Today, I’m starting a 4 or 5 week series on my moving experience. I’ll be honest, while I was incredibly excited about moving back to Colorado (other than being further away from my family), it was a little overwhelming to figure everything out with a tiny house. There were a lot of logistical challenges that a tiny house created, that I hadn’t experienced before this move. This blog post is specifically about finding parking for my tiny house and the best advice I can give you before you move.
Once I was notified that I had a new assignment, I started thinking about where to park my tiny house. Okay in all honesty I briefly considered moving back into my old house or into a small apartment, not because I wanted more space, but because I am really not looking forward to Colorado winters without a garage! I lived in Wyoming for two years without a garage, and I distinctly remember hating scraping snow and ice off my windows in the morning. So I briefly looked at non-tiny house living options.
I didn’t really have a desire to go back to 1,800 square feet, so my house in Colorado wasn’t overly appealing, but it was the most inexpensive option. However, I have a full-time tenant right now, who pays enough rent to cover my mortgage and my tiny house mortgage. This made it pretty easy to rule out my house as a good housing option for me and Rocket right now. I did do some “apartment hunting” though to see if that was an affordable and viable option.
What I found is that apartments in Colorado were relatively expensive in the $1100-$1400 range (even for one bedroom places). I also couldn’t come up with a good plan for what to do with my tiny house if I moved into an apartment. I briefly thought about putting it on a piece of land somewhere and renting it out on Airbnb, but I could never really figure out how to make that work easily. An apartment cost more than a tiny house and RV parking, so the only real advantage was a garage (which trust me will be something I’ll think about in another month or two!) What I ultimately decided was that it made a lot more sense to stay in my tiny house and figure out where to park it.
For any of you who know you may be relocating, consider the following advice before making a move!
1. Identify what type of parking situation you want when you move
As most of you know, I was living in an RV park in Georgia, which was a great fit for my first two years. The move gave me an opportunity to reevaluate my parking situation. I looked briefly at buying a piece of property in Colorado where I could park my house and be “self-sufficient.” However, there were two problems with this option once I started researching it. The first one was that I didn’t really want to buy a piece of property yet. It’s not that I wouldn’t enjoy owning my own land in Colorado at some point, in reality, that is my long-term plan, but buying a piece of property right now didn’t fit into my current financial plan (which is focused on debt reduction and emergency fund savings). The second challenge with buying land, is one you are probably all familiar with, and that is that it is still incredibly tough to find land where it is legal to park a tiny house full-time. With those two things in mind, I took my own property plan off the table.
Once I ruled out buying land, I briefly considered trying to find land where I could park that was owned by someone else. But honestly, I’m just not sure I would have been comfortable parking on stranger’s land. I know there are a lot of people who have done that successfully, but it didn’t seem like a good fit for me, which of course led me right back to the idea of staying at an RV park again.
The biggest advice I have for those who are moving is decide where you are going to park before you move. I already had a spot reserved at my new RV park before I ever left Georgia. It meant I could go “door to door” with my transport company, which simplified the logistics of actually moving. I’ll be sharing my transport experience next time, but the bottom line is knowing where I was going, made the moving process much easier.
2. Do your homework on your location!
Regardless of where you decide you want to park, make sure you do your homework. I can’t stress this enough. Being prepared with a list of must haves (for me: legal, secure, & safe), and nice to haves (for me: affordable, access to outdoor spaces, wifi and a pool), it will help you narrow down your options. You will notice that out of my nice to haves I gave up a little bit in the “affordable” category to get the things that were on my “must have list.” I’m going to tell you about my experience RV park hunting, but the same ideas apply whether you are looking for an RV park, a piece of property, or any other parking situation.
RV park hunting was more challenging in Colorado than it had been in Georgia. In Georgia, the military base where I was stationed had a park where I was allowed to part for an extremely reasonable rate (less than $300/month including utilities). Unfortunately, the only base in the Colorado Springs area with an RV park is the Air Force Academy, and they only allowed parking for 6 months out of the year. The logistical challenge of moving every six months made me quickly rule out that option.
Before I selected my RV park, I had a friend who lived in the local area visit a couple of parks and take pictures. After I had narrowed my search down, I contacted each of the three parks to see if they would allow full-time parking, what their fees were and what amenities they offered. What I found is that they sort of fell into two categories in Colorado Springs. Affordable and sketchy or expensive and safe.
The affordable options usually ranged in the $450-$550 a month range. However, most of these parks were in “less desirable” areas and often had RVs that were fairly run down and neighbors that wouldn’t have been the best fit. I even visited one park that was behind an old gas station (complete with bars on the windows) that prided themselves on the marijuana and lottery tickets they sold, neither of which appealed to me in the least! The other options were higher end parks, but came with a price tag in the $650-$800 range. As most of you can probably guess, I chose the expensive and safe option.
Had I not had my “must have” list and my nice to have list it would have been easy to select a park for the wrong reasons. For instance, if budget had been my primary focus I might have picked the park out by the highway. Instead, I was able to look at my list and pick a park that met all of my must haves and a lot of my “nice to haves.” I wanted to live in an area where I had access to lots of outdoor spaces (did I mention I’m out the back gate of Garden of the Gods???), but that also felt safe. The park I picked not only has gates that lock at night, but they also have security patrols that make periodic rounds. It also has free wifi, two pools, great laundry facilities, a small dog park and great access to a number of outdoor spaces. I picked it because it was in a good location and felt safe.
3. Find a place that’s fits your budget and feels like home
It is important to pick a location that fits your lifestyle and your budget! As I mentioned, I chose to pay a little more for location and security. I am currently in a park that is around $700/month (the parking space and utilities). Obviously, this is at the high end for rent. However, even with that rent and my tiny house mortgage I’m still saving around $200-300 a month over what I would have spent at an apartment. Since the budget wasn’t my driving factor, I picked a park that fit my lifestyle and my list of things that were important to me.
But it’s also important to pick a place that feels like home. The park I picked actually already has three other tiny houses parked there! After having been an oddity in Georgia, which made my house quite a tourist destination, I was ready to blend in. The fact that this park already had three tiny houses on the premises sealed the deal for me. And honestly, they were excited about adding another one to their “tiny house row,” (which still has space for two more homes in case any of you want to join me in Colorado!). There were a few challenges with hooking up in this park, which I’ll get to later, but overall I’m very happy with my choice. Now I just have to wait for winter to see how it goes!
Moving is stressful, but deciding where you want to park (check out my Tiny House Parking post) makes the moving process a lot easier!