Above photo courtesy of Wheelhaus.
On the surface, a tiny home is a perfect solution for those looking to live more affordably and simply in the Jackson Hole, Wyoming area. But whether that tiny home is built on a foundation or on wheels, there are definite obstacles to finding land for a tiny home in the Tetons.
Downsized living is still possible in larger-than-life Jackson Hole, though. Here are some things to consider when starting your search.
A Tiny Home in Jackson Hole Proper
The most obvious challenge to buying land for a tiny house in Jackson Hole is the scarcity and cost of property.
With limited private land near two national parks, national forest and a top-ranked ski resort, the cost of land in Teton County, Wyoming is generally much higher than land to the west in Teton County, Idaho, or to the south in Lincoln County, Wyoming.
Adding to the challenge is the fact that most land for sale in Jackson Hole exists in subdivisions with their own covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs), which usually dictate a minimum size and a particular architecture for the homes built in the neighborhood.
Unfortunately, Teton County’s building code and regulations classify a tiny home on a chassis or wheels to be a mobile home, and therefore it cannot be parked as a permanent dwelling on property outside of the Mobile Home Park zoning.
All that said, Teton County, Wyoming does not otherwise restrict the minimum size of a home built on a foundation. In November 2016, the town of Jackson even approved the building of accessory residential units (ARUs) in most residential areas to accompany single-family homes.
Those with the resources to purchase a traditional home in Jackson, Wyoming could consider building a tiny home on a foundation as an ARU and then rent it out to local workers. By offering a tiny home on their property as a rental throughout the year, the homeowners can also bypass the town’s fees for subsidizing affordable housing locally.
A Tiny Home in Teton Valley, Idaho
Most opportunities to find land for a tiny home with actual views of the Tetons are on the west side of the mountain range in Teton Valley, Idaho.
Less developed than Jackson Hole, Teton Valley typically offers more land for sale outside of subdivisions, though these plots sell quickly due to high demand. The building codes and regulations for tiny homes in Teton County, Idaho are also generally more lenient.
Any permanent dwelling that could conceivably be referred to as a tiny home in Idaho falls under the classification of either “site built,” a “modular building” or a “manufactured home.”
Site-built or modular tiny homes must have at least 150 square feet of floor area in the state of Idaho, while manufactured — or mobile — homes are regulated by the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and start at 400 square feet.
In Idaho, some tiny homes on wheels can be classified as a modular building if wider than 8 ½ feet and therefore could be kept as a permanent dwelling. If less than that width, however, the tiny home is instead classified as a “recreational vehicle” and can only be kept as a dwelling for 180 days.
For homeowners considering a tiny home in their backyard, Teton County, Idaho also allows for the building of ARUs on residential property one acre or larger.
Financial Considerations for a Tiny Home
No matter which side of the Tetons you’re targeting for a tiny home, it’s important to understand the different financial considerations compared to purchasing a traditional home.
For starters, the loans for land purchases are structured differently. You will most likely have to place a higher-percentage down payment on the initial land purchase vs. the purchase of a traditional home.
If you’re planning on buying a manufactured tiny home built off-site, most banks will also require higher down payments and interest rates on those types of homes.
Given that most land suited for a tiny home in the Tetons will be rural and outside of a subdivision, you should also anticipate higher fees for bringing in water, sewer and utilities if these systems are not easily accessible from the property. Many building zones will also require that you hook up to the sewer system if you’d like greater flexibility in what you can build.
Despite these initial financial barriers, the lower costs for building, maintenance, utilities and property taxes should make a tiny home far less expensive than a traditional home in the long run.
Looking for a local expert to help you buy land for a tiny home near Jackson Hole? Reach out today and we’ll start a custom search.