GOOD READS

The Oddest Houses You Can Rent Or Buy

Do cookie-cutter suburban homes make you feel dead inside? Do you need to feel inspired by your living space? Are you looking for a dwelling that's more than just a place to live, but a reflection of your values? These three unusual living options allow their residents to do just that.

Converted Schoolhouse
Over the last decade, there has been a flurry of school conversion activity. Closed schools have been adapted to regular condos and luxury condos; ordinary apartments, senior apartments, low-income apartments, disabled apartments, bed-and-breakfasts and artist residences. These buildings' solid construction, desirable materials (like brick and hardwood floors) and oversized windows make old schools attractive as potential residences.

In Ashland, Wisc., sisters Luci and Lydia Daum and their parents purchased the Wilmarth School from the Ashland school district in 1991, when the district permanently closed the school. They planned to use the school as a space to create art, but when they learned about the vandalism occurring at the other two recently vacated school buildings in town, they decided that living in Wilmarth school, in addition to using it as their studio, was a better idea. The sisters also run a business out of the school .

In Washington, D.C., developer Jim Abdo turned a 1909-built, 40,000-square-foot, red-brick building formerly known as the Bryan School into 20 lofts in 2004 after the building had been vacant for several years. Bryan School Loft units have 19-foot ceilings, Brazilian cherry hardwood floors and new soundproof windows. Kitchens contain luxury Viking appliances and granite countertops, and bathrooms boast antique bathtubs and separate glass showers. The school building, located on Capitol Hill, has views of the Capitol building and the Washington Monument.

Box Bungalows and Houses To Go
Looking to downsize? Jay Shafer, owner of Tumbleweed, the Tiny House Company, sells box bungalows and houses to go. These compact residences range from 65 to 172 square feet. Imagine owning a home that weighs less than your car, or that will actually attach to your car. Many of the homes can be built on top of a flatbed trailer and hauled by your vehicle.

One house nests inside a truck bed (though it doesn't have a kitchen or bathroom).

The 14 models, like Ikea furniture, each have a name like Epu, Weebee or Tarleton. You can buy the plans for as little as $49 and build the home yourself for an estimated materials cost of $12,000 to $20,000 and an estimated time investment of 550 to 850 hours. You can also buy a prebuilt home for $13,999 to $50,000. That's right; an entire home for the cost of a down payment.

Shafer doesn't just sell the homes, either. He lives in an 89-square-foot model out of a desire to minimize his environmental impact and live a simple lifestyle. He says he doesn't want to own too much stuff or maintain too much space .

Cohousing
For many people, the option to have privacy, and be left alone, is a major draw of home ownership. For people who prefer frequent interaction with their neighbors and a strong sense of community, cohousing is an option . The idea comes from Denmark, but there are cohousing communities in a number of western European countries and in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. In such a community, it's extremely likely that you'll know your neighbors well, borrow their tools, carpool with them and babysit their kids.

Cohousing is a type of community where residents actively participate in the community's design and development, and make decisions by consensus. While each residence is self-contained and has most or all of the features of a typical home, dwellings are typically close together and connected by sidewalks, with streets and cars hidden from view. To compensate for small lot sizes and encourage interaction, cohousing communities have common spaces for playing, exercising, hosting events and more. There might be a communal swimming pool, library, laundry room or craft room. There is typically a kitchen and dining area, and a community room. In a cohousing community, you might walk over to the community building several times a week to cook and eat dinner with your neighbors. Cohousing residents share in the work of maintaining these community facilities.

A cohousing community has many of the amenities you might find in your municipality, but just 20 to 40 households living in a small overall area, cohousing tries to foster a greater sense of community. Cohousing residences can be rented or purchased.

The Bottom Line
Converted schoolhouses, box bungalows and cohousing are just three places you can reside other than a typical house, condo or apartment. If you're looking for a unique living experience, there are plenty of options out there. If none of them appeals to you, you can follow Shafer's example and dream up your own.



More From Investopedia

Quiz: How well do you know India's economy?

Question 1

Which of these products is India the world's largest producer of?

Poll Choice Options
  • Wheat
  • Rice
  • Milk
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10

Latest News

  • NTT DoCoMo to exit India, unload entire stake in Tata Teleservices - s …

    Japan's NTT DoCoMo Inc (9437.T) will unload its 26.5 percent stake in loss-making Indian mobile phone joint venture Tata Teleservices Ltd and exit the country as it struggles with tough price competition, sources familiar with the matter said on Friday. NTT DoCoMo will make a formal decision at a board meeting on Friday, the sources said. An NTT DoCoMo spokesman said the company was considering various options for its overseas operations but that nothing had been decided. Japan's top …

  • Asian shares struggle, dollar slips as Ukraine tensions rise
    Asian shares struggle, dollar slips as Ukraine tensions rise

    Asian stocks struggled to rise on Friday, as the impact of upbeat U.S. economic data and robust U.S. tech shares faced off against fears of an escalating Ukraine crisis that bolstered the safe-haven yen. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday that time was running out for Moscow to change its course in Ukraine. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was a few ticks higher in early trade, while Japan's Nikkei stock average skidded 0.5 percent as disappointment …

  • Starbucks cafe sales heat up slightly in latest quarter

    The results from the world's biggest coffee chain came after McDonald's Corp (MCD.N), Dunkin' Donuts parent Dunkin' Brands (DNKN.O) and other major U.S. restaurant operators said last quarter's severe winter storms chilled results. Starbucks executives said the inclement weather also hit its business, but did not quantify the impact. Global sales at Starbucks cafes open at least 13 months were up 6 percent for the second quarter, versus analysts' average estimate of a 5.4 percent gain, …

  • Amazon's revenue increases even as spending rises
    Amazon's revenue increases even as spending rises

    Amazon.com Inc's (AMZN.O) revenue grew more than expected for the first quarter, largely offset by a sharp increase in spending on technology, content and new warehouses as the e-commerce company branches into new businesses. Amazon's international unit, which accounts for 40 percent of sales, continued to be a drag as sales growth slowed to 18 percent during the quarter. Global unit sales, a closely watched measure of how many items Amazon has sold, also decelerated, rising only 23 percent. …

  • 100-Square-Foot Cabin is a Kaleidoscopic Wonderland

    Photo via NYMag Plucked from New York magazine's annual Spring Design issue, which published this week, this technicolor dream of a microhome right outside Santa Fe, N.M. serves as a wee "reverse country house," for couple Linda and Jack Oldham—who... …

IN-DEPTH ANALYSIS & INTERVIEWS

  • Too good to be true?

    Developers are offering lucrative buyback schemes. But such promises may not be always kept. …

  • Leaderspeak with Vikram Limaye

    Vikram Limaye MD & CEO, IDFC Ltd shares many firsts from his life. …

  • The Greening of the House of Tatas

    How a dedicated team converted a 90-year-old heritage structure into a benchmark for environment-friendly buildings. …

  • Appy Voting

    Mobile and online apps, seeking to inform or influence voters, have been more active than ever before in this election. …

  • In the crosshairs

    Why the future of FDI in multi-brand retail looks bleak after the polls. …

  • Deserving the honour

    How do the winners of the two new banking licences - microfinance lender Bandhan Financial Services and infra institution IDFC Ltd - measure up to the challenges of operating as full-fledged banks? …

  • A Samurai from Chandigarh

    Advertising veteran Sandeep Goyal is disarmingly frank as he recounts his years with Dentsu. …

MARKET MOVERS

  • Most Actives
    Most Actives
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    16.52-0.33-1.96%
    UNITECH.BO
    14.31-0.27-1.85%
    SUZLON.BO
    120.40+7.00+6.17%
    FRL.BO
    66.05+4.10+6.62%
    MANGCHEM.BO
    54.40+1.65+3.13%
    HCLINFO.BO
  • Price % Gainers
    Price % Gainers
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    16.20+2.70+20.00%
    JAGSONPH.BO
    53.50+8.90+19.96%
    RUSHIL.BO
    40.45+6.45+18.97%
    RCIIND.BO
    63.95+8.90+16.17%
    MRPL.BO
    24.00+3.10+14.83%
    NELCAST.BO
  • Price % Losers
    Price % Losers
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    10.95-10.95-100.00%
    4THGEN.BO
    17.30-17.30-100.00%
    ALFAICA.BO
    16.81-16.81-100.00%
    AMAL.BO
    11.73-11.73-100.00%
    BORAX.BO
    29.95-29.95-100.00%
    BRADYM.BO
  •  
    Recent Quotes
    Symbol Price Change % ChgChart 
    Your most recently viewed tickers will automatically show up here if you type a ticker in the "Enter symbol/company" at the bottom of this module.
    You need to enable your browser cookies to view your most recent quotes.
  • Recent Quotes News

    •  
      Sign-in to view quotes in your portfolios.