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Seven Friends Build Simple Tiny House Community

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When Lina Menard was 14 years old, she was already interested in cohousing. So it’s no wonder that today she’s living in her own tiny house in a self-created tiny house community she and her friends put together in Portland. It’s called Simply Home Community.

Granted, this all definitely didn’t happen over night. This is something Lina has been dreaming of and actively working towards for a long time. It’s no wonder she figured it out, right? And right now I’m so excited and even proud for what she and her friends are doing not only because it isn’t an easy thing to do but also because they are truly paving the way for others, like you and me, to do the same.

So this is the story of how seven friends are now successfully living tiny in their own little community. This is a great model, example, and inspiration for future tiny living and cohousing communities that are home grown.

Seven Friends Create Simple Tiny House Community

Simply Home Community

Image © Simply Home Community

7 Friends Create Simple Tiny House Community

Image © Bruce Ely/Stephanie Essin

Video: Friends Build Home Grown Tiny House Community

Video: Portland Tiny Living Community

Lina explains how they’re doing it in the article/interview below. 🙂

Learn more: http://www.unlikelylives.com/2015/04/lina-tiny-house-community/


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Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!
{ 53 comments… add one }
  • SteveDenver
    May 14, 2015, 10:53 am

    Such a lovely enclave of carefully crafted tiny homes and thoughtful lives. The article from a couple of weeks ago about people in tiny homes combining a spirit of independence with that of sharing and shared reliance really comes into focus.

    Colorado has a few examples of shared reliance in cooperative housing. Although not officially “tiny houses,” they are clustered homes of small size with shared facilities and grounds — mostly occupied by single adults and retirees looking for a new social structure as an alternative to living alone in isolation.

    My aunt lived in a converted 1960s luxury hotel near San Clemente, CA, where units ranged from studio to 2-bedroom. Each unit had been fitted with a compact kitchenette, and the restaurant and convention facilities had been converted into cooperative spaces. Residents could work-off their association fees by performing maintenance and landscaping duties. There was a shared library. The former cocktail lounge contained a giant projection TV with a listing of upcoming broadcasts where neighbors could come together. One of the restaurants was turned into a cooperative kitchen where people could sign up to cook a meal for 10-100 people who would sign up and dine at-cost. Residents gave musical performances, readings, lectures, shared travel experiences in fireside-styled presentations, and held political and charitable meetings.

    Before living there, my aunt lived in a 3000sf McMansion and was an average “wealthy retiree” whose home life was quite empty.

    • alice h
      May 14, 2015, 12:35 pm

      Sounds heavenly!

      • linda
        May 14, 2015, 1:03 pm

        Do you know where I may be able to get information about the places in Colorado? Thank you.

    • Dale
      May 15, 2015, 4:44 pm

      Wow! Sounds like a fabulous community. I certainly wouldn’t mind living in such a great place with so many wonderful activities and potential new friends! I’ve thought about this model of co-housing for years now and just love the concept of my own private space for writing and contemplation and a chance to gather communally for shared moments.

    • May 18, 2015, 11:14 pm

      Love the place your Aunt lived in retirement. Great idea for all us seniors. Wish they had this here in Georgia.

      • May 18, 2015, 11:17 pm

        Sorry….I replied to the wrong post by accident. 🙁

      • Dana
        October 25, 2015, 2:12 am

        I’m in GA too and would love to make this dream come true for myself and others. What part of GA do you live?

    • DR Hall
      May 31, 2015, 3:16 am

      Steve Denver, I am interested in learning about this style of living at this former Hotel in California. Please send me any detailed info;
      214 five eight seven33nine1 I love how you said, thoughtful lives

      • SteveDenver
        May 31, 2015, 3:52 am

        Hi DR Hall:
        My aunt lived there for 11 years and then the facility sold to developers who scraped it and built an office park. There are co-housing developments springing up in former resorts and hotels around the world. I know my aunt considered one in Mexico, but she didn’t want to be that far from her daughters and grandkids.

        • Sharee
          September 13, 2015, 1:31 pm

          Leisure World is like that. They can’t work off dues, but they do have access to golf carts to drive around the area. One is in Laguna Woods (near El Toro) and another in Seal Beach (near Long Beach). Southern California.

  • Vic Stevins-Owens
    May 14, 2015, 11:09 am

    Over half of adults in the United States live alone and I’m one of them. I realized long ago that I would probably not become wealthy, because none of my interests or goals point in that direction. I really relish the idea of a tiny home among other tiny homes where interaction occurs, but a small personal space exists when one wants to be solitary. This is a lovely example of how that can work.

  • two crows
    May 14, 2015, 11:21 am

    Back in the 1980’s I began researching Co-Housing and Conscious Communities. I desperately wanted to live in one. I got involved with a group that was just getting started but it looked as if they were going nowhere and feuding along the way – so I dropped out of it.
    I did look into one in Orlando, Florida before I moved down here but that didn’t pan out, either.

    There are lots of them in Europe – one I know of in Denmark, another in the Netherlands. They don’t call themselves Tiny House Communities [or didn’t in the 1980’s, anyway.] But the concept was exactly the same as these folks are doing: a communal gathering space, communal gardens, communal meals; individual, usually tiny, private spaces.

    So, of course, it’s no surprise that one is happening in Portland, Oregon – – one of the most European-style communities in the US.

    Kudos to these folks for making it work! I know, from experience, how difficult that is to do.

    • Dennis
      May 14, 2015, 5:26 pm

      Two Crows –

      I lived in a cohousing community in DC for a decade – was a founding member. Yes they are tough to get off the ground. We took about two years to get the first seven members, including me, to expand to 43 households, but we had a developer who owned the land and spearheaded the construction and permitting process – he did it because he liked the idea and wanted to develop a specialty in urban cohousing.

      If you want to start one (and I’ve been thinking about taking the plunge again even though I’ve moved up to Central Vermont,) I might try to get a professional builder who is familiar with zoning and possible obstacles in your area, and dangle the carrot to him/her of building a bunch of TH’s connected to common septic systems, and developing a construction niche that might travel well.

      I’ve been kicking around the idea of trying to get a group of friends together to do it again here, to “age in place” (I’m 57.) And it occurred to me here to get a local builder involved: they are hungry, and many of them are alternative living types themselves who might respond to a different vision. I’d also look at the cohousing.org website – they have good resources for self governance – a not-so-sexy subject, but an essential one, even when dealing with people you know: financial decisions and pesky rules about kids, pets, and noise always come up. But designing one common-house type structure is a GREAT part of the action: a built in huge space and dining room for impromptu parties, Super Bowls, watching election nights or other stuff – a great part of living “intentionally.” And you can stay in your own unit if you’re not in the mood.

      • two crows
        May 15, 2015, 2:35 am

        Thanks for the tips, Dennis. Maybe I’ll jump off the deep end again – – –

      • May 18, 2015, 11:24 pm

        Thanks for sharing your experience. I have also been kicking this concept around for a while.

      • Valerie
        September 14, 2015, 1:21 am

        Dennis – that sounds so great. I have been running into so many people our age who are wanting the same thing, but don’t have a clue as to how to go about it.
        Hope you keep us all updated if you proceed!

    • Diane
      May 19, 2015, 4:33 pm

      I am successful at this shared concept on my property. I found women to be difficult to share with as they seemed contentious and jealous. I opted to instead share with men. Friends of mine tease me that I am the Queen Bee but I am not providing those services for my clients. It is just a great, safe, quiet place to live. All of my tenants are older men and educated. They all grew up with Mom’s and know how to respect a woman and I grew up with an older brother so I am used to a man around the house. They are quiet like church mice and never make a mess and work and come and go. They like it that I am a designer and have made their rooms beautiful with desks and a nice bed. It probably wouldn’t work if the men were younger but these men are polite and older and it has been a wonderful experience for me. They pay more rent that women would want to pay and there is no grumbling. Whether you are renting a tiny house or a room in a big mansion. People do like community but you have to choose the right people. That’s the key.

      • Cole
        September 13, 2015, 1:16 pm

        how did you get the zoning and permit?

      • Rolf
        October 25, 2015, 8:06 am

        Diane, This is something that has been turning around in my head for a long time. I’ve been a landlord for many years and I am taking note of what his happening in our society. I see a future for places like yours and I would like to be involved in it. Would it be possible to talk with you? My e-mail is [email protected].


  • Susan
    May 14, 2015, 11:36 am

    Absolutely love this idea. Perfect for us older people who would like a closer community, simpler life and sharing chores as we get older.

  • alice h
    May 14, 2015, 12:34 pm

    Another aspect of using this type of housing as you age is that it can offer younger people housing opportunities as well. A community of older or less physically capable people can offer housing to others in exchange for maintenance, landscaping or other services. Good for everybody.

  • Steve in Palm Bay
    May 14, 2015, 3:51 pm

    Firstly, the THs look to be spot on. Would have loved to see more of the structural layouts. …but have learned that is not always available here….so FWIW, like most of us here I just use my imagination to fill in any blanks. It is what it is. But the varieties shown are visually pleasing.

    The communal lifestyle works for many be sure. I am not amongst this lot. No one has ever accused me of working well with the masses. Trusting others to do their fair share whether for maintenance or in the garden is not my cup of meat. The interviewee alludes to this. Not all work is of equal value in this world. This was proven by the failed Jamestown/Plymouth Rock communities. The least productive elements tend to be the most prolific in society.

    Seems to me this is but just one more HOA/ condo association to deal with. No thanks, I’ll pass. As a confirmed individualist, I have learned to not be bored by my own company.

    • Diane
      May 19, 2015, 5:01 pm

      I have found it far easier to rent to the successful person who just wants to live somewhere nice without having to take care of everything or setting it all up. It has taken me years to create this expansive grounds and people I rent to love it here. I then hire everything done that needs to be done with the money. I agree that sharing the work load would never work and does not work. There would always be that one complainer that thinks he or she is doing more than the others. I avoid this with a lawn service, Pool Service and Cleaning ladies. I have found that not all community based people are hermits. Some are successful people with busy lives that want to be free of the details of operation of a home and gladly hand that over to the owner. It works for me and for them.

      • Demeter
        September 13, 2015, 10:42 pm

        “Cleaning Ladies?!” “Pool Service?!” Ummm…I don’t think we’re talking about Tiny House Communities; those are the kind of rat-race aquisition-bloated lifestyles the whole Tiny House thing was started to escape….

        • Alex
          September 14, 2015, 11:46 am

          Different strokes for different folks; we’re not all the same 🙂

  • linda
    May 15, 2015, 5:56 am

    hi everybody thank you for all your lovely comments. been reading for quite some time about tiny houses. I’m 72 living in low income housing in ca and its very awful and I would love to know how tolook for a tiny community of people I have a tiny settlement from my classic vw being totaled (with me in it) so if anyone can just maybe suggest a starting point. .I don’t want to die here ive always loves small places and when I first saw the tiny homes I cried with joy anyway thanks to alex a genius and to all involved I read these newletters daily the only thing that keeps me positive is looking at theselovely tiny houses. . any help would be so appreciated thank you my e-mail is [email protected]. . thanks again

    • May 18, 2015, 11:35 pm

      Hi Linda, Your best bet would be to buy a good used Park Model camper and find an RV park or rent a spot from a friend who would love to have you in their backyard.
      I have lived in my Park Model for almost 14 years.
      Hope this helps.

  • May 15, 2015, 8:46 am

    More and more of these communities are popping up everywhere are there other resources around to find where to find these communities out west?

  • George Zalai
    May 15, 2015, 4:05 pm

    Greetings TH lovers,
    I am just starting up making a few of those for a hobby. I built my own house, so to build a little unit is just fun. I aquired a 16 a 24 and a 40 feet trailer to convert them into nice tiny homes on wheels. I am getting many good ideas from this site and drawing up a few plans. I may sell 2 out of 3 units, keep one and look for a place to settle down with it. Anyone may have some advice about conversions, I welcome any comment. Possibly there is someone, who has experience with projects like that.
    Thank you,
    George Zalai

    • Suzi
      June 4, 2015, 11:52 pm

      I am looking forward to finding a community of TH, where I could rent to own since I have to live on my disability income.
      Small living for small budget. Chronic illness and need garden.
      It is time for self maintenance easier living. Could do community work or office management.

  • Trish
    May 16, 2015, 3:04 am

    I have been considering building a small home on the eight acres my father owns in LA (Lower Alabama). He is getting up in years; I want to be able to spend more time with him. A few things stand in the way — gotta sell my house (too large for me, but not a McMansion), my new job, things such as that. But this is convincing me that I need to get started. It would be great to have a few family members build small houses there too. We can be close, but have our own private space. Thanks for sharing this story.

  • wb
    June 28, 2015, 9:26 pm

    I would like to start a small community like this near Dallas, TX. Already have a small parcel of land in Denton County outside City Limits. I am thinking 2 to 4 tiny houses on a small lot, my future tiny house included in that number.

    • Anne
      October 9, 2015, 8:52 am

      We are looking for a small parcel of land to build a tiny house in Denton County. My father in law has his heart set on doing this and retiring there.

      • Jay
        February 5, 2016, 11:51 am

        I live about an hour from Denton near Ft Worth and have a tiny house on almost an acre of land. Texas, although hot in the summer, is a GREAT place for tiny houses!!

        • Christy Graham
          May 20, 2016, 4:22 pm

          I love in Ft Worth but will be moving to Amarillo. TX in the near future. Anyone know of any tiny houses in Amarillo.
          Thanks, Christy
          txsladye53@ gmail.com

  • July 14, 2015, 8:30 am

    There are so many variants in TH ICs. I would suggest a book to anyone that is serious in forming a TH community: Creating a Life Together. There are more train wrecks than success stories, so a guide like this explains some options. I also am very very interested in joining a TH IC in the near future and will be on the hunt. But for me, the diamond is the community — an extended family — who want to share in the experience if a quality life.

    I’ve almost got my tiny house done and will may sell it. I’m looking for an age-in-place TH and community.

  • Lynne N.
    August 30, 2015, 3:42 pm

    I am also wanting to have a few tiny homes around, as in a simple little community where people do get along. I think the larger the community is, people seem to care less and then problems arise.
    I like to think sometimes a community would be cool to be lime back in olden times. You had certain people that had a special trade and people could barter? Or they still could use money if they liked. You could support your own community.
    I love the hobbit style too.
    I can do most jobs, but I am not licensed for electric or plumbing. Although I have helped do a lot of it under guidance.
    I am currently looking for some land to do this. Land is cheap where I live. And they dont have very many restrictions.
    And there is water, trees, wildlife. If anyone is interested in a little investment….I will gladly look for land with utilities.
    If not, I will get there eventually. 🙂

    • Valerie
      September 14, 2015, 1:30 am

      Hi Lynne – where are you located? A couple of friends and I (all single women) talk all the time about wanting to live in a community like that – good to know we’re not the only ones!

      • Lynne N.
        September 14, 2015, 12:18 pm

        It takes a lot of special people and vetting to make sure people can get along with each other. But I would like to know if some women could actually do this. It sounds nice. Run my addy together and of course a dot is a .
        You may contact me at desert rose dot 1358 at g mail dot com if you are interested.

  • Deadrock
    September 13, 2015, 3:34 pm

    Sounds as if a lot of people here like the idea of a TH community to be a part of. Fortunately for them, there seem to be more and more of these communities popping up. I agree with Steve in Palm Bay, however – I’d keep as far away from this kind of set up as I possibly could. My real estate agent in Asheville suggested a large plot of land that was available with the idea that I could split it up and sell it to other tiny house enthusiasts (despite my having told her countless times I do not plan to build a tiny house) so we could share utilities and a common well, etc. I very quickly disabused her of the notion that I would ever, ever consider that.

    What can I say? I hated team sports, I hated those college classes where the teacher made us collaborate on a project and share a collective grade (it nearly always became immediately clear that I would be taking on the lion’s share of the work if I wanted an A), I hate relying on strangers (and even neighbors are little better than strangers, most of the time) to uphold their end of a bargain, even a legal one.

    But I understand the desire to have a network of like minded people around you. That, in my opinion, is one of the main reasons to become members of a church, for instance, or enroll in classes or join a club of “whatever” enthusiasts. I don’t see any need to be geographically smack dab in the middle of this group of people, 24/7, relying on them not to make your life more difficult. Why create a fake family of random strangers with their attendant baggage and drama, when your own family is probably already more than you want to deal with?

    But like I said, for those to whom this is paradise on earth, go for it and good luck. Those with a little more money to start out with can do what my RE agent suggested and start a community of their own, and sites like this one would be a great place to get the word out. Please consider someplace away from Asheville, NC, though. I already know of some wealthy investors who are looking to buy a ton of acreage to create a prepper compound near there. It’s going to be underground, though, so at least I won’t have to look at it.

  • Kathy
    September 13, 2015, 4:00 pm

    I am sure I am being naive, but I have always wondered why co-housing with a group of tiny houses should be so darned difficult. After all, what is a condo except a group of people living in (often) tiny homes under one roof with shared common spaces like laundry, pool, recreation room? What make it so different and difficult when those tiny homes each have their own roof?

    • Athena
      September 13, 2015, 10:54 pm

      It’s not.

    • Nancy Wilkinson
      September 14, 2015, 12:54 pm

      Having worked in new construction or 25 years (in SE PA suburbs), I would answer you by saying,” local municipal restrictions,i.e., zoning, land costs, politics, NIMBY’s, water & sewer issues….” We built what is called Neo-Traditional Neighborhoods, complete with alleyways and small houses on small lots with parks in each neighborhood and a separate Town Center. It took YEars of preparation and local obstacles as mentioned above before we could even start selling the small house.
      The local township had nothing in their zoning ordinance to “allow” this type of community, so attorneys had to re-write the ordinance.
      And the bottom line is that all o the wasted time, lawyers,engineers etc only added to the cost of each home.
      If you want to see the end result, go to http://www.hankingroup.com/ & search “awardwinningcommunities”. The TH were in Eagleview.

      I know it doesn’t make sense but in many areas of the U.S. especially near cities with suburbs, it is what it is.

    • James M Muellner
      December 17, 2015, 8:44 pm

      Love the concept of small houses grouped together, with a common community room. Am trying to get one started in White Bear Lake, MN. It gets cold here so the planning and buildings have to be more secure. Also, our zoning laws are not yet adjusted to this new reality. However, I am optometrist that changes will occur in time for me to love in this pocket neighborhood.
      If anyone near by is interested, please contact me. I would love to discuss your interest. Jim

  • Lisa E.
    October 2, 2015, 11:49 am

    I wish we could get a tour of all of the THOW’s in this community. I have often wondered about the other homes. I love the Lucky Penny and think about it often. It’s a little short for my needs and I’d have to add 2-4 more feet, but I love everything about this build and I’m always looking for new ideas to incorporate into my THOW dream house.

  • cindy
    October 14, 2015, 2:32 am

    I too am disabled and on low income. Am trying to move back to Schertz, Texas to be closer to family. I would love to have a tiny house. It could be put in an rv and/or mobile park. It would be perfect for me. Would need bedroom, bathroom , kitchen, living room, a way to cool it and heat. I don’t need anything huge. I do have grandkids that would visit. Are there payment plans? And would you be able to help me? Very curious…….Cindy

  • November 4, 2015, 7:45 pm

    For those of us who don’t have 7 or any friends to co-house with and/or would just like to have their own tiny home on their own peace of reasonably priced land but be in a like-minded community, come check out Spur, Texas! We are the FIRST city in America that has allowed no restrictions on size of house in the infrastructure of a real city. A small town with a population of 900 when there was once 3000. We are starting to grow like crazy and the age group of our new land purchasers range from 23 to 68.
    Check out our site Spurfreedom.org, see what we’re all about and see a picture of my almost done tiny house in the Blog!

    • November 4, 2015, 7:48 pm

      Ooops, I spelled piece wrong! But then again ‘peace’ does apply to what you feel in Spur!

  • Gigi
    May 14, 2016, 10:09 pm

    Reading through these comments gave me lots of food for thought. Tiny/small homes are not just about the space, a loft, on wheels or foundation, but most importantly about who you are. Do you enjoy a sharing community or would you like to be somewhere on your own? Does the idea of a retirement community appeal to you or do you prefer an area with mixed ages? It’s good to have answers before you dip your toes into the tiny community pool. Thanks, Alex, for presenting so many options for us to consider.

  • C.W. Jernigan
    May 29, 2016, 7:42 pm

    I have a Cowboy tiny home started in west Texas …western decor. I enjoyed reading the comments of others interested. I am retired pastor, jake-leg carpenter, etc. Also I am somewhat leery of a community of old grouches, each with an agenda and pet peeve. With certain ironclad regs and rules it might work in Texas. I am interested if any want to correspond.

  • Sue
    May 20, 2017, 12:50 pm

    Check out the national cohousing association, which is actually having the annual conference this weekend! There are hundreds of options for cohousing from already established communities to those who are forming, senior cohousing, as well as multi generational cohousing.

    • Natalie C. McKee
      May 22, 2017, 3:57 pm

      Wow I had no idea about that, Sue. Thank you for letting us know.

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