If you’re relatively new to the Tiny House thing, perhaps you’re wondering WHY a Tiny House Community (or tiny house subdivision, tiny house village, tiny house co-housing situation, etc) is even necessary…
Here’s the thing: tiny houses on wheels (THOWs) is a relatively new thing. Smaller houses of course were the norm and used to be everywhere (back when economics actually made sense, lol – subject for another blog post!). But these newer Tiny Houses on wheels are unlike anything else that’s come before them.
You may think it’s no big deal, but your local zoning and building departments think otherwise!
In fact, a lot of times, they don’t know what to think: is it a house? Is it a trailer? Is a mobile home? Is it an RV? Is it a travel trailer?…
The answer is no.
While some tiny house companies like Tumbleweed like to classify their tiny houses as Tiny House RVs – as an exclusivity thing to justify their higher tiny house purchase prices (as they currently are one of the only tiny house building companies to certify their homes as RVIA approved), most tiny houses do not fit into any of the above categories, and therefore your local building or zoning department doesn’t know what to do with them. And so be default, they outlaw them and classify them as illegal to reside in a tiny house in most locals (and even if they do have the RVIA stamp, RVs are not designed to be lived in as a permanent residence so that doesn’t fly with zoning officials either).
Now this kinda sucks, because although tiny houses are the solution for many of the problems cities face – from affordable housing, to less pollution and a smaller footprint, and much more – they often won’t allow them (legally).
The illegal tiny house route
Because of this, many tiny housers will simply live in defiance of the law (illegally) and just hope they don’t reported by their neighbors. Of course, the house is on wheels, so there’s not a lot at stake if you do have to move (you just hook up the truck and tow it somewhere else), but if you really liked where you were and had a good setup, it’s not fun to have to move because someone else says you have to (mucks up the whole freedom thing somewhat too).
The “park your tiny house in an RV Park” option
Another option that works for many is RV parks. Of course, there are restrictions in RV Parks, like not staying more than 30 days for example, and a lot of them technically don’t allow tiny houses if they don’t meet their RVIA code or other criteria. (But I have yet to hear of a tiny house being denied, unless it was just too big or something; after all these are pretty nice, neat houses and there’s no real reason to turn away revenue like that)
But perhaps the only option for some may be living in an intentional tiny house community.
The Tiny House Community Option
Now there is no real standard definition of a tiny house community that I’m aware of as again it’s pretty new. There are a few tiny house communities around the country but they are pretty rare unless you live in Portland which seems to love tiny houses more than the municipalities in other places across the country (though Fresno, CA just passed some great new exciting “tiny house specific” legislation!)
So a tiny house community could be 20 tiny houses on an RV or mobile-home park-style setup with concrete pads and utility hookups where the houses are lined up side, like this upscale rental resort in Napa Valley, CA, right in the heart of Napa.
Or it could be a substantially larger piece of property where neighbors can’t even see each other because of the distance they are apart (for more of the individual home-steading type) – or anything in between.
Typically you’d find a common area or common house structure for communal and community events or space to rent/reserve to throw parties or larger gatherings from time to time than would fit in your tiny house, a place for meetings, a place to hang out and play games or just socialize. There might also be a community vegetable garden for fresh fruits and vegetables, or farm animals for fresh milk and eggs, or nature paths for walking around the property. These are just some of the features and amenities a tiny house community could offer, which will depend on your location, neighbors, community guidelines and community. The possibilities are endless!
A tiny house community could be tiny houses you can rent for a duration of time, or you could rent the land and own your tiny house, or buy into the project as a member-owner with your own tiny house to own both the land and your house with neither a house or land payment (or a combination of the above). Each variation has its advantages, but either way you go you can expect to live more and pay less with more mobility, freedom, and I’d argue, enjoyment.
Tiny House Communities in the works
We are actually in the process currently of building a few tiny house communities across the United States. We have a small one large enough for probably 4-8 tiny houses in Huntsville, Alabama (Rocket City) and another under construction in East Albuquerque, New Mexico. If you’d like the latest updates on these and other tiny house communities and projects and other cool tiny house stuff, click here to opt-in for updates if you haven’t already.
I appreciate you,
– Hans Schoff
(Click on the picture above or on this link here to follow along in my tiny house build progress)