This may be the question I get asked most often by those who are seriously interested in the tiny house concept. (Others most often ask how my bathroom works.) How did I find a place to put my house? How did I get this ground? Do I own it or rent it? This is maybe the most important question for you to ask too. Yeah, making sure your roof doesn't leak, your wiring doesn't burn your place down, and your house doesn't collapse on top of you are great, and really matter, but if you can't put the thing anywhere once you buy it or build it, you have a problem. This was my biggest concern before signing off on buying my house. What if I got it and couldn't put it anywhere?
A homeless house? How sad!
Just to be clear, I am talking about the logistics, not giving legal advice. (See this helpful post by another tiny houser for more on legalities.) Laws are different everywhere, you will have to do that research and decide what you care about in your chosen area.
There are a a few ways to park (I am assuming your house is on wheels and if you are building on a foundation, that you probably have land) a tiny house somewhere. On your own property may well be the most simple. Or course this involves having to own some land and not all of use do. Next would probably be to not really park, but to move all the time. There's a few folks traveling full time in their tiny houses, and as long as your chosen home fits in a parking spot, this should work. But I, and many others, want a bit of a more settled life even if our homes have wheels. RV parks seem to sometimes welcome tiny houses, others, not so much. And there are now a few tiny house communities. Some RV parks do give you the option of staying long term, but this does involve paying a monthly fee as do most tiny communities unless they offer the ability to buy a lot. And it seems that a lot of people interested in tiny houses are also looking to cut down or get rid of monthly rent. Lastly, you can park on someone else's land. This could be a friend or family, or a total stranger. And it could be in exchange for money or something else. This is the route I've taken.
So how did I end up living in this really sweet spot? Especially in an area where most people I know are renters, not owners who would even have the option of letting me park it at their place? The ground I live on is not owned by me. I also do not pay the owners rent. Bartering can be a great plan for many people I think. I do ranch type work for them, some general oversight/care taking, and cooking. For now, and I hope it stays this way for a long time, we seem to both think we are getting the better end of the deal. I had inquired about parking on several different places that I thought were a possibility. I even had two offers to park on places that were just a little too far away from my job and life to be convenient. I happened to be discussing this with another acquaintance one day, and out of the blue was offered this spot, something that had never even occurred to me as a possibility. I feel really lucky. But here's some of what I think helped lead to that "luck."
Ask around. Put out feelers everywhere, even in area you don't think are possibilities. Talk to friends, family, acquaintances, strangers, use local classifieds, Craig's list, ask a local farmer or rancher who may have space and want a hand, an elderly person who may need a hand every now and then or just want someone nearby in case they fall or something, vacation homes where the owner may value having a set of eyes around full time, and anything else you can think of.
If you want to barter, and I do for many things, you need to have some kind of skill that's useful to others. For me this tends to be things like cooking, gardening, fresh veggies, physical labor (like haying, wood cutting, fencing), house/pet sitting, cleaning, or babysitting. There are many other skills you may have though. Woodworking, fitness coaching, guiding (hunting, climbing, fishing, camping), any kind of maintenance skill like being a builder, plumber, electrician, or mechanic, window washing, veterinary or legal knowledge, tailoring/mending, computer programing, painting, web building, photography, etc. have all been bartered by people I know for various things. You probably have one or ten useful skills already. If not, you can learn some of these things pretty easily with the aid of google and youtube. A good bartering relationship should leave both parties feeling like they are getting a good deal and this is a beautiful thing. If one of these things you are good at is something you really enjoy doing anyway, it's amazing to be able to trade it to someone who has something you want and doesn't know how to or enjoy doing the thing you are good at. "Create a life you don't want a vacation from," is something I heard a long time ago and can be a reality. If you are already doing things you like, it's pretty sweet. In case you haven't guessed, I am a big fan of bartering!
Be willing to live in a rural or at least less urban area. This is pretty simple and common sense. You can't hardly find a spot to park a compact car in New York City, there's not much space to tuck a house in anywhere. If you really prefer to live in the heart of a big city, you may be better off looking for a small apartment than trying to live in a tiny house. There tends to be less strict rules in more rural areas, and it's easier to tuck a little house in somewhere without bothering anyone. Well maybe a moose... My spot is in something of a legal grey area in my particular location. Living in an RV is not allowed, but housing for ranch help is. So I keep it tucked in out of sight, am quiet and tidy, and have had no problems so far. Hopefully it stays that way.
Be a good neighbor. If you are neat, tidy, quiet, considerate, clean, etc. most people are going to be more willing to have you on their property. I have some friends and family that I know and care about, but would never want to have living on my ground (if I had any that is) because I know how they live and care for the things around them.
Uh, no. You can't move in to my place. Sorry.
Have a house that looks nice. I know, I know, esthetics are very subjective and individual (and maybe you think my place is ugly, that's fine, I like it), but it doesn't look like a RV, trailer, shed, etc. It looks just like a "normal" house, just very small. Some people really do care about this. Having a "cute" house is going to help some people be much more open to the idea who would not want some shiny white RV parked out back. No, I'm not saying RV's are bad and you shouldn't live in one, this just is one consideration for some people. Just look at all the "reality" TV shows featuring tiny houses now. Clearly, a lot of people who do not live in one and are not building one do however find them fascinating.
These are some of my thoughts on how I found my particular location. If you have more good ideas or experiences, please let me know in the comments and I'll add them to this post to help others. Best of luck to all of you looking for your own spot!