While you might be itching to try tiny living, you might not be ready to say goodbye to your stuff just yet. But a trip to the Pacific Northwest might be just what you need. In the past decade, a wave of new policies and laws in Portland, Oregon, has created a micro housing boom, bringing with it a glut of options for tourists trying to live the small life.
Want to go small (but not super tiny?) Rent an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) for a weekend. These freestanding homes (with their own foundation) are sized between 400 and 800 square feet and are usually rented out via Airbnb. In 2010, the city of Portland made ADUs more affordable to build by waiving their municipal construction fees. Since then, roughly 600 of these have popped up around the city, estimates Kol Peterson, an ADU design consultant and author of “Backdoor Revolution: The Definitive Guide to ADU Development.” But not all in Portland are necessarily new. Until recently, ADUs were mostly used as cottages on the same properties as main houses, explains Walt Quade, a Portland-based ADU design consultant and owner of Small Home Oregon. Love the pint-sized lifestyle? These granny flats are legal to live in as your primary residence.
400 square feet not small enough for ya? Go even mini-er and stay in a tiny house resort. These communities feature tiny homes on wheels, homes that are similar to RVs and are generally 200 square feet or smaller. Since they need to be hooked up to utility systems, it’s illegal to live full-time in them. However, the city recently stopped enforcing this law. Now, if a tiny home on wheels is parked in a driveway and someone happens to be living in it, officials will essentially turn a blind eye, Quade says. Because of this, you can stay in one of the many communities—short-term, of course—that have popped up around the city.
Inspired by his own 800-square-foot home with his wife, Peterson decided to offer scaled-down, temporary homes to those who were interested in trying out micro-living. In 2013, he opened the Caravan Tiny House Hotel in 2013. The hotel offers six tiny houses on wheels that range in size from 100 to 170 square feet and can sleep up to four people. Constructed by local builders, each pint-sized habitat is unique, from the northwest-inspired Pacifica to the repurposed materials-built Skyline. Each home is equipped with a small heating and cooling system and are the first units in the country that are legally hooked up to a municipal utility system.
Want to escape the city? Head an hour outside to Hood Tiny House Village in Welches, Oregon. The village features several tiny houses on wheels designed by Tumbleweed, a leading national developer. Guests can stay in one of five houses: Atticus, Lincoln, Zoe, Savannah, and Scarlett. Each has its own style, from rustic and modern, to farmhouse-inspired, and none is bigger than 300 square feet.
Vacation and decide you want to go full-on tiny forever? Though tiny homes on wheels aren’t legal right now, they might soon be: The state of Oregon is working to establish building codes for tiny homes on wheels so they’ll have windows, insulation and other regulated features. Soon, they’ll be just as safe to live in as a regular house. Who knows — Portland may one day even bring about the first minature home suburb!