At 22, buys & customizes lofted home in Pocket Neighborhood on a budget

Christian Curry was the first of his friends to buy a . At just 22, he bought a 600-square-foot starter home within biking distance of Tempe (Arizona). His is one of 13 “” that make up Tempe Micro Estates, developed to help address the lack of housing in this college town.

Priced at $170,000 to $210,000 apiece, the single-family homes share a central courtyard, but are owned by their residents who lease the land (with renewable 99 year leases) through a land trust (CLT), the Newtown Community Development Corporation. Owners can build equity, but when they choose to sell they have to sell back to Newtown to ensure that the prices remain affordable.

Curry appreciates how his small space makes experimentation more affordable; he has installed quartz countertops and smart switches and blinds. With his private side yard he laid down a turf lawn and vines to cover the back wall.

The homes are “very, very efficient”, explains Curry, who says his winter electric bills are about $25 and in the summer, despite consistent 110 degree weather, it is about $65. Architect Matthew Salenger, of coLAB studio, passive solar and natural daylighting to help achieve such efficiency.

Each home has just four modest windows, including a glass front , which are placed to capture maximum light, but shaded by overhangs to avoid summer heat gain. The homes' roofs capture rainwater which is used for watering the communal fruit trees, and future community gardens, and the graywater from the communal laundry is also used for irrigation.

Curry expects to own here for at least 5 years before reselling to the CLT and taking his homeowner experience on to other projects. “Because it's small it gave me the opportunity to do a lot of the stuff that I dreamt about like making it a smart home. To test some stuff out here so when I do purchase a big boy home I can kind of use some of what I learned here.”

coLAB studio

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  1. These houses remind me of the year 2000 new Dutch houses, made from concrete with 3 storeys, a tiny garden and a garage, minus the driveway and tiny garden.

    Weird things about this setup. It’s backed on a train track, so thats a chuck off the house price. Windows, if they are expensive, why place them in front of the brick walls to the train track to bring in all that dust.

    Heat pumps and electricity coming in and out when it pleases. Boy, you have to be a really heavy sleeper to live here!

    That stairwell is unnecessarily big for a small dwelling. This is all done on the cheap by the developer as you can get another bedroom up there.

    Cheap land, cheap build and cheap design.

    It is great for new people entering the country as a temp base but not for the many already on the housing crisis list in the UK. We are already dealing with people having to move out of existing flats and houses due to council deficits in these existing properties. These wooden houses wouldn’t last long either. Edwardian houses are expensive to fix as it is. They cost more mainly due to their location.

    This is also leasehold and you also have to return 25% to the landowners! That is a big % of a homeownership scheme for this type of property. How do they calculate rates for water and heating for the external facilities? I could see a family of 20 people moving in her from a UK perspective. Would they be charged the same rates as a single person or would that single persons rates go up?

    If you say no to multiple persons per bedroom, you are being discriminative against human rights.

    Or is this being promoted as an alt Rwanda solution to a housing problem. The problem with this, is that there is no native integration and a sub community forms, where you feel alienated from being a native.

  2. This is only 1 step above a shitty apartment tho, yea its slightly better but it will still have all the same problems such as neighbors and landlord neglect causing rats, cockroaches, fleas, mosquitos, mold, screaming, theft etc. Humans need space apart from each other to live healthy and happy. the low electric bill is nice though i guess.

    • Shitty apartment LOL. Give one of those shitty apartments in the Village (NY) or in Paris and I’ll take it. It’s context that matters. And who one is, stage in life, etc.

  3. Kirsten, I live in a tiny home on wheels in my space is 230 ft.². It’s definitely not a starter home. 600 ft.² would be a mansion for me. I could be a permanent residence I don’t understand why I thought of as a starter home I guess it depends on whether there’s young people want to have children or not but it’s adorable. Try my space sometimes one person ha ha

  4. 600sq ft, 55m² that’s decent size. Calling that a micro home is showing how spoiled you are. This is double the size of a typical tiny house 😅

  5. We certainly need many more affordable houses and I understand why you arrived cycling, but would love you inquired how they manage without parking spaces on their daily life.

  6. That high ceiling is a waste of space albeit I admit it looks good. A full length second floor would add another room to the house.

  7. Smart blinds are so cool!

    Amazing what four decades can do. In 1982 I was 22 and bought my first SFH. Interest rates were 16% yet four bedroom homes cost about 95K three miles from the Fremont, CA TESLA plant. At the time the TESLA site was a shuttered GM plant. The seller panicked when interest rates dropped to 12% and tried to stop the sale. I lived there for fifteen years.

    I love all of Kirsten’s videos for the variety and her intention to let the home owners tell their story.

  8. I like the solar array plan being someone else’s maintenance responsibility. That also makes it more attractive for elder housing without the maintenance. I also appreciate the ability to “customize” your outdoor space and having the community center access and shared fruit crop.

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