Why did the chicken cross the road? Nowadays, it’s to get to his backyard chicken coop. Your “free spirited” aunt isn’t the only one raising chickens anymore. Urban chicken coops – and the fresh eggs that come from them – have become the hottest trend among health conscious eaters and locavores. Even celebrities are hopping on the chicken train, including Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Martha Stewart, Ellen Pompeo and Rachel Weisz. Whether it’s a $100,000 dollar Versailles-inspired chicken coop or a do-it-yourself pen, chicken enclosures are popping up everywhere.
But which cities have embraced this trend the most? Today Redfin named the top five best cities to be a chicken, based on the percentage of homes that have hit the market or sold in the past three months with chicken enclosures mentioned as a feature in the multiple listing service description.
For anyone who has seen Portlandia, it comes as no surprise that Portland tops the list as the city with the most chicken coops. And people in California must love fresh eggs; three of the top five cities are in the Golden State, including Ventura (#2), San Diego (#3), and Sacramento (#4). Seattle rounds out the list at number five, meaning all of the top cities are on the West Coast.
So what kind of person keeps chickens? It turns out they’re not necessarily suburbanites with a lot of land; in fact on average, listings with chicken coops have smaller homes and smaller lots, but larger price tags. It appears some buyers are willing to pay a little more for a home with a henhouse.
But not everyone wants the responsibility. Trevor Smith, a real estate agent at Redfin, had clients who were neck-and-neck with another bidder on a home in Seattle that had a chicken coop. The sellers were moving to an apartment and couldn’t take the chickens with them, so they were hoping to find a buyer who would care for them. Unfortunately, Trevor’s clients weren’t in a position to keep them. To help his clients win the bidding war, Trevor volunteered to adopt the chickens himself. The tactic worked; the sellers decided to accept the bid from Trevor’s clients, and now the four hens, Martha, Abigail, Jackie O., and Lady Bird, are enjoying their new coop at Trevor’s home, while his clients are enjoying their new home!
Stories like those are likely common in the top five cities with the most chicken coops – read on for more!
1.) Portland, OR
The locavore movement is strong in Portland, with many restaurants boasting a menu made of ingredients from less than 50 miles away. The city’s residents were among the first to raise backyard chickens en masse, and even the former mayor, Sam Adams, had a couple of hens.
“From community urban farms to edible front yard gardens, Oregonians are crazy about keeping it local. We make our own cheese and sausage, brew our own beer, roast our own coffee… we even trade canned food. Chickens fit right in. The eggs taste way better, your neighbors will love you (if you share), and if you have a good chicken coop, you might be sitting on a little pot of gold when you sell your house!” said Jeff Bale, a Redfin real estate agent in Portland.
In order to raise more than three chickens in Portland, residents must build a humane enclosure at least 15 feet away from their home, and obtain a permit from the city. But a permit isn’t required if you have less than three hens. Additional details can be found on Portland Online.
2.) Ventura, CA
Perhaps it’s the temperate climate that drove so many residents of Ventura to build chicken coops. It’s much easier to take care of chickens when you don’t need to worry about them freezing to death! Locals in Ventura, California, have been quick to embrace the backyard chicken movement; there’s even a Facebook page called Ventucky Chicken, where residents can discuss the local chicken culture.
“The year-round weather in Ventura and the surrounding communities is terrific for raising chickens and other animals or having personal gardens for vegetables. With such a mild climate, it is no surprise that farming plays such a large part of the lifestyle in the area,” said John Underwood, a Redfin real estate agent in Southern California.
City officials are trying to catch up with the trend. Last October the City of Ventura Planning Commission recommended that the City Council change the definition of domestic animals to include chickens, so residents can keep up to six hens without a permit, as long as they are in a penned area at least 35 feet from a home. The laws and regulations currently vary by city; for specific details on the regulations in Ventura County, it’s best to contact your local community council.
3.) San Diego
Chickens are popping up all over San Diego, and we don’t mean the Famous San Diego Chicken. Backyard coops have gained in popularity since the city amended its code last January to allow single family residents to keep chickens.
“Chicken coops are the trendiest house accessory in San Diego. Some have a small one-hen coop, while others have deluxe multiple-level coop brightly painted in neon colors. Hens can often produce more eggs than a household can eat, so some homeowners hold weekly egg sales on their sidewalk or at the local farmer’s market,” said Jordan Clarke, a Redfin real estate agent in San Diego.
San Diego residents are allowed up to five hens, as long as they are in the backyard, five feet from side property lines, 13 feet from the rear property line, and kept in an appropriate coop. The city offers residents an online form that makes it easy to look up the guidelines in their area. More information is available on SanDiego.gov.
4.) Sacramento, CA
Sacramento was one of the first major metros to allow chickens, but unlike other cities, it requires a fee. Unfortunately, many residents are unaware of the license and fee requirements, and are keeping undocumented chickens.
“There are a lot of reasons people in Sacramento keep chickens. Some value the free, farm-fresh eggs, some see it as being good for the environment, and others simply enjoy having them as pets. It seems to be a growing trend; over the past few years I’ve been seeing a lot more chicken coops as I go on home tours with clients,” said Lindsay Martin, a Redfin real estate agent in Sacramento.
People within Sacramento city limits can keep up to three hens in their backyard, as long as the enclosure is 20 feet away from any homes. An annual license fee of $10 per household and permit fee of $15 per chicken is also required. Additional information is available within the Sacramento City Code.
5.) Seattle, WA
Seattle and Portland have a lot in common, including their love of urban chicken farming. An organization called Seattle Tilth encourages the practice by hosting a tour of the top 25 urban farms in the area.
“Seattleites are foodies and conscientious about what they put into their bodies. A lot of people have created urban farms on their property; they grow organic vegetables in their garden and raise chickens in their backyard. You’d be surprised by how many homes for sale have coops. Sometimes they’re the front-and-center focal point of a yard, and sometimes they’re unobtrusive, covered by trees and bushes,” said Bree Al-Rashid, a Redfin real estate agent in Seattle.
Seattlites can keep up to eight chickens, as long as their enclosure is at least 10 feet away from any home. They aren’t allowed to roam off your property, so some type of pen needs to be created. People with larger lots can keep additional chickens. Additional information is available on Seattle.gov.
Chicken Coop Ideas and Inspiration
Thinking of adopting a few hens of your own? Check out the following slideshow of real-world chicken coops. Additional photos of chicken enclosures are available in the “Chickens Rule” Redfin Collection. But before you acquire any chickens, be sure to contact the appropriate zoning and land use department to make sure you understand all rules and regulations in your area.