Author Topic: Moving into a Tiny House or RV questions  (Read 8867 times)

ddm5

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Moving into a Tiny House or RV questions
« on: August 16, 2014, 02:36:56 PM »
Hey guys,

I'm 28 and recently achieved FI.  I have almost never been out of my home state (Indiana) and would like to spend the next few years traveling and looking for inspiration with as little overhead as possible.  Last month, I went on a "scouting mission" to some areas I thought I might like to live.  I stopped in Boulder, CO and my jaw hit the floor.  I have never felt more welcome, or more like I fit in, any place in my entire life.  I've basically made it my mission to move there in the next few months.  However, I'd still like the option of taking my "house" with me wherever I decide to go.

I've been kicking around the idea of building a tiny house or buying a small RV for a while now, but after looking at Boulder proper housing prices, I really kicked it into high gear.  For $600 a month plus utilities, I'd be living in a room in some house.  For a 350sqft studio, I'd be paying $900 / mo plus utilities.  While I think the price is worth it to get out of Indiana, where I am completely miserable,  I'd like to explore other options.

I hear you can buy a tiny house for less than $10k if you construct it yourself.  If that's the case, I could spend the next few months building it / buying material for a fun hobby, and skedaddle to Boulder.  I have no idea how much a decent, liveable RV costs.

One of my concerns is, where are these things allowed?  I don't want to be out in the sticks somewhere, necessarily.  I'm single (need a big dating pool) and enjoy being around people, so I don't want to be some off-the-grid hermit type.  Some place within a quick drive (or better yet, bike ride) to society would be ideal, but where do people put/park these things?  I've heard of tiny house owners parking them in peoples' backyards.  I imagine the type of people in Boulder would be open to this arrangement (here...no way), but what do you do?  Throw up a craigslist ad saying: let me park my house in your backyard?  What about RV's?  Do you just sit in parking lots til you're kicked out?  Because that sounds awful.  I suppose you could go to a state park with RV hookups, but at their rates I think that would be similar to paying rent, and you'd also be out in the boonies!

What is it like living in one of these with a pet?  I have a half-Serval half-cat, basically just a very active cat.  Does anyone here own a tiny house and keep a pet in it year round? I'm trying to think of ways to "hide" the litterbox, since that would be kind of dumpy looking.

Just looking for some guidance, and this forum is probably the only place where I might find people who have also considered this, aside from the actual Tiny House sites...I'm asking here because alot of the people on those sites seem very enamored with the idea of a tiny house and I don't want a biased opinion...I'm looking at it as a purely financial decision, and would hate it if it forced me into some "nonstandard" lifestyle.

Sdsailing

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Re: Moving into a Tiny House or RV questions
« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2014, 02:43:08 PM »

My reading suggests that it is more than a few months to build unless you are an experienced builder. Also it seems that realistic cost is quite a bit more than 10k.  Yes, if you want to be in a city or suburb, you options are private backyard or Trailer park or campground.

ddm5

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Re: Moving into a Tiny House or RV questions
« Reply #2 on: August 16, 2014, 02:45:51 PM »
Interesting, so is it legal most places to park in a private backyard with the landowner's permission?

IIRC from when I thought about investing in a trailer park, the lot fees are kind of high, might as well be renting, no?

I'll look into whether or not campgrounds have monthly rates, but in my experience most of them have eye popping nightly ones.

Happy in CA

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Re: Moving into a Tiny House or RV questions
« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2014, 03:34:11 PM »
Check out tiny-themovie.com.  It's a documentary about a guy who built his own tiny house in Colorado and moved it to a plot of land in the mountains.  It took him longer than he expected and it was more expensive as well, but it was beautiful when he finished!  There were also many tiny house residents in the movie who were interviewed about their experiences.  Very interesting and highly entertaining, and for you a source of useful information.  Good luck!

ddm5

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Re: Moving into a Tiny House or RV questions
« Reply #4 on: August 16, 2014, 04:20:26 PM »
As I look at rates for RV parks, from a purely financial point of view, without even considering the inconvenience of a RV / tiny house, it seems like a $600/mo room rental would probably beat either option.  I was really trying to get my living expenses as close to zero as possible, but it looks like the floor is going to be about  $600 in Boulder, or a couple hundred less if I stay in my current location, which I am unwilling to do.  Is this tiny house / RV thing really such a good idea?

SingleMomDebt

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Re: Moving into a Tiny House or RV questions
« Reply #5 on: August 16, 2014, 05:05:34 PM »
Maybe this will give you more information: http://www.rowdykittens.com/our-tiny-house/

I think an RV would come in handy if you were in one of those travel RV groups or invested in some land you could park it on. ERE used to live in an RV. maybe you can find more info there, too.

Ynari

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Re: Moving into a Tiny House or RV questions
« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2014, 05:27:36 PM »
Tiny houses aren't as moveable as an RV.  If they're built on a trailer, sure, you CAN move them, but I wouldn't suggest doing it more than a handful of times over the life of the house.  An RV (or travel trailer) will serve you better if you're not sure you how long you'll be where.

Best bet would be to find someone who's willing to rent you their backyard for something like 100 or 200 a month.  Find a used trailer or RV, and park it there. 

But the financial savings of a tiny house mostly come through comparisons to a large, single family home that costs a lot to heat and cool.  It's really more of a lifestyle choice.  As an individual willing to live in a shared space with others, it doesn't sound like a tiny house or RV is really that much benefit to you.

ddm5

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Re: Moving into a Tiny House or RV questions
« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2014, 05:33:12 PM »
Thanks guys for all the links.  After spending pretty much this entire day on the interwebs doing a cost/benefit analysis, it doesn't look like a tiny house really beats renting a room for six hundred bucks.  I would really be interested in the "urban camping" some people do, by purchasing an SUV, tinting the windows, and setting up a living space in the back, using a portable grill for meals and showering at the gym (I go there everyday anyway).  But unfortunately, having a pet makes that impossible.  For those who haven't made that commitment, it seems pretty cool.

Outlier

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Re: Moving into a Tiny House or RV questions
« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2014, 06:58:51 PM »
You could look at getting a camper trailer or an RV. 10k is within the doable range to get an older one that's a good size. In my area there are places called RV parks where you can pay by the season for a spot with electric and sewer hookup.

A lot of people park in a parking lot of a big chain store one night at a time and go to a campground for a night when they need to dump the waste tank. It's a cheap way to camp across the country or buy time while you find a property owner who will work out a deal.

littleone

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Re: Moving into a Tiny House or RV questions
« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2014, 09:28:50 PM »
Check out van dwelling/stealth camping. If you get the right van and set it up correctly, you could have a nice livable and travel-able vehicle/house. It would be a great way to save money on rent or have a place to crash if you are traveling or between places. Especially since it seems you would not be spending too much time laying around at home, this would be a great place to crash at night. Just get a gym membership to have a place to shower everyday, while not paying for water or electric!

ToughMother

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Re: Moving into a Tiny House or RV questions
« Reply #10 on: August 16, 2014, 09:38:21 PM »
Tiny House people know the rules which vary from state to state and within states as well.  They are your go-to source on those questions.  And check here: http://tinyhouselistings.com to find tiny houses and/or land to own or rent.

Louis the Cat

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Re: Moving into a Tiny House or RV questions
« Reply #11 on: August 16, 2014, 09:40:36 PM »
As someone who moved from Indianapolis to the Boulder area 4 years ago, I can say I don't regret it, despite the cost of living increase. If you can bear to live outside of Boulder, that's the most frugal thing you can do. We live in Broomfield, which is about 30 minutes from Boulder, and it allows us to live the Boulder lifestyle for the most part without paying Boulder costs. I don't have thoughts on tiny houses or RVs but you might consider exchanging child care for a room instead of paying rent. I know a few people who have tried this with pretty good results. Basically you get a room and access to a kitchen in exchange for x hours of child care per week. I've actually considered this for myself as the owner of the room.

ddm5

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Re: Moving into a Tiny House or RV questions
« Reply #12 on: August 17, 2014, 12:21:05 PM »
Yeah, I can't believe Boulder exists, it was truly paradise.  I'm also noticing a strange trend that a significant portion of the people I interact with on frugality/entrepreneurship/early retirement/outdoors sites are based there...so while living in a van here in Indy would draw pitchforks and torches, maybe it's more acceptable out there.  I don't care what people think of me, but it would be nice not to kill my dating life in my twenties.

I've been reading alot about stealth van camping the last couple days.  Seems like a lot of guys do it with box trucks / reclaimed Uhauls.  That sounds a bit sketchy to me, so I started looking at the Mercedes / Dodge Sprinters.  You can pick them up for 10-20k and then do a conversion, which runs I don't know how much, but probably a very non-mustachian price.  I don't know how to do it myself, though I suppose with my new free time I might be able to learn. 

I think the ultimate one would be a conversion in a little Ford Transit.  Shower at a 24 hour fitness and use public restrooms.  It would only need a bed, some counterspace, shelving, maybe a sink and a range or microwave.  Tint the windows and park it on public streets wherever you want to be.  That's a pretty awesome fantasy, but with the cat I don't think I can swing it.  There's always the option of re-homing her (there's a huge demand for these exotic cats) but that's truly a major sacrifice and I would have to really think about it.  No going back on that decision.

Outlier

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Re: Moving into a Tiny House or RV questions
« Reply #13 on: August 17, 2014, 08:18:28 PM »
Yeah, I can't believe Boulder exists, it was truly paradise.  I'm also noticing a strange trend that a significant portion of the people I interact with on frugality/entrepreneurship/early retirement/outdoors sites are based there...so while living in a van here in Indy would draw pitchforks and torches, maybe it's more acceptable out there.  I don't care what people think of me, but it would be nice not to kill my dating life in my twenties.

I've been reading alot about stealth van camping the last couple days.  Seems like a lot of guys do it with box trucks / reclaimed Uhauls.  That sounds a bit sketchy to me, so I started looking at the Mercedes / Dodge Sprinters.  You can pick them up for 10-20k and then do a conversion, which runs I don't know how much, but probably a very non-mustachian price.  I don't know how to do it myself, though I suppose with my new free time I might be able to learn. 

I think the ultimate one would be a conversion in a little Ford Transit.  Shower at a 24 hour fitness and use public restrooms.  It would only need a bed, some counterspace, shelving, maybe a sink and a range or microwave.  Tint the windows and park it on public streets wherever you want to be.  That's a pretty awesome fantasy, but with the cat I don't think I can swing it.  There's always the option of re-homing her (there's a huge demand for these exotic cats) but that's truly a major sacrifice and I would have to really think about it.  No going back on that decision.

Yeah it's a bit sketchy until you get in the back of one. Go to a Penske or Uhaul rental place and get in the back of a box truck. Every time I get in one I think, wow I could build an apartment in one of these. It's more space than most people's first apartments have. 

missj

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Re: Moving into a Tiny House or RV questions
« Reply #14 on: August 17, 2014, 08:56:17 PM »
Yeah, I can't believe Boulder exists, it was truly paradise.  I'm also noticing a strange trend that a significant portion of the people I interact with on frugality/entrepreneurship/early retirement/outdoors sites are based there...so while living in a van here in Indy would draw pitchforks and torches, maybe it's more acceptable out there.  I don't care what people think of me, but it would be nice not to kill my dating life in my twenties.

I've been reading alot about stealth van camping the last couple days.  Seems like a lot of guys do it with box trucks / reclaimed Uhauls.  That sounds a bit sketchy to me, so I started looking at the Mercedes / Dodge Sprinters.  You can pick them up for 10-20k and then do a conversion, which runs I don't know how much, but probably a very non-mustachian price.  I don't know how to do it myself, though I suppose with my new free time I might be able to learn. 

I think the ultimate one would be a conversion in a little Ford Transit.  Shower at a 24 hour fitness and use public restrooms.  It would only need a bed, some counterspace, shelving, maybe a sink and a range or microwave.  Tint the windows and park it on public streets wherever you want to be.  That's a pretty awesome fantasy, but with the cat I don't think I can swing it.  There's always the option of re-homing her (there's a huge demand for these exotic cats) but that's truly a major sacrifice and I would have to really think about it.  No going back on that decision.

We have a Dodge Sprinter Van.  We didn't really spend money to "convert" it.  My husband just took out 4 of the back seats and re-arranged the remaining seats.  It used to seat 14 and how it seats 10.  We spent $16,000 to buy a 2006 sprinter van and put very little money (less than $100.  not  a typo. one hundred dollars) into the creature comforts aspect of it.  I can show you pics if you like, but I think our set up is pretty sweet for our purposes.

We do NOT live in it, but we use it as our hotel on wheels for all of our vacations, travelling, weekend excursions.  For instance we live less than 40 mins from the glacier on Mt. Hood and about 2 hours from the Oregon Coast.  Oregon coast campgrounds are quite expensive and very full on weekends, so this works for my weekend surfing excursions.  it still has 10 seats in it for "party van" purposes for instance I am taking a van full of my girlfriends on a 3 day skateboarding trip to the Seattle area in 3 weeks.   With 10 girls, only 2 can really sleep comfortably inside, but there is plenty of cargo room for bringing tents and gear so we are bringing about 4 tents.

Supposedly you can car camp overnight in Wal-mart parking lots.  We have not tried that, usually we drive out to Forest Roads, logging roads, or industrial parks (since they are often empty weekends). 

it is also nice for when we go out drinking.  drink a little too much?  woops, I guess we'll just set up the bed and stay here.  We go visit friends in other towns and just park in their driveway for a night or 2.  not imposing on their lives too much, but still get to have a good long visit and enjoy their town.

We do NOT have a bathroom of any kind, so you have to be a bit adventurous in where you're willing to "go"  I've peed in many industrial parking lots at 4:00am but poops take a little strategizing.

Ours is rated at 24 mpg, but we usually get between 20.5 and 22 MPG.  It is usually loaded down with gear, bikes, people and we're usually tooling around in the mountains.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2014, 09:40:47 PM by missj »

mozar

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Re: Moving into a Tiny House or RV questions
« Reply #15 on: August 17, 2014, 09:25:43 PM »
There is a youtube channel by Kirsten Dirksen. She takes videos of people with tiny home/ alternative lifestyles. One guy lives in a airstream type deal and parks in a free parking lot during the day by the beach in san diego, and parks at a friends at night.
Are there accessory dwellings in boulder? some people build tiny houses in their yards and rent them out.
Also look at tear drop trailers, they're adorable.
But anytime you want to live near the action is, you'll be paying for it.

shadowmoss

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Re: Moving into a Tiny House or RV questions
« Reply #16 on: August 18, 2014, 12:06:51 PM »
Do a search for used class B rv's, basically larger vans that are set up as full time rv's.  I looked yesterday and saw some that looked liveable for your 10K price point.  Older vans, but they are Ford or Dodge vans underneath so most US mechanics can do the work and parts shouldn't be an issue.  They are small enough to be stealth, but do have showers and toilets and kitchens as well as the bed.

SummerLovin

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Re: Moving into a Tiny House or RV questions
« Reply #17 on: August 18, 2014, 01:25:01 PM »
Try a class B RV first. It will offer you the flexibility to check out the area, find some land and construct your home. It will also let you see if you can really live in such a small space.  They are easier to move, and to sell if you decide it's not for you. It also costs a bit of money to move a tiny from one place to another unless you construct one on wheels.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2014, 01:33:49 PM by SummerLovin »

Emerald

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Re: Moving into a Tiny House or RV questions
« Reply #18 on: August 18, 2014, 01:38:07 PM »
Have you considered work camping or volunteering?  A lot of campgrounds/parks/forests offer a free camping spot in exchange for working an number of house a week. 

Work Camper had both paid and volunteer positions nationwide.

http://www.workcamper.com/

Here's a link to USACE volunteer clearinghouse.

http://www.usace.army.mil/Missions/CivilWorks/Recreation/VolunteerClearinghouse.aspx

Willbrewer

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Re: Moving into a Tiny House or RV questions
« Reply #19 on: August 18, 2014, 08:15:55 PM »
Supposedly you can car camp overnight in Wal-mart parking lots.  We have not tried that, usually we drive out to Forest Roads, logging roads, or industrial parks (since they are often empty weekends). 

You can overnight in most Walmart parking lots. It's good practice to go in a buy a few things, then ask at the customer service desk if it's allowed at that particular Walmart. (Some don't allow it because of local regulations)
If allowed, you will be told where to park.

I've overnighted at Walmarts many, many times in my RV travels. Some allow two or three consecutive nights stays. In an RV forum I frequent, I've read that the typical overnighter (RVers) spend quite a bit of money replenishing their supplies, so Walmart encourages the practice.

Many Walmarts have security cruising the lots after hours, so I've always felt safe staying there. Bathrooms and beer are just a short walk away.