Sunday, January 20, 2013

Searching for Small

Hobbits aren’t the only ones living in tiny houses these days.

But how tiny is tiny? It’s a relative term. My husband and I live in a smallish house. At 1,800 sq ft, it’s well below the national average (2,480 sq ft for new homes if you go by the census). But it’s ten times the size of fully functional houses emerging from the “tiny house movement.” 25 million google hits can’t be wrong. Tiny houses are trending.

What does this mean for us? Like many people planning for retirement, we talk a lot about what our home will look like in the years to come. Our current house will be bigger than we need, but how tiny will we go? And what will we find under 1,000 sq ft? 

Small homes are out there, but it takes creativity and patience to find them. I limited my first explorations to single family houses for sale. Let’s look at St. Johns County, FL, where I live. As I type, there are 2,000 “residential houses” for sale on Just under 1% are under 1,000 sq ft. Here is my favorite, based on potential. Its zoned commercial and has a large lot:
St. Augustine, FL • 576 sq ft • $72,500 •
Next I tried within 15 miles of my house: nothing under 1,000 sq ft, or under $150,000. On to my local Craigslist. First, all real estate for sale posted today: again, nothing under 1,000 sq ft. What about past listings? A search for “small house” in “title” turned up nothing. But in “entire post” up came “2br - 1000ft² - FSBO” — very intriguing. Another effective search term is “cottage” under “entire post.” You can use an email alert system to tell you when keywords appear. Try See for how to do it.

Pomona Park, FL • 1,000 sq ft • Best Offer • craigslist
One tiny house in St. Augustine is not for sale. The 180 sq ft Log House at our Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum was built in 1930, one of four made from a single huge log. It was not a great use of resources. The trunk section for this one tiny house had enough lumber to build a five-bedroom house. But it sure is cozy. 

St. Augustine Ripley's Log House • 180 sq ft • NFS

Up next: More paths to small homes. In the meantime, enjoy browsing at

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