Christopher Page wants to move back to the suburbs near Boston, but he’s not interested in buying a house, renting an apartment, or crashing on anyone’s couch.
Instead, the 33-year-old Andover native is looking for a spot in someone’s driveway or back yard to park his Tiny House — a 200-square-foot domicile with all of the amenities.
“It’s like a regular house, just shrunk down,” he said of the traveling home on four wheels that can be easily towed around by car or truck.
Page, a former professional online poker player, is part of a growing group of people forgoing the usual options, and choosing to call a small-scale house, built by hand, his home.
“Most people that live in these Tiny Houses, who are scattered across the US, only pay a couple of hundred dollars in rent. All you need is a patch of land,” said Page.
Built during the second half of last year, with his father, Page’s house runs primarily on propane gas and electricity, currently supplied by his dad’s home in Andover.
Inside the living space, which looks like a clubhouse dislodged from the branches of large tree, Page enjoys luxuries like air-conditioning, heat, and even running water.
There’s a raised office platform where he can do work, a bed that rolls out for when it’s time to sleep, and a fridge and kitchenette that meet his cooking needs.
Page’s home also features a custom-built sofa for when he wants to relax, and a 40-gallon tank that sends water to his sink and his shower.
The only problem Page has encountered since moving into his Tiny House four months ago is finding a place he can legally park it outside of Andover.
Earlier this month, in a search for a plot closer to Boston, Page posted an ad on Craigslist seeking a friendly neighbor to take him in.
He promised to pay a reasonable rate for rent, or work for his rent, and contribute to utilities.
“The tricky part is some communities would consider it to be a trailer, since it’s on wheels” prohibiting its use as a live-in space, he said. “So there are restrictions.”
In Watertown, one community Page was eyeing, Michael Mena, zoning inspector and enforcement officer, said the house wouldn’t be welcome, as long as someone was living inside.
“If it’s on a trailer and has wheels, it would be like someone living in an RV,” said Mena. “It would be no different than that, and that would be prohibited.”
Page said he was also interested in moving to Somerville, a city that hosted a Tiny House Festival last year.
But officials there said their own laws could put the brakes on that plan.
“Currently, Tiny Houses would fall under codes that prevent trailers in Somerville … so they are not allowed. But it’s an intriguing concept that deserves more discussion,” said city spokeswoman Denise Taylor in an e-mail.
Page hasn’t given up hope, and as his search continues, a national organization dedicated to reshaping zoning ordinances to allow for Tiny Houses has been toiling away.
In February, the American Tiny House Association took shape.
Elaine Walker, the organization’s secretary, said the group was created to help work on changing zoning in municipalities and raising public interest in Tiny Houses, something that has been booming the past two years.
“It’s fun to design them, and to acquire the skills to build a home,” said Walker, who had her own Tiny House built in New Hampshire in 2010, before having it shipped to California.
Walker now rents out her miniature house in Florida, which she says is one of the added benefits of being an owner.
“It’s not a lost development if you move. Wherever you go, you can take it with you,” she said.
It was those reasons, matched by a strong desire for a mortgage-free lifestyle, that prompted Elena May Grüneberg and her husband to start building their own Tiny House in October in Southeastern Massachusetts.
“We wanted to build because we were interested in trying a minimalist lifestyle that promises a smaller carbon footprint, and since we always wanted to build a house ourselves but weren’t financially set up to do so, we found that it was possible if we went ‘tiny,’ ” she said.
Tiny, sure. But the benefits will be huge when they call it home in April.
“[We’re] excited to take on the challenges and benefits of tiny living,” she said.