Where Can You Park a Tiny House?
For anyone looking to leap into going tiny, the age-old question is always, “where can I park?” The uncertainty, even anxiety, around this topic keeps a multitude of tiny enthusiasts from pursuing the idea any further. The truth is there are more options available than most realize. Much legwork is often required to find your ideal spot.
I should know. After building our 130-square-foot tiny home on wheels in 2015, my boyfriend, Christian and I hit the road on our Tiny House Expedition, a three-year (and counting) road trip to work on our documentary and community-education project about the tiny home movement. Our top most frequently asked question is where do you park? During our tiny house travels, we stayed in a wide array of locales, from rural to urban, and in backyards, campgrounds or at RV-friendly businesses for overnight stays. We often stay in tiny home communities or form our own temporary “micro-hood” with other tiny dwellers. Curious to see and learn more? Good news! We launched a weekly travel vlog series called, Today’s Tiny House Parking Spot.
As a nomadic tiny house RV, we have more parking flexibility than most full-timers. We have learned first-hand that zoning changes are slow, from many advocates trying to push for more legal parking options in their communities. But it is happening. Over the next few months, we will explore the world of tiny house parking, from the legalities you need to be aware of to the unconventional options, and everything in between. Are you looking for parking now?
Start your search by reviewing these essential tiny house lifestyle questions.
Know your needs.
Before you can search for parking, you need to get to know the ins and outs of your tiny house. Your utility needs will dictate the kind of parking spot that will be a good fit for your tiny house. For most tiny dwellers, their homes are a mix of on and off-grid utilities, with RV electrical hook-ups, composting toilets and onboard freshwater tanks that hold enough for several days of use. While some tiny houses are completely on-grid with traditional flush toilets, no holding tanks, and more robust power needs. Important note: any flush toilets will require sewer hook-ups. If you have solar power and a freshwater tank, you may be able to park in more remote areas. Keep in mind; if you are far from a water source, you will need an extensive collection of freshwater hoses, a mobile water tank or have water delivered. The size of your tank will determine how often you need to refill.
Your tiny house power needs will determine what your electrical needs are, like 30 or 50-amp hook-ups. If your power usage is minimal, you might be able to plug into a standard household 15-amp outlet, as our tiny house can. Calculate your total tiny house amp usage by figuring out how much electricity each of your appliances uses. Use a watt-meter to make this process easier. Then add it all up to get the total electrical usage. This calculation will help let you know if 15-amps will sufficiently power your tiny house. If you ever trip a breaker while plugged into to 15, 30 or 50-amp outlet, you are probably pulling too much power. When in doubt, consult an electrician.
What makes a functional tiny house parking spot?
Almost any open plot can work as a parking spot, if large enough. Though ground firmness is everything. If it is even partially mushy, you run the risk of getting your tiny house stuck when trying to park, or it unevenly sinking over time, creating leveling challenges. Believe me, sleeping in a crooked house will slowly drive you crazy, or even prevent your bathroom door from properly closing. We experienced this problem exactly when we parked in this Boulder, CO, driveway:
A well-suited tiny house parking spot is firm level ground, ideally on a cement or gravel pad. Another critical consideration is access and the overall lot size. Check the dimensions of the road or driveway that leads to the parking area. You will need to determine if your tiny house can fit, and then if your tow vehicle can maneuver it into and out of the spot. In some cases, you may need to use Trailer Valet to move your tiny house into a tight spot. Keep in mind obstacles, like tight corners and low hanging branches. It is always worth your while to trim any branches that could hit your tiny house. It’s happened to us, and it is not pretty—dented our previously pristine metal roof.
What is your ideal parking arrangement?
Describe your ideal tiny house parking spot. Does it include neighbors or complete privacy? If you work from home or enjoy streaming, reliable internet access may be a top priority. How far is too far to commute to work or access to shopping? Identifying what’s important to you will help when evaluating if a parking opportunity will make you happy. I suggest making a list of musts, nice-to-haves and deal breakers. Things like you ‘must’ be within 15 minutes of a grocery store, or ‘it would be nice’ to have an on-site laundromat.
What are your willing to pay?
Unless you own the land, most tiny house parking spots are available on a lot lease basis. Meaning, you will make monthly payments to park your tiny house on the property, whether it be in a tiny home community or backyard. Lot lease can include or exclude utilities. In some instances, work/trade arrangements can also be negotiated. For example, the tiny dweller may be able to offer their manual labor or professional services, like graphic design, in exchange for reduced rent.
Where can I search for parking?
It’s getting easier all the time to search for tiny house parking. There are now multiple sites dedicated to short or long-term parking listings, like Search Tiny House Villages. It has a directory of over 200 villages with a comprehensive search function featuring over 30 filterable fields, such as location, amenities and cultural factor, including informal backyard communities. The site is free to use. Anyone is welcome to add villages and tiny house friendly places. Tiny house dweller and creator, Jill Kanto describes the intention behind her site as a way to connect fellow tiny housers and play “parking matchmaker,” as a sort of mix of eHarmony and Zillow.
Even though there are hundreds of communities listed on Search Tiny House Villages, there is a backlog of several hundred communities to add. Tumbleweed Tiny House Company wants to reward volunteers who help get the remaining communities added to the site. Do you want FREE tiny house RV floor plans? Want to help yourself and others find their ideal parking spot? Volunteer today! Signup HERE.
My partner, Christian and I are DIY tiny house dwellers and the cofounders of Tiny House Expedition. Together we’ve been on the road for three years and have traveled over 50,000 miles across North America—humbly, the world’s most traveled tiny house on wheels! We share tiny house resources, create educational events and thought-provoking storytelling, including the educational docu-series, Living Tiny Legally. We live, breathe, dream the tiny home community every day. We are very grateful to be able to experience this inspiring movement in such an intimate way and to be able to share our exploration with all of you.