Tiny home community with leased land (the classic)

Photo: Big Calm

This is the tiny home community that most people imagine when they first start their search. While common in warmer places such as the Southern United States, these communities are actually very rare in Canada.

We define the “classic” tiny home community by three measures:

  • you can bring your own home (most probably on wheels)
  • you lease the pad for your home
  • there is some shared community element – for example, a shared garden or greenhouse, shared indoor facilities, some community decision-making

Most places that call themselves “tiny home communities” in Canada don’t meet all three of these requirements, and that’s ok. We need housing in all forms and different things work for different people.

However, we do want to draw your attention to a few examples where this classic tiny home community is working, for real, in Canada, yes, we’re serious! Take a look at Big Calm in BC – they even offer a profit-sharing investment model whereby you can participate in the success of the community as it grows. If you’re looking for an Ontario example, check the progress of Robin and Ted.

Pros: Maximum flexibility for the resident – you can choose the home of your dreams, and you can decide it’s not for you and move your home elsewhere. Bringing like-minded residents together in an eco-minded community of tiny homes can be amazing.

Cons: For the property owner, it’s hard to hit a balance of all the infrastructure and services expected by residents at a rental price point that will still be seen by them as affordable living. Buying land is not cheap, either. Sustaining this type of community may require additional sources of income, for example from an AirBNB rental on the property or selling produce from the community farm. However, managing the property, the people, and the business may prove too much.

Tiny home community on unorganized land

Photo: Rob The Tireman

As a variation on the classic, we’ve seen several examples of this type of community popping up in Ontario, where an “unorganized municipality” means an unincorporated municipality where there is no local government. It’s not hard to understand why – municipal bylaws in Ontario and elsewhere often stand in the way of placing even one tiny home on a property – never mind a group of them!

So, we see people buying a lot of unorganized land which does not require building permits. Then, adding the infrastructure required for a tiny home community and renting out spots for tiny homes one by one. For example, Rob the Tireman and Acadia.

Pros: The “do whatever you want” format of this community allows you to truly put your vision into practice. Those who live in remote areas like these often speak of their renewed connection with nature and all the wildlife they get to observe.
Cons: Unorganized townships are often very remote. You will need an off-grid water plan for sure, and probably also off-grid power. Putting in any infrastructure, such as roads/driveways into the property, septic fields, etc. will cost more due to the remote location. Garbage disposal may be difficult. We’ve also seen pushback from local municipalities against such communities if they start to notice ecological and social impacts on their township from the added nearby population that is seen as “taking advantage” of their local way of life.

Photo: bewaresafeisland.ca

Tiny home community with owned land, condo-style

This is a type of community that gets brought up a lot in the tiny home industry as a potential way forward.

The idea is to replace the single property owner of the classic community above with a group of owners. Essentially, a group of people buying the piece of land and each holding partial ownership of it. They share the property maintenance costs equally and are able to sell their share to a new owner when they move out.

Pros: Being able to share the ownership and initial cash outlay to buy the land makes this type of community a lot more manageable to start. Shared ownership also increases the responsibility residents feel for the community as a whole, making this model more egalitarian than a for-profit community that is owned by a landlord.

Cons: Requires each resident to have more cash to join the community. We have yet to see banks recognize a structure like this as something mortgage-able, so you should be prepared to pay for your lot in cash – and also prepared to pay property taxes. Finding the required number of interested residents with cash in hand can be difficult at the start of the community. It can also be very tricky to get the paperwork right – and tricky to understand the paperwork you are presented with as a resident.

Small home subdivision

This may look like a tiny home community – but, in our definition, isn’t. When you are presented by the developer with a home model or models to choose from, you have to buy the land and the home, and there are no shared services apart from a soccer field and a park bench, what you’re really looking at is a subdivision – just with smaller homes.

Pros: It may be just what you’ve been looking for.

Cons: It’s not a tiny home community.

Year-round RV park

Photo: Lorraine

Surprisingly to some, all-season campgrounds and RV parks these places are finding new life in the tiny home industry, since they already have all of the infrastructure (hookups, shower and laundry facilities, septic, power) needed for a tiny home community.

We are seeing tiny homes pop up in many parks across Canada. The only difference between this and a tiny home community seems to be that you will also find some RVs there. Check out this story of a woman who got a quick parking spot in an RV park in Alberta and is loving it.

Pros: It’s quick and easy to rent a pad in one of these established businesses. You may find a sense of community among the year-round residents and you may be quite close to the city as well. The degree of “roughing it” is much lower than some of the other options.

Cons: Depending on the park, it may not look like what you’d imagined a tiny home community to be. Also, depending on the park, you may get tired of the seasonal turnover of vacationers and temporary workers.

Municipal-sponsored affordable housing community

When we hear that a municipality in Canada has approved a tiny home community, it is typically one of these – a community created for a specific vulnerable population and run by a not-for-profit.

For the most part, these communities are built in the same way that any affordable housing complex is built across the country. The homes are pre-designed and put up by a developer hired by the municipality and not-for-profit. Some municipal budget is typically allocated to the project and land may also be donated.

These projects are named “tiny home communities” when they include some of the elements of tiny living – for example, the size and style of the residences and the shared facilities and resources. For examples, take a look at Project Tiny Hope in Ontario and 12 Neighbours in New Brunswick.

Pros: Creating more housing and community living for people who need it most.

Cons: In order to get into one of these communities, you need to apply, meet the requirements, and be selected. They’re not accessible to everyone and no, you can’t bring your own home.

Organic mini-community

Photo: Junction Village

This is something interesting that we just wanted to put out there, inspired by Junction Village in Ontario. It’s not officially a tiny home community, but it does have a lot of the spirit of tiny living. Basically, with the current trend towards urban densification, it may be possible to “assemble” a tiny home community of sorts by building secondary dwelling units into existing properties.

For example, if you and your neighbours decided to convert your conventional houses into duplexes, take down the fences between your homes, and each build a tiny home pad in the backyard, you will find yourself with triple the number of residences in the same area – all completely legal and with all the required permits.

Pros: Building a tiny home community inside the city is the dream!

Cons: You need really like-minded neighbours… and to already own property.



Comments are closed.