There is no shortage of confusion about Tiny House living. Some focuses around what exactly a Tiny House is; especially when built on a trailer. Some confusion is centered on the obstacles of where to put the Tiny House. And then there are those obstacles that come about for those who intend on living full time for not defined amount of time in a tiny house. Wonderland has nothing on tiny house living, in my opinion.
Let’s first talk about some obstacles that come about when wanting to live in your tiny house in any community other than Death Valley, CA or Taos, New Mexico. Let’s think more Anycity, Anystate.
- My neighborhood doesn’t allow RVs – This is probably the most oft heard complaint. Is a tiny house on wheels a recreation vehicle? Depending on your municipality it may be so simply because it is on an axle. Nevermind the square footage or the trailer size. The key is that it is on a trailer less than 12 feet wide which means it is an RV.
- I don’t own my own land – True some municipalities have residential parameters in which a home must sit on a certain size lot. Our old county required you to own .55 acres to live and 2 full acres to build new construction.
- We’re only temporary – This again puts you in the RV category. If you are going to pull up shop every couple of weeks you may want to consider your campground/state park options rather than inner-city ones.
- The law says…. – Who knows what the law says. In our research I have come to learn that most local officials don’t even understand zoning codes. Many are antiquated. The best thing to do is get a local politician to understand your cause and support it so he/she can walk through the process with you as an advocate.
Let’s say for argument sake though that as a tiny houser you don’t regard the law all that much and you are willing to find a way to make your dream come true in Anycity, Anystate, USA. Here are some common concessions.
- Backyardigans – Illegally park in someone’s backyard within the city limits. You would, of course, have to have a willing homeowner with said backyard as well as very kind, quiet neighbors. Perhaps an enhancement to this would be to make your Tiny House as inconspicuous and as charming as possible so as to define yourself as “recreating” rather than squatting.
- Go westward, young man! – You don’t have to move literally to the west but somewhere more rural, outside of city limits would be advantageous. This way you have less neighbors to be concerned with and usually more slack zoning ordinances.
- Co-Housing Community – I am going to admit that while I have not seen one of these I have heard of them. I have heard a lot about them actually but have yet to seen one come to fruition. I would imagine that such a community would have to be built much like any other housing development complete with rules, laws, and neighbors!
- Hit the RV park – When Crystal and I were on the road in August and September we encountered a large number of campgrounds that were discouraging long stays. Whereas snowbirds used to be able to rent a spot for months the current economy has some RV parks sustaining from long term camping so as not to come across an awkward situation in which a person literally lives at the campground. This option may be more difficult now than it was 5 years ago.
- Change the law – I am all for reform and I think that it is overdue time for tiny house dwellers to unite and find political rally. The economy is getting no better. Downsizing is a regular trending topic and Tiny Houses have fast become media darlings.
For us the largest consideration has not been the land as we own our own acre. It has not been zoning, per se, as we are zoned rural residential. It is the electric that we will need (for one year, at least) and the sewage we don’t need. We will be using a composting toilet and our grey water will go through a leech pit and then irrigation system; all maintained by us. In order to be permitted for electricity though we need to have a reason why we need it. They will gladly give us temporary but to make it permanent we have to have a free-standing building. No camping is allowed in our community. So herein lies the rub.
Any thoughts? Many days this blog is about me sharing our experiences and our successes. Now we share our fears. We don’t want to lose our dream and be held up on a small clause. We haven’t gotten a great deal of understanding or cooperation from our local politicians either. So what would you do? Have you seen the legal waters be successfully navigated by a tiny houser? Do tell!