Tiny Houses and The New Retirement with Ryan Mitchell

newretirement-278x350-2This is a guest post from Laura M. LaVoie, author of the book 120 Ideas for Tiny Living. Laura lives near Asheville in a 120 square foot home she built with her partner, Matt. You can read her blog at www.120squarefeet.com and buy the book on Amazon.

Marianne is off on a sun filled vacation and asked me to fill in with this post since it is all about tiny houses, a subject I know just a little bit about.

For this post I’ve Interviewed Ryan Mitchell the owner of The Tiny Life, a blog about tiny houses, and the author of the eBook The New Retirement.

Laura M. LaVoie: What prompted you, as a Millennial, to write an eBook about retirement?

Ryan Mitchell: When I started down the road of tiny houses, it quickly became apparent that my living expenses were going to be very low, so low in fact that I could work many less hours, yet still cover my expenses and save money.  From there I learned of the concept of “semi-retirement” and other concepts that shaped my thoughts from the likes of Tim Ferris, Patt Flynn, and Jacob Fisker.  I soon began to see how I could meet all the realities of being an adult, while not slaving away in a dreary cubical.  I soon put those concepts to practice and today I am much happier and wanted to help others find their way to a fulfilling life too.

Additionally I get a lot of emails of people who want to retire in a tiny house and don’t know how.  It was obvious that people were looking for information on how to retire, after talking with lots of retirees, I started writing.

LML: How do you see Tiny Houses fitting into the new retirement paradigm?

RM: Tiny houses drastically reshape the financial picture for most people.  Instead of a risky mortgage that will take 30 years to pay off, you can achieve the same outcome (a place to sleep, live and store your personal items) in no time at all.  This means that what most people take their entire lives to do, I achieved in under a year and tiny houses make that possible.  From there I can focus on what matters to me.

LML: One of the biggest concerns from older adults looking in to tiny houses as an alternative to traditional retirement is the common use of loft space in these homes. How do you address this in your book?

RM: There is no rule saying that you have to have a bed in the loft and for those looking at retirement, a loft just isn’t practical.  In The New Retirement, I show you how you can design a tiny house that has a bed on the ground floor, how to accommodate for wheelchairs and other ADA accessibility issues, plus I have 10 floor plans included in the book of ground level beds.

LML: How much money can a tiny house save someone over the cost of traditional housing?

RM: The typical home mortgage on a house in America is around $265,000 add to that interest, insurance, average expenditures on maintenance and upgrades and the total true cost of a home over its lifetime is typically $750,000.  A tiny house by comparison typically costs $40,000 total over its lifetime (initial cost, maintenance, insurance etc), the big difference is people often can save up and build their tiny house with cash, cutting out the risk and cost of interest from a mortgage.

LML: Do you think there might be a market for tiny houses built in communities as opposed to traditional retirement community models that exist today?

RM: For some people I do think it’s an option, I think the bigger appeal for retiring in a tiny house is to be able to move to the backyards of the children’s homes when it comes time for more supported living.

LML: In the overall tiny house community you see a lot of women taking on this project by themselves. Why do you think tiny living is so attractive to women? 

RM: It’s a really interesting phenomenon.  The building industry is almost 95% male dominated so for tiny houses to be mostly women builders is a real shift.  It could be a variety of things, most women I’ve asked about this say they are seeking a level of independence and security that they don’t find with traditional houses.

LML: What do you think is the first step for someone considering the new retirement in a tiny house?

RM: Sit down and put aside everything you’ve read and seen; think about what is most important to you, what your needs are, and the life you want to need.  Don’t think about these things in the context of society’s expectations, cultural norms, or consumerist trappings; do what is right for you.  It will be a hard road to travel, I’ve found the pursuit of simplicity is often a complex affair, but the end result will be worth it.

For more information on Ryan’s book you can check it out at The Tiny Life website store. And, be sure to join the conversation at the Women for Living in Community Facebook page.

Women For Living in Community