What is a Tiny House?
I am not convinced that tiny houses are suitable for seniors. What are they? There are several definitions of a tiny house – they are generally small transportable/temporary houses, that are sometimes seen as the solution for the housing shortage. People send me information about these but I don’t believe they are suitable for seniors. Definitely not suitable for long term forever homes for those of us who are older. Though I acknowledge that they will work for some people. Certainly as a temporary home for someone who is fit and healthy. An article on the ABC suggests that older women are interested in tiny houses – but I suggest that it is the cost that has appeal. This older woman is not interested. I have researched.
Have I been in a Tiny House?
Yes, I have. I have researched several of these models, which have ranged from neat demountables, with most “mod cons”, to other small neat operations but with a bed in the “loft”, which is only suitable for someone who is healthy and agile. I have stayed in some cabins too, which are similar to “tiny houses” and at one stage negotiated with a local council about turning a shipping container into a tiny house.
What are the challenges?
There are many! Some local councils will not approve them – certainly not for the long term. Also providing electricity, water and sewerage can be an issue. While electricity can be provided by solar and being able to fill water tanks within a tiny house from a hose is possible, the issue of human waste is often a big one. Sure, you can install a “porta-pottie” or similar but it still needs to be regularly emptied into the sewerage. There are some “natural” options that may work.
Local government rules come into play, and if the container of waste needs to be transported to another location, there are some other challenges to be overcome. What if it is heavy? Is it easy to transport? How often does it need to be emptied? Who will do it?
Fit and Healthy Residents
If the resident is fit and healthy, and can manage the stairs, and has no physical impediment, I can see it could be an ideal accommodation for someone. But what if the resident was injured and not able to walk and climb stairs? What if he or she needed a walker or wheelchair – and needed to negotiate the steps into the tiny house? Would there be room in the tiny house to manoeuvre the wheelchair inside? If it was a couple in the tiny house – and I know it does work even for parents and a child or two, but while everyone is fit and healthy it could be manageable, but not so if one is sick or injured.
Put a Tiny House in a Backyard?
Many years ago I visited a family who had a tiny house in the back yard for the elderly mother. It was little more than a bedroom, with ramps from the tiny house to the laundry and bathroom, as well as to the main house. The lady was very grateful to her daughter for arranging such facilities, but it was not working out. She didn’t like having to go out of her room to the facilities, rain, hail or shine, and above all it was lonely. She felt imprisoned to some degree as her health was deteriorating too. I saw her several times, and it wasn’t long after that she passed away.
The lady was very grateful to have a roof over her head, but she was lonely. Her daughter worked and she was home alone most days. It would be the same for me if I transported a tiny house into my family member’s back yard. And I have lived in an old bus on a family property and seldom saw the busy folk.
Loneliness is now considered a major issue in Australia, with one in five people saying they never have anyone to talk to. Unlike the old days where there were big families and people tended to live more in communities, so many people, especially older folk are alone.
I know – for it is an issue for me. I live alone in an apartment block with hundreds of residents, but many work and I can go days without seeing anyone, or talking with them.
I’d love to live in a small community where we had similar interests and could meet regularly for coffee/tea etc.
Would I live in a tiny house?
Maybe in my earlier years, I would have enjoyed it. Not now. As I age I have some minor mobility issues and don’t want a “temporary” home any more. As well, I have hobbies that require space – even my computer, desk, printers etc need space. I have lived in a Toyota Coaster and found it very difficult to manage. I had issues climbing steps to get in.
No, it is not for me.
Senior folk need a forever home. As our bodies start to challenge us, we need to have comfort in knowing that the home we live in will suit our needs. They need to have friends or family nearby for company and support.
Tiny houses are great for younger fit people, and temporary housing.
If you are still keen on considering a tiny house, do your research, check local government rules for where you want to live. Check the cost of moving the tiny house. Test one if you can.
What do you think?