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The Next Stage
I've been holding onto this post for a while now. It has no pictures. Some may see it as kind of a downer. I choose to see it as a new possibility. In short, I'm going to move. Here's why:

Click Here for Big Wall of TextCollapse )

So, yeah... if anyone has any suggestions, ideas, or leads as to what I should do out in Oregon, let me know. I'm kinda going out there blind.

EDIT: Overwhelming response! Thank you all for your support; it is HIGHLY encouraging! I'm on the road for work right now (a week in Mexico City, a week in DC, 2 weeks in North Carolina, a few days in Florida...) but I WILL be responding to everyone as I get the chance! Also, don't be alarmed if your post doesn't show up right away - LiveJournal flags anything with a link in it for review. As long as you're not linking to Discount Russian Escort Services (yes, this has been a problem,) then it'll show up as soon as I can unflag it.

EDIT 2: Okay, I'm not really all that interesting on there, but for those who want it: www.facebook.com/jonathan.bellows

Hi! I love your spirit, and that you listen to your gut to see this as an opportunity to move on. I really believe that if an idea is in your heart, its meant to be pursued.I wish more people lived out loud, like that! You are an inspiration.
I have only spent vacation time in OR, but the mountains are amazing, and the farmland, vast. The ocean wild, and the people individualistic. There are small cities with very active university life, culturally exciting. We spend time in Hood River, on the Columbia R., north. Its at the cut through in the Cascade Mts. where the best wind-surfing happens, thanks to the wind tunnel effect, there.
Portland is a very open, funky city! You'll be so glad you went to OR, I am sure of it.

Thanks, Nancy! Although, really, I feel like I'd have been more of an inspiration had I listened to my gut ten years ago instead of lolly-gagging until now. But (hopefully) it's never too late!

Mountains and oceans are two things we definitely don't have here in Michigan. I've been around both in my travels, of course, but I've never lived by either. I'm excited about the mountains, but the ocean has me a bit nervous. I just can't shake the feeling that I'm back on the food chain every time I step foot in the water...

Hell is other people ~ Jean-Paul Sartre . . . ;-D

I'm so disappointed in the human race to hear about this. But I can see your point exactly. Part of what you are seeking in this whole adventure is just getting some peace - and peace of mind. Your neighbor has made both of these extremely difficult... which is why the land was probably for sale in the first place. This clown wants the land, doesn't want to pay for it, and makes life miserable for anyone who buys it until they finally give up and leave...and is getting away with it. I myself being the 'St Michael' sort, I think the last part would rankle the most. But tilting at windmills will only get you so far, and sometimes for your own sanity, ya just gotta let it go...

But all is not lost as you pointed out. You proved it not only to yourself, but to all of us, that this is 'do-able'. You CAN live off the grid, be self sustainable, less of an impact on the earth, and still live quite comfortably. If where you're at presently only wants McMansions, then so be it. Find someplace else that shares your vision. 'Go West, young man'. The pioneer spirit still lives. I think you may have an easier time finding it here. We may be called the land of 'fruits, flakes and nuts', but we're also more progressive and open minded when it comes to alternative lifestyles. There are several small house builders here, including your beloved Tumbleweed. Oh, and by the way, we get enough sun that we can GROW those fruits, flakes and nuts - year round.
Harvesting rainfall- not so much- verboten in the west. But I think a little ingenuity on that part can get you that under the radar.

My brother has in laws who live in Oregon, pretty much sustaining themselves on their own land. On a much larger scale mind you, but they're pretty close to being off the grid. I'll write 'em a note, link to your blog, and see if they can offer any suggestions or help for you.

Just one more thing.

Re: Hell is other people ~ Jean-Paul Sartre . . . ;-D

Ha ha, thanks!

In my neighbor's defense, he himself has only been living there for a year and when he checked on the price of the land, the lady was asking 4 times as much as what I ended up buying it for. That may have had some influence on his actions. Yeah, it sucks, but I'm not the kind to hold grudges.

...okay, that's a filthy lie. I can and do totally hold grudges, but in this case I honestly think the situation will work out better for me in the long run.

Being able to grow things year-round will be nice! Also, having sun on the solar panels would be great. And my water needs are quite minimal - I've gotten by on less than 10 gallons a week before. With enough storage, I think even desert conditions will provide me with enough. I've been amazed at how much water I get off of that roof!

I believe things happen for reason and sometimes we don't understand when we are going thru bad times. I admire you that you didn't turn into your fighting neighbor.
Enjoy your next journey.
Ps. I would sell him the property for twice what you paid for it. LOL
Good Luck with your move.

I was going to say that...

... sell him the land at a nice fat profit and go west. You're right - staying is not a victory as you will always have the feeling of being unwelcome on your own land (we have crappy neighbours, too). Oregon and Washington seem to be more disposed to green ideas (I live in BC Canada and belong to Cascadia). I hope you keep building smaller homes. I hope you bring your tiny house west and enjoy the beautiful outdoors we have here... nothing like a storm on the coast to feel the true awesomeness of nature.

If you get to Portland, look up The Hippie Cook, Jean Johnson. She is a hoot and makes wonderful local food dishes fresh and shares in her cookbooks. Tell her Marion in Texas says Hugs and Hello!

Portland wasn't necessarily the plan, but I just looked her up online. There's some good looking food on there! I will admit, my diet isn't the best, so maybe this is a good idea!

code laws in rural areas - good news

hi there, the left coast will be happy to have you!

I am from Davis CA and believe i have found out that on rural land outside the city limits (under county jurisdiction), you can park your TH on someone else's property with their permission and it is considered "camping" so I assume you can "camp" indefinitely! So if you find someone with a lot of land and you could go park off privately somewhere, it would be as good as owning your own! But really get to know the landowner first.

Might be the same rules in Oregon!?


Re: code laws in rural areas - good news

Ha! "Left" coast. I like it!

But yeah, I know for a fact that you can't "camp indefinitely" out here (you really can't even "camp" on someone's land, period, even your own,) so I'd have to check into it for out there. And yeah, I definitely wouldn't do something like that without getting to know the people! The last thing I'd want is to realize we have different expectations and suddenly find I need to move in the middle of the night!

Life is an adventure, and best lived when you follow your passions. I think its fantastic that you took a setback and let it become a new opportunity instead of a battle. :)

Thanks! And yeah, it really is an opportunity... it's just that the opportunity here is that I have the chance to do again what I should have done in the first place. :)

best of luck live the true american dream

Thanks! That's the plan. :)

Welcome to Oregon

Life here in Oregon is great! Their are tons of tiny homes in Portland, despite code. Don't worry about a job, come out here and put your tiny home building skills to work building food carts!

Re: Welcome to Oregon

Heh. Ooh, is there a need for more food carts? Is building them a viable way to make a living? Because I'll totally be bringing my tools! Just tell me where to start.

Hi Johnathan!

I just read your post and was compelled to see more so i went looking for pictures of your tiny house. I love your tiny house. I especially love your compost toilet design and I think you should create a website to sell your compost toilet. Also get yourself a facebook page. You really need to have other people check this out. It is a great idea and other people living off the grid would need something like this. This is the kind of idea that can generate income for someone living off the grid.

I have a small suggestion. I saw your fireplace and noticed that you have what looks to be an exhaust pipe/chimney for it. There is a website with a fireplace that burns cleaner and from biodegradable sources. Check out ecosmartfire.com. With a fireplace from these guys, you do not need to install a chimney and it heats up quite a bit.

As for going to Oregon, I wish I could come with. I definitely understand the feeling you have described, for I have felt it too. It is on my life's to do list as well. I am glad you are able to fulfill your desire to move to Oregon. Definitely post an update of how everything goes. I wish you the best and lots of good luck.

if you would like to email me, my email is nikkie dot mcdaniel at gmail.


Re: Hi Johnathan!

Thanks, Nikkie

I remember seeing the ecosmartfire.com fireplaces a while back - they look pretty slick! Thanks for reminding me of them. Right now I'm pretty much tied to propane, but I'd like to get away from that... eventually, that is. I've got some more pressing things on my mind these days. ;)

And I'm glad you liked my sawdust toilet design. A number of others have commented on it - maybe I should try to build more!

Oh, and I do have a Facebook page, it's www.facebook.com/jonathan.bellows. Feel free to add me, although I don't really say anything more entertaining on there than I do here.

Twelve years ago, I moved to Portland on a whim, having always wanted to see the Pacific northwest. While I was only there for a year (wish I'd stayed!) there are few places more exquisite. Both Portland and Corvallis are university towns ad anywhere on the coast is indescribable. Any place in the Williamette Valley will change you forever. I hope to get myself to Corvallis as soon as possible, as I have family there. If that area might hold some appeal to you, who knows, there might be some connections that would put up your tony house.

Moved on a whim, huh? Well, at least I know I'm not the only one! Heh. However, I am woefully ignorant of Oregon, and places like Portland, Corvallis, and even the Williamette Valley are really not much more than names to me. But I hope to learn, and soon! Given the enthusiastic responses I've received describing the state, I'm sure I'll be able to find a place for me!


So basically this has nothing to do with the house. This has to do with you making a bad choice to buy it to begin with?

First of all, I built the house, I didn't buy it.

Secondly, choices are neither good nor bad - they're choices. In this one, I got to live in my house for a while the way I wanted to and I have my resale value on the land as well as the tiny house, so I'm not out anything financially. In fact, I probably SAVED money by not paying a lot rent that I won't get back.

I'm explaining to my friends and family what happened and why I'm leaving the state. Others have expressed an interest in what I do, and they are welcome to read it. You are welcome to read it, too.

Thirdly, this isn't a "tiny house blog." There are many of those. This is my personal LiveJournal. If I want to post about my dog or about whatever I damn well please, I will. If you came here with other expectations, well... seems like you made a bad choice.

No Joke, All states have codes that prohibit small house living

Either the International Building Codes or the National Fire Protection Association Codes (NFPA) including Building Standards are adopted by most all states and apply to all counties and jurisdictions. They both specify minimum square footage for habitable structures, sizes of bedrooms, living area, etc. Before you plan to be disappointed, call the responsible building official for the area you plan to live in and find out if there are any exceptions that will permit you to live in their jurisdiction in your tiny house.
The best way to fix this is to change the law(s), but the Building Industry Association (BIA) likes big houses to keep Contractors working, so your chances are slim to not happening. BIA is the organization that convinced the Code Councils to adopt codes that state the minimum requirements. I am an ex building official, but I love the tiny houses and would prefer to live in one, but as you have found out, sooner or later they will find you and end your piece of heaven.

Re: No Joke, All states have codes that prohibit small house living

I knew that the code required minimum square footage for rooms (one room of 120 square feet, and no room less than 70 square foot) but I didn't know it also set requirements for overall structure size. That's just frustrating - I mean, if my tiny house was instead the cabin on a million-dollar yacht sailing the ocean for a year, nobody would question it. Bah.

Now I want to gripe about how industry lobbies are influencing the government to dictate laws about how I can live! But I'm pretty sure nobody wants to hear me gripe about politics.

I agree with Nikki. Yours is the best composting toilet ever! Nice looking and it doesn't take up a lot of space. Much better than a box with a toilet seat on it. Market your masterpiece!

Ha ha, thanks! I'll have to go back and revisit my design. I used plywood in a few places, but I bet it could be nice and marketable if I replaced it with solid wood. I'll consider it!

Moving away from the familiar


Too bad you came across narrow mindedness.

Concerning your move. I have made long distance moves several times. The last two were solo as my kids are grown and have their own families. The first year is tough- in essence you have to reestablish your whole personal support structure, make new friends and find your footing. Not an easy accomplishment- in fact it is easier to head back home. But- once you make it through the first year you will really start enjoying and fulfilling that inner pull you feel for Oregon.

As for your dog. I have my dog with me- the dog makes it harder to find a place to live, obligates you with a level of responsibility on top of all the stress you will experience in a new place. But my dog has also provided me with companionship during the lonely times and has helped me meet new people when I take her to the dog park.

Wishing you the best in your new adventure.

Re: Moving away from the familiar

You know, when I stayed a few months in upstate New York with some friends, walking Barney every day helped me meet a lot of people and get a feel for the neighborhood. True, he's needy, but I think you're right - he'll be a great advantage in that situation. Plus he's super cute.

But yeah, finding a support structure is a bit of a concern, and I already know I'm going to have to fight the impulse to return home after the first few weeks. I'll mark a year off on the calendar, though, and use that as a goal to keep me going. Thanks!

Hey! Here via another tinyhouse blog and quite oddly considering my west coast leanings... I'm in MI. I just friended you on FB - if you're nearby, I'd love to check out your tinyhouse (I'll bring homebrew!)

Ha ha! Unfortunately, right now I'm on the road for work (and will be until March.) I'm in the Flint area, though, if that helps. I'll fire the tiny house back up if people want to visit it - the officials can't claim I'm living there if it's only for a few hours, after all. Let me know!