Tiny House vs RV: Which is Better?

Living in a home on wheels has its perks, one being that you get to explore the boundless world without being tied down to a foundation. With rising rent and mortgage prices and hardly any stability in the housing market, some choose to take the opportunity to live on wheels, which empowers homeowners through affordable housing and ease of travel. But there’s no way you can lug around a 1,500 square foot estate from Melbourne all the way to the middle of Tasmania. 

And that’s why living tiny and on wheels are two peas in a pod––the collaboration of a lifetime and the key to living free. Between a tiny house and an RV, which is better for your lifestyle? 

Why a Mobile Home?

A fifth wheel trailer rv camping in front of a mountain range with the awning extended.

The average cost of full-size houses is increasing. In 2020, the median cost of a new house was between $386,000 in Hobart and $872,000 in Sydney. Consider the massive credit requirement and interest fees that go hand-in-hand with mortgage costs, and you have the perfect concoction for financial disaster. Renting isn’t a cheap alternative, either, with an average cost of up to $540 per week for bigger cities. As a result, youth are moving away from the expensive housing market and into alternative options. 

Mobile homes are popular among wanderlusts who love to explore the country. The pandemic has contributed to the increasing demand for on-the-go housing, as it allows travellers to see new sights without the dangers of air travel and public ground travel. From a homeowner’s perspective, it’s also much cheaper to rent mobile parking space as opposed to permanent land. It can cost as low as $50 to park your house on wheels in an official space––and free if friends and family are willing to share their backyards. 

What is a Tiny House? 

A tiny house is a small abode, often between 15 and 40 square metres, and either one or two storeys tall. It’s a far cry from the average size of Australian homes, which, at 258 square metres, completely outsizes tiny modulars. But an increasingly shaky housing market within the country is pushing young professionals to think outside the norm and embrace a life not tied by a six-bedroom home. 

Tiny homes are more sustainable and eco-friendly in comparison to full-size estates, as their small size and off-site construction mean less materials and less waste are used and produced in construction. There are plenty of tiny homes in the market, from granny flats to modulars on foundation and options on wheels, so there’s one for every kind of lifestyle. If you’re looking into tiny houses on wheels, consider that they need to be attached to a car to move.  

What is an RV? 

An RV is short for a recreational vehicle, often a large-size vehicle or trailer with built-in accommodation and other living facilities. Unlike tiny homes on wheels, which need to be attached to a separate vehicle to move, an RV puts the best of both worlds together in a giant mobile home that scales about five to six times larger than a car. 

While RVs contain all the necessary facilities you need to live comfortably anywhere, it’s important to know that most models are made for camping or going on holiday. They’re not typically constructed for permanent living, and because they don’t classify as homes, it will be difficult to get financing for one. Moreover, as RVs are essentially vehicles, you don’t have the option to permanently mount them on land in the future. 

Considerations When Choosing Between a Tiny Home And RV

There are some key differences between a tiny home and an RV that can help you choose between the two. 

  • Flexibility –– tiny homes on wheels are considerably more flexible as you essentially have a separate house and car. This feature can be life-saving: if your house requires maintenance, you can still drive it away for maintenance. If the car breaks down, you still have a house to stay in while waiting for help. And for day-to-day activities, you can park the home and drive wherever. With an RV, you only have one big vehicle, which poses plenty of limitations concerning movement. 
  • Sustainability –– RVs are less sustainable than tiny homes as they don’t offer alternative energy sources to power the living facilities. With a tiny mobile house, you can install solar panels and other off-the-grid features, such as composting toilets. 
  • Outdoor space –– a big difference between the two options is that RVs are self-contained spaces, which means that all the facilities are within the vehicle. In contrast, you have the option to build some outdoor space in tiny homes, usually in the form of a porch or balcony. 
  • Convenience of travel –– RVs are usually easier to travel with as they’re compact and all-in-one, so you can just drive away any time. While tiny homes are also great for travel, they’re often better left parked in a nearby area as you explore with your car. 
  • Value –– RVs are classified as vehicles, while tiny houses on wheels are classified as homes, hence why they go up or down in value over time differently. Generally, vehicles depreciate quickly––especially with wear and tear. Tiny homes are better options if you’re looking for a housing option with a potential resale value, though you’ll also have to take into consideration depreciation caused by damages on the road. 

Which to Choose? 

After understanding the factors above, the only aspect left to consider is your lifestyle. If you have a large family, it might not be possible to cram everyone into a tiny home, which is meant to function as permanent accommodation. An RV may be ideal for family vacations and impermanent travel. 

In contrast, if you’re a single young professional looking for a permanent home, then a tiny house on wheels may be the better option. It offers you the flexibility and freedom of living and travel without the hefty price tag that comes with traditional housing. 

Either way, both options are great for adventurers-at-heart and will be able to last years with minimal maintenance. 

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