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Downsizing: Choice or necessity?

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POSTED: Wednesday, February 19, 2014 - 10:45pm

UPDATED: Friday, February 21, 2014 - 4:44pm

Beth Ann Norrgard spent the last 26 years working for a law firm, and living in a large home in Dallas. However, little did she know a different lifestyle awaited her. All through a tiny house built on wheels. Norrgard said, "It's a great example of sustainable living, and just being happier with less. I think we're sort of conditioned that more is better, and I don't think that's necessarily the case".

This tiny house is only 112 square feet total. Just enough room for a small kitchen and loft. Norrgard shared, "I have power, lights, and heat and hot water, and the things that a normal house would have". Yet this little home gives her a sense of freedom. Norrgard said, "Society trains us to go to college, get married, buy the big house, go to work, go to work, buy, go to work, buy, and it wasn't working for me. I think it doesn't work for a lot of people, but we don't think about it. It's just what we do as Americans".  

Norrgard is not the only Texan who finds downsizing appealing. The baby boomer generation is slowly putting up those "for sale" signs. KETK spoke with realtor Jason Gregory from Gregory Real Estate, who said, "Most of the downsizing I've seen has been 55 and older. When the kids have moved out and gone off to school". The AARP Public Policy Institute reports 80 percent of Americans over 50 years of age, are home-owners. Of that group planning to move, more than half intend to downsize. Gregory said, "I  think we live in a generation where it's a click of a button. Nobody likes to mow their yard anymore. They want easy maintenance and they want smaller stuff to take care of".

Americans saving for retirement may also downsize to use home equity to increase their savings. Jay Oliver from Rose Point Capital said, "They're dependent on those investments growing over the years to sustain an inflation adjusted income. So I think they realize that downsizing or cutting expenses, if you will, having less obligations, is important in order to make that process work".

While this may be a choice for some, others downsize out of necessity. Tom Mullins, the President of the Tyler Chamber of Commerce, said, "You're seeing this sort of permanent unemployment group. People that have certain skills sets but aren't able to find work because those jobs have been taken over by technology". According to the Bureau of Labor Statistic, these are the job sectors expecting to have an employment decrease over the next decade:

  • Manufacturing
  • Agriculture
  • Fishing
  • Forestry
  • Hunting

Mullins believes, "I think East Texas is trending the same way the US is and really internationally. You're seeing companies downsizing, and they've been downsizing for a couple of decades, as a result of automation". These East Texas staples may cause local residents to put up those for sale signs sooner than expected. Mullins shared that baby boomers age out of the work force, and there are not enough people behind them to fill those jobs. So in order to make up the difference, they're trying to find ways to use technology.

This is further inspiring Norrgard to build an entire tiny house community for those desiring to get off the grid. She believes the tiny house movement is happening, and the time is now. Although she has no concrete plans for the community's location, Norrgard said, "I'm so happy. I'm the happiest I've ever been in my life". To follow her progress, she has a blog you can view: .  

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