Skip to content

Downsizing on a Budget

Lots of retirement options in small spaces

En español

The Scenario: Affordable retirement in a cozy home​

Check out the choices Betsy Barbour had.

aerial photo of fort myers florida along the coast

Getty Images

1. Fort Myers, Florida - High-Rise at a Lower Cost ($450/month)

Betsy was drawn to a compact studio apartment with water views in an amenities-rich Fort Myers older-adults community for around $450 a month.

white tiny house with blue trim in tavares florida

Reed Young

2. Tavares, Florida - Let’s Get Small ($28,000)

Stumbling upon the tiny-house movement (400 square feet or smaller), Betsy found she could build a 200-square-foot dwelling on wheels in a Florida tiny-house community for just $28,000: “a new lifestyle adventure.”

apartment building in fort myers florida


3. Fort Myers, Florida - Hello, Roomie! ($375/month)

Betsy and a friend realized that with a roommate, they could afford — at about $375 a month each — a small two-bedroom rental in a gated age-55-plus Fort Myers condo community on a lake. “After years of living on my own, I really liked the idea of sharing space and costs,” she says.

betsy barbour stands on the porch of her tiny house

Theo Stroomer

Her pick: Option 2! It’s tiny time!

Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania ($28,000)

Betsy loves her mini abode’s affordability and mobility (she’s already moved it — to Pennsylvania!). There’s also a philosophical element to aging this way. “I’m already thinking this tiny house is too big, and I may go even tinier. The smaller I go, the more it forces me to pare down my life. By the time I’m done, my son won’t be burdened with going through a lot of my stuff.”