The tiny house movement, also known as the small house movement, has gained immense popularity over the past years. As some people prefer living in large houses that take up acres of space, others prefer living in compact, highly affordable small homes. So, what are the best states to live in these houses?
Not every state welcomes tiny lifestyles as some have strict guidelines regarding unit size, door dimensions and even land use. Since the definition of tiny homes differs from state to state, understanding the regulations regarding tiny homes is important before buying or renting property.
Wondering which states are ideal for tiny houses? We’ve got you covered! Read on as we shed light on some of the best states for tiny living.
Arizona categorizes homes under 400 square feet as tiny houses, and should consequently observe the various building codes put in place. For instance, tiny houses built with foundations should be larger than 200 square feet while small houses built on trailers mustn’t be any smaller than 160 square feet.
If you’re moving your small home or constructing it in Arizona, it’ll need to be inspected by the relevant county to determine whether it’s compliant with the building codes.
Arizona isn’t too strict on tiny houses compared to other states in regards to zoning. In Arizona, your small home can sit on various zone types, including detached single-family, accessory dwelling units, and multifamily zones.
You’ll also love the rapidly increasing tiny house communities that continue to pop up all over Arizona. By setting up your small home next to like-minded individuals, you can access common facilities such as community gardens, laundry, shared kitchens, and even leisure areas.
Some of the popular tiny house communities in Arizona include Tiny Camp Sedona, and LuxTiny Community. These communities provide breathtaking scenery due to their strategic locations. For instance, LuxTiny Community is located on the White Mountains, making it an ideal location for small home enthusiasts who double up as nature fanatics.
Arizona’s small home communities encourage unit owners to live green and consequently install solar panels, chicken coops, greenhouses, and other amenities to promote sustainability.
If looking to build or move your tiny house to California, it’s crucial to do your due diligence by conducting site-specific research. Conditions for owning tiny homes vary between jurisdictions, as what one city terms as legal might be deemed illegal in another.
California’s local governments usually determine land use through their various regulations. As a result, you’ll need to understand the zoning ordinances or codes. The zoning codes will help determine the following:
- The purpose of the underlying zone (whether for industrial, commercial or residential purposes)
- The permitted use of land in the zone (for camping, vacation rentals, or single-family dwelling, etc.)
- The minimum lot and home sizes
- The applicable building standards
An example of a fine tiny house establishment in California is the Delta Bay Tiny House Resort. The community is well planned as it comes with a clubhouse, volleyball court, bathhouse, fishing docks, and an incredible park-like atmosphere.
You can build your home by hand or have it manufactured, provided everything is registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and is Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) certified.
You can also consider living in Tiny House Block, located in SanDiego near Mt. Laguna. California is generally welcoming of tiny homes. For instance, Fresno is an ideal location for setting up your tiny house on wheels (THOW).
Despite its limited THOW opportunities, Colorado is gradually transforming into a haven for tiny home enthusiasts. In collaboration with local advocates, community developers have helped to put pressure on local authorities to consider their land-use regulations.
El Paso County famously approved THOW zoning ordinance, allowing owners to park their homes even in unincorporated areas in the county. Although the tiny houses can be parked in RV parks for full or part-time living, owners must ensure the houses are constructed according to RVIA standards.
The Annual Colorado Tiny House Festival is an indication of the large number of tiny living enthusiasts in the state. This annual festival has played a pivotal role in transforming Colorado into a tiny house-friendly state.
Besides El Paso, Walensburg is also ideal for small living. The small town changed its zoning laws in 2014, allowing people to build tiny houses on select residential slots. However, tiny houses must be constructed on a foundation and hooked to the town’s water and sewage lines.
Salida is also a great city for tiny homes in Colorado. You can set up your tiny house or rent in the River View at the Cleora community. The development has a community kitchen, storage units, a management team, and an exercise facility, making it ideal for a tiny lifestyle.
The sunshine state is gradually transforming into a haven for tiny-house dwellers. And similar to other states, housing rules vary from one county to the next. As a result, it is advisable to check the zoning ordinances specific to your local jurisdiction.
St. Petersburg, Sarasota, and Orange counties are welcoming to tiny houses. Although all three counties have unique requirements, the regulations should not be too hard to comply with.
Tiny home builders love Sarasota County due to its lenient regulations. However, traveling to the county with your tiny house is challenging, more so due to the 45-day rule (maximum) put in place. This means that while you can park your tiny mobile home in an RV park, you’ll have to move it after 45 days. If you want to stay longer than 1.5 months, you’ll be required by county laws to set up a foundation.
All tiny houses on wheels should be registered with Florida’s DMV. Orange County has a tiny house square footage limit of 400, while St. Petersburg has a limit of 375 square feet. However, your tiny house shouldn’t be larger than 750 square feet to qualify as an accessory dwelling unit in St. Petersburg.
Always check on the minimum square footage allowed before settling in a particular county in Florida. Some cities like Oviedo, Casselberry and Oviedo have no minimum footage set for tiny houses. Winter Park and Orlando City also don’t have minimum sizes despite being in Orange County. Confirming county regulations before construction will ensure that you remain on the right side of the law.
Georgia is among the best states when it comes to tiny house living. Atlanta takes the crown as Georgia’s most tiny house friendly city. The city has several tiny house communities that promote simplistic and downsized living.
As a pro-tiny house movement state, Georgia hosts the Tiny House Festival annually. This weekend-long event helps showcase emerging tiny house trends and concepts, making it ideal for tiny lifestyle enthusiasts.
There are several tiny house developing companies in Georgia that can help you either buy or rent small homes in the state. Mustard Seed Tiny Homes is an example of a leading tiny house developer in Georgia with an impressive portfolio. The company uses eco-friendly material and high-quality furnishings to create tiny homes.
Cities like Decatur are ideal for small house owners. In 2014, Decatur passed a Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) that removed size-limitations on accessory dwelling units (ADU). In Atlanta, however, ADUs are permitted in the R-5 district.
Although most local jurisdictions are yet to pass laws that favor tiny houses, the small living communities in Georgia are highly welcoming. You can opt to buy or rent a small house in the state. However, before making a purchase decision, it is advisable to inquire with an experienced realtor regarding the building laws and development ordinances.
Idaho is increasingly transforming into a pro-tiny living state. Over the years, the state has made a lot of progress regarding the regulation of tiny homes. Local governments, however, are still in control as they decide the rules governing property.
The state recognizes different types of tiny homes and is keen on modifying its policies to suit the tiny lifestyle. To comply with Idaho tiny home regulations, the property must either be site built, a recreational vehicle, modular, or home constructed.
As per Idaho regulations, a modular tiny building is any building component or structure that is assembled at a location that isn’t the building site. On the other hand, recreational vehicles consist of motor homes, truck campers, camping trailers, and travel trailers designed for human habitation. However, the maximum width for these vehicles should be 8 ½ feet.
With trusted builders like Tiny Idahomes, you can have your dream tiny home set up easily. Remember, regulations for tiny homes in Idaho can be confusing, so it’s advisable to work with a trusted company and even hire experienced realtors who understand the various regulations by location.
Indiana allows its counties to set specific property and building codes. As a result, you can expect to find varying tiny house regulations in different cities, towns, and counties.
The Log Cabin Rule is a code that regulates private homes built by locals for their occupancy. However, tiny houses aren’t covered by this rule. Some of the best areas to ask for zoning guidelines include Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, South Bend, Bloomington, Evansville, and Carmel.
The state of Indiana considers park models to be the same as an RV. And in most towns except for Schererville, you won’t be allowed to permanently live in these houses.
But you can take advantage of the growing warmth towards the minimalist lifestyle and look into living in areas with friendly building codes and zoning laws like Evansville and Carmel.
Maine is one of the best states for tiny living. The state defines a tiny house as any structure designed for living that is under 400 square feet. You’ll also be glad to learn that Maine permits sleeping lofts accessible through ladders.
Owning a tiny home with a permanent foundation means you’ll need to conform to the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code. And while these regulations help provide a guideline for tiny home construction, cities reserve the right to allow or deny construction requests.
Tiny houses on wheels are usually allowed to camp, only if they’re not in the same spot or location for over 120 days. If your small house remains grounded in the same location, you’ll need to ensure it complies with the various building codes for tiny homes.
Maine allows minimalists to construct small houses and reside in a calm, peaceful community of like-minded individuals. However, the Maine Secretary of State suspended the registration of trailers designed for travel in June 2019. While the decision is likely to be overturned due to constant pressure from the ever-increasing tiny living movement, it is a lot easier to settle for tiny houses with foundations in the state.
Nebraska is truly a tiny home-friendly state. Having already defined the different types of small homes, it’s easy for tiny living enthusiasts to draw the line between illegal and illegal small homes.
Despite defining the various types of small homes, the Nebraska government reiterates that zoning restrictions and building requirements for various house types are the responsibility of cities.
According to the state government, a mobile or manufactured home is an assembled structure that observes the regulations set by the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) These houses must pass an inspection upon which a HUD manufactured home label is issued.
Modular housing units should be built as per the relevant construction codes, and the Nebraska government adopts both the National Electrical Code and the International Residential Codes. Once a modular home meets the requirements, it is issued a Nebraska Modular Housing Unit label.
All recreational vehicles in Nebraska, including travel trailers, park model trailers, and motorhomes must be built as per the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) regulations on recreational vehicles.
The three types of tiny houses accepted by the government of Nebraska can be sold or rented, provided they have the relevant labeling to prove compliance.
Point to note, though, while the state government might appear open to permitting tiny houses, the final word is usually with the cities, which can approve or decline construction details. Therefore, it is advisable to have an expert advise you about the regulations put in place by local jurisdictions.
Although building codes vary from town to town in Oregon, the state ranks as one of the most progressive when it comes to tiny house regulations. Cities that are most welcoming to tiny house owners include Lakeview, Portland, Monroe, and Eugene.
But before you proceed to construct or move your tiny house to Oregon, it’s advisable to inquire about the local categorization of property and whether it’s legal to own an accessory dwelling unit.
Oregon allows people to live in THOWs, making it among the few states that make living on wheels a possibility. But the RVIA in Oregon is yet to come up with regulation codes and inspections. This means that to move your home, you’ll need a special trip permit and a commercial hauler.
Oregon doesn’t have a state-specific definition of a tiny home, meaning it works with the International Residential Code definitions that tiny homes are property measuring anything under 400 square feet.
Lakeview and Eugene are particularly friendly to tiny home living. These cities allow for the sale of small lots where individuals can build their tiny homes. You can also opt to park your THOW in an RV Park. To do so, however, you’ll need to ensure that it satisfies the national RVs standards and is compact enough to be accommodated in any RV park in the state.
Oregon is a wonderful state for tiny living enthusiasts. But before you decide to park your RV or build your tiny house on a foundation, you should understand the various city-specific regulations. Visit the zoning offices to get a better understanding of how tiny houses are described.
Tiny living has become increasingly popular in New Mexico over the years. In 2015, the state released the New Mexico Residential Building Code that acknowledged tiny houses.
According to the code, all dwelling units must meet the minimum safety and health standards. Tiny homes are required to have a room that measures at least 70 square feet. The ceiling height should not be anything less than 7-feet.
In its new regulations, the state government also asserts that all tiny homes must have sanitary facilities, including a sink, a toilet, and a shower or batch. The bathroom and kitchen areas must have cold and hot running water, while the plumbing must be connected to an approved sewer system within the state.
Although supportive of tiny living, New Mexico isn’t too friendly on THOWs as the regulations hold that all tiny homes meant for permanent living must sit on permanent foundations. Further, all tiny homes should satisfy the regulations put in place by the New Mexico Energy Conservation Code.
All tiny houses in New Mexico are required to have doors to the outside that measure a minimum of 32 inches by 78 inches high. You’ll also need a smoke alarm inside your humble abode for your tiny house to be deemed legal in New Mexico.
The city of Albuquerque has a solid reputation for its progressive laws when it comes to tiny living. In case you’re thinking about starting a minimalist lifestyle as a tiny homeowner in New Mexico, you’ll enjoy the community of warm, like-minded people throughout the state. Either way, it is advisable to inquire with the local governments on the building laws to stay on the safe side of the law.
Texas is home to Spur, which claims to be the first tiny-house friendly town in the country. Owning a tiny house in Texas is primarily dependent on whether it’s on wheels or built on a permanent foundation.
Tiny houses on foundations are generally more accepted in Texas. For instance, in Breckenridge, all tiny houses should be a minimum of 320 square feet and on a permanent foundation. In Austin, tiny homes don’t have any limit in regards to the size. But small homes on wheels must comply with the state’s RV rules and regulations.
Similar to most states, local jurisdictions have the final say on the construction codes and regulations.So you`ll need to check in the local government before making any construction to keep everything legal.
Texas is quite friendly to tiny houses. And although not all counties can be termed as tiny houses-friendly, the local regulations aren’t too harsh on people keen on the tiny lifestyle. Generally, provided your trailer or tiny home has the axle removed, you’re good to go and unlikely to face any legal issue.
Either way, don’t assume that due to its leniency, you won’t land into legal problems in Texas. Ensure that you understand the construction-specific regulations of the particular area you’re targeting.
Although not the most welcoming state for tiny homes, Pennsylvania has some great tiny living communities, for instance, Elizabethtown proudly claims to be home to the largest tiny home community in the country.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s largest city, is considered to be tiny house friendly. The city doesn’t require tiny houses to comply with a minimum size requirement.
But for you to legally construct or own a tiny home in the state, it must comply with the International Residential Code 2009. Tiny homes in Pennsylvania, however, must meet some specific requirements:
- No room in the tiny house should measure less than 7 feet in length, width, or height other than the kitchen. This means that your house will be large enough compared to tiny homes in other states.
- Two rooms in the house should measure at least 120 square feet and 70 square feet.
Pennsylvania’s rural areas are generally friendlier to tiny living enthusiasts, meaning you can find a good slot to park your movable home. But either way, to be on the right side of the law, be sure to confirm the specifics with relevant authorities at the local level.
You’ll find that most tiny homeowners in Kentucky opt to live in Louisville due to its large size. While tiny houses are allowed in the metropolitan area, specific restrictions are in place, meaning you’ll need to be extra careful.
For instance, permanent or site-built tiny houses are allowed only if they’re sat on a foundation. And to have one of these set up, you’ll need to have your construction requests approved by the relevant authorities.
The description of tiny houses varies throughout the state. For instance, in Louisville, modular houses are those whose various components are assembled on a foundation despite being made off-site. You must have the necessary permits before setting up modular homes in Louisville.
THOWs are subject to city-specific zoning requirements, meaning what’s allowed in one area might be illegal in another. Kentucky doesn’t rank as the warmest state to tiny houses, especially as you move further from Louisville.
For rentals, you can easily secure a slot in the Metropolitan area. But for permanent tiny houses, you’ll need to partner with experienced realtors, especially if you’re new to the state.
Kansas welcomes tiny houses, more so those built on foundations. THOWs are not welcome, at least not as at now. The county government usually oversees construction regulations in Kansas; however, most laws are common throughout the state.
The minimum size for tiny houses built on foundations is 170 square feet, which allows for a cute tiny house. Although the regulations allow for extra small units, they also state that one room should be at least 150 square feet, preferably the main living area.
As you build your tiny home on a foundation, Kansas regulations hold that the area of the lot should measure at least 3,000 square feet. Therefore, while you might be allowed to construct extra small houses, they’ll need to be placed on large enough lots.
But if your tiny house falls under the ADU classification, it won’t be accepted in RS3 and RS5 zoning districts. ADUs are accepted in single dwelling areas such as RS40, RS, RS7, and RS10. Composite toilets for tiny houses are banned regardless of zoning districts.
Tiny homeownership gets even harder if you plan to live in a THOW. In Kansas, it’s illegal to park a tiny house on wheels on private land. You can only park it in a campground for a limited time.
Tiny living isn’t just a trend, it’s a lifestyle that’s here to stay. As most tiny homeowners will agree, cutting down on costs makes it possible to live life to the fullest.
But since owning a tiny house isn’t as straightforward as most people would want, it is crucial to comply with the various regulations set in different states.
Before buying or constructing a tiny home, do your due diligence to ensure that you understand the zoning ordinances and codes that govern homeownership in your state of interest.
States have varying definitions of tiny houses. Therefore, as you look for the best state to set up your tiny home, check on whether it allows THOWs or if the regulations favor other types of tiny houses like accessory dwelling units.