Looking to downsize to a smaller home? Really downsize?
Then you might be open to some of the homes on display this weekend during the first Chicago Tiny House Show at Boomers Stadium in Schaumburg.
On the grass overlooking the baseball diamond, about 5,000 visitors showed up to view houses that might look like two stories from a distance, but are low enough to clear a train viaduct and can be toured in the span of a less than a minute.
Bob Clarizio, an Elgin resident and the founder and CEO of South Elgin-based Titan Tiny Homes, said he became involved in tiny homes when he was approached by a television show, "Tiny House Nation" three years ago. It exposed him to the niche market and spurred him to devote his entire attention to building tiny homes.
Now the business is nation- and even worldwide, with 65 homes in circulation. Customers include people in law enforcement, the medical field, the tech industry and the military.
"Most military bases, including (Naval Station) Great Lakes, have RV parks. So the military has really come aboard and purchased our product, because they are constantly moving from base to base," he said. "This allows them the ability to not have to pay for housing, have a place to live, and they can be redeployed pretty much anywhere in the country."
What the homes lack in roominess -- the average size is 250 square feet -- they make up for in mobility. And with prices typically about $55,000-$60,000, affordability is a big selling point for empty nesters and millennials.
Both ends of the spectrum were represented at the event Sunday by Kelsey Garrod and her mom, Gena Quattrochi, both of Ingleside. They said they are obsessed by tiny houses.
Garrod, a college student who lives at home, said she is attracted by the financial freedom of living in a smaller space, especially since she is starting out.
"I'm only 24, so I want to find something affordable," she said.
As for Quattrochi, she said, "My interest is for retirement, because I would like to get rid of material stuff and get down to where my husband and I can enjoy life and not have to worry about owning a big house."
Among those showcasing tiny homes were Shari and Todd Snyder of Fredericksburg, Texas, who decorated their home with an awning and sign that said EAT.
"We park it in campgrounds, and our rent in a campground is far less than we were paying every month for property taxes," Shari said.
And if they get tired of the view, they move on.
"So this weekend, it's sitting here with a view of the Boomers stadium," she said. "I never thought I would be viewing the Boomers stadium from my bedroom window."