Any writer who is not one of the obscenely, disgustingly, grotesquely rich fabrications of the Manhattan literary celebrity machine, like James Patterson (in actuality a Borg-like hive entity comprising one figurehead and numerous ghostwriting drones) and other signatories of the Authors United petition, will probably care about money. Care quite a lot. They may even have to care about keeping a roof over their head. Enter Techdwell, an Oregon-based company that is busy repurposing miniature high-tech dwellings originally destined for Haiti into housing for the urban poor – which just might include writers.

Currently the focus of a plan to house Portland’s homeless, after the local municipal plan failed abjectly, Techdwell’s Axia micro-homes are environmentally very friendly, utilizing “recycled and recyclable and sustainable building materials. Optional solar pv electrical systems, rainwater collection and gray water reclamation enable units to be independently off-grid. Composting toilets provide for natural human waste management.” They are also incredibly cheap, with starting prices of just $12,500. They’re stackable, portable, but for the solitary working writer in need of a retreat, they look like the perfect option.

Bear in mind that the typical UK author now has a median annual income from writing of $18,834. Suddenly, even the lowliest scribbler can envisage a place of their own, sized pretty right for a single author’s needs. And the Axia home’s size, and ease of DIY construction, both recall writers’ lodges like Henry Williamson’s hut in Devon – albeit with more modern styling. This could be the best thing to happen to writers’ residency requirements since the Write A House scheme in Detroit.

Of course, if you’re James Patterson, you can afford to buy 4779.6 UK authors per year, so you could buy a whole townful of such houses in no time. The James Patterson Writers’ Colony, anyone? I think I’ll stick to the mean streets of Portland …


  1. The land is likely to be a bigger issue than a building, particularly in cities.

    If building codes are not strict, you might find someone who’d let you build at the back of their property or a corner of some rural land. Sometimes buildings less that a certain size, typical a 100 square feet, don’t require permits.

    I discuss Youtube videos about how build you own cabin for much less at:

    Scrounge up the lumber, windows, doors etc, and build around that and you might spend almost nothing.

    If you have a home, but it’s noisy and crowded, you might put a small cabin at the back of your lot. All it’d need would be electricity. You could come into the house for everything else.

    Charles Dickens did that. That’s at the link above too.

    –Mike Perry

  2. I have been eyeing this particular style of really tiny houses. I feel they look exceptionally cozy and
    would love to live in them. Being a part of the urban poor (a writer) and also someone who cares about
    the environment, I think Americans abuse living-spaces by owning larger spaces than what they need. I
    know people who live in huge three bedroom apartments but their entire life’s belongings can fit into a
    single room. By belongings I mean things they absolutely can’t live without. A well-written post and
    kudos to micro-housing initiative, keep up the good work. I especially enjoyed the slight humorous

  3. Writers might also be interested in La Muse Writers & Artists Retreat in southern France, where I am now. This is a wonderful and affordable retreat set in a village in the mountains bordering Spain, where writers and artists gather for one, two or three week (or longer) retreats in an 11th Century, 10-bedroom house owned by writers John Fanning and his partner Kerry. It is self-catering and we have the freedom to work at will, but with guidelines for quiet times. I love it here: it keeps me focused, and is inspiring, beautiful and even magical, especially at night under the massive stars. #retreats #France

The TeleRead community values your civil and thoughtful comments. We use a cache, so expect a delay. Problems? E-mail