Leaving Northern California

We’re moving to San Diego! Again!

One month ago we started our tiny house adventure and realized how easy it was to travel + live in our little solar-powered trailer. The first-hand experience of actually living in the space gave us a lot of interior design ideas and a new wishlist for gadgets, both of which I will be writing about here.

But alas, our meandering journey in beautiful Northern California has ended, for now.

Michael got a job offer he couldn’t refuse (in this economic climate at least) and now we’re apartment hunting in San Diego.

Here’s my ideal apartment complex:

We seriously considered living in a trailer park, that is, until we actually looked at the trailer parks in San Diego. They run the gamut… from bad to worse. And they cost about as much as an apartment.

So, back to city living. Big furniture, flush toilets, utility bills, and neighbors who have 9-to-5 jobs. We are in search of the perfect rental that allows our little trailer to be parked in the backyard. I will refer to it as my “writing nook” as it sounds more refined than “the trailer we lived in last month” to the landlords and realtors I’m sure.

If you have any tips on living in the city with a travel trailer, please write in!

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Michael Janzen 11/15/2008 at 6:04 pm

I was just talking to a journalist about how mobile tiny houses, trailers, etc might become the next big thing because it gives people the flexibility to move where the jobs pop up. In our increasingly tough economy mobility might become a real asset.

One thought for you both… consider posting on craigslist for a friendly backyard in San Diego. I bet you’d find a free place to squat in your tiny place while looking for a more permanent place to live. I think that’s how Jay Shafer found his first place when moving to California.

thistinyhouse 11/18/2008 at 2:32 am

Thanks for the Craigslist idea. Jay tells me he got his rental spot by pulling his tiny house into a Whole Foods parking lot and hanging around for a while… putting a note on the bulletin board… and voila! Someone with an apple orchard gives him a spot.

Yes, my work is currently mobile but Michael’s work is not, hence, San Diego. Not very many apple orchards here in San Diego though.

I wish all employers would read and seriously consider the 12 new rules of working on the Zen Habits website. Rule number 4. People don’t have to be in an office. It’s so obvious!

Anne Badgley 01/10/2009 at 10:49 pm

I just found your blog through tinyhouseblog.com. I lived 9+years in San Diego/Poway, the last three in a mobile home park in Poway. I am disappointed that you found the “trailer parks ran the gamut of bad to worse”. When I sold my first house in Poway (a tiny house of 560 s.f.), I looked at many options and ended up buying two mobile homes (one for me, one for my son) in Royal Estates. I chose here because the neighborhood is very quiet (commented on by all the guests I had while I was living there) and the lots were small but well planted with fruit trees and flowers (my son’s house has a large lemon tree and a vine with the best seedless grapes I have ever eaten!). The other two best things: I can walk to the dog/community park, library, grocery stores, Starbucks, theater and restaurants AND I have a stream on one side and open hills with hiking trails on the other! The lot rent is too high (this year up to $850), but utilities are low (my water, sewer, gas, electric together usually less than $60). I was able to buy my houses outright with my equity, but making payments with the lot rent makes it kind of high if you don’t recognize the advantages over an apartment: covered parking at my own back door; own the house so I can do what I want to it, including plantings in the yard; no shared walls/ceiling; community- my neighbors had lived there from 10 to 35 years and we watched out for each other. I sold my house in 2007 and moved to Indianapolis. Indy is a very nice place, but I miss my family and I will probably move back to San Diego. I wish I could be there now for your meet-up!!

thistinyhouse 01/11/2009 at 12:42 am

Hi Anne, thanks for writing in and sharing your experiences. I’m sure Poway is great, but our top priority was living in the city of San Diego, so our trailering options were quite limited. Plus, we couldn’t imagine paying so much for a lot… seems too high for essentially just parking there and using the utilities. I’m very happy with what we ended up renting.

Anne B 01/11/2009 at 1:04 pm

I am impressed by the little house you found, I wouldn’t have been able to resist! My comment in favor of mobile home parks wasn’t intended to alter your choice but to give other readers another perspective to living in a “trailer park”. There is VERY negative stereotyping about living in a manufactured housing community and, as with many stereotypes, there is some experiential evidence behind it! I toured at least 15 mobile home parks in North County during my search and about half of them probably deserved the negative image. But the other half, some with individual ownership of their lots, were better environments than the nicest apartment complexes that I toured. Just another option in SoCal!

thistinyhouse 09/21/2009 at 12:20 pm

Well I’d love to tour some of the trailer parks you mention in the San Diego area. Please send more info.

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