Tiny houses are all the rage these days, as people look at the idea of living with less, without a mortgage, without the responsibility that comes with a bigger house. But as Eve Andrews writes in Grist, it's not easy.
...building a tiny house community from scratch is not as simple as it seems. Local building and zoning restrictions, not to mention securing startup money to buy land, are just a few of the obstacles to achieving a cottage-laden utopia.
Most in the tiny house world try and stress the differences between tiny homes and trailers; one of our favorite tiny homesteaders, Alek Lisefski, is quoted saying
Some people sort of fail to grasp that living in a house like this is the exact opposite of living in an RV,” he says. “It feels like a home. It’s built with nice materials that you’d find in a home.
But in fact, they are in almost every case, trailers, built on chassis, and trailers go in trailer parks for legal and practical reasons. It's just a different kind of trailer park, a different market. It's why we need people like Jay Shafer, who is moving from building tiny homes to building a community.
Not everyone wants this; as I wrote in Why Hasn't The Tiny House Movement Become A Big Thing? A Look At 5 Big Barriers, I quote Ryan Mitchell:
To have a Tiny House, you don’t need much land for the actual house, but you do need enough to be able to obscure the house from prying eyes in order to fly under the radar of code enforcement and curmudgeons.
This is not how you build a lifestyle or a community, but appears to be what a lot of people want. Eve concludes:
And as tiny houses are viewed less and less as the hermetic retreats of antisocial weirdos, and more as a viable basis for sustainable, community-driven living, it would seem to behoove cities interested in greening themselves to sit up and start paying attention.
Tiny homes are a great way to provide affordable housing at reasonable urban densities, in a houseform that can be moved as land uses evolve. But it involves people living close together, building communities, sharing resources. Not everyone is ready for that.
Read more of this great article in Grist
For the other side of the trailer park world, read the The Cold, Hard Lessons of Mobile Home U. in the New York Times.