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Tiny House Communities Finally Becoming Reality?

This is to announce a project called Constellation ATX which is a project said to bring up to 500 tiny homes to the Austin, Texas area, according to Culture Map and up to 275 tiny homes according to Yahoo! Finance.


This could finally be the start of true legal and affordable tiny house living opportunities that could potentially spread throughout the country.

The Kyle project, tentatively called Stage Coach, will be near Center Street, the main road in the Hays County suburb. The community will have room for nearly 400 tiny homes, according to Davis.1

Up To 500 Tiny Homes Coming to Austin-Area Communities (And This Could Just Be The Beginning!)

© Kasita

Tiny Dwelling is “giving people the opportunity to own a home without all the expenses that come with owning the land. We’re changing the way people live here in Texas. Living tiny is a big deal,” Davis tells CultureMap.1

Home prices will range from $55,000 to $140,000 each, he says. By comparison, the median price of a single-family home in November was $341,000 in Travis County and $260,000 in Hays County, according to the Austin Board of Realtors.1


Read the full article here.

Community Amenities

  • Pool,
  • bike racks,
  • gated access,
  • club house,
  • BBQ area,
  • laundry,
  • car share,
  • outdoor fireplace,
  • tiny home rental units for guests,
  • extra storage units,
  • and more!

Resources

  1. http://austin.culturemap.com/news/real-estate/01-04-18-tiny-homes-austin-community-development-constellation-atx-stage-coach/
  2. http://austin.culturemap.com/news/home-design/04-14-17-kasita-austin-tiny-house-startup-microhousing/#slide=0
  3. http://www.constellationatx.com/
  4. http://constellationatx.com/living-at-constellation-atx/
  5. https://kasita.com/
  6. http://sprouttinyhomes.com/
  7. https://finance.yahoo.com/news/sprout-inks-26m-contract-275-140000418.html

Our big thanks to Darin Zaruba of the Tiny House Jamboree for sharing!

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Alex

Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!

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{ 20 comments… add one }
  • Bill Burgess January 4, 2018, 6:44 pm

    By chance are they going to allow up to Park Model RV size?

    • James D. January 4, 2018, 7:06 pm

      Doesn’t look like this is for THOWs in general…

      Quotes

      “Home prices will range from $55,000 to $140,000 each”…

      “Each tiny home will measure less than 400 square feet “…

      “Austin-based Kasita Inc. along with Pueblo, Colorado-based Sprout Tiny Homes Inc. are building the fully furnished homes for both communities”

      Though, modular and stackable are on the list of options…

  • ATBScott January 5, 2018, 12:57 pm

    Hmmm… While I do think this is a move in the right direction (in some ways…) this really looks to be more of a high-end mobile home park than anything. There is no price for the monthly rental, but for a nicer place like this appears to be, in a up-and-rising location like Austin (with lots of high-tech) it will probably be at least $500 per month for a space. They offer a 5′ x 10′ storage unit for $50 per month as an option, so it may be even higher. With pricing of $55k to $140k, taking an average of around $100k for a unit to purchase, with 10% down will give you a payment in the $450 – $550 range depending on interest rate. Add the $500 per month space fee, plus any insurance and possibly some utilities and you can pretty easily be well over $1000 per month. At least you can take your place with you if you decide to leave (making the assumption you have one on wheels!) That $500 per month would buy a decent sized piece of land in a lot of areas, and if it is fairly remote, you can probably put your tiny on the land and get away with it… But that is not Austin either. I have a feeling these developers will make a lot of money from this, and while it is better than an apartment, not sure how great of an investment it would be. I’m hoping more places start to change their zoning to allow smaller homes on private property and let people live the way they choose. Sigh….

    • SHARON FRIED January 5, 2018, 5:16 pm

      I agree. This is not going to be real TH living. Too bad.

    • Joe3 January 6, 2018, 12:27 am

      Just another jumping on the TH bandwagon … high prices, high rents …Unfortunately starting a true TH Community won’t happen by developers, it will have to be started by like minded individuals with a co-op, land trust, or owner occupied TH park – it can be done, but there doesn’t seem to be enough THers in one area to make it feasible ..

  • Vistara Sidebottom January 5, 2018, 4:17 pm

    Tiny communities have existed all across north america, australia and new zealand for years – they’re called trailer parks. I grew up in one in Canada in the 60’s. Tho I love the tiny house movement, the idea that this is a novel idea, is a figment of the imagination of the uninformed!! Folks have lived transient forever – moving with the food, work; living small because that’s all they could afford and desiring greater financial independance. Used to be called gypsies, transients – the disposessed, often. And in the bad old days great stigma attached to this lifestyle. The REAL positive of the tiny house movement is that the stigma has been removed – bout time! Not all of us who lived in tiny communities were trailer trash – some were undoubtedly – but many had little option due to their financial circumstances.

    • James D. January 6, 2018, 12:27 am

      True, except tiny isn’t limited to moveable structures and there are many other examples of people living in small spaces.

      Like Abraham Lincoln grew up in a cabin that was only about 288 sq ft…

      Many starter homes, since they were built by their owners, were also small and it sometimes took multiple generations before the house got to any significant size.

      Structures were also more compartmentalized and didn’t necessarily have everything integrated… Like go back over 150 years and you’ll start seeing kitchen and bathrooms as separate structures from the main house.

      More people also used to live under the same roof, especially multi-generational homes… Go back to say 1923 and the average person was taking up only about 137 sq ft…

      Even today, go to countries like India or Japan and you’ll still find whole families living in small spaces, sometimes even smaller than 300 sq ft.

      There is a historic stigma for trailer homes and transient living in general but that also extends now to all other types of living arrangements as basically anything different is considered automatically bad and even dangerous regardless of how it actually functions.

      So people looking into things like natural material constructed homes… Cob Houses, Earthships, etc. face similar opposition as those seeking to find legal recognition of THOWs and Tiny Houses in general.

      Our society has basically forgotten the original intent of owning a home as a tool to help achieve a lifestyle and way of life the owner wishes to have and it instead has devolved into an investment where more is always better and this is to the extent that all other considerations become secondary or are excluded, like the ability to have a home reflect the individuality of the owner and it’s actual function as a home.

      HOA’s are just one example of this… While the growing homeless population is one of the many results as all those who can’t for whatever reason conform to the system are essentially banished and prevented from ever returning, via not being allowed to find any alternative housing, being unable to get financial support because most resources require you have a mailing address, preventing people from being where they can find work and forced to live far from those still in the system, etc.

      So the problems go far deeper than just the stigma around trailer homes but it’s on the list…

      Obviously, these issues aren’t going to be solved quickly but we can take solace that it appears we’re at least on the path to getting there someday… There’s just going to be examples of both progress and setbacks along the way…

      While we mustn’t forget simple practicality… Places where there are high paying jobs tend to have extremely high numbers of people all trying to get in and that creates extremely high demand for local housing…

      So simple supply and demand will cause prices to go up because there is simply not enough resources for everyone… The only way to change that is to change the system so the resources people want to have are available in a more decentralized way and thus allow people to be more mobile and spread out to avoid the high concentrations that drive prices to such extremes.

      While an ever growing population means land will become increasingly harder to acquire, there’s still many places not being used because they are either too hard to live there and/or there’s no good jobs near those locations.

      The technology is getting to the point that people can not only live off-grid but anywhere they may wish and if that gets combined with the ability to make a living from anywhere then we can have a far more efficient system that can truly drive prices down and not just for a few… It’s how I see it anyway…

  • Tim January 5, 2018, 4:39 pm

    Sadly, I don’t share your enthauism for calling this progress.
    It us just classy hype for more of the same old stuff..
    Mortgages, ( principal, interest, taxes, and insurance) more indebtedness, and a very high price per square foot.,
    Great for builders, lenders, and others involved that collect a monthly Dollar amount from the borrower. (debter)
    Over promotion has caused this industry to evolve into another high priced commodity.
    What happened to THOW’s owner/ builders and the original concept of Debt Free?
    Greed is the answer!
    This new concept does not offer the freedom that first attracted people to it in the first place.
    A winner? I think not.
    While the concept of tiny is great the added profit and burden of debt is definitely a loser!
    I keep picturing this turning into another high priced Manhatten Apartment project.

    • SHARON FRIED January 5, 2018, 5:17 pm

      Greed is the bottom line here. Wrong, wrong, wrong!

  • Diana January 5, 2018, 5:45 pm

    I’m so tired of people trying to get money off people who really work to get ahead. My husband and I bought a used schoolie. It won’t be fancy, but it will be ours and it will be paid for.

  • dave dell January 5, 2018, 6:20 pm

    It is peaceful news to read that more counties throughout the United States are finally accepting more mini home community set ups. Its been discovered that in some countries one can clarify that it would be acceptable to just set up a mini home in the quarter or 1 acre lot they purchased. In these challenged economy times, more folks are walking back to basics and just living in an affordable way with the minimum items, etc.

  • Cheryl Smith-Bell January 5, 2018, 7:09 pm

    The only ones making money are the ones who sell this BS to those who want to be PC and brag about it. I call BS on the whole thing. Gated? Come on guys, you do understand you’re looking at the very thing the THOW is Not about. Not one little bit is the real deal of independence and no debt. This is fine for those who work in the city and have to be there through the week, but full time? Get real a $1000 a month could for sure be buying you land, and not that far away from Austin. I don’t know what apartments run, but I’m sure they would be larger/more comfortable/with the same type of aminaties. Even a trailer/RV park would be a better option for a THOW and I’m sure cheaper.

  • wilber F. Peebody January 5, 2018, 9:27 pm

    Any way you slice it, it’s just another trailer park. And maybe, they could put all the units closer so they can add 10 more and make that much more money……. I don’t get the point, why would anyone want to live so close to another person that you can hear them fart.

  • George Guthridge January 5, 2018, 9:34 pm

    My mom and stepdad, who are in their nineties, had just such a place for many years just outside Palm Springs. They are called “senior citizen residence communities.” Each place was 400 sq ft. I noticed that the announcement did not include the rental cost of the land and the amenities. I think they paid about $400 per month — including two swimming pools (one of them HUGE) and everything else, except car sharing, mentioned here. The difference? They sold theirs last month. It sold for $35,000. The people who mentioned greed in other comments were spot on.

    • James D. January 6, 2018, 1:23 am

      Sorry, but I get the impression you think that somehow suggest something it actually doesn’t…

      1) Houses not tied to land will always depreciate, especially if not well maintained.

      2) Owning land that people live on isn’t free, land owners have to pay taxes, paying income taxes for the rent they charge, property maintenance costs, impact fees, paying staff to run the property and maintain all the amenities provided, etc.

      So all that has to be considered in what is being paid for vs what part of the rent goes to the land owners profit.

      While also compared to the much higher cost of buying and owning the land yourself and covering the full cost of all the amenities. Since you will not be sharing the cost with other owners like you would be with a rental community arrangement and your income will have to cover the cost of everything.

      3) Real Estate prices are determined by location, location, location… So even when tied to land the value of a property will vary depending on where it is located and what that location can offer, along with the average level of demand at the time of sale.

      So a property in a growing community that is in high demand and in a high value location will sell for significantly more than an identical structure is a low demand and low value location.

      4) Modern houses aren’t as cheap to build as they used to be. Material costs are higher now, inflation has changed the value of currency over time to be less than it used to be, higher energy costs are requiring new structures to be built to higher energy efficiency standards but that makes the structures more costly to build, aging infrastructure puts a higher premium on the impact fees of establishing grid ties, sewage, etc. to a property, especially to newer areas, more bureaucracy means higher costs in permits, submitting building plans to be considered and approved costs, engineers and architect fees, inspection fees, etc.

      Sure, there are places where you can still build for relatively low cost but many places, especially high value locations, can be very costly to build anything on.

      A lot of this has to do with growing population, diminishing resources, a still recovering economy, and high demand where there can be literally upwards to tens of thousand of people competing for every single housing option in a given area, such as in a major city like New York…

      So it’s not as simple as just greed…

      Sure, that’s in there but it’s hardly the only factor… If it was just greed then it would be a lot easier to fix the system but the complexities are one of the many obstacles that have to be overcome…

      • Tim January 6, 2018, 2:39 am

        James D
        Spoken like a true salesman.

        However… all this is structured to get people to buy into indebtedness not debt free self sufficient living.
        Mortgages? Rent or space rent? Ammentities? People can have that anywhere.
        A self sustaining lifestyle is what got this THOW moving in the first place.
        Now there are those wanting to capitalize on the tiny house movement and suck people right into the mainstream Debt Movement.
        For those truly wanting the lifestyle the tranquility of debt free is their calling.
        Yes, many will get sucked into the position they were trying to get out of but some sheep just need sheared to feel comfortable. For them being in debt is Trendy.

        • James D. January 6, 2018, 3:42 am

          Sorry but nothing I stated was a sales pitch, just the facts and the reality of what we actually face.

          While as discussed in other comments Tiny Houses are not a new phenomena and the movement goes a lot further than just a few talking points.

          The reality is more complex, like it or not but that’s the world we live in.

          Fact is everything costs, there’s not really such a thing as free but there’s usually also not a cost without some sort of benefit and the range will vary per given area and it’s location specific factors… Much like nature, there just has to be a balance to the system for it to work but that balance isn’t always the same everywhere.

          While sharing resources is actually more efficient and less costly than trying to do it all on your own.

          Independence is all well and good but so too is cooperation and working together for a common goal and they don’t have to be mutually exclusive of each other and there’s actually multiple ways to be independent.

          The you’re either with me or against me attitude and treating anyone who doesn’t think exactly like you like they’re sheep or the enemy doesn’t really ever solve anything and is part of the list of problems with our society because such attitudes prevent us from cooperating and actually facing and coming up with working solutions to our problems.

          Such attitudes also lends itself towards developing biases towards other people and the tendency to be judgemental on how other people choose to live, regardless of what is realistic for them or even if it’s the way they want to live or not.

          Take for example your assumption this will only lead to debt, which ignores the very reason people compete to live in places like Austin because that’s were high paying jobs are located and this compared to far costlier options they would otherwise be stuck with…

          Sure, people could choose to just live further away and commute from more affordable locations but those commute times takes away from the hours of the day they can be productive and actually work or choose to do other things with their life… Along with adding the cost of the commute, which can add up to more than the rent because those cheaper locations can be more than a hour away and we’re not only talking about fuel consumption but the long term costs of the vehicle.

          Cheaper location also doesn’t always mean everything is cheaper… Since it usually also means you have less access to stores, hospitals, emergency services, higher costs of providing your own utilities if you’re truly independent and not grid tied, etc.

          But a large percentage of the population clusters around cities for certain reasons that have to be factored…

          Thing is there’s usually always a trade off of some sort and not all solutions will work equally well for everyone because everyone’s situation can be different and sometimes significantly so…

          If we are ever to truly fix the system then we have to avoid trying to over simplify the problems and the complexities of how our society actually works. Only then can we actually address the issues in a comprehensive and effective manner that can truly start to make real change…

          Whether you agree or not, one thing for sure… Divided, we will fall…

  • John Saunders January 6, 2018, 4:27 am

    Paying nothing for a place to park a TH is unrealistic. It means the person owning the land is subsidizing the TH owner. The landowner would be paying rates, taxes, insurance, utility charges and then has the cost maintaining the property. If you owned a modest home in Australia and took into account all of the above charges for the land only it would probably cost around $5,000 a year plus maintenance on the house and other bits and pieces. Including the house, there wouldn’t much change out $200.00 a week. The cost of renting a spot in a very well located trailer park is between $150-180 a week. Where are looking at TH for the homeless we need to borrow the land from local government or state or federal government as it too expensive to buy it. Student container units in Amsterdam are on port land next to ferry landings which takes care of the cost of transport. If we want the benefits that society provides us it comes at a cost.

  • D January 6, 2018, 9:23 am

    Another alternative often overlooked are RV parks! Many older people retiring on a limited budget are finding out that you can live comfortably in a bumper pull, 5th wheel or class A very reasonably. Obviously, southern states work better for this during the winter! A decent used camper is much more affordable than a THOW and NO sleeping in a loft.

    My wife and I have purchased a small acreage with some existing campsites with electric and water hook-ups. We plan on building a THOW to live in, on site when we are in cold weather (heats better than a camper) but will also stay in our camper with slides during the summer months. Our used camper cost $7,000 and was in like new condition when we purchased it. With the bump-outs it is a much better layout than most THOW’s.

    I can’t justify some of the THOW prices like the ones above $40,000 when you can get all the amenities of a conventional home for much less in a slightly used camper! We have had our camper for about 4 years and I figure at year 10 we can sell it for about $3,000. Using simple math we will have had if for about $400 a year. Plus the fact we paid cash which means no interest payments.

    Good luck to all of you that want to downsize, It’s working for us, you can definitely retire earlier if you want to make a few adjustments in your outlook on what you need to be happier!

    • James D. January 9, 2018, 3:18 pm

      Well, I would say it’s generally not overlooked. Since millions of people own RV’s of one type or another and a significant number of them do live in them and RV parks are one of the first places that allowed people in Tiny Houses to live full time legally…

      RV’s, in general, are just not as suitable for long term full time living and can cost more to actually live in as you’ll generally will be paying more for utilities and more for repairs and maintenance.

      Motorhomes, especially, can be particularly costly in the long run…

      RV’s are also generally not custom made for the owner. So the layouts, etc. don’t work equally well for everyone versus something that is custom made for the owner to fit their specific needs…

      A custom layout, though, just may be counter to how someone else may prefer the layout.

      While those concerned with VOCs, needing to be more environmentally friendly and sustainable, etc. is something most manufactured products like RV’s don’t cater to and one of the reasons to look at alternatives like Tiny Houses.

      There’s also a question of safety as the minimal construction of RV’s don’t really lend themselves to be particularly durable when mother nature decides to flex its muscles. So something like a hurricane is far more likely to destroy a RV than a Tiny House, some Tiny Houses are even rated to handle a category 5 hurricane and/or a 9.0 Earthquake.

      Additionally, there’s a much wider range of ways a Tiny House can be built… They can be on foundations like a traditional house, they can be on a floating platform for a home that can float, in a tree as a tree house, underground like a hobbit house, on skids instead of wheels, modular and scalable, and they can also have slide outs, slide ups/pop-ups, fold outs, etc.

      That said, you are correct that older RV campers/travel trailers can provide a cheaper alternative and while not intended for full time living there are many people who have made it work anyway… But tiny houses don’t have to be that expensive and have many advantages to consider…

      Besides, if you want things like being able to live off-grid, good all climate zones insulation, etc. then they will add to the cost of a RV too… While getting something already made and used at a lower price will be an option for those buying older Tiny Houses as well as they become more common…

      Though, high costs can include things like high build quality, much better energy efficiency, better durability, and a long list of custom options that can be pricey to get but can all help lower long term costs that can add up to a lot more otherwise.

      While new RV’s can be pretty pricey too, a well made 5th wheel travel trailer with high end features will generally run over $135,000, for example. So there’s a limit to comparing old with new, especially with how most RV’s can depreciate very quickly but there are exceptions like Airstreams tend to hold their value, primarily because they’re generally very well built but they also generally have a higher starting price and can easily be one of the most expensive RV’s you can get.

      Though, you can consider remodeling a RV to fit your needs as a hybrid RV/Tiny House… It doesn’t have to be either/or… Unless you need to live someplace where only one is suitable…

      There are even Tiny House builders who will basically build you a custom Tiny House/RV complete with RVIA certification.

      While DIY Tiny Houses can be done for very low costs as well, if you are able and willing to do the work yourself…

      Btw, depending on local zoning rules, it is possible for people to have their property zoned as a private RV park… It’ll put some restrictions on the property and having it zoned that way isn’t always a option but it’s another way to do it if you can afford to own land…

      Some agricultural designated land zoning can also possibly offer exemptions to the local zoning limits to allow a Tiny House, but again not everywhere.

      Though, places like El Paso, CO, Salem, OR, and states like Idaho are starting to allow people to place their Tiny Homes legally… There’s also states friendly to RV’ers for full time living options as well… Not to mention certain national parks that may allow year round camping if you can live off-grid…

      Not to mention a number of communities are becoming available across the country in multiple states… Some let people buy a lot of land to live on, others rent the space, and others are intentional communities where everyone shares the property and ownership costs…

      So there’s a growing number of options to consider…

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