By their very nature, tiny houses on wheels are mobile. This has probably stemmed from the zoning laws and building codes tiny house people have been trying to circumvent. Also, some folks just want to own a home, but aren’t sure if they want to stay in the same area. Like a turtle’s shell, you can take your home with you. This feature of these cute little homes, make it difficult to realize a membership based tiny house community, where villagers invest heavily in the community. See: Noodle Soup Meiosis – Propagating Tiny House Communities.
Folks come and go here in Portland. We came about two years ago from Pennsylvania, with no intentions of buying property. We’ve been renting places for years because we don’t like debt, and appreciate the freedom of rentals: you can leave when you like, without any ties. Well, we’re sick of renting, because every place feels temporary and never like home. This is why we bought the Squatch. We own it. We can customize it to our needs. If we want to move (because who really knows what they want to do in this life?), we’ll just pull the wheel chocks and go! Also see: A Comprehensive Collection
It’s time for some permanence, a community of people we want to live with. After all, that’s why we moved to Portland in the first place: to enjoy the company of others who share our interests. A communally owned village is a nice thought, but some people may not want to make that kind of investment if they think there’s a reasonable chance they’ll be moving again in the near future. Some folks just want to rent. I want to make room for that. The current group of Noodle Soupers are transplants, and have said they might want to travel. That is in fact our plan someday too.
Taking The Plunge
For now though, I want to create something along the lines of a village of tiny houses. One person has showed interest in buying a property and renting each of us space. She intends on living in the backyard too, so the arrangement would be good for everyone without the possible tension between the someone living in the big house and everyone else. See: Noodle Soup Village – Lite. If this person decided to travel, someone (perhaps myself) could manage the property while they were away. There’s something about this that doesn’t sit well with me. It would still be renting. I mean, it would be the time of my life, building and improving my home, cooperating with others to build and improve their’s, but it’s still renting. The problem isn’t “throwing money away” as opposed to building equity; it’s the fact that it would still feel temporary, like it’s someone else’s (which it would be).
So, I might be interested in purchasing a property with some other people, it’s hard to say yet. But, the question I wanted to address was: How do you create a village of renters, and still foster the cooperation and respect desired in a village of more permanent residents. In a membership type arrangement, villagers might have to sell their share of the community to another potential tiny house dweller, if someone decides to move out. Of course, this assumes that everyone would want to make that kind of investment in the first place. Some folks just want to rent, so they can get out without any of the difficulty of selling something first.
I don’t generally like the concept of rental properties as a source of income. I have little respect for this. People that make all their money by collecting rent from those of whom cannot or will not buy a home, trouble me for the simple reason that they do little to benefit society, and instead, have others work for them. Landlords might be the nicest people, but I’m still morally opposed to the behavior.
This being said, I am not entirely opposed to renting a few tiny house spaces. Ideally, if I were the only one on the mortgage, renters would pay a reasonable amount for the space and facilities that would go towards paying off the mortgage, taxes, utilities, improvements, maintenance, and so on. I too would contribute an equal share, if not more, until the property were payed off. The traditional behavior at this point, would be to continue collecting rent at the accepted rate, and invest it into another property, or pay myself an income. After all, the property is payed for. I’m sitting on a nice investment that could be turned into more investments. Well, that’s bullshit. Who am I to collect other people’s hard earned money for my own use? Doesn’t seem moral to me. So, what follows, some people would call crazy or stupid. Personally, I could care less.
Tiny House, Tiny Rent
Without a mortgage, rental payments could be reduced, leaving utilities, upkeep, etcetera. I’m talking about cheap living in the city. Villagers may come and go, bringing in fresh faces and fresh ideas. Living costs may be low enough for a portion of the rent to go towards a nest egg to be used for community projects, investing in starting another property, or granting small loans to individuals for building their tiny house. One problem some people have with tiny house dreams, is finding a place to build it. A bedroom or two in the big house could be used for their living quarters while they build their house in the back yard.
Here’s what some people would say is the real stupid part: Once the community were well established, and the dangers of an implosion become remote, sign over the deed to a legal entity like a cooperative, that would be managed by the community members. All of the responsibilities relating to property management would have to be delegated amongst villagers. I would have no more say in the direction of the community than any other. If I were to retain ownership of the property, even if I’m a super nice guy with kindness and positivity come out the whazoo, any hopes of democratic communal living are undermined by the fact that one person still has the legal authority to override the majority’s wishes.
Am I going to do any of this? Who knows?! But, it’s an interesting thought experiment, and though it’s one of many possible living arrangements, this is one I find to be morally reasonable.