The tiny home movement has made massive strides in the last three decades by promoting minimalistic lifestyles and efficient living spaces of 400 sq. ft. or less. More and more homeowners are starting to see the benefit that comes with downsizing their living spaces.
Three of those benefits are the reduction of your impact on the environment, affordable living, and elimination of home-related stressors. However, one area many would-be tiny house owners usually don’t understand before buying a tiny home is whether they will be required to buy land for their small home or not. If you are a starter, this can easily complicate a normally easy journey to owning your first tiny home.
Whether or not you’ll need to buy land for a tiny house will depend. You can always pay someone to use their land as a parking spot for your tiny home. RV parks commonly do this. If you want to keep your tiny home on your land and you don’t own any, yes, you’ll need to buy land.
Can I put a tiny house on my property?
In most cases, yes. You may, however, have to make a few changes to the way you build the house so as to comply with local regulations and rules. Note that building and some zoning regulations across the United States prohibit you from purchasing land and erecting your own tiny home on it.
Instead, you are required to set up an accessory living unit, which simply means a secondary home/residential dwelling unit on a single-family property. So, it will depend on the state of your residence and whether your tiny house is the primary home on the property.
How do you buy land for a tiny house?
One thing I noticed back in 2015 when I started my tiny home journey and began searching for building land is that a lot of would-be owners took a more passive approach to search for land or even finding a parking spot.
Most of them limited themselves to Craigslist ads and posting on Facebook. While these methods may definitely yield some good results, I decided to take an active approach and began hitting the pavements in search of the best spot.
When I embarked on this approach, I simply planned on knocking from one door to the next in a specific neighborhood, but after a while, I decided to just concentrate on properties I could physically park my tiny house.
As I came to discover, buying land for a tiny house isn’t supposed to be a daunting journey. Most of the purchases completed every year take place online through these websites:
So, visit one of these websites and get yourself a sizeable plot in one or a few of the states that permit tiny homes on private properties.
Where is the cheapest land?
If you are willing to build your tiny house just anywhere in the country where they are allowed, you might want to narrow it down to where land is cheapest. So, where can you find good cheap soil?
Simply put, it is normally in the rural areas mostly in the mid- and south-west. These areas also happen to have less home building laws and zoning restrictions.
If you are looking for the best land you can buy for a tiny house, then you should probably consider tiny house parks or communities or tiny home-friendly states and cities, as development and zoning codes work perfectly for tiny houses in such areas. It includes places like Rockledge, Florida; Fresno, California; and Durango, Colorado.
Here are the best places to buy cheap land for your tiny house:
- Oregon (specifically in North Bend region, near the Adventure Coast)
- Kansas: Lincoln, Marquette, and Atwood (Marquette and other smaller towns give free sizeable lots to encourage building the community)
- Gerlach, Nevada (some parts can cost as little as $157 per acre)
- Detroit, if you want to set up your tiny house in an urban area
- Marne, Iowa (multiple lots can be acquired for free, but you’ll be forced to erect a traditional home instead of a trailer)
- Minnesota: New Richland and Claremont (both towns give free plots)
- Muskegon, Michigan
Here is what you should understand or consider before buying land for your tiny house:
Utility & development costs
So you have found the best place to buy your land and your company has the right design ready to make your house. That’s great, but, have you stopped to think about utilities and power?
The further off you build your tiny house from the city or urban world, the harder it might be to access and even round up each and every utility you might need.
For that reason, ask yourself: what type of utilities do you need, and what’s the best way your house can get it? In case your location has no access to the city water, you will be compelled to dig your own well or transport your water, which may cost not more than $10,000 including the permit and relate fees.
If you end up far from the power grid, you might opt for green options such as solar or even buy a generator.
Finally, there’s sewage; or there isn’t. Do you need to install your own new septic system (note that this may add an extra $5000 to your expenditure), or do you have to figure out something else such as a composting toilet?
And if you settle for those options, does your municipality or county allow this sort of waste management? Some may not permit it.
Then there is the cost of development. The more undeveloped the land is, the likelier you might spend more money trying to develop it. This may include such costs as:
- Engineering services
- Tree removal
- Property surveys
- Soil and water tests
- Permits fees
- Utility and power hookups
Consider tiny house communities
It feels great to buy your own land. But it might not be the best decision in some cases. Not everyone would be okay to live out there in the rural area on their own or in places where you are the only one there with a tiny house.
So, before purchasing your own land and putting your tiny house on it, you might think of moving into a community of tiny houses instead. Tiny house communities are the best option at times because they offer ready land for interested homeowners to rent.
These establishments normally offer affordable rates. A homeowner can lease short-term or long-term, and most communities have all the amenities and facilities you might need: dryers, fire pits, running water, washers, playing courts, while even providing property insurance.
Here are my favorite communities:
- Green Bridge Farm: Starting at around $45,000 per lot, you can buy 1/1/2 acre of land in this community, or even choose to lease it if you want.
- Orlando Lakefront: This tiny house community is located at Orlando Lakefront. It is great for homeowners who want land so bad but don’t want to commit. The proprietor leases lots to owners of tiny houses on wheels at an affordable monthly rate of between $350 and $550.
To locate other communities where you can easily rent some space for a tiny house, try log on TryItTiny.com and see the listings of various tiny house communities offering spaces for lease all over the country.
Check local regulations and zoning restrictions
If you consider just how expansive America is, there is absolutely no universal code or laws for regulations and zoning restrictions. This means a wheeled tiny house may be legal in one locality and completely illegal in another region.
Some regions are tiny house friendly and will allow you to own one, while others discourage the ownership of tiny houses because of such issues as tax regulations and protecting the property value.
While you may have found the perfect land for your home, it is prudent that you check both the local council laws and state laws about the subject.
As yourself these questions:
- What are the requirements set by the local authority concerning building standards?
- How is the locality zoned?
- What are you permitted to build in the locality?
- What inspections will local authorities require for your home after the sale? This should include sanitation, water, and anything else?
- If no zoning or building laws are relevant in the locality, what other health and safety regulations might prevent you from setting up a small house with your favorite design?
No homeowner wants to invest in land and end up finding that they are not permitted to build their tiny home on it. Fortunately, you can confirm beforehand by checking on your town’s website, calling the town hall, or simply visiting www.ecode360.com.
Use your network
Just a few years ago, I had to abruptly move my home to a new property. I will admit, finding a sizeable plot I could easily lease was probably the most frustrating thing I’ve experienced in the recent past.
Fortunately, in my own unique case, I eventually found a person willing to let my family lease his lot but not without assuring him that we’d cover the insurance on his property and help him with some computer work. That’s when I learned everyone is not so lucky.
So, one of the best ways you can use to get yourself a piece of land or ease the process is to network with a number of tiny homeowners in a given locality or even on the internet. When I was just starting out, my robust network of fellow tiny house owners was highly useful to my journey.
How much land do I need for a tiny house?
It’s a bit hard to explicitly state a specific size of land because a few factors will be at play when buying the land. So, the best thing you should do is to call the local planning or zoning department to get the right information.
Many counties and cities across America, however, require a minimum requirement of 1,000 sq. ft. or more for the establishment of a new house on its own property.
How many acres do you need for a tiny house?
Let’s look at high from a bigger picture: When measuring the size of a tiny house, you’re going to dwell so much on the side and rear which are normally 20 to 5 ft. respectively while the frontage (“playground”) requirement is normally 30 ft. Therefore, 1 acre of land can comfortably hold a maximum of 40 tiny houses of this density.
Since 1 acre is equivalent to 43560 sq. ft. – let’s assume the longest side of the tiny house will feature the main door hence face the frontage, we’ll add the short side (5ft.) and the length of the frontage (30 ft.) then multiply by the longer size of the house (20 ft.) to find the total sq. ft. occupied by the property (35 x 20 = 175 sq. ft.).
So, we have 1 acre (or 43560 sq. ft.) and an ideal tiny house property measuring 175 sq. ft. Let’s find how many such properties you can get out of an acre (43560/175 = 249 sq. ft.). Therefore, you need a plot the size of 249 sq. ft. to fit an average tiny house and a small playground in front of it.
Can I buy land and put a tiny house on it?
Yes, you just need to go to a state that permits tiny houses, buy land, and put your house on it.
Can you park a tiny house on your own land?
Absolutely yes, just ensure your state permits it. In most cases, if you have registered your wheeled tiny house as an RV and wish to travel around with it, you are not dealing with building or zoning code concerns—you simply need to locate a nice place to park even if it’s on your own property.
Where should I keep my tiny house?
Generally speaking, parking the tiny house in an RV community park would be a better and easier option, but your house needs to be RVIA certified. Alternatively, you can opt for campgrounds and national parks but still Similar to be RVIA-certified. You literally can park your tiny house anywhere that you would legally park an RV.
Hopefully, this article was helpful. If you found it useful, feel free to check out my other posts on tiny houses.
NOTE: If you're looking to purchase a new tiny home, but aren't sure if it's right for you, be sure to check out Escape Campervans. They allow you to rent unique vans and RVs all around the US. Book today!