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When Less is Best: Tiny Houses

Tiny home trend in the Panhandle. Photo credit: Anthony Pittman

Toni Cyan-Brock never thought she would be recognized for wanting less.

“I didn’t expect to be a part of a trend,” said Cyan-Brock. “I didn’t expect to be a part of something cool. I was just trying to get as much freedom and be as authentic as possible. That was my goal.”

Cyan-Brock joined others across the country who downsized from the traditional three bedroom, two bath home, to what is known as a tiny home. By definition, a tiny home, that some call homes on wheels, is less than 400 square feet. Toni and her husband Johnny live in a 320 square foot home they began building five years ago.

“We’re absolutely free,” said Johnny Brock. “Our bills are not like other people’s bills. I don’t know how other people make it with rent and everything else. We don’t have those extra bills.”

Rosa Fuller sells tiny houses just outside of Lubbock, Texas in New Deal. She says the stories are similar for those wanting to cut back on how they live.

“It has a lot to do with economics,” said Fuller of Integrity Homes. “Tiny homes are very energy efficient. We started selling tiny houses a year ago. We can’t seem to keep them in stock.”

Max Minor, who owns a 2,400 square foot home in Amarillo, started building a tiny house a year ago. When finished, he plans to tow his new home to a small town in Colorado and live a smaller, slower, and simple way of life.

“One friend of mine said his walk-in closet was bigger than my tiny house,” said Minor. “I said, if that’s the case, you have too many clothes.”

By the time Minor has completed his tiny house, the total cost will be just under $40,000. Most range from $20,00 to $100,000.

“I defy you to find a really nice house for $37,000,” said Minor. “I just want to live well, efficiently, and at a relatively low cost. Once everything is set up, the only bills I will have will be maintenance bills.”

Toni and Johnny feel the same.

“People always ask how can you live like this,” said Johnny Brock. “Well, we’re living happily. That’s for sure.”

Although the Panhandle has a small number of tiny homes in use, officials in Spurs, Texas say they had 70 tiny houses built between 2014 and 2016. City officials often refer to Spur as The Tiny Home Capital of Texas.

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