We fully realized that, in moving to Stamford and our first real house at our age, we were going against the cultural standard. We were upsizing, not downsizing, as normal people do when they’re in their late fifties.
But we had no idea how untrendy we were being.* Now it seems everybody, regardless of age, is downsizing. These days, smaller is the new bigger!
People who once wanted McMansions are now ordering off the value menu. People who lived in "charming" cottages are now living in the same charming cottages with all their adult children. People who were squeezed into tiny apartments in Manhattan are now tweeting "WTF!"
That’s because of Michael "I’m the Mayor, I Can Do Anything I Want" Bloomberg’s proposal to begin offering "micro-unit" living spaces.
These apartments would be around 300 square feet, which is fine, I guess, if you don’t mind having your toilet bowl double as a dining room chair. (On the plus side, napkins would always be handy.)
Such units dovetail perfectly with the mayor’s overall downsizing strategy. After all, if your apartment is that small, you really don’t have room for an extra large cup of soda…unless you’re planning to reuse the cup as a kitchen sink.
Personally, I think these micro-units are a terrific idea, because, like Mayor Bloomberg, there’s no way I’m ever going to live in one.
But I’m not here today to talk about tiny apartments. I’m here to talk about tiny houses.
These are, apparently, becoming increasingly popular because they help people drastically cut down on mortgages, utility costs, and a lot of frivolous interior movement. There’s even a firm, The Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, that has over 20 models to choose from, many of which could fit inside Mayor Bloomberg’s micro-unit!
That’s right. A house that’s smaller than an apartment that’s smaller than the jumbo room at Westy® Self Storage!
These houses start at just 65 square feet, and yet manage to have everything a regular house has except, you know, room. In fact, if you try to swing a cat in one of these houses, you’ll end up with red streaks on the walls. All the walls. Looking at the positive side, however, the cat will be dead.**
The owner of The Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, Jay Shafer, thinks these homes are the greatest things since sliced bread, which is good, because they don’t have room for a full loaf. He, himself lives in an 89-square-foot house in Sebastapol, California, which is a small town (of course) about 56 miles north of San Francisco.
Needless to say, he doesn’t throw a lot of dinner parties.
But, okay, I get it. The whole idea is to simplify your life, to rid yourself of unnecessary material possessions, to get back to basics. And, when you think about it, the pros of such a residence may slightly outweigh the cons (although both probably outweigh the house):
- You don’t have to train your dog to come when you call him; he’ll always be right at your feet.
- Every time you use the bathroom, you feel like you’re on a plane, flying away on vacation.
- You don’t need any extension cords.
- You don’t need one of these expensive, whole-house stereo systems. All you need is an iPhone. (You can use an iPad too, but you’ll have to give up something to make room for it.)
- Fewer balloons necessary to reenact the movie Up.
- Great incentive to lose weight. No matter how much you weigh.
- To dust: attach Swiffers® to your body and spin in place.
- No impact on forests as long as you plant a new tree to replace the one you use to build the house.
- You can carpet the whole house for free with a couple of those sample squares.
- You will hear the doorbell when it rings.
- You’re much more likely to know where everything is.
- You have to put your large screen TV outside and watch it through a window.
- You can’t have a garage. You have to put your house on the roof of your car.
- The only dance you can do in your house is one of those armless Irish things.
- Clark Kent is always stopping by to change into his costume.
- It takes only a slight breeze to reenact the movie The Wizard of Oz.
- People will think your home is the guardhouse protecting the property behind yours.
- When a furniture store has one of those "whole-house sales," it’s not much of a bargain.
- You can’t have overnight guests. Even if you could fit a sofabed into the house, there’d be no room to pull it out.
- You can’t have your NFL friends over. Not even the kicker.
But here’s the incredible thing: there’s an FAQ on The Tumbleweed Tiny House Company website: "Can I come by and see Jay’s (the owner’s) home?" And the answer is: "Sorry, for the privacy of his family, we do not provide his personal address information."
Family? As in other people? Living in that house? Our daughter takes up 89 square feet just for her DVD collection!
All in all, though, I think one of these tiny houses would be a great place to live. Especially compared to the home designed by German architect Van Bo Le-Mentzel. He has built a home which is one square meter. In case you’re unfamiliar with metric measures, that converts to, um, stupid. The guy can’t even fit his name into that house.
But he can sleep in it. By pushing the house over onto its side and laying on the built in mattress. No kidding.
Bloomberg’s micro-units are looking pretty good now, aren’t they?
*Actually, we have a pretty good idea how untrendy we are in general; I’m just referring to this one specific area of untrendiness.
**What can I say? I’m not a cat person.
For more on our adventures as first-time homeowners at age 57, and moving to Stamford, visit http://theupsizers.wordpress.com/