After reading Ryan’s post I thought I’d share some of the ways we’ve been able to acquire parcels to live on as well as advice from other tiny houser dwellers. Just recently, another friend who owns a tiny house started her search to find a new place to set her home and, as Ryan mentioned, it’s an incredibly stressful process and there are no guarantees.
1. Friends & Neighbors: Look to your immediate community as much as possible. We talked to everyone about the tiny house, invited them to work parties and even put the house in the Christmas parade! By the time we started seriously considering a place to put the house, about a year and a half after we started building, we had 3 offers. Word of mouth played a huge role in this. I was talking to a college acquaintance in a cafe one morning and telling her about the project. Low and behold she told her husband who came to see the house, loved it and offered us a place to stay in the heart of downtown Charleston. City living is hard because you’re most definitely at higher risk of butting heads with town officials, which is stressful in and of itself, but ultimately just chatting with an acquaintance provided us an opportunity we couldn’t refuse.
2. Seasonal Work: There are campgrounds at state as well as national parks that need hosts during the busy months. Sometimes seasonal work can turn in to year-round gigs if the timing is right. Cedric and I have considered this option but no situation has come up that seemed quite right. It can be tricky but if you find the right place, it could be an option.
3. Government Auctions: There is a lot of land out there and the government holds auctions where you can buy it for dirt cheap. Some of this land is seized for tax reasons while some is surplus land and other properties are environmentally degraded, needing extensive bio remediation. If you go this route, be sure to do an extensive search on toxic waste sites through the EPA’s website. If you have a desire and willingness to revitalize such land, it can be an incredibley cheap way to acquire property. Govsales.gov
4. Exchange: We lived in Charleston for several months free on some friends’ property in exchange for being a presence. They were remodeling a house and it was helpful to have people next door who could be present in case of any issues. It was a win-win for both parties and there are folks out there who will pay you or set your tiny house for free to watch their properties and/or manage their rental properties. We’ve met other tiny housers who offered to help neighbors with their animals, exchange home repair, computer repair, landscaping and many other skills in order to use land.
5. Start a cooperative housing project: I list this as a long term goal. It is a lot of work, in a city or rural setting, but ultimately the work can pay off. This is definitely a goal that Cedric and I hope to accomplish. We want to help create a space that allows folks to live how they want. Whether it be a tiny house, a yurt, a cob house or a vardo. We are slowly learning the rules and regulations of creating such spaces. It’s different in every state but it’s worth it to us to try and find a home where our future and choices aren’t dictated by a landowner and where we can offer other tiny housers an opportunity to co-own their own space.
6. Connect with other Tiny House owners: I feel like this goes without saying but I highly encourage tiny house builders to approach other tiny house folks with questions. When we moved to Vermont, we were looking at a site on a local farm to put our house and lo and behold! A tiny house was already parked there! We went to the door and knocked and the woman who lived there was kind enough to invite us in and describe her experience living on the site. She was incredibly helpful and we were happy to know that other tiny house folks lived nearby. We did not end up choosing that particular location but we did make a new friend who continues to help us connect to our new community.
7. Tinyhouselistings.com: This is a site I’m sure many visitors to The Tiny Life have seen but just in case you haven’t I wanted to include it. There are some tiny houses being offered with land on this site, although most listings are just for houses. There is a parking section but it’s mostly folks seeking parking but once in awhile land offered is available. It’s worth keeping an eye on.
I hope this information is helpful to someone out there struggling with this aspect of tiny house living. We know all too well the stress of finding land for a tiny house. When we moved to Vermont, we knew no one but through an incredible website called Front Porch Forum (kind of like craigslist but with more emphasis on community building) we found a site in under a week. We posted a note saying we needed a place to park our house and we received 8 replies in 24 hours. Front Porch Forum is a Vermont based site but could easily be created in any city/neighborhood. We would never have found out about it without first asking around town and explaining our situation. A face to face connection has been the first and most successful step for us in our searches for land. It’s a struggle but we’ve been lucky and for that we are grateful.
- What have your experiences been finding land to park your tiny house?
- Any tips I may have missed when it comes to finding land?
- What resources do you know of for cheap land purchase and/or rent?