Won't you be my neighbor? Parents buy teens their own tiny houses next door

Even though they live in separate homes, the family has never been closer.
/ Source: TODAY

When Lennox Brinks was in eighth grade, her parents sat her down and floated an idea.

How would she feel about leaving Michigan and starting over in Kentucky?

Brinks, who is now 18, was sold as soon as they explained she would have her own tiny house, just steps away from theirs.

“My mom showed me a brochure with a bunch of different models and was like, ‘You can pick the one you want,’” Brinks told TODAY Parents. “How could I say no to that?"

The Brinks family traded their 2,200-square-foot home in Michigan for a tiny house compound in Kentucky. Courtesy of Lennox Brinks

In 2015, Ryan and Keli Brinks paid $57,000 for 21-acres in London, Kentucky, and began building an energy efficient compound of six tiny homes, all with different functions. For instance, one house is an office, while another is a bathroom. There's also a barn.

Brinks, splits her time between the University of Kentucky and her 160-foot digs, while her brother, Brodie, 16, resides next door in a cabin of the same size. Ryan and Keli have the largest pad on the property at 280 square feet. Theirs — unlike Brinks and Brodie’s — comes complete with a kitchen and bathroom.

The washroom situation took a while to get used to, Brinks admitted.

“That was the scariest part in the beginning, when I’d have to go in the middle of the night,” she said. “I remember calling over to Brodie and asking him to stand on his porch and watch me while I ran to the bathroom. But now we have lights and lamp posts, so it’s not bad.”

Lennox Brinks heats her 160-square-foot cabin with a space heater when it's cold. "My house is so small that it gets hot in 10 seconds and I turn it off," she told TODAY Parents. Courtesy of Lennox Brinks

Brinks, who is double majoring in agriculture economics and political science, said the lifestyle change has brought her family closer together.

“We always eat dinner together and we’re constantly outside. In Michigan, I don’t remember playing yard games,” Brinks revealed. “On Sundays, after church, we’ll play three different yard games like corn hole. Some people might think, ‘Oh, the parents want to push the kids out and have their own space,’ but it’s the opposite.”

The Brinks family on their compound. Courtesy of Lennox Brinks

The Brinks also enjoy working in their vegetable garden, splashing around in their swimming pool and tending to their chickens and goats.

“When I tell people about about where we live, they’re like, ‘That’s crazy!’ Brinks told TODAY Parents. “Then, I bring them over and give them a tour and 90 percent of them say, ‘I want to do this. I get it!'"