Leaving the life you’re used to and deciding to join the tiny movement is a monumental decision. Any housing decision is a big decision, but with normal-size homes, we kind of know what to expect.
With a tiny house however, you are about to start a whole new form of living. Space a fraction of the size you were used to can feel quite claustrophobic.
Truth be told, tiny houses are not for everyone. Some people will adjust very well, while others will face a daily struggle which can be detrimental to their mental health and well being.
There is no easy way to find out where on the spectrum you fall until you live the experience.
Before you pull the trigger and spend a tidy sum buying or building your own tiny home, it is highly advised that you first give the lifestyle a try by renting.
Rent a tiny house for a few months, not just for a weekend getaway or a short holiday.
Living in a small space for extended periods will give you the best picture of what to expect, and if during this period you find out that this kind of lifestyle is not for you, you can bail out – no harm no foul.
Below, I’ll try to answer some of the questions most people have when it comes to renting tiny houses.
Where can I rent a tiny house?
When you are looking for a tiny house rental, the internet will be your biggest friend. There are dozens of websites that specialize in this kind of housing, instantly linking you up with hundreds of owners.
A good example is Tinyhouselistings, where owners across America showcase their tiny homes. It has a huge catalog of both tiny houses for sale and those for rent.
This and other sites offer the ability to filter by state and even by distance. A listing website like this one, specifically made for this community, should be your first stop because all the house listed are tiny, and you will not have sift through thousands of irrelevant houses to get to what you want.
However, many of these niche listing sites are not widely known and often lack adequate houses on offer.
If you want to broaden your search, you can always go with a traditional realtor like Zillow. Their database is huge, meaning you are likely to find more tiny houses listed here.
However, you will have to filter out a lot of noise. One good feature on Zillow is the square feet filter which allows you to narrow down to houses under 500 feet.
The two examples above are more appropriate for long term stays. What if you are looking for something short term, maybe even for your trip abroad?
For that you might want to go with a site like Glampinghub.
They offer over 30,000 accommodations in over 100 countries. Unlike Airbnb, Glampinghub has specialized in the tiny accommodation you may be looking for. From tree houses in Colorado, to luxurious safari tents in the middle of an Africa savanna.
You can even rent a weekend Airstream in Los Angeles. They don’t just aim to provide you with housing, but rather an experience.
And of course it would be a crime not to mention Airbnb.
Their kind of accommodation is diverse, but in that ocean of picture-perfect houses, you can get some very nice tiny houses.
Airbnb is still king of short-term rentals and will almost always be everyone’s first place to check. Utilize their filter function and open a wide range of possibilities. Like traditional realtors, they also provide the option to filter by size or room number.
How much is it to rent a tiny house?
It is hard to put a price on the actual value of renting a tiny house. For one, the experience itself may be timeless, especially if it was a weekend getaway or an exotic holiday destination.
Renting a tiny house before making the decision to buy may also save you a lot of money. Look at it this way, if you end up not loving the experience, you save money by not buying into a lifestyle you hate.
But I’m sure you want to know what the actual price of renting is in dollar.
Off the bat, one thing you can be sure of is that a tiny house will be cheaper to rent than a traditional house in a comparable area. This is simple economics. The less square feet a house is, the less was spent to build it.
But a good tiny house can still set you back a decent sum. From TinyHouseListing.com, we can see a price of between $700 and $1500 per month. It varies widely depending on the area, but one thing you can be sure, normal houses in those areas are more expensive.
That is for long term rental. What if you’re looking for short term?
Airbnb will be your preferred choice for this. Anyone who has used the service knows that you have literally hundreds of options of all price ranges. Prices are different everywhere, but in a state like California, you should be looking at a minimum of $50 a night to several hundred dollars.
Some people can take over an Airbnb for extended periods, and this can really add up. Even with an average price of $100 for a tiny house, you are looking at a monthly price above what you would pay in a normal size home.
Treat your Airbnb tiny house rental as an experience. A tourist weekend getaway or something like that.
Can you rent land for a tiny house?
Say you have your tiny house, built or bought. It becomes a problem if you don’t own the land beneath it. Where do you get it delivered to?
Living in a tiny house you own depends on having access to land. Of course you could always drive to some secluded desert or forest and set camp without getting into much trouble, but most people tend to prefer living close to other people.
If you fall in this category of people who want to live the tiny life, but own no land, you’ll be happy to learn that there are options for you.
There are many people across the country with more land than they need. Many of them don’t even know they could make some income from their empty lands.
Do some scouting around and when you find one that interests you, talk to the owner. You’ll be surprised how understanding some of them are. Come up with an agreement and tow your house the next day.
Better still, you can go online and find land listings in your area. You will find sites suitable for tiny homes ranging from between $150 and $500 a month.
How do you buy land for a tiny house?
Perhaps you don’t just want to own the tiny house, but also the land beneath it. This is where you want to buy not rent.
Well, God bless America. You will be spoilt for options.
But first, you want to find out about zoning restrictions and regulations in the areas you are scouting. Some counties and entire states are not very welcoming to the tiny living community, and you cannot just acquire land and put up your structure. Many have minimum square foot requirements.
There are several places you can find suitable land for purchase. Zillow and similar listing sites will be your best bet. Search for vacant land, with most offers coming in from about 1 acre.
Another good site is Billyland.com, where you can actually bid in an auction. Here you’ll find anything from 0.2 acres to many acres.
Land Leader is another option, especially if you are looking for rural land or homesteading.
There is also an option of free land. Note the word ‘free’, which often does not go hand in hand with ‘prime’. If you are comfortable living in some rural area in America’s midwest, or Alaska, you have lots of free options in your sleeve.
Several small towns in states like Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota and Alaska offer free land to those looking to join their communities. Often many don’t take up the offer as the little known town of Claremont, Minnesota which has had free offers for the longest time found out.
Most of these free land offers also come attached with restrictions on what you can build, and tiny homes are not high on the list. So do good and read the fineprint.
If you’re a city boy or girl, perhaps this is not the best option for you.
Can you rent to own a tiny house?
Yes you can rent to own a tiny house, and this kind of home ownership is gaining popularity.
Rent to own is a concept where you lease a house for a particular period of time, with an option or obligation to buy it at the end of the lease.
There are two types basically:
Lease Option – Where you can decide to buy or not to buy the house at the end of the lease.
Lease Purchase – Where you are obligated to buy the house at the end of the lease.
Basically upon signing the contract, the buyer has an option of paying more rent during the duration of the lease, with the excess being deducted from the eventual buying price.
Eg. you can decide to pay $1000 a month on a tiny house you should be paying $800. Over the course of your lease, this monthly $200 will have added up to a tiny figure. It will be deducted from the agreed purchase price of the house.
Rent to own is particularly suitable for tiny homes, because mortage facilities in this sector are not in plenty. Most lenders are yet to embrace the idea of tiny living.
And in cases where mortage is available, you might find it more expensive than the rent to own option.
Here’s a mortgage calculator you can use to estimate how much it will cost you.
If you don’t want to rent your whole life, have a steady flow of income, but at the same time don’t have enough to purchase your tiny house outright, this is a good option for you.
Can you finance a tiny house on wheels?
A tiny house is a home like any other, and in theory should just be easy to finance as any other.
Traditionally most financing options available for normal housing have not been extended to tiny houses, but that is starting to change.
Yes, you can finance your tiny house on wheels, and in 2020 you have more options available to you than ever before.
For an RV or any other tiny house on wheels, your first option will be looking for an RV loan.
How to finance an RV or tiny house on wheels
To qualify for most RV loans, the tiny house must be made by a recognized manufacturer. It will be next to impossible to access an RV loan if you plan to DIY the whole project.
Most of these manufacturers have partnered with loan providers to make the process seamless for you. California’s popular Tumbleweed houses for example offers has partnered with lenders to offer 15-year loans.
The home must also be certified by the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) for its safety on the road.
Unsecured Personal Loan
An unsecured personal loan can be used for any purchase and is not specific to a tiny house.
This is a great option if an RV loan is out of the question, or its terms are simply not attractive enough.
A good example would be when you want to build the RV yourself, with your own purchased material and what not. As mentioned above, this type of strategy disqualifies you from an RV loan.
There are many lenders out there willing to lend you upwards of $50,000 which should be just about enough to cover your costs.
Home equity line of credit
Abbreviated as HELOC, this is some kind of secondary mortgage.
It will only work if you have an existing mortgage you’re paying for. The more you pay for your mortgage, the more you own that home (equity).
With HELOC, you borrow against that equity. For example, a $250,000 home half paid gives you an equity of $125,000.
If say you are renting out your main house and want to live the tiny adventure, this could be a good way to make money as you travel, and still come back to normal home when you’re done.
This is a mortgage on a movable item or property. Unlike traditional loans which are secured by other assets, in a chattel mortgage, the lender holds an interest in the property.
You can look at it more as a car loan, where the lender owns the car until you finish paying off the loan.
The advantage with a chattel mortgage over say, unsecured personal loan, is that their terms are a bit lenient and you are more likely to get better interest rates.
Do you need a permit for your tiny house?
Yes, as long as you intend to live in the tiny house, you require some kind of permit.. in most states at least.
Building codes and housing regulations are not uniform across the United States. Depending on the size, location and even purpose of the tiny structure, you may require special permission from some local authorities.
You may have a huge backyard, but it may not be yours to put up whatever you want. There are also regulations on electrical components, fire and safety.
To find out whether or not you require a permit, a trip to your local planning department will save you a great deal.
The same case applies to a Recreational Vehicle, trailers or any other tiny house on wheels. Your local jurisdiction will likely have minimum safety standards that you must comply with.
The issue of regulations and codes is a wide topic. We have a whole section dedicated to that, so you might want to check it out.
Do tiny houses have to be inspected?
Yes, just like a traditional house, your tiny house will need to be inspected before occupancy.
The criteria for most tiny house inspection is dependent on whether it is on wheels/trailer or on a permanent foundation.
An inspector will generally be looking at different things, some of which overlap for both RVs and permanent tiny houses.
Here are a few.
- Safety – If the house is on a foundation, it obviously needs to be a stable foundation. The inspector will make sure it is. There are codes and rules to follow for this inspection, and you need to tick all boxes. Power may also fall under this category. An inspection will ensure that electrical components are installed in a safe way, following all guidelines.
- Water and Plumbing – The house needs running water and also a source for hot water. The inspection will confirm this plus ensure the plumbing and piping is done up to standard.
- Heating and insulation – Living in a small space can be very dangerous if ample air circulation is not provided for. It can get insanely hot or cold on some days. As a builder, you can employ different ways to mitigate this and ensure proper insulation. This must be planned for early in the design stage, as it will dictate what material goes on the wall, floor and even roof. Some building codes also dictate window sizes respective to square footage, so keep that in mind.
Even when building the house yourself, it is wise to get the services of proper experts like electricians and plumbers when it comes to that part of the job.
An expert on local building codes will also be incredibly helpful before building even starts. They’ll advise you on things you would otherwise not have though of like required loft height, space separation etc.
Also Read: How To Build a Tiny House Legally