Location, Location, Location
Our tiny house planning was going well. We had the plans down on paper and in pixels pretty quickly, but we were living in a 550 ft2 apartment in the middle of Portland, Oregon. We were pretty sure the landlords wouldn’t be too keen on us turning the parking lot into a construction site so we started looking around at options. We searched tinyhouselistings.com in the tiny house parking section to see if by chance someone was advertising an open space in town. The only available listings were looking for completed houses not new builds. We weren’t worried, however, as we figured we had plenty of time. Then life happened.
We didn’t get very far in the search before we learned that our apartment complex had been sold and the owners wasted no time in giving all the residents a 60 day notice to vacate. For those who are not familiar with Portland, the rental market is very competitive and it’s expensive to be centrally located. Even the outskirts can be pricey. We thought maybe we could find something temporary and move back in until the new landlords informed us that the rent would be doubling! So now we were looking for a new place to live as well as a place to build our tiny house. We freaked out for a bit, then we calmed down and looked at different paths.
Staying in Portland was going to be expensive. Even affordable rent was going to be at least $100 per month more than we’d been paying and we would live further away from work. That meant higher gas expense and the need for me to buy a transit pass, which is $100/month, or get a second car. On top of that, the cheapest place we could find to build our tiny house was going to be $150/month. The extra expenses were going to mean working more hours to maintain the level of savings we needed for construction. However, working more hours would leave less time for working on the house and therefore the expense to rent the construction site would need to be paid over a longer period of time. It seemed like a hopeless and frustrating cycle. We began to consider other options.
Neither of us were attached to Portland. It is a fun city, but we didn’t need to live there. Travis has a job that is transferable, and I can easily find work in my field. We started to look at other towns. In the midst of that search, I spoke with my Mom about our situation. She informed me that the renters in her house in central Oregon were moving out right when we needed to be out of our place. She was trying to figure out how to keep the place maintained after they left since she wasn’t going to be moving in for another year or two. Sometimes you just get lucky.
The deal had some tradeoffs. Trav would be able to transfer to a position nearby, though it would be a commute for him. It also meant needing a second car since the property is out of town. To balance the expenses and allow us to continue saving, we agreed on reduced rent coupled with care-taking responsibilities. The property also came with a 1600 sqft shop right next to the house, which would allow us an indoor space to build and store our materials. We didn’t need to discuss long. When the world opens a door for you, sometimes it’s best to just take a deep breath and step through.
That’s how we ended up in central Oregon in mid-July. We had already begun collecting some materials, including a product we are very excited about (which I’ll write about in a later post), so we packed all of it up and moved in one very long day. We arrived in the dark, so it was a nice surprise to wake up and see the amazing view awaiting us. All the Oregon Cascade peaks were crystal clear from the front window. The property is partially in farm production (wheat) and is surrounded by other farms, primarily growing alfalfa hay. It also has fruit trees and several acres not in production. There will be no shortage of work to keep the place maintained.
Perhaps the most ironic thing about this situation is that the house is 3200 sqft. We’ll be living in the largest space we’ve ever occupied in order to build the tiniest space we’ll ever occupy. We’ve gotten our stuff all moved in and mostly unpacked now and it’s quite spartan. We have 550 square feet of belongings to fill 3200 square feet of space. There are cupboards in the kitchen that will just remain empty. Even with some of the belongings my Mom brought up recently, the house looks very minimalist, and we’re okay with that.
We’ve spent the last few weeks busily getting settled in, finding work, and most recently finding a car. I found a job quickly, more quickly than I imagined, which left us in a rush to find a vehicle. That has been a saga, but fortunately it’s over. Now we can focus on gathering more materials and getting our trailer!