The jewel-box home—small, but loaded with amenities and costly finishes—is luring more home buyers. An analysis by Home Innovation Research Labs, a subsidiary of the National Association of Home Builders, found that the number of new-construction luxury homes at 3,000 square feet or less has increased nearly 20% since 2013—with a corresponding decline in larger-size, high-price homes.
Changing demographics might be driving the trend. More than half of all households now consist of single people or couples, U.S. Census Bureau data shows—with traditional nuclear families accounting for just 20%.
“Empty-nesters want to downsize, but they want luxury homes not starter homes—luxury kitchens, marble surfaces, all the latest and greatest,” said Tim Costello, CEO of Builder Homesite, a consortium whose New Home Source website—an online clearing house for new-construction homes—tracks home buyers’ preferences.
Tuesday, Friday and Sunday, he is out before dawn for a 1.5- to two-hour run with Abby and Finn on one of the many trails accessible from Tucson along the Catalina Highway. The dogs are disciplined enough to run off-leash in a pack with him. The farthest he has taken Abby is a 13-mile, three-hour run. “She came home quite tired, as did I,” he says. When training for a marathon or longer distances, he adds a solo run on Wednesdays. He’ll run up to 23 miles on a network of paths in Tucson called the Loop.
Mr. McLean has had Achilles tendon problems as the result of tight calf muscles, and says he stretches for 15 minutes every night and before his morning run.
Like many marathoners, John McLean trains with running buddies. But if he isn’t keeping pace, he gets barked out. Mr. McLean is a dog-lover who logs miles with four-legged friends, both his own and rescues.
For years Mr. McLean, 63, ran solo. He and his wife, Barbara McLean, live in Arizona. They worked in the aerospace industry and travel made it tough to look after a dog. The day after Mr. McLean retired in 2014, he came home with Abby, a 10-week-old Chocolate Labrador.
Courmayeur, both a town and a ski resort, boasts nearly as many ambitious, full-service restaurants as it does lifts on the slopes. Even on bright sunny days with powdery trails, the big question tends to be, “What’s for lunch?” The village, nestled in a snug valley on the south slope (the Italian side) of Mont Blanc, Europe’s highest peak, is a typically sleepy mountain town for much of the year with around 3,000 full-time residents. But when the ski season kicks into high gear, its restaurants, bars and cafes all come roaring to life. It’s a favorite winter escape for residents of Italy’s fashion capital, Milan, a straight two-hour shot up the highway.
For the urbane crowds in from the city on winter weekends, Courmayeur is as much an epicurean as snow-sports destination, known for its mountain cheeses, wild game and cured meats, and for its increasingly serious restaurants. Top tables on and off the slopes can book up weeks in advance. The region’s minerally white and earthy red wines come from some of the highest altitude vineyards in Europe. The sparkling Cuvée des Guides is made 7,000 feet above sea level on the slopes of Mont Blanc, with a tasting room atop one of the state-of-the-art Skyway Monte Bianco cable car stations.
The complementary pair—Onassis the sophisticate, and Simon the nervous hippie—were close until Onassis died in 1994. Over a sprawling conversation, Simon discussed seeing the “goofy” side of Onassis, what she misses about performing and what she envied about Onassis.
Carly Simon has a voice that fits the Shakespearean ideal: “ever soft, gentle, and low.” The 74-year-old singer and writer has a mind that wanders before suddenly homing in on a detail with the perfectly chosen phrase or word. As in her new book, Touched by the Sun: My Friendship with Jackie, about her unlikely camaraderie with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, she is chronically honest about her feelings and her experiences.
Touched by the Sun, Simon says, started off as a broader project about some of the important women who have influenced her. But she kept coming back to her friend Onassis, whom she met on Martha’s Vineyard. Simon spoke to WSJ. by phone from the island, sitting on her bed in the house where she’s lived since 1971—and where she also keeps four dogs, two donkeys, two miniature horses, sheep, a few goats, an organic vegetable garden and a flower and herb garden. Not to overlook the miniature horse rink.