Bill Dickinson via Flickr Creative Commons
Bill Dickinson via Flickr Creative Commons

The ongoing fascination with tiny homes hasn't lost momentum, and more people might decide to build tiny in the not-too-distant future. Ordinances that prevent accessory dwelling, and a lack of builders focusing on small living spaces are two significant barriers to growing our tiny house nation, but more and more places are starting to welcome home owners who want to build under 600 square-feet.

Where are the best places to go tiny? To identify states that don't micro-manage miniature home building, we studied resources, ordinances, and builders in all 50 states. Based on an unweighted system awarding points for opportunities to easily live tiny, the top five states where going tiny is a bit easier than the rest are California, Oregon, Texas, North Carolina and Florida.

Our Methodology: 

To determine our ranking, we examined each state for key indications that it would be a welcome place to build or live in a tiny house (meaning homes under 600 square-feet or Accessory Dwelling Units). We assigned points (unweighted) to each state based on six categories that would make it a bit easier to build and/or live in a tiny house in that state, and totaled them to identify the top states.

Point Categories include:

  • permitting or zoning opportunities for RVs, ADUs, Mobile Homes, or other homes without a minimum square-footage or a minimum below 600 square-feet
  • prevalence of codes, ordinances or laws that make it a bit easier to find nearby places to live in a tiny house
  • the availability of resources (such as a government website or guide) outlining options for living in a tiny house within that state
  • the number of tiny house-specific communities located in that state (one point for each)
  • the number of towns in the state specifically advertising online that they welcome tiny homes (one point each) 
  • the number of large-scale RV parks that allow tiny homes without being specific to any particular kind of mobile home or tiny house for an extended period of time
  • how many builders in the state focus on tiny homes or Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)
  • how many architects advertise a focus on tiny house design  

Points were allocated and added up based on readily available information from the web. This means that, while the top five states are definitely among the best places for the tiny life, it’s entirely possible that information regarding specific ordinances or designers focusing on tiny homes were not easily accessible. The point system is used to create the most comprehensive approach to valuing the ease of living tiny within a state, but it was unfair to weight each point without far more consideration, therefore a point in each category is worth the same.

The top state, California, has a bounty of resources and an obvious focus on the tiny house trend. A large amount of builders advertise that they build fully livable, stationary small homes. Although Texas and Florida also made the top five based on this system, research showed that there are still many places in both states that have made it illegal or impossible to live in an ADU or below a larger square footage.

States with smaller populations such as Alaska, Rhode Island, and Delaware yielded zero points after extensive searching, indicating that while they might not be the most difficult places to build or live tiny, there is simply not a lot of readily available information, making jump-starting the process for someone considering living tiny a lot harder.

Every day, more information for people considering the tiny life is made available. The American Tiny House Association, Tiny House Listings, and Tiny House Community offer a wealth of resources to support families new to, or interested in tiny living. Support of the tiny home movement ranges from benefits of their affordability, to limited environmental impact, and it may only be a matter of time before tiny house living grows bigger than the McMansion market.