Article by Laura LaVoie of Life in 120 Square Feet
One of the most common questions I’m asked about the tiny house movement is “Where can I build or park my tiny home?” You’ll quickly find that most municipalities are not tiny house friendly and you can’t build such a small home on a foundation. Even if you put it on wheels, which cause the regulations to change (RV rather than dwelling), there are still some rules that you need to adhere to. It can be frustrating for someone who just wants to downsize and simplify their lives.
However, there has been buzz for some time about one city that offers a very friendly experience to tiny house owners: Portland.
I reached out to Tiny House community members to learn about their experiences in Portland and I heard back from Tammy Strobel of Rowdy Kittens.
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I sent Tammy a few questions and she didn’t just answer them for me – she sent back an audio response. Check out Tammy’s answers at Sound Cloud. I knew Tammy’s tiny house was situated in a back yard in Portland Oregon so I wanted to better understand how she found the space for her house, what her neighbors thought, and if there were any legal issues with parking her house in the city of Portland? She answers all the questions in this fantastic audio clip.
She also pointed me to this interview on Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Think Out Loud that features her neighbors as well so you can get an insight on that aspect of tiny house living.
In the audio response, Tammy addresses two issues that I think are key to the tiny house movement. She refers to her small house as “A-legal,” neither legal nor illegal. Because of the wheels, it falls under a completely different set of regulations. She also mentioned that Portland doesn’t really have any concern about tiny houses on wheels so long as they are “cute.” I think this is an important distinction. Nobody wants anyone to park an ugly house in their neighborhood. I imagine if someone tried the same living arrangement with a beat up 1970s camper van that leaked oil we would have a very different discussion. With a tiny house on a trailer that adds to the overall landscape rather than detracts from it, the neighborhood and municipality would consider it a non-issue.
Tiny House Listings is not only a great resource for buying tiny homes but there is a separate tab for tiny house parking. There are certainly listings for Portland, but I was surprised to find listings all over the country including Waynesville NC which is very near to me.
You can also keep up with the latest Tiny House News from the Oregon Live Website. They feature stories about tiny houses in their area and across the country on a regular basis.
When considering whether or not you want to build a tiny house you need to keep things in mind like where you plan to build and where you plan to park. If Portland isn’t on your radar you may want to consider the area.
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