The 7 Best States for Living in a Tiny House

The 7 Best States for Living in a Tiny House

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best-7-states-for-living-in-a-tiny-house

If you’re reading this post, you might have been wondering, “What are the best states for living in a tiny house?”

You can build tiny houses almost everywhere. They literally don’t require that much space. And besides, most tiny houses are on wheels, which would only need you to have a trailer to build on instead of buying a property. 

There are several remarkable places where you can find tiny houses. You can even find tiny house communities across the United States. Some states, however, make for better platforms for tiny homes than the others. The 7 best states for living in a tiny house are:

  • Texas
  • Georgia
  • Colorado
  • California
  • North Carolina
  • Florida
  • Oregon

Selecting The Right State For Your Tiny House

In the last few years, the tiny house movement has gone mainstream thanks to tiny house documentaries and shows like Tiny House Big Living and Tiny House Hunters

Thousands of people started to love the idea of building small, adorable micro dwellings. And the price tag of tiny homes is what pushed others to switch to tiny living. Tiny homes also have lower energy costs and a minimal carbon footprint. 

But building a tiny house isn’t as easy as TV shows make it appear. There are tons of building codes and zoning laws in every state. For the tiny house aspirants, these laws are a stopper. They are what makes it difficult for tiny housers to find a spot for their tiny house on wheels or build a tiny home affixed to a permanent foundation. 

Here’s the good news: while there are lots of states that are stringent about tiny homes, there’s quite a good number of states that warmly accept tiny, sustainable homes. 

Unless you can get through the strict requirements your state has on tiny homes, then there’s nothing to worry about as long as you follow the rules. Otherwise, you might want to move into any of these states:

The 7 Best States for Living in a Tiny House

tiny-house-in-texas

#1 Texas

Texas is the number one on our list, and for a reason: the first tiny house-friendly city in the U.S is in Texas — specifically in the city of Spur.

You see, the core principle of the tiny house movement is to inspire people to live a minimalist lifestyle and contentment. Limiting your dwelling to minimal square feet lets you get rid of the things you don’t really and live only with the things you actually need. 

Yet, there’s a problem. Zoning codes make it impossible for many to downsize and embrace the concept of the tiny house movement. 

But one town in Texas found a way to solve that problem. Spur is a town in West Texas has a population of just over 1,200. It’s a little town with a theater, some local businesses, and a couple of stoplights. 

And yes, Spur, Texas, is the first city in the United States to become tiny house-friendly. Because of the lenient zoning laws in the town, the population grew as people from New York and Silicon Valley started to move in. 

These tiny house aspirants yearn for simple living, small community, and peace. And good for them, Spur offers these things. 

Tiny House Building Law in Spur, Texas

Now let’s talk about the technicalities. Here are the requirements to apply for a tiny house permit in Spur, Texas.

Note: Those who wish to build a tiny house in the town must complete an application for building, including:

  1. Name of applicant
  2. Address of applicant
  3. Telephone number
  4. Location
  5. Legal Property Description
  6. Block and Lot where the tiny house will be located
  7. Dimensions of the tiny house
  8. Description of material to be used to build the tiny house
  9. Blueprints determining the connections to city services, such as sewer, sanitation, and water
  10. Photographs of the tiny house, if available

Here are the tiny house requirements. The City Council or a designated building inspector will examine the location of the tiny house in regards to the present and anticipated land use and development. 

  1. The tiny house must be on a foundation (at least 6 inches of cement footing)
  2. The tiny house needs to have a driveway
  3. If you’re getting a pre-manufactured tiny home, it needs to be skirted
  4. The tiny house must be on an internet street or Common Access Road with an assigned address
  5. It must be connected to city services.
  6. It must comply with applicable portions of the 2005 Structural Standards Code of the City of Spur
  7. The tiny house must pass the inspection 

These laws are lenient compared to other states. To learn more about the tiny house laws in 3Spur, Texas, click here.  

#2 Georgia

When it comes to tiny houses, Georgia isn’t a state that wants to be left behind. As more people start to embrace the movement, Georgia has made its zoning laws lenient for those who want to downsize and live more simply. 

best-7-states-for-living-in-a-tiny-house-georgia

Tiny House Atlanta helps us get a better understanding of the zoning and building codes regarding tiny homes. 

Most jurisdictions in cities and countries are divided into zones or districts that regulate the development of the land and limit the uses to which a tiny house may be put. These zoning districts set the standard of buildings — the height, placement, overall size, and the number of parking spaces in the new building. 

While Zoning Codes set limits and prescribe land use, Building Codes, on the other hand, determine the details of how the buildings on that land are to be constructed. Almost all cities in Georgia currently use the International Residential Code (IRC) of 2012. 

Just a couple of years ago, the Georgia Department of Community Affairs approved the Tiny House Appendix “S” and also the reduction in the minimum living space size from 120 square feet to only 70 square feet. 

The 2012 IRC set the minimum for any dwelling structure:

R304.1 Minimum area

Every habitable structure must have at least one habitable room with not less than 70 square feet of gross floor area. 

R304.2 Other rooms

Other rooms must have at least 70 square feet or 6.5 meter-squared. Kitchens are an exception. 

R304.3 Minimum dimensions

Rooms in tiny houses must not be less than 7 feet (horizontal dimension). Kitchens are an exception. 

R304.4 Height effect on room area

The ceiling must measure not less than 4 feet. A furred ceiling, on the other hand, must measure at least 6 feet from the finished floor to the finished sheiling.

Most municipalities in Georgia follow these standards, but some do not. Manufactured Mobile Home (HUD) in Georgia must follow the HUD Federal Code Regulations, while Recreational Vehicles must adhere to the standards set by the RV Industry Association (RVIA). 

Meanwhile, tiny house — both site-built and pre-manufactured — must comply to the same building code regulations as any other traditional homes. Other codes that apply to tiny houses are those that are set by (1) the International Plumbing Code (IPC) 2012 with Georgia Amendments, (2) International Energy Efficiency Code (IECC) 2009 edition with Georgia Amendments, and (3) National Electrical Code (NEC) 2014 edition

You may have some wonderful ideas for your tiny homes, but take note that some code-related issues might affect the design and construction of your tiny dwelling, including:

  • Room size and dimension
  • Lofts
  • Headroom
  • Means of escape
  • Stairs
  • Egress Width

If you are to purchase a manufactured tiny home in Georgia, make sure it meets the requirements set by the National Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act of 1974, 42 U.S.C Section 5401. 

While these all sound too technical and stringent, these regulations are actually more lenient than in other states. 

#3 Colorado

If you want to set roots in a micro-home in a tiny house-friendly state, then Colorado is the place to be! You’d be glad to know that the tiny house movement in this state is incredibly booming, despite having limited legal parking opportunities for tiny homes on wheels. 

tiny-house-in-colorado

However, thanks to local tiny house advocates and community developers, the state has made it easier for people interested in downsizing to have a tiny home. These developers and advocates organized exuberant festivals, including the Tiny House Jamboree, annual Colorado Tiny House Festival, and People’s Tiny House Festival. 

These events helped open the eyes of many people that living in a tiny home isn’t as bad as some critics say. The events were also an eye-opener for the State officials to become more welcoming to the tiny house movement. 

These tiny home communities in Colorado prove that it’s one of the best states for living in a tiny home:

  • Peak View Park in Woodland Park, CO
  • Tiny House Leadville in Leadville, CO
  • Escalante Village in Durango, CO

According to the American Tiny House Association, Walsenburg, Colorado, passed amendments to the 2015 IRC to be friendlier to tiny houses. They reduced the minimum room areas and exit door width and waived stairway regulations. 

Also, in 2014, the Walsenburg City Council approved Ordinance 1045. The ordinance allows tiny homes to be built in R-1 and R-2 zoned residential areas as long as they meet the standards by Planning and Zoning. 

Just in case you don’t know, an R-1 zone refers to a piece of real estate that’s located in a neighborhood of single-family residences. Most local laws do not allow R1 Zoning to one freestanding house (i.e., a tiny house) intended as a dwelling place for one family. 

R-2 Zoning, on the other hand, is to provide for medium to high-density housing in multiple-family structures. 

As per the amendment, tiny homes (about 150 to 450 square feet) must be built or placed on a foundation and hooked into the city’s sewer and water system separately from any other structure on the property. 

Park County, CO permits tiny houses of about 250 square feet. Before the change was made, Park County Land Use Regulations require dwelling houses to be at least 600 square feet. The fact that they reduced the minimum dwelling size proves that Colorado is indeed worthy of being among the 7 best states for living in a tiny house. 

#4 California

If it’s your dream to live in a tiny house in a place that embraces the tiny house movement well, then California is one of the best places to be!

best-7-states-for-living-in-a-tiny-house-california

California proves itself to be one of the best states for living in a tiny house:

  1. California is pretty lenient when it comes to Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU). Just in case you don’t know, an accessory dwelling unit is a second small dwelling right or within the same grounds to your single-family house, such as a tiny house. So if you want to build a tiny home neighboring a friend, a relative, or a landlord, then you can freely do so. To learn more about the state laws in California for ADU, click here
  2. Fresno is the first city in the country to approve tiny house on wheels (THOWs) in residential neighborhoods. THOWs can be registered as backyard cottages in residential communities, not as caregiver cottages. Other communities allow tiny homes provided they are on foundations.  Read more about the ordinance here: Fresnobee 

How do you register a tiny house on wheels in California? 

  1. You need to fill out the Application for Title (Form REG 343)
  2. Your THOW must be verified by the California Highway Patrol (CHP). The first step is to start your application with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) before contacting the CHP for verifying your vehicle. The trailer must weigh no less than 6,000 pounds, unladen. 
  3. You also need to complete the State of Construction form (REG 5036). 
  4. Submit proof of ownership, such as manufacturer’s certificates of origin, invoices, bills of sale, receipts, junk receipts for the major component parts (body, frame, engine, and transmission).
  5. Submit filled out Statement of Facts (Form REG 256) or brake and light adjustment certificates. 

Get the full list of requirements here: State of California DMV

Remember, some communities in California are more accepting of THOWs than others. Counties and cities set their own zoning codes. As long as a zoning code doesn’t contradict or violate state or federal law, local governments are free to set their reasonable restrictions in regards to the use of land, such as regulations on tiny houses. 

That said, THOWs are treated differently from town to town. Some view tiny homes as affordable housing solutions, while others don’t. 

#5 North Carolina

A moderate climate, vibrant downtowns, abundant greenery, and tiny house friendly, it’s impossible to visit North Carolina without asking yourself, “Why don’t I live here?”

tiny-house-in-north-carolina

Really, there’s so much to love about North Carolina. Not only you can find the top employers here, but also the best parks, lakes, and rivers to satisfy your love for adventure!

And if you’re a tiny house aspirant, then you’ll have more reasons to love North Carolina. This state embraces the tiny house movement; in fact, they organize tiny house festivals to promote tiny living and to educate people on how downsizing can help both the environment and themselves. 

If you want to see the festivals first-hand in North Carolina, you may want to go to the 2020 Outer Banks Tiny Home Festival. Click here for more details about the event.

The American Tiny House Association helps us get the bolts and nuts of constructing tiny homes in NC.

Site built tiny homes must meet the NC Residential Code. The petite dwelling must have at least one habitable room with not less than 120 square feet of gross floor area. Other habitable rooms must have not less than 70 square feet of floor area (kitchens are an exception). 

Every dwelling unit must also have toilet facilities, including a water closet, bathtub or shower, and lavatory. It must also be equipped with a heating facility compliant with Section R303.8 of the NC Residential Code. 

Learn more about the building codes in North Carolina here.

#6 Florida

best-7-states-for-living-in-a-tiny-house-florida

Like North Carolina, Florida also hosts tiny house events to promote the simple, minimalist, and conservationist living. Four tiny house events will be held in the first quarter of 2020 in Florida, including:

  • Magic of Lights Daytona in Daytona Beach (1st Jan. 2020), 
  • JAX Tiny Homes Expo ft. AMY the HERBALIST in Orange Park (25th – 26th Jan. 2020)
  • Great American Tiny House Show in Tampa (14th – 15th Mar.), and
  • 2020 Florida Suncoast Tiny Home Festival in Pinellas Park (28th Mar. 2020). 

Take note, the zoning and building codes for tiny homes vary per city and county. So before moving to Florida, it’s best to perform complete site-specific research to learn about the specific rules. 

In most states in Florida, you will find that THOWs fall into a gray area of the zoning code. It’s likely that can use your THOW as a second home. And because Florida is a hurricane-prone area, the law will likely need your tiny house to be affixed to the ground. 

Your tiny home also needs to comply with the safety standards set by the state law. For instance, if you purchase a new park model RV to use as your THOW, it must fall in with the American National Safety Institute standard 119.2. 

In Rockledge, your THOW must be built to a structural engineer’s approved plans. You must also give a complete description of the construction of the THOW, including the location of rafters, joists, studs, and engineered connectors. 

Zoning codes and building standards in Florida must not be ignored. Otherwise, you may be taking big risks. If a neighbor complains or turns you in, you may get fined, especially if you do not have the necessary permits. 

#7 Oregon

The last but not the least, Oregon is one of the best states for living in a tiny house. Like other states, Oregon has zoning codes and building standards that you must adhere to, but they are less stringent than the other states. 

tiny-house-in-oregon
Oregon is one of the 7 best states for living in a tiny house

In Oregon, there are specific laws that you must follow depending on how you intend to use your tiny home. They classify tiny homes in three types:

  1. Permanent – attached to an approved foundation; prioritizes occupant safety and energy-efficient.
  2. Temporary – built on frame or chassis and may have wheels; prioritizes mobility
  3. Transitional – living facilities for people who lack shelter; prioritizes flexibility to meet local needs. 

When it comes to permanent tiny houses, the state requires it to be built over an approved foundation. It must also meet federal standards or Oregon’s state building codes. According to the zoning code of Oregon, you can site tiny homes as a single-family residence or an accessory dwelling unit.

As for temporary tiny homes or THOWs, they are not subject to construction regulation. However, state and local governments may not allow THOWs (as well as RVs and mobile homes) to sit or occupy in one of the parks specified in ORS 197.493 (placement and occupancy of a recreational vehicle).

You can park tiny houses on wheels outside of the parks mentioned in the ordinance. If you’re thinking about settling in the city of Portland, take note that the city allows sitting of tiny houses on wheels in specified locations.

For tiny houses on wheels, they are subject to the motor vehicle safety standards set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), including standards for lamps, wheels, tires, brakes, rear impact guards, etc. Oregon limits the maximum width of mobile tiny homes to 8.5 feet.

You see, Oregon proves to be a tiny-house friendly state because it does not only allow tiny houses, but they also set safety standards to ensure the occupants get as much protection as those in traditional homes. 

Final Thoughts

Several states in the country have already embraced the tiny house movement. The growth of tiny house companies and communities prove that several people — and government officials — view the tiny house living a way to live simply, affordably, and sustainably. 

Zoning codes and building standards aren’t made to make your life harder. Instead, these regulations are set to ensure you get a comfortable, efficient, and safe everyday living. A tiny house-friendly state must have laws that ensure tiny house owners get the services they need. 

The tiny house regulations vary per state, city, and county. If you’re thinking about moving to another place to build your tiny home (either site built or on wheels), make sure to perform complete site-specific research so you’d be able to comply with all requirements and avoid getting fined. 

Related Questions

Where can I build a tiny house?

Almost all states in the country allow the construction of a tiny house. Several states are tiny-house friendly and even have tiny house communities. However, some states are still stringent about tiny houses. 

Why are tiny houses illegal?

Tiny houses aren’t technically illegal. However, they are still a lot of people who do not view tiny homes as acceptable forms of residency. For them, tiny houses are a way to sidestep taxes and building regulations. 

Can I live in a tiny house on my own land?

Yes. Take note, however, that building your tiny home over a foundation is trickier. In some states, they require site built tiny homes to follow the same zoning and building regulations for traditional homes (although the size, for this matter, is an exception). 

All About Tiny Houses is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

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