Tiny Parcels for Tiny Houses

One of my readers Drue by name had an interesting suggested for another alternative for a place to put a tiny house. It is not without it’s own problems and you must be careful but I think his suggestions are worth looking into. I’ll turn it over to Drue now and please comment below as to your thoughts and suggestions on this matter.

As I’ve read this over the past couple of years, a theme keeps arising of problems finding places where the codes allow tiny houses.  I couldn’t find any past posts of tiny parcels (e.g. camping lots, recreational lots, mobile lots, etc.) where one might build a tiny house.

I’ve purchased cheap land in Utah, Colorado, Missouri, and Oklahoma.  I live in Texas and am looking here as well.  I can’t afford a huge ranch and never will.  I’m really not doing this for me, but more as an investment for the kids in the future.

The biggest acreage is in Colorado at 5 acres and the smallest is about 25′ x 140′.  All are rural, and the least expensive parcel was $215 with the most expensive being $2500.  Two of them are in lake areas.  One of those has a Property Owner’s Association (POA), which is both good and bad.  Taxes range from $6 a year to $40.

Thus far I’ve put nothing on them, but each has varied requirements as to what is allowed by codes.  I think we’ll get a cabin on one of them, and we have a small trailer we can use on any.  All are marginal in terms of self-sustainability due to size and climate considerations.

I’ve made sure that all will allow permanent and semi-permanent use of RV’s and cabins.

What I look for are recreational/camping lots with no liens and taxes paid up.  A Warranty Deed is the minimum requirement, and it has to be able to qualify for title insurance.  A Quit Claim Deed is nearly worthless.  The land also must have guaranteed access along a road or easement.

I hate to even tell you this, because most of what these folks sell is junk parcels. But some are good, cheap land as well.  Just buyer beware.

  1. www.billyland.com
  2. www.landdirtcheap.com
  3. www.classiccountryland.com

There are probably about a dozen others just like it.

Some of them do a contract for deed and charge high interest rates for low or no money down deals.  Usually the consumer isn’t getting a great deal, and they don’t even get any kind of deed/equity until it is all paid off.  So miss a payment after forking over $20K or so?  You lose everything.

Everybody says bail from the stock market and buy gold because cash won’t be worth much.

But the ones selling the gold are taking….hmmm…cash that they say will eventually be worthless?  They might be right, but at the end of the day, you can’t eat gold, and you can’t easily chunk off a piece to spend…usually have to convert it back to those worthless dollars.

But land?  Now that we’re at the bottom of the market and will likely not move further downward, maybe a good investment.  But I don’t buy land simply because of the investment any more than I buy my car just as an investment.  The return isn’t so good on that, except that it is a tool that provides the ability to get me where I need to go cheaply and conserve my resources.

Thus I drive a 35mpg used Kia, that I bought for $3000 cash, not a ’10 Corvette convertible that I’ll pay on forever (even if it will be worth a fortune someday, which I doubt because I don’t see fossil fuel lasting forever).

I buy land to live on and invest in so that I’ll always have a place to go (or for my family to go) and produce basic subsistence needs.

Those are the kinds of investments I want to make.

These cheap plots may never be worth a ton of money (and I don’t care), but in the harshest of times are good insurance, and in the best of times teach us how to live more inexpensively and less wasteful.

All told, the man who has the most meager – but debt free – living is the one who is most rich and free.

Below is a parcel Drue found on craigslist in Texas and gives you an idea of what can be found. Is this an alternative place to park your tiny houses? Please comment below and let me know what you think.

51 thoughts on “Tiny Parcels for Tiny Houses”

  1. be REAL careful in your research before putting down cash for a tiny lot. Some considerations are lot coverage (ratio of house/driveway/garage area to lot area), minimum sizes and setbacks for wastewater disposal or water supply, and natural features (e.g. swales, wetlands, ledge outcrops).

    For the people who deal with these issues daily, it can be a good deal. But laypeople need to go the extra mile in determining if a structure can actually be built on a tiny lot.

  2. While I thank the original poster for this information, I am in real estate. To say the market is a bottom is far from the truth.

    Nothing is selling, not even lots that are “dirt cheat.” Depending on where you live, “experts” are calling for property values to fall another 15% to 30% over the next two years… so… chances are you will be able to find better deals over the next several years.

  3. Thanks for the suggestion of new ways of thinking about potential land purchases. I have been looking for some inexpensive acreage..an acre or so, at least, for a yurt or other small home, and garden, etc..

    In the ad you posted, it does not seem as if you actually would purchase or own the land. You would pay 80 a month and also 20 a night for each night you are there… What would you actually “own”? For someone looking for a place to put/park their tiny home that would add up to about 680 a month, in addition to the price payed for “purchasing” the right to stay there..

    Do you have any examples which are more similar to the land that you have actually purchased?


  4. Buyer beware indeed @ $20/night it would cost $600/month in overnight fees alone to live full time in a place like this.

    Real estate is indeed a buyer beware situation.

  5. Drue makes some excellent points here, but this sort of thing requires lots and lots of due diligence and perhaps even the help of someone who has been through the process before.

    One thing I’d watch out for: neighbors and abutters. Camping spots look bucolic in the photos, but are they at, say 10:00 on a July weekend evening? Even lots in out of the way places can have problems you tend not to think of. A farm for a neighbor seems fine, but what about when the crop duster comes in low and slow? Many, many things to check out.

    Finally, although everyone is different and entitled to their own approach, as someone who has been around the block on this, I’d say to anyone who doesn’t plan to be there year-round, “Thinking this through, do you really want/need to own the land?”

  6. This guy’s whole statement about why he’s buying property and where it is, etc. initially make me question his investment strategy and ability. But his inclusion of the Craigslist ad really puts it over the top. This is what he offers as an example of one of the possibilities for tiny parcels that would be good investments??? Let’s see what you’re actually buying there. A wooden deck, on what we can assume is a very small lot, in a trailer park, that you don’t own anyway. You’re buying the deck and the right to rent the property. $85 per month, whether you’re using it or not, and $20 a night when you do??? Fantastic! $685 a month to live in a trailer park, with a nice wooden deck though!

    I would suggest that the reason this guy drives a $3,000 Kia and not a ’10 Corvette is not because he’s a particularly savvy guy, but it’s because he lacks the ability and foresight to make sound investments, and has instead thrown money at pieces of junk land scattered about the country, which, under the best, or certainly the most likely, circumstances, will still be junk land years from now.

    I think it’s great that people want to live in tiny houses to conserve money and resources. Buying a nice piece of land to put that tiny house on might be a good investment, especially if it allows for a larger house to be built on it in the future. Buying tiny pieces of junk land is not a sound investment, though. If you want to live cheaply and use your money to buy land, buy agricultural land, or a large tract of land that is likely to be a good candidate for development in the future. If you have some farm ground at least you could make some income off of the cash rent while you sit back and let it appreciate.

  7. Why not create a website for a tiny home land share? Kind of like a craigslist where people can post that they are looking for a tiny bit of land, or are willing to rent/sell out a tiny portion of their land. This would be a way for all of the supporters of tiny homes-but who would never live in one-to actually support the tiny home lifestyle.

    • I love this idea! I for one would embrace the idea of living in a small (obviously) community of people who share the ideals that are endemic to the Tiny House movement.

  8. I think this is a very important aspect of the whole tiny house idea because I don’t exactly understand people who make one and then park it next to their house. I’ve gotten a few lots here in the mountains of southern California and the deals you can get will vary greatly. Ebay is one of those places where you can get a great deal or a terrible deal. It happens to be where I found all of my lots, but I wouldn’t exactly recommend depending on it. The lots I have are small, single parcel and you typically need 3 or more of them to build a residence. I’m in the process of building a tiny cabin and as it’s considered a shed, I don’t need permits as long as I stay within zoning and building guidelines. This means all these single lots are usable for such a purpose, but it varies by state, county, and city rules. The downside is no utilities and it could never legally be a permanent residence. (county does not allow any ‘camping’)

    One very important thing to find out before buying is meeting the neighbors. If there’s anyone around, they can entirely stall or kill your project. It doesn’t entirely matter if what you’re building is legal, and what the access laws are, because if someone who lives there complains or tries to get a lawsuit going, it’s pretty much over. They might complain to the city or county, or if the road is private, not allow access. Thus, I always meet the neighbors, explain my idea, how it won’t really impact them at all, and offer to help them out in case they need something.

  9. For those who want a rural experience, I believe you can buy land that is zoned A-R, or Agricultural-Recreational. Most areas with this land will let you put mobile homes on the land. Many of these have maximum square foot restrictions. Unfortunately for some, it may be a long way from civilization.

  10. there is a place in east tx on cedar creek lake called cherokee shores… the lots are small 40’x80′ for the most part.. you will own these for like $2000..the roads are in the process of being paved they do about a mile a year… the reason i know about this is because i rec ently bought a little A-frame a little larger than a thousand square feet..i paid $12,600 including closing costs.. the place needed a little minor cosmetic work less than $1000.. hoa dues are $97 dollars a year.. that includes pool and boat ramp acess.. i bought the lot next to me for $1200.. the $97 covers 1 or two lots…its in gun barrel city tx. very basic building codes.. water sewer electric cable internet all on sight…and if you have all your own teeth you will be considered high class… the land is like 6 miles from the city.. they have pretty much everything you need,, placve to eat, movie theater , bars, wallmart, lowes, check it out would be cool to get a few more neighbors with the same ideals.. most of the streets have only one or two houses on them.(out of 60 lots) lots of trees as well.. if you want i can give you an address so you can google earth the area..

      • If you want to know the restrictions on property in Texas, google the HOA’s website, then look at their building codes and association rules…I almost bought a lot, then called the association office to make sure that I had all the newest restrictions…they only allowed one small dog. If I hadn’t called, we would have put all our land investment money into property that we could not have lived on without giving up our “family” of pets…something I would not have done…

  11. Buying a piece of land for some mortgage free living is a dream, that I, like many readers I’m sure, have for my future. Unfortunately, I am at odds w/ the choice to buy land in some rural location(cheap and lacks zoning restrictions) vs. remain in an urban area, such as where I reside now. Realistically, if things decay worst(I think they will) I can find work and resources for life close to my home and most importantly, not depend on my fossil fuel burning coffin on wheels. Instead, biking and walking everywhere not accessible by public transit. On the other hand, I can homestead and build an off grid dwelling, plant a garden, and hunker down. It just gets lonely without mental stimulation from art, restaurants, and diverse people. Anyone out there having the same problem? I’m thinking investing in the urban core and in neglected neighborhoods might be a solution if one can find a relatively crime-free area that meets one’s demands. I worry that zoning restrictions will still kill this idea though.

    • true, you do not want to be too far from civilization, but I checked some of these websites out and there are plenty of parcels that are not too far from civilization, which means to me: if I do not want to deal with civilization which is not civilized then I don’t have to.

      Congrats to the author of this post and the suggestions, truly only a free spirit could possibly know what truly free people are looking for, you nailed it buddy: you have made my day, my month, my year.

  12. Yes, the idea here was to throw this out for suggestions on how land like this might be used for tiny houses. It is good to list concerns and issues but the object was to get positive ideas.

    Legal issues on where to place tiny homes on wheels and build them on fixed foundations is still the tiny house persons biggest nightmare and we need to come up with solutions to make it possible.

    • Yes you are so right . Something needs to be done I am very interested in living in Lambertville NJ in a tiny home but I have not found anything . If anyone knows of anything please be in touch . Thank you !!

  13. So thanks on all the thoughts and ideas. This really did begin with an inquiry to see what other people were doing about putting their tiny abodes on land. It wasn’t so much about giving advice, but stimulating discussion – and it has most certainly done that.

    I think a lot of people are curious like me and want to see some kind of “how to” or “best practice” on the parcel issue.


    1. The Craiglist plot is neat, but yes it does come with a recurring price tag. With the exception of the lake plot (with a POA at $90/yr) none of the other plots cost me anything other than a few tax dollars.

    2. I’ve enjoyed these plots just fine and they serve my purposes. The people I’ve met around me have been from all kinds of socio-economic backgrounds and cultures, but all are fine human beings. I suppose their are some ne’er do wells in this world, but I rarely meet them and if I do I don’t know it. Not that I can’t be stolen from or harmed, but I tend to share what I have, so it is hard to call it stolen when its given away.

    3. Of course you have to check codes, easements, and conditions, etc. Everyone has to do their due diligence.

    4. The real estate guy might be right about the $300K house still dropping in value, but I haven’t seen it with the dirt cheap land. In fact, in the last two years a lot of people have taken the trouble to look up tax records to find us and offer us more than we paid. But I bought it as a heritage investment, not a money investment.

    If its about the money, then I should buy a ’10 Corvette convertible and keep it for forty years. It might be worth something….or maybe not.

    In the meantime, my 401K is worth about 25% less than it was two years ago. And I feel lucky it isn’t worse than that.

    5. None of this is about creating an armed survival camp for the great Apocalypse. In order to have peace and prosperity, above all we have to restore compassion, respect, and a strong sense of community and responsibility. But if the bottom did drop out of the world, we have someplace very affordable to hang out. That’s cool.

    • Drue—

      Thanks for posting and opening yourself up to what might politely be called “a spirited discussion”.

      I think there is all kinds of value in your posts (both this and the original) and I think if we would like to continue for people to put there ideas out there in this space, perhaps we can keep some of the negativity down and no matter, what stay away from the personal.

      Thanks again!

  14. Lucas, Knoxville goes by the International residential code – I’m sure many other cities do as well. The minimum house size is around 250 s.f. I’ve seen new houses built around here 400 sf, so it can be done. In a city you’ll have to pay for utility hookups, but then you get transit, police, fire protection, cultural amenities, etc.

    I agree with your idea of buying in aan under appreciated area . Go for it!

    • Thanks Martha. That’s good info to have. I certainly need a bit more than 250 sq. ft., but not much! My other concern is the real estate taxes, which I suspect correlate somewhat w/ zoning regulations. Here in KC, we have a decaying tax base of urban properties and those of us in nicer neighborhoods are picking up the lion’s share of the tab, unfortunately. I pay the same taxes as friends in houses twice the size of mine and worth 3x as much, do in the burbs. I guess one doesn’t get their cake and eat it too here!

  15. Hello all…Here is a link for a company I have actually purchased some acreage from (1 in NM, 1 in NV). They are legit and professional.


    Above all, I have always wanted to live “off-the-grid” and be self-sufficient yet my financial reality is not cooperating right now…so I will wait and stay the course.

    Humans have always wanted to see what else is out there. Whatever it may be…the mountains, forests, oceans, continents, the moon and of course the rest of space. The only limitations we have are the ones we make for ourselves.

    I’m not a customer of Nike sports equipment…but “Just Do It”…is right on!!!

  16. I totally agree with Jsn’s sentiment, and with kent’s last comment. But criticism is part of the discussion too, so I wouldn’t take it to deeply to heart. If this solution doesn’t work for some people, well that’s no surprise.

    Personally I think one of the strengths of tinyhouses is that they just recognize that different people have different needs (during different parts of their lives too.)

    One thing I think to consider os that zoning bylaws are not written in stone. Where I live anyway you can apply for a so called variance, and this would be a minor one. I know the bureaucrats might seem hostile but it’s worth looking into. there is a sign outside my house right now announcing to the neighborhood that the local elementary school wants a variance to add another story, and inviting comment. I get the impression that the default is to allow something that nobody objects to, fortunately since that’s the sensible way to do it. Also the commercial housebuilders get variances all the time for stuff, I think.

  17. I wonder if an alternative, or a way to see if Tiny House living would really work, might be to house-sit for someone in their cabin, or to be a caretaker for a set of cabins at a (small) seasonal resort.

    I’m not sure how you’d connect with someone about that–get in touch with someone who needed that sort of help, but it might give not only a test-run on living in a Tiny House, but also a sense of what a particular area had to offer (is it a dull–er, ‘restful’–community, or one with the right sort of cultural/recreational outlets) and be a way of networking to get word on property for sale.

    And if you made a good impression as a responsible, heads-up person, I’m guessing/hoping you’d get word on something that would suit your needs.

    Too, you’d get a chance to meet folks, see them over a period of time, so you’d have a basis for deciding whether you were getting a fair deal, would want to be a neighbor to them and vice versa.

    Just another way to go about this.

  18. This is a HUGE issue for those of us wanting to set up tiny house living, and I appreciate this discussion coming up. I’ve spent months now looking for a place near where my family lives (and by near, I mean within an hour’s drive) where I can buy land and legally set up my tiny house. They’re all in Arkansas, and even though much of Arkansas is rural, I’m still having trouble finding land that is zoned right.

    One important piece of information that I’ve found out and that I would like to share, is that if you are buying a tiny piece of land for your tiny house, you need to have access to all city water and sewer utilities. I had found myself the perfect tiny little piece of land, and then I learned that you can not put a well and a septic tank on the same acre or less of land, at least in Arkansas. If you plan to put in these things for yourself, just plan to buy a couple of acres or more.

    • I do see a lot of crazy cheap land that has such weird requirements as to make certain that the people already living there never have you for a neighbor.

      You basically pay to own land that ensures no one ever clutters the scene for other local landowners.

      Also, codes change over time. So if you didn’t build yet, your property is subject to whatever the latest is.

  19. I bought the most gorgeous 5-6 acres in the Missouri Ozarks on eBay. It exceeded my expectations. I also bought a church school bus on eBay too to convert and live in. I was off the grid and I used propane for cooking and hauled my own water. I did without electric.

    What people need to look for is a warranty deed, like mentioned in the article. They also need to be aware of building restrictions. Land with “no restrictions” means you can do whatever you want from tent camping, RVs, buses, cabins to houses. If it says, “minimal restrictions” or “restrictions” you need to check with the seller to see exactly what those restrictions are.

    You also need to be aware of utilities. Some properties way out there won’t have any, like mine. You will be totally off the grid. You can use generators or solar for electric, propane for cooking and heat, and either haul water or drill a well.

    Others will have rural utilities so you can hook up to the local electric and water companies. Sometimes the lines are already run to your property and other times you’ll have to pay the utility company to run the lines back to your property. They charge by the foot or 100 feet.

    Sometimes you’ll need to put in a septic or dig an outhouse and some states require perk tests first.

    This is what I know, so hopefully it will be useful to others. I know there’s no life like living in the wilderness and I recommend it to everyone.

    You can learn more about cheap properties in the Ozarks by visiting my blog. Just click on my name. I’m not in the real estate business, but I like to share the information I find.

    It’s possible to live very inexpensively in this world and enjoy the most beauty it has to offer.

    • If a composter is used, what requirements are there for septics that only need to process/hold greywater?

      I know some greywater is considered dark-grey, but since I could get a solar and my own potable water. I’d prefer a dry system that purifies or evaporates the water and leaves only solids behind, like a composter.

      • It’s all county-specific, so you’d have to check locally.

        I know where I was in Douglas County, Missouri, my particular place was no restrictions meaning outhouses, a hole in the ground, porta-potties to a completely septic were all OK.

        I know some New England states require perk tests and an actual septic system. No outhouses.

        And Colorado is weird about catching rainwater. Apparently it’s against the law.

        As far as your question about composting and greywater, I couldn’t tell you much.

  20. There is a six or eight space trailer park for sale here in west virginia, close to a lake and hunting, that is for sale. Why not buy it and make your own tiny nieghborehood and your own rules.

    • Excellent idea!

      As I have mentioned to Kent before, this is probably the easiest and most effective way to deal with his main concern above – where to put a tiny home.

      There are lots of mobile home parks around the country that could be redeveloped in this way, and with good leadership (ownership) all kinds of things would be possible.

      The only problem I see to utilizing an existing MHP is the stigma that is usually attributed to such place, and that can be overcome!

  21. I often see recreational trailer communities with lots for sale which makes me wonder if it’s possible to set up a similar arrangement that’s more of an intentional tiny community with a co-op structure and more sensible guidelines. If you own a mobile tiny house you just take it with you when you go and a ‘rooted’ one would have a share price that reflects that value. You could then build some shared resources like a community centre with laundry, workshops, large gardens or whatever. It’s a bit more complicated to try building a community than just finding your own space but there are rewards as well as drawbacks. Instead of one of those places with strange HOA rules you could substitute one with sensible rules. If you agree with the rules they’re not a problem, if you don’t then you go elsewhere. You need to make sure the rules reflect a fair and reasonable set of guidelines to keep the community safe without strangling it or opening it up to abusive greed.

  22. Beware of POA’s and HOA’s. They can end up owning your property for minor infractions of their member’s rules…If you google Home Owners’Associations and Property Owner’s Associations, you can read horror stories about people losing their homes or being fined huge sums for planting an “unapproved” garden, planting the wrong number of tulips in their front yards, or for not mowing their property as often as is required. A lawsuit to retain your rights might cost as much as a McMansion, and you might still lose your home….

    • Another warning: People list their property as unrestricted, either on purpose or not knowing what the restrictions are. The purchase agreement and the papers that you receive might not have any mention of a POA or HOA, or of a deed restriction, so that you may not know until after purchase of the property that you have rules you legally have to abide by…Go to the county courthouse and request any deed restrictions, etc. from the land records department (they will charge for this, but it might save you from making a big mistake). I have run into several ads that read “no restrictions” and “no POA,” some listed by realtors…I googled and found POA’s or found that they were in towns that had building codes and size restrictions that applied to the properties…

      • Great info, Henry. How do POA HOA’s tend to affect mobile home parks? If a county has restrictions on non-vehicular housing, do they also override zones for parks, or do they have their own zone policies?

    • In Texas (and I’m sure other states), if you don’t pay your HOA/POA dues and/or fines, they can force your property into an auction sale to satisfy the back dues.



      There may be legitimate issues in both cases, but I believe the law needs to be reform so that when a house with back dues is sold (not by force of the HOA), no one else gets paid until the HOA gets paid.

  23. @tinysolarcabin
    If the zoning authority has permitted a MHP in a given locale, there are two governing authorities that then set what can happen at that park: the zoning authority and what it regulates under governmental authority (e.g., density, use, etc.); and what the ownership of the MHP has imposed on top of that in a private capacity (e.g., no pets over a certain size, only so many cars per unit, etc.). So MHP residents are contending with two things.
    Historically, most MHPs are rentals and trailer owners in them are subject to the owner’s rules (which of course are subject to change and exception) as they tenants. Of course, the renters could buy and own the MHP themselves (say as as a coop or condominium) and set their own rules. However even if this were done, the MHP would be subject to zoning authorities regulations.
    And, as Hope points out about associations, an HOA has the authority to set rules (and frequently, to imposes dues as well) on members. Dues, assessments and rules can all change over time, so when buying any property that is covered by an HOA there is always an element of uncertainty about the future.

  24. thanks Alfred,

    I’m in favor of a more fluid ability to re-organize and meet, like Couchsurfers.org, but with communities having mobile homes/RVs/tiny houses on wheels (e.g. Tumbleweeds). It might be simpler to own part of a planned coop with shared cultural/social interests and rent it out to friends who are more likely to follow the same etiquette of house appearance (a community of Airstreams and Winnebagos, whereas some prefer the wooden cabin look, not that they can’t mix, but I think it could add to the issues that residents would have with new settlers, and how the HOA would not be ready for such a dynamic flux of the semi-retired lifestyle: http://www.whywork.org/). I think the popularity of Tumbleweeds and other homes could give convenient residential mobility a movement if there was an organization like couchsurfers. I’m currently looking into exploring of there are organizations like the Small House Society, that could make it a national organization. Of course, this would cause some friction with real estate developments interested in rural land, but all the more reason why there should be an alternative mobile housing system to fit into, with some people who need to travel for work.

  25. I once lived in a house made of piano crates. My folks went to move the front door 5 feet over and it turned into this huge project where they had to reframe the whole front of the house. The joists were also sideways for some reason. But the house had stood that way for 100 years. The crates were from an organ factory that was long gone.


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