Updated: Jun 3
Perhaps the biggest bug-bear of “going Tiny” currently, is finding somewhere to live in one.
Obviously you now have our incredible platform to help you…! 💁♀️
However, while the Tiny House movement is still relatively new here in Australia, the pool of properties available to rent is still relatively small. If you want your pick of available properties, you need to ensure your Tiny is a match for as many of them as possible.
Imagine this- you’ve been on the lookout for land for a few months already, scouring dozens of options. Then one day you open your ParkMyTinyHouse member portal and BAM- there’s a new listing in your desired area that looks like a PERFECT MATCH! It’s in the rainforest, has ocean views, it’s private but still close to shops and services. And it’s even well within your budget!
BUT your particular Tiny isn’t a good fit. GAHHHH!!
There are actually quite a few things you can do to avoid this kind of disappointment.
If you’re in the planning stages of your Tiny build, you’re in the perfect position to start integrating these into your design now.
Or if you already have a fully set up Tiny, there are things you can do to make allowances and retrofit it to accomodate these things if they aren’t already in place- and most fixes aren’t super expensive.
1. MAKE YOUR TINY HOUSE OFF-GRID
Many properties that are happy to host you will be able to give you access to power.
But this often comes with strings- such as parking close to the main dwelling (if there is one). And if you’ve gone to the trouble of building a Tiny, there’s a fair chance that part of the attraction for you is having your own space in a quiet corner far away from anyone else. You don’t want to grow to resent your setup if it necessitates giving up some of that hard-earned freedom!
It’s relatively simple and inexpensive to power a Tiny using solar panels, a couple deep cycle batteries, and either 12v appliances, a cheap inverter or both.
The bonus if you choose the 12v route is you can safely do it yourself without needing any qualifications other than a few YouTube tutorials!
Likewise, there are many stunning properties listed that won’t be able to offer you any utilities, including water.
It’s a rare gem indeed that has a spot far from the main house you can hook up a garden hose to. What you’re more likely to find is a host with a water tank or mains water you can use to top up your tank occasionally. But there are others again where no drinking water is available.
I can tell you right now, if your Tiny is set up to be self-sufficient for drinking water, you will have the pick of ALL available properties!
Because of the smaller roof area of Tiny Houses, this doesn’t have to be a huge expense, either.
You can install a 1-200 litre underfloor caravan-style tank if you’re SUPER-frugal with your water usage.
Otherwise, the majority of our hosts will be happy for you to install a water tank on the ground next to your Tiny.
Personally- if I were planning on renting land, I’d be hedging my bets and doing both.
To fill it, you also have options. You can add a few metres of gutters, either inbuilt if you have the available width and factor this in to your original build, or able to be installed once the Tiny is onsite. This might be enough for you if you’re planning on living on the east coast in an area with decent year-round rainfall. You’ll want to install a good quality water filter though (debris and bird droppings can make you sick real fast 🤢).
Or you can have a water cartage tanker come and fill your tanks periodically.
I have a 10,000 litre poly tank at my place. At the moment I don’t have gutters (too many messy pine trees overhead) so I have a local guy that fills it maybe 3 times a year at $200 a pop. Compared to my old water bills back when I lived in a regular house, this is an absolute bargain.
If you’re going the water cartage option, make enquiries about the availability of this service before you say yes to a potential property.
Another option which is great for the budget-conscious is to have a tank onsite that you fill yourself with an IBC. An IBC is one of those white plastic tanks in a wire cage, and they’re usually 1000 litres. If you have a ute or trailer, you can mount an IBC on the back and fill it from a local standpipe, where in many places you can fill up for free! These are run by councils, so check with your local council for location and access info.
In terms of waste, if you’re planning on renting someone else’s land, you absolutely need a composting or waterless toilet. Composting your waste in individual bins is a fab, no-smell option, and super practical if you’re planning on keeping a productive veggie garden too. It’s super easy to create a drainage pit for your liquid waste, kitchen and shower water to drain into. If you use only natural detergents and cleaning products, you can usually re-use it on your veggie patch too. Waste not want not!
2. KEEP YOUR TINY TO THE SHORTEST PRACTICAL LENGTH
Wait what? It’s a Tiny House, it’s already small!!
True, but.. There are some epic parking spots available on properties with limited access. If you’re planning on going super rural, this one may not be as big of a concern for you. However if you’re hoping for a spot closer to urban life, this should definitely be something you factor into your build or purchase decision. For example, we currently have one listing in a stunning spot RIGHT on the river in Ipswich, QLD. It’s only 30 minutes from Brisbane and the setting is stunningly scenic and tranquil despite its proximity to the urban jungle. The trade-off you pay for that is that the access past the primary dwelling to the rear of the property is kinda tight and doesn’t allow for a massive turning circle. One of our members was keen to apply but his 11m rigid bus just wouldn’t have been able to safely make the turn and get down the hill. Heart-breaking, as this would have otherwise been the perfect spot for him! This spot would be perfect for a Sprinter-type van, a caravan or even a lighter 6-7m Tiny House that can be safely towed with a regular vehicle. If you’re in the planning stages, don’t overlook the fact that a longer 9 or 10 metre Tiny House on Wheels will be heavy enough to need a tow truck or low loader every time you move it. You might be comfortable with that expense if you only plan to move it every few years. But it’s smart to factor in that the total road length of your Tiny and the tow vehicle will be close to 19 metres! (The maximum legal length for towing on Australian roads). That’s a helluva turning circle. It’s one of the reasons your news feed will be full of stunning images of Tiny Houses parked out in the open. Manoeuvrability is not something I’ve seen talked about in Tiny House circles (pun intended!) but it seriously needs to be, because it can definitely limit your options when looking for potential parking spots.
3. MAKE YOUR TINY HOUSE ATTRACTIVE
Believe me, not all “Tiny Houses” are insta-worthy!! We all know we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but.. Let’s say you renovated an old caravan but left the exterior super-shabby, with a bad paint job, ripped insect screens and rusty dents. While it might be completely inaccurate, a potential host may see your photo of it and imagine a scruffy long-haired layabout with questionable hygiene, who keeps old car bodies beside their van, never pays rent and refuses to move out!
Now- let’s say there were 2 applicants for your dream property and your host had a choice between your beat-up van or a cute little weatherboard Tiny House.. which do you think they’d choose?
Now, your host may not live on the property or particularly care about appearances, so long as they have regular rent coming in. But you also may not even be given the chance to prove you’re a great tenant if your initial application photos paint a less than favourable picture. You want a potential host to look over your application and give you the green light to move to the next stage of the process. Presenting yourself and your dwelling in the best possible light will at least help you get a foot in the door. The rest is then up to you.
If need be- give your Tiny a fresh coat of paint. Fix things that are broken.
Your Tiny should look like you are super proud of it
4. BE FLEXIBLE
You may be looking for a spot within a certain distance or driving time of your work or kids’ school. Most people are in this situation so you’re definitely not alone, we can’t all be digital nomads! But if you’ve been looking for a while with no luck, you may need to widen your search area a little. Maybe there’s a spot 15 minutes further out from where you were originally looking. The broader your search area, the more options you’re going to have. And if you find a spot that offers everything you need and is otherwise perfect, it’s a compromise many Tiny Housers end up happy to make.
5. BE HANDY
Rural and off-grid living can sometimes be pretty lonely. Many people originally choose this lifestyle with a partner, but for whatever reason end up on the property alone. This is why many of our hosts value highly the idea of having a “caretaker”. As a single person myself, I can tell you there’s definitely a security in just knowing that there’s someone else around- in case of emergency, or the occasional heavy object needing a lift! Even better if that person has skills that would be handy on an off-grid property. If you understand solar and 12 volt systems, can swing an axe, know permaculture or can mend farm fencing.. you’re likely to get bumped to the top of the list when applying for a more sought-after parking spot. Some of our hosts value these skills over and above money and will even give you a discount on all or part of your rent, proportional to your input. Some skills are quick and easy to learn, but will make you invaluable in the eyes of a potential property host.
6. RE-CONSIDER THE CAT
Many hosts are happy to consider applicants who have pets, if they are well-behaved and will get along with existing animals and livestock on the property.
Cats aren’t viewed so favourably.
Many of our listings consist of natural bushland, and some even back onto state parks and national parks.
Most of our hosts are very protective of the native wildlife in the area which is amazing. For this reason, the natural hunting instinct of our feline friends can be very problematic.
Many of our hosts are ok with cats so long as they’re contained entirely within your home or a suitable cat enclosure. Having said that, the majority simply won’t entertain the idea.
In a nutshell- if you have a cat, your chances of being overlooked for that dream property in the forest are pretty high.
I don’t have a solution for you on this one other than the obvious.
BE A MEMBER OF ParkMyTinyHouse
Maybe you’re already on the hunt for properties by yourself, through letterbox drops or word of mouth. There’s only so much one person can do, and if you’re anything like me, you struggle asking for help!
But the wider you can cast your net, and the more people that are on the lookout for you, the better your chances of finding the right spot. Everyone has a different network, and it sure doesn’t hurt to have access to as many search avenues as possible. For a similar price to your Spotify subscription, you can access our network of eyes and ears all over Australia too. It’s a small price to pay for the chance to live out your Tiny House dreams in paradise. Get started here: www.ParkMyTinyHouse.com.au/listings
If you already have a Tiny House that doesn’t meet all the above criteria- don’t panic. It doesn’t mean you won’t find a spot. It may just take a little longer to find a property that checks all your boxes, where you also check all theirs.
But when you find it?
All the stress and worry you had about your search will disappear in a heartbeat, just like the pain of childbirth fades into oblivion the second that precious child is placed into your arms.
No matter what this journey looks like for you, I promise it will be all be worth it in the end.
If you found this article helpful, we’d love you to share and tag your Tiny-loving mates!