This is a guest post by Jane Dwinnell as a part of her series Tiny House Travels: Chronicling Life on the Road.
February 5, 2013
Rooftop Tiny House Living in the City
We’ve settled down for several months — on a rooftop in the middle of big city. It’s a great place, and an unusual “tiny house” community. There are 15 homes up here ranging from our tiny house to RVs of all kinds to a fitted-out bus and van. There are water, sewer and electrical hookups — and a gorgeous panorama of the downtown skyline.
We’re in a southern city, warm and sunny, full of vibrant life and culture. Yet it’s quiet up here on the rooftop with twinkling city lights and stars at night, and a view of the tops of shotgun houses and graceful live oaks by day. The neighbors are a quiet group, most off to work or school each day. There are a few dogs and cats that patrol the rooftop, and there are several gardens-in-pots alongside some of the RVs. We also share the space with several small boats and some catering vans for the business downstairs.
It’s a great location — quiet and private, yet with all services within walking or biking distance. There’s a grocery store, hardware store, post office, laundromat, library, sporting goods store, emergency room, dentist, thrift store, and pharmacy. There are ethnic grocery stores and restaurants of all kinds, and our favorite sports bar. There is a three-mile-long waterway perfect for kayaking or canoeing. And best of all, there is a 1300-acre city park with lakes, bike paths, restaurants, an art museum, playing fields, tennis courts, dog park, and a disc golf course. We are all set!
For venturing further afield, there is great biking and public transportation. Our gas-hog of a pickup truck, so necessary for hauling the tiny house around, sits idle here in the city. Wonderful. And the rent isn’t too bad either, considering we’re not fueling the truck up all the time, and that we got a break on the price because we don’t need the electric or sewer hookups because we have a composting toilet and solar panels. We fill our 45-gallon water tank every few days, and that’s it for utilities (besides our cell phone and MiFi — though there is free internet up here on the roof, courtesy of the hardware store across the way).
I know many tiny house people are country people — and we were for many, many years. We lived on a 45-acre farm a 15-minute drive from the nearest good-sized town (with grocery store, hardware store, etc). It was a wonderful life raising food, hanging out with our kids, and deeply enjoying nature. But I sure love the convenience of walking or biking to everything, and feeling the energy of the city without being directly in it.
The rooftop is safe, so our neighbors tell us. With everyone looking out for one another, and everyone ready to call 911 at the first sign of trouble, it’s great. Only once in the month that we’ve been here has a “stranger” arrived. Except for the other day when a cop followed me up the ramp while I was pushing my cart full of wet laundry. He probably thought I was a homeless person (people often assume that when I have my cart loaded with stuff). This local cop didn’t even know this community was here! That’s a sure sign of how private we are.
As you imagine creating a tiny house community in your own city, look to the rooftops! This rooftop was originally designed for parking, but as the businesses on the ground floor changed, parking wasn’t as necessary. The owners of the building saw an income-producer, a creative way to use the space, and it benefits everyone. Tiny houses don’t necessarily have to be on the ground.
Of course, by the time the hot weather arrives, we’ll be on the road to somewhere else. But, in the meantime, we’re enjoying sitting outside having a glass of wine in the evenings, chatting with the neighbors, or practicing putting with our portable disc golf basket. So much to do here on the rooftop!
More of Jane Dwinell and Her Tiny Home on Tiny House Talk:
- Jane’s Tiny House Photos
- Jane’s Tiny Home Video Tour
- Chronicling Life Aboard (11/13/12)
- Life on the Road (12/12/12)
- How to Get Along as a Couple in a Tiny House
Jane Dwinell, and her partner Sky Yardley, are retired, and live and travel in their tiny house. She is the author of Freedom Through Frugality: Spend Less, Have More, available exclusively on her website, spiritoflifepublishing.com. “Like” Freedom Through Frugality on Facebook for photos, tips, and adventures.