The other day a reader sent me an email with a few photos of a park model tiny house that he ran into while driving.

This park model tiny home had just moved in to a trailer park where he happens to drive by regularly.

This excited him so much (as it would me) that he stopped and took a few photos (which I’m sharing below). Thanks for the pictures Troy!

So this got me thinking… What ever happened to the idea of park model tiny houses and communities? Don’t these already exist? Why aren’t we making something happen here? Why aren’t we at least talking about it?

Park Model Tiny House Communities

park model tiny house community 2 600x421   What About Park Model Tiny Houses and Communities?

Photo by Troy B.

Park Model tiny house communities already exist in my area as retirement communities. Most of the time I’ve seen them as 55+ communities which is great but it just leaves out the young people who want to live tiny or small.

But if folks have already figured out how to build communities using Park Models then why haven’t we done it simply without the 55+ age requirement?

Park Model Tiny House Designs

That brings me to my next concern. We have dozens of available tiny house plans now, but what about their slightly larger counterparts (Park Models)?

I remember Jay Shafer, now of Four Lights Tiny Houses, saying that he was contemplating this idea a while back. I wonder if there are still any solid plans for this? Tumbleweed? Well, what about park model designs that already exist?

This could be a wonderful solution for those of you who are already 55 or older because communities already exist throughout the country. For the rest of us, we have some work to do and ideas to spread!

Would You Buy/Build and Live in a Park Model Tiny House?

park model tiny house community 1 600x417   What About Park Model Tiny Houses and Communities?

The only down-side is that when you want to tow it you need a special license. So you either get the license or hire out the move because it’s too wide to tow with a regular drivers license and truck. You know.. wide load!

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Big thanks to our reader, Troy, for sending in these photos he took. You rock Troy!

Question for You on Park Model Tiny Homes

Have you ever lived in a park model tiny house community? How was it? Can you share your thoughts and experiences? What do you think about using park models to create simple living communities? 

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Alex

Alex has been living in small spaces for more than 7 years, he's the founding editor of TinyHouseTalk.com, and has passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. Send in your story and tiny home photos so we can share and inspire others towards simplicity.

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{ 139 comments }

  • Joe

    They are called mobile home parks and theres lots of em and trust me you dont wanna be in most of them.

    Reply
    • Alex

      In my area there are some park model communities that are actually really nice. They’re 55+ only though. And have HOA fees, rules and all that.

      Reply
    • xsmargo

      Sorry you didn’t have a good experience

      Reply
  • deborah

    That is a very prejudicial statement, I think. There are some gorgeous mobile home parks around where I live in AL. I know there are dumps but to say, “most of them” is not correct. In fact, lately, I have seen some that were not very nice come under new management and now are lovely!

    I love the Park Model homes and would buy one in a nano second if I were to start over again. I live in a 16′ X 90′ mh on ten acres and it was a good thing when I was caring for my grands while my daughter was in college and our son was still living at home, but now it is just too big for we semi-retired couple. Oh well, we make the best of whatever our living situations are, I guess.

    Reply
    • Garth

      Before we bought our house 22 years ago, we looked at a few mobilehomes, and the parks were all gorgeous. I think the only reason we didn’t buy there where there were MHs available for sale was because we decided they would be too far from our jobs and other roots. There are four MH parks that I can think of within 1.5 miles of us now. The lowest-ranking one is hardly more than a small parking lot with converted travel trailers on it– very simple. Next up is one that has converted travel trailers, single-wide MHs, and a very few double-wides although very short, and people have a tiny bit of a yard. Not gorgeous, but I wouldn’t call it a dump either. Then there are two beautiful ones which are for seniors only and I don’t think they allow single-wides. I’ve been in one of them (which was a gated community) twice, once to buy my first car (used), and then again 25 years later to sell a car to a resident there, and I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was. It’s actually too classy for me. The main problem I can think of that would probably be true of almost any of them in southern California is that the space rents compete with our house payment, which is one reason I would rather own a very tiny piece of property for the MH or tiny house. Local laws don’t allow that though.

      Reply
    • Lindy

      I agree with Deborah. There are some really nice parks here in the south, mostly for retirees, but some are not. I would buy a park model home in a heartbeat. My only problem is every one I have checked on does not allow pets! I am starting over AGAIN and have been looking around for a mobile home,, a travel trailer or a tiny house. I have even spoken to modular home builders and the cheapest they could offer me was one of their models and was $31,000. And they do not make custom models. sigh..

      Reply
      • Otis Johnson

        Lindy:
        We are working hard to build just the type of Community you describe here in NC. Please contact me and I will be pleased to discuss with you. You might be surprised atwhat is possible. ;>)
        Otis Johnson; w\Wilmington, NC

        Reply
        • Wendy

          How are you doing it? I just went to the Sullivan County TN planning and zoning office today and they say the land would have to be zone AR (Agriculture/Recreational) and currently they are only allowing that along the waterfront property for fishing cabins or retreat type uses. They also informed me that “you cannot live in a RV full time anywhere”. What? Why? So when I retire and want to travel in my RV, I still have to own property somewhere or I just have to keep on moving and let no one know that I don’t actually have a home? What? What is wrong with living in a RV full time? They made it sound like that was a nationally accepted rule.

          Reply
          • David

            Why? Because if you can live in an RV full time and not in expensive tax paying RV parks you won’t be paying enough taxes, and if you own land and live in your RV there you don’t improve the land with taxable house so you pay more tax revenue. Planning and zoning boards exist for the sole reason of maximizing tax revenue and RVs (outside of RV parks) do not produce tax revenue. And thems with the powers makes the rules. And those who elect the ones with the power are voters in the district and almost universally have houses, so they don’t care about full time rvs.

            Its not nationally homogeneous, but its not that its *allowed* anywhere specifically that I know of as there are a bunch of very rural and unregulated so far places that haven’t made it illegal.

            Yet.

            Sucks, doesn’t it?

      • Margo Kindle

        What is the difference in a modular and model park home, I’m very excited about getting my hubby and myself a little something to put on my daughter’s rv parking ( legal in cal) , I’d love to get tiny house on wheels close to 400sq ft but can’t find one

        Reply
    • Judi

      Deborah
      While I agree that not all parks are equal, I too have seen the worst and the best(on the outskirts of towns near Phoenix,AZ, there are many “snowbird Parks”) and they are all the over 45 type. While neat and clean they had a lot of asphalt and were all too close together in my book. I am no longer young enough to build anything! But an intentional community with common gardens would be a nice way to retire.

      Reply
  • Tessie

    I see them on tinyhouselistings.com sometimes. They look nice.

    Reply
  • Carolyn B

    If I went for a park model, I’d definitely start looking at Stephen Marshall’s Home Care Cottages for accessibility. Probably out of my price range but boy are they gorgeous!

    Reply
    • Alex

      Stephen Marshall’s tiny houses are great. Here’s the link to his site if anyone’s curious: http://littlehouseonthetrailer.com/

      Reply
      • Keith G

        These are fabulous! Why after scouring every morsel of information on these smaller and alternative living spaces, for over 8 months, am I just now hearing about his work?! These are some of the nicest ones I’ve seen, at first glance. I am so NOT in love with the way most park model homes are fitted out and furnished. I cannot understand why they feel it necessary to have such huge giant-sized appliances in such a tiny home, these are bigger than what I have at home now! And when furniture is included, it’s this giant oversized overstuffed stuff, nothing elegant about it at all. These houses that are shown on Stephen Marshall’s site are so much better in that regard!

        Thanks so much for the info!!

        Reply
  • Suzette

    Most of the mobile home parks here that aren’t 55+ are terrible.

    Does anyone have information on how much trouble the license and pilot car are? Hiring someone to move the home is in the tens of thousands so not feasible for most of us interested in tiny homes.

    Suzette

    Reply
    • Steve McDowell

      I built and sold a tiny house last year that met trailer heights ans widths> When it was nearly done, I showed it to my nneighbor who is in the trailer manufacturing business here in Utah. He suggested building the next one 10 ft. wide as it only requires a $50 annual permit and a wide load sign on both the front of the truck and the rear of the trailer. I can’t see why I wouldn’t make my next one that wide as I wouldn’t use it as a camp trailer. It would make everything work better inside and it wouldn’t cost much more. I could still move it with my dually truck.

      Reply
    • Robert

      Moving a Tiny Home or a park model is not in the Tens of thousands of dollars. A recent non owner hauled tiny home move on the East Coast cost the tiny house owners about $1000 to travel 1000 miles. Park models on longer hauls run in the .90 cent range per mile.
      If you don’t own a 3/4 ton pick up truck you can rent a Uhaul with the proper hitch and tow a tiny house cross country if need be.
      Park models are not tiny homes in my mind so I will never have to worry where to put one or move one.
      136sqft plus 56sqft sleeping loft is plenty! And easy to move.

      Reply
      • Alex

        Thanks Robert and great idea Steve. If I were living single I’d go ‘tiny’ but to live as a couple or a small family I’d go Park Model.

        Reply
  • laura

    I just visited a friend who has a very similar park model tiny home, in a co-op park community. How wonderful would it be, to live in a place where the majority of people shared the ‘tiny home’ philosophy, which is, IMO, about more than a small living space.

    I’m moving in that direction, slowly but in absolute confidence.

    Reply
    • Alex

      I love that idea Laura. That’s really what’s missing, isn’t it? We have park model communities, trailer parks, RV parks, but we want tiny house communities based on simple living. Thanks Laura.

      Reply
  • Otessa Regina Compton

    Wonderful Communities! People can take pride in owning a piece of property to call their own, and yet have neighbors that are not intruding. I would love to see these homes become wheelchair friendly for people and a little larger for a single level. That would be great for people who need these plans. Perhaps some corporation and/or individual will read this a market my idea. They are welcome to claim my idea to be theirs, so long as we have these houses.

    Reply
    • Alex

      Thanks Otessa! Well said!

      Reply
    • Keith G

      There ~are~ park model houses made for wheelchair access; I’ve done a bit of research here too because I was interested in finding something my mother might benefit from. She’s using a walker currently, not a wheelchair, but looking ahead… one never knows. But yes, definitely, they’re out there. They can’t make them bigger than the 400 sf footprint though, because that’s the size limit that has been established for the ANSI 119.5 building code which regulates these things. Above that size, you’re into a manufactured home built to HUD standards, which is a whole ‘nother ballgame in terms of costs, inspections, permits, etc.

      Reply
  • George Mauro

    While on our motor home trips, we see park model homes throughout Florida. Some (most) are very nice. What is amusing is to allow for Florida law, the park home must remain on it’s wheels and must display a Florida license plate. So the work around is that most have a full cover skirt around the bottom to “finish off” the look of the home and the license plate is in the front window. Here is one of our favorite parks with plenty of nice park homes.

    https://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&q=900+Juno+Ocean+Walk,+Juno+Beach,+Florida+33408&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=33.572881,59.238281&layer=&ie=UTF8&z=16&ll=26.893464,-80.06115&spn=0.009224,0.021501&om=1&iwloc=addr

    Reply
  • alice h

    I like some of the park models and I like the general concept of communities but I’m not sure I’d like living with the rules and regulations and being at the whim of whatever temporary mass insanity may hold sway. A friend has lived in co-ops that were “highjacked” by various groupings of tenants from time to time. Rules are necessary for health and safety and reasonable interaction but some people take it too far and suddenly you’re entangled in some kind of wrangling. Add in HOA fees and the possibility of unexpected infrastructure fee assessments and the appeal is even more diminished. Not to say such a place wouldn’t work for a lot of people, just not me. The actual park model on my own lot, maybe, but I’m more likely to build my own design.

    Reply
    • Alex

      I understand people being wary of HOAs because of too many rules and fees but like you said without something then it becomes a nightmare in the opposite way right..

      Reply
  • Dale

    Would certainly want to live in a park model. In many states however, it’s a matter of HUD vs. RV code only. Most mobile home parks in the USA do not allow park models – only HUD certified mobile homes. There is a huge restriction here which ALL zoning boards need to clarify/approve! Only then will most park models become allowed to be installed within mobile home villages. They are the absolute perfect cottage for the single retirement individual! All park models have to be 400 square feet ( except for Florida ), the unit then must follow strict HUD code only. Florida allows up to 500 square foot only models. Also & sadly… most private land owners can place a park model on their property, but are restricted to living in them for no more than 190 days out of 365 days a year! This is again zoning department regulations in most states; not mine & this needs to change if park models are to become the perfect retirement cottage for the masses on privately owned lands. Help us do this now, I for one believe they are the perfect solution to todays ” single ” retirement baby boomer population. RPTIA, the trade industries’ governing board needs to help rectify these zoning changes nationwide, so that all can enjoy their superior products – they would sell millions of units!

    Reply
    • Alex

      Thanks Dale! Great points. Will do.

      Reply
    • Free

      Why not build an efficiency unit if you own land?? Cost of permits, maybe? Okay, just split the parcel into 2 lots, and camp 1/2 year on each…… it’s literally a matter of a few inches of pvc…..

      Reply
  • Tiny Houses Hankerings

    I think model homes and trailer homes get a really bad rap. My mom lives in one and it has saved her from having to move in with one of us. My parents paid it off in a short amount of time, and when my dad died my mom lost 2/3s of her income. If she had been in a traditional home she would have still been making mortgage payments and wouldn’t have been able to afford to keep doing it, and would have been foreclosed upon like so many others. She pays $125 a month for park rent and a little bit for utilities, and own her home free and clear. And they are easy to fix when something breaks down.

    I don’t understand why some people choose to be so snobbish about mobile homes when they are a great alternative for lower income people. (or maybe that’s why they are so snobbish.)

    Reply
  • Paula

    Well you’re right Alex. I believe most if not all park model communities are for 55 and over. Personally if I were to go small I would think about the park models at 400 sq. ft. Just more doable for me. If one wants to move here and there a bit then tiny house is the better bet.

    I did an exhaustive search for well made good looking park model homes (not all are created equal) when I was looking to put one on my property for my sister. (I found an apt. for her instead). There are some not so visually pleasing inside and out.

    I found great ones that weren’t made in my area, that’s another little thing they don’t tell you. There are distributors possibly in your area but may not offer the particular model you want from the manufacturer. Anyway Cavco, Green River Cabins, and some really cool ones by Nationwide Homes-Eco Cottages, are worth looking at. Cavco has an off the grid model along with Clayton Homes iHouse. The two latter ones have been featured in the past on the Tiny House Blog. The ones listed below very well made.

    http://www.nationwide-homes.com/ecocottages/main.cfm?pagename=ecoCottages
    http://www.greenrivercabins.com
    http://www.cavco.com
    http://www.claytonihouse.com

    Reply
  • Cris

    My sister used to live in a mixed community with more park model sections than house sections – it has a golf course, a fishing lake, tennis courts, a pool, etc. Most of the park models are used as vacation homes and summer homes, but there are some full time residents. It is actually quite peaceful, since it’s largely used as a vacation spot. And it isn’t age restricted, but most of the residents are older (my sister is not, nor are her kids). They have a strict Owners Association, but not as bad as the suburban communities around where I live.

    Reply
  • Freddie Mesquit

    What I’d like to know is, why isn’t the subject of where in the world will you park these mini homes after construction? Design, actual construction, can you live in one?, etc. isn’t the problem – a place to put them that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg IS! My wife and I would love to live in one of these little guys, just like we wouldn’t mind living in a mobile home park. It’s the rent that we have a problem with trying to live on S. S. alone.
    Any ideas?

    Reply
  • John Loving

    North Carolina allows a park model type recreational vehicle to be set up as a permanent dwelling, however, it needs to be labeled. How can a park model tiny home get “labeled”?

    Reply
    • Jerry

      Sounds like a question for the proper authorities in North Carlolina. If you get around to making the inquiry, could you post the details here for everyone’s benefit?

      Reply
  • John Page Jr

    I have not lived in a park model tiny house community but I could see it as a possibility for me. I am intrigued with the tiny house idea. I am going to check in to the codes and regulations in my area about building one.

    Reply
  • Sharon

    I left my experience in a park model on another post about creation ideas for small home communities. I loved living in my park models ! One was an open design with a loft over the bathroom and kitchen. At my own expense I put in a georgous spiral staircase and chandelier. I had to leave do to health concerns. I was unable to put in a wheelchair ramp to code on my little slice of heaven. The other park model I shared with a live in caregiver. It was actually a three bedroom but was perfect for two people and gave me an art studio/dressing room.The problem wasn’t the small size it was the community we lived in. It was an older park with some really AWFUL junky trailers that were condemed. The owners were doing a reasonable job in replacing them with a particular manufactuer which had the park models for rent and the double wides for sale. The issue was that the trailers that were owned had to pay a lot rent at a higher rate than the previous Park owner charged. The Park Models were used for rentals and we were not required to pay a lot rent or water bill. The people who owned their trailers were outraged and made living there a living hell . They barred us from park activities, pot lucks, clubhouse shows, I could go on but I think you get the idea. In the end the management said we had to buy our units and pay lot rent or move. Best case scenario, have a community of park traiers and tiny homes. The lot rent needs to be based on the size of your lot. My little park model looked SOOOOO tiny on a doublewide lot. It really isn’t fair for the tiny homes to pay the same water as the park models which have a washer and dryer in their units. So that would need to be ironed out. Either put in individual water meters (which has the potential to cost the park owner more money) Or have a washing machine restriction on the park models, which wouldn’t be recieved well especially from the over 55 group! I adored my Park model but it needs a friendly place to feel like one belongs to the community. I see a real need for a substancial community center for the purpose of meetings, socials and for rent for private partys. A laundry that is adequate for the number of people living in the community, with an agreed fenced place to hang the laundry for air drying.( fenced for security and asthetics ) If it is an over 55 park there needs to be a trash service from the door, as there may be disability issues and this would prevent some of the hoarding or trash piles due to the inability of the home owner to carry their own garbage. It is also a way to “check” in on the needs of the owners/renters.That about covers my experience and concerns. Parks need to be a welcoming community. Many single, disabled people don’t have anyone to check on them. Compassion from your community means allot to quality of life. No one wants to feel unwanted, abandoned, or embarased of their limitation. We had several instances of old folk that died and it wasn’t untill the oder of death was so strong that they were discovered. Having a check in would have prevented these occurances. To make my point clear I LOVED MY PARK MODELS and I will be building a block 8′-10′ tiny home on my farm for the night watchman. (I live in Mexico) I am modeling it after an old Gypsy carriage house. It will have a bed cupboard with window, light and book shelf in the cubby. two closets banking it. A kitchen armoir. A shower and composting toilet and a nice covered porch. If I can figure it out I will send pictures. Right now I live in a lovely two room casita. My bedroom /sitting room is 12 by 12 with an arch that leeds to the kitchen /diningroom with a walk in closet, also 12by12 The kitchen has french doors that open to a beautiful garden and a flower covered arbor patio. My outhouse and my washing machine are tucked away behind the kitchen. Life is good. My caregiver and his family are a shout away. I had to do some fast explaining that I prefer to have my private quarters. In this community it is very common for the whole family to sleep in the same room. They really do not understand that I LIKE to live independantly ! It is just a cultural issue. They are litteraly 10 ft away at all times, always checking on me. It is a comfort to be cared for.

    Reply
  • John

    Nothing set in stone yet — But my Fiance and I are going to be turning the downstairs of my brother’s house into an apartment for after we’re married. That way we can just walk outside to work on our tiny home. He has 11 acres and will be selling us 4 of them. We will hopefully be acquiring the 32 x 64 barn in the process, to store materials for the home. (We’ve been throwing the idea of finishing the barn into a house too, but really prefer tiny) I would like to turn it all into a little village packed with gardens and cisterns. It’s so exciting to think about and I’m not letting anything limit that vision.

    Reply
  • John Mauldin

    In the RV (recreational vehicle) industry, “park model” homes refer to travel trailers that do NOT have their own holding tanks for water and waste, assuming that this style of trailer will be towed infrequently and that the site where the trailer is located has water and sewer connections. It is important to note that a “park model” trailer cannot, is limited in size, both length and width, because it is designed to be towed between destinations. Technically, anything wider than 12 ft. in width cannot be towed on public highways. And anything over 8 ft. in width has to have an escort and certain permits (use a professional for this!).

    Reply
    • cheryl

      Exactly! ‘Park Model’ refers to a type of RV – not a mobilehome. They may look similar but there are entirely different regulations.

      I once lived in a Park Model in a beautiful RV park, surrounded by 100-year-old oak trees, in Southern California. A mobilehome would not be permitted in a place like that – only RVs and Park Models. Conversely, we also have some beautiful mobilehome parks, where the homes sell for over $100,000 – and a Park Model wouldn’t be allowed in those.

      Most tiny houses on trailers are essentially Park Model RVs, and while some RV parks have rules about ‘homemade’ RVs, if your house is attractive, I would bet it wouldn’t be too hard to find an RV park willing to take it. But if you want to live in a mobilehome park, you should look up the regulations before you build your home. Mobilehomes and Park Models are very different beasts!

      Reply
    • Alex

      Thanks for clearing that up for us John!

      Reply
  • J.L. Frusha

    The ones I see are sold through RV sales and probably sold as such. I would assume they could be towed and licensed as RVs, considering you can get full-size buses.

    I’ve lived in a 14′ travel-trailer, by myself. Too small for a couple, but livable for one, when you get used to it. Would much rather have a more conventional style tiny house, but designed with extra storage. The smaller you go, the more organizable storage you need, when you have family. Using Japanese proportions, as much as 1/3 of the square-footage would be storage (in Japan, beds are put away, during the day, so the space can be used, requiring more storage, right off the bat).

    Reply
  • Nicole

    I’ve been planning to buy a park model rather than build a tiny house because it is more cost effective for me as a new park model can be purchased for $20K to $30K. (If the zoning allows me to install one in the area I live of course.) A wide variety of floor plans for them can be purchased through some manufactured home builders. I currently live in manufactured home on its own land. It is a cost effective way to have a home so I do not understand why people are so negative to them. The typical tiny houses in its very nature is no different from a manufactured or park model home.

    Reply
  • shirley

    I’ve been asking this question for years now, a community for RV Park Models for 55 or for all age communities, we need them now….it is getting a town or area that will permit them and own your own land. No leasing land!

    Reply
    • sharon

      Shirley, I almost forgot. About 10 years ago I looked into buying a Park Model. There was a KOA in Seminole, Fl. across the street from the Bay pines VA hospital. The KOA was willing to give me an RV site for $700 a month. It would allow us to be full time residents with pool privleges and event participation if we were so inclined. It really is a nice park. They also had tiny cabins but because the cabins had no cooking facility or bathrooms there was a two week stay restriction.Ended up moving to Mexico so never went through with that plan. I personally find the RV parks friendlier than the mobile home parks. It’s fun to see the regulars and the seasonals returning.

      Reply
      • Joe3

        I know that KOA, and frequently ride by there on the trail … It is still a nice park and easy access to town and the beach. I wonder what they would charge now, if 10 years ago it was 700$. I feel that is part of the problem – as stated in an earlier post – where to locate a tiny/small home, where the cost is reasonable. I still feel a dedicated tiny/small home part would be a great idea.

        Reply
  • Richard Rose

    I’ve seen a few of these here in Canada. I haven’t been everywhere, but they seem nice. I’ve heard that the Japanese typically live in houses that are less than 700sqft, and I wonder how they do with it. Perhaps their culture makes them more socially conscious and less Pioneer oriented, and thus manage to live in tighter communities. I have wondered though, why we don’t see more western designs with ‘flexible’ spaces…movable walls and roll-up beds, multi-function rooms, etc. I know there are some Murphy beds in a few. It seems to me that a large expense in most of these little designs is in the fixtures, counters and such. Trying to cram western style furniture into these tiny spaces is claustrophobic. And in case anyone is asking; I’m 58 this year…and my knees bend just fine, I’m not adverse to sitting on a cushion on the floor. I like the looks of traditional Asian housing, though the current, cubist architecture leaves me cold…overly influenced by Coleman Coolers, I think….. we could learn a lot from these guys.

    Reply
  • mick mccrary

    To me, park models are not tiny houses. A park model RV can be more expensive than buying a large mobile home. Many parks in Florida would not allow anything not built by a licensed Rv manufacturer. Rents can be very high. Local zoning, “wind zone” requirements, and floor elevations can be a nightmare. Park models in Florida are mostly for northern snowbirds who can afford to buy and pay the freight afterwards. Tiny houses are not in the same category. my 2 cents.

    Reply
  • Teri

    I plan to build a Fencl, which is not a park model. But my elderly mom lives in a very nice mobile home park with an empty lot next to my mom’s park model home. The problem is many of these “neighborhoods” have associations that standardize the look of the park. No trees over a certain height, only pastel paint colors, etc. I just KNOW my little wooden Fencl that looks like a real house probably won’t be allowed in the midst of the rectangular mobile home boxes, as well-kept as they are. (And a compost toilet?!… a very hard sell).

    Reply
    • cheryl

      Your mom has a Park Model RV in a mobilehome park? That’s kind of unusual – at least where I live!

      You and your Fencl would likely have better luck at a traditional RV park.

      Reply
      • Teri

        No, not an RV… my mom has a mobile home in a mobile home park. I think the confusion for me comes in over the width of a park model on wheels.

        Reply
        • cheryl

          Park Model RVs can be up to 12ft wide, when traveling. A single-wide mobile home can be up to 18ft wide. So width is one difference – but there are many other differences.

          For me one of the main differences is that mobilehomes are not designed to be moved often. You ‘can’ move them if you have to, but generally they are meant to be semi-permanently installed. Park Models on the other hand can be moved easily. You could spend six months at the beach, and then six months in the country every year, and have no trouble moving it back and forth.

          Reply
  • frankie

    Most of the under 55 parks around here are riddled with crime and drugs. Part of the appeal of the mobile home in the park is that it’s the cheapest way to buy a “house” so many low income families move in. If you wanted a park without the crime you’d have to start your own and restrict the types of people that move in. Most states have very strict laws against discrimination in real estate.

    Reply
    • Daniel

      frankie, I lived in a 55+ park model community in Glendale, Arizona. My home was $55k, not exactly the “cheapest way to buy a house”, and then the space rent was $800.oo per month. There were certainly no “low income” families there. I golfed everyday on one of the two private golf courses, swam in one of the pools, or took advantage of the many, many amenities. Most 55+ parks will allow you to move in at just 40, which is what I did, given the fact that I have no children. The park was gated, crime free, and very secure. Plus it was walled and right in the heart of town.

      Reply
      • Sharon

        Daniel, I am FAR from low income. I just choose to use as little money as I can for housing because I love to travel allot. The HUD ideal is spend no more than 1/4 of your income on housing. My “rent” is $38 a month and my utilities gas and electric run around $6 in summer and $14 in winter. Yeah thats one of the reasons I live in Mexico! It affords me a first class life with $4,850 a month left over to do whatever I want. Oh my living expense includes a full time caregiver, cook and housekeeper! My meals are included. If I want something special to eat ( american food)though I pay for it myself. When I did live in a trailer park, there were mostly Canadians,folks from England and semi retired folks from up North. I knew of only two low income women, and we made sure that they had their needs met privately to respect their feelings. We took turns paying their rent.

        Reply
        • Tugboatwilly

          I am curious what part of Mexico you live in Sharon as I have several Park Model size designs for that part of the world in a book I am doing soon to be available on my web pages. My next book will be on French Country designs for park model sizes. I have friends from the western part of Mexico.

          Reply
          • Sharon

            I live in South Central Mexico in the State of Puebla. We are considered high desert but have a rainy season that normally starts in April. We have a very comfortable climate. Your book sounds intresting. Very little wood is used for housing here. Some of the very poorest use Corizo wired together for shelter. As soon as they can they buy block and just dry stack it in the form of a house till they can buy the materials to hand mix cement. We do have volcanoes and earthquakes here, so these makeshift homes present a very real danger of colapse. We are hoping to use some recycled items but truthfully, everything is either used (these folks would put Mc Giver to shame!) or sold. We even sell old newspapers, old string, bits of wire, anything plastic,cardboard etc. There is really no free stuff laying around. For many years we were spared the violence that plagues Mexico. Recently, there have been a string of robberys and one incident of chopped up bodies in the river (not from our village) For some reason I am not able to download the free plans available with this website.

  • cheryl wade

    I grew up in Elkhart County Indiana where thes have been built and made for well over years and although they are beautiful homes with residential bathrooms and full size appliances they come with a price the loft models shown easily run 70k upward I walked thru one that listed for 175k even th low end 12 by 24 bare bones models will set you back 15 to 20k
    I don’t know about others on your site but my motivation for retrofitting and downsizing was ECONOMY I can have the place I want and need but it translates to a lot of sweat equity. If I had the money to buy one of these, I wouldn’t be motivated to live in one full time maybe a summer or winter retreat but not full time.

    Reply
    • cheryl

      Just a thought! If economics are your driving force…

      Or if you’re like me and just want to build your own home, you can build a Park Model yourself – just like any other tiny house! Some RV parks may accept only ‘manufactured’ Park Models – so you might have a little more difficulty finding a place to park it, but the build-it-yourself option is definitely possible!

      Reply
  • Victoria

    I’m building a tiny house presently.
    Having owned a large home and lost it due to illness, then short sale, I had to move into a 7×15 shed with my two little dogs, I’m single, female and 47, trying to get disability due to my health problems. I have problems that I can’t afford over 300$/mo, don’t qualify for most park communities…too young, no stable income yet, health issues dictate a lot of my life.

    The reason I’m building a tiny home is, It’s just me and my little dogs and I really don’t want to be homeless again. I can’t afford the going rate for a mobile home park in my area, 400-500$, and I found a place to park it for 250$…..the landlord is a control freak and can make life stressful but its a good set up because my daughter rents a house from him on the same property, so I have family close by.

    Ideally, we want to buy property, start a tiny house sustainable community and my daughter wants to have a rabbit farm. I just need a place with family close by, quiet and low stress. But, we need to find a reasonably priced property where the owner will carry the papers, banks are making life hell for everyone and there is no working with people in our situation.

    So we keep the faith that it will happen for our family.

    Reply
  • WW Gilman

    I am a 82 year old male. I love liveing in small well designed spaces and for that reason I loved the boating lifestyle. When age forced me to get off the boat I discovered the Park Model and it was an imeadiate love affair. I recogniszed quality construction, and found I could get the same quality as found in a million dollar home if I specified it in a Park Model. The problem I had was to find an enviroment and location that fit my needs. It was from this personal problem of my own, that I got the vision to create The Village of Wildflowers. (thevillageofwildflowers.com) Set in a mountain meadow, surrounder by orchards and vineyards, you too can discover the tranquility and peace the setting offers. Review my website, and read my story. It is the testimony of a human being, wanting to be surrounded by good neighbors careing for each other. Please write me or call if I can help you in any way. I promiss you a personal contact. My goal has ben achieved in finding and finishing this little piece of heaven. Warmest Regards, Bill Gilman

    Reply
    • cheryl

      Bill, your project sounds great!

      For those who haven’t checked out his site yet, this snippet of text explains how he’s accomplishing his dream…
      ”The property I have selected is beautiful, and composed of 25 acres of trees, trails, and ponds. The property, formerly a run-down RV park, is strategically located within a peaceful mountain valley of apple orchards.”

      The phrase, ”formerly a run-down RV park” is the key. Getting the permits to put in a new park can be really difficult and take a long time. Starting with an existing park? Smart!

      Besides, some of the existing parks are in really beautiful areas – it would be hard to find raw land for sale that was as pretty.

      Reply
    • Paula

      Bill! You’re doing this in Flat Rock! I live in Black Mountain. How very cool. I just scanned your site but need to read more. I was just talking about this very idea with a friend last week. So happy to see someone doing it. What phase are you in? Are homes placed yet? I’m not ready for this kind of thing but would love to come visit. I know someone with 20 acres in Old Fort that is trying to figure out what to do with it and I’ve talked to her about something like this.

      Reply
    • Grateful girl

      I live in Hendersonville, NC (about 40 minutes from downtown Asheville.) I had seen and inquired about this property a couple years back. It was a shame to see things mis-managed and it seemed to be missing something. Now that it is under way it is beautiful!
      Someone embedded the message to prepare for retirement. I used my home and my 401K as my nest egg… uh oh! I’m buying into this park because of the amenities, the neighbors, and a quality of life. The cottage I love has a bigger kitchen area then I have in my 1970′s 3 bedroom home. My grandson will have a play/live space in the loft when he visits Grammy at her “pool” house. The talks of Blue Grass entertainment and pot luck suppers in the beautiful clubhouse, returns my thinking to a less complicated life where we remembered to smell the flowers… Wildflowers that is! Gardening with friends in the community garden will be amazing!
      I love that there is no age restriction. I want the youth, as well as wisdom of elders around me. With 10 years to go before I retire I’m going to take my own advice and start the process. I’m planning the trips I’ll take from my “home base” cottage. What a blessing!

      Reply
    • Jennie Paul

      Hi Bill,
      Your idea is a warm and caring solution for living in a small home without all the expenses on a fixed income. I am looking now for a place to put a park model not yet built . I have a budget and with lot rent and trailer park neighbors who might not be too friendly, I am having a hard time finding a place near Tampa. I guess some counties don’t like park models unless you can find a trailer park. The ones I see have a lot of trailers that are in bad shape. How does it work if you want to live among the wildflowers in NC??

      Reply
  • janet taylor

    I love the idea of a community of smaller homes. Is Four Lights still planning a community? Has anyone heard what the logistics of this is. If aperson owned the property that they wanted others to live on, couldn’t they choose who they wanted to live there? I have more questions than answers but continue to research.

    Reply
  • Tal

    A park model community would be ideal for a vacation site. I can see a number of well spaced, landscaped small houses/park model size tiny houses on a waterfront lot with some shared services and amenities. I’ve lived on a boat in a marina, and it was delightful. A nice summer resort “community” could work well methinks.

    Reply
  • Rhonda

    I’ve been studying tiny houses & park models & single wide mobile homes and width & length & utilities are all factors in defining them. I LOVE the quality craftsmanship of tiny houses and need to be mobile because I’m in a hurricane zone plus I want to lessen utility bills by only heating/cooling/cleaning useable living space. RV parks are expensive and only allow up to 40 feet long. Mobile home parks allow homes beginning at 40 feet long and some do “allow RVs” which I’m sure they mean park models. Still searching for a solution myself but will likely be something on a private lot so I can have a garden.

    Reply
  • Neil Hendricks

    I have a significant plan for a park open to tiny and park models, built and owned by persons who experience significant resistance to their presence in more traditional housing settings. The park would be rural, have its own water supply and sewage treatment setup [non-traditional], power, and heating options. In addition, I would anticipate having a central building/area for laundry, picnics, indoor dining/kitchen, and maybe a pool. Could be like a park model condo complex.

    Reply
  • Jan

    I live in LaHacienda RV Resort – http://www.lahaciendarv.com – in Apache Junction, AZ our resort was selected as small resort of the year USA wide. I live in a park model and have for 13 years. It is 400 sq ft. I could go smaller BUT it is not allowed in the Phoenix area as we found out attending your workshop last summer. It is too bad that we can’t live in as small home as we want but that is our government for us… Got to tax us as much as possible. There are 110 such resorts in our town to chose from so living small in this area is nothing new. The park model resorts here have been here a long time. You usually see park models in AZ and FL for retirees.

    Reply
  • Diane

    The Park Model…is it for me today? the cost of permits and codes makes it not affordable… the headaches of getting permits another negative…. finding a place to rent for parking it would be a nightmare in my area… cost would be higher for rental space than for traditional rv space… if I found a rental space available to me… being under senior age with two teen daughters creates more limitations… zoning and ordinances limits where I can put one on private land…
    I am building a tiny house on wheels… going with an 8×28 ft design… I would have loved to have moved up in size to 10 foot, alas the cost of permits, codes, zoning, parking headaches is the reason for staying within the 8ft width… I had no issue with cost and required permits for transporting the larger 10ft design, its not expensive and easily done…. I do not plan to move my tiny house often as it is recommended not to do so… they are not designed to be traveled in like an rv… which is why I will live full time in my tiny house and have a small rv as well for cross country traveling, camping, etc… plan to park my tiny house in an rv park for now… eventually moving it to a property I buy later down the road…
    Moving a larger size build would not be an issue for me… as I have already stated the other issues is why I have chosen to stick with the 8ft width… its all good though… the 8×28 provides the amount of space I need for my lifestyle today and into my elder years perfectly… been more of a nightmare to figure out the interior design… the 10ft width would have been easier to work with, entailed less planning, created the illusion of not being so tiny on the inside and provided wheel chair ease if the need ever arises…
    While I value my privacy and enjoy reading my paper on my porch dressed in less than pj’s and am looking forward to buying my own property to park on… I am considering a community build myself one day down the road for tiny homes… why? support and like mindset… the massive potential on many levels is there for self and others…. smile…

    Reply
  • Diane Miether

    I lived in a park for travel trailers in a 26′ travel trailer for a couple years. The woman who owned the park had bought the park when it was for regular size mobile homes all close together, put two of the lots together for one travel trailer so it would have a nice little yard, fenced each yard and planted trees and grass, etc., and the rent was very affordable. She had built her small home around a small travel trailer and it was very unique and beautiful. I really enjoyed living there and she became a close friend. This was in Northern New Mexico.

    Reply
    • Alex

      Thanks for sharing Diane!

      Reply
  • M Blake Powers

    Hi Alex -

    I work for a company called Open Trail Homes (we are just recently coming out with our own/new designs) and we are in the process of designing and getting ready to build our first “Park Model” tiny home. It will be a 12′ x 24′ unit – complete with ground level sleeping quarters, bathroom, kitchen, etc… (and a loft suited to sleep 4). I have been following the tiny house movement for quite some time and having recently graduated with my M. Arch – it’s time to put our ideas and plans into action to show people in the southwest (we are based in Utah) that there are alternatives. This is my first time posting here on tinyhousetalk.com – it’s a great community/site! We would love to be involved with your site in any way we can.

    Thanks,
    Blake @ Open Trail Homes

    Reply
    • Alex

      Hi Blake. That sounds great. Looking forward to learning more about you guys. Let’s get in touch soon! Thanks.

      Reply
  • Julie

    Not far from me is a wonderful log cabin park model community. They have a community building and commercial kitchen for member use, a pool and activity/exercise building. Their lots are big enough for a little garden (they don’t allow chickens though). Most are a bedroom + loft (for when the grandkids come to visit) and each one also has enough parking for a visiting (or their own) RV. Since many people live here part time and travel part time. I love driving through it and would move over there in a heart beat (or 9 years – when I turn 55). Keeping them all in the same theme (log cabin), some have porches and some have 4 seasons rooms, all similar size it works in the small community. There is another community not too far away but they have no codes for appearance of the park models and it really looks run down after 15 years.

    Reply
  • Maureen

    I became interested in park models around 1996 when I saw them in the Pacific Northwest. The log cabin type with the loft for the grandkids would work best for me. Since then tiny homes and sites have become a quest of mine (or obsession!). I stayed in one at Whaleshead, which is a resort of
    privately owned rentals on their own lots North of Brookings, Oregon with
    fantastic views of the ocean. Another park model community is in Brookings and is situated on the river. There is also Lost Lake RV Resort just outside of Olympia, Washington and Latitude 49 in Birch Bay, Washington which both have park models for vacations and retirement living. In Show Low, Arizona there is White Mountain Vacation Village which is 55+, own your own lot with pine trees and paved roads and clubhouse too. Yes there are HOA’s which mean monthly fees and rules that do not “allow” your unit to
    be “run down”. Check their websites out, and others on rvproperty.com.
    I think in order to have a small community of tiny houses you need to start with an existing rv park . I think that is what Jay Schafer of Four Lights is going to be doing in Forestville, California ( check his website). Thanks Alex for bringing up this subject as there is a need for affordable housing!

    Reply
  • Jim Sadler

    First, always avoid land rental, parks or associations like the plague. One way or another they are always bad news. If you actually build your own “park model” there is some hope. But despite lovely appearances the units that are commercial in nature almost always have serious issues.
    One can hardly watch the news without seeing mobile home parks shredded as if God had a special hatred for mobile homes. That is simply bad design at work. Mobile homes are prone to very fast burning. They can also be very difficult to repair and you will find that most movers will decline to attempt to move a mobile home that is ten years old as they tend to self destruct when moved. If you live around other mobile homes and a wind storm hits flying pieces of other mobile homes can act like missiles attacking your home. Sometimes entire homes tumble down streets.
    Build it yourself. Think in terms of repair as well. For example if a bathroom floor starts to get soggy can you easily replace that floor or must you take an entire side of them home off to get to the floor and frame?
    Keep it strong. Keep it simple. Use tie down straps that run through the roof. Strapping down the frame is not good enough. After a storm a home with the frame anchored usually looks like a frame with a toilet still in place and everything else is over in the next county. Also consider things like emergency worker access. A tiny loft can be very difficult to get a large adult out and into an ambulance. A tiny bathroom has the same issue. Double up on safety and double up on the stoppage of loss from fires, either inside or outside the tiny home. Being under a shade tree can be lovely but a 700 lb. tree limb can be a very unwelcome bunk mate at 3am. Think and plan carefully.

    Reply
    • Free

      Exactly! People should consider more than just the cute or cheap aspect of tiny houses… Do research, reading blogs are only the beginning…..

      Reply
  • Patricia Lynn

    I am now living in a 1959 10 X 55 MH that I grew up in – I own it and the 1/2 acre it sits on and it is in a suburb of Denver CO. I also just recently sold my park model mobile home that was located in Loveland CO – you can see the park it was in here: http://www.riverviewrv.com (there are no age restrictions there). There are several places like that here in Colorado – another is Campground of the Rockies (again no age restrictions). And if you want a Cozy Home that is already built just go to realtor.com and search by the sq footage. There are tons of those type houses all over Colorado. I sell Cozy Homes now as a real estate agent and am going to have a tiny home built later this year on my land and use it as a guest house. Feel free to ask any questions.

    Reply
  • Teri Gutierrez

    Check out our Resort! We have 3 Park Model Home cabins that we just love. They are not meant to live in full time, but we have lovely lots, that are available to rent for your own Park Model Home, built to your specifications. We are not a dump, we are new, and very nice, in Central Illinois. We aspire to become a Park Model Community.

    Currently, we are protesting our property taxes, in our county, because the Park Models that we have are not made to live in full time, and we feel that they are RV’s which should not be subject to property tax. Since the Park Models are new, assessors are wanting to exploit them as a source of revenue. We are fighting this along with the National RV association.

    Come visit us this summer! Try out a Cabin and see what an amazing experience it is!

    Nestor and Teriann Gutierrez
    info@buenavistafarms.net
    217-243-3290

    Reply
  • Georgina

    I would rather live in an apartment than in a trailer park. I have never seen a nice one here in nova scotia

    Reply
    • Joel

      @Georgina…I lived in Florida, and had a friend that lived in a 55+ manufactured home community that had approximately 1600 homes in it. There was no lot rent as you bought the land. There was a monthly fee of only $35./month. It had a golf course, heated swimming pool, tennis courts, nice clubhouse, etc. There were houses there over $100,000. dollars. Almost all were double and triple wide’s. Very, very few single wide’s. Most of the people living there, were permanent residents. Plus you could get a $25K homestead exemption if you qualified. Many people had RV’s and boats, and there was a separate fenced in parking area for those vehicles.
      One of the nicest, cleanest, parks I had ever seen…anywhere, anytime.

      Reply
      • Georgina

        Hey Joel, that sound amazing. Here in Nova Scotia the parks are not very nice at all. Maybe if a person could buy the land that the trailer went on it would be different.

        Reply
  • erin jonsson

    I live in a Mobile Home park in Pacific Palisades CA across the street from the beautrailer trash is dead! These little homes are so cool now and getting cooler every year. I love my park. No hoa fees low rent and the big blue beautiful Ocean across the street! Call me trailer trash I don’t care…I know thier real value!!!!

    Reply
    • Alex Pino

      Word up Erin!!

      Reply
  • Free

    I’m having a Tiny Barn Park Model built right now! I bought the trailer, 6k tandem axles, reinforced frame, no wood decking, with support beams the span of the trailer 8’6″ wide. The barn is 8′x22′, no porch because I plan on using patio pavers or rugs (cost effective for me, plus I get an awesome awning instead :-D ). Full gas kitchen and bath, bamboo floors and carpet, stovetop, wall oven, dishwasher, 4’6″ tub with shower, wall heater, a/c, 19 gal water heater, 5 foot counter, vanity, 64 sq ft loft. 2′ lofted pantry. It’s going to be gorgeous! Did I mention a living room AND bedroom?! But the most fabulous part, other than the price, was the fact that it’s made by licensed and experienced contractors and built to Federal DOT standards. Contrary to popular belief, if you build a habitable structure on wheels there are laws and regs governing that…. my house is legit in 50 states, any highways that I can get permitted to travel if I so choose, the permit is $16! Regular tow hitch, plus AAA rv covers my towing up to 100 miles! I made my floor plan, and it costs less than $15k and can be done in a month or less! Parking isn’t an issue because it can go in any rv park, and most (if not all) mobile home parks will take it, it’s a PARK MODEL! Plus you get to landscape you own little lot, can build a shed and deck under 120 sq ft each, and can stay as long as you like without paying property taxes :-) ( some lots are huge). Good luck!

    Reply
    • Alex Pino

      Awesome! Let us know if we can see pics of it anywhere once you get done or near finished. We’d all love to get to see it.

      Reply
      • free

        Hey Alex! Here’s a link to my blog, you can find pictures of my tiny house here: farmlessbarn.blogspot.com. I’d like to get you a write up, but i’d like it to be a bit more finished first :)

        Reply
        • Free

          Or you can just click on my name…

          Reply
  • Joel

    Back in 1989, I started a small flea market business in Ohio and loved the people I met and the income was enough to support me. That worked out good until Winter approached. I decided to work my way down South with my ultimate destination being Florida. Ever since my parents took me there in 1951, I vowed I would live there some day.

    I would stop at various flea markets along the way when I needed more money, and then continue to Florida via I-75, after about a 2 month stay in the Carolinas with friends, rent free.

    I arrived in Port Richey and found a large flea market on Rt. 19 that was enclosed, and decided to stay the Winter. At first I stayed in a motel, but that got expensive. It just so happened, a vendor right next to me had a 32′ X 8′ travel trailer with a tip out for sale, in an RV park, less than a half-mile away. It also had a 10″ X 20′ Florida room attached and a small shed. It was also completely furnished. I fell in love with it.

    So I bought it right then and there. Paid $6,000. for it. The lot rent was $125./month. Free cable and water. Electric was about $15./month. A lot cheaper than the $40.00/night motel. Most of the R.V.’s were there permanently, with a small area for those only wanting to stay the Winter.
    There were a few Park Models there, and were the best looking units in the park. As I rode my bike past them every day, I couldn’t get over how nice they looked in such a small size. The park had a nice pool, laundry building, a nice clubhouse, etc. and a gate that closed at 10 PM.

    I just loved living there in my tiny place. In the Spring I would work my way back to Ohio on my flea market route. Then early Fall, I’d head back South., to my place in Florida. After several years, I decided to stay in Florida permanently. Lived there for 18 years. Eventually wound up renting my RV for $500.00/month to a couple from West Virginia, who came down every Winter. I eventually ended up selling the unit for the same price I paid for it years earlier, as I bought a nice wooded 1 acre piece of land in Hudson and had a nice home built there.

    So, I guess I was an early proponent of living small and loving it starting in 1990. It was so cheap to live there with an income that was not constant. Those were some of the happiest years in my long life.

    Reply
    • Alex Pino

      What’s up Joel man I enjoyed your story thanks a lot for sharing. Pretty neat all the different ways there are to live simply. We really do have lots of options. Not just tiny homes on utility trailers although they’re great.

      Reply
  • Kitty

    I’ve been following the small and tiny house scene ever since I graduated from The Shelter Institute in Bath, Maine decades ago. My husband and I are planning to downsize to a Park Model after our last child moves out. Many of the ready-made tiny houses I’ve seen in the last ten years seem rather expensive at $300-500 per square, but the Park Models often come in at a much lower price per square foot (although I am not saying that bigger is necessarily better). One such nationwide source I’ve found for discount Park Models is https://www.parkmodelsdirect.com/ with models starting as low as $21,900.

    Reply
  • Freddie

    Okay, here is the problem. If you are interested in living much cheaper – and rent free, (and those are the operative words), than you want housing that is paid for – no payments, get it? Parks charge rent, sometimes as much as a house payment or rent, especially with interest rates so low these days. I just sold my little 2 bdr home, and the new owners payment won’t be over $400. I can just about guarantee that it will cost at least that much in a park, and the rent can always be raised, so it won’t matter if your tiny house is paid for, you can be kicked out for non payment of rent. Not so in a house on your own land that is paid for. For some reason things always sound great until you stop and think about the real costs. Hope I didn’t rain on anyone’s parade. Just stating the facts.

    Reply
    • Free

      You’re opinion is clearly biased, and not based on actual facts. In order to own a home outright, it has to be paid for in cash. Same for the land. You will still be responsible for property taxes, school taxes, insurance, and other municipal regulations, not to mention the value of your home is based on comparables and the neighborhood. Owning a tiny house or park model gives you the freedom of ownership without the tax liability, and the home is portable, so the value is based soley on the value of your unit. And because of the size, you can rent a lot space for less than $400, and most parks have rent control. This would allow you to save up to own your own land, on make payments on something undeveloped. Depending on your area, placing the unit on permanent foundation could show your home to accumulate equity. You could never own a stick built home outright. Uncle Sam won’t let you. Not to mention a little thing called imminent domain……..

      Reply
      • David

        Rent a lot in an RV-class (no-hud-cert) capable park for less than $400/month? We’re going to need some references on where that is reality. And Rent Control? On privately owned hotel-type short-rent property with tight eviction deadlines? Please, *DO* provide references (rent control laws/regulations, sites of businesses providing such services at such lost cost). The actual facts that I’ve seen and experienced in my travels from coast to coast don’t reflect this as an attainable situation on a meaningful portion of any desirable land in this entire country. (because it might be available in very rural undeveloped and economically depressed areas… but would you want to live there?)

        Uncle Sam and his relatives the state/county/city/hoa boards already won’t let you, pretty much. Taxes both land and school must be paid anyway (either through rent or directly). If you don’t have high value to cover, insurance is very cheap.

        The fundamental value of a structure is in the shelter it provides for you – not in the equity you could leverage out of it, or how much you could sell it to somebody else for.

        Reply
        • Free

          @David- I’ll reply to your comment by paragraph.
          1. If I owned my home, which I do, I wouldn’t want it im s park that didn’t have HUD Certs. A home is an investment. I can appreciate codes and regulations in place to protect my property against a potentially negligent, uninsured, or underinsured neighbor. A home-made RV can start a fire in which lives and properties can be lost. I’d happily find you some parks local to you, just let me know what you’re looking for, what’s available to me might not work for you. And if you can’t afford to own land, rural proudly won’t work for you as most of the affordable rural land is undeveloped, I.e. no utilities.
          2. Building codes, as with most laws, are open to interpretation. Taxes are inevitable, true. But they’re much higher on a single family dwelling, than what’s taxed on renting an rv space. You’ll always have to pay taxes on a stick built, no way around that ever. Not so with RVs (mobile homes are a diff story). Comparing Rv insurance to stick built is composing apples to oranges….
          3. And sorry to break the news to you, but the fundamental value of a structure is based solely on supply and demand, same as any other commodity.

          Reply
          • David

            Tell me about what leads you to say that a home is an investment with value beyond its utility.

            Of particular interest to me would be an explanation of the investment value of a home which lacks the utility of being able to live in it for some reason.

            I live in the city of Columbus, Ohio. Please feel free to research the options for somebody to place a 200 to 300 square foot or so structure around here.

        • Free

          @ David- The value of something is relative, while the actual cost is quantitative. The housing bubble would be a good example in my opinion. People buying more house than they need or it’s actually worth…. And there’s a few reasons to buy uninhabitable dwellings, cost, location, and installed utilities are good ones….

          Reply
          • Free

            @David- When you say structure, please be more specific. Permanent? Amenities? Budget? Permits can be expensive, that’s why people build on wheels…. Did you want to park it in a park, or are you open to more creative options? Can you make an email or Google voice number so that I can get you the info?

          • David

            Structure which doesn’t require expensive permits or inspections. Any creative options are fine as long as they don’t result in being evicted. skylos@gmail.com

  • David Ihnen

    What I haven’t seen anybody mention is that its all about perception of poor people. Think of the rattiest RV park you ever did see, with moss-covered dilapidated rickety trailers and motor homes surrounded by dented, taped together vehicles. Beer, police, domestic violence, blue collar, tons of rugrats running around, high population density, drugs, high crime.

    This is what the planning/zoning commission sees as the negative potential of allowing an RV park in their community.

    And they’re not wrong about the potential – with management compromises, excessive taxes, and poor municipal support any such RV park community can devolve to the last available refuge for society’s least advantaged people. Then the only people who live there are the ones who have to.

    So now the RV parks that operate cheaply are ratty because they are taxed almost out of existence and regulated locally to get them to close down if possible. And the RV parks that operate at a premium, driving out the riffraff by the pure economy of it are more expensive than living in a small apartment locally!

    The answer is probably more in the escapees style. (look up the escapees rv club) PRIVATE clubs, maintaining their own riff-raff avoidance policies, running their own property management and facilities. A public RV park running on hotel type rules is very differnt. The tighter governance can get past the planning/zoning boards far more effectively than the RV park can.

    Reply
    • Garth

      I cannot believe this. It dumped what I wrote because I forgot to put in my email address. Now I have to write it again (which will be quicker while it’s fresh in my mind). Alex, can that be changed? I know, I should always save before posting.

      There has to be a solution, although I don’t know what it is. One idea is that there can’t be any renters, only owners. Another is that there can’t be any mortgage, that the property has to be owned outright. (Apparently nobody wants to give mortages for THs anyway.) That shouldn’t be a problem for many of us who want to downsize, as we already have tons of equity and could sell our house and buy a TH with cash and have plenty left over. We bought our house 22 years ago and have never had less than $50K equity.

      I don’t want an HOA though, and I don’t want someone who has the hobby of keeping their lawn and garden super well manicured telling all the neighbors they have to have the same interest. That would be like me with a beautiful aquarium telling the neighbors the aquarium in their window doesn’t meet standards, and requiring them to spend the time and money to do bring it up to standards. We do have a neighbor though with lots of cars in the back yard, old and new, plus a trailer of ATVs, plus RV and tent-trailer, and what’s not covered by hardware has no grass because the dogs have destroyed it. It’s ugly. But if there’s anything resembling crime in the neighborhood, he’s the first one calling the police and bullying the outsiders who dared to come into our neighborhood and misbehave. Outside of the dog noise, he and his family are good neighbors to have.

      We lived our first seven years of marriage in the 1980′s in an apartment. We got in at $300/mo and it was a good place to live until the original owner died and his wife and family took it over. They had dollar signs in their eyes. They sent out a letter to all the tennants saying “We’re going to make all these upgrades so here’s the rent increase to cover it.” After they did (which was mostly landscaping that probably didn’t cost much), they sent out another saying “We made all these improvements so here’s the rent increase” and they raised it again. And again. And again. They installed a manager about whom I cannot say anything charming, and imposed a lot of idiotic, pointless, and suffocating rules. Since it became harder to keep or get good tennants, they had to lower their standards of whom they accepted, and the kind of people they got did more property damage and brought more crime. IOW, it worked _backwards_ from what many might expect.

      Reply
      • David

        That amounts to anti-poor-ism in a less institutionalized than a HOA form – if you don’t have $$$ or credit to buy the land and own the house without a lien on it, then you’re excluding the poor by capability and/or attribute instead of status. (the same sort of pattern used to attenuate the voting strength of certain demographics) I see the moral question as whether or not that is an appropriate condition to put on somebody who arguably needs the benefits of downsizing and affordable housing much more than somebody who can easily afford a larger place.

        I see this as a moral problem – to be part of such a community *I* want to see how people can leave the rent rat race and successfully enter, not only transitioning from existing larger home ownership. Perhaps you feel differently. That’s okay.

        I’ll also point out that restricting what people do with their own property such as ‘you may not rent it’ is almost as intrusive in a pure liberty sense as micromanaging the grooming of the landscaping.

        Reply
        • Free

          What you’re saying is only partly true. I am low income. I own a park model. They can be had for less than a car. Even if you’re poor, you can sacrifice, save, and upcycle. I’m blessed to have a brand new one, so a lot of the furnishings are preloved. As a single mom, this is something that is near and dear to my heart. My house is almost finished, and I plan to start a blog detailing the whole process that I went through. I’d love for you guys to check it out, it’ll have tons of info and research….and of course pictures! I haven’t forgotten Alex :-) I just don’t know how to post them here!

          Reply
          • David Ihnen

            The documentation of a case study or example does not make a pattern assertion invalid. I assert that by requiring that sacrifice you will by default exclude most of the people who would benefit the most from ownership. They can live medium term on rent without the lifestyle sacrifice. That usually only makes sense short to medium term, it is not a long term winning strategy such as ownership.

            The man who already owns a big house with equity requires no notable sacrificing or saving or the doing without for months or years at a time that a poor person does. The disincentive of that sacrifice will reduce the number of people willing to pursue that path.

            I want ownership to be a better, more viable opportunity for even the poorest people, rather than continuing to be required to pay rent forever.

          • Free

            Independent case study? Umm try real world experience. I own a park model, have acquired parking, and did 2 years plus worth of research. If you really wanted to downsize, you could simply buy a used park model or mobile home and hire a contractor to make whatever upgrades your heart desires. Not what I did, but an option for some. There are plenty of owners who want to sell, just drive through a park. Some will even be willing to finance. And you might get the space at the same rent it’s going for, which is going to be substantially less than the rents today. Most people would save on rent, utilities, and shopping for unnecessary home decor and furnishings. Then you could upgrade to a new unit later. And in regards to the guy with the big house and equity, I’m sure it didn’t all fall from the sky. There are builders that are willing to finance with a down payment, shop locally instead of the big manufacturers. Think builder grade now, upgrades later, if brand new everything isn’t in your current budget. Save a couple tax returns. Eat at home more. Walk instead of drive. I can think of a million things people can indulge in less, to save more. And in regards to a not sacrificing a “lifestyle”, that’s what an immature person with a sense of entitlement would say…..

        • Garth

          I’m not anti poor– and in fact I don’t like the fact that at least here in SoCal, authorities harass and chase the homeless out of any place they try to be resourceful and shelter themselves where it won’t bother anyone, even if it’s a hidden-away place to hopefully keep their few belongings while they work during the day. The facade says they’re kicking them out so they can get the help they need. It’s also illegal to sleep in your car in many cities.

          One major reason they’re homeless though is taxes on property and everything else, and the requirement that a house be so big. I grew up in another country where it wasn’t that way. The poor owned (outright– no mortgage) land and houses, however small, even if adobe with concrete or dirt floors and no electricity. There was no welfare, no SS, no food stamps, no entitlement mentality, and they were respectable citizens who worked hard. There were no gangs, no drugs, and crime was low which was good because the police were few and ill-equipped. Fire departments were almost non-existent, but adobe, brick, concrete, and metal don’t burn, and almost no one had a phone anyway to report a fire.

          Small, poor housing is illegal here though. We won’t be able to get rid of property taxes; but we could at least get the minimum-size requirements for houses repealed and get areas zoned for very tiny pieces of land, down to not much bigger than the space to put the smallest TH on (with a matching tiny property tax). Forbidding mortgages might be going too far, but renting just leaves the door open for endless rent increases which is what happened to my grandparents’ space rent as soon as the mobilehome park they moved to was full. Sometimes rent control works, but most people who would want to invest in real estate to rent out won’t want to in an area with rent control. Ownership has to become a viable oportunity to the poor, and I believe it can.

          Reply
          • David

            A starting place for a small house living enablement proposal could be, 15′x20′x15′ reserved lots, adjacent shared open space of at least 400 non-vehicular (parking/driveway) square feet per lot, located as centrally as reasonable and adjacent to local operating transit lines in each municipality. Units must be owner-occupied and may not be combined or physically linked. Operated as a non-profit by and for the benefit of the occupants. No formal building code required beyond a case-by-case reasonableness collective judgement of the residents. Responsibility of the municipality to keep qualified spaces available by building more in reasonable time as there is demand.

            How would you modify it?

        • Free

          If parks allowed renting, there’s nothing to stop an entity from buying up all the property and pricing rents to force undesirables out…..Gentrification basically.

          Reply
          • David

            Yes, exactly, if there is a way for rich to subvert it they will – they have more than enough money to buy housing targeted at the poor en-mass. Garth was talking down HOA’s, then requiring owner-occupation… I was trying to comment on the inconsistency there, not actually saying its not justifiable. :D

  • Free

    In response to the OPs question, I think that the easiest way to start a tiny house community would be to have people that want to own AND occupy tiny houses start a non profit. They could apply for grants, purchase some land zoned for multi family residential, and sell lots to tiny housers. The proceeds would finance developing the land. Each owner would be responsible for contracting with the same designated builder, who would hopefully be a resident as well. You could save on costs by providing your own sweat equity and labor. Once the community is established, those original owners could sell their units, and put the money down on a HUD manufactured home (mobiles are obsolete), and apply for first time buyer loans. We could then sell land to those folks, as a home/land package deal. Of course there’d be an HOA, with reasonable regs, and each community would have members with similar interests. If for some reason you don’t like the environment, hitch up and leave….. The community could even produce some kind of commodity for profit to sustain itself….

    Reply
    • David

      It appears that you’re excluding anybody who can’t afford to contract with the designated builder, who may, for instance, be capable and/or want to build it all by themselves in its entirety. Labor costs are high.

      Your proposal goes wonky confusing when you talk about selling. Why would you sell your perfectly good house? Its your house! You built it/had it built! You have no debt on it! Then you propose changing to an inferior HUD certified structure *as if that is more desirable* AND simultaneously going into debt to do it? Its like taking two steps forward so you can immediately four steps backwards! What on earth!?

      As for a commodity that the community could produce… perhaps small houses?

      Reply
      • Free

        I didn’t exclude anyone. Any group of people could get together, agree on a licensed contractor, and build. If everyone pitched in to build each house, labor costs wouldn’t be that high. Not to mention you outline the stipulations in your agreement with the contractor….

        It’s better to be thought a fool then to take to a blog and remove all doubt….. HUD structures do not have to be manufactured in an inferior way. It’s a set of building codes, and it’s on you to do due diligence and research your contractor BEFORE you hire him/her. And you won’t simultaneously go into debt. If you invest $10k to build a park model, sell it for $15k, you can put that $ down on another HUD cert home, a little bit bigger, a little bit nicer, and maybe save or invest some of the $. You wouldn’t have to take out a mortgage, however, if you wanted to live simply and sustainable, it would be wise to invest in something to generate income. A community farm perhaps? You could sell the food for profit, bring vital jobs into the community, and teach the residents valuable life skills and real world experience.

        Reply
        • David

          HUD tags go on structures built in HUD qualified and inspected plants under HUD qualified and inspected procedures to HUD qualified and approved plans. Effectively, it is impossible to NOT be a manufactured home plant AND be HUD qualified. Your home cannot meet specs without their plan approval because their specific approval of the plans is part of the specs. But you can’t get approval if you aren’t a plant based housing manufacturer. HUD tags are far more than a set of building codes. Perhaps you need to research exactly what it takes to get a HUD tag that enables installation in mobile home park zones?

          I suspect that growing food for consumption first is more effective than selling it, though extra certainly can be; it also seems to me that arts and craftsmanship is a better path to true vitality with life skills and experience than pure farming which is not mass viable in limited land space urban scenarios where not only many people prefer to live, but is lower impact per capita on the environment.

          And you’re still excluding people who don’t have capital to afford people who are licensed. Licensed people are beholden to the authorities that licensed them. The authorities that licensed them are beholden to the legislative branch. The legislative branch is elected and hence beholden to the concerns that fund their campaigns. Fund a campaign to get their ear, get a rule changed which directs the authority to enforce against the licensees, and next thing you know getting something done costs 20% more than it did before – and a good portion of that money ends up in the hands of the person who funded the campaign. Rinse and repeat. Its happened many times already.

          So hire a reputable person that will do a good job. Whether or not they have a license is meaningless regarding the quality of their work – but it does mean that it constrains the ways in which they will be able to operate almost exclusively biased towards more expensive.

          Reply
          • Free

            HUD Certs are little red tags affixed to a manufactured structure built by a certified builder. You DON’T have to own a plant to be a HUD certified builder. YOU need to do your research. I was going to buy one, but the taxes are a lot more than those of a park model. And HUD is a set of building codes mandated by the federal government to facilitate safe building of mobile homes.

            Growing food primarily for consumption is unrealistic when you’re talking about people with no agricultural inclination, depending on harvesting crops to live. That’s putting too many eggs in one basket….

            I didn’t exclude anyone; anyone with a steady income can apply for a first time buyer loan. The contractor I used will do in house financing with approved down. The things you perceive as obstacles really aren’t. You seem to have a lazy, entitled outlook…

            In my opinion, the biggest hurdle is acquiring land zoned for a tiny community AND developing it. The costs of permits to be more specific. You can build a tiny house now, contrary to popular belief, called an efficiency unit, but where I am, the costs of building permits costs more than the building would!!! I’m interested in developing viable solutions to affordable, obtainable, sustainable housing. The biggest cure I can say that I took from Jay Schafer is to exploit and or circumvent the laws. So you need to start there. See what applies to YOUR specific situation, and build within or around those parameters. And don’t be so cynical, it’s not very fashionable. No one ever won a war or revolution by sitting by whining and pouting……

          • David

            depends on whether you’re talking about being qualified as a builder who makes some building that can be insured by HUD mortgage insurance, or if you’re talking about being qualified as a builder who makes buildings that get red tags so they can be installed in mobile home parks. They’re entirely different matters based on everything I’ve read while researching.

            I agree that the biggest hurdle is getting land suitable land zoned and owned for such a community. A really, Really big political hot potato type hurdle. One that requires significant money, time, and lobbying to get past (not just the purchasing, but the zone change) The area I live in (like most) doesn’t even have a category for such a zone – it would have to be created as an entirely new one! Now that’s an obstacle larger than most low budget groups of people can get past.

            You suggest that licensed people be hired to create to-code structures (if even possible), then saying you have to exploit or circumvent laws (which exploitation/circumvention could risk the license of the licensee). How are these suggestions and assertions at all consistent?

            There isn’t a chance in hell people with no agricultural inclination would be able to grow food for money if they can’t even grow enough food to feed themselves. To suggest that they farm for profit, then say they can’t farm well enough to supply themselves completely blows my mind. How are these suggestions and assertions at all consistent?

            Nobody ever started a revolution by sitting around and not trying to find solutions that will work, or willfully disenfranchising classes of people despite their existence being pointed out. Discussion is a large part of it, putting together ideas that will work for the most people most advantageously. The plan cannot include that which is not considered.

            I want a solution as much as anybody – for the good of all of the people trapped in housing by the current system of banks and loans and landlords that is both disadvantageous to them personally wasteful of energy and space in the community.

            So why not tiny house and park model communities? Because the municipalities won’t zone them and permit them. A community attracts attention far more than a little house trailer in somebody’s back yard.

          • Free

            Let me clarify it for you. HUD is a code of building regulations. You have to be a a licensed contractor, with HUD certification, basically saying you’ll build to code and that the government can trust that you will. The red tag is the HUD cert, it must be affixed to the home prior to delivery, post manufacture. A mobile home park won’t usually take a unit without it. You can build a home to HUD specs and insure said home if it’s built to the code, even though it lacks the HUD cert. Building codes are to set a standard, not to make building impossible for the common person. A licensed contractor CAN build a HUD certified home, now if the are certified is another story…..

            In terms of circumventing the law, I’m suggesting you read the code, or have a lawyer to if at all possible, and interpret it in a way that works for you. It’s called a loophole. That’s why people are putting tiny homes on wheels, to circumvent the building code. Is it illegal? That had yet to be determined because it’s in a gray area, and until there’s a precedent, the law is open to interpretation. Just the same way you could hypothetically build a tiny house, omit a stove, and argue it’s a crazy nice shed…..

            Farms produce more than food. People could raise livestock, sell the milk, make fertilizer, sell compost, open a petting zoo, sell organic produce to local restaurants, I can think of a bunch of revenue a farm could create…

            And where are you getting this mumbo jumbo about zoning? You can start a tiny community on rv park zoned land, multifamily zoned land, apply for special use permits, or, if you go the agricultural route, you can do pretty much whatever you want as long as there’s water on the site. The costs of permits, inspections, etc. are the biggest hurdle here. That requires more money than the actual park would to develop.

            What needs to be discussed is how people can network to get tiny house proponents in positions of power, where they can advocate for tiny housers. Encourage people to acquire the necessary skill sets to build, develop, and advocate.

            Furthermore, you might want to research the politics involved here. There isn’t much financial incentive to develop a park period. You can only sell so many lots. And to rent them means that they have to be owner occupied or you open up a whole ‘nother can of tenants’ rights worms…

          • Free

            @David, I’d like to retract my statement about HUD buildings. They do have to come from a factory :-) my house is a park model not HUD. So in regards to my theoretical plan, you’d upgrade from tiny to a little larger, the point being to live within your means until you can do better without overburdening yourself.

          • David

            “There isn’t much financial incentive to develop a park.” In a world where almost the only thing that gets done is that which is driven by money, you may as well condemn the whole kaboodle at the gate.

            I’ve been inspecting and analyzing the local zoning regs and such to see where I could squeeze a tiny house in among them for the last couple of years. They’ve got them pretty well written (from the exclusionary perspective) in that any structure *intended for or used as* housing is a house (regardless of its features or being planted permanently, really) – in my franklin county ohio zone R4 for instance, single dual family dwellings, only one house per lot, and all lots must be at least something like 0.08 acres. Auxiliary structures like garages are allowed, but must *not* be lived in, not even rvs. Not even if they’re the mother-in-law-cottage type. Need a variance or different zone for that.

            The mumbo jumbo about zoning is *GETTING* RV park zoned land. The land is not already zoned that way, and the municipality has a negative incentive towards zoning it that way. If they take action and permit it, the land values in the immediate area may well go down and they will be blamed. It can be claimed it will increase the load on the septic, water, and power systems. It is so easy – and so much safer – to say no. And these are politicians! What do you think they’re going to do? Even if they DO approve it, they’ll almost inevitably put a stack of expensive conditions on it that will shoot the price per lot up dramatically.

            The land with a tiny lot that was supposed to be usable for small, low cost housing could without difficulty end up costing double or triple the cost of their house due to permitting, inspection, and unnecessary infrastructure upgrade fees. It makes the problem several times more expensive than it seems on the surface.

            So why no such little parks all over? Lack of political viability and capital requirements beyond the reach of groups of poor folks. That’s why.

  • Garth

    Since the limit of nested replies seems to have been reached, I don’t know how this will show up; but replying to David’s quote, “It can be claimed it will increase the load on the septic, water, and power systems,” the comeback to that in our city is to compare to all the apartment buildings they have been approving which makes for even greater population density and the load on associated utilities. OTOH, the expensive neighborhoods they also like are huge consumers of water for their lawns, and huge consumers of gas and electricity for their pools and hot tubs and for heating and lighting their big houses. Pointing out their inconsistency might help make some headway.

    Reply
    • David

      Unfortunately, they merely charge the apartment complexes with installing the appropriate and expensive infrastructure. Since the apartment complex budget is in the millions *anyway*, its no big deal to them to drop a couple hundred grand per acre on code compliance.

      Sadly, for people trying to make reasonable cost dwellings, such improvements are not so easily purchased. Wouldn’t you love to go to the coalition tryign to build the park.

      “okay folks, I talked to the zoning board. Goodnews, they’ll let us build it. Badnews, we have to spend fifty thousand more dollars than expected to install industrial grade sewer pipes, raising the cost two thousand dollars a lot”

      Ugh.

      Reply
      • Free

        That’s why I suggested going the non profit / sustainable living route. Instead of infrastructure, we need to use solar power and collect and reuse water. That where the farm comes in. We could farm solar, reuse grey water, compost the poop, and the garbage, all that can’t be used to feed pigs and goats….. build ponds to store and treat waste water…… we really need to get non profits and universities in on this….. because of their ability to get things done for the sake of research, and funding from alumni and well to do families with students enrolled….. I have a friend who’s been helping me develop a game plan, he has land in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, and is more than willing to help the movement in that regard….. sustainability is his thing! He does awesome work, Google ptp, protect the plateau….

        They did the so called impossible and got the city of Mojave to permit sustainable affordable housing development too….

        Reply
        • David

          Sounds like you want Walden Two, a book I recommend reading that explores similar concepts. http://www.amazon.com/Walden-Two-B-F-Skinner-ebook/dp/B003GEKL10

          There are many intentional communities in the world doing roughly what you describe as well.

          http://www.ic.org/

          But as much fun as that kind of social engineering is, it is far more extreme than many would like – socially – not even talking about climate (btw, I can’t see ever joining an intentional community in the mojave desert. WAY too hot and cold and windy and dry. I’d think more in the cascade mountain range in southern washington or oregon.)

          I think the small house community is inherently low-power, inherently low cost. Due to its relatively low impact compared to normal housing, inherently more sustainable. Housing more people in less land space with all the benefits of density and walk-ability will work EVEN in an urban setting. And with a place to live that you can afford comfortably on a minimum wage job, suddenly you have sustainability in a different way – because that type of job is in plentiful supply in urban areas. Just like land and water to grow things is in plentiful supply in many rural locations.

          Reply
          • Alex Pino

            Thanks David!!

  • bunny

    OREGON, particularly the more rural areas, are quite forgiving… I have a 1995 Breckenridge park model with a 10×20 stickbuilt shop and a 10×14 shed both built on skids. My plan was to buy land and move the kit and kaboodle. It’s in an all ages park on the oregon dunes and the lot rent is <300/mo. This particular park is downscale but I've never had any problems, and the lot is large enough to actually park your toys and have guests, a rarity in parks in general.

    It's been a cheap way to live and I've not regretted it, but I have changed plans and now would rather build my own tiny stuff than relocate this setup. <200 sf requires no permitting!

    I got a 27' rv to live in while we build out any necessary infrastructure and have it for travel. I believe if one were to quietly and cleanly build a small community out like this in the correct location and be a good neighbor there would be no problems. NOT clustering structures would be best and give folks more space, so you can choose when you'd like to engage rather than be obliged to. ;-) Depending on your inclination…

    The issue, as always, is how to manage everyone's stake (while I have a decent stake to throw in, can't do it alone for various reasons) and avoid partisan politics. For a number of years I've been trying to concoct a model that would allow sharebuilding with labor hours and consumables contributions as well as cash or direct infrastructure, provide for some shared resources and have a mechanism to reclaim fair equity if you want out without unduly burdening the rest of the shareholders. What's mine is mine and what is yours is yours but if we can cooperate surely we're all better off? Most intentional communities I've looked at seem to me to be overly regulated/overbuilt in one way or another, coupled with buyins that are out of reach and fees that shouldn't be necessary.

    Ideas welcome!

    Reply
    • Skylos

      Not clustering structures – the communal cost of infrastructure is directly proportional to the clustering – spread out homes require many more meters of street and water/sewer pipe and electric/telecom wiring per house. Lower home density decreases the viability of small shops, also makes it a less walkable neighborhood. Due to this math clustering has distinct financial benefits in a dozen different directions. The communal infrastructure forces fees to be managed.

      Managing Stake – you realize that if the participants don’t have buy-in – emotional and material – they don’t take participating in the community and resolving disputes seriously. They’ll just take the american path of ‘be passive aggressive and move somewhere else if I find this sufficiently annoying’. That is to say, by allowing ‘mechanism to reclaim fair equity’ you are eliminating the power of the buy-in.

      In a collective situation its not about equity-that-you-can-take-with-you. Its about equity that you have if you stay in the community. Which gives you a reason to stay in the community. Because what you are giving up by forgoing the freedom of equity-to-depart is the security of a community you are invested in and is invested in you. You get taken care of and helped when you are old and sick because you cared for and helped others when you weren’t. There needs to be something holding the community together, a reason to help each other. Without it, you just get the closed doors and drawn blinds and car based isolation of modern suburbia.

      Reply
      • bunny

        > Not clustering structures – the communal cost of infrastructure is
        > directly proportional to the clustering – spread out homes require
        > many more meters of street and water/sewer pipe and electric/telecom
        > wiring per house. Lower home density decreases the viability of small
        > shops, also makes it a less walkable neighborhood. Due to this math
        > clustering has distinct financial benefits in a dozen different
        > directions. The communal infrastructure forces fees to be managed.

        If we define the “community” (and I do) as off-grid, then all of that goes away. Decentralizing power and water, depending on what’s available to you, doesn’t have to be x times more expensive or labor intensive.

        Having a common shower/laundry/kitchen can fairly well take care of those issues and foster time spent together. As to separation of dwellings:

        Then a mason came forth and said, “Speak to us of Houses.”
        And he answered and said:
        Build of your imaginings a bower in the wilderness ere you build a house within the city walls.
        For even as you have home-comings in your twilight, so has the wanderer in you, the ever distant and alone.
        Your house is your larger body.
        It grows in the sun and sleeps in the stillness of the night; and it is not dreamless. Does not your house dream? And dreaming, leave the city for grove or hilltop?
        Would that I could gather your houses into my hand, and like a sower scatter them in forest and meadow.
        Would the valleys were your streets, and the green paths your alleys, that you might seek one another through vineyards, and come with the fragrance of the earth in your garments.

        Please read afresh the rest of this chapter:
        http://www-personal.umich.edu/~jrcole/gibran/prophet/prophet.htm#Houses

        And I’ve realized that the word “community” has connotations not welcome in MY model – perhaps co-op more suitably expresses my ideal. It’s very clear to me that at the root of true community is voluntarism, not coerced participation.

        > Managing Stake – you realize that if the participants don’t have
        > buy-in – emotional and material – they don’t take participating in
        > the community and resolving disputes seriously. They’ll just take the
        > american path of ‘be passive aggressive and move somewhere else if I
        > find this sufficiently annoying’. That is to say, by allowing
        > ‘mechanism to reclaim fair equity’ you are eliminating the power of
        > the buy-in.

        Yes, a stake is essential. Allowing folks to benefit without contribution is nonsensical at best. I’m concerned with fairly quantifying contributions in disparate categories, to allow the participation of folks of varying ages and means and allow them to control their own destiny rather than be dictated to.

        More about equity below – but the bottom line for me is that I am not happy with the thought of throwing 30-50K into an endeavor and having no way out if things go horribly wrong. I would take the opposite position – that the loss of a highly staked participant is a loss to the community and certain goals might well be served to better protect and strengthen the bonds that hold everyone together. In a “collective” the rights of the collective are supreme, in a co-op the individual is protected. Kinda like that republic idea.

        Blocking fair exit to stakeholders ultimately ends up being two wolves and a sheep deciding what’s for dinner. It must invariably lead to the partisan politics that pit the group against the individual, as there is no downside to the group driving them out. The individual is powerless, and self determination surely cannot flourish in such an environment.

        > In a collective situation its not about
        > equity-that-you-can-take-with-you. Its about equity that you have if
        > you stay in the community. Which gives you a reason to stay in the
        > community. Because what you are giving up by forgoing the freedom of
        > equity-to-depart is the security of a community you are invested in
        > and is invested in you. You get taken care of and helped when you are
        > old and sick because you cared for and helped others when you
        > weren’t. There needs to be something holding the community together,
        > a reason to help each other. Without it, you just get the closed
        > doors and drawn blinds and car based isolation of modern suburbia.

        I’d like to be clear that I am NOT advocating a “collective” model, though of course you can if that’s what you like.

        Equity that you do not control is not equity. My motivation for being involved in a cooperative situation is the idea that many hands make work light. I help you with your projects, you help with mine, we keep this dance as equitable and fluid as possible… And if we ultimately disagree enough that we can’t coexist on the same parcel, there is a mechanism for a graceful and fair exit. It’s also important in my model that you allow for individual success – the environment and resources are there to promote work and contribution, but the success belongs to the individual that did that work. Folks are allowed to work to the level they’re comfortable with (beyond some minimum) toward the goals they find important, and transact value for value with others. I walked away from the nanny state a number of years ago, don’t intend to create my own. ;-) If I want my blinds drawn then its’ my right, but the benefit to me and others lies in cooperation so isolation is not a viable strategy in the longer term.

        Sigh. Looks like the most likely for us is that the major stakeholders will end up running a type of eco serfdom, where there are two distinct tiers. Owners and juniors. But the model makes it possible for a serious junior to become an owner by contributions that earn them a stake, and still allows juniors to largely control their own fate and avoid being outright eco slaves, which is a model I see way too much of. For my part, I will not dictate nor be dictated to. I’ll lobby my brethen to aid me voluntarily and expect to return value for value at the individual level. You help me build out that goat enclosure and I’ll give you a quart of milk a day for x days or whatever… A couple hours in the garden earns your butt a spot to rest on the land I paid for, or whatever.

        Thanks for giving me your thoughts and the opportunity to clarify my priorities by honing them on your ideas. ;-)

        Namaste!

        Reply
        • Skylos

          > > Not clustering structures . the communal cost of infrastructure is directly proportional to the clustering .

          > If we define the .community. (and I do) as off-grid, then all of that goes away.

          You’re fundamentally limiting the lifestyle of material and power consumption to that which can be obtained on the property controlled by individual. That won’t be popular. The likely path is to install communal off-grid systems which require group buy-in and patronage to maintain. For which clustering will significantly cheapen the cost, bringing them back together again.

          > Having a common shower/laundry/kitchen can fairly well take care of those issues and foster time spent together.

          Indeed, yet not a popular concept. Also, desired proximity to these services will cause clustering.

          > As to separation of dwellings:

          …yes, I have read the prophet… this shows the greatest naivete about the patterns of human development for efficiency and interaction. We build our houses in clusters for protection and convenience. We work together in clusters to accomplish things.

          > It.s very clear to me that at the root of true community is voluntarism, not coerced participation.

          So far as you don’t mean being coerced into benefiting somebody else with owner power over me.

          > Yes, a stake is essential. Allowing folks to benefit without contribution is nonsensical at best.

          Yet that contribution doesn’t have to be capital, it can be service or art or anything, really.

          > I.m concerned with fairly quantifying contributions in disparate categories, to allow the participation of folks of varying ages and means and allow them to control their own destiny rather than be dictated to.

          Have you read Walden Two by B.F. Skinner? If not, you will like the discussion of these sorts of matters that he covers therein.

          > More about equity below . but the bottom line for me is that I am not happy with the thought of throwing 30-50K into an endeavor and having no way out if things go horribly wrong.

          AND THAT IS EXACTLY THE POINT. You’re not going to take leaving lightly if it costs you 50K to do so. A coop doesn’t want you to take leaving lightly. it doesn’t want you to think you can leave it in the lurch merely because you got pissed off without taking a VERY LARGE AND SERIOUS HIT to that which you control.

          > In a .collective. the rights of the collective are supreme, in a co-op the individual is protected.

          Who protects the co-op from the abuse of the individual? Or are we supposed to trust that ALL the members won’t be corrupt.

          > Blocking fair exit to stakeholders ultimately ends up being two wolves and a sheep deciding what.s for dinner.

          It also means blocking the collier from leaving the blacksmith and the baker without an energy source for their endeavors.

          It also means blocking the farmers from leaving the community without the food they need to survive.

          The protections appropriate here are *constitutional* type protections – ‘nobody shall be eaten’ – ‘everybody shall get food’ – ‘everybody shall get sufficient energy’. Inclusive protections enabling personal choice – not ‘any individual shall have the right to deprive the coop of his contributions with no harm to himself’ – which removes personal choice on the part of those who aren’t leaving.

          > It must invariably lead to the partisan politics that pit the group against the individual, as there is no downside to the group driving them out.

          Don’t be absurd. There is ALWAYS a downside because then the group loses the contributions of that individual. Unless the personage is a non-contributor, in which case… they’re just dead weight, and I don’t think we’re having an argument about that.

          > The individual is powerless, and self determination surely cannot flourish in such an environment.

          The individual is enabled to self determine by not being coerced into spending most of his time benefiting mostly other people. The way we in modern society eat people’s lives working in service and manufacturing and even knowledge jobs stressing them out and consuming all their time so they can’t pursue their own interests is despicable.

          > I.d like to be clear that I am NOT advocating a .collective. model, though of course you can if that.s what you like.

          Oh, I do, but that isn’t important right now because most of the principles of group psychology and dynamics ARE the same.

          > Equity that you do not control is not equity.

          You don’t get many hands to make light work if you don’t give up control. They can be as selfish with their control as you are with your control, end result, resentment and hoarding and disintegration. Their primary goal is getting out with as much of their equity as possible rather than ensuring the continuation of the coop for the long term.

          > My motivation for being involved in a cooperative situation is the idea that many hands make work light. I help you with your projects, you help with mine, we keep this dance as equitable and fluid as possible. And if we ultimately disagree enough that we can.t coexist on the same parcel, there is a mechanism for a graceful and fair exit.

          I don’t see how it could be either graceful or fair. Those who depend on you are either coerced into doing what they don’t want to do to keep you from leaving as a sort of blackmail, or they lose you. If we want a coercion free environment, we can’t have a departure mechanism that provides a legal and specific path for coercion.

          > It.s also important in my model that you allow for individual success . the environment and resources are there to promote work and contribution, but the success belongs to the individual that did that work.

          There’s a fundamental limit to the amount of work that can be done by any one person. Also, I think it important to clarify that typically the value of ‘my work’ in our society encompasses all the value I can coerce or convince or fool others into doing for me – which I most vehemently object to. Your work is your work. By this principle, their work is theirs, they get the share of the enterprise results directly. No ceo does so much work as to be worth 400 workers. Though perhaps a knowledge worker could be worth 5 laborers.

          > Folks are allowed to work to the level they.re comfortable with (beyond some minimum) toward the goals they find important, and transact value for value with others.

          That’s amazingly collective-like.

          > I walked away from the nanny state a number of years ago, don.t intend to create my own. ;-) If I want my blinds drawn then its. my right, but the benefit to me and others lies in cooperation so isolation is not a viable strategy in the longer term.

          Unless you can just walk away with no personal loss. Unless you find a way of hoarding more than you need and not being in need to others as much. Then its a perfectly viable strategy. Hoard while you can then waltz away with what you got, screw everybody else.

          > Sigh. Looks like the most likely for us is that the major stakeholders will end up running a type of eco serfdom, where there are two distinct tiers. Owners and juniors.

          My chin would be on my chest if not for my beard. I’m agape. And you think this is a *good* idea? Second class citizens? say WHAT?

          > But the model makes it possible for a serious junior to become an owner by contributions that earn them a stake, and still allows juniors to largely control their own fate and avoid being outright eco slaves, which is a model I see way too much of.

          I’d be interested in how this is any different than the current system of rich vs. poor, advantaged exploiting the disadvanted with promises of riches while witholding any meaningful amount. Or other forms of indentured servitude. “work for me as a grunt for 5 years and you can be an owner too!”.

          > For my part, I will not dictate nor be dictated to. I.ll lobby my brethren to aid me voluntarily and expect to return value for value at the individual level.

          Its only a voluntary choice if they aren’t coerced through the usual ‘work for me or wallow in poverty’. They have to have the option of NOT doing it and STILL surviving reasonably in order for it to be an actual non-coerced choice.

          > You help me build out that goat enclosure and I.ll give you a quart of milk a day for x days or whatever. A couple hours in the garden earns your butt a spot to rest on the land I paid for, or whatever.

          The usual end deal with that is … And if I don’t have or otherwise can’t offer you any services that you’re interested in, its none of my concern, so bugger off. There is not always enough demand for the work available in a community – look at how many under/unemployed people we have in our society. The purpose of sharing is that there is enough for everybody without working our fingers to the bone. When people hoard – land – resources – whatever – then everybody else takes the hit. Like the middle class takes the hit so that the uber-rich can have more money.

          > Thanks for giving me your thoughts and the opportunity to clarify my priorities by honing them on your ideas. ;-)

          Yes. This is a good conversation. Thank you too. I’ve been doing quite some thinking on this regard in the last few years.

          Reply
          • bunny

            Argh, wish there was a forum here, as I fear I’m ’bout to go off into verbose land fer real and this probably isn’t the right place. So much to respond to!

            I’d love to continue this conversation, ‘cuz I have a sense that this is the way it has to work. We seem to have some important divergances, but I bet if we could, merely as an exercise, y’know, begin to iron out details of implementation we could get a long way towards consensus. Or not. But either way I’m sure the process would be productive.

            Practice for the real thing. That process would lay bare the real areas of disagreement that need to be carefully engineered. Supposedly the founding fathers gave it their best shot but look at where we are now. “A republic, ma’am, IF you can keep it.”

            But I must address this immediately:

            “The protections appropriate here are *constitutional* type protections – ‘nobody shall be eaten’ – ‘everybody shall get food’ – ‘everybody shall get sufficient energy’. ”

            Uh, we do not have those protections currently. Are you advocating that we draft a new constitution that includes these rights? As I understand it, our rights do not derive from the constitution, but from our creator. The state didn’t give ‘em to us and the state can’t take ‘em away. We own our bodies and our labor and whatever fruit we can wrest from the earth, doesn’t cover how you’re gonna get that earth, unfortunately.

            But any mandate that one be given something material as a birthright might imply that someone else has to give it to ‘em. That doesn’t work. You are free to do your work unmolested and dispose of the proceeds as you see fit, so if I’ve sweated my whole life to pay for the land you’re reaping off, do I get any credit?

            Now, the answer to that is land reform. Restore the commons, right to a homestead, some system to utilize and not hoard the LAND and we’ve come a long way toward being able to reclaim our other birthrights. Instead of a right to food, you have the right and ability and duty to GROW food or produce something else of value to exchange for food. Now, if you’re infirm, that’s a different matter that must also be handled in a voluntary manner if one is to avoid the slippery slope of coercion.

            Maybe we can lobby alex to put up a forum, easily done with a plugin. Or I can set up one on one of my domains… Let me know if you want to continue in a more conducive format…

          • Skylos

            Bunny – Feel free to go to the link my name is hyperlinked on here and use the info there to email me, or at skylos@gmail.com if the comment system here doesn’t filter my email out. I’m fairly sure that email will serve the purpose of the discussion. We could also spin up a google + conversation about it which also works well for these kinds of things. Email me for coordination on that.

            Regarding the constitutional protections – yes – I was presuming that the coop would have its own constitution, not that we were rewriting the US constitution – though I’m just as much in favor of that!

            Rights are important. Rights don’t derive from myths or nature, they derive from the people’s collective declaration in that regard. It is our love, our empathy, our capacity to care that leads us to suppress our natural tendencies towards selfishness and violence. We protect the rights of ourselves and others because we care. This is the only source of our rights.

            Effectively the state (as the agent of the collective) did give them to us and the state can take them away. I’m sure that it feels more comfortable and less scary to think it otherwise, but I’ve always been one to look closely to see how prickly the truth is.

            The whole point of forming a coop or collective is to act within the rule set of the country/state/county constitutions to create one that more closely aligns with the personal concepts shared by the group – sharing so none of them go hungry or or without shelter, for instance. So that the land reform is ‘within the land owned by the coop, this land reform is in effect’. So you can have both – legal ownership – and land reform – at least within the scale of the coop’s influence.

  • Rick In Nashville

    First you need to stop calling a park model a mobile home. It may very well resemble a small mobile home, but for registration, permitting, insuring and financing it is A RECREATIONAL VEHICLE.

    They are placed on your land or in an RV park or mobile home park and are very much like any RV. The water connection is simply hooking up a garden hose, sewage is through a hose.

    They are GREAT structures and have fantastic livability!

    Check out these two websites for models and floor plans:

    http://www.parkmodelsdirect.com

    http://www.athensparkhomes.net

    Reply
  • Mike

    I’ve read every posting and comment and found it all very valuable. I took about 4 pages of notes.. so thank you guys!

    I’m going to buy this book: Tiny House Cracking the Code

    Of course, you may already know of this book, but I thought it may help figuring out the logistics to where to place your house/community and words to use and wording to avoid.. I like the idea of buying a defunct RV park and figuring out from there.

    Reply
    • David

      It struck me when you mention buying a defunct RV park. I spent a lovely summer in a park in Rochester, MN which had an annual tax bill of over $40,000 and only about 30 RV slots. Beautiful location right on a river by a walking path across the street from a grocery store, multiple restaurants, a gas station, and at less than 1 miles from the local major employer, absolutely perfect location. But who can afford to buy million dollar properties to put tiny homes on? :( Try to find 30 people who can drop $40K on buyin-and-improvements… for one particular location, and you’ve got a winner. But the chances of that are ludicrously low.

      Reply
      • Mike

        David,

        Thank you for your response! I like your opinions and thinking. Yes, I know of $M+ tracks defeat the essence of the Tiny theory.. The heartland of America is alive and healthy, full of land and municipalities that “want” to support a sustainable and productive Tiny community.
        And anything over the $25k threshold is close to the point of not being cost effective. But, that’s just our thinking.

        Reply
  • Dave

    Hello, I’m looking to start a company building Park Model homes in California is there a couple of companies for the chassis’ also the regulation entity I should contact
    Thanks Dave

    Reply
  • Lindig

    I live in West Asheville and have just purchased a .21 lot with a smallish MH already on it (about 700sf). The zoning of R-3 allows me to put another MH on the lot. I found a 1966 Elcar and ran up against the HUD stipulation that trailers older than 1976 can’t be moved. So I don’t know yet whether I’ll find a MH or a Park Model or just rent the space to someone who has their own tiny home and wants a nice wooded spot to put it. It’s all very frustrating.

    Reply

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