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The Difference Between RVs and Tiny Houses on Trailers

If you’re looking into the idea of tiny houses but are wondering why when you can just get an RV, travel trailer, or motorhome for less…


Well, you’re at the right place because in this post I’ll help you understand the benefits of tiny houses, motorhomes, RVs, and travel trailers. But I’m also going to share the downfalls for each side.

In this post, it’s all about you, because I want to help you figure out what’s best according to YOUR needs. So pay attention real quick and watch the video below where Jason Dietz of Molecule Tiny Homes gives you some helpful insight on tiny houses.

RVs versus Tiny Houses on Trailers

Enjoy the video with Jason and my “Pros/Cons list” on.. Tiny Houses VS. Manufactured RVs below:

Video: Jason Dietz of Molecule Tiny Homes Introduces You To Tiny Houses

My Pros/Cons on Tiny Homes versus RVs

And this isn’t the first time I’ve held a discussion on this topic (see Top 5 Reasons for Tiny Homes Over RVs & Tiny Houses Versus RVs).


Main Pros/Cons of Living in a Tiny House

Pros

  • Stick-built “homey” feeling and look.
  • Feels a lot better than living in a travel trailer or other kind of RV.
  • You can still pretty easily (in most cases) move it to another location when you want to move.
  • You can build it exactly how you want it.
  • If you’re into living healthy you can design/build it free of toxic materials.

Cons

  • Weights a lot more than most RVs so it’s not really fun (or cheap) to tow.
  • They’re also not very aerodynamic so not the best for you if you want to travel a lot with it.
  • They’re pretty challenging to find a place to park and live in (but it’s possible).
  • Tiny homes attract a lot of attention on the road.

Main Pros/Cons of RV Living

Pros

  • Aerodynamic and lightweight compared to tiny houses.
  • Easier to get around in so great if you want to travel.
  • Blends in with other travelers so doesn’t attract too much attention compared to a stick built house on wheels.

Cons

  • Doesn’t look and feel like “home” as much.
  • Not as great for full time living (needs more insulation, etc.)
  • Materials inside many times contain toxic materials and off gassing.

Discussion: Tiny House or an RV, Which Is Best For You And Why?

If you have something to add please do so in the comments below. And a question for you… What do you think is BETTER for YOU? A tiny house on a trailer, an RV, or something else? I’m curious so please let us know in the comments!

And if you enjoyed this discussion on the difference between RVs and Tiny Houses on Trailers you’ll LOVE our free daily tiny house newsletter with even more!

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Alex

Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!




{ 58 comments… add one }
  • Sally May 24, 2014, 5:50 pm

    You left out cost. The big RVs can cost into the stratosphere, but those are comfort toys for people who have no idea what downscale means, and can afford the maintenance and park costs for their Goliath. Not us.
    For those at the other end of the scale, I’ve picked up used 20′ + travel trailers in good condition for a few thousand bucks. The aesthetics issue is the main drawback, as most THs are cute as the dickens, and only the vintage TTs like the Scotties trailers can compete exterior-wise. However, I have seen TTs made over inside to look like gypsy vardos, hippie hang-outs and whatever else your imagination can produce to make it home for you.

    I would also much rather tow a TT cross country than a TH. TTs were made for towing. We all know the reason most THs have tires, and its got nothing to do with moving them with the seasons. 🙂

    The TT’s overall flimsiness is a drawback, but hurricanes and tornados aren’t picky between TTs, THs and big houses. The Green factor debate can be applied to both: if you don’t build a Green TH, it ain’t Green.
    People pooh-pooh park models, but after 120 sq. ft, 500 sq. ft. is a livable mansion, and also gets around code sometimes.
    Overall, it’s a matter of preference. As we’ve seen on here, people want their dishwashers and crafts area. And you can make a TT very personal and livable. I applaud TH people for their many reasons to downscale, but would include the TT people, along with the vardo and container folks, too. Home is what you make it.

  • Edie rodman May 24, 2014, 6:14 pm

    Good comparison job, Sally.
    Thanx!

  • Rebecca May 24, 2014, 6:44 pm

    I prefer tiny house in a landscape. Biggest problem is code compliance. Oddly enough my comes in under out building although I will remove the single wide mobile after it is finished.

  • Comet May 24, 2014, 8:12 pm

    I once asked my Town Clerk if people were living in their RV’s in the winter here in rural Upstate NY. I was told that they could live in them in the summer but they had to leave either the RV or move out of the RV after a certain number of days—now I don’t know if this was meant for your own property or what. And I know some who have bought barns or large industrial looking “shed” type buildings and pulled the RV’s in and lived in them. So–who knows what the “rules” really are.

    ANd around here there are some people living in what would def qualify as “Tiny Houses” not on wheels. Some are converted free standing motel/travel court cabins left over from the 50’s—there are actually quite a few of these including one made of tiny log cabins. I don’t know how they handle the legal ends of this rent and occupancy wise but I have seen them in both New York and Vermont and other places. I have to assume that they were insulated as people are living in them year round. Of course if these are from the old travel courts there will be several other similar homes on the land. Which if you were like minded could be a very good thing!

    RV’s don’t have to be a billion dollars even for a “Class A” which are the largest drive-along ones. If you buy an older one–and they have been built for a long time now—you can re-hab them and spend much LESS than you would for a Tiny Home or a new or newer RV behemoth. I looked yesterday at a 1984 “Class C” version—this had a sturdy motor with only 54k on the clock; a cab-over bed; pull out couch; two captains chairs in the living area; bathroom and two bunks. This was about a 24″ unit—and for the pocket change price of $2000. Yes— less than many people’s tax refund. And IT RUNS. So—altho this particular one did not meet our needs (and not because of any flaws; it is from California so NO rust etc) it was not what we were looking for but–ya gotta kiss a lotta frogs before you find your Prince!

    I figure that for that price we could go to several Bike Weeks–that we go to ANYWAYS and pay for hotels–cheap 50’s era hotels but still!—and other places towing our bike in the trailer we already own; and we could have people stay in it when they come to visit —our son was planning on coming but could not find a dog sitter. WE have several dogs but not a whole lot of left over room for a large visitor who is a bit-frisky. So—dog would be fine in the RV or in her crate in there. There. I fixed it! We have lots of other friends who would love to come stay in the deep country but who don’t have the $$$ to spend on either the B&B type places or who don’t want to stay an hour away each way from us. So it would pay for itself in a fairly short amount of time vs hotels and meals etc.

    There are advantages and dis-advantages to each.

    • Sally May 25, 2014, 12:56 am

      Hey Comet, I saw those old motor courts in Maine, too, what a cool place to stay or live, with all the water and septic grandfathered in. In Florida, the old motels tend to attract “the weeklies” to stay in business, but I’ve seen a few that are now catering to older clientele for six months at a time. It’s about time we got smart with recycling our housing.
      I didn’t mean to leave out the older Class Cs. Have you seen the people doing videos on YouTube regarding their stealth lifestyle in Class Cs? To me, trying to stealth in a thirty foot Tioga is hard work. 🙂
      The videos were interesting to me because THEY were debating Class Cs versus van conversions! Stealth versus comfort versus cost 🙂

      • Emma June 2, 2014, 8:07 am

        Sally, could you point me in the direction of those videos? I tried searching youtube, but what came up was not what I was looking for.

        I had planned on getting a van and outfitting it, so I would have the stealth factor. I plan to stay living in the same area for the next year or so. Then I realized that I can get an older Class C RV for less than a third of the price! I’m concerned about losing the stealth factor, though. I think watching those videos could help me decide.

        • mountaingypsy September 9, 2014, 5:22 am

          Emma, You might look up ‘full time RVing’ or living in an RV. There are also lots of books. Several by full time lady Rvers. Perhaps RV clubs. My husband and I can’t decide what would best suit us to buy something else! We currently have a travel trailer. Off road or tight campgrounds are not so good with the larger Class A or C. Are you going to live in one full time or just some travel? Smaller Class C or vans can be parked in parking spaces like a Wal Mart. There are lots of sites where people write about their life or advise. Salesmen may not be a good option, and don’t buy new!. RV Trader is easy to look at different models. Hope this helps!

  • sc May 24, 2014, 11:20 pm

    For myself, Living in a house is the only option, the only real choice is what size; tiny, small or large, because I plan to have a family in the future. Wouldnt think of living in a trail traveler UNLESS it was handmade gypsy style.

    • Sally May 25, 2014, 12:44 am

      I just can’t seem to lose my “cranky old broad” reputation on here. I try so hard to be nice, but here goes…SC, a lot of people who live in travel trailers and older RVs never planned to actually live in one. Life and economics have a way of screwing up the best of plans, so never say “the only option” or “wouldn’t think of” because detours tend to be waiting right around the corner. During interviews, most centenarians say one of the secrets to a long life is adaptability…being able to accept change and grow from life’s lessons. It sure makes life a lot easier than trying to force it down a set of train tracks. Good luck to you. A vardo just might be the ticket to an adventurous life!

      • mountaingypsy September 9, 2014, 5:01 am

        Sally, I have only been reading this site a short time, so don’t know about your crankiness, but I would be proud of that! ha. I agree with your comments. People have lived in RV’s, ancient mobile homes and shacks for years, either by choice or necessity of circumstance, as you said. Also the fulltime RV lifestyle seems to be more popular. Adaptability is most necessary these days, if one sees the bad changes and events happening daily. No one can predict what life will do or what you will or won’t do in a crisis. Many people have lost their jobs and homes and would have been thrilled to have an RV or such. The homeless numbers are horrible and too many that don’t eat enough. A lot of people now have the good sense to downsize and get rid of their McMansions. I am fascinated by these tiny houses and/or living in an RV. I hope this will catch on and the ‘powers’ that be, will allow more flexibility to locate these homes. I don’t see how a well built tiny house is such a problem, when RV’s and old mobiles are around. A lot of people need to get together per town or community to change the codes. Also the prep groups need to think about the tiny homes, and get out of the cities.

        • Lisa E. January 30, 2015, 12:50 am

          We need to get together and encourage the powers that be to see the light and change the laws that favor the wealthy, McMansions for building kickbacks, and local administrators seeking bigger salaries because McMansions bring higher property taxes. This is a rigged system and it needs to be changed.

          The reason the powers favor the RV’s is because they are commercially made by corporations and require all sorts of commercial parking and licenses in support of business owners, whereas TH’s are built by “the little people” from salvage in many cases and don’t come certain regulations that they can really control. They don’t want us asserting our independence from them.

          I completely agree with you, mountaingypsy, that we need to have groups to take on the entrenched and overreaching establishment that is trying to keep us from having what we believe is best for us.

          Dee Williams had to get a special variance to have her tiny house in the backyard. It was granted with the proviso that no others would EVER be granted to anyone. This is not only offensive, it is fundamentally wrong.

          I’m really hoping that at some point, someone (who is also a lawyer) will help us set up workshops that teach people how to address the stranglehold local administrators have on all of this. These admin types have no right to take away our ability to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness just because they want their palms greased with big bucks salaries and closed admission to their inner circles of for-profit corruption. We need to face this head on at some point.

        • Donna Cussac January 30, 2015, 7:13 pm

          AHO !!!!!

        • mountaingypsy February 1, 2015, 4:57 am

          Lisa, It will most likely take a mass of lawyers to help with this issue. There is too much greed and corruption, over rules/permits/codes/taxes/zoning and such. We ought to be able to live in what we want. Not everyone wants or can afford a Mc Mansion. I think the TH are terrific and offer a much better home than an RV, mobile home or cheap house. It is strange that RV or mobile parks can’t/won’t allow these stylish and well built homes. But as we know, the powers outlaw them! The pursuit of happiness and freedom to live, is lost. I remodeled a place a few years ago, and was livid about what I had to do, when the previous owner did nothing to code. I think these TH’s are probably better constructed than the thrown together spec homes in many neighborhoods. I despise lobbyists, but perhaps a few are needed for this industry to move forward, and allow neighborhoods to evolve. I see no difference in tiny homes, as many apartments are now being built nearly this small. (studio) And more people being homeowners would be nice. Apartment rentals are insanely expensive. I do not know IF city council types would help. And the TH official builders need to band together for their industry.

  • Jon A. gibson May 25, 2014, 12:54 am

    I guess the whole shootin’ match don’t come down to better or worse, it depends on the individual & their preferences (TH & TT have room to meet in the middle, too)!

  • Tamsyn May 25, 2014, 1:13 am

    Great comparison. The one thing that wasn’t covered that is more applicable to me is having multiple sleeping quarters. I’ve got 5 kids. There are lots of families living full-time in RVs, even very large families like the Ticknor Tribe and the Kelloggs. RVs are often designed to add in lots of sleeping quarters. Granted, it’s possible in a TH too, but I can’t really find any examples with families with more than two kids, and even those are hard to find. I have to think that there’s a reason for it. Often these families have converted busses or remodeled their RVs, and added insulation, so the off-gassing isn’t a big deal. There are also some absolutely adorable remodels out there, so the cute factor is mostly an exterior thing. My research began with tiny houses and I still love following, but my dream now is to full-time RV. But then again, I’ve got a little bit of a travel bug in me.

  • Colin May 25, 2014, 5:55 am

    I am in UK and relate to UK situation. If anyone knows of a UK blog please let me know – thanks.

    I am thinking of converting a horse box truck – many not only carry horses but living accommodation already built in for the riders leaving all the horse space to convert for what you want. Reasons

    1) When towing the towed vehicle needs to be balanced to keep it running in line with the car. I have never seen any reference to that in TH designs

    2) By using a truck with appropriate sized engine (6l engine for 7.5t gross weight truck) you can use bikes/electric bikes small cars for running around at destination. A land Rover getting 27 mpg has a 3.5ton draw bar limit the truck claims 24 mpg) – how many TH in ‘live in’ state would with its trailer be within this limit – I don’t know and I have not found any info.

    3) You can drive a 7.5t truck on car driver’s licence in UK.

    4) The basic truck leaves you with over 2t weight available

    5) Whilst these days horse boxes tend to be built in metal there are still some being built with wood body work. Prices around £5000 s/h and even some with very low mileage, but truck engines are built with high mileage in mind.

    6) the rear loading ramp makes a great sitting out area and when pulled up adds to security. Spring loaded or even hydraulic.

    Would enjoy getting any comments either here or by email [email protected]. Thanks

    • Celeste May 26, 2014, 5:59 pm

      I think it’s a brilliant idea! Except then I would want to add a horse… 🙂 some of those outfits are fancier & have almost as much room as my little house that we raised 4 kids in, & my in laws had 6! Size wise I think we are spoilt now. I asked the same question about what truck to use to haul & I got an awesome answer. I will find it & email it to u. I have decided to go with a 5th wheel trailer because: I found one cheap & have access to a 5th wheel truck! (Family is awesome!)
      Best of luck! Celeste

    • Lisa E. January 30, 2015, 1:16 am

      A while ago, there was an exquisite house-box on Tiny House Swoon. I tried to pull it up, but I think things get taken down each time a new Swoon is posted because all I was getting was “internal error” messages.

      Anyway, since you are in the UK, maybe you could write them and ask permission to go down and have a look at it; or they might email you some pics. It is totally awesome. Their address is:

      HouseBox, Kinton (Quarry) Rorrington, Montgomery Shropshire, UK

      It is a converted vintage Bedford TK horsebox

  • Brenda Russell October 1, 2014, 4:29 pm

    Since I’m environmentally sensitive, I can tell you for a fact that manufactured housing (such as RVs, travel trailers, mobile homes and the like) are quite toxic. It’s all plastic, particle board, and other artificial substances that off-gas things like formaldehyde – and I’m not quite ready for embalming, thank you very much! My sister rents a space for a travel trailer near her favorite ski area, and when the pipes burst so that most of the interior needed replacement, we discovered that I couldn’t spend more than about 20 minutes inside without gasping for air, etc. It apparently takes three to five YEARS for most of the off-gassing to “clear” the air enough for me to not notice the effects.
    That being the case, I vote for the tiny house on wheels, or not on wheels even, since I could then choose the inert materials I need to live with. What’s inert, you ask? Non-reactive, meaning I don’t find myself heading for an emergency room. For me, that would include wood, glass, porcelain or ceramic tile, stone, iron and stainless (no nickel or aluminum); for fabrics, I am limited to cotton, linen, silk, wool, and some rayons (hemp and bamboo, usually). This is not entirely a bad thing, though, since I prefer the natural fibers – they are much easier to work with as well as feeling nicer, and they are for the most part cleaner for the environment. Are natural materials heavier than toxic synthetics? You bet. That makes them excellent insulators – thank goodness I’m not sensitive to down or feathers!

  • Bob October 1, 2014, 7:58 pm

    It seems practical to me to reuse. To gut and rebuild a RV or trailer; especially if it has been purchased with that in mind, can make it really affordable. Toxicity is usually in the fittings (carpets, linings, and built in bits) not the basic structure as such, once the ugly plastic coated fibre board and the like is removed you’re left with a pretty basic structure to work with which allows all kinds of freedom. As it’s mainly internal also you don’t need to be highly skilled to refurbish. Sure unless you find an exceptional trailer, house truck, or bus cute is not the norm, and of course it’s difficult to build a tiny house thats not (cute).

  • ANTHONY October 22, 2014, 8:10 am

    OK, I can see the difference in a RV and a tiny home but where do park models fall? New they are about $40,000 and look like a home inside with tile floors, full bath and kitchen?

  • William December 30, 2014, 3:15 pm

    I think tiny houses on wheels are hindering (at least in the USA) the evolution of house design. Until the authorities accept that tiny houses are the only way a large part of the population will ever become home owners. Because so many tiny homes are setup as RVs this issue never is addressed.

  • T January 29, 2015, 9:44 pm

    The code are in place for a reason and the more I do research on Tiny Houses the more I see why the people in power have the codes. People are using anything to live in and building with anything. If this keeps up tiny homes will be banned and that will be

  • Pat Dunham January 30, 2015, 12:27 am

    I also pretty much agree with the pros and cons and appreciate the article with all the advise. It should be a big help to everyone reading it. A thought came to mind that if a person wasn’t sure about their ability to live in a tiny space, buying an RV that would cost them a lot less than a tiny home would give them the opportunity to try out the lifestyle before making the big financial commitment. Either way, I’d say go for it.

  • Karen R January 30, 2015, 1:05 am

    We lived in our custom (less windows, thermal windows, our own furniture, washer/dryer) RV for nearly 10 years and loved it, but our tiny home is warmer in winter, has the extra half bath and is hurricane resistant. It will last many, many more years, as long as any conventional home. BUT it isn’t suitable for traveling.

    By the way, our fifth wheel was featured in the April 2002 “Trailer Life.” It showed how we took our antiques, paintings and collections with us. Less windows and more size appropriate furniture allowed us to hang shelves and artwork plus be more creative with furniture arrangement. We also replaced the carpet with nice vinyl (we had friends who were able to replace theirs with wood, even the slides). We even added an electric fireplace with an antique fireplace surround.

    Want to keep on the move? Go with an RV. Want to just live simply in one place? I would go with a tiny house.

    • Marcy April 2, 2015, 10:53 pm

      I think you hit it right on the head – a tiny house if you plan to move it rarely, updated RV/5th wheel if you’re going to be on the move.

  • Karen R January 30, 2015, 1:22 am

    One thing I failed to point out is the fact that so many people forget the cost of upkeep for motorhomes I worked in RV parks and the main reason for cancellations was motorhome breakdowns. Fifth wheels provide more space at a lower price. We figured we could pay to have our fifth wheel towed six or more times a year and spend much less than buying our own truck. There was always someone available and willing to make a few dollars. Although we towed our first “home,” an all original vintage Airstream, we never towed the fifth wheel.

  • Greg Burns January 30, 2015, 8:46 am

    Back in 1992 I decided to find a new(er) RV in which to reside. Tried purchasing a 26 foot “Wilderness” BUT because I “admitted” on the financing application that I “intended to live in it”, I was DENIED a loan! It “seems” that IF you “fall behind” on a loan for JUST a camper, then they can “repossess it” immediately. BUT if you’re LIVING in it, it may take up to 6 months to “evict you”. So the NEXT time I “played dumb”. Was able to buy a NEW “Shasta” 25 foot “5th Wheel”, which was “reduced” at the “end of the (camping) season” from $18,000 to $10,000! It was FULLY EQUIPPED (except for a toilet paper holder and towel bar in the bathroom?!), and I paid a complete stranger to tow it to “Ryder Park” in Milford, CT (which, unfortunately, was ripped down to make yet ANOTHER “Wal-Mart”!). So I paid $141.00 per month for the 12 year RV loan + $315.00 for the trailer park space rental (which included all lawn care/snow removal…) + less than $100 for electricity/propane/land-line telephone service. For just about $600.00, I had a nice, comfortable, clean, safe place to live, with lots of nice neighbors! LOVE the “tiny house” designs, but in my case, the RV route worked for me. Have since owned a 1992 22 foot “Toyota Tacoma”-based “Itasca Micro Spirit” (same model as the “Winnebago Micro Warrior”…) motorhome, a 1986 “Renault Micro Van”-based 1986 22 foot “Winnebago LeSharo” motorhome, a 2006 22 foot “Airsteam International CCD” (really cool “retro” interior!) trailer, and finally a 2006 22 foot “Mercedes Sprinter”-based “Parkway” motorhome. THAT one was ALMOST $96,000.00! YIKES! WAY TOO EXPEN$IVE for ME this time. But GORGEOUS and achieved between 20mpg & 25mpg with the turbo-diesel engine. That’s better than MOST cars! LOL! Keep up the GREAT job on this site folks! Makes my day to read ALL the articles and follow-up “blogs”! 🙂

  • Vicky White January 30, 2015, 3:08 pm

    I just returned from living in Canada to live back in New Zealand and I bought a bus all refurbished. I love it – lots of windows and lots of envy from RV owners. I’m living and working in my bus – so far I’ve put an awning on it, and this week I’m having solar panels installed so I can operate my blender and charge my computer/phone without worrying. I plan to live in warm parts of NZ – moving north as it gets cooler. For me – being able to move about is the most important thing right now – I love tiny homes and would like to build one when I find somewhere I want to stay more permanently – but likely I’ll still want a bus as I’m bit of a nomad and love being able to take my home with me like a turtle. I think it comes down to personal preference – and how mobile you want to be. No right or wrongs – just finding what’s best for you right now.

  • kid cardona February 1, 2015, 1:16 am

    Very good points on everything. One thing l would add is that a tiny home you need something to pull it, RV you don’t.
    RV nice but not always roomy enough, tiny home is like a mini manshon when designed right.
    For me, my plans are build a tihy home on my ranch, about 500 sq ft. Buy a step van, and turn that into a mini home/mobile business office for traveling to various fairs every where.

    • Karen R April 2, 2015, 11:04 pm

      Pull behind camping trailers, fifth wheels, motorhomes (Class A, Class B, and Class C) are all RV s, so some RVs are pulled while others have their own engines. Just wanted to clarify.

  • Lisa E. To Mountaingypsy February 1, 2015, 9:46 am

    I believe that it will take small fights all over this country, with and/or without lawyers, but people who are committed to the Tiny House Movement (THM) who will be willing to run the gauntlet to create change.

    I believe that most of the RV park owners belong to the Chamber of Commerce, and this is an organization that is pro-corporate and will block anything other than their own conservative control over every market. They don’t want the THM gaining any traction because it is counter to commercially, corporately, big box industry produced living spaces, excessive rents and their political views (most tiny housers being of the liberal persuasion) in the market place.

    I agree with you about the cheaply made McMansion spec houses. I was in Arizona several years ago and saw a lot of tract housing being built by illegal aliens from Mexico and farther south. These houses were stick frames covered with chicken wire, wrapped in Tyvek and sprayed with some kind of Styrofoam, and not much more. They were selling them in the mid 130 thousand dollar range. This type of commercial construction falls far below the quality of the vast majority of tiny houses on wheels (THOW’s).

    As for lobbyists, they are paid hacks for big box industry and I doubt they will ever make an appearance in the THM unless and until the THM becomes very mainstream which I don’t see happening in our life time.

    Yes, I agree that apartments are insanely expensive; but so is everything else. This is disaster by design as part of the “austerity” policies of a fascist government in its efforts to drive all of the money into the hands of the ultra wealthy (the 1%-ers; Koch brother types). I knew this was coming when they deregulated rent control in New York City. Now, an efficiency apartment in NYC that used to cost $425.00, a month can’t be touched for under $5,000.00, a month and in many instances even much, much, more.

    As for “city council types” helping us… I believe they are the reason we are being blocked. They are Right-wing conservatives that believe in McMansions and are the ones responsible for current policy on this.

    As for the builders banning together to fight this… if you are talking about professional carpenters, at the moment there aren’t enough of them to make a difference and they are fanned out all over the country. Most of the professional TH builders are out-of-work commercial builders who have reconfigured themselves just to survive. I think the more likely scenario is tiny house buyers and DIY builders are going to have to be the answer. When the economy gets bad enough that enough people are driven into alternative living circumstances and become angry enough at the status quo, and the need and demand for quality, affordable housing rises then there will be enough people to take on the establishment and start to make the necessary changes. But it’s still too early in the evolution of the movement and this country is still functioning on the residual wealth of the past in the hands of average people and McMansion owners who still have jobs, and those of us at the forefront of the THM are having to catch as catch can for places to park and live.

    The best solution at the moment is for those who can to purchase a large enough plot of land and put up a TH Park and, for all intent and purpose, look like any other RV park to, not only provide the needed affordable parking, but get it past the McMansion people. Otherwise, for the moment, there just aren’t enough tiny housers to make a difference to the city council types and so the problems of finding a place to park and live will continue to be a problem.

    • mountaingypsy February 1, 2015, 7:42 pm

      Lisa, Terrific comments. One of these days, the rules will have to change a bit due to the amount/demand of TH’s, if it progresses. They allow RV parks and mobile home ones, even the old crappy ones, so why not allow a TH park? I am impressed with their quality. IF marijuana is finally getting attention and allowed in several states, perhaps the TH will become accepted! They can always figure a way to tax and make their money…..

    • Karen R April 2, 2015, 11:09 pm

      Amen, Sister! Those in local government prefer that those who can’t afford – at the least – a mini-McMansion simply be homeless, living in their cars, under bridges, or in the woods.

  • Ann February 1, 2015, 10:43 am

    I also have a RV this is my second one in 8 yrs. I love it. but it does have some of the things wrong with it that were described above. I have a leak that I have to find, but when I do I will do some remodeling. I want to replace the kitchen sink, its just too big. I also want to get rid of the gas stove. I love my home, and could live in it the rest of my life.

  • Greg Burns February 2, 2015, 6:45 am

    Believe there was an earlier “blog” that was somehow a bit “incorrect”. The person was comparing the fact that “RVs can move by themselves while tiny houses must be towed…” Remember: ONLY motorized MOTORHOMES can move under their own power. “Pops ups”/”Fold Downs”, “Travel trailers”, Truck Campers”, and “5th Wheels” CANNOT “move under their own power…they NEED to be “towed” by some very ample-powered cars, pickup trucks, or SUVs. I’ve had both, so know this is a FACT. So just be careful “lumping” ALL Rvs “together”. They are ALL a bit different… Thanks! 🙂
    P.S. And since 1954, just around the time the Lucille Ball & Desi Arnaz theatrical movie, “The Long, Long Trailer” came out, designations changed. BEFORE that ALL “trailers” were 8 feet wide at the widest, and widths, and lengths, and heights, and weights made it possible for an average “car-of-the-day” to lug one (although one RV Dealer admits there was NO WAY Lucy & Desi’s 1954 “Mercury” convertible could’ve managed to tow THAT HUGE “New Moon” trailer! LOL!). AFTER 1954, 10 foot WIDE trailers were “suddenly” marketed, BUT needed to be “professionally towed” to a semi-permanent parking spot, hence the term “mobile home” was born, which, obviously a kind of misnomer, as “mobile homes” RARELY move (unless there’s a major hurricane in the neighborhood! YIKES!). And NOW, anything 8 FEET 6 INCHES WIDE (at the widest…) is considered a “trailer”; one that usually spends ALL year at a “campground” (most of which ONLY have a “season” between, say, April & October…) and has “house-style/sized” refrigerators & toilets is called a “park model”; and finally, anything MUCH LARGER or made with MULTIPLE SECTIONS (i.e. “double-wide”, “triple-wide”, etc.) is considered a “mobile home”, OR in “Politically Correct” terms: A “Manufactured Home”…)
    Enough said…and I HAVEN’T even HAD any COFFEE YET! LOL! ;-D

  • scott martin February 8, 2015, 7:05 pm

    I am a professional scrounger. [I.E The Great Escape ]Used to be a prof. old house restorer. Regulations and a desire to be a scrounger pushed me into it. Tiny homes really are appealing to me. Having some land and a smaller home is great. A huge garden etc. And yes, Tiny home subdivisions would be great. I have 2 former camper trailer frames that I plan on making a tiny home on one of them that is tow worthy. Really am excited on starting on it. It will be a real rustic woodsy look to it.

  • Greg Burns April 3, 2015, 6:59 pm

    JUST to “clarify”: “RV’s” means “Recreational Vehicle” which is almost ANY kind of camper OR motor home! Remember: there are “travel trailers”, “pop-up/fold-down campers”, “5th wheel” trailers”, “toy haulers” (i.e with self-contained mini-“garages”!), “pick-up truck campers”, Class A motor homes (i.e. “bus”-style…), “Class B” motor homes (i.e. “van”-based…) and “Class C” motor homes (i.e. pick-up truck-based, similar to a “U-Haul” van…), so PLEASE BE AWARE that there are MANY KINDS of “RV’s” out there, and SOME are better/nicer/safer than others! Trust me! I’ve had SEVERAL! ;-D

  • Susanne April 12, 2015, 11:54 pm

    Greg-my head is swimming! So out of all of those, which would you recommend for
    1) people who often want to travel
    2) people who don’t travel, at least not often.
    3) people who never travel.
    Now I have no idea what to do; choices, choices!!!! 🙁

  • Greg burns April 13, 2015, 9:26 am

    Susanne, SO SORRY if “your head is swimming”! WHOA! Didn’t MEAN to get anybody more confused than necessary! As far as what is “best” for any one person, or a couple or a family or a group of friends? That’s one of those things you need to “research” in person, either at an “Annual RV Show”, or by driving to local dealerships. Where I live in Connecticut, unfortunately, TOO NEAR THE COAST, everybody wants BOATS! So TRY to find a “camper” dealer “nearby”. Ain’t NONE (well, anymore. There WERE some when I was a kid…). All the Connecticut RV dealers seem to be WAY upstate, near the Massachusetts or Rhode Island borders, “where the WOODS are”! But, normal “rule of thumb”: beginning “campers”, couples, smaller families, usually start out with a “pop-up/fold-down”, because they are relatively inexpensive and light weight (for easier towing with smaller vehicles…) However, although most “pop-ups” have 2 large beds (in the “tented parts”…), and there is a small galley/kitchen, there’s usually NOT a bathroom (however, a “porta-potty” can be stored in a cabinet for use when needed…). “Travel Trailers” are the next step up. Roomier, sturdier, more equipment, more sleeping areas, usually a full kitchen and bath (or at LEAST a “wet bath”, which kind of a phone booth with a toilet, sink & shower hose overhead…). “Truck campers” are the ones that slide directly into the bed of a pickup truck. they are great for fishermen & hunters & people towing small boats or horse trailers behind them. These RV’s tend to be smaller inside, and sometimes a bit “difficult” to load and unload (they have crank-down or electric poles at each corner to “stand it in place” while the pickup is backed in or out from under it. The “Fifth Wheel” is like a travel trailer, BUT the front part is raised up (and usually holds the “master bedroom” or sometimes the kitchen or even the living room! COOL!) and slides onto a hitch in the bed of a pickup truck. Many retired couple prefer this style, because they are really roomy and comfortable and somewhat more luxurious. As far as “motorhomes”? OY! Okay, this is IT: “Class A” is the “bus-style”/”size” version that often has a diesel motor in the rear, under the bedroom. these are usually “top-of-the-line” and could get a bit pricey! The “Class B’ is the “van-style/size”, which, while somewhat smaller, usually have the SAME amenities available, but is easier to drive and park and way better on gas. Some use V-8 or V-10 engines (YIKES!), although my newest “Airstream Parkway” utilized the recent “Mercedes Benz” 5-cylinder turbo-diesel engine, which was rated for anywhere from 15 to 25 miles per gallon! That’s better than many new CARS! Lastly, the “Class C” is the other “van-style/size” version, that resembles a “U-Haul” moving truck: there is usually a bunk bed area above the front seats, and the rest of the camper is similar to the other kinds. If you JUST have a motorhome, you have to drive it everywhere . Otherwise, you need to tow a small car or SUV behind you (which may require yet ANOTHER “trailer” to keep them off the road!). Also, if the motorhome has mechanical “issues”, you can’t “live in it” while it’s in the garage being repaired. OOPS! So many folks prefer to leave their “trailer”-style RV at a National Park or paid campground and use their tow vehicle to “get around”. Believe there’s a web site entitled http://www.GoRVing.com on which you can sign up for an informational brochure and DVD which describes ALL of my above comments in a bit more technical detail. Hope this helped a bit! And PLEASE keep those “Official Esther Williams” water wings handy in case your head starts swimming again LOL! ;-D
    P.S. Oh, and lest I forget to mention “slide-outs”? there are both the older “tip-out” and the newer “slide-out” sections, which greatly increase the inner dimensions of roominess! Visualize a giant drawer sliding out of a dresser. That’s what they look like. They work at the push of a button, either electrically, hydraulically, or even pneumatically! And retract easily, too. Sometimes it makes “getting around” inside the camper a bit trickier when they’re “closed”. And they usually co$t substantially more, BUT, if you NEED more ROOM, they’re definitely WORTH IT! And with roll-out awnings, you can add some zip-up screen to form outdoor rooms as well. NICE!

  • Stacy October 18, 2015, 9:30 am

    Be aware, for those of you thinking that an RV might be easier, due to the regulations around the TH, that there are just as many, if not more, problems around RVs. I didn’t see any mention of smaller RVs, so I thought I’d throw this wrinkle in. My husband and I built a teardrop trailer, and while most people look at it and are amazed that it’s a homebuilt, there are RV parks that won’t allow us in. We get a lot of rude remarks from the folks that own the huge RVs. And some RV parks don’t allow any RVs older than 10 years. So, as you can see, there’s a lot of work to be done on all fronts!!

  • John R November 11, 2015, 10:37 pm

    Lots of interesting comments on this site. I’m a child of the 60s with the stereotypical history wandering the country with significant other of that era in a really small beater of a converted VW microbus. Great memories but alas returned to school->career->save->retire traditional life. My kids have bitten on the tiny home idea and I have gone the RV route with pop ups to class A motorhomes over the last 25 years. Finances, simplicity, and greenish tendencies motivate the kids and traveling gypsy lifestyle motivate my wife and I, seems sort of typical.

    Most of the reasoning above is sound, camp vehicles below about $200,000 new are lightly built and prone to creaks, leaks, and rapid heat loss but they are easily relocated. Tiny homes will be personalized, heavier and well insulated but as a stuffy old guy I have concerns. Many want to repurpose materials and have a large DIY component in their home. Fine if you are a craftsman but I worry that many would not have the skills to really build a quality house. Trusting a friend you think is knowledgable can be a mistake. A desire for freedom including freedom from codes, utility free off grid living, stealth camping etc. is not alien to mme.

  • John R November 11, 2015, 11:55 pm

    Lots of interesting comments on this site. I’m a child of the 60s with the stereotypical history of wandering the country with significant other of that era in a really small beater of a converted VW microbus. Great memories but alas returned to school->career->save->retire traditional life. My kids have bitten on the tiny home idea and I have gone the RV route from pop ups to class A motorhomes over the last 25 years. Finances, simplicity, and greenish tendencies motivate the kids and traveling gypsy lifestyle motivate my wife and I.

    Most of the reasoning above seems sound, camp vehicles below about $200,000 new are indeed lightly built and prone to creaks, leaks, fumes, and rapid heat loss but they are easily relocated. Tiny homes will be more personalized, heavier and well insulated but as a stuffy old guy I have concerns. Many want to repurpose materials and have a large DIY component in their home. Fine if you are a craftsman but I worry that many would not have the skills to really build a quality house. Trusting a friend you think is knowledgable can be a mistake. A desire for freedom including freedom from codes, utility free off grid living, stealth camping etc. is not alien to me but I can hear ‘I learned so much building the first tiny house the next one will really be done right’ already. I fear someone trying to save by getting a second hand unit will get stuck with a real headache. There will be predictions of a tiny home village turning into a shanty town.

    As for the compromise of camper mobility vs stick built construction and personality there are communities with attached airplane hangars or motorhome ports. Maybe a couple hundred usq ft anteroom could serve entertainment, dining, and sleeping while small camper docked to the rear under roof provided cooking and bath. That would cut the costs of the fixed structure. Inflatable seals exist to keep out bugs at the door passage. Then tow the camper away for adventures?

    Next I hear rants about the establishment is against our pursuit of happiness and a simpler life because it is not big business. Well it could become one. The idea of stratified developements allowing tracts with homes of 200-400 sq ft, 400-800 sq ft, etc could be profitable. They are transportable and therefore could be manufactured like park homes but with heavier grade construction. The idea of plopping one into a development of 2200 sq ft homes is not likely to fly. There was also someone on a website complaining about home owner associations. He could not put tiny home on some inherited land because of covenants his parents signed so the whole HOA idea was a scam. There will always be disputes and community decisions to make. Is it ok for bill’s band to practice in his 250 sq ft home next to Elaine who works nights, can Emily raise alpacas, there’s a 3 ft hole at the end of larry’s drive, is it his job to fix or shared responsibility. I’ve had several homes and if the peers in a community do not set up a way to resolve spats the developer or government will and they have less in common with you than your neighbors.

    Well just a couple of concerns but mostly I hope your small space living can find its niche and grow. Good luck but for now I guess I’ll keep the old McMansion. As they say if you’re offered a penny for your thoughts and you give them your 2 cents worth, you’ve been taken.

  • Ricky J. November 25, 2015, 6:05 am

    Can I have someone speak on cost please? The cost of building (either helping with the build or hiring a builder) a tiny home versus the cost of renovating a RV? Whilst I am an environmentalist, I am also a 26 year old, soon to be entering into her masters program full time, working full time, trying to pay off student loans, and develop a substantial savings to launch my own business. *Gasp, exhale* Sorry for the run on sentence, but enthusiasm is due to those very reasons. Living in LA, most apartments, regardless of bedroom quantity are of the same square footage, offered at higher point, and never really yours is not something I want to be apart of anymore. I tired of giving my money away, instead I want the independence and financial freedom that so many of you speak of.
    I’ve done some research on the two, however I’m still perplexed as to which route to choose. I like the idea of the RV, like an airstream model, because I’ve seen a few for sell for 5 grand and less but I’m unsure on whether renovations will cost more than its worth or who to even go to for renovations for that matter. I really enjoy the tiny home because of the sturdiness many of you have stated but also the aesthetic qualities of designing a home that mirrors a mid century modern house for the fraction of the cost. I don’t plan to travel across the country heavily, however, I would like the option of taking my home with me (whether out the state or even country) depending on which school I choose for my masters program.

    Please help. How did you all come to your final decision? Is it solely based on whether you intend to travel? Aesthetics? Did you try both out for an extended period of time?

    Thank you and best regards,
    Ricky

    P.S. My family is big on camping, we own a motor home and when I was younger, grew up in a trailer home in a small country town, so I am fairly versed in RV/trailer living.

  • noel aynsley February 6, 2016, 6:34 pm

    I am interested from the Australian perspective. Two things… One; Especially builders who do the Tiny House on trailers in NSW. Second; Toyota or VW style vans. Small yes but workable. Pros and cons.

  • Beck May 2, 2016, 8:47 am

    I’m glad to have found this and will keep an eye on articles such as this for the next several years to see where the trend goes. When I retire, I plan to go tiny and I want to be portable. I still have about 15 years, but I want to start planning now. I already live small (under 1,000 sq. ft.), but it is a traditional house. I grew up camping, so I have been really confused when watching the tiny home shows on TV about why anyone would build a tiny home vs an RV already built with mobility in mind. This article helps, but I have more work to do before deciding.

  • Richard July 4, 2016, 5:40 pm

    With regard to motorhomes, I love the idea of driving my house from place to place on it’s own power. But, I must consider downside; if a major system fails, like my gas / diesel engine goes out, or a transmission, etc., fails, now my home has to go to the shop for expensive repairs and I’m suddenly homeLESS. Maintenance is a key factor. THs and TTs do not have this concern as their propulsion is independent from the living quarters.
    Another consideration for both motorized and non-motorized tiny dwellings (sorry for being gloom and doom) is fire. If you downsize to the point of having all your worldly possessions in 200 – 300 square feet and that space is made of wood, or god-forbid, fiber glass and plastic, a fire would be devastating. Just do a Google or YouTube search for RV fire, and the same sobering thought applies to THs. Thought must be given to mitigate this risk.
    And even these harsh realities wouldn’t deter me. I’m still dreaming of an ’89 Bluebird Wanderlodge, refurbished with a leather and hardwood interior.

  • Jon Donahue August 31, 2016, 12:37 pm

    Maybe the sweet spot is to buy one or more small serviced lots in nice but broke small towns… park the RV on the lot with connex to elec-water-sewer… and then buy a small prefab building, big enough for a good-sizedkitchen, bathroom, and storage area… and have it next to the RV.
    There HAS to be a way to live well without buying a ‘real’ house, with all the bother, maintenance, and taxes that comes with one.
    Alternative… to buy a dilpidated junk house, park the RV next to it, then rehab the junk house bathroom and kitchen. Something like that? Sleeping in the RV is quite comfortable…

  • Jessica Kazeno October 22, 2016, 12:38 am

    It seems to me that vardos (Gypsy/Roma caravans) are in some ways a category of their own. They are generally light, built for towing, homey, and cheap to make yourself (a few thousand dollars) depending on what you can salvage and do yourself.

    Admittedly, many modern vardos are built to stay in place, but there is still accessible information about building the kind that are meant for the road, even the highway. Some businesses also sell easily-towable vardos.

    I’ve noticed most vardo floor plans don’t seem to include a bathroom, but some do.

    Food for thought.

  • Sara Rafferty April 15, 2017, 9:43 am

    Well here is the deal; husband and wife in 70’s who show Siberian Huskies which includes travel. We currently reside in a 2000 sq foot home with a 600 sq ft kennel attached because we currently have 8 Siberians- 2 we are showing. We cannot sustain our lifestyle without both of us working. We are on 6 acres out in the country. We do have a dog sitter who comes twice a day when we are out of town and cost us $50 a day; we have an indoor/outdoor kennel. I am at the point where I want to get out of this house and out of debt before they carry us out.
    My husband not so much; he does not believe in looking more than one day ahead. We were unfortunately caught in the 2008 bust and we lost 70% of our retirement funds; our daughter was going to build a house on the property and we knew we could make it. Sadly, she passed away of a massive heart attack at age 45, we have a son but he lives in Mich and because of job cannot come to us in SC.
    We have a 1995 32 ft MH in pretty good condition- no slides(husband is an RV tech.. I want to make a tiny house on wheels for un and put on an acre of land, get the house and kennel cleaned up and sell it except for our acre or 2. I have an idea to build a large deck outdoor living area on the motorhome, that could be detached as we leave on a trip. But I cannot take 8 Siberians with us so I need to build on the back 4 5 ft x 8ft covered kennel runs. Our kennel room has a separate heat and air that we could use. The deck would be 32 by 20 with half of that an enclosed porch where we could use as a Family Room and have the dogs in there.
    I know it is a big endeavor but it would get us out of debt. Oh, we also have a large container. My husband cannot let go of anything; I may have to declare him unstable.

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie C. McKee April 17, 2017, 8:03 am

      I’m sorry to hear about all that! I do hope your plan to get out of debt is successful! It’s such a big burden 🙁

  • Art May 6, 2017, 5:43 pm

    Does a TH come with a title or a deed? If it’s a title, does it truly count as a house?

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie C. McKee May 8, 2017, 5:37 am

      If you have either, you’d have a title. And maybe not a house, but certainly a home 🙂

      • Art May 8, 2017, 6:49 am

        Except anything with a title deprecates. Home or no home. Having a hard time calling an TH anything but a Wooden TT that’s really heavy. Don’t get it.

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