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One Tank Trip: Tiny Estates tiny homes

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MOUNT JOY TWP., Pa. – Four bedrooms, a two-car garage and a big yard make up a typical American home, but what if you gave it all up for just 100 square feet of space?

If you don’t want to trade it all in, it might be fun to stay for a night, or even just to see the inside. You can satisfy your tiny-house curiosity at Tiny Estates, a 14-acre property in Mount Joy Township, Lancaster County, near Elizabethtown.

There are 16 tiny homes, with plans for about 100. Every day on the hour, from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., you can take a tour and peek inside.

“They were bigger than what I expected, to be honest,” said Abby Hobson, the CEO of Tiny Estates. “You see them on TV and in pictures, and it’s hard to get a gist of what they actually feel like and whether you could live in one.”

Hobson never thought of living in one until about two years ago, when she was working in the private sector as a forensic investigator for white collar crimes.

“I was working in corporate America, hated the day-to-day of what that looks like in Philadelphia, decided I wanted to move home,” Hobson said.

On a family trip to Colorado, to the Tiny House and Simple Living Jamboree, she came back to Pennsylvania with an aluminum frame and plans to build a tiny house of her own, but Hobson said, no matter where she had her tiny house, she was told it couldn’t stay there.

“So, when I thought you couldn’t have a tiny house on the East Coast because no one was building them, it was really because of zoning,” Hobson explained, “so people were building them and then ending up in Colorado and California and on the West Coast because of zoning.”

It spurred her to create her own tiny home community, and her tiny home was the first at Tiny Estates, which is on the old Ridge Run Campground, so zoning isn’t an issue.

You can book a tiny home for around $135 a night, but you’ll have to decide how tiny you want to go. The smallest tiny home, at 12 feet long, is just 100 square feet.

“Everybody wanted to go bigger and better and higher, and now everybody’s going smaller, which is kind of ironic,” Hobson added. “Modular homes used to be so small to people, and now people are wondering how, so we make it even tinier than that and easier to tow. People are always pushing the limits.”

Less space doesn’t mean you do away with design. Every inch needs to be imagined to make living doable. The tiny homes are built to last about 100 years.

“So you could truly bank on building it and living in it and leaving it for the next generation,” Hobson said.