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?