where to park?

Where do you put a tiny house?

This is a very good question and one that almost put a quick end to our tiny house plans.  The short answer is that you can park a tiny house:

  1. On a friend or family’s land that you rent
  2. On your own land that you own
  3. In some RV or mobile home parks

The long answer is that tiny homes are most likely illegal, but check your local zoning codes.  Most zoning and building codes require homes to be a minimum square footage in order to be considered habitable.  This is often 1,400 SF.  (So, not 200 SF.)  Often codes will require even guest houses to be a minimum size that exceeds the footprint of a tiny home, but check with your local codes, there are some accessory dwelling codes that allow tiny houses as guest homes.

I think we all know that a house smaller than 1,400 SF is probably not inherently dangerous, and indeed the minimum square footage zoning codes seem to have originated from the input of realtors and bankers.  So, understanding that our codes are often based on profit rather than safety, we decided, after much deliberation, to ask for forgiveness rather than permission.

Tiny houses are built on trailer platform foundations for mobility, but also because being mobile means they are exempt from building and zoning codes.  This is not to say that they aren’t built to code – they should be – and ours are built above and beyond building code requirements.  But you do not need a building permit to build on a trailer platform.

So, if you want to live within the laws, here are some things to check out with your local zoning codes:

  • Are there minimum square footage requirements for homes?  If not, you could possibly build a tiny house on a permanent foundation.
  • Are you allowed to park an RV on your property?  Without a main permanent dwelling?  And are you allowed to live in it full time?
  • If you are looking for a guest house, office or studio, does your zoning code allow for accessory dwellings?  And are there minimum square footage requirements?  Do they have to be on a permanent foundation?

I hope this information does not turn you off to the idea of tiny living, we decided to go through with building our tiny house even though we found ample discouraging info suggesting that they are illegal and you will be homeless (with your home in tow…)  Our experience has shown that we have been able to rent land from a landlord in a residential neighborhood in town with no problems.  We currently rent land from our family and live out on some rural property and have not had any troubles.

Family Portrait


34 thoughts on “where to park?

  1. Don Parsons

    If you are looking for a place in Missouri, check out Rockwood Villiage Mobile Home Community, located north of Cameron, MO on EE Hwy. We feature 95 acres of wooded land, with two fishing lakes. Just minutes from shopping in the town of Cameron. 1 hour north of Kansas City and 30 mins East of St. Joseph, MO. Call 816-632-6325

  2. Are there any size (sq ft) restrictions imposed by city/county/state ordinances at RVMHC? That’s just south of us a few hours.
    That is usually where the problem lies. I know that many manufactured home communities also have architectural requirements to be met to place a home, but most tiny homes on wheels don’t have a problem with that. It’s almost always a size/living space limitation where there are any it seems.

  3. There are some sites offered on the tiny house community map: http://www.tinyhousecommunity.com/map/communities/
    And if you don’t find a place in your area, you can register on the map for people seeking places.

  4. vstanley

    mostly illegal,so go where there are no codes to restrict u.U better check before U leap.

  5. Elisa

    What about tiny homes NOT on wheels? Found a nice 383sq ft tiny home but it is not on wheels and currently on piers and beams? Is this treated as a guesthouse to a main dwelling? My family has some small property in a 700 population town in Wyoming, not exactly the place for someone in their 20’s but I’m also sick of paying $1000/month in rent in TX. Feel like I’m caught I between. Too big to be a tiny home on wheels but too small to be considered a home??

  6. Abby


    I am a soon too be coastguard wife, when my husband gets into the military this summer. I would like to purchase a tiny home and live in it for a few years. My concern is the moving accross the U.S. with the home. Then having to find land to park it on. I really want to do this because I will be alone a lot. Please tell me I wont have to lice in a tailor park!

    • Rosa

      Why is it that some people think that everyone that lives in a trailer park is trash!!! Thank god I own my mobile home !! I ‘am unemployed since 2011 and have been living in the same trailer park for over thirty years and we all get along great and have manners. Class is something you are born with!!

    • Lisa

      If you feel you’re too good to live in a trailer park you may want to reconsider tiny house living. While tiny houses can be and usually are quite nice it takes a certain kind of person to actually live in one. Trailer parks can be a good option for tiny house living if the owner will allow it as they have utility hook ups readily available and there are MANY very nice trailer parks across the country that will often let you rent month to month. If you are planning to buy a tiny house that has already been constructed you will likely find that it is difficult to find one that will fit all your “needs”. In my experience, people who are completely incapable of constructing their tiny house or at least having a hand in it usually lose interest in the way of life relatively quickly.

    • F. GILLY

      That’s ridiculous. In my area, double-wide trailers sell for stucco home prices. We have fireplaces, huge kitchens, wood floors, and NO LICE! PLEASE stop thinking in ancient terms about mobil or manufactured homes.

      • Fortunately the modern tiny houses found being build these days are very far from ancient and also VERY far from mobile or manufactured homes. I lived in a mobile home and these tiny houses a very far above the quality of construction of a MH. Think more in terms of the same build standard of an average stick built home, make it 1/10th the size but the same standard of build and that’s a tiny house. MH are not even close to that… still. RVs are also nowhere near the quality except that they are made for mobility, but not for permanent living like a tiny house. The price to build a tiny house can be high IF you choose very expensive materials, but generally they are no more than what a contractor might charge to build you a two car garage in a middle class neighborhood. The fact that *some* tiny houses are built on a trailer is only for getting around the unreasonable restrictions in building codes which are more based on societal desires for conformancy than any actual safety. (bigger is better? not!). Fireplaces? Tiny houses have those, albiet a bit smaller but just as romantic. Wood floors? Again, tiny houses have those too and every bit as nice, nicer in some instances. Huge kitchens? Why, who really needs a huge kitchen unless you run a restaurant? My wife has a huge kitchen and all that happens is it gets filled with lots of useless gadgets that mostly sit in the drawers and cupboards and have to be cleaned and rearranged once in a while. She actually only uses 1/5th of what she has… and half of that because she feels guilty if she doesn’t since we have it there. If she were to realize that, and get rid of the excess, half our cupboards would be empty and the rest would still have lots of spare space. All excess causes stress, un-needed expense, uses up time that could be better spent on other pursuits. Excess does not bring any real fulfillment but gets in the way of realizing that. And that is the real crux of the matter here. Too many have succumed to the brainwashing of commercial consumerism to buy more, spend more, have more, and don’t have the joy they desire. As far as building a tiny home where it is allowed on a foundation… Some communities have already changed their codes out of a realization that tiny houses are a good thing. Spur, TX and Walsenburg, CO now allow tiny houses to be built or placed on city lots as long as they connect to city utilities and are permanently placed on a slab, foundation, or peirs and tied down properly. Lots are inexpensive and the communities have lots available. Other communities will follow.

  7. Dara

    Hi Abby, This unfortunately is the biggest obstacle for many tiny house wannabe’s. I have been searching for quite some time, hoping to find a small parcel of land to rent for my own tiny house I’d like to buy and move into. I am a newly divorced mom with 2 kids in college, hoping to downsize and live a simpler life. This would also be ideal for you and finding a place to park is not any easy task. I am on my ipad daily hoping something will pop up in my area. If you give me an approximate area you’d like to settle in I can give you some places to check out. Areas that seem to be the most Tiny House friendly are Northern California, Oregon, Washington and North Carolina, but I know there are others.
    And No, you do not have to live in a trailer park-LOL!

    • Great reply Dara, thanks. We found our first rental piece of land by searching craigslist for RV sites to rent, or land for rent with RV hookups, people add these to their property as a way to generate extra income and they’re great for tiny houses. You could also post an ad saying you’re looking for an RV site to rent with water and sewer hookups and 30 amp power…. Check with family and friends too, that was our 2nd rental property – family.

  8. Lisa

    Hi all, Some state parks offer RV sites for rent and are beautiful locations. You have to watch though some only allow you to stay a short period of time, so ask lots of questions. Also I think it would be lovely for investors to buy up old run down mobile home parks and turn them into tiny house parks. I love tiny houses, but I love community as well. This way you could have the best of both worlds. I live in a mobile home park and I love it!

  9. Elle

    It’s a very bad thing that RE sales people, financial institutions, developers and fearful individuals have a choke hold on the zoning commissions nationwide. Their lobbies are extremely strong and they lobby continuously. That’s the issue–CHANGING/MODIFYING LAWS that were put into effect to maximize profits for the few, rather than serve the many. I’m not talking about safety, here. The reason we have a country full of 5000sf homes is that in the 70’s the building industry hit a wall. No longer could they make as much money as they were making before the decade. Consequently, the construction industry and the banks colluded. The result? Huge sf homes to effectively convince the public to pay more for a lesser version of the lovely little 1960’s homes. It’s all about profit. Now, our USA young people who want/deserve a nice home simply can’t afford it and are left out in the cold. Land, anywhere, is outrageously priced if near a population center, hence the lack of affordability begins and expands to the USA huge, wasteful house. The small home movement isn’t moving very far afield if laws are not changed to reflect the change in our attitudes about waste and replenishment of our environment.

    • Dea & Family

      I agree here , it’s a force out of the middle class too…the zoning is a funny thing (stupid) they’d rather I struggle and not make ends meet and pay 450+rent utils, be in a clod run down house w/my kids in a job that 15 yrs ago made close to 20$ an hour but concessions and shifts i’m at min wage and need assistance on FT w/no benefits. Now if I lived in a well constructed tiny house, it’s construction cost would be caught up in about 6 months with the overall savings. (yes, I’m a do=it-yourselfer farm girl type) I have the time, most of the resources except the trailer to build it on and most of the tools all ready, I wouldn’t freeze, wouldn’t have to be after the landlord about fixing the heater or 7 years, nor the leaky roof or the tree that fell on the garage 2 years ago. But BS in the town hall is worried bout the coffers being filled enough, than my kids being safe, clean, and warm and another person not needing “the system” to help pay to heat space they don’t use anyway. And i like whoever said about trailer park refurbishments…is a great ideal also, communities of every kind need upkeep regardless of where. Every bad neighborhood was once the new fancy neighborhood, think bout it…

  10. Bravo, Elle, well said!

  11. Jay

    Anyone know the restrictions on Long Island, NY by any chance? (I would imagine they are insane) still, Id like to know. Thank you.

    • Theresa

      Hey there Jay!

      As far as I can see with Long Island, as I’ve been searching too, the zoning laws are broken down by municipalities in Suffolk County. Nassau and Queens are unlikely to be an option, as they’ve managed to close all (or nearly all) mobile home communities that were in place.

      Look into zoning laws for the municipalities you’d be interested in. Brookhaven’s codes happen to be nearly impossible to read, though I’m not surprised. Good luck, please share!

  12. Duke

    Isn’t the point of owning a tiny house so that you dont have to pay rent? When it comes to finding a place to park it, youre charged just as much as if you were to get an apartment. Seems like a lousy idea to me

    • Yes, it would be insane if you were paying the same rent! We found our land rent and utilities in the tiny house was one third of costs in a regular house… $400 vs. $1200…

  13. Felipe

    Some questions…

    I looked at tumbleweed, and these things START at $57k. I’ve owned 2, proper homes (800 sq ft and 1000 sq ft) for $65k and $52k respectively. Why not buy a nice fixer upper and plant yourself for a while?

    Last I checked, these things probably weigh 20k lbs fully furnished. You’re gonna need a BIG dollar truck to pull these around, and lots of fossil fuel. AKA, you’ll be planting yourself somewhere anyway, unless you can afford moving big fee$ every couple of years.

    I think the minimum square footage has to do with fire hazard. I mean, if you’re in a 140 square foot space, in the winter, you’re dead before you hear the smoke detector if you’re sleeping in the loft.

    What do you do in a 3 month snow season? I mean, talk about “cabin fever.” All of a sudden “A Clockwork Orange” comes to mind.

    Finally, why not just a nice travel trailer? I mean, yeah, they use more plastics and stuff, but you can always panel the inside to seal up that stuff. Plus they are much cheaper, lighter, and if you get a used one, you’re recycling.

    Sorry…just a confused Gen-Xer trying to figure out why anyone wants to live in one of these things.

    • Bella

      Hey Felipe, to answer some of your questions:

      Some people may not want to buy a fixer-upper because they may not have the time to work on it, which is the only reason someone would buy a completed tiny house from Tumbleweed anyway. And others may not want to plant themselves for a while because they may want to move their location every year or two, which is a great benefit of having tiny house. It beats having to buy and sell a house every time they wish to move, or renting and your money going towards (essentially) nothing, with prices constantly varying depending on where you want to move to. I believe that it is cheaper to buy (~60-80k) or build (~30-45k) a tiny house than it is to buy a house in most places in the US. And once you own a tiny house, it’s yours to live in and take with you wherever you wish to go for the rest of your life, as opposed to a regular home that you’d have to sell and find a new home when you wanted to move.

      Yes, it probably would cost a lot of money to tow a tiny house, but you don’t necessarily need to buy a ridiculously priced vehicle. You could lease one to make your move, and it would probably end up costing about the same as moving from one stationary house to another anyway, when you calculate the cost of renting a moving truck and such.

      Yes, there is a fire hazard, as there is with any place you live in. But I don’t think it’s fair to say you’re in any more danger in a tiny house than in a regular house.

      I never saw A Clockwork Orange, so I don’t quite understand the reference. But as for snow, tiny houses can be built to withstand the elements. You may need to shovel a path from your front door to your car, and from your car to the road, but I don’t think it would be much different than doing the same shoveling for a regular house.

      Travel trailers aren’t really a great idea for permanent living because they fall apart fairly quickly (which is why they are so much cheaper), at least in comparison to tiny houses. Tiny houses are usually built to last, whereas travel trailers can start falling apart after a few years. Also, travel trailers are extremely ugly and it can be impossible to make one look and feel truly like a home. Tiny houses can be made to look quite stylish. They actually feel like a real home, just a tiny one, and that can do a lot to harmonize with the freedom gained from living tiny.

      I hope this answers your questions, and I hope it offers a different perspective on tiny living :)

    • Dea & Family

      Try getting your job cut every other year…starting over at minimum wage, over and over and over…(don’t bark the college line)been there done it 25 yrs ago, the degrees are worthless unless its less than a yr old. (also depends where u live) I’m middle age w kids and would like to see their games and plays, enjoy some of whats left before it’s gone. i know gone, buried 2 children and fiance…so life’s just way too short to keep up a race that has no winner and no finish line. a Tiny house is a more customiseable option than a trailer, the materials a real construction grade you can put your best into it a lot easier and not need help, its that easy. I’m designing my dream home in miniature, because I want my sons and daughters to have the option to go to college, it’s their turn now…

      • Good for you, finding a way to get the life you want. I am sorry for your losses. Best wishes to you on your tiny house adventure!

    • Good questions Felipe – I’ll try to put in my two cents one point at a time. A fixer upper house is subject to all the downside risks of any permanent house: costly long-term mortgage, lender mandated property insurance, property taxes, enforced zoning codes, and sudden adverse environmental changes (fire, flood, fracking rigs, bad neighbors moving in, economic downturn, etc.). A tiny house owner can simply decide to move on “right now” if things go really bad, and The System has fewer hooks into them in the meantime. A fixer upper homeowner has to try to sell their home before they get to move on, and if the adverse environmental changes really suck, then maybe nobody wants to buy their house at even a giveaway price. Tiny homes ARE a bit pricey unless the owner has some major sweat equity in it, but also they can have lots of custom, quality features that meet your REAL needs. Moving your tiny home a few times over the course of your lifetime can be just a matter of calling a friend with a decent pickup truck or hiring someone with a truck to tow you to your next park site. (Compared with the ongoing monthly costs of a permanent house and the costs of selling & then buying a new house, moving a tiny house is a huge bargain.) The fire hazard concern is overblown – like any residential structure, the placement of ignition sources, smoke detectors and emergency egress points is what makes the biggest difference, not size. In fact, you might notice the first signs of smoke sooner in a smaller structure rather than a sprawling, multi-roomed, multi-level traditional house where distant ignition sources and intervening walls & floors would alow a fire to get started unobserved. Cabin Fever during the winter months could become a huge problem, so tiny homers need to connect with offsite places to go hangout from time-to-time: library, community center, YMCA, health club, makerspace, etc. Plus, there’s always a walk in the woods, snowboarding, ice skating, and other outdoor activities that you’ll have time to do now that you don’t have to be punching an overtime clock to pay for the American Dream House. My wife & I lived in a travel trailer through the summer, fall, and early winter one year: travel trailers are poorly insulated and therefore hot in the summer and freezing cold in the winter. A tiny home can be insulated to your specs and stay more comfortable throughout ALL seasons. Lightness isn’t that important because you’re probably not going to be moving it a whole lot – it’s your home not a weekend camper. A place to live, not a place to travel all over in (people do it, but tow, clearance and liability issues can make it very stressful). And finally, my wife & I are Boomers, and we’re just now starting the homesteading & tiny home phase of our life together. As a GenXer you might want to take a good, long, hard look at the US Economy & the impact of Globalism on middleclass life in America. Can you count on 20 or 30 continuous, uninterrupted years of bountiful employment to pay a mortgage and all your daily living expenses? Can you trust The System that lobbied for & then created the Subprime Mortgage Meltdown, got a government “Too Big to Fail” bailout, fought against any meaningful financial reforms, and is now creating another new financial bubble? Do you want to juggle several credit cards, loans & your FICO score to try to make it in 21st century America, or downsize to a debit card and try to create a frugal lifestyle that avoids the Debt Trap? This is the fork in the road that presents us all with a difficult choice. Tiny homes are but one possibility for life on the road less traveled, but housing is the big piece of the cost of living pie, so it is logical to look at it very closely…

    • Heather

      Hi Felipe-
      My job is mobile. I am a business consultant and start on a new project ever 3-6 months in a different location. Now I can rent a place, at $1800+ when I’m traveling 45% of the month OR I can build a MOBILE travel tiny home and pay someone else to move me as needed (business expense) and is added to my client’s contract prices. This allows me to save a massive amount of money and travel, volunteer and work for my nonprofit as I see fit. In DC my costs will be $400 compared to the $2600 my best friend pays to live in less square feet in the same neighborhood.

      My mobile home will be built with SMART technology and will allow me to keep an eye on everything when no matter where in the world I might be. Kinda excited about that part.

      I can’t live in a travel trailer, it is built cheaply and I’d rather not be exposed to all of the crud they have in them.

      And my trailer is used, so I am recycling. ;)

    • Linwe

      Small fixer-upper homes in my area START at 300k. I’ve lived my life knowing that no matter what I do, the only type of home I’ll ever be able to afford is an alternative one. Not to mention that I don’t have the time or knowledge to fix up a home myself, or the money to pay for a contractor.

      If I could only find a place to park a tiny home (my area has extremely strict zoning laws), it’d be something I could easily afford in a few years. As opposed to the twenty+ it would take me to be able to afford a traditional home.

  14. Homes start in the 200k range in my area for a unit needing serious work otherwise I would. Also, don’t know how to fix a house.

  15. JamesP

    A lot of people do not want to live in a trailer parks because they squeeze you so close together and have no privacy and can be harassed by park managers and no there is not that many good parks I have lived in a good amount of them and it is hard to find a good one and you also have to always worry about raising lot rents.

  16. Thanks for this is a very important reader comment thread. The tiny house movement is a bold step in the direction of sustainability, but tiny house homeowners need viable places to park their homes where they can get gainful employment but not pay parking fees that negate their positive cashflow capital accumulation potential. Ideally, a rental market will develop that utilizes social media to connect with tiny homeowners via the internet, and tiny home utilities services providers will spring up that can help landowners to put needed park site infrastructure in place. With Wall Street already inflating the next financial bubble, the next meltdown will put Uncle Sam face down on the canvas, so getting more people into long-term sustainable lifestyles is a very prudent social activist strategy. Tiny House owners might want to consider partnering with rural organic farm owners who always need additional cash income AND seasonal labor inputs – maybe even a CSA co-op facilitator. If you have computer & internet skills, then you are potentially a really valuable member of a community that could benefit from some increased global connectivity. Plus, you probably can’t beat the scenic, unspoiled, natural views. As a perpetually money-grubbing society with a tendency to squeeze the other guy whenever possible, we now need more mutually supportive & caring interpersonal relationships that actually empower, rather than merely exploit. How we build tiny homes, and where we park them, will determine whether this becomes an authentic sustainability movement or just another sales & marketing fad. Me, I’m hoping for a people’s movement…

  17. Ethan

    After a LOT of research, contemplation and soul searching my wife and I have decided that tiny house living is for us. Our situation is such that it makes more sense to have someone else built it. As such, the thought of spending a hefty sum only to have no where to legally park it is concerning. We live in Santa Fe, NM.

    My question pertains to finding land to rent- I have seen some off-grid land on Craigslist (for RVs). In theory couldn’t an inspector see a tiny home on the land and ask us to leave as it violates codes?

    • I suppose if your tiny house is violating building or zoning codes, then yes, an inspector could tell you that you cannot park it there… If your tiny house qualifies as an RV, or you could debate that it does, than I would guess that you are safe parking anywhere that RV’s are allowed.

  18. lilloreley

    Hi there! I enjoyed reading all the informative comments about tiny living :) thank you!! As a single mom of four (full time) I am earnestly looking for a simpler life with my lovelies! Over the last year I have spent a substantial amount of time researching and gathering ideas, and am ready to move forward!! We love the outdoors, camp somewhere every month and live a very minimalistic lifestyle….I definitely think tiny living will be for us! I have 2 concerns…I am still finding a great deal of difficulty finding land to rent, or a nearby rv park to put our tiny home, and I also have 3 adult (family) dogs…giving them up is not an option. I’ve tried many searches and am having a hard time finding land for rent! Any recommendations from any of you?
    Any info would be greatly appreciated:)

    • hello Lorelei!
      finding a place to park a tiny house is a problem – zoning codes prohibit their use as a full time dwelling in a lot of areas, and mobile home parks / RV parks are not always open to them – plus the rent at those parks can be as much as renting an apartment.
      a couple options:
      1. search Craigslist for RV sites for rent – we found a few people who had installed RV hookups at their homes as a way to generate extra income by renting to RV dwellers.
      2. post your own ad asking for land for rent. be transparent with the landowners and work with them to get the hookups you need: water, septic, electric – promote these as property improvements that they can use for years to come.
      2. ask for forgiveness rather than permission… don’t tell local officials you’re going to be living in a tiny house. if any neighbors report you, deal with it then. risky obviously.

      I hope that helps! best of luck to you.

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