Buying a Tiny House: How to Get Started
It seems that the tiny house trend has taken over the home improvement channels, and it's not hard to understand why.
There's something uniquely freeing about being able to give up most of your belongings and simplify your life.
Tiny houses offer the promise of starting over with only the essentials, and many people dream of being able to hitch their houses to a trailer and move whenever they wish. For others, a tiny house offers the chance to avoid 30 years of mortgage debt and instead spend their resources on traveling or pursuing another life-long dream.
On the surface, it would seem easy to buy a tiny house, but simplifying your life this way can actually be quite complicated. Here's what you need to consider before downsizing to a tiny house.
To Buy or to Build?
It used to be fairly easy to find a small house for downsizing; however, in recent decades many small ranches and post-World War II cottages have been added on to or razed to make way for larger homes.
For a truly tiny house, you may need to work with a specialist who offers pre-fabricated homes or custom architectural plans. It may also be possible to purchase a tiny house from someone, but the trend is so recent that there simply aren't many on the market.
Whether you plan to buy a ready-made house or build one from scratch, it's crucial to research local laws to make sure your tiny house fits within established building codes. Most municipalities require that new homes have a minimum square footage.
Many tiny house enthusiasts circumvent this requirement by keeping their houses on wheels so they are considered campers, but it's important to do your due diligence about the regulations in any neighborhood you're considering.
Even if you plan to live in a tiny house on a trailer, you'll still need a place to park it. Will you buy a parcel of land, or is it better to lease a spot? Many trailer park communities welcome tiny houses, but others have size and shape restrictions to observe.
Do you have a friend or family member who would be willing to let you park your tiny house on their land? Do you have a backup plan in case you ever need to relocate? Choosing a location is often the most difficult aspect of tiny house living, so contact a real estate agent with experience in the area you want to live in.
Committing to Downsizing
Many people assume that downsizing will be easy — right up until they step inside a tiny house for the first time. Tiny houses often appear larger in photos than they feel in real life, so it's crucial to tour as many as you can before choosing one to live in. You can test drive a tiny house by renting one for a weekend or longer to see just what you're getting into.
You'll also want to begin now selling or giving away any possessions you think you can live without — it can take surprisingly long to unload your belongings as you prepare to move.
If living the tiny life is for you, seek out a real estate agent who has a strong resume and work ethic. This is definitely a niche market, and you'll benefit from working with a specialist who understands all the regulations involved in this still-new real estate arena.