Anyone seriously considering living large in a tiny house might find it a little difficult to know how to get started, especially when they’re searching in an area as vast as Texas.
As home to 8.4% of the entire US population, it is literally ground zero for the tiny house movement.
Here are a few places to help you get started in your search.
Texas Tiny House Projects
While Texas’ motto has historically leaned towards “going big,” the Lone Star State is changing its trend by investing in and supporting tiny house communities!
These tiny house communities give owners a chance to get out from under years of heavy mortgages and utility bills. To live life a little more simple! This is the answer to many people’s prayers, which also makes these areas “ground-zero” for the Texan tiny house movement!
If you’re looking to join a community and share amenities with other tiny house owners, a tiny house project is probably the best place to start.
While this list is not exhaustive, a visit to any one of these should be just enough to get you started:
1) Lake Dallas
While the tiny house movement is gaining its footing all across the nation, what is considered to be the very first community of these small domiciles actually started in a small village in Dallas. Located in the suburbs just 30 miles north of downtown Dallas, you’ll find the city’s very first tiny house project in a community called Lake Dallas.
This one-acre project was approved in the fall of 2017 where almost immediately a waiting list had to be formed! Each home on the property would range in size from 800 to 900 sq. ft. with parking for each one would encompass the community’s perimeter.
Once completed, the center of the property will be a shared green space to make the whole community even more cohesive and aesthetically appealing.
The Lake Dallas Project is the first in the nation for portable tiny houses or tiny houses on wheels (THOW). But don’t get it confused with an RV park. This is a completely new kind of community. I has even received special zoning consideration as a “tiny house park” designed for small but permanent dwellings.
Get back into nature while staying close to home with this tiny house village of Lake Dallas!
The small city of Spur, Texas started a major tiny house movement when in July of 214, it took on the self-proclaimed name as the nation’s “first tiny-home-friendly town.”
They openly welcomed tiny homeowners to settle in their town to take advantage of big-city amenities, while living a minimalist lifestyle. The project has been wildly successful in attracting people of every background and age group who crave a self-sufficient and more simplistic lifestyle!
This classic, Western Texas city needed the tiny house movement just as much as the tiny house owners needed it. The town had suffered a major population drain as people moved away in favor of the larger cities. Because of this new movement, more and more people are flocking to Spur in order to try it out for themselves. All in all, the project is a win-win!
Tiny homeowners could avail themselves of a well-defined infrastructure that includes power, paved roads, sewage systems, and top-of-the-line internet already in place! Also, the city was able to repopulate hundreds of vacant lots and abandoned buildings. They were also able to house a new influx of taxpayers whose money could keep the city alive for many years into the foreseeable future.
They’re looking ahead in Spur, and we should too!
Surprisingly, the bustling city of Austin, Texas is also a great place to find tiny home projects!
Several communities in and around the city are meeting the growing demand for more affordable housing. For example, the Constellation ATX Project on Old Manchaca Road in South Austin is planned to have over 80 tiny home lots spread out over a little more than six acres.
The community will have some of the best amenities a new homeowner can want including gated access, swimming pool, BBQ area, community gathering areas, rooftop decks, laundry, car share, clubhouse, and more!
4) Pecan Meadow Village
Another great Texas tiny house project is located near downtown Kyle. The Pecan Meadow Village is expected to have four hundred of these micro homes each one ranging in size between 200 and 400 sq. ft.
Developed by the Tiny Dwelling Company, the new community will be equipped with a common area for residents that includes a pool, clubhouse, and all of the same amenities one would expect from any larger complex. There are even plans for a hike-and-bike trail and a dog park.
5) Village Farm
Wanna go green?
Located in East Austin close to Austin’s intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd and Decker Lane is another new project that is just springing to life. The new community promises a simple life that coins the term “agrihood” to refer to the self-sustaining life it will offer.
The eco-friendly homes will provide solar energy, made from recycled building materials, and rainwater harvesting. Buyers will have to choose between six different models each with 399 square feet of livable space.
6) Manor Tiny Wildlife Resort
For those people who are looking at finding a place to park their already built tiny homes for the short term, there is a 75.5-acre project just for you! Plans to develop 16 lots are underway for both short or long-term rentals starting at prices as low as $350 – $500 month.
Renters of Manor Tiny Wildlife Resort will have access to a host of amenities including two parking spaces, outdoor storage shed, electrical and sewage hookups and a small fenced-in area perfect for housing pets and/or gardening.
The community plans to create a nice cohesive society with beautiful walking trails, community barbecues, laundry facilities, kennels, and outdoor movies to enjoy!
Tiny House Tours
If you’re not sure if tiny house living is the right choice for you, then you might want to test the water first by taking a tour!
Tiny house tours can be found in practically every state in the nation if you want a live walk-through before you buy. If there are none to be found in your immediate area (some locales are not tiny-house-friendly) you can also start with a video tour of some of these great homes!
You will find that tiny houses, like regular houses, come in a wide variety of styles and structures. You have your choice of cabins, cottages, and plenty of other styles to choose from.
For a physical walkthrough, here are some locations that are perfect for giving you the real-life feeling of tiny home living:
1) Vintage Grace Model Homes
Located just east of Dallas the Vintage Grace community sits on 25 acres of wooded property. Designed as an Active Adult Community, you can schedule a tour of any homes that might be for sale by visiting their website or calling (214) 460-1066.
Homesites are for leasing only, so not a tour for those who are wishing to make an outright purchase.
2) Community First! Village
Located in Austin, Community First is a 51-acre master-planned village offering affordable housing for those who are either homeless or in dire financial straits.
Phase 1 of the community covers 27 acres and is expected to house more than 200 RV/Park homes and Micro-homes.
The village will include a prayer garden, health resource center, walking trails, community cinema, laundry rooms, and outdoor kitchens.
3) Tumbleweed Tours
Located in Colorado Springs, with virtual tours online. You can have a virtual walkthrough of any of their models and view any of their highlighted features.
They will give you a pretty good idea of what you can expect to find in a Tumbleweed tiny home.
4) Viator Tours
If you want the whole package, then Viator Tours is where you need to go. They offer self-guided tours that put you right in the heart of the Tiny House Movement. You will walk through and see every detail of a 400 sq.ft. tiny home!
You can get all your questions answered, and they even have an on-site tour guide that can recommend land options if you choose to buy!
How Much do Tiny Houses in Texas Cost?
There are many reasons to go tiny, but probably one that is most commonly considered is the cost.
With everything around us increasingly rising in cost, finding a home that will help cut those expenses often lands right at the top of the list. However, some people are quite surprised when they see a tiny house price tag. While you can find one of these pint-sized abodes for just a few thousand dollars, there are also many with prices that can reach into the hundreds of thousands – depending on their location, building materials and popularity.
So, rather than thinking about how much you can pay for a tiny house, you should first think about what you actually need in one.
Bells, Whistles and Buying a Tiny Home:
While there are many other factors that go into the total cost, the average seems to be just around $60,000.
For that $60,000 price, you can expect to get home around 200 sq. ft with lots of Energy Star appliances and a loft bedroom complete with built-in furniture. It won’t have all the latest up to date amenities, but it will certainly be livable!
If that’s too much for your budget, you can easily find a basic model, which can run you between $20,000 – $25,000. This would be around 150 sq. ft. and will have all the essentials for a comfortable home and year-round living. However, this will be bare-bones, and not include extras or many amenities.
At the other end of the spectrum, you can also find yourself a luxury tiny home that can cost as much as $150,000 or more. For that, you’ll get around 400 sq. ft. but it will come with all the bells and whistles – everything you could possibly want is in these little homes!
Should You Build Your Own?
Another way to cut costs is by building your own tiny house. This can cut a considerable amount of the expense away from the total cost. If you have some level of skills, you can build it yourself for as little as $12,000 for a basic model! Then you can add on the extra features one at a time until you get the home of your dreams!
You’ll also need to think of extra expenses, such as special insurance to protect your investment and the cost of parking a THOW (tiny house on wheels). For that, make sure to factor in at least $500/month on parking if you don’t already own your own lot that is approved for tiny house living.
It is possible to build for even less than the prices above, but you’d have to be a pretty savvy shopper using mostly recycled materials.
For a more detailed list, are a few examples of average DIY expenses in 2016:
- Trailer: $4,500 – $9,000
- Lumber: $3,000 – $10,000
- Doors and Windows: $1,000 – $3,000
- Roofing: $500 – $1,000
- Insulation: $500 – $2,000
- Siding: $1,500 – $3,000
- Electrical – $1,500 – $3,000
- Water Heater: $500 – $1,000
- Heater (electric or propane): $200 – $800
- Tile: $300 – $1,000
- Toilet (composting): $800 – $1,500
- Plumbing: $600 – $2,000
- Light fixtures: $200 – $800
- Cabinetry: $1,500 – $5,000
- Countertop: $300 – $2,000
- Appliances: $1,000 – $3,000
- Paneling $500 – $2,000
- Flooring: $300 – $2,000
- Nuts, bolts, fasteners: $500
- Paint: $50 – $200
- Furniture: $500 – $2,000
As you can see, there is a wide range of factors that can affect the overall price. However, if you decide first what you need, you can always plan, plan, plan for your buget!
Can I Rent Tiny Houses in Texas?
Yes, there are several ways you can rent a tiny house. In fact, it’s a good idea to rent one out first to see if you can live a minimalistic lifestyle. As the movement gains more traction, tiny houses are actually showing up all over the world, and especially in Texas where the atmosphere is quite favorable for them.
There are some concerns when it comes to renting a tiny home, though. While most traditional homes are built by professional contractors, a tiny home may be the result of a DIY project by the owner.
So, it is important to make sure that the home you’re renting is actually up to code in every way. It wouldn’t pay to save money on a tiny home only to learn that your family is put at risk for substandard work.
Other than that, there are some additional expenses associated with long-term tiny home rentals. You may find that the rentals are not as cheap as you might expect. First, if the homeowner has taken out a mortgage, it is difficult to get financing for properties under $50,000. That means that the additional costs will be passed on to you, the renter.
Still, you can likely find some long-term tiny houses for rent for as little as $120/month. Airbnb rentals could easily run you $140/night, but they are the best option for testing out a tiny home living before making a full commitment.
The decision to buy or to rent comes down to what you really need. If this is your first venture into tiny house territory, I recommend renting first to see if you can make the adjustment to this new lifestyle. It may cost you more upfront, but once you do, you’ll know for sure if your family is ready to go all the way on a tiny house movement.
What are the Rules for Tiny Houses in Texas?
There are a few things you should know about the rules and regulations.
It would be easy to say that there is only one set of guidelines to follow when it comes to building these tiny houses, but nothing in life is that easy. In reality, the regulations change depending on exactly where you plan to build.
For example, in Austin, permits are not required for homes that are 200 square feet or less. The only regulation you need to meet would be for plumbing.
In the city of Spur, however, if the tiny home will have wood or metal framing, flush toilets with city hook-up, or will use public utilities like electricity and water, you are welcome to build with few restrictions. In fact, the only really major requirement for tiny homes is that if it is a THOW, it must be tied down and the wheels removed.
In rural areas, the rules for building a tiny home are even less. Still, no matter what you read on the internet about regulations, it is always smart to apply for your building permit in person so that you can be sure that your construction plans will meet with the zoning requirements for that area.
Since there are so many variables to be considered in Texas, the regulations required or waived in one area may not apply equally to other areas.
Keep in mind that tiny houses are far from the norm. While there is a major movement growing there are still some gray areas when it comes to legalities. So, it can be very easy to get confused on the matter.
Recreational VS Permanent THOW (tiny house on wheels)
In some areas, THOWs are considered recreational so the law is not as stringent when it comes to building. However, you will have difficulty getting it approved as a residence.
Tiny homes built on a foundation are usually required to meet the same standards as a residential home, which could make it difficult to get approval for some sizes.
Find out the zoning or planning community for the location you plan to settle in to find out the local ordinances. If you’re planning on building in a rural area you will have fewer regulations to comply with, but if you’re going to be within county or city limits, new legislation is constantly being adopted. El Paso, for example, is now approving tiny homes only in locations where mobile homes or recreational vehicles are allowed.
The basic function of your home will have to be considered when putting wheels on your tiny home.
At the very least, always check building codes for plumbing, stairs, ceiling height, emergency exits, and windows. These are usually the areas where construction gets held up. Even if there are no rules regarding these areas at the time, consider meeting the highest standards for any area that involves eating, sleeping, and washing of primary importance. It is better to go above and beyond rather than to go against the system and end up with complications.
Whether you’re from Texas or not, the idea of living and traveling in this massive state with its 268,820 square miles of vast topography is truly larger than life.
Even though this movement is literally sweeping the nation today, it is Texas that has truly embraced this new style of living. So, anyone seriously considering living large in a tiny house might really want to take the time to explore the many possibilities. But if you’re new to tiny houses, it might be a little difficult to know where or how to get started. Here are a few suggestions.
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Maria is the founder of GoDownsize. While studying architecture in Denmark she became fascinated with designing living spaces for boats, tiny houses, RVs, and other small spaces.
She mainly writes about space optimization, interior design, and downsizing. She’s also in charge of our YouTube channel. Read more about Maria here.