What Are Pocket Neighborhoods?


Mary has lived in Florida for over 40 years, and enjoys writing about her experiences living in the Sunshine State.

View of the front yards in a pocket neighborhood.

View of the front yards in a pocket neighborhood.

I think we will all be hearing more about pocket neighborhoods in the future. This concept is relatively new. I am interested in the concept because the time has come when I may (and I emphasize may) consider selling my four bedroom home and downsizing to a smaller home.

My children grew up in my house, and I love every inch of it. I moved and restored my house in 1984, and it has a lot of blood, sweat, and tears in it. It’s a lot of house to care for, and I no longer run up and down ladders to paint and do the other maintenance work that is needed on a house this age and size. There is always something to be done in any house but especially an old house like mine.

Pocket Neighborhood Houses Are Small

The pocket neighborhood concept is really very simple. The houses are small (1,000 to 1,500 square feet). They are built facing each other, and each one has a front yard and a back yard. Most of the focus is on the front yard. That area is left green, either for grass or for a garden. Backyards are small; some have decks that can be enjoyed for barbecues and picnics.

Each house is built with a front porch, which I like. In our neighborhood, if I see a neighbor sitting on their front porch in the evening, I want to go over and visit with them. If I’m on my front porch, my neighbors will come over and visit. I like that. Some of our neighborhoods have fences with uninviting gates that are closed. I do not like that. It seems to me that in our society now, more and more people want to be isolated. I may agree with that someday, but not now.

Pocket neighborhood cottages.

Pocket neighborhood cottages.

The pocket neighborhoods are built close to shopping, restaurants, movies, etc., so it isn’t necessary to crank up your car just to run to the store. They are built with an attached garage to house the car when it isn’t being used. The emphasis is on forming relationships with neighbors. Not everyone likes that idea, but I do. For the person who values their privacy and wants to be left alone, this concept is probably not going to be appealing to them.

Popularity Among Baby Boomers

This concept is popular to all ages but is gaining popularity among the 50- to 60-year-old set. Baby Boomers seem to want smaller, community-oriented environments. I think the days of having huge homes have passed. With the present cost of heating and cooling, the McMansions are too expensive now; they are losing their appeal to folks.

There are a lot of reasons for this:

  • People don’t want all of their spendable money going into their home.
  • Women are tired of cleaning big houses, and the men are tired of spending their weekends working on the lawns and doing all the other work around the house inside and out.
  • People now want to scale back on the size of housing. Who needs a Great Room? Who needs a huge kitchen when you no longer entertain as much as you did in your younger years? Who needs a formal Dining Room that is only used on special occasions?

As we age, we tend to value having shops, medical facilities, and churches within walking distance more than a big, impressive house.

A pocket neighborhood.

A pocket neighborhood.

Pocket Neighborhoods Should Bring People Closer to Each Other

I think people will feel safer in the pocket neighborhoods. Not too many burglars want to come around if you live among caring, sharp-eyed neighbors. This concept appeals to folks who grew up in a neighborhood where everyone knew each other and cared for one another. The children all played together and were good friends. Did you play ball in the street in front of your house when you were growing up? I did.

The Benefits of a Close Community

Some people who love to garden will start a community garden. That will allow residents to grow vegetables and flowers to share with one another. Those people work together in the soil and have a good time doing it!

Another advantage of living close to each other is you always have a neighbor who will help you out in case you get sick or injured. Because people live close to each other, they truly care for one another.

Houses Are Smaller in Pocket Neighborhoods

Right now, it seems that the majority of these neighborhoods are being built in the Pacific Northwest, but the idea is spreading very fast. After Hurricane Katrina hit, developers came into what was a mobile home park and built 29 cottages to form a pocket neighborhood. I can see the concept catching on here in South Florida where we have a lot of retirees. These folks depend on each other to get to the doctor’s office or help the sick cook and care for their little house.

They're Built Smarter, Not Larger

The homes in these neighborhoods may be small, but they are designed to feel big. Some have high ceilings and skylights. People now want homes that are built smarter, not larger.

Instead of building a kitchen that is large enough for two people to cook in at the same time, these are built so that you can stand in the middle of the room, prepare the food, turn around and cook it, turn around again, and serve it on the large snack bar. Guess I won’t need my large antique dining room table with the huge buffet that holds all my fancy china and crystal that I never use!

Unfinished Housing Developments in My Town

I can take a drive near my home and see many housing developments that were started and never finished. These were to be McMansions in gated communities. Now, because of the economic downturn in real estate, these places sit unfinished. The prices on the houses were to start at around $300,000.00. A smaller house in a pocket neighborhood would cost around $175,000. I’m hoping some developer will learn about the pocket neighborhood and build one in my area.

I think I would put my house up for sale and hop right on that bandwagon! I really believe I would be happy living in a pocket neighborhood.

This was to be a large housing development.  It now sits deserted.

This was to be a large housing development. It now sits deserted.

Another housing development that has been deserted.

Another housing development that has been deserted.

I Put My House on the Market

I finally made the decision to put my house on the market. The real estate market where I live has been very bad for a while, but I thought I would just test out the market. I listed my house at what I thought was a fair and realistic price. In six months time, my house was shown twice.

If and when my house is sold, I will definitely look into moving into a pocket neighborhood!

Websites About Pocket Neighborhoods

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


Mary Hyatt (author) from Florida on December 04, 2014:

Hi MarleneB I'm glad you like the idea of pocket neighborhoods, too. I see more of them being built now here in Florida. People are tired of the McMansions that cost so much to own and maintain.

Thanks for reading and commenting, Mary

Marlene Bertrand from USA on December 04, 2014:

I really like the idea of pocket neighborhoods. They serve such a valuable way of living - a way to live a socially active life while maintaining the privacy people need to round out their lifestyle.

Mary Hyatt (author) from Florida on January 19, 2014:

Hi, Gail. Yes the houses are close together. This idea would not be good for those people who want a larger home and more privacy, but for someone like myself they would be ideal. Thanks for reading and for the vote!

Gail Meyers from Johnson County, Kansas on January 03, 2014:

These little houses look so cute and efficient. I love the idea, but in some of the pictures they look too close together. Getting to know the neighbors is great, but having some privacy is also nice. Thanks for the interesting hub. Voted up!

Mary Hyatt (author) from Florida on January 03, 2014:

Since I wrote this Hub, I downsized from a big house into a small apartment, and I can tell you I do not mind living in a smaller space!! I can clean my place up in no time, and I have NO yard to worry with. Thanks for reading and for the votes. Have a great day.

Martie Coetser from South Africa on January 03, 2014:

Hi Mary, Pocket Neighborhoods are extremely popular in South Africa. Why bother with a large house and big yard if you don't have children, or after they had grown up and left home? Great hub, voted up :)

Mary Hyatt (author) from Florida on May 10, 2013:

Hi relawshe. Glad to meet another fan of the "Tiny Home" movement. I think people are finally getting tired of taking care of McMansions! I know I enjoy living in a Pocket Neighborhood.

Thanks for reading and commenting, Mary

Rachel L from Seattle, WA on May 10, 2013:

Being a fan of the "Tiny Home" movement, I've heard of pocket neighborhoods and designer Ross Chapin before, and this is a great informative hub about these neighborhoods and the trend of downsizing and living a simpler life with less housing concerns! Great writing and you included some great pocket neighborhood resources!

Mary Hyatt (author) from Florida on April 20, 2013:

Hi Sunshine625. This is such a new concept, maybe they haven't built any pocket neighborhoods in your area. They are springing up all over the country cause people are tired of McMansions and all the upkeep. Now that I'm losing my home to foreclosure, I'd sure be interested in living in a small house!

Thanks for reading and commenting and for the nice compliment, Mary

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on April 20, 2013:

I want a pocket home! They are adorable, compact and not that much area to clean! I would like a bit more space between each home, other than that I'm good. I've never seen a pocket neighborhood in Orlando. We have lots of apartments and condos though. Thanks for posting the video. He was a bit dull, but the tour was fun. Well done Mary!!

Mary Hyatt (author) from Florida on April 20, 2013:

Hi again, bac2basics. I had seriously thought about renting out my house, but I've had some bad experiences before with tenants. I have a guest cottage, and tenants have just destroyed it twice now. Even the money they pay me in security won't cover the damage. I am just tired of dealing with the stress: I just want out!

Big hugs back to you and best wishes, Mary

Anne from Spain on April 20, 2013:

Hi again Mary.

My goodness you sound like you have a huge amount on your plate, I will check out your hub on the bank taking your house for sure, and I really wish you the best of luck and hope things work out in the end. The housing market in Spain is in dire straits too and my house has been on the market for about a year now also. I have reduced and reduced the price and it´s now going for over 25.000€ less than when I first put it on and I´m also offering to leave all the furniture as well. I have tried to hang on and hang on here through one problem after another as I had hoped to sell before going back to the UK but whether or not it does this year I am going back anyway in the Autumn as I just cannot go through another winter here on my own, it´s taking too much of a toll on my nerves. When I go back if I haven´t found a buyer I intend to arrange with my estate agent to get in people to rent it long term ( 11 month lease at a time) because that way it will give me a little money to survive on until I find work in the UK and will hopefully prevent my house being broken into and stripped bare, I am right out in the countryside and unfortunately with Spain being in such an economic mess, burglaries are on the increase.

Once again Mary I wish you all the luck in the world finding a solution and send a big hug your way, I know how distressing all this is.

Mary Hyatt (author) from Florida on April 20, 2013:

Hi bac2basics. I really think I would be quite content to live in a Pocket Neighborhood. My house has not sold; it's been on the market for over a year. Real Estate values are terrible here. I am going to let the bank just take the house! I wrote a Hub about my problem.

Thanks for reading and I wish you good luck in whatever you decide to do. Mary

Anne from Spain on April 19, 2013:

Hi Mary.

This kind of living would suit me fine. I too am in the process of trying to sell my house and move back to the UK and I know it´s going to be tough even though I have knocked the price down as much as I am able. I like the concept of these pocket neighborhoods particularly for someone of my age who has had enough of trying to keep up a larger house and a lot of garden. I had some visitors here from Holland a few years ago and by the sound of what they told me they lived in a similar sort of community, so it does sound like the concept is catching on around the world.

Mary Hyatt (author) from Florida on April 19, 2013:

Hi Victoria Lynn. Yes, I think these pocket neighborhoods are very charming. I'd like to live in one for a lot of reasons. Shopping is within walking distance; I'd like that!

Thanks for reading and for the vote. Mary

Mary Hyatt (author) from Florida on April 19, 2013:

Hi dahoglund. Sounds like that was a Pocket Neighborhood in Ill. I really think I'd enjoy this kind of life. Sure would save on gas cause shopping is near by.

Thanks for reading and commenting, Mary

Mary Hyatt (author) from Florida on April 19, 2013:

Hi Peggy W. There is a push right now for smaller housing cause people realize how much money they spend on big McMansion. I'm glad to see that. I would be happy living in a Pocket Neighborhood, I think.

Thanks for reading, commenting, the share and the vote.

My best, Mary

Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on April 19, 2013:

What a neat concept and a charming neighborhood! I don't like having neighbors too close right now and would really like to get farther out into the country with some land, but this might appeal to me at some point. It's a neat idea. Voted up and more!

Don A. Hoglund from Wisconsin Rapids on April 19, 2013:

They look a lot like some houses I lived near in Moline, Illinois. There were older style houses, but much like this. the houses face each other across sort of a mall. a sidewalk runs across the front of the houses and they have front yards.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 19, 2013:

Hi Mary,

I don't know how I missed reading this hub earlier, but glad that I found it. This makes so much sense for many people who no longer wish to have the burden of caring for larger homes. I like the concept of the added security by really knowing your neighbors. Sharing a community garden would be right up my alley! Up votes and will share. I hope that this idea takes hold and spreads to many communities all across our country.

Mary Hyatt (author) from Florida on October 09, 2012:

Hi, Cogerson. I'm not familiar with the book you mention, but it sounds like a good one. I really like this concept of pocket neighborhoods. I live in an area in S. Fl. where we have a lot of retirees, and older folks some of whom no longer drive. I think this kind of community would be ideal. I would like it, too.

Thanks for reading and for the votes.

I checked out your Hub. It's great! I had to bookmark it cause I'll be spending a lot of time on there!

UltimateMovieRankings from Virginia on October 09, 2012:

Hey Mary....I had never heard of the term "pocket neighborhoods" before ...but they seem to make a lot of sense.....I was recently reading a book called 20$ per gallon .....and it paints a picture were we will have to go back to the old ways of living....where work and shopping will have to be pretty close to where you live....sounds like pocket neighborhoods will be perfect for that future.....interesting information....and thanks for educating me on a new subject....voted up and interesting.

And another thing....you recently asked me a question...and the result of that question was this hub....


so thanks for getting me motivated to fix an issue I did not even realize I had.

Mary Hyatt (author) from Florida on September 15, 2012:

Hi, ithabise.You just made my day with your nice compliment on my Hub about pocket neighborhoods! Yes, I like the idea of talking to my neighbors, and the shared common area.

I'm so happy you enjoyed this Hub and will share, Mary

Mary Hyatt (author) from Florida on September 15, 2012:

Hi, midget38. Yes, I think this concept of pocket neighborhoods would better suit "older" folks. If I had young children, I don't think they would appeal to me the way they do now.

Thanks so much for reading, commenting, voting and sharing!

Michael S from Danville, VA on September 15, 2012:

Oh, Mary! This is my "Hub of the Day!" You have written an excellent article on a subject unknown to me. It is not so much foreign a concept: I'm like you having grown up with front porches, speaking to neighbors, and playing in the streets. (Who doesn't enjoy that?) I love the shared commons area. It is also marvelously aligned with sustainable building practices and that now implement green spaces. The video is great, too. I am thrilled with this article and sharing! Cheers!

Michelle Liew from Singapore on September 15, 2012:

We have a similar concept here in Singapore known as cluster houses....these are focused on relations with the neighbors as well, and near amenities. Some people may not like being so near neighbors...like myself, for instance, because I believe in a certain level of privacy. But it is charming, no doubt! Thanks for sharing, I vote up and share too.

Dennis Thorgesen from Beatrice, Nebraska U.S. on June 17, 2012:

I have seen and lived in this style community in the southwest. The difference was they didn't have a front yard. The houses were built just past the sidewalk. They did not have garages and parking was in the rear off an alley.

The house I live in now is smaller yet we have managed to house 16 people at one time in it. Room was a little tight however it worked. We opened another house to reduce the resident size.

If I could walk it would be possible to go downtown and to the doctors on foot. I have only one close neighbor and he yells at me at least once a year. It is always for someone blocking his business driveway. His business is behind his home. There is a new approach now, I tell everyone who blocks his driveway to move their vehicle. If they don't I just let him yell at the culprit instead of me.

Mary Hyatt (author) from Florida on June 03, 2012:

Hi The CottageCompany, I'm so happy you found my article on pocket neighborhoods! I love the whole concept. I'd love to see one of your neighborhoods. Ever think of coming to S. Florida and build some here? I will put a link to your website on this article so readers can check it out. Goodnight.

TheCottageCompany on June 03, 2012:

Hello Mary, Thanks so much for your positive comments about our communities, pocket neighborhoods, built with a walkable, pedestrian focus and community in mind. The photos you show are of communities we have developed in the Pacific Northwest. Would love for you to come visit and see in person! For more information about our past and future community development work, please see www.cottagecompany.com

Mary Hyatt (author) from Florida on June 02, 2012:

Hi, 2patricias. Wow! I think your daughter lives in a pocket neighborhood. The big difference if I understand what you said is that the pocket neighborhoods they are building here has an attached garage which is certainly a good feature. I hope we'll see more and more of these neighborhoods in the U.S. I really like the concept!

2patricias from Sussex by the Sea on June 02, 2012:

My daughter and son-in-law live in a similar housing development on the edge of a city in Scotland. There are two rows of houses facing onto a green area, which is looked after by a maintenance company. There is an area for car parking at one end of the row - so the kids have a car free play area. Here is the UK it is increasingly unlikely that children are allowed to play outside - but this development provides a safe environment as the parents can easily watch the kids.

The back of their house is decked, so they have no yard work to do. As they are busy full-time working parents, this is great.

Their house is small by comparision with most American houses I have seen, but it is sufficient.

On one hand the walk from the car to the house is inconvenient (say with groceries) but they do know all of their neighbours.

Mary Hyatt (author) from Florida on May 30, 2012:

Hi ktrapp, thanks for reading and commenting on my Hub about pocket neighborhoods. I wouldn't mind a smaller house to care for at this stage of my life. It wouldn't be for everyone, but I think it's going to catch on!

Mary Hyatt (author) from Florida on May 30, 2012:

Hi Lord, I hope I'll be around a lot longer, but only the Big Man upstairs knows that, right? I do like the concept of the close family-like atmosphere. Thanks for the nice compliment on my work. See you.....

Kristin Trapp from Illinois on May 30, 2012:

These pocket neighborhoods seem so charming and I can certainly see the appeal they have to you and others. I also see the appeal of scaling back to reduce the workload that a larger yard and home brings with it. What a great concept that seems to have many of the advantages of town home living while still keeping the neighborhood aspect in tact.

Joseph De Cross from New York on May 30, 2012:

Love the concept, but I guess priorities change with age.I understand your limitations, and we all will get there one way or another. Life that has been lived with values and morals, usually ends peacefully. Not that you are going to leave us soon! We have Mary and many hubbers for years to come. Nice pics and very well done!


Mary Hyatt (author) from Florida on May 29, 2012:

Hi again, Rossch, I looked at the website. Do I have the pleasure of speaking to Ross Chapin himself? It's a very informative website. I can place a link on my Hub to direct people who are interested to your website. Is that OK? You may email me directly if you prefer.

Mary Hyatt (author) from Florida on May 29, 2012:

Hi Rossch, thanks for reading my Hub on pocket neighborhoods. I will check out your website. I look forward to reading your Hubs when you begin to write.

Rossch on May 29, 2012:

Hi Mary,

Great to see your post on pocket neighborhoods! I think you express a need and desire that many of us have to live in smaller, lower-maintenance homes, and in neighborhoods where we know our neighbors. We created a website around these ideas that your readers may enjoy: www.pocket-neighborhoods.net. I look forward to reading more of your posts.

Mary Hyatt (author) from Florida on May 29, 2012:

Hi Jill, I really like the idea of these pocket neighborhoods. I think it would be nice to have good neighbors like you would have in these communities. Good luck with your mother. Wonder if there are any of these in her area? Thanks for reading and commenting.

Jill Spencer from United States on May 29, 2012:

Thanks for teaching me something, Mary. Pocket neighborhoods sound like a great way to facilitate community by design. Just got back home after helping my mother move into a smaller house. Her new community is friendly, but ... I know she's going to miss her old neighbors. Take care, Jill

Mary Hyatt (author) from Florida on May 28, 2012:

Hi there, teaches12345. Nice to see you this evening! I like the idea of the pocket neighborhood, too. I would enjoy the closeness of the people who live there. Thanks for reading and thanks for the votes! I appreciate that. Goodnight.

Dianna Mendez on May 28, 2012:

I love this idea and would gladly move into one of these neighborhoods. I love the photos as it reminds me of the times when neighbors were close and cared for one another. Voted up!

Mary Hyatt (author) from Florida on May 28, 2012:

Hi mckbirdbks, I'm glad people are getting away from the McMansions everyone wanted before. With the economy the way it is now, this concept makes sense to me. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. Goodnight.

Mary Hyatt (author) from Florida on May 28, 2012:

Hi moonlake, I'm glad you enjoyed reading about the pocket neighborhoods. I think it's an interesting concept for us older folks! Thanks so much for votes, I appreciate that. See you....

Mary Hyatt (author) from Florida on May 28, 2012:

Hi rebeccamealey, thanks for reading my Hub on Pocket Neighborhoods. I think it is perfect for retirees. I can't see families with kids living this close, though. Goodnight.

Mary Hyatt (author) from Florida on May 28, 2012:

Hi drbj, the concept reminds me too of like the extended family. I like that (I think). I would like to see developers build something like this in my area. Thanks for reading and commenting. It's always good to see you!

Mary Hyatt (author) from Florida on May 28, 2012:

Hi Joyce, I'd have a hard time selling my place I know that! People are practically giving their homes away or just letting them go into forclosure around here. Thanks for reading and for the votes! Goodnight

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on May 28, 2012:

Very interesting how the market is going to change to meet the needs of the backbone of the U.S. economy.

moonlake from America on May 28, 2012:

The pocket neighborhoods seem like a good idea if you don't want to go into an apartment like they have here. I hate the places and every time I think we may end up there it makes me feel sick. The only thing we have close to being a pocket neighborhoods here are the resorts that have sold the cottages off mostly to retires. Their cute little cottages, people can look out and see each other and visit, many do have front porches. Enjoyed your hub. Voted Up.

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on May 28, 2012:

This is a very interesting concept. I have not heard of it before. I am glad you shared your knowledge. I think pocket neighborhoods would be a great solution for senior citizens, maybe even others.

drbj and sherry from south Florida on May 28, 2012:

These pocket neighborhoods do make sense for older folks and retirees, mary. I would not be surprised to see some Florida home builders adopt this style. It reminds me of the extended family concept where grandparents and other relatives all lived in the same homestead vs. the nuclear family of only parents and children.

Joyce Haragsim from Southern Nevada on May 28, 2012:

Pocket neighborhoods look a little too close, but that is right now. We all change as we age.

If you do this, I wish the best of luck selling your house at a good price. This isn't happening here in Las Vegas at the moment.

Voted up useful and interesting, Joyce.

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