THONOTOSASSA, Fla. — With the rising cost of housing and high interest rates, potential homeowners are seeking innovative methods to save money.
What You Need To Know
- Potential homebuyers have the option to downsize with a newly developed tiny home village in Thonotosassa, Fla., built by Escape Tampa Bay
- According to a survey conducted by the National Association of Home Builders, more than 50% of Americans are open to the idea of living in a home that’s smaller than 600 square feet
- Mark Wildman moved in after losing his Fort Myers home of 18 years during Hurricane Ian
According to a survey conducted by the National Association of Home Builders, more than 50% of Americans are open to the idea of living in a home that’s smaller than 600 square feet.
Homebuyers have that option with The Oaks, a newly developed tiny home village in Thonotosassa, Fla, which is the second tiny home village built by Escape Tampa Bay.
The Northeastern Hillsborough County homes range between 240 and 500 square feet.
“Now, people are realizing that by living small they are rewarded with bigger items: Trips, new cars, got a little extra money in their pocket, you're not cooling a three-bedroom home,” said The Oaks Manager Dave Peterson.
Hurricane Ian survivor Mark Wildman lost everything in the storm, but says he has found a new home in the tiny home village.
He started his search for a new home a few months ago and initially felt his choices were restricted.
“Further research led me to this beautiful, tiny home village here,” he said.
He is now the newest neighbor at The Oaks.
“I was the first one inside the neighborhood,” he said. “I had lived in Southwest Florida for about 17 and 18 years in the Fort Myers, Naples area and lost everything in Hurricane Ian.”
He says that pictures of what was once his home won’t truly convey the extent of the damage.
“That neighborhood was lower lying, so it really got flooded really, really bad,” he said. “It’s tough for me and tough for friends. I have a lot of friends that lost everything they have. I consider myself very fortunate.”
It took him around seven months to regroup and figure out what to do next.
“I didn’t want to stay in Fort Myers,” he said. “The damage was too devastating for me. It brought back too many bad memories.”
So he packed what was left of his belongings and relocated to Tampa Bay.
Wildman says he has not only downsized his living space, but his expenses as well.
The cost of his mortgage is the same as that of a standard one- or two-bedroom apartment in Tampa.
He says his home has all the amenities needed, including a bathroom, kitchen and bedroom, and he says there is no going back.
“Losing a lot of stuff inside the hurricane was the finishing point for that,” he said. “I was always looking to downsize, and between the storm and things that happen in my life, I realize this was the place for me.“
Despite the size, Wildman says he’s been able to make this space his own.
“You have to be creative — you have to think about where you are going to put stuff,” he said. “You really learn to eliminate stuff that you really don’t need. You get rid of the clutter and it really simplifies your life.”
Wildman said being embraced by his new neighbors and the community made the transition simple.
“Nothing’s better than good friends,” he said.
It’s those key elements, Wildman says, that can truly make a house a home, no matter the size it is.
An open house for the tiny home community is happening Saturday, May 20, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
The public is welcome to tour the tiny homes.