Tiny homes and RVs are often lumped into the same category because they share the common feature of being travel-friendly. In reality, tiny houses and RVs are completely different from each other, from construction to durability down to how they feel as homes.
So, are tiny homes better than RVs? Taking into account the structural integrity, design, affordability, and comfort that tiny homes offer compared to the cookie-cutter, corner-cutting solutions that the RV industry provides to its customers, it’s easy to see who’s the winner here.
In this article, we delve into the similarities and differences of tiny homes and RVs, and break down the top reasons why tiny homes are better than RVs.
Tiny House VS RV: Which One Is Better?
At first glance, tiny homes just seem like more expensive, slightly bigger versions of RVs. In some aspects, these two types of dwellings do share some similarities including:
- Towability: One of the defining features of RVs and tiny houses on wheels is mobility. Both are built on a trailer and are, by design, travel-friendly. Both dwellings offer the opportunity for both travel and leisure, right in your very home. You can cook, bathe, and travel with your house in tow.
- Where to Park: When not out and about, RVs and tiny houses can share the same parking spot. RV parks may have been exclusive to RVs once but more and more communities are opening their doors to tiny homes.
- Off-grid Mode: Both tiny homes and RVs can be configured to accommodate off-grid living. From solar panel hook-ups to the choice of propane appliances, modifications can be made in order to support a more independent lifestyle. Both RVs and tiny homes can be stocked to last weeks or even months without being connected to a utility line.
|Customizability||By design, tiny houses are made to be customized. Both the design and dimensions of the tiny house can be adjusted to your preference||Standard RVs are pre-manufactured and bought. RVs can be customized but can cost a lot|
|Cost||DIY tiny homes can cost as low as $5,000 to $10,000; more premium tiny homes can go upwards of $200,000||Standard RVs cost anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000. Bigger RVs can cost upwards of $100,000|
|General Purpose||Permanent dwelling units for year-round living||Seasonal visits, vacations, and excursions|
What Makes a Tiny House Different?
What makes a tiny house fundamentally different from an RV is its purpose. While RVs are designed and built with vacations in mind, tiny homes are constructed to serve as permanent dwelling structures. At the end of the day, tiny houses are just smaller versions of traditional homes.
This philosophy bleeds into every aspect of a tiny house. Instead of particleboards and cheaper materials, tiny homes are built with real wood and boast the same structural integrity as traditional real estate.
From insulation to framing to the exterior siding, tiny homes follow the same protocols when building a regular-sized home. Windows and doors follow standard sizes to serve as egressable exits, modern appliances (electric or propane) are installed for convenient day-to-day living, and standard living spaces found in traditional real estate are what make a tiny house a distinct space.
5 Reasons Why Tiny Homes Are Better Than RVs
Choosing between the two can be a difficult choice to make, especially if you’re not sure what exactly separates a tiny house from an RV. Lucky for you, we’re here to break down the facts and settle once and for all why tiny houses are a better option than RVs.
1. Tiny Homes Are Completely Customizable
A budget of $20,000 could fetch you the tiny house you love, with all the fittings, colors, and design you’ve been dreaming of. But convert that to RV money and you pretty much get the same thing as everyone else. RVs have a reputation for being cooking-cutter travel trailers; what you see is pretty much what you get.
On the other hand, tiny homes can be customized to include the special things you need, without the crazy costs. Because it’s being built from the ground-up, you have free reign over the things you want to add.
Just one episode of Tiny House Nation will show you how utterly flexible tiny houses are. Want to add a collapsible bunk bed on the wall? Done. Want to add a floating balcony for guests? No problem. It’s these personalized solutions that really make tiny houses feel like your permanent home.
2. Tiny Homes Are Safer
RVs are notorious for chemical poisoning. Whether it’s carbon monoxide poisoning due to poor ventilation, or formaldehyde “leaking” out on a hot day, the RV community is rife with horror stories centered on poor building choices.
Ever wondered why tiny houses don’t suffer the same bad rep? It’s because tiny house living is pretty much similar to “normal” house living. Tiny homes don’t use chemical-ridden glues to put up thin vinyl walls - builders use actual hardware to build solid walls and structures. The air quality in tiny homes are never a worry thanks to strategically placed doors, windows, and even a ventilation system.
When you’re part of the entire building process, you get a say into what goes into your home. By choosing chemical-free building materials, Corrine was able to build a 100% non-toxic, VOC-free tiny house. She used materials like magnesium oxide board for the walls, hemp oil for wood stain, and cotton batts insulation in order to make her tiny house as chemical-free as possible.
3. Tiny Homes Are More Suitable For Long-term Living
Just like RVs, tiny houses can be built as occasional dwellings. But more often than not, they’re built by people who are looking for better, cheaper, and more flexible residential options. Even with regular travel, tiny homes don’t experience the same wear and tear as RVs because of the very materials used in a tiny house.
The exteriors are lined with wood or corrugated steel, both of which can last decades with proper care. The walls are framed with wood or metal, and are built to stand through all sorts of travel and weather conditions.
Even the amenities you’d find in a tiny house are different from RVs. Instead of specialized appliances that are expensive to replace and repair, tiny homes use the same appliances you’d buy for any other type of home, allowing homeowners to go to work, travel, or just kick back and relax.
Ultimately, tiny homes are built with durable materials and are constructed to last for decades. Spending a day in a tiny house doesn’t feel like a novelty; it just feels like any other day in your home.
4. Tiny Homes Look Great
RVs have that distinct metallic, generic look. Even the more expensive ones that cost $100,000 to $300,000 don’t look anywhere near as good as the more affordable tiny homes.
This 24 x 8 feet modern-natural blend tiny house was built by Sam and Simone for only $12,000. By using reclaimed materials ($150 for their beautiful aluminum window panels and another extra $150 for the big french doors), they were able to bring down the total cost of their build.
Open windows, beautiful wood choices, and choice statement pieces make this tiny house a remarkable work of design and construction. It goes to show that tiny houses can be beautiful, even if you don’t have the biggest budget.
On the other side of the spectrum are homes like Matt and Lisa’s. If you don’t like the all-natural look of wood, you can go for corrugated steel (like they did) and build a tiny house that’s sleek and stylish. Their 29 x 8 x 14 feet tiny house features an extensive patio that extends their living space into the great outdoors.
The inside of the tiny house feels incredibly premium. From the spacious corridors, custom-made furniture, down to the marble kitchen countertops, everything about this tiny house feels elegant. At $50,000, they were able to build a spacious ultra modern tiny house with two bed areas and house modern comforts in such an innovative way.
These two examples just go to show that tiny homes look great, whether you have a $10,000 budget or a $70,000 budget. It all depends on your style choices, how you source your materials, and how much of the build you do yourself. Regardless of your budget, you’re bound to end up with a tiny house that has a unique character and style.
5. Tiny Homes Are Built For Year-Round Living
You can only travel so long in RVs until you start feeling cramped. RVs are not equipped for harsher weather conditions. Problems start to surface once you roll your RV out in the summer or winter.
The same is not true for tiny homes. When equipped with air conditioning units, heating systems, and great ventilation, tiny homes can be hauled anywhere, any time. Whether you’re living in hot and humid Florida or cold New York State, tiny homes are built to last through all the seasons.
Team Tiny House
Tiny houses may look better and cost less than RVs, but that’s not the reason why we’d choose them in a heartbeat. To most, it’s a new way of life, one where they don’t have to worry about debt or financial stress. With so much design, build, and budget flexibility, it’s easy to see why modern homeowners choose tiny homes over RVs.
At the end of the day, tiny houses are actual homes where you can grow and nurture a family. It’s a real space where you can live your day-to-day and live the life you’ve always dreamed of. Are you Team Tiny House or Team RV?
Hey, there! We're Ivan and Manuela from Croatia, and we're crazy about tiny houses. We don't own one (yet).
This website is a result of our passion to share all the knowledge, photos, tips and tricks that we were able to learn while studying everything possible about the tiny house movement.