One of the things about spending summers on Martha’s Vineyard Island is that you learn to live small. The gingerbread cottages located in the area known simply as “The Campgrounds” are quite small, hallways are typically non-existent, bathrooms tight, kitchens efficient and bedrooms snug. I always loved staying in our cottage and getting to visit my friends in theirs. Although each was similar, they all had features that made them unique. I always loved that too.
Yet, I never considered living full-time in one of the cottages. Oh, not because I didn’t want to, it was because the places were only summer homes; no winterized. If you tried staying in one during the winter, you’d find it very, very cold. Ah, but, currently, the possibilities are many more and different.
Following the housing meltdown, we lost our house. I thought we’d be safe. We’d bought a house within our means, we’d kept the mortgage small enough to manage the monthly payment and we had little in the way of other debt. I hadn’t counted on the engineering company I worked for going out of business and me not being able to get a similar job. Working part-time in a variety of menial jobs wasn’t enough to cover the bills. We let the house go back to the bank. We did what’s known as a “Deed in Lieu,” a process that spared us a full foreclosure.
For mw, it wasn’t just losing the house that hurt; felt this meant there was little chance of my wife and I ever owning a home again. After all, at our ages, what was the chance of that? We’d never get a decent down payment pulled together or find a bank willing to give a couple, as old as are we, a twenty year mortgage. We thought we resign ourselves to renting for the rest of our lives. I hoped for a better retirement lifestyle.
Ah, but recently, I found new hope that all was not lost on the home front. I’ve seen several shows about a new trend in this country: The Tiny House Nation. The idea is really quite nice. People build very small homes and by “very small,” I mean small. We’re talking 200 to 300 square feet as typical. Yes that small! The homes are super-efficient and essentially intended for one person, a couple or, maybe, a small family, parents and one child.
They are definitely not for a large family. One key element of such living is that you have to divest yourself of the excesses of life. You live on the basics, without a lot of storage and the costs of such homes are minimal.
Not only can I see my wife and I one day having such a place, but I think lots of other people could too, and I see a real means of freeing a lot of people from the yoke of the one-percenters with these homes. Think about it. If people have a home snug home that doesn’t cost much, that means they can afford the place, can afford to live, and don’t have to be burdened by massive debt. If they live simply, it means not buying a lot of junk sold by big companies owned by one-percenters. It means not owing a huge mortgage to banks owned by one-percenters.
A Tiny House Nation means freedom for many people. I hope so very much that more and more people make the move. As for me, I’m already looking at floor plans.
Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.
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