Keli and Ryan Brinks and their two teenagers are like most American families, except at night, the Brinks retreat to their home, while their children each take to their separate houses on the same property.
In 2015, the London, Kentucky family joined the “tiny homes” movement, the cost-effective and environmentally-friendly lifestyle trend of downsizing for simplicity. They paid an estimated $60,000 for a 21-acre remote piece of land and built a $50,00 tiny village comprised of six cabins which serve as separate living spaces for the couple, their son Brodey, 16, and daughter Lennox, 18, a student at the University of Kentucky, who lives at home part-time.
“We didn’t want to carry a mortgage, so we moved to Kentucky from Michigan where it was cheaper,” Kelly, 46, a family preservation specialist, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “My husband wanted us all to live under the same roof but I didn’t want my kids to go through their teenage years feeling like they didn’t have privacy.”
The parents reside in a $9,000 cabin that’s 280 square feet and contains a kitchenette with a sink and a small countertop, and a bathroom with a tub. They also have a small sitting area.
The children’s 160 square-foot homes are loft-style with ladders for bedroom access and living rooms. Their tiny abodes don’t have kitchens, so the kids visit their parents for meals. Nor do they have toilets. Instead, another tiny house holds one-and-a-half bathrooms, a laundry room and a guest bedroom.
A disadvantage of their living arrangement is the lack of central space for guests, however, the family utilizes their fire pit, pool house and pool. Keli and Ryan also have a home office inside another cabin. And for a more sustainable lifestyle, the Brinks have a chicken coop and goats, which they plan to breed for milk and cheese.
Strangers and a few family members have been “judgmental,” says Keli. “Some internet comments say, ‘You don’t deserve to have kids,’ but we have more of a family life than we did under the same roof,” says Keli. “The only difference is, instead of walking down a hallway to see the kids, I walk across the yard.”
“Lennox says she loves having weird parents,” adds Keli. She admits to a prior concern that her son’s home would attract partygoers, but with the homes only 70 feet apart, “we’re right on top of them. We respect their privacy but we also want to know what they’re doing.”
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