Facing financial hardship, Michelle Boyle literally builds her retirement on just 204 square feet

We love a unique retirement story.

For one thing, it shows the variety of exciting and interesting things you can choose to do with your retired years.  And for another, it can bring creative out-of-the-box solutions to common retirement troubles to the forefront.

Michelle “MJ” Boyle’s DIY retirement plan came about after two divorces left her in a financially precarious position nearing retirement.  Having lost two homes already and left with only herself to depend on, Boyle needed to come up with a secure retirement strategy in a very short amount of time.

Wanting to avoid the difficulties of her past, she didn’t want to become a conventional homeowner for the third time.  She wanted something cost-effective she could handle on her own–something that would be very inexpensive on a single fixed income–and something she says “couldn’t be taken away from her.”

Her solution? With the guidance of some professionals, she hunkered down with a set of tools and some raw materials and she built her own house.

And not just any house, either.  After building her dream retirement home, Boyle joined the growing and enthusiastic community of Americans embracing the “Tiny House” movement.

Now, when we say “tiny house,” we’re not talking modest, small, or even little.  We’re talking tiny.  As in miniature.

While there’s some debate about what truly constitutes a tiny house, generally, we’re considering homes that don’t exceed 500 square feet of space–and keep in mind, much of that square footage might not be livable space.

In fact, the footprint of Boyle’s home isn’t even half of 500 square feet.  Built on a flatbed trailer, her house is a mere 204-square feet.

This kind of living certainly isn’t for everyone–it probably isn’t for the vast majority of people.  The challenges of living in 204-square feet on wheels are immediately obvious.

But for people like Boyle, DIY tiny homes represent a way to live without a mortgage or rent, to considerably limit spending (you can’t go on too many shopping sprees when your home is the size of some people’s living rooms), and cut down drastically on utility costs.

Taking her tiny house retirement plan even farther, Boyle is currently working to build a few more to rent to vacationers on platforms like Airbnb.  Not only will her own home lessen her retirement costs, but her rental homes will provide a great deal of retirement income from those looking to experience a few nights in a genuine tiny house.

In this video, Michelle Boyle gives a cameraman a tour of the home she built for herself, explains how she’s able deal with day-to-day living in an extremely small space, and how she was able to raise the funds to start her project.

While she eventually admits her particular situation isn’t entirely legal (tiny-housers encounter difficulties with zoning ordinances regarding minimum dwelling sizes and maintaining primary residence in portable domiciles), in a place that legally embraces these kind of homes, Boyle’s retirement solution might be a great fit for an adventurous retiree wanting to live inexpensively.

Would you be willing to live in 500 square feet or less if it meant you’d be debt-free?  Let us know what you think!