Top 5 Benefits Women Get from Living in Our Community
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5. We have a high quality of life, along with a low cost of living
Naturally, expenses range for the people who live in our village, but comparing apples to apples, we generally spend less money to meet our needs on a monthly basis than someone buying similar services elsewhere. In my case, for example, I spend about $700 to pay for all of my monthly expenses, and that includes everything from property taxes to food to high speed internet.
This comes to about half of what I was spending to meet my needs in my hometown in western Texas. (I could get by for less, if only I had the discipline to resist the organic chocolate available for sale around the clock within a thirty second walk from my front door…) There are also a few houses for sale in our community right now for as little as $32,500, and a few spaces for rent for between $180 and $350 a month.
For women, this reduces the impact of the ongoing gender-based disparity in wage earnings. Depending on which study you consult, this disparity ranges between 77% and 84% of what men earn for the same job. According to the American Association of University Women, the disparity starts out at 79% and get wider in tandem with age once women reach the age of 35. Analysts everywhere agree that women typically get paid less than men for doing the same kind of work, across the board. We’ll continue pushing to ensure women receive equal pay for equal labor; but until that day finally arrives, you can live in our village without stressing quite as much about your income.
The tradeoff gets better, though, because my quality of life is actually higher living here than it was in Texas. I’m surrounded by wildlife, and I have abundant access to fresh air and sunshine, with 280 acres of woodlands and prairie to hike in. I can swim in any of three ponds during the summer months, or go ice-skating in the wintertime. I know all of my neighbors, and I regularly bump into them on the path.I rarely have to commute more than a few minutes to go shopping or to get some work done. The best part is that I was able to give up my nine-to-five cubicle job doing claims examination for an insurance company and transition to a rewarding line of work that leaves me eager to come back and do more every day. These things could be true for you as well, if you lived here.
4. Owner financing is availableAccording to a 2008 study by the Pew Research Center, women were 32% more likely to be offered high cost sub-prime mortgage loans than men, even if they had better credit ratings than men in the same income bracket. To my surprise, it didn’t just boil down to systemic, formula-based gender discrimination. It’s actually rooted in societal influences that simultaneously lead women to be less financially literate and feel less empowered to negotiate when brokering a mortgage deal. Nonetheless, these factors mean that women struggle to avail themselves of wealth-building opportunities through home ownership that are equal with opportunities open to men.
Some of the people selling tiny houses in our community right now have decided to provide owner financing and/or rent to own options. This means women don’t have to go through the good old boys club at the bank in order to purchase a tiny house in our eco-village.
This is especially important for women over the age of 65, who often spend 50% or more of their income for housing, even when they don’t have a mortgage. The reason why isn’t easy to single out, but it can likely be traced once again to the disparity in pay. The wage gap I mentioned above increases in tandem with age, (meaning that women of the Boomer generation are likely to be paid even less, compared to their male colleagues, than Millennial women,) and its effects are compounded by trends that lead women to spend fewer years working over the course of their lives and save less money for retirement during that timeframe.
The good news is that home ownership among single women is rising steadily year by year. In 2014 the number of single women who owned their homes exceeded the number of single men who owned a home by about 7%. I wonder if the tiny house movement has had something to do with that…
3. Countless opportunities for interpersonal connection
Since moving to my village, I have had occasions on a daily basis to connect and build stronger relationships with my neighbors. On Mondays, for instance, I play board games with the folks who live next door to me – a single mom and her son. On Tuesdays I share a potluck dinner with dozens of people from my village and the surrounding area. On Wednesdays I go to song circle, where resident vocalists will sometimes entertain my obscure song requests.
On Thursdays, our local eco-inn and eatery, the Milkweed Mercantile, serves the best pizza and organic beer for hundreds of miles in any direction. On Fridays everyone brings their own dinner to chat over a casual meal. On Saturdays, we play Ultimate Frisbee on our own sports field. On Sundays, we come together to share news, make announcements and discuss all the exciting things that are coming up over the next week.
Additionally, there are several different groups that meet throughout the week to offer mutual and reciprocal support on a variety of topics and in a multitude of ways. For example, I unite with a group of fellow writers on Thursday mornings to bounce ideas around and get feedback on my latest projects. I join other men every Sunday night in a confidential setting to share a support network for coping with all of life’s ups and downs, great and small. Two similar groups are available throughout the week for women, as well.
2. Our community strives to realize feminist values
No community is perfect when it comes to total equality for all dimensions of human diversity, and our village is no exception. Even so, we strive to realize feminist values of equality for everyone, regardless of their gender identification, in everything we do.
How? For starters, the staff of our non-profit is more than 80% female, including the current executive director. Whenever possible, we make a point to ensure gender balance in our municipal decision making body, and likewise with our non-profit’s board of directors.
Meanwhile, everyone in the community is working regularly to broaden their understanding of the negative impacts of patriarchal culture while fighting to reverse those impacts. With this in mind, we recently hosted a group from the Women’s Resource Center at our regional university to lead a discussion on feminist culture and dismantling systemic patriarchy. I’m a man, and I’ll wear a skirt any time I want, thank you very much. (I recommend it highly to my male friends, as well. Very comfortable.)
Everyone here is encouraged to learn new skills in ways that challenge conventional gender norms, and we are supported by fellow communitarians while we learn. Here you’ll find women driving a tractor, plastering a wall, or chiseling timbers to frame a house. You’ll also find men cooking, caring for children, and mending clothing. Each learns according to their interests and proclivities, not based on the body they were born with – even from a young age.
Over the years, we’ve hosted a number of women’s empowerment workshops; in fact, the tiny house I live in was built by an all-female group of builders.
1. You can become part of a movement that is making the world a better place to live inWomen are more likely to find ethical compromises in the workplace unacceptable, according to a 2013 study by the Pew Research Center. They’re less likely to sacrifice values in order to pursue career promotions, win financial bonuses, pander to their supervisors or sabotage the advancement of rivals. (Admittedly, this relates to how patriarchal culture teaches boys that their worth as human beings is interwoven with breadwinner status, but we’re working on putting an end to that narrative as well.) Women are also apt to balance their professional and personal lives differently than men often do, and correspondingly take more time off of work or hold part-time jobs in order to attend to family needs.
Similarly, according to the Harvard Business Review, women are more likely than men to pursue careers that entail a subjective sense of personal fulfillment, such as positions in education, nursing or alternative healthcare; even if the salaries they promise are considerably lower than other available career options.
In our community, we respect people who strive to live in alignment with their values and we reach out to mentor others so that they can do the same – actually, this is the whole reason our community exists. Our group mission is to demonstrate methods of sustainable living for others to learn and replicate in their own lives. The tiny house movement is part of that new paradigm, and while our eco-village is not a community exclusively for small homes, many of us live in dwellings under 500 square feet in size because we want to reduce our environmental impact.
Other aspects of our mission fulfillment include hosting hundreds of visitors across the calendar to show off our wide array of sustainable living skills. Our annual open house tour is attended by hundreds of people. We host student groups of all ages, who visit our village on school field trips from around the Midwest.
We offer a wide range of workshops for folks to come and pick up new skills related to living sustainably, and we even organize three-week immersive experiences for visitors at intervals throughout the year, where our guests get to know us, share delicious meals, help with our groovy projects and learn all about how we live our lives in harmony with the environment.
If you’re a woman and you have a strong interest in living in a tiny house, or you have a passion for environmental sustainability in general, we would love for you to spend some time with us! Click here to get in touch.