How Do You Start Finding Land For Your Tiny House?
Before even considering life in a Tiny House we realized our first step was to downsize. In the process of doing this, we decided to simplify a number of things. The first being cable television. With streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon it’s not that hard to give up on cable like it would have been a decade or so ago. We still have our “must watch” shows like Shark Tank, to be specific.
If you’re not familiar with Shark Tank, it is a reality competition wherein five investors sit on a panel to rate potential business entrepreneurs as they take turns pitching their product or service to the investors hoping for business savvy and financial support. It comes down to two different types of products: the ones that sell themselves — you see it and you know exactly what it is, what it does and how it can make your life better, a no-brainer so to speak. The second type is the kind that needs a pitch; it needs to be explained and it needs to be shown how it can benefit the consumer. Most of these latter products are better fitted for outlets like QVC or the Home Shopping Network where someone can show you the product and explain the benefits to you. So it serves to reason that tiny houses are like the second type of product in more ways than one.
When you first see a tiny house you may not understand why someone would want to live in such a small space (I know we did!). With time, effort and research we soon became sold on the idea, but that’s a story for another time. (that other time is covered in detail in our Best Selling Book: Tiny House Basics, Living the Good Life in Small Spaces) The part I want to focus on is the consumer education we have to do to “sell” the tiny house idea to prospective landowners when we search for a place to park our tiny house.
Resources To Find Land NOW for your Tiny House
The first place most people will look (myself included) when trying to find a place to park their tiny house is on good ‘ol Craigslist. This is a very good platform to post a wanted ad; has been and will continue to be. You can take your time and craft an ad that may be appealing to a landowner as well as educational regarding the movement for those that are not familiar. The biggest challenge I’ve personally had with this route is no matter what section you post in on Craigslist you still need someone in that area who is on the same website that has land and is searching for a tenant. That part is extremely rare. There is so many people out there that have open land, that may be open to renting it out, but honestly do not even know what a tiny house is. They require an educational investment before you can even discuss business at all. The majority of the responses I have gotten to my tiny house ads on Craigslist can be narrowed down to three different categories:
- The people seeking more information that almost immediately say they do not have land but are very interested in the movement.
- The people that have land, have been searching Craigslist for tenants, and are asking very high rental rates for the privilege to park your house on their land.
- The genuine people that have land, do not expect a fortune for rent, and are open to discussing the idea further.
Unfortunately the third types of responses are very few and far between. In our region we have been actively posting on Craigslist looking for land for a period of six months before we even started building and although we had found many good leads, they tend to be very far from our search area as we wanted to stay near to San Francisco. (April 2018 Update: as the movement grows and more people are becoming aware of tiny houses, the amount of parking spots has greatly increased. we often get emails from landlords offering their land which we will usually in turn pass those leads to our Tiny House Trailer customers)
One day I was talking to a friend about our search for land and he suggested the website Nextdoor – a sort of social network for your immediate area. I had never heard of it before so I went home and checked it out. Intrigued, I signed up, which involved me proving I lived where I did via billing address or a postcard sent to the address with a special code. This way it actually confirms you live where you say you do. At first I thought this was a little strange but I went along with it. What I found was a pretty nice community among my actual neighbors and I felt I could lower my guard, as these people are not anonymous like those you would find on craigslist. I then posted several ads in the classified section for our tiny house and the desire to find land. The response was multiples times that of what I ever got from craigslist and I was even able to go out scouting properties and talking to my neighbors in a matter of days. I would highly encourage anyone who is actively looking for land to check out this website and App. You may be surprised at the responses you receive. During our search through NextDoor we found 2 great leads on properties to park in the city which we lived in. We went out and met the landowners and surveyed the parking spots but after many discussions my wife and i decided they were not ideal for our situation so we kept on the hunt!
Both NextDoor, Craigslist and even posting on Facebook use a very passive approach: you create an ad, post it, and wait, hoping for the best. Just Like a typical infomercial or even product spot on QVC, the host will show you how something was done before (like perhaps cutting vegetables) using an inferior product like a cheap knife. You can see him struggling with the relatively small task and in a mound of frustration he yells: “There must be a better way!” Like that same infomercial host I keep thinking to myself over and over: “There must be a better way!” Then it hit me. Instead of casting a wide net hoping to catch any fish that will come my way, why don’t I simply focus my efforts on what I am looking for.
Most of the ad responses I’ve received offering land we’re offering them far from where I wanted to live. So what if we went to areas that we liked and could actually park a tiny house and started our search there? My wife and I then figured out our game plan. We would go to neighborhoods in our local community, which have the size lots that we could actually park our tiny house on and start talking to the neighbors and introducing ourselves and explaining to them what we were looking for and what a tiny house even is. To assist in this process we designed a Postcard we could leave with people. On the front of the Postcard it has a picture of us, a picture of a tiny house that we like and a little story about us. On the opposite side we printed a link to our website TinyHouseBasics.com and a list of skills we can offer in addition to rent. We really tried to put ourselves in our neighbors’ shoes and think about what would make us appealing to have as tenants on their property. It is easy to get wrapped up in the reasons for going tiny that we forget to think about why would someone want to have us on their land, what do we bring to the table that would make it hard to resist renting to us? When we have genuine interest in our neighbor and not just ourselves it can make this a much more enjoyable process. Granted, this is not an easy way to find land. It takes a lot of physical and mental effort, but throughout this journey and with the dozens of neighbors we’ve talked to, we’ve received lots of positive responses after our initial explanation.
Hitting The Pavement To Find Land NOW for your Tiny House
When we started this approach we just planned on going to every door in a particular neighborhood, but after some time we decided to just focus on properties we could actually physically park on. In our area we have a lot of rural land and hilly terrain with houses tucked away from the main road. This will take a good amount of planning and execution, but for us personally, this has worked out better than we could have imagined. In addition, we have met some awesome people in the process. In the end we had 5 properties to choose from, One of those we choose to build on and the other we choose to move our tiny house to after construction and live on. We are so happy and fortunate to have found amazing and genuine people to rent from and now we have been in our current spot for over a 3 and 1/2 years and we are loving every minute of it!
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