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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.

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Read More From Toughnickel

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 muc