Tiny Houses off the beaten path (sort of)

11 Replies

I have a question for those familiar with the vacation rental market.  We are 30 minutes from downtown Houston, but in a rural area.  I should say that it's 30 minutes with no traffic - 45+ minutes at rush hour.

We are considering putting 2-3 tiny houses on our 35 acre property.  We wonder if tiny houses might have a "cool factor" that cabins wouldn't have.  Is there a market for those who just want to get away from the city for a day or two?  People coming to Houston's medical center for treatment could also be a source of potential renters.  There is nothing fun to do at our place, except that it is a Christmas tree farm, so people might like going for walks in the tree field.  Tiny house at a Christmas tree farm might be attention-getting in any case. 

Zoning is no problem for us, nor are building code restrictions, with the exception of putting in a septic tank.  That part can be a headache, but it's not insurmountable.

Do you think we'd have a market for that type of property since we are not located in a vacation destination?  

@Leigh Ann Smith - what would the overall cost be to start out with one? Maybe scale from there? I would imagine that most people don't want to "get away" to a tiny home. Im thinking of doing something similar, but will be building 1,200 sq ft homes SFR

@Leigh Ann Smith  From all the buzz about tiny homes- I imagine there are folks who are curious- but not enough to take the plunge themselves. If there is a market for people buying them- why not for rent or staying short term?! I was thinking of doing something similar when I purchase my "homestead", so I think it's a good idea. Wish I could give data regarding the market in general & for your specific location.

Have you contacted tiny house builders near you? Maybe you could partner with them to provide a "try before you buy" experience? I have seen a treehouse & camp/RV space on Airbnb. I'd stay in one, especially if in an awesome location, or offered in a village setting that provides activities or education around living sustainably.

Keep me updated on what you decide.

I would think about what side of town you are on. 30 min west of Houston is completely different than 30 min east. My mother works an office at an RV park 30 min east of Hoiston and it is booming because of all the temporary work that comes into the factories in that side of town. But to the West is yuppy land where that sort of business would not work. Also 30 min north is different than 30 min south.

Airbnb'ers love novelty and kitsch. if you don't have an inheritance you desirable location it's a must. here is a good idea about the destination overcoming the location https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/6469560?eluid=5&euid=811366f2-4f5e-5176-2b3b-38e340920cec

@Bryan Brown , we're 30 minutes south (near 288 & Hwy 6 south).  We are thinking of targeting vacation rentals to people who like the idea of solitude.  I think there might be yuppies who would go for that (especially if they could bring their dogs).  Maybe honeymooners would like it, or writers or artists who want to get away.  There are 3 tiny homes being used as a bed & breakfast in Pasadena (yes, Pasadena!), and they are gorgeous. I have no idea what their occupancy rate is, though.  They have an event center on the property, so it's a completely different situation than ours.  Pics of the 3 houses:

So, I just went through the process of doing two things: I bought a fixer house on a large lot. I turned the SF house into a duplex by creating a "tiny house" apartment on one end. I also went through a land split to carve off a small building lot with the intention of constructing a couple of tiny houses. Just started marketing the duplex this week and am getting decent interest. Everyone likes the idea of the tiny houses next door - but who knows if they will sell? These won't be on wheels... I live in a great tourist area - I've thought of an Air B&B concept but obviously I am not ready yet. I just don't want to make a costly mistake. Since you are building several maybe you could market it as a group retreat / family reunion kind of thing... or go for the whole Christmas theme... Keep us posted. 

Those are cool looking!

On the surface seems like a very low risk endeavor if the units are on wheels.  If the plan doesn't work out I think they'd be easy to sell.  Particularly if they're attractive & well built.  Stick a sale sign in them & park them by the road.  Also put on craigslist. 

Sorry if this sounds a bit negative.  I do think location is critical.  I don't think even a super cool tiny house is enough of a draw without nearby attractions.   


I agree @Dan Madden .  I was reading an AirBnB report for my area and they are showing the median occupancy rate for a studio or 1-bedroom as about 65%.  We'd only need 23% to turn a decent profit, so since it is low risk like you said, it's probably worth a try.  The location could be a problem as far as touristy things, but being so close to Houston's medical center could be a big plus.

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