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Cindy’s Debt-Free Retirement She Shed

Cindy downsized from her four-bedroom home into this stunning one-bedroom Deluxe Casita from Better Built Structures — and she did it all on one income, paying cash as she went! Local builders helped her finish out the floor plan she designed, and now she has a wonderful debt-free home to live in throughout her later years.

The house is 16×40, which is definitely more “small” than tiny, but her story is still an inspiration. The interior has a full kitchen on one end, and a spacious ground-floor bedroom with an ensuite bathroom. What I love about her home is all the furniture and knickknacks she included — it’s classy and elegant, and shows that you can keep plenty of personality in your little home. She even has a China cabinet!

Check out the photo tour below, and then read Cindy’s story after the pictures.

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Retiring in Debt-Free 16×40 Deluxe Casita

The home has a great front porch!

The spacious main living area, with a family room and dining spot.

Here’s the view from the bedroom.

Her kitchen with all the necessary appliances.

I love all the counter space and the shape of the kitchen.

A lovely window-side dinette.

And even a China cabinet! Love it.

TV and mini entertainment center.

Here’s a wide-angle view of the bedroom.

Her gorgeous bed looks perfect.

Look at all this vintage furniture! Love it.

A full-length mirror and closet.

Her bathroom with a walk-in tile shower.

Vanity, flush toilet, and pet bowls.

There’s even a stacked washer/dryer in here!

And finally, a guest loft!

Cindy’s Story:

I have built a 16×40 tiny home for my retirement. This beauty is located on family land in South Eastern Oklahoma.

Tiny Homes have hit the market in a huge way, so I decided it was the best option for my retirement. I’ve been single for many years. I completed the cabin on a single income paying with cash. I wanted to set myself up to be free of any debt when I retire.

I purchased the Deluxe Casita from Better Built Structures 16×40 cabin as a pre-built shell and designed the floor plan myself. I contracted the work out to local businesses from construction to electrical and plumbing. It’s been a joy to build.

Scaling down from a four bedroom home to a one bedroom wasn’t too challenging. You would be surprised at the things you can live without. I wanted the country feel with a touch of elegance and minimal things to attend to in my retirement years was my goal and I feel like I’ve succeeded.

I’m not the sweet girl next door, I’m the crazy heifer in the she shed!

Thank you for viewing.

Cindy Chavez
[email protected]

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Our big thanks to Cindy for sharing! 🙏

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Natalie C. McKee

Natalie C. McKee

Natalie C. McKee is a contributor for Tiny House Talk and the Tiny House Newsletter. She's a wife and mama of two little kids. She and her family just purchased a small fixer-upper and are starting a self-sufficient homestead on their happy little acre.
{ 26 comments… add one }
  • Avatar jerry dycus
    September 20, 2020, 9:54 am

    Sorry but 1ksq’ is not small. I’ve lived in homes that size with 3 bedrooms and were common in the 60s.
    Buying a shed and contracting the rest yourself is a good way to go just in a fraction of this size. I own a 10’x16′ and it has all the room I need and still 8′ of wall space left for more so buying a far smaller one is a good choice.

    • Avatar DeAnna Haney
      September 21, 2020, 7:55 am

      16 x 40 is only 640sq. ft.

      • Avatar Ann
        September 21, 2020, 5:09 pm

        Wow, ok, that makes more sense. Stupid me! Thanks! It was well done, I like it.

        • Avatar Bill
          October 17, 2020, 12:26 pm

          I love the style with counter and everywhere around it perfect size.

  • Avatar Robert Aulicky
    September 20, 2020, 12:23 pm

    Hi Cindy,

    I am doing the same thing with my detached garage. I already have the utilities raceway in-place, Sanicompact toilet temporally placed in front of the water/gas closet. I am still framing as I go adding electrical and pluming the same way. Insulation and drywall next month with the mini split, finishing one project than another. I already rented the main house, they pay the utilities while I live in the Camper. This is a better way to retire. Good luck!


  • Avatar Maggie
    September 20, 2020, 7:21 pm

    I Love it! Downstairs sleeping, double sink, great furniture. I would put those tv trays somewhere else, though, to allow room around the bed for ease of making it.

  • Avatar Merrill Moore
    September 20, 2020, 7:45 pm

    I wish we knew what the total cost was?

    • Avatar Cindy
      September 21, 2020, 3:42 pm

      I Purchased the building shell as a repo 16×40
      I designed the floor plan and contracted people myself to do the work. I purchased brand new high-end material from the Facebook marketplace from people that had left over material on the build of their homes. Doing a small space you can buy new left over material at a fraction of the cost. With construction, plumbing, electrical, AC/heat, appliances, storage and carport I’m at $40k. Cost of buying material from store new probably $60k. Septic $2500

      • Avatar Merrill Moore
        September 22, 2020, 1:55 pm

        Thank you so much for your reply! Beautiful and well done, as well as a bargain!!

  • Avatar Ann
    September 20, 2020, 11:34 pm

    1000 sf? Wow, it’s nice. It’s bigger than my 800 sf little house with 2 bdrms I live in out in the country. Seems I have more room in my house, wonder why.

    • Avatar DeAnna Haney
      September 21, 2020, 7:56 am

      16 x 40 is only 640 sq. ft.

  • Avatar Bob H.
    September 21, 2020, 6:07 am

    16 x 40 is not 1000 sq.ft. Very nice looking small home. Nice to see something not on wheels.

  • Avatar Sheila
    September 21, 2020, 12:09 pm

    This is beautiful!! I would love to have that kitchen. The table and two chairs is perfect. Loved every inch of her Barn home. Designed with class.

  • Avatar Mo-Man
    September 21, 2020, 6:21 pm

    16 x 40 = 640 SF
    I’m not sure who said 1,000
    Also, I’m sure those are exterior dimensions which means it lives even smaller than 640 SF.

    • Avatar Christine
      September 22, 2020, 12:10 am

      Mo-Man, I imagine they’re adding the floor space in the loft and on the porch. Just a guess.

    • Avatar James D.
      September 22, 2020, 1:17 am

      Exterior dimensions… So smaller…

      • Avatar Christine
        September 22, 2020, 3:48 am

        James, do you mean to say that in insulating and creating an inner wall that you lose 360 square feet? If you lose about 4″ in doing so for wall depth, I did the following calculation:

        16ft x 2 sides = 32ft x 12in = 384in x .3ft (4in) = 115.2in lost
        40ft x 2 sides = 80ft x 12in = 960in x .3ft (4in) = 288in lost
        115.2 + 288 = 403.2 / 12in = 33.6 sq ft

        Now, it took me a while to work that out so I’m not sure I did it right…..

        • Avatar James D.
          September 22, 2020, 11:19 am

          About up to the final number… You don’t lose 360 Sq Ft to the exterior walls, closer to 36… But you can add the space lost to the front porch for closer to 97 less…

  • Avatar Drew D.
    September 22, 2020, 8:32 am

    Seriously? How bad is y’all’s math? It’s simple multiplication!? And this a BEAUTIFUL DEBT- FREE HOME! How do you ‘negative nellies’ get stuck on debating square footage! Cindy Chavez, you are MY kinda Crazy Heifer! (Nothin’ weird 🤪 just women supporting women! 😉)

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie C. McKee
      September 22, 2020, 1:11 pm

      I just multiplied the 16×40 haha… not sure where the confusion is but I am not great at math LOL

  • Avatar kenda humphries
    September 22, 2020, 9:25 am

    i love it this is just about what i’ve been looking 4 class with the crazy she shed idea

  • Avatar Theresa Perdue
    September 26, 2020, 10:58 am

    I really don’t care about the size, from what I see it looks exactly the right size. I love how it looks. It’s tastefully decorated and very warm looking. I would love to live in this whether I was retired or 21. Great job😍

  • Avatar Victoria Banaszak
    September 26, 2020, 10:19 pm

    That is a stunning home! I love all the details. I adore the table and chairs. So sweet!

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie C. McKee
      September 28, 2020, 12:47 pm

      So glad you enjoyed it! I loved it, too.

  • Avatar Katherine T Whirley
    October 17, 2020, 10:46 am

    Wow…I just love your home and how unique! Lots of thought put into making it a home and you sure did that. So much space. Enjoy your home and retirement.

  • Avatar Donna Leggett
    October 17, 2020, 10:55 am

    Absolutely charming, I love the spacious kitchen, living area, bedroom on the first floor, flush toilet and stack washer and dryer! Wonderful way to start retirement, debt free and in a beautiful home! Congratulations and best wishes!

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