 1973.

But a decade ago, in the midst of the housing boom and explosion of outsized, luxury home construction in American suburbs (i.e., the “McMansion”), a quieter, smaller movement began to gain attention.

The idea of building quality homes of less square footage but with truly used spaces began to take hold. This concept, sometimes referred to as the “Not So Big House” approach to residential design has ignited a trend that reflects the state of the U.S. economy, the still-struggling housing market and a growing conservation ethic to reduce and reuse. Welcome to the Tiny House.

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A so-called “Tiny House” makes the average 2,600 square foot American home look and feel like a home twice that size. These micro homes measure, on average, from 100 to 400 square feet, but they can be as small as 80 square feet or as large as 700 square feet. Often resembling studio apartments, tiny homes can be crafted in many styles and customized to personal tastes.

Although these houses are small, they are big enough to include the needed amenities of a home. There’s a sleeping area, a bathroom, a modern kitchen, storage and spots for eating and relaxing. In most cases, the structures are aesthetically-pleasing, often so much so that they’re worthy of photo spreads in glossy housing magazines. While most tiny home owners live alone, the structures can be built to accommodate couples and even families.