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Cindy’s Debt-Free Retirement She Shed

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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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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 three little kids. She and her family are homesteaders with sheep, goats, chickens, ducks and quail on their happy little acre.

Latest posts by Natalie C. McKee (see all)

{ 39 comments… add one }
  • 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.

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

      16 x 40 is only 640sq. ft.

      • Ann
        September 21, 2020, 5:09 pm

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

        • Bill
          October 17, 2020, 12:26 pm

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

    • cjc1959au
      February 1, 2022, 5:20 am

      Nowhere does it say it’s a tiny house. It says “specifically” small house.

      So your 10*16 has all the space you need. Good for you, I hope you feel special!

      For this lady, her 16*40 “small” house is right for her.

      Your continual negativeness is just so freaking depressing and BORING!

  • 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!


  • 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.

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

    I wish we knew what the total cost was?

    • 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

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

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

      • Wendy Porter Kean
        February 12, 2021, 8:53 pm

        Just love this! Great job on the layout. Super job to be mortgage free! I built my Tiny the same way, payday by payday. I’m in a 8×20 Tiny, looking at selling and going just a bit larger, grandkids keep arriving 🙈 but I do enjoy the freedom of being mortgage free and having extra $$ to travel.

  • 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.

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

      16 x 40 is only 640 sq. ft.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • 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.

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

      Exterior dimensions… So smaller…

      • 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…..

        • 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…

  • 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
      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

  • 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

  • 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😍

  • 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
      September 28, 2020, 12:47 pm

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

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • RAy
    November 8, 2020, 9:32 pm

    it will be great to have a floor map.

  • Robbin Garza
    December 16, 2020, 12:54 pm

    This is a lovely tiny house. This one is by far more reasonable. I think more people are concerned about how much space is needed during periods of quarantine. Someone could actually have guests over in this tiny house.

    • Natalie C. McKee
      December 16, 2020, 1:46 pm

      Very true, Robbin! It’s one thing to sleep in a house, another to be there all day and night with 4, 5, 6 others!

  • Tammara
    January 11, 2021, 11:04 pm

    Cindy, what is the height from peak to floor? Thank you

  • Eric
    October 14, 2021, 2:35 pm

    “I’m not the sweet girl next door, I’m the crazy heifer in the she shed!” LOL love it, self deprecation…

  • Arlie
    October 16, 2021, 8:07 pm

    I guess its great as long as family property remains family property, I would want to own my own land so that it would all be mine. Nice job, I don’t think I could downsize enough to live that tiny, even tho I think I would like to try van life! LOL

  • C
    December 2, 2021, 8:17 pm

    I love this set-up!

  • Marsha Cowan
    December 12, 2021, 12:01 pm

    This is great! And sooo beautiful with it’s wood tones and vintage furniture! You did a lovely job of decorating and designing the space, especially the kitchen. Love the loft, and I love the way you did the interior walls. Room for pretty baskets on top. Very cozy and warm. Great home. . .great job!

  • Ladonna Ray
    February 3, 2022, 11:06 pm

    I think this is a wonderful home !! How much are we talking about? With everything as I see it! Just Beautiful!!

  • Pat very senior
    February 4, 2022, 6:20 pm

    I think this works well for you. You have a beautiful home. Congratulations with all the work you have done, makes women proud. I live in a 748 sq ft. small (2 bed) home with a basement. I am also retired and even though I love my small home and it might be a bit bigger than your home, alas, I have a mortgage. I pay out a little under $500 a month to live here (mortgage, utilities, escrow and insurance). As we age, and if health does not permit, then most things have to be done by someone else if you are not lucky enough to have relatives nearby. So add repairs and yard work to that $ list. If one has the land and utilities in place along with septic, then a “New” tiny/small home is advantageous in having a good retirement home and hopefully the health stays good. Being mortgage free is a blessing and a smart move on your part. God bless.

  • Kimberly
    July 13, 2022, 8:57 am

    Cindy I have never given a comment on here, but hands down you deserve a big congratulations!! Your home is absolutely beautiful and very tasteful, you should be an inspiration to people in general, and just being in Oklahoma makes it even better, sometimes less is more, my oldest daughter and family are making a road trip there to pick up a horse and go to a rodeo that my granddaughter is running in!! I’m showing this to my mother who is 81, she needs to be enjoying her life and let both her homes go,

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