Tumbleweeds for Senior Citizens

Featured photo credit: Sausage Nonnas

Where will you live when you retire? Will you be able to maintain your house and a lifetime of belongings during your golden years? Or could a simpler lifestyle reduce your burdens? At Tumbleweed, we are seeing more and more senior citizens downsizing to Tiny House RVs. Here’s why –

Seniors are using Tumbleweeds in several different ways. Some enjoy their tiny mobile dwellings as a comfortable alternative to the traditional RV. Others park in a family member’s backyard, giving them an opportunity to maintain independence and privacy while being near loved ones. Widows and single seniors find tiny living to be less stressful and more fulfilling. Could Tiny House RVs be the next senior-lifestyle trend? 

Read on for three stories of senior citizens “going tiny.”

Senior Citizens and Tiny HousesImage: Source

By living in 166-square-feet, Bette Presley hopes to avoid a nursing home altogether.

Bette Presley (age 72) downsized with the goal of saving her children the task of going through her belongings if she becomes infirm. Her Tumbleweed Elm includes an extra-wide front door, downstairs bedroom with a twin bed, and a lofted bed for guests. It was important for Bette to have an option for mobility and off-grid parking. By choosing Tumbleweed, her Tiny is RVIA certified and ready for solar power. Read more on her story here.

Senior Citizen Tiny House

Dani, a disabled widow, took another approach to “Going Tiny.”

In 2014, Dani, a grandmother in her 60s, attended a Tumbleweed workshop and purchased a Tumbleweed shell. Her dream was to finish the build herself, even though she requires a wheelchair for mobility. Two years later, she completed construction of her Tiny, proving she’s one tough granny!

Dani installed a custom wheelchair accessible ramp for her Tiny House RV and opted for a large front door. Unlike most seniors, Dani loved the idea of sleeping in her loft. Through some clever engineering and help from friends, she created a chair lift using a rock climbing harness. Could this be the first Tiny House chair lift?!

Adele retired, downsized, and moved cross-country.

As an outdoor enthusiast, Adele liked the idea of retiring into an RV, but she wanted the comforts of a regular home. She came across Tumbleweed and was sold on the RVIA and Green certification. Adele’s Tiny includes a large outdoor living space with a hot tub and covered porch. She customized the Tumbleweed Cypress design to have a side door for easy access and more interior living space. Once a school teacher, Adele now enjoys living on a family-owned farm in Oregon, where she helps around the property and hosts book club events.

Do you think Tiny House RVs are a good solution for senior citizens?

If you like this article, you should check out this article on John, a 75-year-old retired man who travels the world with his wife in a Tiny House Truck!

Article written by Jenna Spesard

 Jenna SpesardTumbleweed Tiny Houses Lifestyle Blog built a Tumbleweed in 2014 and traveled with it for one year, clocking over 25,000 miles. She writes about the Tiny House Movement and travel on her blog:  “Tiny House Giant Journey.”



About the Author:

Jenna Spesard
Jenna Spesard built a Tumbleweed in 2014 and traveled with it for one year. She clocked over 25,000 miles, and now parks in a Tiny House Village. She writes about the Tiny House Movement on her blog Tiny House Giant Journey.


  1. Avatar
    Nancy Welch May 10, 2017 at 6:22 am - Reply

    I think it is awesome. Seniors cannot keep up with the day to day care of a yard and house that may be detorating around them. I work with Seniors everyday that the floors in their homes are rotting because of a leaking pipes or the roof is so old that it is rotting away the trusses and much much more. When they live on a fixed income they don’t have extra for repairs and pay someone to take care of their grass and outside needs. This is something needed in every state and as you said it helps them to still have their independence just on a smaller scale that they can manage or their children can help manage.

  2. Avatar
    Evening Iris May 10, 2017 at 6:35 am - Reply

    I’d like to see Senior THOW communities across the country. This would include no rental fees for off-grid THOW’s. Some of us are on *very* limited fixed incomes, and having a safe place to live would be greatly appreciated. I hope town administrators will take Seniors into consideration when overseeing land management.

  3. Avatar
    Donna Kellogg May 10, 2017 at 7:58 am - Reply

    will you have a “tour” in Ohio soon? Thanks!

    • Avatar
      Judy May 17, 2017 at 11:18 am - Reply

      I am planning to move to Ohio and have the same interest…so, please keep me posted on Senior THOWs. A tour in Ohio would be well attended I think.

  4. Avatar
    Neal Nilsen May 10, 2017 at 8:05 am - Reply

    Simple living in an optimal space

    My name is Neal, I am a baby boomer, living in a peaceful wooded community in a modest home just a few hundred feet from the Shenandoah River in Harpers Ferry West Virginia.

    My wife of 17 years and I divorced in March 2015 and I began my journey to “Life Reimagined”. After I picked myself up, and dusted myself off, I resolved to take control of my health, finances, and to put my experiences to work for myself and others in my community.

    I dove head first into the next journey in my life, and know in my heart that simple living in an optimal space is right for me.

    My first step was to learn, and put into practice, the art of what many refer to as downsizing, minimalism, or tidying up. This phase has made a profound change in my attitude, and overall happiness.

    Next, I began researching, planning and designing the optimal space for my myself now, and for my ‘age-in-place’ future. My home will be a 400 sqft log cabin park model tiny house on wheels verses the smaller towable recreational trailer.

    My build timeline is dependent on several factors such as code compliance, certifications permitted land use, and budget. At this time my target start date will be mid-2017.

    While I work thru my planning, and up to my build date, I am visiting with Builders, Manufacturers, Campgrounds with cabins, Communities with park model units, and Communities where tiny house are legal. Along the way I am renting and staying in different dwellings to experience them, and the people who own or have built them. I have a group of close friends that I invite along on some adventures as my ‘focus group’ to experience, test, and provide valuable feedback for my plans.

    The next phase of my project is to work with Jefferson County West Virginia Government to begin to craft the implementation plan to allow sustainable, affordable housing, Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) and Tiny Houses to meet the needs of the growing and aging population in the County as defined in the County Envision 2035 Plan.

    And finally, my retirement dream is to use the knowledge, experience, and leadership skills that I have gained from my construction, HOA management, civic organization and technology implementations to design, and build tiny houses and develop communities for baby boomers (55+) with like-minded desires and life plans to live simpler lives in beautiful surroundings, caring for each other where Governing Principles and Regulations are in Harmony.

    • Avatar
      Libby May 11, 2017 at 7:23 pm - Reply

      I first found the Art of Tidying, which is about minimizing. Then I have been stuydying tiny houses. I think between now and retirement my boys can have the “collectibles”. I like the tiny idea is perfect. Utilizing space & I hope to see communities developed. Agree with your comment

  5. Avatar
    Ann Traylor May 10, 2017 at 9:10 am - Reply

    I think the loft area is not suitable for us

    • Avatar
      Dianne May 13, 2017 at 12:37 am - Reply

      Good thought!

    • Avatar
      Susan May 17, 2017 at 9:50 am - Reply

      More and more tiny house floor plans include a main level master bed

  6. Avatar
    Rita Hall May 10, 2017 at 10:48 am - Reply

    Senior living in tiny’s sounds awesome. I’ve been studying on them too. Thanks for sharing.
    I have a head full of ideas but…

  7. Avatar
    Carol May 10, 2017 at 10:57 am - Reply

    Absolutely!!! This is my goal to build a tiny house so my family doesn’t have to deal with the nursing home. I think going tiny is the way to be. I wish more communities in the State of Wisconsin would allow Tiny Homes. I have a shell picked out from our local Amish builder. It is a cottage style.

  8. Avatar
    Kori Jones May 10, 2017 at 10:57 am - Reply

    Yes a great idea for seniors. I have a nice home on 3 acres & want to put a tiny house out the back & move in it & let my daughters family take over the big house. I will still have them close by to help me as I get older. I have multiple sclerosis & have a hard time getting around in a big house, not to mention cleaning it. My husband & I talk about a tiny house all the time & watch the shows on DIY channels about them. Definitely thinking that is the way to go. No nursing home for us!

  9. Avatar
    David May 10, 2017 at 11:19 am - Reply

    I think Tiny’s are a great solution for retirees and explored the option myself. I’d go with a slightly larger unit and have a ground floor bedroom to avoid mobility issues with a loft. Otherwise, you may be limiting the time it can be your home. The Popomo is a fav design, along with a few others I saw.

  10. Avatar
    Jan Shwetz May 10, 2017 at 2:30 pm - Reply

    I think it is a great idea. The problem as usual is where to park them. Need to be close to health care as they grow older.

  11. Avatar
    Wendy Brown May 10, 2017 at 3:00 pm - Reply

    I’m 59 and I’d take my kitties and my dog and move into a tiny house anytime. They are absolutely gorgeous and look so easy to take care of.

  12. Avatar
    Marian May 10, 2017 at 7:53 pm - Reply

    Bravo, I predict that THOW’s, as senior housing, is going to be one of the big markets for tiny living. But there are challenges that not many are addressing. Certainly the loft issue is one. Most seniors do not want to deal with ladders and stairs. There are multiple reasons why, especially as they get older and want to stay in their tiny home. Crawling around on knees starts getting difficult too. Even with drastic downsizing storage is still an issue. We all have a few things we want to hold onto or hobbies etc. I see a lot of area taken up for the kitchen and not much living space. I think vertical space could be used better especially if we designed some mechanisms for access. I personally like the bed that lowers from the ceiling. Lift the floor and put storage underneath to be accessed from inside and some from outside. Also piping, electrical, batteries, water storage, pull out deck could all go under the floor making room for living space. I think the company that starts making THOW’s for grannies is going to do very well. I am keeping my eye out for you.

  13. Avatar
    Lynn Brooks May 10, 2017 at 9:29 pm - Reply

    I am a 66 year old widow who is now at the Univ of Maryland completing a Degree in Sustainable Agriculture I started 35 years ago!!!
    My dream is a Tiny House Village with an Agrihood + CSA, where we can all live together, watch out for & take care of each other & maintain our own tiny farm!!!
    I’m looking to do this in upper Baltimore or Southern Hartford County, Maryland!

    • Avatar
      Judy Kniffin May 11, 2017 at 6:28 pm - Reply

      Wow…..do you have a blog site for those who would LOVE to be a part of such a neighborhood??? I am a single retired RN with bad knees but alert mind who would love this!!

    • Avatar
      Linda May 17, 2017 at 5:49 am - Reply

      My kids live in MD and I would love to be closer to them on an occasional basis. I don’t yet have a tiny home but do have a small camper. When I retired, I went back to school and got an AAS in Horticulture with an extra Permaculture course. You sound like you have a similar mindset to me. Wishing you the best in this endeavor!

    • Avatar
      Jennifer May 21, 2017 at 1:17 pm - Reply

      I love your idea and would love to be a part of this community. I currently 58 years old looking for a tiny to live in the rest of my life. Good luck Lynn, sounds exciting.

  14. Avatar
    Kimberly Matic May 10, 2017 at 10:51 pm - Reply

    I do think Tiny Living can be an answer to retirement. I’m 55 this month and knew I didn’t want to continue working the rest of my life.
    I bought a shell last summer and am still finishing the interior.
    I have it in my backyard/side yard where there was existing RV parking and have rented out the big house which pays mortgage and utilities so essentially I live for free. I do have a loft and I may or may not be able to climb the stairs in my later years but I also have a couch/sleeper downstairs.
    I love my tiny home and am so glad I’ve been able to do this in preparation for retirement. I in fact have decided for now to not go back to work and look for income strategies from home.
    I have an apartment fridge, composting toilet, shower and a washing machine. I have​ everything I need and am still adding storage that I may or may not need.
    I feel great about reducing my carbon footprint and provide affordable living for 3 people currently living in the big house. It’s a win win!

  15. Avatar
    Joyce Sawyers May 11, 2017 at 4:43 am - Reply

    Great idea, great if local zoning boards are ok with them.
    I would love to do this!

  16. Avatar
    Bonnie Schaufel May 11, 2017 at 6:47 am - Reply

    Yes I do, I have always owned a home, but when Cancer struck, we ended up losing our jobs and our house. I would love to live in a tiny house of my own. Renting sucks, after being a home owner for over 50 years. I miss my garden, and being a home owner. They remind me of the cabin my parents had when I was a kid. God bless the tiny house.

  17. Avatar
    Barbara May 11, 2017 at 7:44 am - Reply

    Thank you for teaching about time house living.

  18. Avatar
    Dona webb May 11, 2017 at 8:22 am - Reply

    So is this a group of people that join,I would love to do it ,but afraid to doit by my self

  19. Avatar
    Noella Savoie May 11, 2017 at 8:33 am - Reply

    We need to go one step further be totally sustainable and live in a non-toxic chemical-free world and grow our own food off-grid all the way

  20. Avatar
    Susan May 11, 2017 at 10:17 am - Reply

    I want a tiny house but can’t find anywhere in my area to put it! Believe me I have looked. What can I do?

  21. Avatar
    Cindy Bennett May 11, 2017 at 10:20 am - Reply

    I think this is a great solution but are there parks or places to put them other than RV park that charges top dollar? Any tiny home parks yet?

  22. Avatar
    Chris May 11, 2017 at 4:31 pm - Reply

    I’m currently “glamping” my 1994 5th wheel RV. Plan on living in it fultime. Going to visit 2 of my daughters and my sister. Want to do some workcamping with my son eventually. I’m 67 yrs young. Not your typical senior…
    Wish me luck!

  23. Avatar
    Kelly May 11, 2017 at 5:29 pm - Reply

    I live where it is up to -40C in winter – and winter starts in November and goes to end of March..and still cold in October and April…these tiny homes seem to be for temperate climes, yes?

  24. Avatar
    marilyn May 11, 2017 at 6:40 pm - Reply

    I think this is the best retirement idea. I don’t want to have a big house to maintain, cleaning, the yard, home repairs. It’s just so expensive. I want a tiny house to go visit my family and stay for a visit, with privacy for all of us. The options are so great! Now if we could just get these little communities everywhere. Baby boomers unite!!! lol

  25. Avatar
    BARBARA BENTON May 12, 2017 at 6:19 am - Reply

    I have been interested in a tiny home on wheels. I can’t believe some of the high prices. I live on ss. I have a lovely place to put it but only qualify for $45000 mortgage. Is this possible and who loans on tiny houses?

  26. Avatar
    JeanJ May 12, 2017 at 7:46 am - Reply

    I am a senior, and I would have loved to have a tiny house. There is one issue that I can’t get past, and another that would be very difficult to get past.
    The lesser one is sleeping space. The models I have seen all have steps up to the loft for sleeping. I can’t do steps and ladders. I am hoping that Tiny House people realize that and design a handicapped accessible model if they haven’t already.

    The issue I can’t get past is where to put it. I have no friends or family who could have it parked in their yard, let alone hook it up to utilities. I can’t afford to either buy a piece of property or rent a lot at a mobile home community. So, at least in my case; No, it’s not a good idea for seniors, at least not this senior.

  27. Avatar
    Inge Jones May 12, 2017 at 8:41 am - Reply

    I was thinking, unless these people are intending to tour and move around, is it necessary to have the tiny houses on a wheelbase? Wouldn’t they be more convenient made from converted sheds on ground level?

  28. Avatar
    Javin May 12, 2017 at 10:32 pm - Reply

    I think its a great idea. been wanting one for myself

  29. Avatar
    Dianne May 13, 2017 at 12:31 am - Reply

    I think it is a great idea but they need to be made more suitable to a senior than an agile young person. So stairs to a bed does not makes sense. Nor does it need all the storage to live big in a tiny space. It means less “stuff” so a lot less storage places needed . I am not sure that they all need “wheels” either . Just a suitable warm & cozy space built for different kind of needs!

  30. Avatar
    Penny Eldredge May 13, 2017 at 9:50 pm - Reply

    I love this idea! I’ve been trying to convince my husband about it for over a year! We live in north Texas and don’t own any land so having a place to put a tiny home is a problem. I’m wondering if there is anyone in north Texas that knows of senior retirement community that takes tiny homes. Maybe some like minded people who have been thinking along these lines. I’m open to ideas. We are both retired and on a fixed income. Thanks in advance.

  31. Avatar
    Nancy Kron May 17, 2017 at 5:30 am - Reply

    Are there any Tiny Home communities in the Seattle area?

  32. Avatar
    Linda May 17, 2017 at 5:40 am - Reply

    As a senior myself, I definitely think it’s a great idea! Right now I am living in a camper about the same size as a Tiny House and loving it! For me, the sleeping loft is out. Although :I could do it now, I wouldn’t want to invest in something I might not be able to do later. Kudos to Tumbleweeds for branching out beyond the younger set!

  33. Avatar
    Karen May 17, 2017 at 5:50 am - Reply

    I’ve been intrigued by Tiny houses for a decade. The positive aspects seem to outweigh the available housing options for many, including seniors. What about a movement to include tiny house communities as an option for supported living for individuals with developmental disabilities? As a mom with an adult daughter with Down syndrome, I’m very concerned about the dwindling options for the most vulnerable citizens. I would love to hear other’s thoughts on this topic. Thank you Tumbleweed Houses!!

  34. Avatar
    Eileen May 17, 2017 at 7:12 am - Reply

    This has been my dream for years, but I live in California where tiny houses are nonsensically illegal. Where is it legal to actually live in a tiny home in the US?

  35. Avatar
    Cathy May 17, 2017 at 8:28 am - Reply

    I agree with several other postings, stairs are difficult for seniors! Also, where to park? I would love to live near my daughters but the lot prices are $800, not including water or electricity! Is there some way to see the interiors of the tiny houses shown? I esp would like to see Adeles where she has a side door entrance giving her more interior space.

  36. Avatar
    Becky Morrison May 17, 2017 at 10:27 am - Reply

    Becky May 17, 2017

    I am 83 and widowed. I want a tiny home. I am handicapped & need a ramp & large door . No upstairs for me. I want 2 beds that fasten on the wall and pull down, a single for me and a double for my good friends that visit once in a while. Hopefully in the near future they can travel with me from Oregon to Texas to visit a 90 year old relative. Sorry about the font size, I couldn’t make it larger.

  37. Avatar
    Kathy Handyside May 17, 2017 at 10:37 am - Reply

    But there STILL exists the problem of where to put it! Honestly, this is the biggest turn-off to tiny house living! We’re not free to live how and where we want. This country, which has such high homelessness and unaffordable housing, should be EMBRACING tiny houses, and throwing out the antiquated zoning laws. Instead, it’s all about money: property tax money (tiny houses, government feels, would not generate much), and the greed of the housing industry, which foisted the size laws on us. I’m VERY disheartened. I wanted to buy some land, so I could be close to Nature instead of the noise and sterility of the city, and put my tiny house on my land, and thus lower my living expenses so my retirement funds would go further. Simple and easy, right? WRONG!! So much for freedom!

  38. Avatar
    Dana Coggan May 17, 2017 at 11:06 am - Reply

    I’m currently looking to do this. The problem is finding land to put it on. Any ideas? I live near Annapolis, MD

  39. Avatar
    Travelin May 17, 2017 at 4:59 pm - Reply

    I would LOVE to UP-SIZE to a tiny house. In Nov 2013 I had no choice but to leave a 1 bedroom apartment since I could no longer take care of it. Pretty sad for a 52 year old, eh? I down-sized into a 19-foot camper van with everything I need in which to live. This van has less than 100 square feet of living space, I’m measured about 87 square feet. I don’t have an oven and that would be WONDERFUL. Found out mid 2014 I had a HUGE benign brain tumor and had it removed, but the ability to live in a 1 bedroom apartment has not returned. I would love to up-size to a THOW and love the idea of a wider door. Claustrophobia getting in and out of a Tiny House does not interest me. I’ve already gotten rid of all the furniture I had and some other things I no longer can use. It simply becomes a matter of, “Do you have to have it to live?” A “no” equals a toss, a “yes” equals a save. Not much is required to live. Sentiment has to go out the window when downsizing. Items simply become STUFF and are a burden to haul around or keep stored when not required for daily living. I believe I could take care of a THOW and love the idea. I would definitely want an off-grid built model. I’d need to have mine built as with this head surgery I’ve had, I dare not get hit on the head by a falling piece of anything heavier than a piece of dust. Surely something to consider when retiring the end of March 2018. I can hardly imagine! 166 square feet or even a little larger would double and more my living space. While I could take care of that, I still could never take care of an actual apartment. Lots to dream about, consider, plan for and then make reality. Thanks, so much, for the idea.

  40. Avatar
    Aggie May 20, 2017 at 1:20 pm - Reply

    I’m 63 and have been thinking about this for a while now. Mine would have very similar concepts. You go, Dani!

  41. Avatar
    Maria Vila May 24, 2017 at 10:23 am - Reply

    Hi, will you come down to Puerto Rico to give us a workshop on your tiny houses? Please contact me as I will be able to organize it.
    There are lots of seniors and baby boomers interested in our island. Please contact me.

    • Avatar
      Frances Davis June 27, 2017 at 10:46 am - Reply

      I am a senior living in a tiny house I just had custom built this year. I am now in a search to buy land on which to place the house and live for all future. This is possible but difficult in the states. Also, I want a warm climate to live in so my search is limited in the mainland states.

      If Puerto Rico has zoning that would allow me to purchase a small plot of land for a reasonable amount with relative ease I would consider shipping- (my house is a tiny house on wheels with a custom made foundation that travels with it to look as if in ground)- my tiny house to Puerto Rico and living on your island for all future if I would be welcome.



  42. Avatar
    AC May 29, 2017 at 4:43 pm - Reply

    I am 61 love the idea of the tiny houses but wonder do you have any that are one level for those who do not want a loft or steps.
    I am om a retirement budget and do not have alot in the bank due to things I had to pay off. I don’t want to pay rent the next
    20-25 years to someone else if I don’t have to love the idea of my own private space not an apartment or townhouse.

    Please let me know I have no children live alone looking to see if you do a tiny house one level maybe with a front porch.

    Thank you

    Prices also for sensors depending on model selected and do you work with people with less then perfect credit score trying to survive in this economy?

  43. Avatar
    DENISE July 27, 2017 at 10:22 am - Reply

    I wish they would have it come to Pittsburgh. my husband and I would love to live in one.

  44. Avatar
    Nancy J Suddoth July 27, 2017 at 8:54 pm - Reply

    I wish you could come to the Illinois State Fair! I believe more seniors would show an interest in the tiny home movement if they could actually see one and talk to a senior who is living in one and can talk about the benefits! I just turned 60 and I want a tiny home close to the beach! I have seen so many really cute ones so I have been bitten by the bug! I also know I want between 450 and 600 square feet. I want to have room for my rescue animals to thrive!

  45. Avatar
    Vern August 4, 2017 at 8:57 pm - Reply

    Before retiring (N. ILL. @62) I worked on everyone else’s homes and businesses and now I feel it’s time to “maybe build” one for me/us. As Mr. DVT Arthritis moved in I have to look ahead at accommodating it, so special in & outside builds for future ease of repairs is pivotal for me and especially the Mrs(?).
    I’m one to look for vacant land (40 acres Colorado?) for this project and “IF” it pans out maybe set aside a section of the property for other Tiny Home owners. Short stay, long stay or just passing through is a thought. Very much like that of campgrounds but definitely a higher standard of persona, it’s the “Be a Good Neighbor” thing you know.
    I’m currently designing up a Micro Home/RV for 48 State travels, this will be pulled by my GoldWing. I love the outdoors, sun/rain cold/heat it’s all about working with Mother Nature, she spanks you if you don’t.
    Well anyways, recently retired (unmarried) and looking into this Tiny House phenomena (better word than fad).
    Don’t leave a public message (private moc.asu(a)p.nrev reverse it) unless it’s just commenting in general.
    Love to hear about others ideas, never know what others ideas will work out better or maybe they’ll help others.
    _____ “Have a good one.” _____

  46. Avatar
    Debra Parsons August 24, 2017 at 6:04 pm - Reply

    I would love a tiny house but a lot of them start with $80,000 and that is the 20 footers..I’m divorce and on the government. I get $630 a month. That won’t allow someone to build it along with having to pay someone for putting it on their land. This is a wonderful idea only if it would be good for the seniors (me) but some of us just can’t afford that. We end up being a buirden for our families living with them. Which I destest. I’m 63 years old. If someone has a idea for me please say so I would love to hear it.

Leave A Comment