Erin Doman on February 15, 2016 19 Comments Small living is a big deal. Tiny house communities are beginning to appear all over the country, for reasons related to economics, sustainability, minimalism and portability. For many people, the idea of living in a tiny home–with its tiny footprint and presumably tiny utility bills–is appealing. If you are looking into the viability of using a tiny home as your primary residence, you should consider more than just the feasibility of building and transporting the unit. Finding a permanent spot for a tiny home is a challenge no matter where you go in the U.S., but some cities make it easier than others. Below, we have outlined four notable tiny house-friendly cities as well as alternatives for those not local to these areas. 1. Spur, Texas Spur, a town in Dickens County in Texas, is a well-known tiny house-friendly city and claims to be the first such town in the nation. Spur is located about an hour away from Lubbock and has seen a recent decrease in population. The town of Spur has since decided to allow the construction of tiny homes under minimal restrictions in order to attract new residents. Properties are inexpensive in Spur, and the Texas sun and wind make off-grid living with alternative forms of energy a reachable goal. The town boasts a comprehensive public education system and fiber optic connectivity. Spur does not require any special permits to build a tiny home, but the home must be built on a foundation. If you are interested in learning how to build in Spur and more information about this town, you can read more here. 2. Fresno, California Section From the Update to Exhibit D: Revisions; November 18, 2015 (Fresno, California) A [tiny house] structure intended for separate, independent living quarters for one household that meets these six conditions: 1. Is licensed and registered with the California Department of Motor Vehicles and meets ANSI 119.2 or 119.5 requirements; 2. Is towable by a bumper hitch, frame-towing hitch, or fifth-wheel connection […]; 3. Is no larger than allowed by California State Law for movement on public highways; 4. Has at least 100 square feet of first floor interior living space; 5. Is a detached self-contained unit which includes basic functional areas […]; and 6. Is designed and built to look like a conventional building structure. Fresno is a Central California city of more than half a million residents. California, of course, is a big state. Some cities permit secondary dwellings (ADUs, or granny flats) to be built in residential zones, but building codes and zoning regulations vary widely from county to county and city to city. Several counties in California allow tiny homes on wheels in backyards of residential lots on one condition: the occupant of the tiny house must be a caregiver for the occupant of the main house. Fresno made the news in 2015 for being the first city in California to allow secondary dwelling units with wheels on residential lots, with no caregiver requirement. The local mayor, Ashley Swearingen, stated that Fresno is the first city to amend its code to sanction tiny homes built on trailers, instead of lumping them in with recreational vehicles. You can read more about Fresno’s City Development Code here. 3. Walsenburg, Colorado Walsenburg, in southern Colorado, is a town of around 3,000 residents. In 2014, the city changed its zoning rules specifically to allow tiny homes to be built on residential lots. The houses do need to be permanently constructed on foundations, not on trailers, and they must hook up to city utilities. While the city itself has changed its minimum square footage requirements, some subdivisions in Walsenburg may have homeowners’ associations (HOAs) with their own size and building-type requirements. Before you purchase a lot in Walsenburg, check to see if it falls under the control of an HOA. 4. Brevard, North Carolina The City of Brevard, in partnership with United Way of Transylvania County, has published a comprehensive guide (PDF) to building a tiny house for use within city limits. The guide lists steps for permitting and building a secondary dwelling on an existing property. In Brevard, the primary and secondary dwellings must have a single owner, and the secondary dwelling, or tiny house, must be built on a foundation (as opposed to being on wheels), and cannot exceed 800 square feet. The exact regulations listed in Brevard’s publication are specific to that city. Even if you do not live near these tiny house-friendly cities and are not willing to relocate to them, this is a good starting place for educating yourself about what kinds of steps you may need to take to get the ball rolling in any other city or town that allows secondary dwellings, or accessory dwelling units (ADUs), as they are commonly called, in residential areas. Building in Your City Depending on where you live, you may be able to build a tiny home and live in it legally. The easiest way may be to take advantage of any granny flat, ADU or secondary dwelling rules your city may have on the books. Bear in mind that many cities require both the primary and the secondary dwelling on a property to have a single owner. If this will not work for you, check into local RV parks. If you build your tiny home on a trailer, it may be classified as either a park model RV or a towable recreational trailer. Check with local park owners to see whether or not they permit year-round residency, as well as what types of trailers they will accept. If an RV park is not your style, you may be able to find a tiny house community on private property that is zoned for several tiny houses. These communities are popping up all over the United States and have many advantages for those who enjoy small living. For one thing, you will be part of a community of like-minded individuals. Also, many tiny house communities have common areas, such as a larger house or building with cooking facilities and showers, communal gardens and so on. Anywhere, U.S.A The advantage of building a tiny home on wheels is that it can be towed wherever the road leads. If you have the right kind of certification on your towable tiny home, you may be able to park it at any number of RV parks across the country. Many cities that don’t allow tiny houses as permanent dwellings do allow them as temporary dwellings for a maximum number of days (either consecutive days, total days per year or a combination of the two). If you can work remotely, you could make use of these ordinances to live in a city for the maximum allowed time before moving on. Alternatively, you could find a large parcel of land in a state and county with friendly zoning rules and start your own tiny house community. With a tiny, portable home, your options are endless. Cost of Living Considerations Tiny homes, by virtue of their size, cost less to build than larger homes constructed of comparable materials. However, building costs can add up quickly, depending on the materials used, whether you are building the home yourself or hiring a contractor, and so on. Once built, tiny homes are well known for being energy efficient and contributing to a low cost of living. Other ways to keep your total costs down include choosing a geographic area with a lower cost of living, using solar and/or wind power whenever possible and growing at least some of your own food. Being as efficient as possible will mean lower costs compared with traditional homes in the same geographic area, but moving to an area with even lower costs overall will allow you to save even more money in the long run. The Future of Tiny House-Friendly Cities These are just a few of the tiny house-friendly cities that are beginning to appear across the country. As the tiny house movement continues to gain momentum, there is a good chance that more cities will join in and become more friendly with their building and zoning rules. If you dream of owning a tiny home and living in it permanently, check out one of these tiny house-friendly cities or help to make your own city more accommodating for tiny houses and the people who love them.