Whether you call them “tiny house villages,” “small-house collectives,” or “tiny home communities,” these intentional neighborhoods of small, customizable, mobile houses continue to pop up across the country. Though this may seem like a decidedly “alternative” life-style, tiny living is an alternative that is increasingly popular amongst retirees.
The tiny home community is not simply a passing fad, but is quickly establishing itself as a world-wide movement. The environmental, economic, and social pressures of recent years, are causing many to rethink basic questions of how we should be living together. While the notion that “bigger is better” may have dictated the housing decisions of previous generations, many Americans in 2020 are looking to downsize. Tiny home communities provide a life-style that reflects the values of a changing culture—affordability, mobility, sustainability, and community.
Tiny house communities are certainly a trendy option for free-thinking millennials, but are tiny houses for seniors as well? More and more retirees are answering with a resounding “Yes.” According to the National Association of Home Builders, 45% of boomers would consider purchasing a tiny home, and builders are now designing custom models specifically to suit the needs of the elderly. According to TheTinyLife.com 30% of tiny home residents are between the ages of 51 and 70.
Why Retire Tiny?
While the “big box” style of a nursing home remains a traditional option for retirement, it may not remain the industry standard for long. The COVID-19 pandemic is causing many retirees to reconsider both the safety and desirability of retiring in a traditional nursing home. According to Jim Stroud, co-founder and former chairman of Capital Senior Living, retiring in an intentional community of tiny homes could prove to be a viable alternative for the future. In an interview with Senior Housing News, he discussed his decision to found assisted living centers on the tiny house model: “let’s figure out what model we think that the baby boomers will move into, and that will be flexible and resilient enough to withstand future change… We settled on the small-house concept.”
Downsizing in Retirement
Tiny home communities are not simply a retirement dream of the future—many retirees are downsizing and moving into tiny homes today. While acquiring a huge home in the suburbs for the accumulation of “stuff” may have proved to be the stereotypical vision of the good life in former decades, many retirees from the boomer generation are looking to challenge this paradigm. There is a “minimization movement” sweeping the country, and retirees are no exception.
For many boomers, downsizing in retirement is not only an ethical decision but is also a practical one. As the Corona Virus continues to wreak havoc on incomes and assets, many retirees are facing a retirement situation they could not have imagined a few years ago. In spite of these setbacks, many retirees are translating these new practical constraints into new opportunities. Downsizing provides a more mobile and affordable lifestyle that frees up capital for vacations and travel—a chief priority amongst today’s retirement generation.
The one down-side that looms over the dream of down-sizing for many retirees is the potential loss of life-long friendships and community. Retiring in a tiny home community could offer a retiree the best of both worlds: It is a lifestyle that offers affordability, autonomy, and mobility while also offering the retiree the simple joys and security of community-focused living.
Where to Retire Tiny?
Tiny home communities can range from intentional art collectives to luxury subdivisions. While some communities are fully established, with their own culture and infrastructure, many communities are still in the early phases of planning and building. As these communities continue to pop up across the country, there is an increasingly dizzying variety of options for someone looking to “go tiny” in retirement. We’ve put together this list of tiny home communities that each offer their own unique lifestyle. With rural, rustic, urban, and luxury options, it’s possible to find a tiny home community to suit a variety of budgets and lifestyles.
1. Orlando Lakefront at College Park – Orlando, Florida
Touted by Fox News as Orlando’s “million-dollar view” with a “tiny price tag,” Orlando Lakefront may be the perfect tiny house community for a senior looking to “go tiny” in Florida. With a dock for boating and fishing, a community garden, and a short commute to downtown Orlando, this community is a great option for retirees looking for a simpler life with easy access to big-city amenities. Lots range from $350-$650 a month, with some lots available just steps from Lake Fairview. The length of stay is flexible, making this community a great option for seniors looking to settle down or remain on the go.
2. Escape Tampa Bay Village – Thonatosassa, Florida
For retirees interested in settling down rather than remaining mobile, Escape Tampa Bay could be the perfect tiny home community in Florida. Each of the tiny homes at Escape Tampa Bay are individually crafted by an award winning design team for a custom feel in a custom neighborhood. While some Tiny homes can feel dark and cramped, each home at Escape Tampa Bay is beautifully hand-crafted for natural light and a spacious feel. Homes range from 75,000 to 106,000 for purchase, and there are currently only four units remaining!
3. Lake Dallas Tiny Home Village – Lake Dallas, Texas
The Lake Dallas Tiny Home Village is the first tiny home community of its kind. Unlike many tiny home communities which are built on reclaimed land in rural and suburban areas, Lake Dallas Tiny Home Village is located within the city limits of downtown Lake Dallas. The community boasts its close proximity to various schools and restaurants while also being walking distance to bike trails and nature. While valuing the mobility and autonomy of the tiny lifestyle, Lake Dallas is also dedicated to the joys of communal living. The community has plenty of amenities: a library, children’s parks, tennis courts, ball fields, restaurants, an old-time hardware store, schools, churches and Lewisville Lake is just a short walk away.
4. Majestic Hills Tiny Home Community – Willis, Texas
Majestic Hills Tiny Homes could be the perfect spot for someone looking to retire tiny while also seeking the security and amenities of a gated retirement community. Located in Willis Texas—just minutes from Lake Conroe, The Woodlands and Houston— Majestic Hills is one of the only tiny home communities in Texas of its kind. Unlike many tiny home communities, Majestic Hills offers concrete roads connecting the community along with private parking at each site for residents and their guests. The community also boasts a plethora of amenities: A community center, a work out facility, a heated pool and hot tub, an indoor movie theater, an outdoor living center with a kitchen and grill, an outdoor gaming center for lawn games, and a dog park and community garden. The community offers 10+ tiny home models on site to choose from, and the homes are more spacious an aesthetically pleasing than your average tiny home. All in all, Majestic Hills could be the perfect spot for a retiree looking for the economic and environmental benefits of a tiny lifestyle, while also seeking comfort, security, and amenities for their retirement years.
5. Winzig Haven – Big Sandy, Texas
Looking to go-country for your tiny retirement? Winzig Haven could be just the spot for the more independently minded retiree. Though this tiny home community is still in the planning phases, Winzig haven could be a great option for someone looking to get in on the ground floor of a community situated on 29 acres in the heart of beautiful East Texas. Winzig just opened with its first house in November of 2020 but has plans for a community garden, fishing at the community pond, horseshoes pits, walking trails and all the charms one would expect from country living. One of the benefits of tiny home communities is the opportunity to build a community of like-minded people, and for those looking to escape the hustle of urban life, Winzig Haven is definitely worth checking out.
6. Triple Creek Community – Cashiers, North Carolina
The gorgeous landscape of the Triple Creek Community is matched only by the beauty of its designer tiny houses. Situated on 26 acres of woodlands northwest of Cashiers North Carolina, the Triple Creek Community offers all the benefits of sustainable living, with all the benefits of a life of luxury. Each tiny house is designed by renowned architect Jeffrey Dungan to rigorous specifications, and each of the 14 lots is situated on 1-3 acres—far more spacious than the typical tiny home community. This spacious, gated community located in the Nantala National Forest offers easy access hiking trails, waterfalls, a stocked trout pond, and sunbathing and boating on nearby lake Glenville. The designer cottages at Triple Creek are a testament that downsizing one’s home doesn’t necessarily imply downsizing in lifestyle.
7. Acony Bell Tiny Home Community – Mills River, North Carolina
Already have a tiny home and looking to settle in the mountains of Western North Carolina? Acony Bell is a gorgeous community with ½ acre lots for sale. With both long-term and vacation rentals available, Acony Bell also provides the opportunity for the retiree to dip their toes in a tiny home community before making the commitment to the full-time lifestyle. Acony Bell boasts the joys of the downsized simple-life—focusing on experiencing the joys the land has to offer and relaxation. If communal fire-pits and gardens sounds, along with hiking, biking, and fishing in the North Carolina mountains sounds like how you would like to spend your retirement years, then acony bell could be right for you.
8. Escalante Village – Durango, CO
“Are you looking to live in 400 square feet at 6,512 feet?” If the answer to this question is yes, then this tiny home community in Durango Colorado is worth checking out. Located along the beautiful Animas River, Escalante Village is footsteps away from the Animas River path and only a 15 minute bike ride to downtown Durango. In today’s world, living in desired locations like Durango isn’t always an option for retirees on a budget, and communities like Escalante village are working to make this a possibility.
9. Lifeseed Community – Mancos, Colorado
If intentional community, sustainability, and an alternative lifestyle are inspiring your decision to retire tiny, then look no further than Lifeseed Community. According their website, “Lifeseed is an intentional community dedicated to the discovery and full expression of each individual’s creative gifts.” Located on nearly 11 acres in southwest Colorado, with great views, two large greenhouses, sweat lodge and many area activities, Lifeseed offers the expansive independence of the American West, with the dedication to intentional community that tiny living can offer. The website also boasts that “the land hosts a high life-giving frequency vortex of powerful energy…” a perk that is not on offer at all tiny home communities in Colorado!
10. Spur Freedom – Spur, Texas
Spur Freedom is no mere tiny home community—this is the first tiny house friendly “town.” Spur is one of the picturesque west Texas towns that underwent a population drain over the last several decades, leaving the town with all of the infrastructure of city-life—paved roads, electricity, sewage, and even fiber-optic internet—with hundreds of empty lots. Spur continues the pioneer spirit by creating what could become the model tiny home community of the 21st century.
11. Airstream Village – Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas is a prime vacation destination for retirees, but could it also be a place to settle down in your tiny home? It is for Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos who also happens to call Airstream Village in downtown Las Vegas “home.” Hsieh is part of a movement to revitalize abandoned sectors of downtown Las Vegas in which Air Stream village is just one of a whole host of new businesses and dwellings. Rent starts at just 1200 a month— leaving plenty of free capital for a retiree to enjoy all of the games and nightlife that Sin City has to offer.
12. Traverse Bay – Williamsburg, Michigan
Traverse bay RV resort teamed up with Wheelhaus, a tiny house building company, to create a one-of-a-kind tiny home community in Acme Michigan. Traverse Bay has 217 lots which average around 5000 square feet and could be the perfect place to park your tiny home, or settle into one of Wheelhaus’ custom cottages. With a resort style pool, spa, and fitness center, Traverse Bay boasts that its amenities “set national standards.“
13. Whispering Aspen – Breckenridge, Colorado
If Skiing in the Colorado mountains is part of your retirement dreams, then you may want to look into Whispering Aspen Village. With existing cabins, RV’s, and tiny homes on wheels, Whispering Aspen is encircled by the Mosquito Mountain Range and just 30 minutes from the “ski mecca” Breckenridge. While you may think that retiring in a Colorado ski town is a privilege reserved for the wealthiest Americans, Whispering Aspen is helping make this dream available to anyone.
14. Ohatchee Tiny House Community – Ohatchee, Alabama
Did you always dream of owning a home on a river front but never thought you could afford it? Ohatchee Tiny House Community is making this dream a reality. Situated on the beautiful River Coosa in Ohatchee Alabama, this new community is open to both RV’s and tiny homes, and has seven lots available starting at just 200 dollars a month. Getting in on the ground floor of a new community always comes with its worries and concerns, but it can also be a wonderful opportunity to be part of shaping the culture of your retirement community. What a beautiful and affordable place to build your retirement dreams!
15. Desert Star Ecovillage – Joshua Tree, California
Joshua Tree has always been a destination for spiritual seekers. Desert Star Ecovillage, located in the heart of this California desert, is a tiny house community committed to the purpose of spiritual growth. This intentionally intergenerational community, welcoming to both seniors and children, prides itself as an “extended family of neighbors committed to sustainably sharing life toward the common good.” While Joshua tree is famous for its stunning vistas and sparse desert landscapes, you may not know that Joshua Tree is also simply a wonderful town. According to the Joshua Tree Chamber of Commerce, “Joshua Tree is a community of artists, musicians, working families, businesspeople, telecommuters and retirees. Downtown has four art galleries, a yoga studio, two outfitters, a bakery with a shady courtyard for coffee and wi-fi, beautiful gift shops, great burgers and great vegan fare, even a pizza parlor that dishes up home-cooked Indian food. Saturday morning there’s a Certified Farmers Market right in town.” Doesn’t sound like a bad place to spend your retirement year
16. The Village at Sewanee Creek – Sewanee, Tennessee
Nestled in the gorgeous mountains of east Tennessee, The Village at Sewanee Creek is a startup community which prides itself as “an experience in Southern Living the way it should be. We are a self-Sustaining Community … in harmony with nature and people.” The community’s values are simple and the landscape is stunning. Lots are available from 3.2 to 10 acres, providing more breathing room for your retirement years than is available in the notoriously crowded lots of many RV parks and tiny home communities. With a natural amphitheater, waterfalls, biking trails, and 500+ acres of raw wilderness to explore in one of the most beautiful areas of the country, The Village at Sewanee Creek could provide both the adventure and peace—community and solitude— you’ve been dreaming of in your retirement years.
17. Creek Walk Tiny Home Community – Travelers Rest, SC
“Live Life. Love Life. Retire in style.” Creek Walk Tiny Home Community, located just north of Greenville South Carolina, prides itself as a tiny home village ideal for retirement. Though community members can own their own home, they don’t have to worry about all the hassles and headaches of home-ownership—one small monthly fee covers all maintenance costs! With ponds, creeks, and mature hardwoods, Creek Walk provides all the rural charm you may have dreamed of in retirement, while being just a short commute to the bustling city of Greenville— a city that is considered one of the best cities for retirees.
18. Tiny Tranquility – Waldport, Oregon
Located near a beautiful stretch of Oregon’s central coast, Tiny Tranquility is a community designed to suit both long-term residents and tiny home owners on-the-go. The community offers 43 long term lots with full water, electric, and wi-fi, but also provides a host of tiny homes and vintage trailers that are available for nightly rental— an ideal situation if you’re interested in testing out the tiny lifestyle before making the full-time “plunge.” If you have spent your life dreaming of both the mountains and the shoreline of America’s pacific northwest, then Tiny Tranquility might be a perfect option for your retirement years.
While retiring “tiny” may not be for everyone, it is certainly an option worth exploring. There are a wide variety of communities to fit an array of different budgets and lifestyles. There are rural communities and urban communities; rustic communities and luxury communities; communities which pride themselves on living towards a common goal, and communities which give you the space, mobility, and freedom to simply be yourself. Many of these communities have rental options, which means you can test out a tiny home community before selling your home and committing to the new lifestyle full-time in your retirement years.
All of these communities are a testimony that for many Americans, a tiny home does necessarily imply a tiny life. Rather, living in a tiny home community could provide the opportunity to rediscover just how “big” life can be in your retirement years. Whether your vision of the “big life” is living lean and mobile, or living intentionally with neighbors and with nature, you may just find that going “tiny” is the choice for you!