Living in less than 1,000 square feet, or even in a place under 500 square feet, is usually reserved for aÂ Ramen-eating student or someone just starting out on their own. However, a growing group of people are choosing to live in smaller homes, even if they can afford something bigger.
Labeled as â€œtiny homesâ€ or â€œmicro-homes,â€ residences measuring less than 500 square feet are appealing toÂ buyersÂ who want to pare down their lives in every way.
The concept of downsizing has even reached cities such asÂ San FranciscoÂ andÂ New York, where tiny apartmentsÂ â€” measuring as small as 220 square feetÂ â€” seem like a viable way to combat rising rents. Both San Fran and the Big Apple have approved changes to the building codes to allow apartments of this size. In New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg challengedÂ architectsÂ to design a micro-apartment,Â choosing a winner in January.
The beginning of theÂ real estateÂ downturnÂ was one of the biggest catalysts behind the small home movement,Â says Michael Janzen ofÂ Tiny House Design.Â People began facing the challenges they had in housing and affording houses.
â€œA lot of people who are retired are looking at tiny homes as a way to downsize,â€ he said. â€œYounger people are interested in it as a way to get a foothold on homeownership, and a lot of people like the environmental aspect.â€
And, adds Janzen, not only do smaller homes cost less, you can also build a tiny home yourself.
â€œItâ€™s an empowering movement,â€ he said.
While there are resources and plans to build your own tiny home, itâ€™s also possible to buy one currently on the market:
219 W Mission Rd, Alhambra CA
For sale: $325,000
432 square feet
Located inÂ Alhambra, just south ofÂ Pasadena, thisÂ SoCal starter homeÂ boasts just 1 bedroom and 1 bath. But where it lacks in space, it makes up in charm; the little home has been redone inside and out.
171 Utley Rd, Dover AR
For sale: $22,900
128 square feet
An adorable â€œdoll houseâ€ measuring 128 square feet costs just under the price of most mid-sized sedans. Ideal for a getaway cabin or as a place to downsize, the petite place has 1 bedroom, 1 bath and a tinyÂ kitchen.
Small house, big lot
3833 Libby Rd NE, Olympia WA
For sale: $139,900
416 square feet
This home has less than 500 square feet, but it sits on nearly an acre in the capital city ofÂ Washington state. Custom-built with cedar siding, theÂ Olympia homeÂ has energy-efficient, dual-pane windows, a solar-reflective roof and marmoleum floors.
533 N Highland Ave, Aurora IL
For sale: $55,000
600 square feet
Two bedrooms and 1 bath make up this charming and freshly paintedÂ AuroraÂ home. The small cottage has already had a price cut; it was first listed in April 2012 at $60,000.
2444 3rd Ave N, St Petersburg, FL
For sale: $74,900
560 square feet
Although it measures less than 600 square feet, thisÂ St. Petersburg homeÂ makes enough room for 2 bedrooms and a bath. The home is move-in ready with recent updates, including renovations to the kitchen and bathroom.
Room to grow
33832 Robles Dr, Dana Point CA
For sale: $380,000
600 square feet
Cute, clean and within walking distance of the beach! TheÂ Dana Point homeÂ has 1 bedroom and 1 bath, but if youâ€™re looking for a bit more room, the city recently approved plans for a possible second level.