What Are Pocket Neighborhoods?
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
Why Pocket Neighborhoods Are Becoming Popular
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.
This concept is popular to all ages but is gaining popularity among the 50-60-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
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.
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.
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 estates, 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.
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!
Watch this video to see Ross Chapin, architect, showing the pocket neighborhood he designed.
This will give you a better understanding of the concept he has designed.