Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

A Very Big Idea in Tiny House Living

Make fun of Portland all you want, but few American cities (probably none) are showing more creativity with their zoning in order to provide affordable, transit friendly housing options. Their liberal policy about setting up tiny houses in backyards as ADUs is particularly unique. For all the hype surrounding tiny houses, actually living in one is near impossible in most cities, at least if you want to keep Johnny Law off your tiny doorstep. Without worrying about legal issues, it’s a lot easier to start thinking about how to best exploit the merits of tiny house living, which is exactly what Portland’s Simply Home Community is all about. With the help of tiny houses, seven people have figured out an ingenious way to convert a standard single family home into a highly efficient, community-centric living situation.

What’s most interesting about Simply Home is the obviousness of the idea (albeit one that’s typically sidelined by zoning issues). The idea is to park a bunch of tiny houses in the backyard of a single family home. The home will both house people and provide common spaces for the tiny house dwellers. The format provides a fair degree of privacy and autonomy (at least for the tiny house dwellers) and the big house provides shared amenities for all.


At 1450 sq ft, the big house isn’t all that big, but it still houses three people and provides a communal kitchen, living, dining and guest rooms, laundry and bathroom. In the backyard, there are four tiny houses along with a community garden and there are plans to build a hot tub.

The community is rooted in the co-housing model, where several houses band together to share resources and make a distinct community. There are weekly meetings, rules and so forth. There are also community potlucks, movie and game nights. The house and property are owned by two of the community residents, though there are plans to convert it to an LLC structure.

Simply Home seems like one possible solution for transforming the low density, inefficient living that more or less defines American housing. By creating micro-communities inside existing housing stock and infrastructure, we can add density, reduce carbon footprints, save money, meet more people, have more fun.

See and read more on Treehugger

Images via Tiny House Giant Journey