I’ve been thinking a lot about tiny house communities lately.

It’s a frustrating subject because none really exist yet.

Even the one underway in D.C. now is just a showcase of tiny homes.

In other words, it’s not an actual livable community.

It’s still a good thing because it’s showing people how such a community would look and feel like.

And hopefully this will get somebody that has the funds (and the heart) interested enough to do it.

But I now understand why such communities don’t exist.

And it’s pretty simple actually.

The funny thing is I found plenty that do exist.

We can’t afford to live in them though. But why?

Fireside Resort 02 1 Kind Design why tiny house communities dont exist   Why Tiny House Communities Dont Exist

Photo Credit Fireside Resort

Because they’re not actual neighborhoods or communities at all.

They’re vacation spots. You know, resorts. Fancy cabin hotels.

Tiny House Communities as Residences Don’t Exist

Tiny house communities as residences don’t exist because business people can make way more money creating a campground or cabin resort instead.

And the numbers don’t lie. Those who have the money to build such communities would rather see better returns.

So let’s see. A little house in a community would rent for, let’s say, $600 a month in a good area.

Tiny House Communities Versus Campgrounds and Resorts

But a resort or a campground would make that much in three days or less.

So even if it sits empty for half of the entire year, the structure would earn the owners $3,000 a month instead of $600.

That’s $36,000 a year per unit versus $7,200. And then they’d argue that this creates more jobs.

But what about decent affordable housing for people who don’t desire to live in oversized homes?

One of my ideas has been to create mini tiny house communities in acreage neighborhoods where it might work with a small group of people pooling resources.

Have We Been Blaming the Wrong People?

This post’s conclusion makes me wonder, “have we been blaming the wrong people as to why little houses don’t exist?”

Sure, there are zoning and codes against them but these things truly have become the norm. It’s become majority of people’s choice.

Isn’t that why “normal” people usually freak out when they hear that we want to live in a tiny house? That is, until, they learn how awesome it can be.

We can’t just put a tiny house smack in the middle of a neighborhood where 2,000 square foot homes are normal because they will all freak out. And then we’ll hate living there because everyone will hate us.

My point is, there are better ways to do it already. There always have been. You can zone as an RV park, a campground, or a “cabin” resort! If you look, you can find those everywhere.

But the people who have the means to create a place like this would much rather earn around five times more money year after year. So what’s the solution here?

What do you think we should do to convince business people to fund tiny house communities? Better yet- how can we find ways to do it ourselves?

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   Why Tiny House Communities Dont Exist

Alex

Alex has been living in small spaces for more than 7 years, he's the founding editor of TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter, 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 too. Thank you!

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{ 344 comments }

  • Thomas Prikowitsch

    I think if you have a number of people who would want to have their tiny house on a “campsite” with additional fixed units, why not create the corporation needed as a group effort, with all owners being their own renters/guests at a fixed monthly rate?

    Reply
    • Liz

      Thomas, you have it almost entirely right. What would need to happen, in terms of property taxes, municipalities and and banks participating, is a condo association. Cohousing has been doing this for over 20 years, it’s a proven model, and it’s likely why Jay Shafer decided to call his development cohousing, because it’s likely how it will be financed.

      But what that entails is people agreeing to own a larger place in common, work with each other, and pay HOA dues. Which would be minimal, but still, this runs counter to what many tiny house people want to do. So many of them think they are going to be “independent” and have this fantasy that it’s actually possible to live without the help of others. Well, it’s not. Or if it is, it’s a life full of hardship.

      It’s also a failure of people to think big, ironically enough. All these rugged individualists need to do is look at how other people have done this. Many cohousing communities have run up against a municipality with limits on the number of units per acre. The solution? Lots of land, with all the units close together as you please, and the rest of the land is free to farm or leave fallow, as you like.

      There are lots of ways this can be done. and it will happen. But it doesn’t happen as fast as someone living with their parents and building a house on his own. Building community takes years, and commitment. Until there is a group of people willing to make that commitment, it won’t happen. Right now, the “community” is a lot of people who are very unrealistic about what can be done, and many of them are in denial about the amount of work involved. It’s a fantasy for them.

      Reply
      • Linda

        Well, that puts you right back where you started… trying to escape “the man.” I know, you (“we”) would not be “the man” but when you start talking about association fees, and undoubtedly other “fees” that would crop up, you’re not speaking the language of the tiny house owner. The tiny house owner speaks of freedom… freedom from the stranglehold of fees that eventually run him out of house and home. No. I’d rather get a bunch of tiny housers together and live on an island in a fee-free community of our own. I’m sick of the man.

        Reply
    • Linda Lane

      Like Linda Lyons-Bailey, I think an abandoned mobile home park — or perhaps a recreational vehicle park tucked up against the Rockies — would be a great place to start. I wonder if it would be possible to divide such a park into mini-lots so that each tiny-house owner could also own bit of land. Building codes and city/county regulations are not my thing, so I’m speculating here. However, I do think these communities would be a grand idea. Covenants could keep the homes and grounds looking lovely, and the housing should definitely be affordable. Currently, I’m working on a design for a tiny-house duplex for my son and me. As a “seasoned citizen,” I think this would be the perfect arrangement to give him his privacy while allowing me to have help very nearby in case of need. (I’m in my mid-seventies.)

      Reply
      • BIll Burgess

        A big part is pricing for new units. Most mobile home parks have empty slots that due to financing restrictions on Mobile/manufactured housing remain empty. Most working folks could afford a $25K home but finding a park to keep it in that has a $300 monthly fee would be the problem again. Most senior park rates follow the raises in Social Security. When the Cola goes up $30 a month, space rent goes up $30 a month. Salvage Fair Villages like Brad is starting at Tiny Texas Houses is a plan that could be used in most areas of rural America. Inner cities with restrictive zoning is a killer for a single family to take on.

        Reply
        • Linda Lyons-Bailey

          I notice that so many people who live in tiny houses now are doing so because they have a friend, family member, or neighbor who is allowing them to park on their land.

          If people just didn’t see dollar signs and nothing else, whether they needed the money or not, a tiny house community could happen that way. The landowner just grants permission for more than one person to park! Not as a way to make money off of people, but to grant others the freedom to live small. It seems like many of these people who can afford to own mobile home parks and the like, after a period of time they aren’t really hurting for money anymore, they just WANT it…which is why so many low income people have a hard time finding a decent place to live. :(

          If I had the dough to buy such land, I wouldn’t be like this…but then I don’t have the dough.

          Reply
        • bikespaces

          This is actually a reply to Linda Lyons-Bailey. First, once you start adding units, you raise your visibility. Pretty soon, some one comes knocking on your door and asks you why you don’t have zoning for your RV park. Mobile home parks and RV parks are NOT treated the same (one is camping, the other is residential), and most tiny homes cannot get treated as mobile homes, because they are not big enough. But let’s just put that aside. ”

          Why should a person who owns land give you the use of it for free? They “aren’t hurting for money” because they RUN A BUSINESS which provides a service, and costs them money (taxes, insurance, interest, landscaping, water and trash maintenance, the park manager, ad nauseum). They charge for it, and they evict people who don’t pay.

          The general rule is that people who live for free live like slobs. As someone who has, on several occasions, been able to provide a free home for someone, I can tell you that in EVERY instance, they lived like pigs while they were there, and it cost me thousands of dollars to fix the place after they left. So, never again.

          You can tell me that you’re different, or that tiny house people are different, but I KNOW you’ve seen what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, ask ANY realtor or property manager. If I had a tiny house, I would NEVER live in a park that allowed “free” living. Because there would be dog poop everywhere, the pool, if it existed, would be hazardous to your health, and in all probability the sewage and water system would ALSO be a health hazard (yes, virginia, it costs money to properly maintain a private water system and a dump station and a sewage system).

          The reality is, it costs MONEY to run an RV park. You can pretend that it doesn’t, but it does. Furthermore, how long would you continue going to your job if you weren’t getting a paycheck? Oh, you mean you DO have dollar signs in your eyes when it’s YOUR labor! Funny. For some odd reason, people who OWN assets feel the same way. If they can’t get a RETURN on their investment, why should they own it? Why should they take care of it?

          My point here is, no one should expect that just because their tiny house is paid for, they are therefore not going to pay rent (or have other ownership expenses). That is simply unreasonable. Or, as someone else noted, “unrealistic.”

          Even if you live in someone’s back yard, you should be paying rent (or mowing the lawn, if you are into barter). It costs them time and money to maintain the yard, pay the taxes, assessments, and insurance, and deal with the neighbor complaining about your tiny house. You are just going to run away in the middle of the night if it becomes a problem, but your “landlord” owns the land and has to live with his neighbors.

          I am interested in a tiny house for many reasons, but living off my friends and relatives’ assets (their land) for free is not one of them.

          Reply
          • Bill

            thanks for the reality check…

          • Lisa

            Well said.

          • Byon

            I agree, I wouldn’t want to fell obligated to others. I prefer to carry my own weight and would want to have something of value to add.

        • Linda Lyons-Bailey

          Replying to bikespaces:

          First off: Nobody should try this without checking out the zoning and making sure it’s legal first. If it isn’t legal, it isn’t legal. Don’t do it. You’ll only get in trouble and have to leave.

          Re: “Why should a person who owns land give you the use of it for free? They “aren’t hurting for money” because they RUN A BUSINESS which provides a service, and costs them money (taxes, insurance, interest, landscaping, water and trash maintenance, the park manager, ad nauseum). They charge for it, and they evict people who don’t pay.”

          Who says you *have* to run a tiny house community AS A BUSINESS?

          Hate to say it, but many businesses are just out to scalp people. If you are out to make as much money as you possibly can, then you are pricing people out who need affordable homes. If I were to do such a thing (and I don’t have any money so I never will, barring a lottery win), but my reasons would be to showcase small, green, affordable living and show that it can work, and to provide a place where people who wanted to take care of the place where they live, in exchange for low/no huge high rents, actually could do so.

          I just don’t see a tiny house community being like a senior living community, where everything that needs to be done is provided by a management company, whose whole reason for starting the community in the first place is as a business, something to make their living off of (and a rich living these people want, too).

          If you are living in a tiny house, chances are you built your own house. Chances are you are off grid. Chances are you researched and built that yourself, too. I think such people would be willing and able to take care of things like landscaping, water, and trash pickup themselves. In fact, I would require that a person be willing to do so in order to stay there, and anyone noncompliant would be forced to leave. I just don’t see a tiny house community as some kind of swankity-swank operation where you just live there and pay someone else to take care of everything. The whole idea is cheap, affordable living, i.e. YOU take care of the land you live on YOURSELF. There is a community garden where everyone who wants to grow things has their own plot and takes care of it. And a pool??? You *must* be kidding!

          There are apartment buildings and coops where you have to apply to live there and the other residents vet you carefully before they let you in. Due to the concerns (and they are reasonable concerns) about low income living being full of mentally ill, crime, drug addicts, and the like, I can’t imagine a tiny house community being run any other way.

          Those who say it can’t be done demonstrate somewhat low faith in human nature. I mean, seriously, anyone posting here: Would you ever even imagine moving your tiny house onto someone else’s land and then treating that person in the way described here? Then surely you are not the only person responsible enough to live this way in a tiny neighborhood. Decent people who will do right by the neighborhood can be found, it’s up to the community/landowner to vet people.

          I’m talking about houses that are OFF grid. That means houses that are collecting and supplying their own water, self-contained toilets, therefore no sewer system.

          Or if that’s not possible, and services must be provided, why charge into the stratosphere? That is what is going on now, and why many people working as hard as they can work have no health insurance and have to rely on food pantries to eat. Wages are too low and rents are too high. There actually are other reasons to do things other than profit. Just because you do need *some* money to live on doesn’t mean you have to charge exorbitant rents that most people can’t afford.

          I don’t know, I will never have money to do this, but as long as everybody operates from the mindset that says, “All people (except me, of course) are pigs, I don’t trust them, and I’m out to get as much as I can get,” our society will be a healthy, happy, liveable society for fewer, and fewer, and fewer of the people in it. Something has to matter other than how much you can skim off of other people.

          Reply
          • The_Old_Man

            LLB, I am sorry for the late response to your diatribe, but I only just got the email about this article existing, and after reading what you wrote, I cannot let this go by without commenting, and, hopefully, educating in the process.

            You asked why they have to run it “as a business”? Let me give you a real life example of why. My uncle, who grew up in an original tiny house, (back then they were called shotgun shacks, tar-paper shacks, etc.), worked hard all his life to be able to afford to give his children as many opportunities as he could that he missed out on, like an education, safe food and clean water. When he was almost 40 years old, he saw an opportunity to secure his and their futures. He bought an existing trailer park. It took what at the time was an early version of “creative financing”, in that he had to save up enough for 25% down, and the rest went on a 30 year note, meaning uncle was just over 70 when it was finally paid for. He bought old, run down trailers, (I know they are called ‘mobile homes’ now, but we always called them trailers, showing my age, I guess), and in his spare time completely rebuilt them from the frame up, to keep his costs as low as possible. He rented them out, along with the one acre lots each sat upon, (VERY generously sized, especially for today, but uncle believed in having enough room for a garden, for the children to play in the yard and to just breath), ran the park himself, again in his spare time from his full time job as an appliance repair man, and charged, when I last asked him how he did it, $500 a month. He had ten units. I can hear you now, LLB, ‘He’s making $5000 a month, he’s set, he’s one of the ‘evil rich’!’ Not so fast! Out of that $5000, each and EVERY month, he had to pay, first and foremost, his massive mortgage note on the park. Then, he had to pay the maintenance costs for all ten units. Then he had to pay TAXES, which were raised regularly by politicos who play the same, tired old class warfare game you are playing here! They, like you, said my uncle “made” $5000 a month, thus he was “rich” and therefore he should “give back” to the community, through much higher taxes, of course! I haven’t even mentioned the deadbeats that didn’t pay. Thanks to thinking like yours, there are numerous laws now, “protecting” the “poor” from the “evil rich” who don’t really “need the money”, because they are “rich”. What this lead to, was people who moved in, without any intentions of ever paying anything beyond the cost of moving in. They knew the law protected them for up to six months before they could be evicted, but in the mean time, the bank still wanted their payment made, and the legal entity that passed the laws that “protected” the “poor” from the “evil rich”, still wanted their TAXES, and all the other bills still had to be paid, to keep the park up to codes, keep the road in it passable, keep the lights on and the water flowing, (and those laws that protect the “poor” from the “evil rich” also say you cannot cut off services from them for non-payment,).

            Most people in the business of leasing or selling on time anything will tell you, keeping your delinquency rate under 5% is considered good practice and a good goal, but is rarely attainable! Ten percent is more realistic, and some businesses accept 20% as the norm!

            Okay, back to uncle and his trailer park. Now that $5000 a month income is more like $500 a month, after everyone else gets their cut, and one trailer occupied by some deadbeats just took that $500 out of the equation! I didn’t even add in the costs of evicting the deadbeats either, but figure on $2000-$5000 per, plus all the repair work that MUST be done before the unit will be marketable again, which, in extreme cases, could mean simply buying a new unit and junking the old one! So now you have ONE deadbeat, costing one “evil rich” landlord, possibly as much as $50,000, or even more, all because they were looking to beat the system and save $2500 over a six month period!

            Okay, now I can hear you saying, ‘Yeah! But what about his kids who inherited all that land worth all that money? Surely they can afford it now because they are truly rich!’ Well, remember thos politicians I mentioned earlier as also playing class warfare? They have seen to it that such inheritances don’t escape the clutches of the goobermint tax schemes either! My cousins had to borrow 55% of the value of the park in order to pay the inheritance taxes on it when uncle passed away a few years ago, just in order to KEEP THE BUSINESS THEIR OWN FATHER HAD ALREADY PAID FOR!!! So now they are indebted for way more then uncle originally borrowed for the next 40 years, because there was no way they could have paid it all back in 30 without selling the business!

            And that, Virginia, is why you HAVE TO RUN IT AS A BUSINESS!!! Here endeth the lesson…for now.

          • Alice Quint

            Right. Impacted by taxes because of their own poor business practices. I weep.

            If you’re going to be in business, you need to know how to set it up or hire someone who does. There’s no excuse for being caught out the way you say these lads were caught out.

          • Laurel Canyon

            Linda, pay no attention to those with their nasty attitudes here. They are sure everyone is out to take from them. Community to them means ‘gated’, where everything they own is protected and they sleep with a gun under their pillow. They ARE the man, the very people we want to (and must) get away from. Idealism is a dirty word to them. They are frightened of everyone who is not a clone of themselves and their hatred and bigotry is palpable.

          • Brian

            I like your attitude, but would also make the gentle suggestion of reviewing this video, as it is highly relevant to the “human nature” of which you speak.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLirNeu-A8I

          • Amy

            Doesn’t sound like poor business practices, sounds like poor morals on the part of the people your uncle was dealing with

      • Michelle

        Hello Linda,
        I also love the idea of tiny homes and live in the Littleton, Co area. If you have any great brainstorm ideas, I would be very interested!
        Michelle

        Reply
        • Linda

          As you no doubt know, Michelle, property in Colorado is expensive. I wouldn’t particularly want to live on the plains with the weather out there and the wildfires (though the mountains seem to be plagued with some of the same — we’re under a red alert at the moment, and a fire is burning northwest of the Air Force Academy. Whether an area such as Penrose, located in Fremont County south of Fort Carson and mostly rural in nature, would be open to tiny home community, I have no idea. Development cost has been a concern, but the potential for using an existing RV park might be worth considering were such available and affordable. Possible locations other than Penrose that would put residents near enough places to work? I don’t know. Do any viable areas exist north of Denver? I’m concerned that the high cost of living here might conflict with the purpose of simplifying one’s lifestyle and reducing living costs.

          Reply
          • Nicole

            Linda -
            There is inexpensive land to be hand in Colorado. Not in the mountains but just east of I-25 by a few miles north of Denver. However, most places require a house to be 780 square feet even if it is on a trailer. Finding land zoned for a ‘RV Park’ would potential allow for smaller square footage but most counties and cities frown upon that kind of zoning because it doesn’t make as much money as Residential or Commercial does. This is part of the reason why mobile home parks are going away in many areas of Colorado.

          • Craig Daniels

            All across the U.S. there are many health hazards to consider –before buying land and building. Not to single out Colorado, but since it’s being discussed here, look at:
            > http://www.denverpost.com/environment/ci_21499958/risk-suits-preventing-vital-cleanup-abandoned-mines-colorado

          • mountaingypsy

            Linda, I also live in CO. Just looking for land or just the right house is quite an undertaking if one wants a small, affordable place that is not a dump and in need of $100 thousand dollars of repairs, ha. Then just a rural piece of land for camping/RV is next to impossible or the tiny house. Most property is restricted to large McMansions. There is so much gorgeous land in this state, for sale, that it would seem, that the tiny house communities could take hold, just like the tourist cabin type places that are everywhere. I do not understand, why a small rental cabin per say, is so different than living in a tiny home? There must be thousands of very small cabins that are still year round dwellings, and not built to code. Also, with so many boomers, there has to be a change of attitude, for those that do want to downsize, have a neat home, and not the mortgage and tax and bills. A combo of movable tiny homes and ones set to stay, could be nice…….And seniors seem to need a smaller, affordable home too.

      • Linda

        Sounds good to me. In a tiny house community, rather than having fees for this and fees for that such that you eventually are nickeled and dimed out of house and home, I think the residents should be assigned duties that keep the place in good shape. There are many of us who don’t mind a bit of work but plenty of us who don’t want to be driven out of our homes because we can’t afford the fees.

        Reply
        • Cameron

          Would any of you people looking at Colorado be interested in Fort Collins? My grandparents are struggling to keep their property because they are retired and not bringing in enough money, and I thought of turning the acre behind their property into a tiny house community. I know re-zoning could be a nightmare, but if it was possible, the area is right next to work in Fort Collins, but the neighborhood itself feels like it is kind of rural…there is a state park right across the dirt road running through the community. Anyway, they would have to charge rent, but I think it could be a lot less than most places: like 200-300 a month (and like someone said earlier, I think it is fair for my grandparents to rent for some money since they worked so hard for it over the years) Would anyone be interested in that kind of thing?

          Reply
          • Alex

            I love the idea Cameron. If you want to go forward with it further. Let me know and I can create a dedicated post to your project here on Tiny House Talk to help you better organize and attract the right people. You can send me info and photos for the post or just to get in touch with me here: http://tinyhousetalk.com/submit-content

          • Jackie

            Any people looking in Texas, I have acreage that I would love to turn into a tiny community in Winnie, Texas but currently do not have the funds to complete on my own.

      • mountaingypsy

        Linda Lane, I like your idea of using an existing mobile home or RV park, that already has most or all the utilities and lots etc. in place. Or even reworking a neighborhood of the old small homes/vacant lots to add the tiny homes. Perhaps some of the rules/codes/restrictions/zoning would be more workable. Starting from scratch, on fresh property, I do not think most people here realize the huge cost. I do know that the rules are different for RV parks vs mobile home parks or campgrounds. Perhaps the cities involved wherever, could cooperate and redo codes to accommodate a new community. Yes, this is dreaming. But some combination of tiny homes, RVs or mobiles, that please most dwellers, in a communal situation, seems probable if everyone works hard to do this. It will take numbers of people to do the red tape, not just a new person alone wanting to start a community. It sounds like, on this huge amount of responses, that many are eager to want this tiny house living to be accepted, and not just viewed as a fad. There would still be tax, and fees and zoning, but focused on these new homes. It makes no sense, to allow ratty old mobile homes in a park, and not a nice well built tiny home!! The rules on how long you can reside per year in a particular dwelling is stupid too. There will have to be some fees or rules, as usual to keep the ‘new’ place nice, as some people just do not belong…..

        Reply
    • Dale Michels

      An interesting question why tiny house communities are not finding their foothold, small though their footprint may be. Perhaps it’s because as a culture we have largely forgotten how to have communities in other than name only. True communities are diverse and don’t have zoning to homogenize their expression. West Virginia has the highest rate of home ownership in the US… because we have virtually no zoning laws outside of our few ‘big’ cities. West Virginia also has vestiges of natural community which is a related social structure held together by having time to visit. Living at the speed of life and not at some pix-elated pixy’s baud-rate is less stressful too. With the freedom of time associated with low financial overhead tiny house communities would be ideal places for people to rediscover the strength and joys of natural community. Perhaps thinking of community as a place is also confining. Since tiny houses of a mobile variety can be moved, a seasonal tour of organic farms in need of periodic labor might provide a healthy and varied lifestyle for tiny portable communities. Such communities might include a spectrum of portable talents. The itinerant trades person has the advantage in economic contractions because they can service a larger clientele on a circuit than the same trades person sitting still left high and dry by a receding market.

      Reply
      • Laura

        Thanks for the info on WV, that was somewhere that I considered. I have only been to White Sulphur Springs, but it was amazing, and traveling more around there would be nice. I would be scared to drive all the time though, those hills are beautiful, but intimidating. But, I’m from Florida. There aren’t many hills and no snow.

        But, a side note on this discussion. I think that a good way would be to build an Amish style community, and omit the religion. Like a farming community, grow and help harvest and share the crops and sell the rest for taxes and other goods. Similar to what was described by Eric Brende in Better Off. And being that it would be rural, the zoning wouldn’t be as bad.

        Reply
  • Joel

    I would add to the list tiny home owners. Many of the people who envision tiny home living envision living alone in the forest, a farm, an isolated beach etc. Not necessarily with others.

    I would also add that many small house communities already exist and many of them are quite old such as Fragaria, WA
    http://fragaria.weebly.com/

    Reply
    • Alex

      I agree Joel. I think there are two types of tiny house people: those who are accustomed or desire to live with their own land on acreage and the others are people who want to be in a city within a community of other tiny house people, ie, folks most likely currently in apartments. The community idea is for the latter.

      Reply
    • BIll Burgess

      Having lived in and sold real estate in that county I can assure you getting permitted is the issue. Impact fees of $23,000 before a shovel hits the ground is an issue. I am not sure if that area has a separate zoning for smaller homes now, but a few years ago it would be impossible. You could not get a permit for a Park Model trailer outside a designated RV park in King and Kitsap counties.

      Reply
      • Joel

        Bill, I’m not suggesting that a NEW tiny house community be built in Kitsap County WA. I’m just trying to point out that small house communities such as Fragaria exist there already and indeed some houses in Fragaria are already over 100 years old.

        There are many small house communities that exist all over the Pacific NW but I’m sure in other areas also.

        Reply
    • Pattie

      I totally agree….most of the people I know, including myself, who are interested in tiny or small homes want to experience the OUTDOORS while having a smaller indoors. I want space and land, not communal living, thanks for asking. The only people I would care to share space with are already friends and family…..

      Reply
    • Polly

      Joel, you make a really great point! I think many of the people who are looking for the tiny home option are also the type (like me) who would rather be self-sufficient, independent, conscious of the environment…the only thing I can’t understand is how anyone would not go stir crazy in one of these tiny homes…I’ve lived in a tiny trailer with a flat roof for about two years in a climate that doesn’t allow for hanging around outside for about half the year…so, I go NUTS and there is nowhere to put anything. I’d like to see a study on people who have actually lived in these things for a year or more. The reviews and such.

      Also, if someone is truly conscious of the environment, why not reuse an existing old abandoned or foreclosed place (for a lot cheaper) rather than add to the needed lumber, other materials, etc to build ANOTHER thing? Not to mention, there would be much more room to “live”, without losing your mind, in a normal house.

      Reply
  • DJ Spell

    Alex, I appreciate this article, and I beg to differ. I live near Joplin, MO, site of the 2011 tornado that destroyed half our city. In a few areas, there are tiny home communities that are rentals. These rentals rent for $150 per week, which sounds like a steal to much of the rest of the nation, but given our low wages in this region of the country, that’s actually pretty expensive. The question comes down to why, and I’ve looked into that.
    First, these tiny house communities were built before 1975, when building codes prevented further construction of such structures within city limits, with city elders citing them as impractical eyesores that reduce surrounding property values. Second, whenever you put more than one home on a lot, it raises the property tax significantly. A multiple- detached-home lot is considered an estate, no matter how small in our tax codes. Estate property taxes are almost double that of standard home property taxes.
    In this region, you can rent a standard detached home for about 400-600 dollars per month. A tiny home in one of these communities rents for the same amount of money, because of this taxation snafu. Please keep in mind that over half the people in this region make less than 30,000 dollars per year. In fact 14,000-17,000 dollars per year is the average income of our low income wage earners, so I know this all sounds cheap to everyone else, but try living here and you’ll see that 400-600 dollars per month is one-third to one-half your monthly net income.
    County codes prevent downsizing lots beyond certain specifications, and if a person chooses to live in an area outside city limits, there are regions with no building restrictions, where a tiny home could be built without issue, and have been. Many of my neighbors live in tiny homes and trailers, and I live in a tiny-home triplex where my mother and I both have tiny units with a shared unit in between. The disadvantage is that the minimum lot size in this part countryside is one-half acre, and again, if more than one free-standing habitation is located upon the lot, the property tax practically doubles.
    You mentioned the profitability of returns as a source of why we don’t see a lot of tiny home communities cropping up, and you’re unfortunately right. In my research, taxation is set up in most regions to where everyone must pay for the privilege of owning a free-standing structure. To be practical, though, tiny-home living is not out of reason, and it can be applied in practically any area, if we change our thinking.
    If you want to live in the city, but on the small scale, divide a house into several apartments. The rental income can help you live small, encourage others to live small, and help pay for the cost of the property over time. We see this already happening in many cities as homeowners struggle with rising costs without seeing much, if any increase to income.
    If you want to live in the country, buy a small lot, and live small to enjoy the benefits of lower heating and cooling costs. Again, if the cost of owning the property seems daunting, consider building a duplex or triplex, where the units are small, but the taxation is still for one free-standing domicile. This is what we’ve got, for now. Only through our support toward greater freedom of building small homes being expressed to our local, state, and federal officials can we truly achieve the lasting changes we seek. I wish you all the best, and love this forum.

    Reply
    • Carolyn B

      DJ Spell, hi from Springfield MO.

      I would love to see small or tiny homes crop up in our neck of the woods.

      Reply
    • Linda

      Wow! I see your point. It’s “the man” that is the problem. My whole purpose in owning a tiny home would be to stick it to the man. Something must be done about housing laws and regulations before we will be free of the horrendous burden of home ownership. That will be a daunting task indeed!

      Reply
  • Laura Moncur

    Tiny house communities DO exist. We call them mobile home parks.

    Reply
    • Rickey

      Sorry but I live in a mobile home. They are bigger than the tiny houses. They are not made of the same materials and do NOT have the same look. I am looking into building a tiny house in large part because I believe the value will go up on it unstead of down like a mobile home.

      Reply
      • Linda

        You could be right that the value will increase. But if that be the case, you must insist that your tiny home NOT be made of pine. Build it of hardwood… possibly Cedar if you want it to last and not be eaten by termites.

        Reply
    • Mardee

      That’s exactly what I was thinking as I’ve read through the comments! :)

      Reply
    • Alex

      Exactly what Rickey said. I know mobile home parks exist. But I don’t want to live in one. I want it to feel nicer than that. For each unit to be a home not a mass manufactured box.

      Reply
  • Kristie

    We’re destined to be outsiders ha

    Reply
  • Adam

    How sad. Residential tiny house communities do not exist due to greedy mofos. Conversely, many people are attracted to tiny houses because they are CHEEP, and want to live without so many possessions (clutter).

    Reply
  • Adam

    the model of profit over people wins again!

    Reply
    • Alex

      It’s true. I mean, I really don’t blame business people. They probably don’t even consider the idea of affordable housing. But with this knowledge that the option is already there, I think we can actually make progress by using what business people are using to create cabin resorts and rv parks and instead create a real community.

      Reply
  • Scott

    What about boat moorings and marinas that have residential permission?
    At mine, we all (mostly all) know each other, help and look out for one another.
    Aren’t we a communities?

    Reply
    • Alex

      Hey Scott yes I totally think moorings and marinas are communities we’re just talking about a way for these communities to be able to exist around the country. And tiny houses built on trailers and placed into RV parks and cabin resorts are a good solution on land for us. That’s all.

      Reply
  • Dan C.

    The point to a house is that it puts people where they need to be in order to be useful to their own future (in control of the resources they will need to live). Today’s world is all about separating people from their resources, and putting them in debt and out of control of their own destiny, as well as keeping them dissatisfied with what they have, so they buy more. The part that is missing isn’t “tiny house communities”, but “communities” in general are missing. Most of what pass for communities these days are bedroom communities of drywall mansions where people don’t share any responsibility for each other’s future except through paying taxes. There aren’t generational families working the land for subsistence anymore: just machines and robots and people that are indistinguishable from robots. Why would robots need tiny individual houses? They can just be stacked in a warehouse every night, like the droids on Star Wars spaceships. Japan’s been doing it for decades. The fundamental problem (going back to my first sentence) is that most people don’t need to be where they think they WANT to be. They only want to be there because that’s the ‘choice’ they make based on marketing, not living needs or the needs of the environment. The tiny house idea is one of frugality from a consumer standpoint, not generosity to a place from a natural perspective of an engagement with one’s own needs (food, shelter, evolution).

    Reply
    • Linda Lyons-Bailey

      NO KIDDING. *applause*

      Reply
    • Sharon

      Dan, have you checked into “intentional communities?” Back in the 60′s we called them communes. There are many of them worldwide and in the US. I suggest that wherever zoning allows communal living, it will allow tiny house communities.

      Reply
  • Linda Lyons-Bailey

    All it would take is for an owner of a mobile home park to offer space for tiny housers to park. In lieu of rent, the cost would be a share of the local tax bill the property owner has to pay. Everybody small, everybody solar, everybody using rainwater and self-contained toilets. All people would need to pay for would be propane to heat in winter and food.

    I know an abandoned RV park in a fabulous location that I would love, love, love to do this on. However, I have no money to buy the land, tangle with the city (who surely would object, that’s what cities do), and with elder care obligations and a husband with a brain tumor, it just isn’t going to happen without a miracle straight from God. Sad, too, because this is near a beautiful park right on a beach, with a fishing pier and a cute little coffeehouse that just opened up close enough to walk to. It’s right between a neighborhood of Huge, High-Dollar Beach Homes and older, modest homes built in the 1940′s and 1950′s. It would be perfect. The old RV electrical hookups are even still there.

    *sob!*

    Reply
    • Anne

      Sharon says she has money to invest. Your site does sound lovely. Where is it?

      Reply
      • BIll Burgess

        I too have an acquaintance looking for RV type parks to buy if Sharon is does not invest. I too would like to know the area location as I am doing some Coastal Designs soon in the 400 sq.ft. range and smaller to go with my Santa Fe designs.

        Reply
      • Linda Lyons-Bailey

        There is a link below where I went this summer and took pictures so everyone can see the location. Scroll down.

        I do not know who owns it right now. I do know that the city of Hampton has a reputation for having its head you-know-where. See the Huge High Dollar Houses that were built over the protests of citizens in the area.

        However, there is some interest also in green living and having a health food store in the area, too, so I don’t think a tiny house community, especially something cute like many of the houses I see on this blog, would be completely without support.

        Reply
    • Sam W.

      You can go around using propane by using a solar cooker when it’s sunny and a miniature rocket stove when it’s not sunny. You can grow a lot (if not all) of your own food using permaculture methods, thus decreasing reliance on store-bought food. But my suggestions may or may not apply depending on a myriad of situations.

      Reply
    • Rhonda Hallet

      I own an empty mobile home space in a rural area that would be perfect for a tiny home community of approximately 10-12 homes with enough room for a community garden and outdoor spaces needed to make a real community. Please contact me asap as I have found a grant for $25000 that I would like to apply for to invest in amenities for the community. I think we could rent each space for approx. $50 a month. That is more in line with the spirit of Tiny Home living. Please contact me at 9103462054 if you have any information that could help me with the plans for this community. I have decided to do it with or without help but of course help from experts would really get this community up and running much sooner.

      Reply
      • Alex

        Hi Rhonda and everyone else- if anybody has a community that they’d like to list (including your own) please let me know by emailing me at alex @ tiny house talk . com (http://tinyhousetalk.com/submit-content) with details and I’ll add it to the list of communities here: http://tinyhousetalk.com/communities in one central place categorized by areas so it’s easy for all of us to find each other (instead of scattered in the comments here)

        Reply
  • Mike

    I’m not all that interested in living in a tiny house community … I’d just like to be able to buy property where I currently live and build whatever I want on said property as long as it is safe and attractive.

    Reply
  • Linda Lyons-Bailey

    P.S., if you have this kind of land and don’t want to do this because you would rather “earn” five times more money every year, are you really “earning” it?

    I think is this more properly called, literally, “rent-seeking”.

    As in, Ha, ha, ha, I’ve got it, and if you want to use it you will pay me through your nose. And if you can’t pay me, poo on you. You can’t use it.

    This kind of attitude is very prevalent in this country. Pretty soon, because of it, many people will have nothing at all.

    Reply
    • Alex

      One of my points is I don’t think people that own this kind of land are even thinking about doing this. I don’t think it’s even on their mind. Their business people trying to make as much profit as possible.

      Reply
      • Linda Lyons-Bailey

        Yup. My dream is to make it as an author someday and then buy this land and do it.

        However…this is NOT a very realistic dream! But is the only way I could afford to buy such land.

        Reply
      • Sandy

        I’ve been following these tiny home developments for several years now, but this is the first time I’m commenting. I have a piece of property zoned highway commercial. It’s three acres with woods and a stream and old dilapidated cottages (3) divided into two 168 sf units each. There’s a small house divided into two apartments on the property along with a 6700 sf building with garages and showroom. I have to do something with this property soon. It belongs to my mother, but I’m in charge of it and she needs to sell or get income from it to avoid losing it to taxes. (Yes I do have to pay taxes on it, and they’re not insignificant.) With the proper backing, I could build tiny houses in the commercial building and house several of them on the property. The problem is the township controls everything that happens or can happen on this property. Even though it is essentially an abandoned eyesore right now, they have refused to allow anyone to even rent space there without going through an arduous and very expensive process to get approval . The minimum cost just for approvals is around $15,000. It would be a perfect location for one of these communities, but I don’t have the money to get through the process or to bring the existing buildings up to current building codes. The property is serviced by a well and septic systems, one of which would have to be replaced (cost: $25,000- $35,000). The township would not allow composting toilets, I’m certain. And there you have the dilemma of so many property owners. We do not have the option of doing what we want with our own property. It truly is owned by the state. My parents have paid more than $300,000. in taxes over the fifty years they “owned” this property. The schools in the area are excellent, there’s a health food store being built as we speak within walking distance, and there are no neighbors to complain. Nevertheless, the obstacles are so mammoth I am not sure I want to fight for this over the several years it would take, and the many court challenges that would have to be mounted. It is a shame that our country essentially confiscates people’s property when they run out of money to pay the taxes and fight the powers-that-be. It is not a matter of property owners not being aware or willing. Rather, it is that we do not control anything we “own”; it and we are controlled by bureaucrats with power that we, the people did not give them. Rather it was seized from us along with our freedom to keep us under the control of unelected and unaccountable politicians. Sorry to go off on a rant, but this has been a frustration I have faced for the past four years. If anyone (maybe an attorney and his rich uncle) would like to join the fight with me we could accomplish something wonderful. Until then, I remain an unwilling and resentful slave of the state and township.

        Reply
    • Kelli

      I just wanted to say, respectfully of course, that I think it’s dangerous to start the judgment game with private landowners about what they choose to do, or not do, with their land. If you own an asset, you most likely had to work to earn the money to purchase that asset, or one of your ancestors worked to earn the money if you inherited it. You don’t know the personal situation of that asset owner and their ability to earn a living… the asset may be their only way of earning money… as it is for many seniors. I find your comments and many of the others on this topic very short-sighted. I applaud the overall big picture idea, no doubt, but placing the blame and pointing fingers doesn’t seem very productive.

      And, also respectfully, just as an aside per your comment below… when you write your book (an asset) and “make it big” so you can have your dream… would you be offended when people are upset with you for not letting them read it for free… or charging a lesser price than you decided was fair? Doesn’t seem right does it?

      Reply
  • Dan Ford

    I have always been intrigued with non-traditional housing, and since I came across Tiny Homes, I have been inspired to start myself down a Minimalist path, and eventually, I will – *WILL*! – end up in a Tiny Home of some kind.

    I’ve also thought about what it would take to build a Tiny Home Town, not just a resort, but a full-time, year-round living area. Taos, New Mexico, was a key site when the “Earthships (Google it!) came into being. Don’t know how they started – maybe rich folks like Dennis Weaver already owned property? – but there might be a model there to start with. Do you go to a major landowner for permission to build a town? Are there still areas of the West (I’m pretty sure that’s where it will have to be!) that have “homesteading” laws still in effect? I know in Arizona there are numerous small communities that look like they’re thrown up in the middle of nowhere. (In fact, Nowhere, AZ is an actual town!)

    I don’t know the solution, but imagine when a Tiny Home Town DOES get started: The zoning would favor the Tiny Homes, not the castle-like structures, and like-minded people would also form – in its truest sense! – a “Community.”

    Hope to find such a place, someday!

    Reply
    • BIll Burgess

      You might like some of my Santa Fe Designs Dan.tugboatwilly.com these were for a manufacturer in Tucson for the most part and will be added to when I get back to Texas this year.( I need a responsive web page)

      Reply
  • Sharon

    I see another reason why there aren’t more tiny/small house communities – relative to the general population the tiny/small house “movement” is not a large percentage of our population. Therefore, the density of interested people in a given area is insufficient to create a community, and we few of us place “living tiny/small” ahead of living where we are. I have some money: I challenge any of you to commit to MOVING to a small house community in Maryland/Delaware/Virginia/Pennsylvania that I will fund. Let’s hear it!

    Reply
    • BIll Burgess

      Sharon we need to talk. I am on Facebook or e-mail. http://www.tugboatwilly.com/tugboat907@gmail.com

      Reply
    • Shannon

      Like @Sharon, I have capital that I’m willing to invest toward a tiny house community, but in North Carolina rather than the mid-Atlantic region.

      It’s daunting to consider all the issues others have already raised: property taxes, zoning, insurance, septic, covenants, etc etc.

      I don’t need to make a large income from an endeavor like this, but I do need to not go bankrupt, and it’s hard to see how the numbers add up given that the target population for something like this is both really small and really cost-sensitive.

      But I think it’s worth exploring a bit more, though I don’t know if a blog is the best place to do it. Is there interest in a virtual conference for people to talk this through in a slightly more structured manner?

      Reply
      • Julie

        @Shannon, I just today saw an ad for 40 acres of land in Cove City, NC being sold for $55,000 and if I had the money I go buy it right now I would. According to the information I saw there are no zoning restrictions on the land. Barring any issues with the city I think it’d be the PERFECT place to start a tiny house community. I grew up about 30 minutes away and I’m trying to move back home and do the tiny house thing.

        I also think a conference of some sort is a great idea. If someone WERE to buy some land or a bunch of people got together to invest in land to split up, how would these places be run? What kind of restrictions would they have? There are so many things to dicuss!

        Reply
        • Shannon

          @Julie where did you see that listing? I didn’t find any large parcels for that kind of price in that area.

          Reply
          • Julie

            @Shannon
            Here is the listing. There isn’t very much information on the site.
            http://bit.ly/11ymJH7
            I originally saw it on another site which had a few more details. I believe it said there were no zoning restrictions, but I can’t remember what site I was on. I e-mailed the agent today for more information but I haven’t gotten a response back yet.

        • LouAnn

          For tips on how a tiny/small house community could be run etc, check out Ross Chapin’s book “Pocket Neighborhoods”. Yes, most are small houses, not tiny ones but the concept is the same. Lots of pictures of pocket neighborhoods all over the country. He discusses development, condo association vs co-op’s. etc. Lovely informative book. And he is making a success of the neighborhoods he has created and continues to create. I know they are not the low priced tiny houses but the basic concepts are worth looking at. They are not McMansion’s either with most of his houses in the 600-900 square foot range, but he does show some neighborhoods of smaller houses.

          Reply
      • Julie

        @Shannon I got word back from the Realtor. He says the land has been on the market for about 6 months, water and phone are available and electric is already there, he doesn’t know about gas or cable availability. He doesn’t know for sure about owner financing but thinks the seller might be willing if the buyer came to the table with a 25% or so down payment. I also have a plot map of the property if you were interested at all. you can e-mail at fugee13 @ gmail if you want.

        Reply
        • Shannon

          @Julie—I think this is parcel 9-043 -7000 on the Craven County GIS map. You could visit http://www.cravencountync.gov/departments/pln.cfm to get the contact info for the planning commissioner to ask what are the permitted uses for this parcel. I’m not super-interested in this property (have my sights set further west on a smaller property with an old farmhouse to fix up) but if you can gather some other interested folks it might be a contender.

          Reply
    • Morgaine

      Sharon, I have been pondering over this one for a few years now. And I need to do a bit more research. But things to consider, are natural water sources, such a springs coming out of rock, where there has been some filtration, and cold for keeping things cool in summer. There needs to be more than one. Quality soil for crops. Protection provided by the landscape, and close proximity of other communities, if needed. Bartering and helping one another to survive in this crazy economy. Far enough away from cities, because the economy will collapse eventually. This is a given. I am very interested…..not certain the location, but it has to be well thought out. Maybe we can bang our heads together on this one. I know from traveling cross country, and just a bunch of road trips, Chemtrails have killed off a lot of forest growth. It needs to be, where they have not sprayed to the point of dead mountain tops, like many areas are experiencing. My e-mail is XZORIANX@Yahoo.com if you would like to connect further. Facebook, Morgaine D’Clegg. Take care. I always wanted to be the Old Crone, sitting in my tiny house in the woods by a running stream. With all the little critters stopping by to say hello. Laughing/Smiling.

      Reply
      • Sharon

        Morgaine – thanks for your comments. Due to other events in my life, a tiny house community is now on the back burner. However, I have my eye on the Floyd, Virginia area in SW Virginia. Several communes, an ecovillage, imply an area accepting of alternative housing ideas.

        Reply
    • John

      Sharon
      I live in Montgomery County, MD and am willing to commit to a small house community within commuting distance of this area. Land is at a premium in the Washington, DC area so planners here are now focused on supporting high density environments near our Metro stations to alleviate traffic congestion that has been created by large scale suburban development.

      I believe there is a great market for affordable, sustainable small home communities that provide enough land for micro farming and small businesses with an emphasis on training and supporting people who are interested in advancing this lifestyle. I would like to participate in creating such a community that can serve as a national model.

      Reply
      • Erica

        John,
        I am located around Baltimore, MD. I’ve also been looking into areas in MD that would be welcoming to a small house community. Having lived in Silver Spring, I do believe that there are some good areas in MD that would be welcoming of a small community, because of the premium on space.

        The closer one gets to DC, however, the more expensive the land would be.

        Reply
        • Stacy

          Fellow Marylanders — did either of you find any leads on tiny house parking? I am having a hard time finding somewhere I can park even for a couple months so I can build my place. Thanks!!!

          Reply
    • lynne harvell

      where in Virginia?

      Reply
    • Leslie Senior

      Sharon,
      I’m interested to know if anyone else has responded to your (above) post. The reason why the Tiny Home movement isn’t moving is because like any other “cause” the key is connecting. With social media and this very web site, I don’t know why it can’t happen! There are plenty of people interested in this (or would be), and it’s a matter of all of us connecting and sharing our information – in a much bigger reality than the postings on this web site.
      I’m interested in Pennsylvania on your list, but primarily Massachusetts. My belief is that if you really want something, you make it happen. I have money, too. And I’m really checking out all posts related to the Tiny Home movement in US after having bookmarked these web sites for a couple of years now. TIME to get moving!
      Thanks! – Leslie Senior / leslies.post@gmail.com

      Reply
  • Kevin

    All good opinions and well thought out. Another thing not mentioned is the American culture. Tiny is NOT better to the general population. Just as bicycles and feet and public transportation are not better than cars, again in the mindset of the ‘typical’ American.

    I lived in Austin, TX for 20 years, arguably one of the most alternative and open minded places in the country. They put in a light rail system that has not paid for itself – can’t get people out of their cars.

    In Austin there are a number of unique homes, small to large, but the prevailing attitude is ‘bigger is better’

    I mentioned Austin as an example. We travel full time now in our RV – no home base, no house etc. In our travels we see the same situation in a lot of the ‘progressive’ cities – Boulder, CO, Asheville, NC.

    We are at the beginning of the tiny/small movement. Cultural changes take a lot of effort and time. As long as America remains one of the most affluent countries in the world we may not see the change take hold. Affluence means ‘displays of wealth’ and in our society wealth is measured in $$$ rather than quality of life.

    Reply
    • dan c

      Yes indeed.

      Reply
    • Alex

      Great points Kevin but I have to say that even though America’s mantra has been “bigger is better” etc it doesn’t mean that tiny house people won’t spend their money.

      These people will actually have the most money to spend because of their discretionary income.

      It just won’t be on things like giant mortgages, furniture, etc. But they’ll still spend on things like travel, restaurants, art, music, technology, digital products, experiences, etc.

      Reply
    • Alex

      My point is just because we’d live small doesn’t mean we wouldn’t support our own economy. We would! We’d just get to make better choices instead of wasting our money and sending it off to greedy loan people, etc.

      Reply
      • Kevin

        I agree completely, Alex. I did not mean to imply that the ‘Tiny Folks’ would not spend and contribute to the economy. As a matter of fact, the TFs would probably have more discretionary cash than they do now.

        Case in point – we sold our golf-course condo 4 years before we retired. We bought a used RV and have been living in it for 5 1/2 years now. Had we kept the expensive condo we would not have been able to retire.

        Because we got rid of the mortgage, taxes and all the associated living costs and moved into 300 square feet, we had considerably more mad money. We are now reaping the benefits of it and contributing to the economy in a much more satisfying way.

        We feel rich beyond our dreams but our wealth is indeed measured in quality of life.

        Reply
        • BIll Burgess

          Don’t leave out one of the best parts Kevin, we don’t have to put up with the neighbors. And I have found it let’s us get to see and share more ideas by a magnitude of ten at least.

          Reply
        • Alex

          Thanks for clarifying that Kevin, so glad to hear how much you’re enjoying retirement without all the “big stuff” while still getting to spend your money, just in your own way which is that much more enjoyable.

          Reply
    • Morgaine D'Clegg

      America is no longer one of the most affluent. The tiny house community will be popular real soon. China owns us. They are buying up US bonds, property, and land with valuable resources. The US has been giving billion dollar contracts to Chinese businesses, rather than companies here. We are in trouble, and this community idea is needed now, more than ever.

      Reply
    • Susanne

      Well said.

      Reply
  • Mary

    What if a tiny house community were part of urban renewal? Lots and old houses are cheap in some of these places, and work is nearby. Crime would be the main issue-I can think of several cities that might be willing to work with people if they could answer that problem creatively.

    Reply
  • Judith Anderson

    I think it would take 3 things to form a tiny house community: 1) people who don’t need mass transit to a major metroplex such as those who can telecommute or those who are retired. 2) locations such as smaller communities who would welcome an increase in population.
    3)a group of like-minded people such as the communes or artist’s colonies. I know many small towns who would welcome a tiny house community. Just ask me.

    Reply
    • Sharon

      Judith – what small towns do you have in mind.

      Reply
    • Leslie Senior

      Echoing Sharon’s question:
      -what small towns do you have in mind that would welcome tiny
      house communities?
      Thank you.
      Leslie Senior
      leslies.post@gmail.com

      Reply
  • Linda Lyons-Bailey

    May I nominate the old Gordon’s RV Park at Buckroe Beach in Hampton, VA? I even shot photos and put them on the net somewhere…

    (hunts for link)

    Reply
    • Susanne

      Absolutely!

      Reply
  • chris

    What does everyone define as “community”? Shared services only (as in a trailer park)? Or more communal with shared crops etc?
    For example many structures on one piece of land (i.e. no internal property lines) can be considered one total building for the purposes of building codes. But then all would have to jointly own the property.
    I guess you need to define community. Then the solution can be pursued effectively.
    I’ve been dealing with all sorts of codes for 28 years as an architect. There’s often a solution.

    Reply
    • Amy

      I am care-taking a 50 acre wooded property with a large common house that I would like to convert to a tiny homes community. I even know how to build! The trick is finding people who want to live here, either renting or buying an existing house or bringing or building their own. I am thinking about 10 houses total, maybe? However, I don’t know where to start to find out about codes and such.

      Reply
      • Karla

        I’m interested. Where are you located, Amy?

        Reply
      • Leslie Senior

        Yes, I can get my tiny home built, but land is the key.
        Amy, where are you located?
        Thank you,
        Leslie Senior / leslies.post@gmail.com

        Reply
  • Linda Lyons-Bailey

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LittleHouses/photos/album/1998394553/pic/list

    It is in a Yahoo group you may have to join to see the album.

    Reply
  • ghpacific

    I once talked with a salesman for a Del Webb retirement village and he told me it took 7000 houses to support a 7-11! I had hopes of creating a village of retiree cabins around a lake, but the reality of numbers squelched that pretty quickly. Still it is wonderful to see all the thought going into some solutions such as these, http://www.monolithic.com/stories/project-the-future-of-senior-living/photos http://medcottage.com/ http://breckenridgefinerliving.com/index.php?p=home

    Reply
  • Mikki

    I have been hell bent on finding a tiny house community for about 6 months now. This is ultimately my dream, to get a group of like-minded people together to purchase a large chunk of land and put up our tiny neighborhood. I haven’t been able to find any tiny house communities on the internet—lots of ‘Intentional’ communities, but not one geared specifically to tiny homes.

    Reply
    • Amy

      Hi Mikki!
      It is my dream to set up a tiny house community where I live, in rural Minnesota. The property is 50 wooded acres with ponds and is located 10 minutes from a college town(Northfield, MN), and only 40 minutes from the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. In order to make this happen, we need to connect people who have land to people who want to live on it.
      Where do you want to live?
      Amy

      Reply
      • Kelly Bolling

        Amy,
        I have loved tiny houses for so long, and think about trying it sometime in the future. I live in MN too, so if you ever decide to do that, would love to be added to your list of people interested . : )

        - Kelly

        Reply
      • David W.

        I have had a strong interest in the Tiny Homes for just about two years now. I have designed several for my own use. I see a huge number of people getting involved in this as they become more popular. I see Tiny Homes of the future as being separated into two styles Fixed Foundation and Moveable. Fixed foundation would have basements that can be entered by outside access door or basement stair cases. The two areas of such a community would be separated as Fixed and Moveable Fixed foundations would still be considered as movable as the property they rest on would be leased with amenities such as sewer, water and electric out building and garden would be allowed on these sites.
        Moveable would be leased on a yearly basis with hook ups sewer water and electrical available. I would really like to see a community such as this built in Minnesota near a larger metro area.

        Reply
      • Leslie Senior

        Hi Amy, I replied to your 1st posting, and now I see where your 50 acres is located. What’s happening with this? My replies are much later than the posting, so I’d appreciate an update with the Tiny Home plan in Minnesota!
        Thanks, Leslie Senior
        leslies.post@gmail.com

        Reply
  • Maja Kricker

    There are counties where developers are required to offer some low cost housing in exchange for creating a residential subdivision. I strongly suspect that if a group who was interested in developing a tiny house community went to them with plans, they might be interested and willing to help present the concept to the County Commissioners to get permits to build. The tiny houses would probably have to be fixed on foundations in these cases and hook up to water and sewer. Just one possibility. This would work particularly well for a community mixture of students and seniors who want to maintain an inexpensive independent life style.

    Reply
  • Matt

    I have to agree with Laura on this one… RV and mobile home parks have been around for a long time. If you step outside the US, smaller homes approaching tiny house size are the norm.
    The perception of tiny house rarity is coming from the perspective of “down-sizing” an average US home, rather than perceiving it as part of a luxury mobile home market.
    This wonderfully highlights the classism in the US, which draws a class distinction between tiny houses and mobile homes that are deemed to be only for “trailer park trash”. So many tiny houses are impractical scale models of an American dream home aesthetic. Why aren’t there more homes in the US closer to the concrete blocks and corrugated sheet metal aesthetic of most of the third world (appropriately retrofitted for the obvious comfort issues)?

    As to why the zoning difficulties, communities require economic growth to survive in a capitalist economy. That means development skewed towards a higher tax-base, meaning residential/commercial property development, with wealthy people to pay those taxes, who, in turn, demand bigger space (more development). Classism overlays on top of this (with help from the other “isms”), to make it impossible to have affordable living in a place with good schools/high quality of life etc. And thus, new home sizes have grown 2x in the last forty years, and there are 22 vacant homes for every homeless person in the US.

    Reply
  • Dave

    if there was a way of obtaining land and calling it a “campsite” and charging a reduced fee for tiny houses that you either rend or that are on trailers it would be feasible to have one. Then again money would be an issue there. but if you got enough people together that were interested and you all payed up front for the property, then all you would have to do is split the property tax between the owners and anyone else that moved in would be paying either to keep that slated or for extra income. problem solved there you go, now you would have a small home community and people would just be “camping”

    Reply
    • Sharon

      Dave – then I think you are back to dealing with RV park zoning. Again (per my earlier post), I don’t see anyone saying, “OK, Dave, count me in – let’s go do it!”

      Reply
  • john

    In Europe, Gypsies have faced this problem for centuries…they have become a nomadic people for good reason. Tiny homes on trailers are going to be treated in similar fashion here in the US.
    A few generations back we saw RV parks, and trailer parks become popular…they hit a decline in popularity after many became run down and attracted ‘undesirables’ public opinion changed and they became the bane of communities looking to improve their property values and appearance.
    This is just one reason the publics opinion of ‘trailer parks’ is poor. Tiny homes are not ‘trailers’ as in the trailer park types, but we ourselves have billed them (so far) as RV’s or in the public’s view, ‘trailer homes’. We also fight building codes by naming them RV’s and therefore have given both the public, and officials good reason to classify them in the same way trailer park trailers are.
    So they are RV’s if on wheels, or permanent fixed structures if built on foundations…both have flaws, neither meets the true nature of tiny homes, and as a result it’s not easy or practical for many to begin a life in a tiny home.
    It all boils down to money…the purchase of land zoned for an RV/trailer park community, permits for the code required infrastructure and utilities, a proper tax system, the correct insurance coverage, municipal services, and more…
    Millions to create a neighborhood, 30-40 homes in suburban America…and really no different than if you were to build a standard neighborhood…Alone, a tiny house could be built on purchased land in some unincorporated area where zoning and codes are simple for a lot less than a modern community, but still you would have to have utilities to be legal for occupation by full time residents…water, sewage or septic system, power…all good if you’ve the income for it, but if like many you are looking to get into a tiny home on a tight budget…not really practical when compared to the cheap rent offered in other places.

    Here’s a thought…in central Florida there are many older trailer parks that have homes dating back to the early 70′s…these are fairly ugly and worn out…owners of such parks may consider removing these older relics in favor of a nice looking tiny home…with utilities and such already in place it would make life easier, but you would then have to sign a lease and pay lot rent along with utility bills…
    If enough tiny homeowners were to get together perhaps a section or an entire park could be re-established in place of the older mobile homes to improve the appearance of an old mobile home park…a park already ‘grandfathered’ in to an area of town otherwise out of reach for tiny homes and communities…

    Reply
    • Guy

      John

      Great idea I own a mobile home park and tried to do what you wrote about . Here is what happens . First only factory approved homes,built in a approved factory with a serial number from the factory can be set up in A mobile home park . RV,S are considered temparey housing and are not meant for long term living . Most tiny house,s fall under category . Since most owners it seems want to save money by building it themselves they are not going to be approved .I would love to replace some of the older units with new tiny houses .It has nothing to do with income I would get the same income from a tiny house as a mobile .But until someone figures out how to build one in a approved factory (for safety,health,energy ,etc.) I do not see this happening .. I would love it if someone had a answer to this problem because I have a space to put one in right now ,in central Oregon ..

      Reply
      • David E

        Idea 1: Maybe a mobile home park owner such as yourself, together with a group of people wanting tiny homes together could jointly approach an approved mobile home factory open to building coustomized models — to build several duplex or triplex models that would sum up to minimum sqft requirements(2 or 3 tiny houses on a single single-wide frame)with higher quality materials and more esthetic exterior (cabin-like).

        Idea 2: Imagine two Tumbleweed-style houses built not on seperate trailers, but on opposite ends of one single-wide mobile home frame… The open space between the two as a communal deck…. Such models could be bought by someone wanting to rent the other, use it as a guest cabin, house a dependent, etc. If one or both homes of such a duplex was designed wheel-chair accessible there would probably be a lot of interest… Connect several such duplexes with a boardwalk for an accessible community….

        Idea 3: Has any of the current tiny home manufacturers (Tumbleweed, Tiny Texas …) looked into trying to qualify as an “approved mobile home factory” to make such “approved models with serial numbers” when requested?

        Reply
      • jerryd

        Guy, the solution is quite easy to your
        problem.

        Just build tiny houses on the old trailer frames or rent the space to those with them to put on those frames.

        ===In Fla as long as what you put on them is better, it’s legal as just a rebuild of an
        existing MH.

        ===I’m doing a 5 unit ‘compound’/tiny home on a MH frame for 2 of them on a double/2 50×100′ lots here SE of Tampa.

        ====I don’t understand the premise of the article as there are so many tiny home communites already just not called that but HM, RV, motel, retirement, marinas, farm housing, hunting, cabin, resort, dorms, co housing or existing tiny homes that has always been there.

        ===And I find the bias here against MH’s, RV’s, travel trailers, houseboats and many of the large number of tiny homes unless stick built on trailer frames in many posts. Why should we discount these when many are better in so many ways than the stick built version especially if moving a lot and in other situations.

        ==We should embrace all forms of smart living small without belittling others. For instance many MH, RV’s, travel trailers are far higher quality than a stick built version with better
        insulation, etc.

        ==Just because some are low quality doesn’t mean they all are and many of the newer ones are excellent quality. As the same can be said for stick built Tumbleweed style.

        Reply
      • BIll Burgess

        So Guy you can’t even put in a Park Model as it too would not fit zoning?

        Reply
      • signalfire

        Sounds like maybe the problem lies in not having the government stamp saying you’re building up-to-code park model buildings. How hard would that be to get, and how much money would you need to sink into it? How hard *should* it be, considering it’s the same certification process as for site-built houses?

        I’m seeing some pretty-well made tiny home builds going on, by people with plenty of building experience, but they want a lot of money for the things, upwards of $200 or more per square foot, which is ridiculous. 20K for a 100 SF place??

        Seems like any tiny house that you build by yourself, with ‘certification’ along the way of the foundation, insulation, electrical and plumbing, should be able to get the stamp of approval and then go into a pre-existing mobile home park.

        Reply
        • Tim

          “20K for a 100 SF place” – yeah, and it’s because of labor costs.

          Anyone who has ever installed a roof or a floor can tell you why that tiny house costs so much per square foot – it’s because flooring a room with a door that is 10×10 (100 sq feet) will take maybe twice the time to do a room with a door that is 3×3 (9 square feet). Both rooms contain one door and four corners, which is what defines the complexity of laying the floor. The difference between the two rooms is in the middle of the floor where the plank flooring (or carpet for that matter) lays itself.

          Labor costs are the same for high and low quality houses as well. For example, the labor to install a toilet in a mansion is about the same as a hovel. The number of parts is the same, therefore the labor is the same.

          On the RV’s, my wife and I currently live in a leftover FEMA trailer. We’ve redecorated and enjoy it, although it was an adjustment from our 4000 sq foot house. That was 5K for 240 sq feet, or $20 per square foot. Why was it cheap? Because it was designed to minimize labor and materials cost, not to look nice.

          We have looked at some very very nice fifth-wheel trailers. We’re talking Amish cabinetry, heat pumps, great insulation. $80k for 427 sq ft. That comes to $187 per square foot.

          So figure that the tiny-house builders don’t have the economies of scale, and you can see why $200/sq ft for something of house-like quality is not out of line.

          Reply
        • David E

          Maybe someone could get a joint venture going between a tiny house design and marketing firm (like Tumbleweed) and an existing manufacturer of nice cabin-like park models (already certified and capable of mass production to lower costs) to build duplex or triplex models on mobile home frames.

          Reply
  • Chip

    You are onto something with the resort community idea. I have a friend who lives in a 55+ community out near palm springs. The community is technically an RV park, but many of the residents live their year round in “park model” RVs which are like mobile homes, but much smaller. Many of them are just slightly larger than ‘tiny homes’ and feature fully functional bathrooms and kitchens that hook up to a sewer line. The cheapest models cost around $20k new. And even less for an older unit.

    I know many tiny home builders take a great deal of pride in their trailer homes (and they are trailer homes) but the park model option could be a way for those who want to live in a community but don’t feel they have the ability to build their own to have the cost savings of a tiny home.

    Another advantage of the park model home is that it is fully licensed as an RV. You pay your tags and insurance on it each year, and are financially protected should you suffer a fire or other catastrophic event.

    I always find it interesting to read the tiny house blogs and read the comments and how smug people in the TH community can be in their feelings of persecution. No one is keeping you from living in a small space. The people with a normal sized home or larger simply don’t want tiny homes pulling down their property value any more than you want their big ugly boxes cluttering up your view.

    Many of the codes and rules that exist are not designed to persecute you, but to provide a space for the majority of people who want to live in a homogenous neighborhood. Codes are also designed to ensure that people are living In a quality home, and again, while many tiny home builders take pride in doing a first rate job, a world without building codes leads to shoddy construction and dangerous living conditions.

    So find a space that is friendly to you, build a community, maybe even allowing for mixed use of park models, traditional RVs as well as home built tiny trailer homes. Put in a nice community center, plumbing, a dump site for those who want to do the composting thing, a shower house, for people who just want their home to be a box to sleep in, and a community of kind open minded people willing to live and let live.

    Small houses and Home built RVs are a great idea, and as soon as I turn 55 I plan to move into a full time park. If I can find a place with no age restrictions I may even move to one before that. Almost anyone can save up $20k for a home of their own whether they buy it pre made or build it themselves.

    The desire to build a community of like minded people is a good idea, and by modifying the traditional long term RV resort model, you can probably find a solution that will work.

    Reply
    • BIll Burgess

      Chip as far as Park Models and Craftsman tiny homes. The problem with most builders the Park Model is just a shrunken single wide design. For the most part they still would rather sell their full size models. To change the culture of manufacturing is the challenge. I often think Sailboat builders would be the logical use of talent.
      Most of aesthetics will be materials and proportional changes. Multi function areas in the house works really well in small spaces. Where most of my designs use the bath and a half format, one of my two story models has another full bath option but that involves an onsite crane or heavy lift fork lift.
      The use of high quality hard flooring will go a long way to the feel of quality in a small space. Another is high quality counter tops. It is a small area and as you are not installing acres of it price should be moderate for what you get in service and looks.

      Reply
  • Dean

    This is no mystery to me. There is a stigma that “tiny home communities” will become low cost housing. It’s that simple. While most of us who seek out the information on this sight want to use it to better our own lives, there are other who will capitalize off of it. It wouldn’t take long for land owners to put up cheaply made “shed homes” and charge people the same rate as a mobile home park. Lower income people flock to these locations and therefore the land owners (or association members) usually has very little money. When it comes time to update infrastructure such as drinking water wells or septic & leaching fields, they just can’t afford it. The State usually has to bail these communities out of debt with grant money every ten years or so. The stigma is that the tiny house community concept will be exploited or abused and eventually evolve into an environmental/health liability or an eyesore.

    There is really no way of avoiding what I just described. Once the doors are open for land owners to create tiny house communities, someone will begin abusing the concept or be negligent with what they’ve just created.

    As hard as this is to accept, selectmen and planning boards see tiny homes as low-cost housing. They see it as a place for low-income & low-educated people to live. This situation can lead to stockpiling, hoarding, self-care deficits and a myriad of other problems. To me it is obvious why tiny house communities don’t exist; because nobody in a leadership position wants to be the one to answer for the inevitable. Leaders are not going to do anything that might blow up in their face…which includes tiny home communities, which they see as low-income housing. They would rather put that socioeconomic group in municipally funded apartments where they have no land to devalue, less public visibility and it’s easier for the town enforcement officers to monitor them.

    That’s why lawmakers are against us having tiny homes.

    Reply
    • Linda Lyons-Bailey

      OK I don’t know anything about legalities.

      But it seems as if a person could have some sort of homeowner’s association or legal agreement that residents would have to sign to live there. You agree to keep your property in a safe and liveable condition, you agree to keep in in a sightly condition, etc. And a landowner would have the right to ask people to leave his land if there were drunk and disorderly episodes, drunks, etc. or people carrying out crimes.

      Seems like the kind of person willing to build and live in his own house isn’t that kind of person, anyway. I mean, look at the ingenuity you see on this blog! Somebody putting that kind of time, thought, and effort into their home isn’t “trailer park trash.” It seems like you could go before a city council and explain that pretty efficiently.

      Reply
    • Amy

      Dean,
      Thanks for these insights! I believe you are right, and it is something that anyone looking to create a community(such as myself) should keep in mind. I believe I have been aware of what you are talking about, in a vague sense, from the beginning of this dream/process.

      Reply
  • Alice Huff

    My home is 930 sq. ft. very small by American standards and was built just after WWII for returning GIs. I also lived in an 18 ft. Towlite camping trailer when I traveled. Watch an HGTV show called “House Hunters” and you will understand what people want. No one says they want a smaller bathroom/bedroom/kitchen. It takes a major change in mindset to live in a small space and Americans equate huge with success. I compare success with being happy & contented with my self. I think a tiny house would be perfect as a retirement commune. I do not see a tiny house community in a totally urban setting where their is noise, pollution and crime.

    Reply
  • Neo Sovereign

    Wonderful article. This actually inspired me to think about how I might put together a small house community of my own and make it an affordable rental community.

    Thank you!

    Reply
  • John Blevins

    I think it is all about zone regulations. This is mostly due to size of dwelling. I think this has been the issue for years; and see nothing changing any time soon. I say this as someone who likes the tiny house movement; but the facts are what they are. Then there is the rental lot issue; most people want to own the land. Rent is too high for a lot in a trailer park. The laws need to change before tiny homes can become a more available in most of America.

    Reply
  • Tennessee Tiny Homes

    Great post Alex!!! My dream is to own 100-200 acres an hour from Colorado Springs or Denver and build a TINY HOUSE COMMUNITY!!!! There would be large lots for those seeking a little more privacy and then tight knit lots for the social butterflies! A really nice common building, stables, v-ball court, common and individual gardens, solar and wind power, ride shares to the city, the possibilities are endless!! I would move our business to Colorado, continue building tiny homes that list for around $20,000.00 and offer seller financing at 0% interest!! Only catch is the home has to stay on a lot on the property until its paid off. The lot rent would be very fair!!!! Im not looking to get rich, just enjoy life with like minded people doing what i love!!!

    Reply
    • sunshineandrain

      Sounds beautiful. I’d love to see it when you make it real. About an hour or so south from Colorado Springs is where I have in mind.

      I don’t have the funds for any more than about 35 acres. In the realm of ideas, I would charge a portion (pro-rated upon the # of spots occupied) of the property taxes plus $50-$100/mo. infrastructure maintenance/repair fee (placed in a special escrow account) plus any grid electric use.

      No rent: I’m not looking to live off my fellow community dwellers [And I’m not saying that you are}; but upkeep, because I think that to keep it an attractive, living community, all participants need to be invested in the infrastructure.

      I also think that to keep it an attractive, living community, all participants need to be invested in the upkeep of their own immediate surroundings and communal areas on a frequent and volunteer basis. That is, I consider each of us to be caretaker. (No central caretaker.)

      There would have to be covenants and or a co-op agreement to cover the possible bad situations. We are all human after all and not perfect.

      Just letting my thoughts flow off of your comment. I hope to be neighbors in the future. I wish you well.

      Reply
      • Joe3

        sunshineandrain
        That’s very similar to what I envision, I’d like the acreage set up in a land trust to protect everybody …. sounds like you’d be a great neighbor.

        Reply
    • Whidbey Island in Washington

      Hi Tennessee Tiny Homes,

      I have been having similar vision for here on Whidbey Island – wanting to have individual bedrooms/office space small private buildings, small bathroom (=tiny homes), a common house to share meals, get togethers, etc. a bath house – really nice one, sauna, steam room, tub, showers etc. Lots of woods, trails, How about moving your dream to the Pacific Northwest on this beautiful island :)

      Reply
      • Beth Lanzi

        I am currently in Humboldt County California and would love to move to Whidbey Island. I am just finishing my tiny house and do not have a place for it yet.

        Reply
  • Charito

    I used to live in Clearwater, Fl. I have lived in three different “Park Model” homes. I truly don’t know how many sq. ft they are but I would hazard a guess that they average about 230 sq ft. This is much larger than the tiny homes you are talking about. The Trailer community hated us. First of all the Park Models were all rentals and went for $500 a month. They had wood siding with a deck the same size as the inside, painted in the bright Key West style and actually were much prettier than the old tin trailers with the pointy hitch still attached. The “home owners in the park paid nearly the same in lot fees as our rent and had very ridged restrictions on the maintenance of their lots. We were never accepted as members of the community. We were excluded from all social aspects of the community, or had to pay to participate.I just love small living, even with a 110 lb French Mastiff! My favorite one was an open concept . At one end I had a small kitchen/bathromm, with a loft over. I had a beautiful spiral staircase installed to make it easier for me to get up and down.I kept the air on 80 year round mostly to combat the humidity. I had a beautiful container garden. I didn’t want to put anything in the ground because it then became the property of the land owner. I ended up having to leave because I could no longer do the steps onto the porch and there wasn’t enough space on my lot to put in a regulation ramp. I really loved that unit , but it is hard living in a community that does not want you there!I personally would like to see an RV park restricted to small houses with larger than normal lots. Zoned for fcrops/small hobby farms. To address the profitability issues, it could be run like a condo association. If there were seasonal residents they could be allowed to rent their units. It could also be an owner community that would actually own their little piece. I would move there if its in a warm climate! Hope you come up with a solution.

    Reply
  • Richard Chastain

    I think a tiny house community in my area would be fabulous but only the most prestigious would find out about it first and fill all the vacancies. Then there would be only moving in to used tiny houses left for the rest of us poor folks who would have otherwise have moved in to the new tiny house community had I known it was there from the beginning. Finding out about the tiny house community to begin with for those of us who would move it to one first would be a primary consideration for us serious tiny-housers.

    Reply
    • BIll Burgess

      Richard that is exactly what happened on Widbey Island in Washington. Permits were gained by Chappin for a low income seniors pocket neighborhood and the rich Yuppies moved in an bought it up at inflated prices before seniors had a chance.

      Reply
    • sunshineandrain

      What are safeguards that could be erected to prevent such from happening again?

      Reply
  • John

    I agree with Joel.

    I currently live within a subdivision in a 2000 sq.ft. home, and I’m investigating TIny Homes as a way to downsize as well as to live more freely and independently from the current neighborhood model. My wife and I look forward to having more space between our neighbors and us. We’re not anti-social, or anti-community, but we know that with close proximity comes conflict. Tight neighborhoods and subdivisions lead to overbearing zoning to (ostensibly) keep the peace and maintain property values. But we want to do our own thing outside of the watchful eye of the local government and of our neighbors.

    Building a tiny house community (in some ways) runs counter to that sentiment. I can see such a community of like-minded people coming together, only to be torn apart by individual biases and agendas. “No, you can’t build an addition to your home because it would make it too big for this community!” or “No you can’t paint your house red because it would ruin the aesthetic of the neighborhood”. Dr. Seuss was right: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3yJomUhs0g

    Reply
    • Sharon

      John – I want it all! I want close “community” when I feel social, and isolation when I want to be alone! Seriously, I have my eye on a 10 acre parcel in Virginia that would allow enough room for a mix of “high density” and some larger lots as well. Plus a community center.

      Reply
      • John

        My wife and I are thinking about having 2 tiny houses eventually. One would be the main home and probably ~600-700 sq.ft., built on a slab. The other would be on a travel trailer which we could relocate occasionally and use as a vacation home. So, if we can’t find a great location for the main home, we’ll get our peace and quiet by taking lots of extended vacations. In that way, we’ll have it all. :)

        Reply
        • Ann

          John, great idea!! I am currently doing that exact thing backwards. I have a small piece of property with two mobile homes on it. I bought a travel trailer to live in for now so I can save some money. We are in the process of moving in right now. My son has been working hard to get everything ready. He can do any maintenance and that’s a big savings. He’s going to live in one of the mobile homes. Due to the job market he’s been out of work and this has really helped him get back into feeling useful and motivated. I’ve never seen him work so hard!! I eventually want to renovate the 2nd mobile home into a ‘tiny home’ and use my travel trailer for either vacations or other family members. This site has really turned my mind around about owning my own home, as before I always said I would rent because owning was too expensive. I have viewed so many tiny homes and am excited at the prospect of being able to actually afford something that we can build.

          Reply
          • Beth

            Hello Ann, you said:

            “This site has really turned my mind around about owning my own home, as before I always said I would rent because owning was too expensive. I have viewed so many tiny homes and am excited at the prospect of being able to actually afford something that we can build.”

            Yes! I am 54 years old, and I believe this could be the answer to my own place.

            Even better, being able to move my house.
            That would be a dream come true.

            I wonder if the VA would give me a home loan for a Tiny House on Wheels. LOL

            It is delightful to hear that you and your son are working on the dream together. :)

            Beth

      • Judy

        I am looking to connect by email with Sharon who left this comment. I ‘m in Floyd Va with 40 acre of unrestricted zoning.

        Reply
  • Bob Henry

    Our roads are rerouted and improved from sea to shining sea. Many of the properties affeced by these changes are in rural areas. These plots of ground at one time had someones home on them and it was razed to make way for the right of way. Many of the homeowners sold out eventhough there was adequate room for their home to remain and simply used the rerouting as an opportunity to make a change. I make this point to open this up as an opportunity to find a site most likely with existing septic and a well. Now try and purchase this little scrap of land. Our state has thousands upon thousands of acres unloved and unclaimed. Land that could add to the tax coffers
    but try and purchase one of these orphands. The state employees are far more interested in a hot cup of coffee than a ready and willing buyer for these properties. I personally have 10 months and 30 plus e mails to 11 different DOT employees who’s job is in the sale of real estate. We have a new govenor elect who will be sworn in on the 15th of January. My e mail complaint will be added to his desk on that same morning. Do I expect any more from him, I don’t know !
    We will se what kind of fellow we have elected. I know this matter is small potatoes but there is a potential of several million dollars in land sales if he can motivate our state employees. I will keep you informed

    Reply
  • Cecilia Shukwit

    I really appreciate all the insight and dialogue around the issue. I live in Portland Oregon. I started following the tiny house movement several years ago. It actually led me to a decision to buy a vintage trailer. The only place ( not counting rundown city trailer parks)I know of here where you can park and live in your trailer is on Sauvie Island. He seems to be full all of the time. It’s a beautiful rural spot. It is my hope that people will consider mixing tiny homes and trailers in one community. We all have priorities, and right now all four of my children live here, so I am not leaving the area. It is already my community. I already rent a tiny house in Portland but I want to live even tinier and cheaper. Another point I’d like to address is community living. I , like so many folks of a certain age, lived in a commune situation for 13 years. It’s tricksy! and not sure I would want too many rstrictions in that scenario. I do like Jay Schaefer’s idea of options that include people who are private and people who want to do many things together. It is always challenging in the pioneer stages of any endeavor but well worth it. I am thankful that the tiny house movement keeps all these issues in the forefront of our thinking!

    Reply
  • C Lyons

    Some really great insights for a complicated subject. I especially commend DJ Spell and Dan C. This is complex and I could go down many paths, but I will start with. Price per square foot. This is a formula that banks, consumers and realtors all whip out when trying to figure out if a house is a good deal or investment. This formula has developed over the decades as house sizes have increased to an average of 2500 s/f. Small homes will always be penalized with this formula, because the two most expensive rooms in a house are the kitchen and bathroom(s). These rooms can cost $1000 s/f, so builders and developers make their money back by building big living rooms and bedrooms, which are simply studs, drywall and a few electrical wires surrounding cubic volume.
    We need to change the mindset that a house value is in it’s price per square foot. Even if the buyers get that, but have to borrow money from a bank,that doesn’t, we still have a problem.
    Second, property cost and city permits and fees are expensive in many parts of the country and a builder/developer can be out a huge range of money, just to have dirt ready to be built on.
    Many people don’t like paying higher taxes or bonds for city services, so it is easier for many municipalities to charge people who aren’t there yet for infrastructure, which means fees for developers that get passed on to new home buyers, raising the cost of new construction, even if it is small.
    Smaller houses mean less property tax for cities, which means less money for services, such as schools, fire, police and streets, parks etc.
    We have to know and understand the barriers to more sensible living, to start combating them. So many aspects of sustainable living are currently illegal, from tiny houses, to collecting rain water and using grey water, to hanging laundry out to dry.
    Our entire countries economy is dependent on debt and consumption, which is great for the GDP but horrible for households that value simple things like quality over quantity.
    I have often thought it keeps coming back to altruistic investors that see the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit, rather than just how much money they can make. Most of us have to make money, but the real value comes from helping improve communities.

    Reply
  • Pat Travis

    Are you guys familiar with Deek Diedricksen’s closed group on facebook? Tiny Yellow House and Relaxshacks, I think. One of the members in that group – William Rockhill – is in the process of opening up some of his rustic mountain property in upstate NY for a tiny house community. My understanding is that they’ve already got several lots ready, and more are in the works. Last I heard, the lots will be $200/month and will include water, septic and electric. Bill is also a builder of tiny houses and has held numerous workshops with Deek. The name of Bill’s company is Bear Creek Carpentry.

    Of course, this wouldn’t be for everyone. It is snow country. I think they’ve already gotten 3 feet this year. The property is in the Adirondack Mtns, near Buffalo/Canada. It is very rustic and drop-dead gorgeous.

    Reply
    • signalfire

      Errr, Buffalo isn’t near the Adirondacks. Think more across the US border line from Montreal. I grew up near there and while agreed it’s gorgeous, they get 20 foot snows (all in one storm, easily), there’s little work or employment available, and the black fly in the spring are killer. The mosquitoes are the size of pterodactyls…

      (LOL, there’s a reason I moved to southern Oregon; just as wet but it’s rain, not snow; green year round and no bugs whatsoever. It’s too dry during the summer for them.)

      Reply
      • John

        I live just south of the Adirondacks. I’ll have to look them up. And since I work from home, maybe that would be a great option.

        Reply
      • Pat Travis

        @signalfire My bad…I don’t know why I typed Buffalo when I was thinking Syracuse. Like I said, it’s not for everybody but personally I’d rather have snow than rain. And since I’m nearing retirement I don’t have to be concerned with employment. I’m sure that there are plenty of options available so that we can all find the perfect spot for our tiny houses. This is just one example.

        Reply
  • alice h

    One of the drawbacks of tiny home communities is going to be the high cost of setup and ongoing maintenance of infrastructure like sewer and water and roads. There would also likely be some insurance issues. Setting up a co-operative ownership structure simplifies some of that process but doesn’t guarantee the affordability. Land prices in major urban areas will most likely keep communities too expensive as well. Many of the older mobile home parks in and around Vancouver BC have been sold off to developers with current residents being booted out with no place to go. Urban solutions will most likely come from multi-unit dwellings rather than individual tiny houses due to high land prices as much as anything else. The other big problem is getting any group of “rugged individualists” to agree and co-operate long term. There have been many intentional communities but fewer successful ones. Not to say it shouldn’t be tried, but it’s not as easy as a lot of people think.

    Reply
  • rickg

    Interesting article and really engaging comments. I wasn’t aware of the “estate” designation for tax classifications (see DJ Spell’s interesting post)

    For me though, the dream of someday owning a tiny house is partly the APPEAL of isolation. I grew up in the country, now I work from a home office in Toronto. Every time I picture my ideal tiny house, it’s off in the wilderness, at an “edge of the grid” location (possibly several different spots if the house has wheels!)

    LTE data speeds are already faster than cable internet, with data coverage expanding all the time. As soon as telecom companies start offering unlimited data plans on LTE WiFi routers, BOOM! I’m outta here! :)

    Reply
  • Mariam

    I think one reason already mentioned above is that many people that want to live in a tiny house like to live in the nature or to have their privacy and are not willing to live in a kind of trailer park with little houses. – and on the other hand I can imagine that people that want to live in a community as for example ecovillages they could also have tiny houses there in the ecovillage beneath other kind of housings. – And I am really upset about all the laws that stop people from creating a space where you can build the way you want and to have tiny houses and other phantastic buildings. – I hope in the future there will be more possiblities and perhaps a ground is necessary with enough space where people live with a lot of space between their houses, with trees and meadows and nature, and in distance but still in a kind of neighbourhood where they can meet if they want and do things together.

    Reply
  • Mr. Wolf

    As an overseas contractor & Vardo aficionado, I’ve found that much of the problems & difficulties surrounding small villages of Tiny Homes, Vardos, or Yurts falls back on the oppressive housing regulation people choose to live under in the States. Purchasing 20 to 100 acres in Belize or Panama opens up a wonderful opportunity for people who want to live in a sustainable, reduced-cost lifestyle. I find less reasons to ever return to the States every day, & will quite happily “circle my wagons” in a place more conducive to living as I would wish.

    Reply
    • Sandy

      Mr Wolf, we don’t “choose” to live under oppressive housing regulation in the States. We have lost control of housing and everything else here. It has been “given” to regulators and municipal Nazis by politicians who didn’t have the right to give control away from the people. It’s one of the things that needs to change for us to regain our freedoms ! Do not delude yourself that we are willing participants in our enslavement !

      Reply
  • Jersey Eddie

    As usual it comes down to money. Those that don’t have it want the cheapest house possible where those who do have it want to make as much money as possible from there trendy, cute, micro houses. As discussed in the article, towns cane zone an area as a mobile home or RV or motel or camping park, but typically THOSE area attract the poorest or poor, so towns severely limit them.

    In MY opinion, if you want to prevent affordable housing communities from becoming public housing projects, private companies need to step in and imagine mixed usage projects that encourage diversity, safety, and charm.

    Well designed communities can be beneficial by promoting and encouraging the use of public transportation, and locally produced food.

    Reply
  • Paul - The Kind Little Blogger

    Whenever I hear the word “community” especially when discussing things like tiny houses, I think of this definition: “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals”. In which case, the tiny house community certainly exists.

    Reply
  • Artur Sowinski

    There are already well established houseboat communities. Some people even farm on floating gardens :)

    And theres cost… A used doublewide prefab house is in the same price range as new tiny house. around 10k$ But it has 3 bedrooms, and its placed around society and grid, so you can live a grid-optional life instead of reinventing a beer to make it more green…

    Houses and such are only a derivative of feelings and emotional dependencies associated with that dwelling… Watch some “Charmed” reruns, you will understand :P

    Or read about vibration of the soul
    http://pleasanthacking.com/2012/11/20/soul-vibe/
    :)

    Reply
  • Mary N

    Glad to read all the thoughts on this subject. Many of you have already shared what I believe to be the key point in growing tiny house communities. Tiny House Communities/villages need to be driven by small, organized groups of people with a plan. So this is their community, their investment and their future home. I am working on a business plan for just such a community for my friends as we reach retirement age. It will include an agreement for shared responsibility, similar to a co-housing agreement. With the growing cost of assisted living and retirement communities, there will be tremendous cost savings in such an arrangement in addition to encouraging independence and preserving dignity in aging. You have the appeal of isolation (independence) along with the security of community so important as we age.

    Glad to see that there are so many folks out there who are thiking along the same lines!

    Reply
  • Betty

    Affordable acreage at a good location would be needed. Also, we are diverse and spread out. We don’t all live in the same area and may not have the same lifestyle, priorities, etc. Some of us need to find ways of simplifying our lives besides tiny home living for various reasons.

    Reply
  • cjdroz

    I believe the reason that you don’t find any tiny home developments in the US is rather simple. Developers who spend a lot of money in market studies finding out what their customers want and therefor will buy, have decided that the general public will choose a larger home rather than a smaller one. There are many reasons for this decision including the number one, in my opinion, the status symbol syndrome of “keeping up with the Jones’”. Most American down size as they become empty nesters. However, even at 1200-1500 square foot “smaller” home is probably too large for 2 people. They go with what they have lived with all their life and what they know. Why are people in Ghana comfortable in a tiny 2 bedroom block home with a small hall and kitchen and an outside latrine? Because it is what their perception is of a home. Maybe it also has something to do with the fact most of their time is spent outside. That is where they prefer to be, with the community, rather than locked up alone in a large house.
    Small home communities do exist, but not tiny homes. Habitat for Humanity builds homes no larger than 1050 sq. ft. in the US. If someone wanted to, they could study their model of how they get past zoning, bank financing etc. I believe by replicating what Habitat does, you could build a successful tiny house community. It is true they are not for profit but maybe that is what it will take! I think that Americans’ minds will be changed when our countries upcoming financial stresses unfold. This will force us all into a different paradigm, that smaller is better. Build it and they will come!

    Reply
    • Joe3

      crdjoz : I’ve worked with Habitat in 3 different cities and they DON”T “get past zoning” in all 3 cities Habitat has complied with codes and zoning… As far as financing – Habitat requires x number of hours of sweat equity and they finance their own homes. Yes, it is a great model to follow, especially since participants are required to work on other Habitat homes before they are allowed to work on their own. And as the upcoming financial paradigm – I look forward to it, the current recession just makes me smile ….

      Reply
  • Carl in SC

    Here in Greenville, SC and neighboring counties I’m unsure there’s much interest in small home communities. I like the idea myself and think they would work near the beach near Charleston or Myrtle Beach. We have about 1/3 of our 1 acre available where we could put a few small homes on if county regulations still permit it. Maybe in coming years interest will grow in the southeastern USA.
    Here is a site for panels to build different size shelters for mounting on trailers or for building a shelter of varying sizes on a site. Check out this site if you wish: http://www.TealCamper.com Carl W.

    Reply
    • David E

      I’d be interested in keeping informed of tiny house movements in South Carolina in the Upstate and Midlands in case I don’t retire on the mission field. Next week I’ll be spending a couple of days in Greenville — send me a message if you’d like to connect: https://www.facebook.com/davidedavis

      Reply
  • Matt

    Everywhere you look, you find RV parks, cabin rental locations, and things of that nature. And in any given area, surely one isn’t doing so well. What if somebody were to simply purchase an area that’s already zoned for RV’s, and convert it for small house living? Surely small houses could be towed in and erected or even built on former RV lots, especially if they’re full service lots.

    This could also be a great opportunity for re-zoning failed commercial property. Some abandoned mall could have a new life as a semi-dense small house urban community, with walking paths linking everyone to the services around them. There’s definitely options to explore.

    Reply
    • Linda Lyons-Bailey

      Up above I earlier posted a link to a location I liked for this.

      Reply
      • Matt

        I’ll take a look-see!

        Reply
    • Jim Sadler

      Some counties want no part of travel trailers, cabins or anything similar. The ideal from the counties point of view is a highly taxable property with few if any children or people who might need some type of social services. This is the treat everything like a business sickness that has infested government at all levels.
      Next is the nature of tiny home occupants. many like blending in and not being noticed at all. The notion of being surrounded by others and attracting attention is not something many would like.
      Really, being out of sight (or recognition) by society and government are goals in themselves. A man can build a tiny home cheaply but let building regulations and inspectors into the picture and you monetize the entire situation and turn a $3,000 dollar tiny home into a 40,000 tiny home that puts one into things like debt and mortgages.

      Reply
      • Matt

        Yep, that most definitely is a problem.

        Reply
      • Alex

        Sorry Jim you make great points but an RV park/cabin resort still generates tax revenue for the city it resides in. It certainly wouldn’t be as much per house/lot because they’re tiny, but everyone would still be contributing to the city.

        Reply
        • Jim Sadler

          From a city or county point of view big bucks are the goal. A lot in a suburb in my area which is usually about 75ft. X 100ft. will usually exceed $60,000 for the raw land. The nearest homes to me started at $350,000 way back in 1988. Today, even in a bad market, they will go for $500,000 and up. There are condos near by that cost far less. But the property taxes on the free standing homes rake in big money. These are not people that show up in the emergency room with no insurance. They rarely get arrested or cause legal expenses to the city. And it gets even worse. Many own more than one home as summers are too hot here. Therefore many get no homestead exemption here. In other words they may well be paying $400 a month or more in property taxes alone. They tend to not have large numbers of children and many do send their kids to private schools.
          Now contrast that to condo owners. Guess which ones the town is eager to acquire? In other words apartments buildings, condos and particularly trailers are a huge negative for the town. There is no tolerance at all of land to be used for mobile homes as that is now illegal.
          Against this type of economics it is difficult to imagine a town wanting to allow tiny homes. This is why communities that are less fortunate will tend to welcome new ideas and cheaper modes of living. I am not saying that this is right or moral or even a good idea but resistance is built into the economic system. That is why so many tiny dwellings exist covertly.
          Much of America is now on the down low. People working for illegal companies or growing a bit of pot or even distilling small amounts of alcohol, renters who pay cash with no paper work, right down to your waitress hiding most of her tips are now the reality in America. It is rare for a beauty salon to keep straight books much less the hair dressers who almost never report their true earnings.
          Is it any wonder that living small and unnoticed is becoming popular?

          Reply
          • Pfffft

            it’s much easier to avoid the system than to try and change it …. I get what I need and the “man” can’t have his hand out ’cause he don’t know …. no fuss, no muss, no government – works for me!!

      • Lynn

        There are people who build and live in homes that meet the description of “shed” so they don’t have to pay sky high taxes. In my township it is 150 sq. ft. or less. I love the tiny houses but I believe they will give the government reason to change the standards and pillage us even more. They’ll call it the tiny house tax revision :/

        Reply
  • Carl in SC

    In a rural area like where I live we cannot connect to sewage lines and have to use septic tanks. Therefore the small homes in areas like this would have to use composting or incinerating toilets or use holding tanks.

    Reply
    • Gregory

      True, it’s the same with most rural areas in Canada. That is on my mind whenever I want go check out land properties for sale. I would want try find one that already have underground pipes near to this plot of land, sometimes if there was an older building ready to tear down. That would be a higher chance of having sewage lines there.

      I want to find a communtiy where there is some tiny house already built, so I’d have a greater chance in buying a plot of land. Or as close to a town possible like within half hour’s distance. Seems up in Canada -west coast, I’m having a hard time in finding such a community.

      Reply
      • alice h

        Saskatchewan seems to have a lot of cheap lots in little settlements for sale and a lot of interest in attracting new people. Might be a possibility to work out something with the municipal government and set up a tiny house community there. If you could take the climate.

        Reply
        • Gregory

          Saskatchewan? I had been there once for a week years ago. Beautiful country – yes, but incredible flat … no mountains? That was something I wasn’t accustomed as I love being near mountains and all the forests around. Thanks for telling about the possibility there however I prefer being in west coast. Central southern BC in many regions still have some cheap lots in small towns IF you know where to find.

          Reply
  • LadyTenazby

    My family and I are planning on building a Tiny House Community in the mountains in California. We are looking to have things going within a year from now. Our plans include a community garden (with communal areas as well as private areas) The whole idea is to have a rural setting of tiny homes, not a trailer/rv/mobile home park. I would love to see the American dream of white picket fences with homes and families decorating the community. I believe that the only way Tiny Home People will ever have a place to co-exist with society and their size limitations, is to come together as a community and pool our resources to make it happen. We need to “show” society that just because we choose to live tiny, does not mean we are dirty, or disorganized. Once we have one community established, we can set the groundwork for others to emerge across the Nation. I would also like to see some sort of emergency fund/insurance policy put in place specifically for Tiny House dwellers.

    Reply
    • d

      LadyT – I would like to discuss with you your ideas, as I am considering creating something similar, but have some questions, particularly regarding infrastructure and such. Can we connect somehow?

      Reply
  • Kathy

    About 15 years ago I drew up plans for what I was calling a retirement community with a “step-up”feature. I designed what is now called “aging in place” small homes, under 900sqft. The “step-up” was to have assisted living feature available, in the small homes, and then a standard assisted living facility for those who could no longer stay in their small homes. A gym with pool and a shared community house were on the plans for later.

    Funding would have to be up front by a venture capitalist, but as the small homes were sold, that would be a retired debt. As with a condo building, there would need to be a HOA for property maintenance and perhaps separate payment for use of the gym and community building.This was to be a way to help retirees to downsize living arrangements and to be cared for when help was needed down the road. I never moved on this plan for lots of reasons, but I never gave up on it or something like it. Del Webb always bought out in the country near a big city when he built his retirement communities. So how about a nice piece of farmland, of which there are many for sale, and let small to tiny house owners rent the property and water/sewer services. They could also take part in a co-op garden. They could put down their own small or tiny home. I am of the 60′s Woodstock generation and always liked the idea of community living. It has been done and could be again.

    Reply
    • Charito

      Kathy, Your post brought a thought to mind…..many communities are against “affordable housing”. They equate these “people” with poverty,squallor,unstable family units, mentally ill,next step to being homeless.I love your concept. One issue I have is most seniors (myself included) have issues in vertical living. Ladders are dangerous and inconvienient for the healthy at best.Stairs would need to be eliminated, increasing the footprit of the homes. I have a VERY comfortable pension. I could afford to live in a very ritzy place, even pay cash for a 5 star assisted living/ retirement home. I have chosen for many years to live small so I can use my money for good causes.I just have private nurses assisting me. I am building individual habitation on our family farm for the family. It will aford us privacy (as now everyone sleeps in the same room)while still being connected by a centrally located family kitchen/dining/livingroom. Oh I should probably mention I live in southern Mexico and do not have to deal with any codes or zoning issues. We are also off grid.I would love to see these tiny rural communities , I hope this forum can jumpstart their existance.

      Reply
      • Kathy

        Thanks for your reply Charito. I totally agree that there could be and should be more available to people who want to downsize at or before retirement, and who can afford to buy something bit more expensive. When the buzz about tiny homes is looked at, it has been all about 140sq ft with a steep ladder to a loft, and limited kitchen ability, and of course limited storage. Unfortunately folks come with sentimental stuff, like family photos, and perhaps hobbies. They like to cook and bake. And they either can’t or won’t climb steep ladders or even steep stairs to sleep in a loft. So I think there’s room AND need to discuss people like me who would jump at the chance to live in the community I have in mind!!

        Reply
        • Gregory

          Kathy, I do agree with your comments about people who have some sentimental stuff and hobbies. Also about people who cannot do the climbing with steep ladders or stairs. I am one of these people, so while the tiny homes on trailers looks great… I realize that isn’t meant for me. I have found the ideal type – the tiny cottage model. They are between 250 to 500 sq ft. A 500 sq ft is a one bedroom, one great room with kitchen incuded, one full bathroom and one car garage on side of great room. The bedroom is upstairs with good gentle stairs.

          This size is only good for two people max. If you don’t need a garage – take that out and move bedroom upstairs to take place of the space there. That removes out the stairs not needed, and you have one floor little house at about 300 sq ft. Such these one will be fine even with a 1/4 acre land plot and have enough room for a nice garden!
          I think it would be a nice type for a little house community!

          Reply
  • Jerilyn Mears

    Here in Santa Cruz County, California we have had tiny homes for decades. This is because housing is so costly that motels are converted into apartments. My husband and I lived in one 38 years ago. Now we own and manage 8 units of converted motel apartments. It works out fine. People are SO CREATIVE when it is their own space they are working with.

    Reply
    • Kat

      I would love to know more about this type of conversion. I saw the perfect spot at the northern Florida border, with a closed-down one level motel. My first thought was of conversion, but was afraid of the money issue as well as zoning laws, etc. I think it would be a wonderful thing to do, especially since the area is loaded with single military personnel who could use a nice small space to call their own. I would appreciate any information you could give – even knowing that different states = different rules. Thank you.

      Reply
      • Jeri

        Our properties were already outfitted with small kitchens, so really it was easy. We have 3 studios that have sleeping alcoves, like a one bedroom only with a curtain for the wall that divides living from sleeping, and can be pulled open or pulled shut. Then we have one bedrooms units and two bedroom units, all pretty small, under 650SF. IKEA has loads of solutions for small spaces and we learned from their products how to create storage via wall hung and freestanding.We removed all the carpet and put click lock laminate flooring which is much easier and cheaper to maintain. People can get their own area rugs and for a small space it is easy to do that. There is a big demand here for affordable housing and for a simple place to live. I was advised not to make them furnished, to lessen the turn over, so we rent them unfurnished. Best wishes on your endeavor.

        Reply
        • Alice Quint

          Freedom is a different town. But, $1000 for rent in Santa Cruz, CA is not unusual: this is a university town with 17,000 students plus staff of about 5,000; then, there’s everyone else–and everybody needs housing.

          Reply
    • Teresa Rein

      Is this the place you are talking about? There are some interesting reviews, and >1000 in rent per unit? http://www.apartmentratings.com/rate/CA-Freedom-Paloma-Del-Mar-Senior-Apartments.html

      Reply
  • Barb Blythe

    Hi Alex & all…I’d like to comment on your remarks about tiny communities vs RV parks & resorts. Until a couple of weeks ago, I thought I’d found a rural RV park to park my future tiny house. As it turns out, the owner has had a change of heart (or pocket). He now says parking my tiny house there will not be allowed because he thinks it will make his park look like a trailer park! I was so astonished I couldn’t do anything but laugh–you should see some of the junk parked there! Come to think of it, my TH would have made all others look shabby. I guess the point is, no matter what excuse is given, it all comes down to money! You really made sense & opened my eyes. I still am devoted to TH living & feel confident I’ll find a solution…

    Reply
    • Alex

      Wow. Well maybe it’s true. You parking your beautiful tiny house in his park creates the contrast the does make the rest look like trailer trash. And of course he’d probably make more money not having you there long-term.

      Reply
  • PLB

    I agree with Lady T.—-I think it needs to be in a rural setting or smaller town where it can become its own community. It seems to me that tiny house people are generally people who want some freedom and space and time in nature—-you can’t do that in a mobile home park.

    Reply
    • Jim Sadler

      It is rather easy to find old homes in somewhat poor condition in place like W.Va.. One could put a tiny home next to such an old place and take advantage of the electric and septic already in place. Forget the old home and just keep it up enough not to attract attention. Your tiny home could be thought of as being there long enough to rehab the house.
      The catch is that jobs in those areas are hard to find and low paying so you need a steady income source to make the jump. A house and lot should be easily had for under $3000.
      Other considerations include how far to stores, doctors etc. and local knowledge such as eating fish caught locally being too dangerous. Everything counts and right now W. Va. and Kentucky waters are too far gone to eat fish safely from almost every stream and lake.

      Reply
    • Kat

      Another idea is to find a “tourist” area with a campground for sale that you could convert. We have such as this in our county – not far from where I live. Town is less than 8 miles down the road, it is close to a lake for recreation, is 53 acres and has a few cabins (very basic ones) already there. Unfortunately, the cost for this is out of my range, but the idea has been there for a long while. It has been for sale for years, and as a campsite is not super popular right now because of that. There are many campgrounds in the area, most charging $900 & up for a years lot rent. These ‘campers’ stay there all year, but are closed during the worst of the winter months. Small (mobile or not) homes in this spot would be awesome… and the county is not against small and mobile homes at all. We just need someone with the funding and the sight to do right by this property. I think it would be pretty neat to do this.

      Reply
  • Dominick Bundy

    Bottom line, , It’s all about money. The more square footage you dwell in.. the more you’ll be taxed (usually)..Plain and simple.. One reason some areas have zoning laws that prohibits a certain X amount of people (not being related) living under the same roof or off the grid via solar panels or wind mills…. Thus creating a small commune of sorts in some places.. again it primarily boils down to money .That all are paying their “fair” share.. What ever that may mean…

    Reply
  • Linda Lyons-Bailey

    *sigh* What ISN’T about money?

    Reply
  • austin s

    I believe what needs to happen is a small group of dwellers will have to approach a GC to have the first area built. Not many gcs will start a project like this – not because of profit – but because of risk. If they can’t sell the tiny structures or lease the land after investing heavily in the land, infrastructure, community building, etc. then they lose their own hard earned money. From their point of view, its too much risk because it is ‘the unknown’. If it was guaranteed to make money, almost any GC would jump on the project. The only way to guarantee the success to the gc is to do his work for him. Find enough individuals to pledge their support (as in, they are willing to sign a legal contract to buy/rent from the GC) and create the community you want – bring your basic plans and commitments to a GC and he’d run with it from there. Who knows, after he does one, he might see there is a niche market he can fill.

    Reply
    • Sharon

      Hey, as mentioned in a previous post, I’m willing to be the GC, just looking for interested parties to make a commitment. In the mid-Atlantic area….

      Reply
      • Kathy

        LOL I hate to be dumb but what IS a GC? Thanks

        Reply
        • Sharon

          A General Contractor – someone who takes care of all the permits and inspections, manages the subs and her own workers if she has them,orders and pays for materials, etc.

          Reply
          • Beth

            Austin,

            Awesome post about HOW to get it done.
            Thank you.

            Beth

            PS
            I want to move to the southeast, NC, GA, SC.
            Warmer weather than southeastern MI!
            :)

  • Kathy

    in the cities.. our hands our tied because of zoning… and that zoning, in this case, is as stated above because homeowners don’t want to see their property values drop due to multi-unit situations of most kinds…

    when I think of a tiny/small house community I’m visualizing the beautiful cabins and small cottage eye candy we all see. I won’t be living in trailer park at any point and don’t want to be living next to one either.

    instead of the next several ugly apartment buildings that go up… i’d like to see communities integrated into existing residential areas and whether they be “pocket neighborhoods”, “tiny communities” whatever… it’s simply a scaled down (and more affordable) living situation with the pros that a community can offer…

    Reply
  • sunshineandrain

    I love this discussion! Putting all our heads together, we’re sure to find some solutions. Keep thinking and sharing!

    Reply
  • Chandra Fike

    Yes sadly money affects everything and the lusting after money always has its negative reproductions in the end, often rippling out to the thousands and thousands of people oppressed in our world because of it.

    I believe an individual or many individuals who are not looking for a profit must be the ones to purchase the Land and do the work to make sure the property is legally able to provide for its renters/owners.

    Sustainability must be the goal not profit.

    I wonder if a piece of property could be purchased by an individual and then sold by square footage to buyers who own tiny homes? This way a person could buy what they can afford and not be concerned about the possible politics of their investment in communal living.

    Part of the reason I discovered tiny homes was due to the fact that I was looking for a way out of what some may consider a form of communal living. I was renting a room on a month to month basis in a house with roommates who were for lack of a better definition were strangers. This was by no means a harmonious living situation.

    One of the reasons I believe peaceful and sucessful communal living is rare in the US is because of how individualistic our culture is. By no means am I saying this is better or worse than a collectivistic culture but it remains to be a fact about our culture. Most people who are born and raised here learn from observation that they are to look to their own interests above the interests of others as a means of survival. This form of culture has been passed down from generation to generation and would not be easily changed or placed within a communal living situation. Those who would consider taking this leap would have to be committed to trusting each other and putting the interests of the community above their own individual interests. The many moral and religious differences of some here may also be a factor in unsuccessful communal living in the US. Not to say it is not possible for people of different values to live together peacefully but it would be a factor to some how reckon with before taking that leap.

    A tiny house community may be more successful if each person owned their own piece of the land which they could afford. Then the only things that might need to be shared in the community would be the natural resources such as well water, clean energy (solar/hydro/wind), and possibly a communal garden. The original property owner would sell lots to each individual gaining back his or her original investment. If the owner decided to purchase and make functional the energy sources they could potentially charge a low monthly flat rate to help these other investments pay for themselves. Ideally If the property could be divided into different legal owners then each would be responsible for their own property taxes.

    But of course these are just some of my ideas. I myself have limited knowledge of how zoning laws would need to be approached.

    I really enjoyed reading everyones ideas and responses to this topic.

    Reply
    • Linda Lyons-Bailey

      The trouble with selling parcels is that if someone who bought one did turn out to be drug addicted, a slob, mentally ill, etc. and caused problems for the community, there would be no way to get that person out. The other residents would be stuck.

      Reply
      • Mary

        This is so true. I have a tiny cabin in what was once an RV camping area–nobody could live here–vacations only. But it was inside city limits so the city wanted more service income and changed it to residential so they could justify sewer installations and associated police, fire and other. Now people can live in anything and do.

        A local moved his mentally ill son into property next door to me and put it in his name. Then the man married an another mentally ill woman. They are alcoholics and I have and will be tormented by these people until I sell. Being homeowners, no amount of complaints or jail time can get them out. They dump sewage from their trailer, burn garbage and feed birds and wildlife all day long, drawing rats and other pests but police claim they don’t see it…

        Moving into an area like this is a big risk. Others in the neighborhood have no problem but I have had a series of nusiance neighbors since I bought here.

        Reply
        • Kathy

          OMG That must be a nightmare in which you have to live!!! I think if we were all honest with ourselves we would have to admit that this is the greatest fear of all. You said you have to sell before you can get away from these (potentially) dangerous people. Dpes this mean that your tiny home is not on wheels?

          Reply
        • Mary

          Yes, a nightmare. Bird crap on everything–under surveilence of paranoids at all times. They kill plants within squirt gun range, knock down my stuff when I am gone with an air gun, bait racoons onto my roof at night to get my little dog barking…

          No, my tiny home is not on wheels. It was a boat garage and was turned into a cabin, 288 sq.ft. It is darling and perfect, otherwise. I have every conenience and can walk to everything, even the ocean. A tragedy of governmental errors allows preditors to live in a fifth-wheel next door. I’m making the best of it by enclosing my lot like a fortress with hardscaping, buildings, fences and gates. I have moved everything I can out of their range.

          Nusiance neighbors are the mentally ill and there is nowhere else for them to go but the street or jail unless relatives buy them a home. This is a risk in any neighborhood of inexpensive homes. Mine will be used as a rental when I’ve had my fill of this.

          Reply
    • Sharon

      “Selling lots” equals SUBDIVISION to zoning and planning folks, which generally requires paved roads, utilities, etc, etc. Even “out in the country” farmers can’t just sell off parcels. If you fear being “under the thumb” of one of us who is willing to purchase and make land available to others, then I think your best bet legally is a co-op, where land and improvements are owned jointly.

      Reply
  • Jim Sadler

    Since tiny home owners don’t have a big stick in dealing with counties maybe a carrot is a better idea. Finding some way to make the counties seriously desire tiny homes might be a good answer. I could see a situation where tiny homes could serve as a buffer to provide crime protections for businesses after hours. Not that you would agree to be a security feature but that you would tend to be there with your cell phone if your heard or noticed anything wrong after hours.
    Also musicians often need places to play their instruments. Spaces for bands are a huge problem and just about nobody wants a band practicing anywhere but a tiny home just large enough to play a piano or a trombone might make a good hourly rental space. In larger cities practice rooms are often rented. I suppose that states that tolerate pot that a tiny home could be set up to grow one large pot plant and with the price of that stuff it might be profitable. The electric bill is the stumbling point. Solar panels to grow pot might be a new idea.

    Reply
  • elixir

    Try this -
    First, buy a suitable property. Then you will need an architect to draw a site plan – taking required setbacks, clearances and mandated features – grassy swales, parking and uility right of way into account.

    Then, you will need an architect to draw up the dwellings, along with infrastructure. These all will need to be reviewed and stamped by a licensed engineer.

    Then, you’ll likely need planning and zoning variances – might take a lawyer, 10′s of thousands of $ and oh 6 months to a year for approval.

    Got approval – OK, now we get building permits – one for each structure, per building department. Budget anywhere between oh say $500 to $50000 per structure – depending on locale. And we’ll need to pay tap in fees for water, sewage, perhaps gas & electric, and impact fees. For Each Structure.

    Now we can build. Live in a union only building area – bring more $

    How is that $600/month lookin’ now, sport?

    Reply
    • Linda Lyons-Bailey

      Was it Northwestern who built the tiny house that is entirely self-contained and off-grid? Now you do not need all those things. Have the community on an old RV park that is no longer being used. All that landscaping stuff is already there.

      Reply
      • Sharon

        Linda – “old RV parks that are not being used:” some quick surfing on the www reveals that these properties often run about $1 million!

        Reply
        • Linda Lyons-Bailey

          Yeah. Didn’t think it would be cheap. I’d have to win the frickin’ LOTTERY to ever do this.

          Reply
        • Mary

          So, how much per space? A million bucks divided by ten-twenty spaces is $50,000 to $100,000, which is comparable to a condo, even when you add the cost of the tiny home. That seems within reason for a place with established utilities. I had a condo (Washington, King County) where the owner bought the right to the unit only, but next door were condos where the owners actually owned their units, building and the property in front and back. The common property was around the exterior of the project and the driveway down the middle to each garage–no rec building, etc., like my condo had. If the exterior can be specified by the condo association, then why not tiny home association?

          Reply
  • Robert

    Washington State has 8 cottage communities and more in the works. Some have cottages at a density of 8 per acre and under their zoning provision approved for:
    a. For at least 50 percent of the units, the floor area may not exceed 650 SF.
    b. For no more than 50 percent of the units, the floor area may be up to 800 SF.
    Detached parking
    The cottages must also face a usable landscaped commons, and have parking screened from the street. To ensure good fit within existing neighborhoods, each project proposed is reviewed by the planning and design review boards. conveyed as condo’s they are termed 1.5 story cottages.
    People have tended to stay and those that have sold have sold at prices up to 250% above what they paid. The projects work. They are located in Seattle and surrounding areas.
    Others are in the works in the area.
    Jay Shafer’s new project with four lights tiny houses is also going full speed ahead in California,the more these projects get approvals the easier it will be for prospective small community builders to go to the town boards and say “look what is being done in other progressive areas”
    Don’t say they don’t exist,they do. Just say we need more of them!
    My 136 sq ft tiny bungalow “The Tiny Bungalow” is all on its own on 5 acres of land. That is what I prefer. It is within a 20 minute drive of Seattle,Wa. and yet feels as it were in the country. Tiny house and small house communities need to plan for that feeling of community and independence at the same time.
    Robert
    TheTinyBungalow

    Reply
    • Kathy

      Robert I was going to go research this before I posted. I was pretty sure that there were small and tiny home neighborhoods in both Seattle and Portland. I have seen photos somewhere of the one near Seattle, but can’t locate my (magazine) file. I recall loving the split of the two size limits so that the neighborhood would be more homogenous. And the central shared area was beautiful. And beautifully kept by all residents. cars were parked behind the houses in an alley type situation I believe. I believe some may even have put small garages on the alley.

      Reply
  • bikespaces

    Please. You can have a tiny house. In a neighborhood of tiny houses. You just don’t want to buy it.

    There are thousands of houses under 1000 square feet, some WAY under, in nearly every city in the country. They are all in older neighborhoods, and most of the houses are between 50 and 100 years old (older than that, you’re looking at large Victorians or four-squares). And, for the most part, they have large yards.

    The older neighborhoods that have stayed nice (i.e., not overrun, not split by a highway, etc) cost $150,000 if they are in a good school district, and about $60,000 if they are not. What do people do if they are in a good neighborhood? What they DON’T do is live in the little house. They buy the house as a “tear-down” and put up a 3500 square foot monstrosity, unless it’s a designated historical district.

    MOST of those small-house neighborhoods are infested with drugs, gangs, federal highways, and horrifically bad schools, so they are cheap. They can be had for well under $30,000 in Texas, and I’ve looked in other areas on Trulia, they’re everywhere at that price.

    They need money to fix them up to current standards. You can’t tear them down, because you can’t rebuild the same size due to codes, but you can bring them back to livability (people are living in them now) and up to code. But you can’t fix the neighborhood, unless you get a group to buy. Which worked in the seventies. But today, people pay too much attention to schools, which even a large group can’t fix.

    My point here is, don’t whine about not having a small house neighborhood. You can have one. Anyone can, there is a HUGE, unsalable inventory. If people WANTED one, they would cost more, they would be in better shape, and the schools would be better. Despite what people SAY, they vote with their dollars, and their dollars PROVE they want huge houses (and no bus service, LOL).

    Reply
    • Linda Lyons-Bailey

      We’re not really talking about “people” in general. Nobody wants to convert the entire country to small housers. We’re just talking about ourselves, who would like to be able to park and live someplace, preferably NOT in an area that is already crime-ridden.

      If you wanted to start a tiny house community, you’d have to start one in a place where there aren’t drive-by’s on a semi-weekly basis.

      Most tiny housers don’t have kids, therefore probably no worry about schools. (How can you fit kids in a house that is about 200 sq ft?) We’re talking about VERY small houses, ones that cost a LOT less than you are talking about here. Ones some people are building themselves, for very little money. Affordable, sustainable living.

      I’m curious as to why you are posting here. Your posts come across as argumentative and angry. Like you’re mad at us for even having this discussion.

      What gives?

      Reply
      • Beth

        Hello Lynda Lyons Bailey,

        I really appreciate your posts. You are obviously interested and motivated to come up with solutions.
        very positive.

        bikespaces,

        I wonder why you would post here too. How does insulting the people you are “talking” to add to the discussion?

        “My point here is, don’t whine about not having a small house neighborhood.”

        Do you have anything helpful or productive to add to the conversation?

        You seem very intelligent based on your posts, no need to put others down.

        Peace,
        Beth

        Reply
  • Gregory

    Read all the posts, and many of people had made good points on many problems when going to do the “tiny house project” on someone’s land. I also did a bit of reserach and like many of you … I had found some city bylaws that seems to prevent such a small house like a 200-250 sq ft size. Here in Calgary where I live, the smallest house I had seen is in range of like 700-800 sq ft something that. It’s an very old house going back to 1912 between 1915. It is a one-bedroom type with small kitchen and small living room. This one is quite very few like elsewhere around Calgary… not very many of this size had survived to now. Many people seems to now want a house over 2000 sq ft and is so common around.

    There are 2-3 mobile home parks here, I think “Midland” park is the oldest for what I know… like since the 1950s. Bur to me, i don’t want to live in one of these parks. one time I did had thoughts about living in a trailer… but after talked with few friends and family members. See, I learned that I cannot own a plot of land with a mobile home or a mobile trailer on it. Yes, I can own a mobile home or trailer but have to pay monthly fee for the use of land. Plus, there are many rules in there. So that idea is out.

    What I’m getting at the point: I want to own a small piece of land (like up to one acre size). Be somewhere close to a small town or city for my retirement. That way I’ll have less rules be told what i can build or can’t build but wants be the same like a regualr house would have fixtures the same as in a small house. I like the idea of living in a less-500 sq ft house. I had already gotten used of that size for years lived since.

    There is another idea to think: Micro-lofts. In Vancouver BC, there is something going on in this city and many people are building the small lofts on their property if it’s big enough. What I understand is that the size has to be under 500 sq ft or soemthing close that. It’s like a bachlor suite but like a house combined together. That might be something to look in. You can rent out your larger house and live in this little house in the backyard on your proptery.

    Reply
    • Charito

      I know that Minneapolis and Spokane have zoning regs for “Mother in law” suites.I don¨recall if there is a minimum req. but there is a max and set back issues.

      Reply
    • alice h

      http://vancouver.ca/home-property-development/laneway-houses-and-secondary-suites.aspx Info from the City of Vancouver. Most of the laneway houses being built are pretty expensive, but they’ve got different setback rules so they can be placed where a garage would normally go. There are lots of issues with pushback from neighbours in some areas.

      Reply
  • Lady Tenazby

    The Tiny House Community we are wanting to develop would not be like any trailer park. We are wanting a park for our children, a community garden, nicely landscaped nature trails, a tiny library, a tiny store, a tiny spa, and a name for our community (fresh from my daughter) “Tiny Town.” We want to have activities for the community and a no drug/crime policy. We would love to have a community where people can feel comfortable about the neighbors they have. We do NOT want tiny houses so close to one another that you can hear each others music/conversations/televisions/breathing/snoring/etc… We are talking about each person having their own yards and sharing some community spaces (garden/park/library/etc..) It would be awesome if we could find a teacher for the community willing to teach at a tiny school (perhaps we could each pay a small amount to cover the teacher’s wages for the children they would be responsible for) I am throwing out a lot of ideas. Obviously it would be more defined as things start to actually happen. As it is we already have a site in mind up in the mountains in California with absolutely stunning views.

    Reply
    • sunshineandrain

      What town is closest? I’d like to research the area/ climate to see whether I might like to join you. Thanks.

      Reply
      • Lady Tenazby

        The area we are looking at is about 10 miles from the little town of Weed with fantastic views of Mount Shasta. There are 4 seasons there. We are still researching all the legal stuff. The other option we are looking into is a large parcel (80+ acres) that is near the town of Willits. That parcel would require several Tiny House owners to come together in order to purchase the land together. This location is a much milder climate. There are still 4 seasons, however the winters are much milder. It is also only a 40 minute drive to the coast, Fort Bragg. It is a beautiful place, with plenty of beaches and year round accessibility. (There is more rain in the winter than in the summer, however it doesn’t snow there) There are other sites to consider as well. Basically, it will depend greatly on local codes, and regulations, as well as community interest from Tiny House dwellers.

        Reply
  • Andy Hawkins

    When I think of “Community” I think of two things, and neither of them is a singularly owned piece of real estate.

    The Tiny House Community is alive and well and thriving online. It’s a community in the first sense of the word in that it is a group of people working together toward a shared a goal with similar interest and ideals.

    The second type of community is a physical gathering people who are actually living together and doing the same things that the first group are doing but in close physical proximity. I haven’t found a Tiny House version of this yet but places like the Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage (http://dancingrabbit.org) is a great example. Here the land is shared and rules, decisions etc are made by the community. The one’s described earlier seem more akin to someone using the word “Community” as a marketing term to try and attract people when in reality you would just be living on their land with their rules and lining their pockets.

    Intentional communities are just that, they are people that have chose to live and work together for the common good rather than for the landlords income or retirement fund.

    It’s very timely for me personally to find this particular thread because only this morning I started the community page on Google+ for the picoeco intentional community project. I want to start an intentional community here in Maritime Canada that will lean heavily towards the tiny home model with houses being owner/community built and spread throughout 40-140 acres of rural countryside rather than crammed into a small parcel. I’m looking for like minded indivduals who would be interested in taking part and helping shape the whole thing from the ground up. So if you live up here in Canada and it sounds like your kind of thing please let me know.

    Reply
  • Tina

    I love this topic and everyone’s comments make good sense… I think those interested should connect.. each person wanting their own tiny home (myself included :) would come up with the money for their own tiny house and a portion of the land in which it sits on.. together it seems like a great possibility!

    Reply
  • Cy Englert

    I am intrested in any Tiny House Community so Alex, this is the opportunity for YOU to create a directory of them on your website as they are created. I have several friends interested in having them but are lost at where to put them. A few of us are looking at acreage, but as you point out, that’s a big commitment to community. I remember the line, “If you build it they will come…” Will that’s scarey if you’re the one putting up the money for the land and infrastructure development. So, perhaps maybe there is another golden opportunity for you and your website! Consider creating some list of contact names (including the State or two that they would consider living)so people can network. The IC.org is a wonderful place for intentional communites but what we’re talking about is a specialized intentional community of tiny house owners. Again, where there is nothing…we have the opportunity to make it happen. Alex, I hope you seriously think about helping with this networking opportunity. And if I can help, please ask. I am currently in Florida, by the way, but will eventually migrate back to the West Coast in a year or two. Bless the movement!

    Reply
  • Tiny Houses Hankerings

    There are towns that let you build small. I found out that Hunstville Texas will let you build a house as small as 240 sq. ft. This is the town where Dan Phillips has his Phoenix Commotion organization that builds small houses (not tiny but pretty small) from salvaged materials. So the towns do exist. The questions is, does anybody want to live in a small town that is not near a big city.

    Reply
    • Carl in SC

      My preference would be to live in a rural area near a small town and within a hour drive to a large city. come to think of it, that is exactly what I have except that my house is 1700 square feet. As the cost of utilities continues to increase I’m finding the idea of a smaller home very attractive. We have a 12×20 out-building divided into two rooms I’m considering converting to a small cottage for guests and need ideas for best layout. The drawback is that we’ll have to use a composting or incerating toilet since there will be no plumbing or sewage connections.

      Reply
  • LadyTenazby

    I agree that most of the Tiny House people do not have children, however several of us do…more than you may realize. I personally have 3 still living with me, my son and his wife have 1, and at least 4 or 5 other people who are interested in this community of Tiny House dwellers also do. Perhaps it may seem strange to those who do not have children that others who do would want to live tiny while raising a family. I present to you, that by living tiny with our families while they are still children, we are able to provide more good life experiences for our children in a more enriched manner than we would if we were having to pay too much just to keep a roof over their heads. We are also teaching our children how they don’t “need” such large spaces to be happy, and that they can live comfortably as they grow up and move out. Many home schooling parents live in RVs full time and drench their children in cultural experiences. We need to remember that there are enumerous people loving the Tiny House movement for a plethora of reasons. It is not up to us to criticize their reasons while we are asking others to understand ours.

    Reply
  • Linda Lyons-Bailey

    ? I don’t think anybody’s criticizing anybody. I think it’s great what you are doing, for all the reasons mentioned.

    But I don’t think you can fit many kids in a 200 sq ft house! (Which is what I think of as “tiny”). Any kids, and I think most people would have to move up to what I think of as “small”. Still sustainable, and still a good thing to do!

    Reply
    • Carl in SC

      After parents moved to Florida in 1954 I remember that for over a year we lived in a tiny travel trailer while dad built our house. Mom,Dad and us 3 boys lived in it. A sofa bed for us 3 boys (thankfully we were small then), a double bed at other end for parents, and a tiny kitchen & tiny dining area in between. So it can be done short term. It likely was harder on our parents than on us, but we survived. Living in a home of less than 300 Square feet is suitable for 2 adults and not a larger family except for a short period as we did in early 1950s.

      Reply
      • Carl in SC

        I forgot to mention that this tiny travel trailer did not have room for indoor bathroom, so we had an outhouse for a while. I’m sure most people would consider that “roughing it” but we survived.

        Reply
  • Lady Tenazby

    If you are looking at a 200 sq foot home as being the height of the “Tiny House” then I concede we are doing more of a “Tiny Mansion” at 288 sq feet. The extra footage makes all the difference in the world. It is still “Tiny” though when you consider sq footage per person. I wasn’t really trying to sound defensive, I was merely trying to bring awareness to fact that many families are also downsizing to Tininess.

    Reply
    • sunshineandrain

      I applaud your family downsizing to Tininess. Earlier in these comments, someone (I think more) mentioned the deliciousness of raising and being raised in small quarters. The richness of relationship was extolled AND the comments from the kids surprised some of the parents involved. All pleasantly, I believe.

      I know in my own experience, I had the best of times in a small, two main rooms, single-story farmhouse with 20 or so kids and adults. No indoor plumbing, just a lot of love and care and sharing of chores and laughter and then 80 acres to explore outside the door.

      to those who seem to be amazed at this:
      Small is not poor. Poor is a way of life and I do not choose it.
      Large is not wealth. Wealth is a way of life and I celebrate life and my wealth in it (relationship) every day I wake.

      to those who wonder at the money aspect:
      Yes, yes money does intertwine, but it does not have to rule our attitudes. Let’s welcome all who embrace the Tiny Life.

      Reply
  • Linda Lyons-Bailey

    You have at least 4 people living in 288 sq feet?

    Wow.

    Reply
    • Lady Tenazby

      Actually, for a long time I had 5 children, myself, and a golden retriever all living in 192 square feet…Then we were frequently babysitting 2 little girls as well in that same space…We made it work. Yes Our Tiny House, when completed, will have 288 square feet on the lower floor (8×36) but there are the upstairs spaces, too. We call it our Tiny Mansion. For us this will be quite spacious. My happiest time when I was a child was when we were living in a tent on a beach. My mother was devastated thinking she wasn’t providing well enough for me, I, however, loved it. The secret with our Tiny Mansion is in the design. The multifunctional rooms make it really livable. My bed for instance is a murphy style that has a surround couch when it is put up and I have a table that is a small shelf when not in use that pulls out into a full dining table within the surround couch for dining. Tiny Houses….I LOVE ‘EM.

      Reply
  • stephanie wright

    I want communities that are like the old part of a small town where I lived for a few years as a child. What was special about it?
    Well, aside from the fact that I could walk to the library, municipal park & swimming pool, and so on… it was mix of houses of different sizes. Some small one-bedroom cottages behind the larger houses, some small bungalows, some larger 3/2 family houses, a few duplexes – very unlike the tracts of houses that are all 3-4 bedroom (when I was growing up, and are now 5+ bedroom mc-mansions).

    I spent several days a week caring for kids who live in a suburb built about 10 years ago (we’ll call them my grandchildren, although they are not related to me biologically). They live many miles away from me. I’d consider living in the same block where they live (far less driving for me, and a more relaxed after-school experience for all), but I’m not about to live in 5-bedroom, enormous house. And it’s more than a mile to anything more reasonable like a 1 or 2 bedroom apartment (so I will stay where I currently live, 30 miles away, in a neighborhood I like, that is an old, urban mix of single-family homes and 100 year old small apartment buildings and mixed ground-floor commercial/upper-floor residential).

    In conclusion, I would say while I don’t oppose a tiny-house community, what I would like is communities with housing of more varied size in close proximity, instead of everything being all the same size in a neighborhood.

    With changing demographics, an aging population and smaller family sizes, we need more mix-and-match options. For economic & social reasons, there are more multigenerational families for whom a traditional house isn’t always a good match.

    Reply
    • sunshineandrain

      I say right on! I think that the majority of us commenters would agree with you. If you have some insight to make that happen, please share. Welcome to the discussion.

      Reply
  • Beverly Blackheart

    I meant to comment on this but one thing and another…

    If I could afford to approach this idea on my own, it would be to purchase the property outside a town’s corporate reach (there is plenty of that where I live, and cheap!!) and develop it as simply and basically as possible for a tiny house community, and instead of offering sections for sale or lease publicly, make it invitation-only for people who share the same values and lifestyles, more like a private club community.

    Perhaps this could be done as individuals joining resources and goals with like-minded others, with the boundaries for privacy and cooperation built in from the first. I don’t want a commune by ANY means, but rather a penny-pinching method for living quietly and peacefully in a small space of my very own is the ultimate goal.

    Reply
  • ghpacific

    I am enjoying perusing the comments and seeing all the positive suggestions, however utopian. For a reality check, I recommend watching the movie ‘Iron Island’ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0472113/ and Googling favelas. The fact is, we in the First World are so fortunate we get to debate this issue and design well-conceived eco-villages whereas the vast majority of the Southern Hemisphere has no say in the matter and must actually live the reality. Thought for food.

    Reply
  • allan cerf

    I loved this one, Alex. Great stuff.

    Reply
  • Gregory

    Here is another thought to ponder: What about small towns or villages that are up for sale? I know there a few places which are still up for sale. These places went out of business – like becoming ghost towns. I do remember one American small town somewhere in northwest region up for sale some few years ago. That could be something to look in to create a “tiny house” coumminty with few offical businesses (like groecey store, mail office, etc).

    Alex, I think we need to find a more proper website to place all the discussions with different topics. This blog here is becoming bit difficult for me to keep track of all new comments daily.

    Reply
  • Claudia

    I think tiny house communities do exist.

    A travel trailer, let’s say an Airstream travel trailer, ranges from 16 feet to 31 feet in length. That’s roughly 120 to 230 square feet of living space. Most people would consider that amount of living space tiny.

    Yet, people buy RVs not only for vacation housing, but as fulltime housing. Full-time RVing is not just for ageing Boomers; some younger people also call an RV home. Supposedly there are one million people roaming US highways living full-time in an RV. That’s a community of tiny houses.

    What makes an RV a good choice for a tiny home? Livability. Durability. Re-sale value.

    It’s fairly easy to sell a used Airstream travel trailer.

    Banks will finance an RV because there is consumer demand for RV’s. Banks like to finance things that have a high consumer demand because they know there is an after-market for their collateral. If the loan goes into default the bank can sell their collateral and recoup their losses. If there isn’t high demand for a used “whatever” a bank won’t finance it.

    There is such a thing as too tiny. A twenty-something year old might like the idea of climbing a ladder, but a sixty-something year old will not. While a 70 to 150 square foot dwelling might be an effective means of proving a point that we can live with less stuff, such tiny spaces are too far from the center-point of what is a sustainable amount of living space.

    About ten years ago I lived in Portland, Oregon. I saw many tiny houses [were talking 280 to 400 square feet] that were oozing with charm and magical graciousness. These were well cared for little homes, graced with lovely plantings and eye-pleasing exteriors. Any homeowner would want one of these little charmers as a next door neighbor.

    An entire community of eye-pleasing tiny homes would create demand for more communities of eye-pleasing tiny homes.

    Reply
  • Museum Girl

    My reasons for wanting to build a tiny house on wheels are numerous, but in reference to this discussion, the main reason I want to make the switch is that it makes moving so much easier. My profession is very specialized, and when I change jobs, it usually means a move across the country rather than across town, because there are so few positions available. Having a tiny house on wheels would allow me to move to another city without having to do the whole sell-and-buy bit. With the economy the way it is, who wants to do that? Certainly not me!

    I really don’t care whether I live in a community of other tiny houses or not. I just want for there to be a place for me to put my tiny house in the area in which I am hired. My job is museum-related, and most museums are in cities. I’m really concerned that I would end up having to put my house out in the country and commute into the city. I really don’t want to do a big commute. I would much rather live in the city.

    BTW, I wasn’t very concerned about these issues until I read all these posts! I just figured I could rent space in someone’s yard in a neighborhood that allows residents to park their RV’s on their property. Is this a pipe dream? Where do most people put their tiny houses, since there are so few places that are tiny house friendly?

    Reply
  • Jeff

    I’ve been interested in tiny homes and the possibility of creating a community of these homes for a year or more. While trolling over teh web for information about both I came across this website. Note: the houses are 1000 sq. ft. or less, much larger than typical; they are also wildly expensive by comparison; however, the idea is being put into motion. Here’s the website- http://www.cottagecompany.com. These developers were able to work with the local zoning commission to create these communities. They have common areas and parking. And the numbers of these communities are rising. These are very similar to what we are talking about. Hopefully, it won’t be too long before we see these being developed with tiny homes!

    Reply
    • Gregory

      Took a look in this website you posted … wow, very nice cottages! The way they are designed in looks and how they are set by location had been well considered by the builders. Yes, this kind of community is what many of people here were talking exactly that. However there is one house up for sale on website – at $449-ish thousand dollars!? this is for a 1000 sq ft cottage. Gee, that is beyond my budget and its size too much for me. But the possibles of creating such a coummunity do exist in there. Washington state seems to be a good place to make that happen with less than 500 sq ft houses. Can that happen??

      Reply
      • Kathy

        Gregory, I have learned that Seattle and some of the surrounding I ties, like Redmond, do allow backyard ADUs (accessory dwelling units) so it’s not much of a stretch to a community of small homes. The Northwest is into being green in a big way, and there are many people who want to live in a smaller carbon footprint, not to mention less expensive housing. There’s a possibility in Sonoma County California, and I think I read about a small house neighborhood in Portland.

        Reply
        • Gregory

          Yes, I have just now am finding more about WA state and its interest in being going green. I actually have serveral good friends living in Vancouver WA/ Portland OR. A couple of friends told me that Vancouver WA has many small houses already built there for years and years since. I had been in there few times, had seen good coummunties around there. One friend lives north of Vancouver WA (think is called Kent or K-something by a small town near old decommsioned nuclear reactor) … he told me some land plots are very good buys in this region.

          My only problem is that I’m Canadian and to move into U.S. will require certain immargantion procudes (like have above $10k for living expenses on own, or have specific job requests to work, etc) and of course to marry an Americian ciziten (lol). Not an easy process thru customs! Before I can realize my little house in there – I must overcome that barrier.

          Reply
        • Mary

          That would be Kennewick, Wa.

          Reply
        • Gregory

          No, that is too far into eastern side. Looked up in Google … my error, it’s “Kalama” right on I-5 road. Nice place to sight-see around.

          Reply
    • Mary

      Oh, yeah, the electric power plant. I was thinking of the reactor at Handford. Yes, Kalama is a nice place and a great location.

      Reply
  • Lady Tenazby

    It is not a “pipe dream” to rent space from someone who lives in a city. I, however, do not want the city style life, nor do I want to feel as though I am “beholding” to anyone for allowing me to reside on their property in my tiny home even though I pay rent. I am wanting to feel more like a home owner than a renter. My family will do much better if we can organize a co-op situation where everyone involved is an “owner” and the decisions made that affect us all are made by everyone.
    I do not want to feel as though I am living on top of my neighbors, ideally I would like to have at least 1/2 acre (preferably 1 acre)spaces. Neighbors could be as interactive or sociable as they want. They could also be as isolated and secluded as they like. It would be nice to have a few communal areas (garden, park, library, dog park, etc), however, people would only have to be as involved as they chose to be. Ideally, this is what we are looking for. We actually have a gentleman who is wanting to sell 180 + acres (Owner Financed) That used to be a ranch that would be a fabulous location. If several of us could come together to buy something like this, we would be able to establish ourselves our way, without the drug infested trailer park scenario. (I have lived in campgrounds, and trailer parks. I never felt safe letting my children go outside to play. I love living Tiny, so do my children, however, we all want some space that feels safe outside of our Tiny Home.

    Reply
    • Museum Girl

      A real community with the amenities that you mentioned does sound ideal, and I definitely support the idea of tiny house communities. If every city had tiny house communities, I wouldn’t have to be concerned, as I am, about where I will be able to settle my house when I move. I suppose what I was trying to communicate is that my main concern right now is having a place to live that isn’t miles and miles away from my job. I have done that, and it is definitely not my preference.If I didn’t have to worry about working, I would be open to being farther away from the city. But I like cities in general and support the idea of regenerating urban spaces.

      Reply
    • Bemused

      lol, have you folk never heard of ” cottage farms” ?
      A group of people get together and buy a farm (ranch for those from USA).
      Ownership is divided into units.
      Each unit holder is entitled to exclusive use of a certain amount of land eg 1 acre. They can do as they please and build what they please on that land as long as it’s legal and meets any conditions set by the group that apply to all units.
      The rest of the property is common land, it can be used as a nature reserve, run as a working farm by a professional manager, or whatever else the group decides.
      The group contribute equally to pay for taxes and other expenses of the property, and share equally in any profits.
      Living expenses for each unit including utilities are the responsibility of individual unit holders.
      The catch (there’s always a catch) is that if someone decides to sell their unit the new purchaser has to be vetted by the other owners. This gives members reassurance that they will not be overrun by “undesirables” but can make it difficult to sell your unit quickly.

      Reply
  • Lady Tenazby

    I have spoken, in great detail, with a gentleman who is interested in possibly providing a Tiny House Community site. He has 168 acre ranch (the house is not there anymore due to a fire several years ago). We spoke about several possibilities. His space fees would be $200 per month. We are going to check with the county office to see if we can have the property listed as a campground. If we can I will let everyone here know…He is really interested in the whole “co-op” idea. He has the property up for sale for 650k right now. If 100 people got together to purchase this property, it would be $6,500 each. If 50 people got together it would be $13,000 each. You get the idea I am sure. If he retains ownership (which with a well devised business plan, he is willing to consider doing) He would want a commitment of 50 Tiny Homes to start out with.
    This property is only 10 miles from the nearest town of Willits California (in the heart of the Redwoods) Ukiah is only 20 minutes farther and it is only an hour from the coast of Fort Bragg, CA. This is a beautiful, rural area and if there is enough interest, this could be a feasible location to hang a hat or two…. If he retains ownership, he would be leaving it to the co-op to decide who would be allowed to live there (in other words, if someone causing a bunch of problems like with drugs, police being called out, or general riff-raff trashing things up, we can vote them out since part of their lease would require membership in the co-op in order to remain, if they are voted out, they would have a breach of lease, and would have to leave) I mean hopefully, no-one would want to move into such a nice community in the first place if their intent was to live like that, however, I think it is nice that the power would remain in the community itself. I would love to hear your thoughts on this, is there even any real interest at all?

    Reply
    • Gregory

      If I’m not mistaken – this is up north in California, isn’t it? I knew of the Redwoods region which I had drove thru years ago there. Beautiful scentry around this region. Lady Tenazdy, that is a good chance for many of like-minded people who wants to have their tiny house set up in there. I would like to but time isn’t on my side. However, if I was to take up on the offer what you said above.

      1)I’d want that all in writing and thru legal affairs (lawyer, of course). Then check thru everything with the landowner in person and see the existing land until completley accepable in all.

      2) A question: if one person were to purchase a piece of land for $6500. That would come to be one full arce of land by size, right? Would be mean it’d be sold into his/her name in complete? Only if 100 people come up – that will happen by condition said by the land owner yes? That will leave him with 68 arces in his name to keep. One hundred arces equals to 100 people is what it is.

      All ulities would be the responibly of the 100 people who wish to buy proptery. Is that right? I think that is fair since that’s how it is done to get electricty, water and sewage set up. I’d look that way as still a fair deal compare to what the land owner is offering that much land for $6500 each.

      Otherwise, if not, then it’s going be a campground by design and at $200 per month seems reasonable to cover all duties to keep the area clean. Be good for your vacations there.

      Reply
  • sunshineandrain

    If I did the math correctly, the man wants $10,000 per month just for a parking place, no water no electricity? ($200 per month x his minimum of 50 THers)

    Perhaps the deal could be a ‘lease to own’ ‘contract-for-deed’ sale. Then 50 THers or the Co-op, etc., would become the (joint) owner(s) of the 168 acres in 65 months, or the time it takes to pay off some new car loan these days, 5 years and 5 months.

    Just thinking.

    Reply
    • Sharon

      I have a farrrr more modest proposal for folks on the east coast. Here is a 7.75 acre parcel WITH a 6 year old 1624 sq ft home with well, septic and electricity for $28,000!!! I suspect the previous occupants may have trashed the inside of the house but that is easily fixed – it is a foreclosure. So, here we have an inexpensive “community house” with utilities, and space for several tiny homes (legally accessory dwellings.) The property is 40 minutes outside Asheville, NC near the beautiful Pishag Natl Forest. Who is interested if I fund this?

      http://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/653-Baltimore-Branch-Rd_Hot-Springs_NC_28743_M56840-39093

      Reply
      • Carl in SC

        Sharon, I went to Google Earth map to view the property and could not really see overhead view of the home, but the property is heavily wooded. There is only one photo of the double-wide of the exterior on the realtor website. No photos of the inside. Still the 7+ acres may be a good buy even if the home needs repair. Hot Springs is just a few miles north of the property. That far out from a major city like Asheville may mean less government regulations to deal with. If the property is still on the market in the next few weeks I may take a drive up there.

        Reply
        • Sharon

          Carl – if you get up there to take a look at it, let me know what you think. Since I live on the eastern shore of Maryland, I won’t even bother to look at it unless one or more other people are interested.

          Reply
          • Carl in SC

            Sharon, I have not been up to the property near Hot Springs yet and likely won’t until warmer weather. Today February 11, I called the realtor in NC and he says there has been an offer on the property although it hasn’t been decided to accept the offer. Maybe the offer has been made by someone posting on this site who is interested in the tiny home community. Will have to wait and see.

        • Shannon

          @Carl, You can also take a look at the Madison county GIS site for a lot more information on the property. http://www.madisoncountygis.com/mapguide/madisongis/
          Search by address, select the parcel, then make selections to show or hide various features of the map. I usually like to turn on the contour lines and aerial photos.
          @Sharon, can you legally have more than one accessory dwelling in an RA zoned property?

          Reply
          • Sharon

            Carl – Thank you.
            Shannon – don’t know.

      • Judy

        Sharon , did you ever look further into Floyd VA, or was it not you that had expressed interest in the town ? It is where Hari Berzins of tinyhousefamily.com lives.It is filled with music, art, communes, yoga and of course views of the mountains. 30 minutes to a city with any store imaginable and 1 hour to Roanoke, which is even larger and voted as a great place to live .

        Reply
  • Lady Tenazby

    Yes he would be making $10,000 per month if there were 50 Tiny Houses, and $20,000 if there were 100 Tiny Houses, but that is why any land owner would be willing to retain ownership of a property, keep rent low per individual, and leave all the decisions up to the renters rather than dictating how things were run. Yes everything would be legalized through contracts approved by lawyers (ours and theirs)
    In reality, his preference is to sell the property outright for the $650,000. If we have it as a co-op (which would be my personal preference) then the property would be owned by all the members of the co-op. In order for future people to become members of the co-op and have a space of their own, they would need to buy into the property as everyone else already had. As far as each individual lot becoming in the name of each individual, that would depend a lot on whether the county would allow the parcel to be subdivided and whether subdividing would cause us to lose the “campground” status which was allowing the community to exist in the first place. By forming the co-op everyone would own a share of the land. If someone were being destructive or disruptive to the point of being “voted out” by the co-op (all the members would have a vote), then their buy in would be returned to them in full. The whole point of making a clause where membership in the co-op were mandatory, would be to be able to keep our community both safe and comfortable for everyone. If the co-op bought the property outright, then the only monthly fees that would need to be paid would be for property taxes, upkeep/maintenance of the property, insurance, and emergency fund (if the septic has issues or whatever else could go wrong) We could divide it up in whatever increments we decided to. 1 acre lots, 1/2 acre lots etc… having a large community garden, park, public bathroom (which all campgrounds are required to have there), and other public areas (to be decided by all the members of the co-op) would be necessary and would need to be on the portions of the land accessible to all. I don’t have all the answers yet, I am only presenting this here to give a “voice” to everyone who may be interested. It is feasible to have a community where monthly fees equated to less than $100 per month if the property is purchased outright. Having electricity mapped through the property would have to be a community effort as well. The Eel river is near or flows through the property, I will find out which way soon.

    Reply
  • Mary

    I wonder if there is really such a thing as being voted out of a co-op. If an owner violates the contract, legal penalties can be applied, but those cost money also. I believe that the rental scenario is the most likely way to have a controllable standard of living at a reasonable rate. Unfortunately for me, I still cannot afford the suggested rate for a vacation home, but if I was free to move, I would do it as a residence.

    Reply
  • Mary

    What about two separate entities? There could be a non-profit (or profitable) corporation for ownership, with owners or non-owners renting from the corporation. This means that owners do not need to occupy and enthusiasts are able to invest in the future. Any TH enthusiast could invest in the project and any TH enthusiast could rent. I think this could be the best of both worlds.

    Reply
  • Gregory

    “If we have it as a co-op (which would be my personal preference) then the property would be owned by all the members of the co-op. In order for future people to become members of the co-op and have a space of their own…”

    The co-op idea what you said, sounds good and naturally – there will be many issues to be ironed out and hammered in to arrive into the final form. That means we need to have a proper communtie (members with responsibles in caring of the land) build up.

    I like the idea of a non-profit co-op with proper funds set aside for the /maintenances on the property
    to keep up in good shape. As for the question about year-round permeant residents and short-term residents… that is something to be discuss on. Suppose if a TH vacation resident bring the TH trailer to their land plot, do they leave the trailer behind and come back for more vacations later? Or they have to remove their trailer to take home with and come back do the process over and over?

    Lots of questions to discuss on! I’m firmly conviced we NEED a PROPER website where we can discuss more futher on this topic. This forum here isn’t ideal as many comments are all scattered away apart with different topics. we are already trailing away from this subject here. Alex, if you’re reading … please consider about a new better website where members can disscuss under specfic “tiny house” topics/subjects. Makes a much better and more cleaner stucture. Anyone having the same thoughts?? Thanks.

    Reply
  • Erik Tinyhouser

    Expectations. What are yours?

    The sun comes up everyday. That is a given.

    Building codes are artificial boundaries that WILL be eliminated or moved to accomodate positive growth. The ridiculous non-health related codes are unconstitutional.

    When ever a new product or concept comes to market, there is bound to be resistance. Thats all this is. A road bump, not a mountain.

    I want to see Tiny house “parks” designed specifically for Eco friendly tinyhousers. Built in quiet residential areas (not next to the freeway or industrial area), with expandable lots (for people with children or a home business that need another tiny structure), community gardens, and even a section near road way for mobile Tiny offices, like mobile coffe shops.

    Yes WE can people. YES WE CAN.

    We need to work together, NOT sit back and simply watch it develope from the sidelines.

    BTW- I love my 34′ Tiny house I finished in July 2012 and have been living in since.

    Reply
    • Catherine Webb

      I love your idea of having individual property boundaries large enough for a garden, a business tiny structure and even a public business like a coffee shop. Love it.

      Also thought for a community development idea, to have a tiny structure set apart in the development to be the main community laundry with maybe 2 sets of washers and dryers for residents. It would fit right in with the establishment.

      Reply
      • Mary

        One of those tiny business structures could have a laundry/laundromat. One could have a coffee shop and one could have a bakery, several might have food takeout services… now that would be a neat little community.

        Reply
    • sparky

      YES WE CAN?? Really? Are you a time traveler from 2008?

      Reply
  • Dianna Anderson

    Water and Septic would probably be the major considerations to get passed by zoning ordinances, but as others have said, if everyone is doing composting, then it might be able to be done.
    One way to do this might be to “Pre-sell” lots (maybe like an escrow account?) and then do the purchase when you hit the purchase price?
    I would be interested in more mature (forested,treed, mountainous,minimally developed) land, in 1/2 to 1 acre tracts to allow for gardens and self-sufficiency.

    Reply
  • ghpacific

    Sorry if this was already posted, but it’s a great resource if you’re serious about developing a ‘pocket neighborhood’ and need the zoning already established. http://www.mobilehomeparkstore.com/mobile-home-parks-for-sale

    Reply
    • sunshineandrain

      Thanks for the website.

      Reply
  • Carl in SC

    Here is a link to a story about small pod homes, sometime called Granny Pods, http://www.startribune.com/local/yourvoices/185598691.html These are around 290 feet but can be larger.While these models are designed for older people who have mobility problems, there may be options for younger folks. At age 70 and living in a larger house, I’m thinking it wise to downsize to a more energy efficient home and ease of moving from room to room. This type small home, not necessarily the Granny Pod or MedPod, would be ideal for the small home community. Any thoughts.

    Reply
  • Carl W

    Kat said “I saw the perfect spot at the northern Florida border, with a closed-down one level motel.” This may be the page to say this, but I have wondered about the feasibility of converting old motels outside of cities into 2 and 3 room apartments. I was talking with the wife about that. Some with kitchenettes would be easy to convert. Connecting 2 or 3 rooms together would make better use of these old motels. Got this idea from an old motel in N. Myrtle Beach in which 2 units had been connected by an interior doorway. If the old motel has land beside or behind that could be used for tiny and small housing it would be ideal.

    Reply
    • Comet

      @Carl W—

      A few posts back there was someone writing about this exact thing—I think in CA she is doing it.

      We live in an area where there are a LOT of closed or under used hotels/motels. Between the Green Mountains; the Berkshires and the Adirondacks. As we drive around I see these places ALL the time. I often wonder why no one is capitalizing on the “Retro” theme to re-do these places–we actually seek these sorts of places out when we travel! But—the problem is—jobs. Now in an area WITH jobs–I believe the other poster mentioned military housing off base—this WOULD be viable.

      That said—closer to some of the more thriving towns this IS being done. How legally—um—I dunno. I know of a couple of people inc one with two kids (and not tiny kids either) who are living in as far as we know ONE room of a strip type motel. I suspect that if this is legal it is because of very “creative” book keeping for “Long Term Stays” and how it is charged out. But I have also seen plenty of other places like these that are quite obviously several rooms rented out as one unit. So–the concept is out there and CAN be done. And recently some one took several of the old “Tourist Court Cabins” and turned them into tiny homes! On a lovely pond—-

      I would be wary of “zoning” and how a hotel might be classed. As someone who wants to own rental property when we retire—sorry all of you who think we can get by on our good looks and Social Security—we need more financial security than THAT!!!!—this is one idea.

      What I wonder about is—back before WWII many people lived in small apartments over shops etc–now these were of varying sizes and quality. But–they were HOMES with bathrooms and kitchens etc. And no one was getting hysterical over these–and in some places—the tiny cow town I live in–these are STILL in use. And smaller houses were the NORM in non farm areas. Surely if they were “legal” then they are legal now. Somehow someone has to challenge this notion that only a house of “x” amount of square footage is “safe”. The first (oldest) house in my town looks smaller than my garden shed—I thought it WAS a shed until someone told me of the historic background! And a whole family lived in there thru the punishing winters!

      What bothers me is that in this rich country we are having this discussion–admittedly most of us here can afford some place to stay—we are probably NOT sleeping in a cardboard box tonight. But—we ALLOW or FORCE others TO live in those places when we HAVE so much un lived in housing stock. Particularly today—how many houses in YOUR neighborhood are UNLIVED in??? How many were stolen by unscrupulous banks? Yet–we stood by and LET this happen!

      This is a very first world sort of problem that we should all care about.

      In other news—not that far from me there are now two interesting developments–one is a Quaker community–not just a Meeting but a whole community that has bought land and built houses and gardens–I think this is in Columbia County NY and has been written up in several places. Interesting how they are doing this. And a few miles to the North of me in Whitehall NY—a very historic place; Birth Place of the US Navy and scene of many Revolutionary and War of 1812 battles—there is now an Amish community that has branched out into the area. Being heavy farm country this means we have a long history of land use that does not involve a lot of zoning etc altho this is creeping in. But you can place a septic tank as long as you do perk tests etc–and really–no one WANTS your sewage in their well water!!!!—and I doubt that the county much cares if you are “On” the grid or not.

      So—there ARE ways to do these things. You might have to be creative!

      I do like the idea of buying an existing house in need of repairs and living near it—friends of ours have done this with two places—they bought old farm property and maintain the actual houses just enough for them to not fall down–one use is for a warehouse for their ebay business. Then they built in one case a large garage/business area and live OVER that—this looks like an upscale carriage house—and one WAS a carriage house they re-habbed. That way you HAVE the septic; well; electric hook ups; and probably a bit more land than you would if buying land today. And these places are often MUCH less than raw land!

      Our solution may be either keeping one of the two houses we have and traveling by motorcycle or buying an RV and bringing the bike along until we find a place we want to live in. Tired of paying the insane NY taxes. Tired of being cold 9 months out of the year! Don’t know how tiny we might go–RV is pretty small tho!!!—but one floor living is a must for handicapped and getting older all the time!

      Reply
  • Mary

    Hate to keep bringing up problems, but two more:
    1. People that want tiny homes often don’t know it until they need to downsize, and then they don’t have the money. Or they discover tiny homes because they have (or want to have) small incomes in the first place. I think this is the majority.
    2. There are not enough tiny home lovers in the same location. You need a bunch of people that want to live in the same neighborhood. New development locations are mostly out of range of work. So then you need a bunch of people that want to retire at the same recreational area.

    So if you really want to start something and have, or will have the money yourself, maybe you need to find the general location and hold a class at the community center or college to cultivate interested parties in the area you want, among people that can afford to move. Or just put an ad in CL in the town you desire and start a waiting list until enough interested parties accumulate to buy a motel. I doubt that they will come if you simply build it (find an investor). There needs to be demand before supply. Builders of tiny homes have done an excellent job of cultivating our interest in the structures. Now we need to roll that energy on to generate enough interest to convert or build in specific locations.

    Reply
  • Linda

    Money would definitely be an issue for me. I could handle payments equal to modest monthly apartment rent, but cash to purchase a tiny home outright would be out of the question. Some kind of financing would need to be in place. Location would also be an issue. Colorado, Wyoming, Western Oregon, and Western Washington might work, but the heat in the South wouldn’t. Nor would the long, cold winters of the far north (except for western Oregon and Washington, which aren’t as cold). Haven’t always been this picky. Must be that I’m getting old(er). :-)

    Reply
  • sally

    The people that are really motivated by this ideology often have to scrape together resources and experience rough transitions. I’ve seen how important it can be to have signifcant profit to help build up NPOs.
    As for the people that aren’t disturbed by the ratio of homeless/displaced to empty shelters/communities (and prioritize the $3000 monthly)… it is a matter of demonstration. Often, people are happy to help if you ask for something they know how to give. As for giving money- they like to see returns… so you go to great pains to equivocate Real Resource with Capital Gain.
    Right now my parents have big hopes for a plot of land that will serve as a camground/permaculture retreat/food forest/organic farm… with pre-existing rental properties up front. At this point in time, profit (grants, investments etc) will be crucial to the transition. Who knows, one day the trailer park could be an eco-village.

    Reply
  • Nicole

    Hello,

    We are trying to establish a self-sufficient homestead/tinyhouse community within the next year! Which means.. in the process of buying several acers of land in Kentucky.
    We are looking to start this community,and will be opening our land to other like minded people! There has to be other people out there who are willing to do the same.. Right?
    Where should I start looking to find people to do this? Any ideas?

    Reply
  • Stephen

    I just found this article….this is a great discussion.

    The tiny house movement has stuck a chord with my wife and I as well. I am a chemical engineer by education and trade and am approaching 30. I have found myself growing weary of the corporate life already, and always felt most comfortable and at peace when in the remote outdoors. I have moved jobs and am renting a house, so this seemed like a great opportunity to start sacking away money to purchase several acres of land.

    We are originally from Kentucky, around the Cincinnati, Ohio area, but lived in central Kentucky (Lexington) for several years. Since central and central-western Kentucky is abundant with pristine rural inexpensive land (farmland), this area is the choice. In about one year, we are purchasing 5 – 10 acres and after an additional year, we will build our home.

    Perhaps if others share this interest, we could pool resources to acquire a larger plot of land and begin a self-sustaining eco-community rather than a single family eco-farm…

    Reply
    • Rochelle

      Stephen,
      You wouldn’t happen to be from Covington? I’m originally from there, but family left for western US when I was 11.

      FWIW, you all–this month I started a Yahoo group where people worldwide can meet and discuss little house eco-villages or simply just where to build/park their houses: Little House Parking . Networked together, maybe we can come up with solutions, no matter what part of the world we’re living.

      I don’t mean to take away from Alex’s site by posting about group, but his article’s comment page is getting a v-e-r-y l-o-n-g scroll bar. I know this is a topic everyone loves discussing and the group is an easier way to exchange ideas and keep topic fresh.

      Reply
  • Amy

    I have no knowledge about laws or construction nor do I have wealth but I cannot stop envisioning a small house community every day as I drive home from work. I say “small” because I lean towards the 800-900 sq. foot houses that are firmly planted. I am so glad to see that this concept (although not new) is on so many people’s minds right now. I am 26 and engaged and hoping that within the next 20 years these new tiny communities will be available across the country. I am quite certain my limited skill set and lack of funds will prevent me from creating my dream community, but I really hope I’m able to be part of one someday!

    I also think a “small” house community could be profitable in the right location! Who wouldn’t like a beautiful brand new sturdy home with 2-3 bedrooms at an affordable price? I suppose I am just biased! ( FYI my vision includes the tumbleweed b-53 and I live in the Hudson valley in ny- if anyone wants to build it for me! )

    Thanks for all the great posts and information!

    Reply
  • Denise

    They’ve made a village in Ocean Springs with Katrina Cottages, and sounds like someone is building on in Colorado, too. http://grist.org/green-home/2011-07-13-making-temporary-house-a-permanent-home/

    Reply
  • Shannon Holman

    Wow, my life sure has changed since this post was first published! Instead of trying to find a rural property and develop a community from scratch, I decided to join an already thriving community where I wouldn’t need to be dependent on a car. I purchased a 900 sq foot house in the Holy Cross neighborhood in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward. I only have a small yard, but there are three active community gardens near me and empty lots can be purchased for as little as $5000 for people who want to build a tiny home or plant a private garden. There’s a community center and a neighborhood “village” with an indoor skatepark for kids. I am a couple of blocks from the river, where I can walk on the grass on the levee and look at the ships and the birds. My neighbors are amazing. The neighborhood was historically farmland that supplied food for New Orleans, and still feels less dense and more connected to the land than most other parts of the city, so I have a rural feeling while being close to all the culture, food, and services of the city.

    My house is in rough shape but restoring it is a joy. It was built in the late 1800′s or early 1900′s out of salvaged barge boards. In the 19th century people would build barges on which they’d float their lumber downriver to be sold. At the port, the barges would be disassembled and the 2″ thick x 18″ or wider boards would be reused for construction. My house has no studs in the walls: just tongue-in-groove panelling on the interior walls, vertical bargeboards under that, and lapped cypress weatherboards on the exterior. There is a lot of damage but so much that can be saved. Come join me!

    Reply
    • Beth

      Hello Shannon,

      Thank you so much for posting!
      Do you have any pictures available?
      You sound happy and I bet it is wonderful there.

      Beth

      Reply
  • Craig Daniels

    * Recently, Sharon, Mikki, Alice H, Andy Hawkins and Cy Englert referenced “intentional community”. Cy directed our attention to http://www.ic.org/, and I want to make sure everyone is aware of the FIC’s REACHbook page at: http://reach.ic.org/postings/ –where you’ll want to take it slow, branch out, and be thoughtful (as well as dreamy). Their search utility is crap, so Google on: instead. I got 6 relevant hits.

    * Andy hits some pure notes concerning community (and thanks), although I understand it’s tough to qualify for Canadian citizenship (unless, say: you’re an affluent professional with a job offer there). Most “communities”, including many IC efforts, are places –where people come and go. Real community is “a people” –a group who’ve bonded together, and if necessary, places might come and go.

    Reply
    • Craig Daniels

      “–so Google on: *”tiny house” + REACHbook* instead. (The *__* part got stripped out because I had set it off with email style brackets instead of asterisks.)

      Reply
  • High Plains Drifter

    interesting reading comments from all of you, its sounds at the very least, an intelligent conversation. I am an older person not at the end of my days, but one with life experience and a decent education. The tiny house well designed makes perfect sense. To do this you are going to have to move to area where land is inexpensive and have means to support your self either as a craftsman, writer, artist, internet business person, or some other profession that makes you self sufficient.
    This is what my wife and I have done in the upper midwest, we live in a county next to the South Dakota border, where the cost of living is low, we bought an old building in a town of 1500, which really is a dying town. The only thing I can say about the place is the local authorities have not made it any worse at rate that will make a difference in my life time. We are one hour from the interstate and three hours from a city of any size, if we had to depend on the community for a job or support we would be in trouble. Of course the weather especially this year has been brutal, no matter inside our little place you could be anywhere you want it to be in your mind. We call living where we do, living in the Arab tent (which we move around the small building) as we do restoration at our own pace. Inside the tent with have several computers a large bed two wing back chairs, cushions galore, couple of antique lamps and plenty of books. We keep a small kitchen else where and we do have a working inside bath and toilet and sink as well. This year we will finish the building, then the whole place will become an Arab tent with bright colors and plenty of artwork, hanging rugs, tapestries I have been collecting from thrift stores for half my life. What we don’t use we store in sealed plastic containers. When the weather is good around this place we call it living on the green carpet. No smog, total silence, no traffic, no crime, no through highways, one traffic signal in 700 square miles, no problems parking, for supplies we drive twice a month to a town of twenty thousand a little more than an hour away.
    You are where you want to be, it’s not that hard, you just have to think yourself here. There are small towns like this through out the midwest from north to south. We are nobody special, if you want to make your dream come true, you can to it. Einstein said “Imagination is more important than intelligence” Believe it !

    Reply
    • Craig Daniels

      * Drifter, you and Mrs. Drifter have done well –at optimizing your passage through the world –as we find it (“the hand we’re dealt”). Thanks for sharing your experiences with us, and for adding us to your e-community.

      * The Internet has helped a lot –with income, resources, virtual community (without which, our spirit can easily perish) –for those of us who live remotely, or who lead a relatively isolated existence –within a mainstream community.

      In the old days (yes: I’m old too), postal correspondence may have worked among rarefied, literate elite, but e-mail, web weaving and concomitant word processing have since dragged vast portions of the population into stringing together and reading more or less coherent words-in-a-row: a stunning cultural change (for what it’s worth).

      * There are practical lessons for us in what you’ve accomplished.

      You’ve created a “tiny house” experience within a large old building, instead of letting the building determine your mode of existence (aside from moderating the outside weather).

      * By purchasing a property with an existing building and basis for occupancy, you didn’t have to fly directly into the teeth of local codes.

      * By moving to a dying town, buying a property, and bringing outside income with you, the local authorities and powers have concerned themselves less with your philosophies, and more with cutting you the slack you need to stay and prosper.

      * Our nation (and perhaps the world) is a “dying town”, thanks to having been over-run by a vast army of socially expensive, sociopathic, belligerent, myopic parasites –and to civilization’s hopeless inability to address our 10x overpopulation. The question of where best to locate and how best to cope –as the lights go out –might well be answered in the choices you’ve made.

      Craig

      Reply
  • Craig Daniels

    What a fine collection of practical ideas and common sense has accumulated on this web page –and thanks, everyone. Yes of course: the mobile home and RV park models for building, licensing and locating what amount to “tiny houses” makes good sense. Just add a sense of community and stir.

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  • Mark Wark

    The answer seems to be a combination of issues addressed by many who have posted. The traditional command and control approach often involves zoning, density regulation, and other direct land use controls. There are studies to point to, that examines the macroeconomic effects of minimum-lot-size requirements and permit caps that argue that housing units for low or moderate-income groups may be “zoned out” due to restrictive land use policies in many suburban communities that exclusively favor low-density development. The changes or intervention in land use influence regional economic performance and the land use planning or regulation does not always promote a region’s economic well-being. Few examples in the literature involve justifying land use regulations based on welfare economics and supporting such justification with empirical evidence.

    We do have a model as a base example of where to start – mobile home parks. The potential contribution of examining the business model of mobile parks planning as a foundation for Tiny House Communities is the economically efficient use of land. Mobile home parks are permitted pursuant to an approved conditional use permit in zones that permit residential subdivisions. Recreational vehicle parks, and recreational trailer parks are permitted pursuant to an approved conditional use permit in zones developed in conjunction with a mobile home parks. Investors like Warren Buffett are bullish on Mobile Home Parks in large part due to high profit margins. Mobile home park rents remain affordable, with the average rent in the U.S. around $350 per month.

    Some mobile home manufacturers already produce designs that may appeal to the Small or Tiny House movement with park models but few embrace the ideology or invest in research and development to develop the market. They should, because recent surveys [TinyHouseInfographic] indicate per capita income of tiny house people is greater than the national average and 89% of tiny house people have less credit card debt than average American. The Small House movement is a growing market and lifestyle for many who see a choice toward simpler and smaller living.

    If we consider that the footprint already exists in design to take the least path of resistance, we will eventually contribute to a more systematic coordination of land use policies and economic development initiatives that would strike a balance and benefit the tiny house movement. It seems a natural path in evolution to consider collaborative organizational efforts with mobile home park industry and mutual contributions to address possible adverse effects of outdated land use regulations.

    People all over the U.S. are realizing the benefits of scaling down but land use regulations and government indifference continue to raise barriers to development. When you consider the spatial footprint of mobile home parks as units per acre the business model remains the same regardless of tiny, single or double wide units. The ideal solution is in co-housing to reduce urban sprawl and congestion. If a mobile home manufacturer developed a ‘park model duplex’ that essentially was two tiny homes on a single frame with a shared porch in between – I think some might find that attractive if they incorporated many of the same design elements as those found in classic tiny home for enthusiasts.

    A potential consequence of bad land use regulation is higher housing prices, which make housing less affordable to middle and low income households. There is sufficient evidence to support a link between land use regulation and housing affordability. What does that say about our ability to encourage future innovators in U.S. land planning based on misguided notion that restricted market is best and bigger is necessary? The positive regional economic impact a planned tiny house community would bring far out-weighs negative impact functioning as result of limiting population increase as well as housing construction.

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  • RevW

    Here in NW Oregon there has been a company (Airlie Homes) selling downsize homes for some time. The main roadblock to tiny home communities in rural zoning is that tiny home communities are at odds with farmland preservation and density restrictions designed to keep low density areas that way. You can not have a community without impact on the environment, no matter how good the ideals of the members of the community might be. If you have 5 tiny homes that meet state code, you have multiplied the traffic, water usage, demand on infrastructure, local pollution etc by 5, as opposed to a single dwelling. When one of those tiny homes changes ownership, you can have a nightmare of legalities and social issues if the land is held communally – and a different set of nightmares if there is a single landlord.

    In defense of mobile home and manufactured home high density communities, which I do not happen to live in, they are not, and are not always seen as ‘trailer trash’. Nor are they always highly restrictive in terms of what’s parked there and what can be done with the lot. There are several in the rural town I live near where the lot rental is roughly half the rent for similar size ‘budget’ house rentals, the lots are not tiny and people have a sense of community. [There is also a 'tiny duplex' (HUD) community with a very long waiting list, which meets most of peoples' tiny house criteria except for building it yourself and rural location.]

    Reply
  • mick

    I have been investigating doing a tiny house village on a vacation island 2hr plane ride from USA. No zoning or bldg. depts. to deal with, but finding the right land cost and location is the problem. open to all ideas.

    Reply
    • David Ridge

      Your comment is counterproductive to what this article is addressing. This article is addressing the issue to be able to have the TH’s as permanent residences 24/7/365 either as a self contained dwelling on or off of the grid. Another idea behind the Tiny House Movement/Revolution is to be able to build a dwelling that is totally debt free and under the required footprint/square footage to be as close to tax free as you can get legally. The TH movement/revolution is trying to get away from entrepreneurs and any government agencies that want to capitalize on them in anyway, fashion, or whatever.

      Reply
  • David Ridge

    My mother bought a condo. The complex that it is in was an apartment complex at one time. I am not aware of the legal work that was put into it to be rezoned or whatever as condos, but there had to have been some kinda paperwork involved. There just has to be some way to set the community up in such away like a trailer court to purchase the land outright that the TH will sit on without the lot rental fees. This area could offer the options of being on or off the grid and for those on the grid there would still be all of the other “hook up” charges.

    Reply
    • RevW

      What you’re up against here is the limit each state / county / municipality sets on how small a “buildable” parcel of land can be. If you are within range of by-the-month grid services, you are going to be faced with a minimum buildable lot size AND restrictions on the use of travel trailers / RVs as permanent structures. The trailer park and the manufactured home development are special categories; trailer parks have nonstandard ‘lot’ sizes, legally, because the land is owned/taxed as an entire parcel – manufactured home communities do allow individual ownership of the lot, but taxes & part or all utilities are usually aggregated. If you want a tiny home community that functions outside these two special categories of *dwelling* you pretty much have to have all the residents jointly own the land as a consortium, business or other legal group entity. Or locate it somewhere with no zoning and no infrastructure except what the TH village constructs for itself. If you can find a former town or a parcel of land that allows you to “invent” an incorporated or unincorporated municipality, you have a chance of setting up your own minimum lot sizes, but there are still state regulations on sewage etc that the government WILL try to enforce ( = fines) if you start constructing multiple dwellings.

      Reply
      • Craig Daniels

        Thanks for knowing and sharing this useful information, RevW. Now and then I’ll be referring others to this URL, so thanks also to Alex Pino for maintaining it and for starting this important and thoughtful page. I’ll try to keep in mind that it’s premised in the TH concept, lest my emphasis on the primacy of community tend to “hi-jack” what Alex and David Ridge want to explore.

        I think we can all agree that the point of the Tiny House is to avoid letting its material tail wag the soul of it becoming a home for those who dwell within.

        Contributors to this web site are pioneers in a viscerally counter-cultural philosophy of limits. While it’s unlikely to sweep away our current paradigms of “bigger is better”, you’ll eventually be on the right side of history (circa Civilization-2.0 or 3.0).

        Reply
        • David Ridge

          RevW,
          Ah, my intuition was feeling that this can be and is complicated and I do thank you all for your detailed information of how complicated it can in reality be. Like my reply to Mick about the entrepreneurs that still want to make money off of others in this. I still took this article to be addressing the issue for communities as this to be 24/7/365 permanent residences.

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  • Cynthy

    I believe I read somewhere that Jay Shafer, founder of Tumbleweed Tiny Houses and now affiliated w/Four Lights Tiny Homes, has begun plans to build a community of tiny houses. Can’t remember where but I want to say somewhere in the vicinity of Seattle.

    Reply
  • Cynthy

    I believe I read somewhere that Jay Shafer, founder of Tumbleweed Tiny Houses and now affiliated w/Four Lights Tiny Homes, has begun plans to build a community of tiny houses. Can’t remember where but I want to say somewhere in the vicinity of Seattle.

    Reply
  • Brett Hall

    We have been following the Tiny House movement for some time now. We are looking at building luxury units for people who don’t want to build their own and want the very best they can get. One of the things which has been holding us back are zoning codes. We have the building code issues down solidly from our RV experience. The zoning is quite another matter. I boils down to our predecessors in the housing industry. We have had “House Trailers”, Mobile Homes”, “Modular Homes”, “Factory Built Homes” “Pre-engineered Homes”. All of them were colossal failures and soiled the name of the product. We have run out of things to call these beasts! When it comes to developments for them we are stuck with “Trailer Park” which immediately connotes “Trailer Trash” and blighted conditions and people with little to no means of support, cars on concrete blocks, dirt lawns, big hair, and children running around in just a diaper. Somehow we all need to get ahead of these issues. Perhaps a demonstration project to show how well Tiny Houses and their environs can be maintained would go a long way to reversing a trend which has been 75 years in the making.

    Reply
  • Brett Hall

    We have been following the Tiny House movement for some time now. We are looking at building luxury units for people who don’t want to build their own and want the very best they can get. “Go small & have it all!” is our motto. One of the things which has been holding us back are zoning codes. We have the building code issues down solidly from our RV experience. The zoning is quite another matter. It boils down to our predecessors in the housing industry. We have had “House Trailers”, Mobile Homes”, “Modular Homes”, “Factory Built Homes” “Pre-engineered Homes”. All of them were colossal failures and soiled the name of the product. We have run out of things to call these beasts! When it comes to developments for them we are stuck with “Trailer Park” which immediately connotes “Trailer Trash” and blighted conditions and people with little to no means of support, cars on concrete blocks, dirt lawns, big hair, and children running around in just a diaper. Somehow we all need to get ahead of these issues. Perhaps a demonstration project to show how well Tiny Houses and their environs can be maintained would go a long way to reversing a trend which has been 75 years in the making. The zoning and building codes, in many urban and rural areas have been written specifically to exclude RVs and House Trailers as full time residences. Often these codes come in the form of measurements: “Must have a minimum ceiling height of 7′-0″…” or “A climate controlled living space of no less than 1000 square feet…” Communities which have been infested with bad examples of Trailer Parks and even RV Campgrounds are working to clean things up and can be blind to reinvention of anything short of a completely fabricated environment such as Vail, CO or Disneyland.

    Reply
  • Marty White

    Hi Alex. I’ve been following for a while the adventure that Jay is on with creating his tiny house community. And I have high hopes that he will succeed, resulting in tiny house communities becoming “easier” realities. Though a struggle to achieve, it’s one well worth the fight.

    I wanted to add here some thought for you all. I have been exploring the potential in converting a small existing mobile home park into a tiny house community. I am eyeing one now on Lake Murray in Irmo, SC for exactly that purpose. There’s not much to it, about 8 lots … an elderly couple’s property. However, in order to pull something like this off, I think there has to be some extra ingredients in the mix to make it agreeable with nay-say’rs, and make it attractive to potential “tiny house” residents.

    Most large parks (unlike this one) are difficult in SC because they generally consist of nothing but the park, and sport negatives in a lot of people’s eyes. If the houses are generally metal, long, drab, and the land most often not taken care of, then the typical stereotype that is perceived today is often ultimately true. However not always, but more often than not. Most of the people who used to strive to sport nice parks are generally no longer around, so the view on the park is not what it used to be when mobile home park living was looked at so differently, once upon a time. For instance, I recall stories of the old man landlord who owned literally the nicest park in Columbia, where my parents lived when I was born. It was in Irmo, right outside of Columbia, about a mile from my home now. You should see that park now … The land is for sale, and before they TORE down the remaining “trailers” two years ago, you wouldn’t have driven in there at night if your life depended on it. Everyone in town was fighting to have it removed. But I have pictures from back in the early 70′s when it was a beautiful tight knit community of landscaped yards, nice homes, all trim and actually a great friendly place to live. My parents actually went through a MAJOR interview process with the old man before he allowed them to move their new home in. Because they were young, and had A KID. And I was a newborn. You don’t see parks like that anymore, but his makeup would make an incredible tiny house park today.

    Anyway, this one park that I’m looking at is unique in that it has the appeal of the lake, and it’s small. It is actually on the owner’s rather large back yard. Front is the back on the lake, so the owner’s house (brick) is between these and the water. It’s decently landscaped and overall well taken care of. But the homes (mobile) that are in the park are in a so-so bad shape. The owner’s house is nice and the roadway is decently maintained, but it overall “looks bad” when you pull in. Stereotype stands. But transformed into a tiny house community? This would be a fantastic place, with very little change beyond the homes and the most important add, a sense of community. That’s what I think Tiny Homes would bring to the table.

    There are many fine parks all over the US, and we all know that. But in SC it is simply not common. So here, I believe that the perception and visual of metal, long, drab homes, and the commonly found closed off divide presented from a non-existent sense of community, this is what a lot of people see and think of when they hear “house on wheels.” I don’t agree with that being a fair assumption, but … unfortunately it’s the norm here. But what the (Small) Tiny House Movement supports is totally the opposite of that presentation. So the idea of tiny house communities suffer from being, guilty by association. Unfortunate, and that perception needs to change. That would be a GREAT step towards a major leap for tiny homes.

    I have another notion to share that backs this up, if you’ll bear with me. I have a development at the opposite end of Lake Murray called The EPCOSS at Marina Cove. EPCOSS means, Environmentally Planned Community of Sustainable Solutions. I find that the people whom I have talked with about tiny houses “get it” when I tell them about the homes in Marina Cove (most 500 to 600 square feet), but they have a hard time understanding the tiny houses on wheels, which I also build here in Columbia. Some of the people interested in Marina Cove, at some point and in an almost comical manner, will interrupt me while I talking and say, “Oh! Now, you’re not telling me you’re building houses on WHEELS in there, are you?!” They get 500 square feet … They don’t understand 120 to 140. So given the two ends of the “tiny house scale” that I’ve seen, I really think it’s not only the WHEELS that people have a hard time with, it’s also the size. I can see the size point, but if you can do it then, do it! But perhaps having the opportunity to achieve a little bit larger house on wheels would bridge that gap and make it seem not so radical. I mean let’s face it, living small, it’s small. And hard to sink your teeth into if you don’t understand what it’s all about. With a little bit larger tiny home, I think that a tiny house community could be reality.

    My two cents … I’d love to hear comments. Alex, keep up the great reads, bud. M.

    Reply
    • Joe3

      Marty, I can find Irmo, SC on the map and Lake Murray, but nothing for rentals at The EPCOSS at Marina Cove … Have you got a link ? Thanks. And I think I’ll add Dreher Island to my list of places to camp this year.
      And if you purchase the 8 acres near Irmo, I’d be interested in putting a small home there.

      I can relate to tiny homes <250 ft2, and also small homes in the 5 or 600 ft2 arena as I live in a one roomer built in 1920 ~500ft2.
      I don't think its the square footage people don't understand. They're tiny for a reason, going larger costs more, a lot more, to double and/or triple the tiny space and – I feel – defeats the purpose of going tiny in the first place.

      Reply
  • James Schierman

    I would like to post my big dream for ideas, comments and questions here, if I should post elsewhere please let me know:) The details are not completely set in stone yet…so there is still molding that can be done. My family owns 38 acres of property in the country on the Palouse in Eastern WA an hour south of Spokane. The property contains big gardens, two large ponds and a spring-fed stream, large historic barn (for games and recreation, not animals), hillside lawn amphitheater, large backstage shed with indoor stage, wood/metal shop, central house (will be open for club use), large camping area with fire pits, and other buildings that are being restored for members/guests (as public and private event use, gallery use, cooking/catering and preserving food, studio use, workshop use…) I am currently in the process of structuring it as an arts venue, rustic resort and private country club with guest lodging (private cabins) and accommodations for private stay and event use. PLEASE NOTE: The membership due I am sticking with is quite inexpensive for the opportunity, I think: $1/day for annual members (max:300) payable monthly/seasonally or biannually; Annual founders/VIP pay $300 upfront for more perks and the opportunity to remain a founding member at $300/yr. (max:100). In addition, I will be publishing a large crowd-funding campaign soon to establish the property and cabins much sooner. The club (name withheld for now) has been recently registered as an LLC and licensed in WA, that will rent the property from the owner (my dad), another LLC, to hopefully minimize liability risks more. I am working on creating this as a membership-based club for public and private arts events, camping, RV parking and family accommodations. At this time I am working with the county planning and environmental health just to put all of this together to go before the board of adjustments, and while there are still a lot of hurdles, and some current unknowns, they are working well with it. Though they have never dealt with anything like this before, they are still encouraging me.

    My hope is that I wouldn’t need to charge an arm or a leg to allow a mobile tiny home to stay as an unhooked/plumbed guest for an extended amount of time to explore and enjoy the Palouse because I will be making other income at the same time from several different avenues. Instead, it could be in volunteer property labor (construction, mechanics, landscaping, pond cleaner, maid service, trash pickup, mowing, office work, driving, packaging…) which is extensive when it revolves around a 30+ acre park with ponds, large lawns, mature trees, several buildings, a fleet of passenger vehicles, trucks, buses, and farm equipment. AND the three of us that live here have part time jobs! We all have more than full-time jobs to do here! It would save us a great deal in manual labor (both personal and paid), offer guests a comfortable place for new adventure and relaxation (in a relatively unexplored and unique place by the rest of the world), good food, good water, and safety. Luckily, I think I can trust the tiny house dwellers to be very good people too. Thanks for listening, and I appreciate any productive feedback you are willing to give. You can view the property at the website listed. Whew! Sorry for all the reading!

    Reply
    • Amy

      What’s the website?

      Reply
  • Joel

    Well, I just recently read an article about a place outside of Atlanta, Georgia that plans to rent out 1/2 acre sites to put your Tiny House on it. The rent will be $195.00/month. They will also have TH already there that one could rent fot $350.00/month, utilities included. Now all I have to do is to see where I placed that info so I could relate more definitive info for all to peruse.

    Reply
    • Alex

      That sounds awesome. Can you share the article or did you read it in the actual paper?

      Reply
      • Joel

        Alex,I believe it was one of the links on this site. Possibly in the comments section of an article. I thought I saved the file, but can’t locate it right now. Will advise as soon as I locate it, OK ?

        Reply
  • Peggy McPartland

    Four Lights http://www.fourlightshouses.com/pages/the-napoleon-complex is in the process of developing a tiny house community in Sonoma County, CA (with mobile home zoning). It’s proposed opening is in 2015. I’m hopeful that this is the start of a wonderful new trend!

    Reply
    • Alex

      Thanks Peggy me too!

      Reply
  • Osvaldo

    Alex I totally agree with your idea of ​​a tiny house communities.
    I am owner of two properties one in Lake arrowhead size 3,700 sq and other property in town of Beryl, Utah 45,000 sq size and I would like if someone would be interested in forming a tiny house communities would help many people who are homeless or are losing their homes today.
    If you have information of people interested I am available to my properties, for those who want to form communities.

    regards

    osvaldo

    Reply
  • Robert Mielke

    I’m retired and living, or existing on social security checks. I live is Portland, Oregon where housing and apartment rentals are way out of control. Right now I live in a sub-studio apartment for $645 a month plus utilities. The owners keep jacking the rent $50-100 a year. I’m being squeezed out onto the street and am desperate to fins something I can afford. I thought tiny house rental would be ideal but after reading your article I feel I’m doomed. – Bob

    Reply
    • Craig

      There’s an old story that I’ve been unable to Google up –about a large fake boulder that someone made long ago –apparently as a joke. It was resting in a natural setting (for a boulder) as long as any of the locals could remember. It was only found out when a road extension required its removal. A crew set about drilling it for dynamite. The drill bit went right through!

      Competently designed, that might have been a secret “tiny house”.

      A creative person in an urban setting might do the same thing by locating (say) a “transformer vault” in an out-of-the-way spot on public property. It would have “High Voltage” plus non-descript, vague, gobbledegook information stenciled on it –as to its legitimacy and purpose in being there. And you’d expect to see power run into it, right? And who would question a hard-hatted crew with a professional looking truck setting it in place and hooking it up?

      When I use to work on commercial, school district and government building systems (fire alarm, security, communications) we’d sometimes encounter evidence of what one superintendent called “secret livers”. These people tended to be neat and unobtrusive, unlike out-and-out “squatters”. (Beats living under bridges.)

      Reply
    • mick

      There is a group of people who remodel the inside of cargo vans and live comfortable, able to live rent free and travel or just stay in one community. Just google living in a van or go to a vandweller yahoo group.

      Reply
    • Amy

      Bob,
      I know what you are saying.I am 63 and My social security check will not be large either and the housing situation scares me. Is there any way you can rent a room somewhere instead? Or can Habitat for humanity help?

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  • Katie

    For many years people who lived or live in alternate housing such as trailers have a terrible socio- economic label on them. I believe getting past that, in itself is a large issue. I also believe that governments in the USA and Canadian need to step up to the plate in regards to lack of affordable housing rather than say there is an issue in this area. You can talk the talk but it’s time they walk it as well. There is a lack of knowledge as well. The benefits of tiny housing on the environment for instance. Creating “tiny house” communities may work for many people but if you have conviction and stand behind the reason of building a tiny home why must we hide our communities or become segregated? I want to live in a tiny house for several reasons. The first being I want financial freedom and to exercise my right to own a home. I want to protect the planet my children will inherit. People in today’s housing markets have choices available to them for example the choice to purchase a 1500 sq.ft home of a 5000 sq ft home. Why do I have to conform to this way of thought if I feel I can safely provide a home that meets the needs of my family . The family unit has taken such a hard shot and tiny housing also provides incentive to draw the family unit closer together. I truly and strongly believe by approaching governments and asking for places where we can be isolated or hidden is the wrong approach. I believe in educating people making them aware of the benefits of tiny house living and that it is a choice of the people who inhabit them is most essential for building bridges rather than building walls.

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    • Craig Daniels

      Hi Katie, and thanks for your thoughts.

      * You’re right, and as it’s been pointed out before here: there already are a great many “tiny home” communities. They’re called “trailer parks” (and the nice ones have rules).

      Intentional community:

      * Why do people enslave themselves to pay off a big mortgage on a big house? After the factor of just blindly accepting our society’s limited choices, but probably ahead of the vanity factor and the “biggest cave” aspect of the “sexual selection” process –is the noise factor, and the thoughtless to belligerent behaviors which generate it.

      Any development involving small abodes on small lots (or cheap apartments with thin walls) is going to endure noise, hatefulness and a high rate of resident turn-over –unless there are “CC&Rs” with teeth –which either silence or (preferably) expel the sociopaths among us.

      I’m not aware of any “law” stipulating that CC&Rs can only be signed on to and enforced by wealthy people in deluxe, gated, “planned unit developments”. Consolidated powers of attorney for CC&R enforcement actions might be affordably supported among a confederation of a dozen or more allied communities, but such a plan has to be carefully structured in advance. (What I mean is: you start with clear, coherent and practical purposes in mind, then you get competent legal counsel to advise you what’s realistic and how to make it happen.)

      The downside of such a housing/community venture (tiny houses or otherwise) is that although you designed it to be affordable, it might end up becoming unaffordable. The pent-up demand in this nation for relief from noise will drive property values and taxes to rather exclusive levels –at least among the early generations of such developments^, but after being “forced out” a few times, you’ll probably be able to take early retirement and live anywhere :-)

      ^ Some sharp cookie will do this right and become the next “Levittowns” mogul.

      Craig

      Reply
  • Elaine Walker

    Great discussion! I agree that forming tiny house communities will be challenging but there’s so much interest now. There are three groups in Florida that are working on it (Tallahassee, Tampa, Orlando), a group in Texas, another in Ontario, and several more. If you want to connect with people and there is no tiny house meet-up group in your area, you can add your name and location to this map: http://www.tinyhousecommunity.com/map/
    Also, please come to the tiny house fair in Texas in October. We’ll have a roundtable session on forming communities with Jay Shafer of Four Lights Houses, Tom Greene of SoFair Farms, and Ma’ikwe Ludwig of Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage. Registration opens February 15th. http://tinyhousecommunity.com/fair.htm (The Conference in April is listed at the top of the page, the Fair in October is below that.)

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  • Scott Barnes

    Great comments. I love the idea of finding a piece of land and putting several small houses on it. A perfect scenario for me would be locating an old small farm and surrounding it with small cabins. Everyone could work some land and perhaps have a few animals. Some rural farm areas do allow subdividing the land but of course their are restrictions. Probably the best and easiest scenario is for someone to own the land and build small rentals. For me the issue is I really want to be close to a medium sized city for cultural events and yet be close enough to get away to my space in the country. It can be done in rural areas with limited restrictions. I have seen some old motel/cabins in Maine converted to permanent living but I believe they are rentals. More and more areas are allowing for small lot developments but admittedly progress is slow.

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  • Penny in SC

    I have read so many of the comments… not all because there are so many, which is a good thing. I have thought about the a TH community for quite awhile based on the fact that I had full intention of building a TH only to realize Hello, where will I put it? Does anyone know how exactly the zoning and IBC have been altered over time? My current home is 1000 sq/ft and do you know that you cannot even build a home this size anymore! IBC says it isn’t safe????? Where I am going with this is this. Is there still power in numbers (it takes a village), can people pull together to propose changing (altering) the IBC. How, I dont know, thats where the power in numbers comes into play. Somewhere International Building Codes where changed to enforce more square footage, surely there is a way to change it back. The same goes for zoning and such. It isn’t impossible, just daunting at best. I have lived in a MH park and also been a property manager, yes there are down sides to all of these scenarios, but there are no guarantees in any community, HOA or not. (money scam if u ask me) Humans are who they are and that will never change, the advantage to a tiny home is that if you dont like the community, maybe you can save enough money to buy your own land and maybe invite a favorite (or common minded) neighbor (s) to move onto your land. Rome was not built in a day. (yes, I know it burned down in 24 hours but they had fun for a long time)

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  • Paula

    Hi, I’m new to this conversation but I am very interested in tiny homes and I’ve been following the newsletter for months and spending hours on the web looking at designs. The subject of tiny home communities really grabs me because I have a farm in Maine, and a local foods project, that needs people and I’m wondering if anyone out there would be interested in a tiny home rv park on a 100 acre organic farm. I’ve explored the possibility of a tiny home development here (i.e., stationary houses on slabs) but the subdivision laws and infrastructure costs make the necessary initial investment prohibitive, especially in that while the idea of moving to a classic, unspoiled rural New England setting may sound romantic, the reality of how to make a living there is a serious problem. With upfront costs of $200,000 – $300,000 (roads, utilities, sewage) and an unsure market, the fixed home idea died.

    But an RV park for tiny homes might be doable and might even be preferable – if people really don’t like rural living they can pack up and leave without the dilemma of selling a house. The idea here would be to keep the farm in operation and put the tiny home community in the 70 acre woodlot (old growth, lovely park-like setting) and give residents the opportunity to work on the farm in exchange for some of the park fees.

    Yes, this is a “for profit scheme.” My husband and I are in our sixties and the reality of small-scale, organic farming is that the farmer has no pension plan, no old-age safety net. The farmer either keeps on farming until he/she dies or they are forced to sell the farm when they can no longer work it. We are looking for an alternative that allows us to stay on the farm and that might give others the opportunity to enjoy this life. There is no question, in my mind, that this is real life – we grow real food, contend with real elements, work in and with a real, natural system and live with a bunch of animals (domestic and wild) that teach us more about dignity, honor and humor than the modern human usually gets to experience.

    Oh, yuck…now I’m preaching, or selling, or both. Sorry. But I would be very happy to hear from any of you out there who would be interested in talking about this possibility. We also have, adjacent to our farm, a nearly complete facility (an old, former Grange Hall) for gathering, processing, distributing local farm products which will also be a café/restaurant/gathering place for locals – a rural community center, if you will, that we hope will make the rural hinterland slightly less dark and lonely. And that facility will need baker (for a wood-fired, brick oven), chef, restaurateur entrepreneurs who are serious, soil-level foodies.

    If there are any tiny house-rural-living-foodies out there looking for a place to call home in the Northeast, and who would like to talk, I’d love to hear from you.

    Thanks all!

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    • John T

      If you have land and can provide power hookups, AND you won’t run afoul of any zoning laws, then I think your idea sounds pretty good. The biggest hurdle I see beyond the initial investment of building a mobile tiny home is where to park it. In my community, while not a modern subdivision with a HOA to contend with, there are still laws that govern what you can park on your land. I could park a tiny home in my backyard (not the front and not in the driveway) and could only legally use it on a temporary basis. I couldn’t live there 7 days a week. How this can be proven? Nosey neighbors, I suppose. If you’re able to house guests on your land and make a profit, you might need some sort of commercial zoning. If you’re just breaking even and splitting expenses, it might be a different story.

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    • Susan

      I am looking to build my tiny home within the next two years. I would be highly interested in working on an already established farm. Is there any way we can stay in touch until my home is built and ready to go? As long as there are no legality issues, I would be highly interested in this idea.

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    • Amy

      I love this idea and want to hear more about it.

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  • KG

    Anyone know of any rural golf courses that might want to supplement their dwindling membership and get hitched to a Tiny Home Commity?
    Their Club House, pool etc would be nice anchors for some tenants…. just say’n.

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  • Megan Reply
  • Linaeve

    Now, I’m probably going to sound pretty naïve and probably pretty stupid, but the legality of things is not my strong point.

    Would a tiny community be allowed to exist if it was religious? There are plenty of Pagan communities with their own versions of tiny houses. There is such a community where Pagan includes atheists; they are simply communities that are trying to be as low impact as possible.

    I’m not sure what they are doing to make this happen in their particular states, but we could always ask. It’s an option. Living in harmony with the Earth, as many tiny home owners want to do as well as stick it to the “man”, can be considered a very spiritual thing.

    Just curious if this could work for tiny house communities.

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  • Lisa Cara

    I have this vision from spirit. A nonprofit organization to structure and found sustainable tiny home communities. rent the lots, rent to cover taxes, property maintenance and community projects. Garden space is provided and self sustenance is a guiding principal of this endeavor. The goal is to provide shoestring living for bootstrap improvement of those willing to work for a better sustainable future for themselves with due consideration of sustainable green lifestyles. It needs work-but this is where my spirit is leading me-The Big Hearts Tiny Home Project is in research and development in my head right now-I welcome any comments and/or interest in helping develop this raw idea.

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  • Don Deane

    Willow creek Campground an RV park in Camptonville California would like to rent space to a few tiny houses. We are a 20 acre private campground in the Tahoe National Forest if interested email the owner at editor@coastalpost.com

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  • Kristen

    I’m in the process of buying 15 acres in West Virginia. Would that be enough land for a tiny house community? And what type of insurance would I need to have in place for a tiny house community? And do I need to talk to government officials in order to get water, sewerage, and electric in place? I’d like to live off grid but if I start a tiny house community I think I would definitely need a place for all waste water (and toilet “business”) to go. The more I think about it the more frightening it becomes. Any advice is welcome. I’m still debating on whether or not to purchase the land. I just want a tiny house for myself and each of my kids. I have 4 young children so basically I’m planning for my future and their future. I want to live rent/mortgage free and I want them to live free too. I know I can’t just buy one acre of land on Main Street, Any town USA for the purpose of 5 tiny houses. And this 15 acres I’m considering is just about all I can afford. But I’m not sure if I could afford the insurances required or municipal charges of taxes and waste disposal. But it’s something that I want to do for my children’s futures. I want to live debt free and teach them to live a simple life. But I’m just not sure if it is possible. Any advice welcome at kbpalir@gmail.com

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  • Kelly Libert

    I don’t have the slightest interest in being in a tiny house community. I would like at least several acres between me and my nearest neighbor preferably on the outskirts of a small town. My idea of off the grid means a septic system, abundant well water, solar panels with back-up generator, and satellite phone and internet. I’ll cart my own trash to the dump. I am sure that the enforced sociability and rules necessary to maintain a modicum of peace in an RV park sized tiny house community would chafe.

    Reply

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