(Before we dive into finding land for your tiny home - Just a reminder that the next session of Tiny Transition and Downsizing, the 8-week E-Course that completely changes your relationship with "stuff" and helps you get ready to live tiny, start on June 28th! You'll be in a supportive, fun group of kindred spirits on the same journey as you when you join. You can register right here!)
What’s one of the best things about having a house that’s built on a flatbed trailer? The ability to up and move it whenever you want, of course.
Want to go to the mountains for the winter? Go.
Always dreamt of living at the beach? Done.
With a tiny house, when you want to move, there’s no searching for homes in the new city while trying to sell your house in the old city. You just hook it up and move!
But with that wondrous advantage of flexibility, comes the reality that when you have a tiny house, you don’t really have a permanent place to live. Unless you already own some land, you will have to find a place to park it.
The requirements will vary based on the particular design of the tiny house.
If it’s totally off-grid capable, you won’t need much more than a plot of land that’s big enough to park on. But if you’re even partially on the grid, you will probably need hook-ups for electric service and water.
You will also need some sort of greywater dispersal system and possibly a place for a compost pile if you plan to have a composting toilet.
So how do you find the perfect spot?
Ask Your Network!
You never know who knows someone, so seriously ask everyone you know. In fact, ask people you don’t know too. When I was looking for a spot for my tiny house, I would bring it up in conversation with people everywhere I went… the barista at Starbucks, the sales clerk at the store, people who bought furniture I had for sale on Craigslist… I had no shame. But when the clock is ticking and you need a place to put your house, there’s really no room for embarrassment.
I also sent out an email to my local list-serve, basically an email list for my community that ANYONE can post to and anyone can sign up for, and put a call out for a place to park my camper. This is the message I sent, feel free to use it!
I am looking for a place to park and live in my little vintage trailer, either in Central MA or nearby. I live in a small 16 foot 1960's Avalon I've named The COMET. She's a school project and my tiny home. If you're into this stuff, she's a trailer that is being retro-fitted to be off-grid using all recycled/sustainable materials.
Here's what I would need in a living situation:
Access - I would have to be able to pull it in either to a yard or driveway. Yard/driveway should be kinda flat-ish.
Electrical - Just need to run an extension cord out to her until the photovoltaic system is installed. I have 3 light bulbs and use VERY little power, because everything is manually operated as much as possible in preparation for living full time on solar power.
Water: Every few days I would have to fill up my fresh water tank with some water from the hose. I use very little water, since the faucet is a hand pump (makes you acutely aware of how much you use!) and the toilet is waterless.
Shower: The COMET has no shower. I would either ask to be able to set up a semi-permanent solar shower situation, or that I have access to your house shower on whatever conditions you feel comfortable with. I'm flexible.
Internet: I would ideally have internet access from your house, if it reached out to where I was. If not, no big deal, I'll figure out something else.
Compost: I have a composting situation and it would be great if you had a compost bin that I could use/help you fill. Also, full-disclosure, I use a custom urine-diverting composting toilet. The liquids are separate from the solids in this situation. Why is she telling the whole town about her toilet!?! you may be asking. If you compost humanure on your property, that would be a plus. If not, I can take it elsewhere to compost it :)
As I mentioned, I use very little utilities, a few watt-hours a day and about a gallon of water a day, if that. I would be happy to cover these utilities, plus split Internet if I'm close enough to use yours. Plus I'd be happy to pay a fee/rent for parking in your yard/in your driveway, like a parking fee. We'll figure something out!
Ideally, I am looking for a place that I can continue to work on the COMET a little bit. All of the big stuff will be done, but there may be days when I need to bust out the circular saw to do a project or build something.
Also, I like to live collectively and have lived that way for a long time. I would love to be a part of a house as a real member of a community, but just live outside in my little pod. I'm really open to any situation though!
Thanks, I know it's an odd request. I swear my trailer is not trash, and living in a trailer is really awesome and won't make you look crazy!
This email landed me TONS of offers of places I could live - driveways, backyards, empty land, communal space, and more. One of the responses was for a house-sitting gig over the summer, so I actually lived in my camper in their driveway while "watching" the house for the summer. I even got PAID to park there! House-sitting can be a great gig under the right circumstances.
Friends and Family
If you’re lucky enough to have friends and family members living close by to you, ask them if you can park your tiny house on their property, in their backyard or even in their driveway. Ask your friends, your co-workers, the people at your church or even your clients. Again, you never know who they may know, even if they don’t have any land available themselves.
TIP: Be sure that you have your “spiel” nailed down ahead of time so you can give someone a run-down in 5 minutes or less.
Most people aren’t going to know what a tiny house is, so you don’t want to have to spend a long time explaining the concept before you can even ask them about land.
If you’re asking them in person, have a quick explanation rehearsed and memorized. If you’re asking over email or on social media, include a photo of your house (or a drawing/rendering of what it will look like if it’s not completed).
The important thing is to reach out to everyone you know. So ask, ASK, ASK!
Put Up Flyers
With all the technology these days, the idea of putting up flyers for anything might seem ridiculous. But if ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And flyers still work. Especially if you put them in the right locations.
Mentally mark off a 5 or 10 mile radius around the area you’d like to live in and canvas all of the places in that area where flyers are allowed. Coffee shops and chains like Panera Bread usually have bulletin boards where community members can post announcements, events, etc. Small boutiques or local shops may also have bulletin boards. Libraries, post offices and even doctor’s or veterinarian’s offices are other places to try.
Again, this is not a time to be shy. So if you’re not sure, just go in and ask. The worst that can happen is they say no and you move on to the next place!
Make sure you put all of the important information on the flyer:
- Your name and a couple sentences about you (single/married, kids, pets, will you be working at home, etc.)
- The size of your house
- What hook-ups you’ll require (electric, water, etc.)
- Any other special features you require (fenced yard, room for a compost pile, etc.)
- What you are willing to pay or barter in exchange for a place to park
- How long you’re looking to stay
- A photo of your house (or a rendering/drawing)
- Your contact information
Below is an example of the flyer that my friend Jenn used to successfully find a place to park her tiny house!
Place an Ad on Craigslist
Craigslist can be a little iffy since you can never be sure who’s on the other end, but it can also be a great way to connect people who need something with the people who have it to give.
So just as you would with anything you post on Craigslist, proceed with caution and take the obvious precautions like not meeting someone alone, meeting in public instead of at your house or theirs and even doing a quick background check on the person online before you meet them.
Since there isn’t a specific category on Craigslist for needing land, you’ll have to be a little creative with where you post your ad.
You can choose “Housing Wanted,” ”Parking/Storage” or even “Sublets/Temporary.” Make sure you use the words “tiny house” or “tiny home” in the title of your ad so it’ll come up if someone searches on those terms. And like the flyers, be sure to include a photo, your requirements and a little bit about yourself.
Go For a Drive!
Just like you don’t know who knows someone, you never know who may be willing to let you stay on their property. So go for a drive around the area where you want to be and look for possible spots. Look for farms or houses with lots of property and go knock on the front door. Pull out your quick “spiel” again and see what they say. Again, the worst that can happen is they say no. But the best that can happen is they offer you a spot for a cheap monthly rent. So why not at least try!
When you’re looking for land for your tiny house, the important thing is to start early. Look everywhere, look often and don’t give up! The perfect spot is out there!
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