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RV vs. Tiny House: Which is Better for You?

| Updated Jan 22, 2022

The tiny home movement brings together tiny homeowners and RV owners to find a better way to live flexibly. Still, there are major differences between these different styles. RV vs. Tiny House – which is better for you?

It should be no surprise there is currently a “tiny house movement.” The traditional home ties you as firmly to the ground as a typical house's concrete foundation. Plus the housing market is outrageous these days in terms of affordability.

Yes, regular homes get you more square footage than a small house. But with a traditional house's additional space comes a far higher overall expense. I'm talking about a mortgage or rent, not to mention maintenance costs and building codes to follow.

The RV industry and tiny house enthusiasts have found a creative solution. If you don't need a ton of interior living space, tiny homes and recreational vehicles can serve as a wonderful primary residence.

So if you're interested in entering the tiny home lifestyle, you have a choice to make. Do you invest in one of the many types of RVs, or a tiny house?

You can probably guess my choice (this is RV Lifestyle, after all). But here are the important differences separated into categories to help you make a decision.

RV vs. Tiny House Property Values

RV vs. Tiny House
RV vs. Tiny House

Let's face it – money is an important factor when deciding to dive into tiny living. There are key differences financially between tiny home owners and motor vehicle dwellers.

For example, in the short term, a used camper is more affordable than the average price of a tiny home. A new RV is currently sitting between the $150-200,000 mark as noted in our recent trip to the Florida RV Supershow!

While tiny home builders vary in terms of pricing, the finished products cost a lot per square foot. It's not outrageous to spend $100,000 or more, depending on the features included.

Meanwhile, a standard Class B or Class C RV with upgrades can set you back as noted well into the high $100,000. The main reason for this is that the RV market is booming at the moment.

However, a stationary tiny home, since it resembles a house, can hold or even increase in value over time. A mobile home might decrease in value much like a car does, but is easier to sell quicker due to the larger market, and currently many are selling over their original price.

Either way, you'll likely need to either own or rent land to live with your tiny house. RV parks are affordable if you don't own the land while giving you the flexibility to hit the road and set up shop elsewhere.

Some RV parks do allow tiny homes for short-term stays, though they're much harder to find than for traditional RVs. However, that may improve as traveling tiny homes become more popular.

Tiny house dwellers could seek out a specifically designated tiny home community. But then if you want to move to a new location, you need to find a buyer to take on this relatively niche lifestyle.

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RV vs. Tiny House: Which is Better for You? 1
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RV vs. Tiny House Aesthetic

If you want to live in a house that looks like a house, you probably won't be happy with a used RV. There's only so much you can do to dress up a camper van.

It's understandable if it feels like living in your average RV feels temporary, as if you're permanently on a camping trip. A house, even a small home, can give a vibe of putting down roots.

The importance placed on the interior floor plans makes a huge difference. By working with tiny house builders, there's more customizability for those who know exactly how they want to use their living area inside the home.

But, RV manufacturers have had decades longer than tiny house builders to perfect floor plans and optimize usability. Not to mention decades of tested designs that can endure extensive travel and a variety of weather conditions.

RV vs. Tiny House Customizability

RVs aren't as easy to change and build upon once purchased. However, they can be customized if purchased new. Some RV manufacturers can sell you custom build floor plans or lots of custom options, but these can run pretty expensive.

Of course, it's possible to gut the interior of an existing RV and design it to your heart's content. It's just not as easy to do compared to the blocky, house-like interiors of tiny houses.

Meanwhile, the main perk in tiny houses is the sheer customizability. Everything can be built according to the buyer's tastes, from size, shape, and overall style.

The buyer can choose a tiny house in the mid-century modern style, Moroccan, Japanese, or whatever a builder can accomplish. Inside the house can be custom designed much like a regular house is built from scratch.

Buyers can outfit their tiny house with specific kitchen tiling, cabinetry, and where and how big the bathroom gets.

The appeal of tiny house living is packing as many creature comforts into as small a space as possible. There is an entire market for creative storage and convertible living space. These have been shown off in viral social media videos, inspiring a lot of people inside and out of the RV lifestyle.

But, keep in mind, RVs have optimized storage spaces for many decades. They rely on tried-and-true, simple storage solutions rather than space-saving contraptions. Many are quite cool, I must say, but not necessarily the most practical.

RV vs. Tiny House Amount of Space

In terms of square footage, tiny homes earn their name. It's tiny. How tiny? We're talking anywhere from 100 to 400 square feet.

Why so small? Necessity. For them to be transported from the manufacturer to the land, a house can't really get much more than 300 square feet.

Not that RVs are any bigger, ranging from 200 to 400 square feet. Fifth-wheel trailers are a little more at 430.

RV vs. Tiny House Convenience

While tiny homes can be a good investment, they can be inconvenient for a number of reasons.

For one, there are the local regulations. Depending on where you want to live or stay, there are local laws in many places that make it impossible or extremely difficult to place a tiny house on the land.

You're also pretty much rooted to the land with a tiny house. It's not designed to travel off the land to see the national parks like an RV is designed to do. An RV is more mobile due to being built with more lightweight materials compared to tiny houses.

Also, if you can't handle stairs, many tiny homes have loft space that usually serves as the bedroom. Most RV living rooms are all on the same story.

One big convenience in a tiny home is that it has better insulation than an RV. So if you're living anywhere with harsh weather, a tiny house may be the better choice in terms of comfort.

RV vs. Tiny House – What's the Verdict?

For those who love frequent travel and want their tiny home to move, an RV can't be beat. But tiny home living has its advantages, especially aesthetically.

Do you have experience with both RVs and tiny houses? Let us know which you think are the advantages of each in the comments!

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What About the Florida Keys?

RV vs. Tiny House: Which is Better for You? 2

Do you want to hit Key West, the Everglades National Park, and all the other great things the Keys have to offer? Well, we have just the thing for you. Jennifer and I love traveling to the Keys, so we've created a complete 7-Day RV Adventure Guide: Florida Keys. This downloadable guide includes a suggested itinerary and a list of the best RV parks along the way.

We also have a 7-Day RV Adventure Guide to Florida's Atlantic Coast and Florida's Gulf Coast. If you're interested in all three, you should check out our Florida RV Travel Guide Bundle.

RV vs. Tiny House: Which is Better for You? 3

Mike Wendland

Published on 2022-01-25

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

3 Responses to “RV vs. Tiny House: Which is Better for You?”

January 27, 2022at9:24 am, FL Prepper MW said:

There seems to be a lot of misinformation RE: Tiny houses. I have a 354 Sq Ft Converted shed with a 12′ x 12′ attached addition. It is built on a full concrete foundation and stem wall and is not some box on a trailer with wheels. People can build a traditional small house very efficient and not on a trailer frame. I been living Off the Grid here in Central N Florida using solar for power for over 7 years and not had a single utility bill in 7 years. Do the math. I own the few acres of land and everything here is paid for and with this Tiny house on a real foundation. The total building cost is about $30K to $40K Still a work in progress. Buying a box on a trailer for $100K is foolish. I also looked into buying an RV 40 footer back in 2015 for about $80K. But without a free place to park it, you may be paying up to $30 a day at an RV resort, or a find a deal for about $500 a month for rental spot. I could not justify the RV route because the RV depreciates daily, where as my Fixed Tiny house on the land I own, continues to appreciate vs. you still have to maintain the RV with gas, oil Vehicle insurance, tires, etc. My Annual Tiny house property taxes are only $430 a year. So People, go find some rural land and build or put a shed conversion on it. My tiny house 100% Off the Grid is fully permitted. So you can live in FL Off the Grid. Lots of misconceptions about that fallacy floating around out there. Go for it folks, Live off the grid and declare your freedoms back.


January 29, 2022at8:32 am, René Joiner said:

Love this! I live in central Florida too and would be very interested in more of your thoughts. This is something I’ve thought about for a while! What is the best way to talk with you?


January 25, 2022at9:18 am, Jim Pankratz said:

You forgot to mention Park model trailers?


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