Would you consider going small… really, really small? 22



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If there’s one thing we Aussies have in spades, it’s space. Consequently, we have some pretty big homes – the largest in the world, in fact.

For most boomers, however, the Era of Many Bedrooms is behind us. Reports have shown that almost half of us have already trimmed down our household by the time we reach retirement, with many more doing so after the event.

But, where once the question many have been ‘how big is big enough’, these days many are asking ‘how small can we go’?

You’ve probably heard about the Tiny Living movement, which sees people eschewing separate bathrooms, spare rooms and even living space in order to live small.

American architect Sarah Susanka’s book The Not So Big House, showed that clever design and a simple approach to life meant you could meet all your housing needs in as little as 30 square metres – one-eighth the size of the average Aussie castle.

Many of you reading this now will think, ‘no way!’ But there’s probably just as many who say ‘yes please’.

There’s something about being in a tiny space that makes your heart sing. Think about the times you’ve been on a boat, in a caravan or tucked away in a rural B&B somewhere. They’re simple times, with everything you could possibly need – and nothing you don’t.

Those who love the tiny living movement say that less space – a lot less space – provides more room in the mind, better connection with whomever you live with and an absence of clutter.

Of course, it’s not all connection, community and Kumbaya.

Having spent 10 months in a Volkswagen campervan, I can assure you the word ‘tiny’ quickly becomes ‘cramped’ – particularly when it rains for two weeks!

In America, tiny living is particularly popular with baby boomers, particularly those who identify with the hippy movement of the past. The trend today is for building miniature wooden homes on trailers and parking them wherever the council will let you.

Australia’s answer to the tiny living movement could be our legions of nomads, who are arguably living in tiny spaces that provide access to the vast ones.

Granny flats are also increasingly popular, whether they are in the back yard of a relative’s home, or on one’s own property – you can find more about that here. But there are restrictions. For example, in Victoria, a granny flat must be relocatable and accommodate people who are dependent on those in the main residence.

Last year, an expert in affordable housing told Fairfax media that a lack of suitable options for baby boomers wishing to downsize kept them trapped in their too-large homes. Do you feel this way? Would you do smaller if you could? And if so, how small would you go?

Would you consider living in a tiny home, caravan or granny flat on a permanent basis? 


Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. We lived in a little 2 bedroom cottage for a few years and it was great. Always cool in summer and warm in winter. Less cleaning so more time for doing the things we wanted to do.

  2. I downsized to a two bedroom unit in a Village and it is the best move I ever made, not only did it give me money to add to my Super at the time but I now only need to worry about maintenance on a space that is manageable for me as I have sever Arthritis, however it’s certainly not claustrophobic as it is open plane and very light and bright.

  3. We moved into a Granny-attachment onto our daughter’s house last year. We love it.

    2 REPLY
    • Ours is nearly completed. Can’t wait. Building a separate 60sqm on the rear of our daughter’s block. 1 br would have been enough for us but 2br is more rentable for the future.

  4. Didn’t really have much choice at the time – my one bedroom, relocatable home was all I could afford on the DSP! However, over time I’ve realised that I didn’t need to have half of the stuff I’d been lugging around for years. I can keep my little home neat, clean and tidy; retain my independence whilst still being surrounded by plenty of people.

    1 REPLY
  5. When I was looking for a place to retire to I wanted to buy a small 2 bed unit with a 2/3 car garage. They do not exist in the area I moved to. So I’m in a 3 bed formal lounge and dining room with 3 garages.

    When I talked to the Mayor about this she acknowledged this was a problem as she was getting enquiries on a daily basis. Apparently there are Federal and State government regs restricting their construction.

    If you look at the ABS stats for “Lone person households” they are 26.7% in my area and 22.9% Australia wide.

    I’ve also spoken to a lot of local folks who live on their own and they all have said they would love to live in something smaller.

    I know if I moved into smaller it would cut down on my chores. B|

  6. I love my home and spacious yard but it has always been my long range plan to downsize once I no longer have the care of my elderly father.I am actually looking forward to downsizing when the time comes but disappointingly there are not many choices on the market, especially without haveing to move a long way from the district in which I feel comfortable. It seems to me the building/housing industry is overlooking a potential market by not catering for people like me – all I want is two bedrooms, a curbless shower recess, no stairs and a (very) small patch of grass so I can still sit outside in the sun, and no internal stairs!

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