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Mobile cottage looking for a home

Posted by Geeky Swedes on May 26th, 2009

Jeff and Arlene are downsizing. Big time. The couple is building a “mini-mobile cottage” and looking for somewhere to live once they move to Seattle in a few months when Jeff starts as a PhD student at UW. “This home is our experiment in voluntary simplicity, leaving less of a carbon footprint, using green building materials and sustainability,” Arlene explains.

The tiny home measures just 7’-6”x18’-6” on the inside. On their blog, they say that they want a safe, quiet location not too far from UW — and they love the Ballard area. “We simply need a space to park the cottage, an outdoor extension cord for our tiny frig and a garden hose for a hookup for showers when we don’t shower at the YMCA after a morning workout.” They’re willing to pay rent for use of space. They’ll recycle rainwater, they have a composting toilet and will bring along their own propane tank for heating and cooking. If you’re interested, you can contact Jeff and Arlene here.

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39 reader comments so far ↓

  • 1 Sir Camp-a-lot // May 26, 2009 at 6:06 pm

    Just what Ballard needs, more campers!

  • 2 SPG // May 26, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    A garden hose? Don't they realize that it does get below freezing in the winter here? I think they'll need to rethink that part before December.

  • 3 Ballardmom // May 26, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    Hmmm … this might be a good idea for cheaper living if my husband gets laid off.
    I agree that I think the garden hose will be a problem when it gets below freezing – unless they plan to only hook it up when they occasionally use it – which it sounds like they won't be using it that often. Although, that should shoot the homeowners water bill up pretty high I would think. Still, interesting idea. It would work better in a more rural area though because I don't really know anyone who has room for them to park in Ballard.

  • 4 BallardDINK // May 26, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    I like their style. They know what they want and are going for it. And they're willing to pay for what they can't provide for themselves. I wish them luck!

  • 5 Trix // May 26, 2009 at 6:56 pm

    There's a big empty space where the Denny's used to be. If they don't mind the drunks.
    Seriously, I think they just need someone with a really large driveway, like big enough for an RV. With all the cars I see parked in the sidewalk I have my doubts they'll find one.

  • 6 nwcitizen // May 26, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    I don't think they are limiting their search to Ballard. They just want to be within reasonable commuting distance to the UW.

  • 7 Ballardian // May 26, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    Might have better luck in View Ridge/Wedgewood/Lake City…not too far from UW and more space for this kind of set-up probably

  • 8 chopper_74 // May 26, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    Isn't a mobile home park the best choice?
    Anyway, I wish them luck. There are yards that exist that could accommodate the structure, and it would mean less lawn mowing too.
    Oh, and I'd strongly suggest a water line about 12″ below the surface. Frozen in the winter, and near boiling in the summer doesn't sound too good to me…

  • 9 Trix // May 26, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    The closest RV park I know of is in Belfair. Long commute.
    Thanks for the picture, Geeky Swedes! It's very cute.

  • 10 MichaelSnyder // May 26, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    Hmm, 90″ wide…not legal to park on the street in a residential area. :(

    I love the idea. If I can get my condo association to agree, I might rent them my parking space.

  • 11 Jeff_Hemsley // May 26, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    Wow! It's great to see all these comments! In support of us or not, it is interesting to read.

    Hose first: yep, we know about the freezing weather. We'll likely use a typical RV hose (which connects to a normal spigot) that is either wrapped with a warming device, or has one built in. They are fairly common.

    As for water use, I actually doubt we'd use all that much. We are both conservation minded.

    Please don't hesitate to ask us questions!

  • 12 Underpants_Gnome // May 26, 2009 at 9:58 pm

    I wonder if this cottage would fall under zoning as a backyard cottage (allowed only south of I-90), or as a trailer?

  • 13 Loyal Heights // May 26, 2009 at 10:46 pm

    How big of an actual space do you need? My backyard is fenced so I'd be wondering how to get your cottage inside…

    And, what are you studying at UW? :-)

  • 14 greadly // May 26, 2009 at 10:56 pm

    the cottage is cute .
    where are you all from originally?
    Are you really tied to the idea of mobile cottage?
    Have you looked into the idea of boat living?

  • 15 choir // May 26, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    gread idea, greatly.

    this thing belongs on a boat for sure.

    as far as zoning, my guess is it would need to be 5' away from any other structure, and would have to follow regular 'house' setbacks (not the less restrictive ones for garages). on a regular 5k lot, this is 5' from side lines, and 25' from back line.

    with the 5' buffer from the house, this would be difficult to fit on most standard lots. I do love the idea though! now go rent a barge!

  • 16 Edog // May 26, 2009 at 11:49 pm

    Kind of reminds me of the travelers I've seen in Europe.

  • 17 cdpenne // May 27, 2009 at 12:10 am

    Jeff,
    Email sent. BTW I have a little experience renting a room in Ballard and I think your estimate is a bit low considering there would be two of you etc. However, I think we might be able to come to some agreement.

    Nice little house BTW. Very cool.

  • 18 foleymo // May 27, 2009 at 1:46 am

    Was this house made by the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company? I saw something like this on CNN last November and I started looking into getting a mortgage/green loan for one, but when the economic crisis hit, I gave up.

    Here's the link to the Tumbleweed site: http://www.tumbleweedhouses.com

  • 19 Jeff_Hemsley // May 27, 2009 at 2:32 am

    Hello Everyone. Here are some answers:

    1) How big of an actual space do you need?
    Our tiny house is just over 13 feet tall. With the wheel wells, the width is 8 feet. Wit the tongue, it is just over 23 feet.

    2) And, what are you studying at UW?
    I'll be getting a PhD in Information Science, hoping to specialize in information policy, or (perhaps oddly) mathematical modeling of information flows.

    3) where are you all from originally?
    Jeff: San Francisco Bay Area, Arlene: Florida

    4) Are you really tied to the idea of mobile cottage?
    Well, we've got a good chunk of it built already, so yeah.

    5) Have you looked into the idea of boat living?
    Nope. But I'm not adverse to the idea, I just don't know anything about it.

    6) I wonder if this cottage would fall under zoning as a backyard cottage (allowed only south of I-90), or as a trailer?
    I suspect we'll have to find that out.

    7) Was this house made by the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company?
    We bought the plans from Tumbleweed, have been doing research on the project since late last year and building since around late March.

    We've been amazed by your interest and emails. We've both been to Ballard before (Arlene used to live in Seattle and has family up there), but some of your emails, and your comments here, certainly make us feel like Ballard might be a wonderful place to live and make friends.

  • 20 Ballardmom // May 27, 2009 at 3:09 am

    Good lord … now because of this article my husband is obsessively going through the Tumbleweed tiny house plans … I foresee downsizing in my future.

  • 21 R. Andrew // May 27, 2009 at 3:53 am

    Would you be interested in housing another in the future?

  • 22 Tutu // May 27, 2009 at 5:03 am

    I live in Ballard . . . love Ballard. Am very sad that there is no YMCA close to Ballard. Closest would be downtown, Shoreline or Capitol Hill.

  • 23 choir // May 27, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    what about the Y over on 50th in the U district?
    I would think this would be where any students would head, although if they're matriculated students, why not just go to the student facilities.
    much nicer, and of course, FREE.

  • 24 Ballardmom // May 27, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    I was just going to say that the UW has a nice gym for students – but I don't think partners can go to the gym too – just the students. Olympic Athletic Club would definitely not fit their frugal way of living. But there are still lots of gyms between Ballard and the UW that are affordable.

  • 25 Ballard_Curmudgeon // May 27, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    Please contact Our Redeemer’s Lutheran Church, they currently own an abandonned church (Calvary Lutheran Church) and are very open to letting people stay there. There should be room on their front yard for your cottage.

  • 26 Ballardmom // May 27, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    They specifically asked for a safe place without drama. That would rule out the Calvary building. Although for a moment I thought it would be a good way to at least have some supervision. But I wouldn't do wish that on these people. :(

  • 27 gerri // May 27, 2009 at 10:42 pm

    i think your trailer is as cool as it gets… how long do you need space for?

  • 28 bhrea // May 28, 2009 at 1:44 am

    We've looked into buying an empty lot zoned for housing and pitching a tent on it, because that is about all we can afford. I don't know how serious we ever were about it, but out of curiosity, would you consider going in on a lot with other people interested in down sizing the same way?

    I don't know if any of them have room, and it probably isn't allowed, but maybe check with the organizers of community gardens or other community spaces?

    I LOVE your idea!

  • 29 MOE // May 28, 2009 at 2:42 am

    I've got 4 of those next door that they are trying to sell for $349K. What a joke.

  • 30 Poop // May 28, 2009 at 6:10 am

    Um, I'd like to not have to share the room in December when one of them poops. Call it selfish and “anti environmentalist” but you can have those smells.

    Btw, they probably need to park that stupid thing on someone's property who spent a lot of money expanding their carbon footprint. I guess nothing's free.

  • 31 Jeff_Hemsley // May 28, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    This is helpful information. Thank you.

  • 32 Jeff_Hemsley // May 28, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    I'll be in graduate school for 5 years, so we're looking for a place that could be permanent (5 years worth of permanent, anyway). Of course, it is a mobile cottage, so if we got somewhere and it didn't work out for the land owners, we could just roll on over to some other place.

  • 33 Jeff_Hemsley // May 28, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    Probably not since we suspect we'll be in Seattle for only 5 years.

    But Arlene and I have thought of the same sort of thing.

  • 34 Jeff_Hemsley // May 28, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    Must not be quite like ours since brand new and pre-built by the Tumbleweed company they cost around $40k to $50K

  • 35 Fauxnothing // May 29, 2009 at 4:01 am

    You might be surprised to detect the odor difference between the poop of a meat eater and the poop of a human vegetarian. Not really offensive, especially if you're already intimate with that person. Oh, just because I'm smarter than you, “smell” is a verb and “odor” is a noun. In “can you believe the odor when I'm smelling an ass?”

  • 36 bonespa // May 29, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    The IMA at the UW is amazing and, for a fee, I think spouses can join. There is a lot of construction at the UW hospital on the south side. Maybe you could just put your house next to a construction trailer and nobody would notice. More seriously, why not just buy a lot in Ballard with a tear down house. You could then share it with one or two other like-minded folks.

  • 37 Mobile Restrooms // Sep 30, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    Is this winterized? Surely would be a plus and insurance.

  • 38 Motorhomes // Mar 18, 2010 at 2:34 am

    ah such a lonely cottage that is…

  • 39 Portable Toilets // Aug 7, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    What about human waste; how does this handle that? Oh, and do you need a title and license plate too?

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