What was quaint and attractive and featured in Better Homes and Gardens? The 140-square-foot house Gregory Johnson, co-founder of the Small House Society, inhabited from 2003 to 2009.

A WalletPop article makes an interesting observation: “As home values sink and utility costs climb, tiny houses have captured the imagination of devotees of diminutive living… Clutter? Gone. Big bills? History. Mortgage? Probably not.”

Thus a question arises: How does one build wealth or ensure a secure future when conventional homeownership is out of the equation? Some tiny house dwellers actually own conventional homes as well. They secure income and a nest egg for the future by renting them out. For others, the increased cash flow offers the opportunity for different types of investments, such as Stocks or Mutual Funds.

Nationally-acclaimed, small-home trend-setter Jay Shafer, founder of the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, observes three types of tiny-home owners: About one third use their tiny homes as vacation cottages, one third as guest houses and one third as primary residences. Shafer’s own primary residence is an 89-square-foot home in Sebastopol, California. He has occupied tiny homes since 1999.

“Small-house enthusiasts aren’t just granola-chomping, off-the-grid types trying to outdo Henry David Thoreau,” points out the WalletPop article. However, they do seem to share common traits: an inclination toward order and control (in a nifty sort of way) and a rather Cartesian mind. Engineers and architects, for instance, seem especially inclined toward diminutive living.

According to the National Association of Home Builders, the average size of the American home was about 800 square feet in 1900. By 1970, it had increased to 1,500 square feet and 2,384 square feet in 2010.

Here in Vermont, our beautiful, historic farmhouses often provide the blueprint for charming living compounds where the family home and smaller guest houses, or artist studios, inspire a wide range of lifestyle possibilities for year-round living as well as for investment purposes.

As dawn casts the first rays of the morning through the windows of mansions, family homes and tiny houses, we arise at once with our distinctive perspectives, but also with the common goal of making the best of the day ahead.

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