- A retired software developer has moved to a small home community and is now mortgage-free.
- EJ Runyon bought a “Hobbit” style house for $ 30,000 and says it is now worth around $ 50,000.
- Community owners said around 70% of its residents are single women over the age of 45.
In a field outside Knoxville, Tennessee, a rapidly growing community houses residents in their homes for as little as $ 20,000.
A retired software developer told Insider that she walked out mortgage-free by leaving her traditional home to move into a “Hobbit” -style home where most of the residents are single women over the age of 45.
‘Family of 170 Perfect Strangers’
EJ Runyon, an author, moved into the community after living in New Mexico and New Hampshire when she realized she could afford to buy a home outright.
The 65-year-old spent $ 25,000 on a bespoke “Hobbit” style home in 2020 and another $ 10,000 on renovations and three years of renting land to live in the community. The house was designed by Incredible Tiny Homes, who made some changes to the property at Runyon’s request.
The house is a wooden structure with a circular door reminiscent of those of the imaginary Shire. The interior is 160 square feet, and there is also a 36 square foot elevated sleeping area accessible by ladder.
He has since had the property valued by an insurer, who said it was now worth more than $ 50,000. But financial luck pales in comparison to other benefits Runyon has reaped by living small.
Runyon says she “wasn’t a hug” before moving into the enclave. But after creating a support group for small residents before moving to Tennessee, she found intimacy easier.
Runyon will go to breakfast with the other residents on Sundays, while there are four libraries in the area. She says others helped her overcome the loss of a friend last July.
The village also hosts makeshift dinners and is planning a section to play the horseshoe game.
“I am simply amazed at the level of family you can find from 170 complete strangers,” said Runyon.
Runyon is one of many residents who can go largely debt-free by living in low-cost housing made by Incredible Tiny Homes. Residents pay $ 200 a month for a lot in the village.
The story echoes “Nomadland,” the film based on older Americans who lived nomadic lifestyles in vans or RVs after losing their jobs or homes.
With housing costs soaring as mortgage rates rise to their highest level since 2006, Americans are finding new ways to settle down. Many have chosen to live in vans, while one person told Insider that he decided to sell his van to live primarily out of his car.
This small native village, however, allows people to stand still and make connections while reducing their expenses.
Amazing tiny houses
Randy Jones, the owner of Incredible Tiny Homes, has started building a small home community that has grown into a thriving village of over 170 people. He now he builds hundreds of small houses a year.
The community has become a hit with retirees. Jones estimates that around 70% of residents are single women over the age of 45. Some are widows, others are divorced.
“The ones we talked to are mostly alone in an apartment or big house that they couldn’t keep. Now they have their own little house,” said Amanda Hayes, who runs the community with Jones.
“They’re going to the shops together. They’re going hiking together, they go home to each other. They needed this community and they crave it so much.”