Tiny House, Tiny Living, The Tiny Life.

The Search For New Land – Part 1

So a while back I had posted about some land that I was planning on living on in my tiny house.  I am sad to report that spot isn’t going to work out well because the owners have since decided to sell the property.

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So this meant I have to finish up building and then move on, which left me in a tough spot.  I had quite a few sleepless nights over the whole thing while I searched frantically for land to get my house on.  I pursued some properties to purchase, but they didn’t work out for various reasons.  I looked for farm land to rent, but people aren’t keen on this.  I tried for trailer parks to setup up shop in, but they wouldn’t let me in even if I got designated as a park model, RV or mobile home.   My search lead me father and farther out of the city to the point where I was considering the next state over!

This is the story of tiny houses that isn’t told.  It’s not a glamorous one, it frustrating, its stressful and it will keep you up at night.

The fact is that getting tiny houses to work in a big city like Charlotte is tough, while I could easily move to the country, I’d leave behind friends, family and good paying jobs.   So I decided to tough it out here in Charlotte for many reasons.  Luckily I have found some land to live on, but now I need to get all the utilities setup without raising any eyebrows.

On my to do list is the following

  • Electricity
  • Water
  • Cable internet
  • Trash service

So in the next few weeks I am going to be chronicling my journey in getting these things setup.  So stay tuned!

So now some photos of the property that my house will be on, it is quite big for being in the city and I can’t wait for the spring because there isn’t much green after the winter!

See part two of this series here

photo 1

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photo 5

photo 4

See part two of this series here

 

44 Comments
  1. Good luck Ryan! I’ll be rooting for you!

  2. That’s a beautiful piece of property you’ve found. It looks like it’s way out in the country but it is actually in/near a city? Wow.

    It will be interesting to see how you handle getting your utilities in place. I hope it all goes smoothly.

    • @coffewitholiver

      Its an amazing parcel, that is literally in the city boundaries; 11 miles from the center of the city, 8 miles from my work. I have already started the process for power, I will be posting about all these in coming weeks :)

      Ryan

  3. My biggest fear before starting this project. I’m thinking of building my tiny house inside a 17′ Uhaul, at least I could make it look like a class c. Time will tell. Congrats, Ryan on finding Walden.

  4. Nice Spot Ryan

    I had this problems with my A class RV, I wanted annual parking, was prepared to pay a premium for the spot. The park owner stood outside my RV and was satisfied that the unit looked great, (ran into this attitude a couple of more times) clean and sharp looking. He was impressed that I was mainly off the grid so would not be using anything except water and sewer or running a generator. When we went to fill out the papers, mine was 1 year older, better looking than many there but 1 year older than his acceptable year designation; then it became an old beater in his eyes. He had the nerve to look at me and said I don’t want to fill my place with old units like that. (not, a respectful, darn guy, we have some rules) With that attitude, I was happy to leave. Ended up putting it in a down town core of a small town I purchased a relic of a building zoned Residential commercial and was able to park it besides the building and live in it there. The town was happy as long as I had a for sale sign on it. The city guy suggested pricing it high and if someone was dumb enough to buy it I could put a upgraded model there and put a for sale sign on it. If I only did one at a time with a long period between units I did not have to licence as an RV dealer. 6 years and I didn’t have a problem. I put a small apartment in the rear of the building and moved the RV and received calls from town folks that I got to know asking me if I had removed the RV. They were just concerned that someone may have stolen it while I was travelling elsewhere in my truck camper. (commuter that I use on a daily basis and for short trips) different strokes for different folks I guess but you have to ask a lot of questions. I do agree that if I am paying high taxes for my property, then I doubt if I would want the area to turn into a campsite, not everyone takes care of their surroundings and that makes it tough on many but don’t like that that is the attitude from the start.

  5. That’s a beautiful piece of land, looks like it might have some interesting history, too.

    When you say: the utilities setup without raising any eyebrows does that mean you will be living without permits etc? Do you need all the utilities right away? Maybe try to live w/o trash service for awhile, even water can be hauled. Electricity is trickier and more expensive off grid, but off grid might be a good option if you don’t want to be noticed. That leaves internet – can you do satellite internet?

    Good luck with the move and reestablishing yourself!

    • Everything will be permitted with the exception of house itself. Though the house isn’t permitted, it will be done to code, after working with local code enforcement for a while, there isn’t a way to shoe horn the house into the codes. I thought about hauling water, but right now I use around 25 gallons a day, 22 of which is for a shower. My job is a white collar job, plus I really love my showers, so they are my one splurge thing. 25 gallons a day X 8 lbs a gallon X 30 days = 6,000 lbs I’d have to haul every month.

      • If the house isn’t permitted what will keep officials from condemning it?

        What will you do about insurance? Where will you get your mail?

        No need to broadcast the answers to these questions, just keep them in mind.

      • I know that this is over a year late in response, but I was just reading your blog. On hauling water, I can remember my dad getting water each weekend for our country rental home when I was a little girl. I don’t know how big the water tank was, but it did fit in the bed of his pickup and it seemed to have provided our water (2 adults, 1 child) for the week. Just a thought, haul weekly vs monthly (for future reference).

  6. Maybe you should look into a wood stove which can produce hot water and electricity while cooking and heating. This coupled up with solar panels and 12 volt light and refrigeration and a composting pottycould keep you from needing the utilities and collecting and filtering rain water keeps you off the grid all together.

    http://www.popularmechanics.com/home/improvement/energy-efficient/14-bright-ideas-for-a-better-wood-stove?click=pm_news#slide-6

    • I was going to suggest developing an off-grid solution to. I like your ideas.

      Parker

      • Thanks Parker, This is exactly what Unforgettable fire LLC is working on. We are now opening the Off Grid Technology Development Center” where these features developed for Kimberly and her future siblings can also be used on stoves from other manufacturers as well.

        • Oh, yes – hi Roger. I should have recognized your name. :) Your wood stove is in the running for my own needs.

          Will be coming by your place at some point to take a look!

          Parker

    • Hey Roger,

      It’s not really heating that I worry about, it’s cooling. Me being from New Hampshire, but living in Charlotte NC, it is very hot and very humid. Solar panels are in the plans, but right now I can get on the grid power for $800 of labor, and .09 cents a KW. From there I plan to track power usage for a year so I can size my solar panel array correctly.

  7. Ryan, I am working with a mobile home park that is OLD and severely run down. We are looking at ways to better the neighborhood by remodeling old homes, as well as move in efficient, simple, houses that could replace some of the really old homes. I would love to have tiny/small houses on axles move in. Do you have any companies, websites, info I could connect with while exploring this idea?

    Thanks,
    Jeff
    Rochester, MN

    • You could check out TinyHouseMap.com to see locals around you. For builders and companies, it comes down to if a company can build a house for someone that is willing to pay.

  8. Just wait till the code enforcement gestapo finds out you are there@#$%^&* parking is the biggest hurdle for tiny house living. It will take time for some cities to change their rules. Tiny communities would be great. Meantime we are stuck in the boonies.

    • Yeah this is the tricky part. I am basically getting all this stuff done now on the new property, while I am building on the old property. So by the time the code enforcement folks come and go, I will be moving my house a month later to the spot. I hope to mitigate this that way.

  9. For Internet, you might consider this Karma wifi thingy: https://yourkarma.com/

    You still pay for it but it’s cheaper than monthly Internet bills.

    Thanks for bringing up this issue of tiny house living. It’s something I’m looking into in NH…

    • That’s pretty neat! If I was just doing web surfing and email that would be perfect. With running this website and doing online video, I’d blow through the monthly data in less than a day. I actually have a myfi from work that they pay for, but like this, it has a monthly limit of 5gb which I can chew up pretty quickly. I can see how this would be great for a lot of people.

  10. does this land have a purchase price on it. it is awesome.

  11. This is gorgeous and great news. I’m excited to see the progress on the site. When do you expect to be permanently move in?

  12. How scary and frustrating! Good luck with it.

  13. Hi Ryan -

    Congratulations on finding a spot and good luck. PLEASE keep posting your progress.

    I am moving to Charlotte this summer and am considering doing so in a tiny house. The only thing keeping me from picking up my hammer is exactly what you’re going through. I know a fair number of people in the Charlotte area but no one who is cool with a small house on their property. I haven’t tapped all my resources yet…

    The shower thing. I dress up for work and can’t part with my seriously long, thick hair. I do most of my showering at the gym. I found a gym here in Tampa with a $20.00/month membership. Maybe this is an option for you in Charlotte. Just an idea.

  14. Hey Guys,

    Anyone in the Charlotte or western NC Carolina area experienced with earth ships? My goal is to buy land 1+/- hour outside Charlotte to build an off grid earth ship. I would like to make the building process a community education workshop for anyone interested in learning too.

    If anyone has any particular information about the land, terrain, or earthship living in this area I would really appreciate it. My goal by March 2014.

    Thanks

    • Hi Nichole,

      If you haven’t already, you might want to get in touch with Tiny House NC on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tiny-House-NC/365756020208160

      Regards,
      Elaine

    • Hey Nichole,

      I don’t know of anyone off the top of my head. There might be some connections to be made at Earthhaven in Black Mountain NC, they are very active in that space. Please do let us know if you start building over at Tiny House NC!

  15. I think your biggest hurdle will be internet. I’m on EXEDE by Wildblue and love it, but the 10 GB I can afford every month can go quickly if I try and download video. It is just one of the drawbacks to living outside city limits, though. I’m on a state highway on ten acres. Wish there were other options for us but it is what it is. Best of luck with your project. I will be following right along! ;-)

    • I talked with our local internet company and I should be able to get high speed cable internet right to my door.

  16. Ryan, if the price was right maybe you can work a deal with the owner to buy just your little parcel. nothing ventured nothing gained.

  17. Here’s a thought on an internet solution. Around here, our libraries have free unlimited wifi – they even let you plug in if your battery is dead – and they are open 5 1/2 days a week. I use a BlackBerry with a 2GB data plan, but I can take my laptop to the library to do things that use up a lot of data.

  18. I to am having difficulties locating my 8 x 20 caboose tiny house. Not for the lack of land or even a great location. It’s simply no one wants a tiny house in the neighborhood. We are not a home , not an RV and not a mobile home so they have no clue what to do except say no! I was able to locate a surplus piece of property the state owned after buying up property to realign a road bed. After the work is done they will dispose of the newly surveyed parcels VERY reasonably. I purchased a 1/2 acre plot for $1150.00. There had been a nice brick home on it and it is far enough out the well and septic should still be intact I simply need to locate them and tie in stealth-fully.
    I need to request a variance and or exception and was assured at the initial visit to the zoning board I would most likely not be allowed to live in it. I have chosen to simply place the unit on the property and mow and maintain the lot and continue the fight in the media to embarrass the zoning board in the press while living elsewhere. I absolutely refuse to register the unit as a “recreational Vehicle” this opens up other issues they can use against me. It is a tiny house so my advice to the board is to get off their butts and set legislation to recognize it as such.

  19. Thanks for all the great ideas. Trying to start a tiny house lot in Dayton, Ohio. This has been a great motivator.

  20. This post deals exactly with my only stopping point…but I’m not giving up. I don’t want to buy land but to lease it. The RV parks here are run down or have time limits. Surprisingly, I could live on the street and move my tiny home every month and that is fine! Not doing that though– I want a place for at least a year, more likely 5 before I would go elsewhere. And I want to be in-town and with reliable and unlimited internet for my business.
    I’ll be following this and looking forward to some ideas on how to get around zoning.

  21. Yes, zoning, codes… where to park? Biggest stopping point. I would love to be “out in the boonies”, but still need high speed internet.

  22. Anyone with a small home, RV, Mobile home, etc., will find acres of land, electricity, water, sewer service at my RV Park in Ash Fork, AZ 86320. The name of the facility is the Interstate 40 Grand Canyon RV Park and Campground, located at 783 S Old Route 66 in Ash Fork, AZ. We sit right on route 66, we’re across the street from the Route 66 Museum and the US’s largest Flagstone supplier. Just one hour’s drive will get you to the Grand Canyon. We’re at an elevation of 5122, so when Phoenix is boiling, we’re pretty moderate, also it doesn’t get as cold her as in Williams or Flagstaff and there’s plenty to do here. Check us out, any time! 928-637-9897.

    Kathie Kennedy, Owner

    • Thanks Kathie! It’s great to know you’ll accept tiny houses. I posted your welcoming message on my Facebook page and added your RV park to my website (tinyhousecommunity.com)

      • Oh, thanks so much Elaine! I sit on 17.5 acres of land, we have a pool, showers, laundromat – what MORE could you want!?! :) it’s a small little town, which is nice too, but we’re close to lots of fun & adventuresome things. I’ve got a great staff that just loves to help the guests & we’re planning new things all the time.

        Come on over any time!
        Kathie

  23. This was my number one “insurmountable issue,” Ryan, given our rural area of interest has attracted a lot of 5,000sf+ luxe housing (among the 18th and 19th century existing dwellings), usually on parcels no smaller than a couple of acres, in recent years. Every once in a while, someone breaks off a parcel, and the prices are ridiculous, so I’m willing to be creative.

    So glad you’ve opened the subject up to the group!

  24. I was reading about the water and that is a lot of weight to haul around. I am real estate broker in California at Rbennettrealty.com and now tiny homes are coming alive with people asking for land out here. I cold call about 30 people a day selling land themselves and you almost have to go outside the city to find inexpensive land for your tiny home. I hope the land you find is a great place…

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