Comparing Tiny Houses and Mobile Homes: A Practical Guide

Comparing Tiny Houses and Mobile Homes: A Practical Guide

All About Tiny Houses is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

rv on the road

We’ve been asked this question several times: what’s the difference between tiny houses and mobile homes? First, take note that a tiny house doesn’t necessarily have to be mobile. You can build it over a foundation or on wheels, whichever you prefer. Of course, one has advantages over the other. 

The differences between tiny houses and mobile homes go beyond that, from aesthetics to philosophy, to environmental impact, to efficiency, to finances. 

Without further ado, let’s talk about why tiny houses are better than RVs/mobile homes. 

Why Tiny Houses are Better Than RVs

Mobility

Tiny houses on wheels and RVs both offer mobility. They allow you to move around the country and enjoy a nomadic lifestyle.

RVs are more lightweight, and they can be transported easily with their aerodynamic design. On the other hand, tiny houses are heavier and have lots of places for the wind to catch and slow them down. 

So if you want to move your home frequently, then RV is the better choice. 

However, unlike RVs, tiny houses can also be built over a traditional slab foundation. 

Tiny houses built on a foundation are more homy. It also allows you to enjoy the perks of being in a community, and vice versa. Though immobile, tiny houses on foundation have a lot of advantages. 

First off, permanently affixed tiny homes can easily hook up to electricity, water, sewage, and other utilities like WiFi. You can also expand your room freely, and enjoy the freedom of being able to add a fenced garden or lawn. 

Yes, mobile homes offer mobility, but so do tiny houses! But unlike RVs, you can put down roots in a tiny house.

comparing tiny house and mobile homes

Aesthetics

When designing either a tiny house or a mobile home, it’s important to consider not only the design but the overall structure as well. You need to come up with a design that maximizes every inch of your home while also giving it a nice touch. 

Mobile homes and tiny houses can be attractive for different reasons, but most people choose the warmth and aesthetics of tiny houses over mobile homes. After all, tiny houses look homier. 

You can also add a garden, deck, or a porch in a tiny house if it is built over a foundation. 

Tiny houses allow you to build it according to how you like it to be, but that doesn’t make RVs any less attractive. The RV industry has been building RVs for several years, and now they have developed lots of great designs. 

Though RVs are not customizable, they have been receiving good press from customers. RV makers also observe what units sell best and what doesn’t so they can fine-tune their offerings. 

Also, there’s a lot of companies out there that convert cars into campers. Most of these companies allow you to customize your mobile home. 

One of the best innovations in almost every RVs has been the slide outs. These are the sections in RVs that extend out to double your interior living space. 

Slideouts, however, come up with several, if not major, problems. They may easily break down and leak. And they are often expensive to repair. But still, a lot of people choose RVs despite all the issues that come with it. 

But why don’t tiny house use slideouts? Some do, but many believe that slide outs are only a temporary solution. Since tiny houses are designed to be a permanent residence, every part of their construction and must last and hold up for many years — probably over a decade. Slideouts, however, just aren’t made for that purpose. 

That doesn’t necessarily mean that tiny houses cannot use slideouts. In fact, they can. 

So how do you expand your space in a tiny home? Others build a sleeping loft to get space for an entire room without the need to add any length to the house. 

But let’s face it, a loft is not a bedroom. Yes, they can be roomy, but you can’t stand in them — and there’s no substitute. 

Also, senior tiny housers don’t prefer climbing a set of stairs to go to bed (let alone to come down in the middle of the night to use the bathroom).

Lofts are a great feature that you can’t find in an RV, but they aren’t really that perfect. 

Quality

One of the major differences between tiny houses and mobile houses is quality. Mobile homes are built for mobility, and with that in mind, the weight of the materials used in them is a significant factor. 

Tiny houses, meanwhile, are not intended to be moved as frequently as RVs, so the materials used in them are usually those with higher quality. 

RVs aren’t designed as a full-time residence, so manufacturers don’t necessarily need to build them to hold up to the hardships of full-time living. 

For example, an RV is (for the most part) used for vacations only. And the season for vacation occurs for just a few months of the year as most people don’t camp in the winter. Then, perhaps you’ll only be using your RV a few weekends each of those months. 

And because an RV is only used in a very small percentage of its lifespan, its interiors — the doors, cabinet, and other moving parts — are less likely to get damaged. 

Also, RVs usually cost top dollar because most of its materials are lightweight yet strong. Materials of this quality typically cost more than wood, shingles, and concrete fiberboards. 

Tiny houses, on the other hand, are like traditional houses, but tinier. And since their designs are for full-time living, the materials in them are usually of higher standards and are durable enough to last much longer under higher usage.

A lot of tiny housers move their home around often, but then again, tiny houses are not necessarily built to withstand the oil, water, wind, dust, and debris that can be kicked up when zipping the road. 

RVs, however, are made to take those long hauls and extensive adventure.

But, it’s not unusual to find a tiny home that’s been over 20 years old, but it sure is far less common to find an RV of that age. 

So when it comes to quality, we put our two hands down to tiny houses. 

comparing tiny house and mobile homes rv

Price

Both tiny houses and mobile homes can range considerably in price. Though on average, a tiny house can cost several times an equivalently sized mobile home.

For example, a 24 feet tiny house can cost around $65,000, while an RV of the same size costs only about $25,000. But then again, you get what you pay for

If quality is what we focus on, then the pricier the house is, the more durable and topnotch the materials are.

But of course, it’s also a matter of how much you intend to pay for. If you’re on a budget, then an RV is a good option. 

Maintenance is also a factor to consider. 

Compared to traditional houses, RVs and tiny houses are more susceptible to wear and tear. The harsh weather can cause damage to your place, and so does hitting the road. 

Basically, since both tiny houses and mobile homes are more likely to get wear and tear, the two require more maintenance than a conventional home. 

The average price of a tiny house is approximately $75,000. For this price, you’ll get a fully-functioning tiny home with all the features you need so you can live comfortably. 

But it goes without saying that there are other hidden costs in a tiny house. Gas tank, parking fees, and towing and trailing all can up the costs. 

Keep in mind, as well, that you are using your car to tow your tiny house and that you will need to factor in gas as well as regular maintenance cost.

On the other hand, a mobile home can cost as low as $25,000. Nicer and newer models, however, can cost up to $60,000 or more. 

For that price, you’ll get a mobile home that has a full eat-in kitchen, bathroom, sleeping area, and a common area. 

And like tiny houses, mobile homes have hidden costs.

RVs do not have a trailer to tow. However, RV dwellers will need to spend big time on gas, and with the gas price hike, this is a huge factor to consider. 

RVs also need to access dump stations, which is another factor that could add up to the costs. The annual fee of dump stations is usually $250. 

You also need to consider regular maintenance of the total costs. Since RVs hit the road more frequently, they are more prone to damages. 

Availability

Tiny houses have become very popular nowadays, but RVs are still easier to find than them. 

If you’re looking for an RV, you can simply find them on classified ads and local sales papers and find a lot of RVs in all designs and sizes. 

Bathroom

Which of the two do you think has a better bathroom and toilet system?

Most tiny houses use alternative bathroom setups and composting toilets. These are all good, but some tiny housers may not be as comfortable as they would with a traditional toilet system. 

RVs usually use an upgradable bathroom, which most of us are used to. However, this toilet system uses more water. Thus, if you want to go greener, then this may not be the best choice. 

Incinerating and composting toilets are excellent options, too. But, if you do not take good care of them, they may leak, smell, and cause other problems. 

kids education in tiny house

Family and Education

If you’re thinking about living in either a tiny house or a mobile house, you may be wondering which one is a better choice not only for you but for your household as well. 

This is an important factor to consider, especially if you have kids living with you. 

We need to weigh in the pros and cons of mobile homes and tiny houses and see how they will work for your household. 

Not everyone fancy downsizing home for the family, but those who want to do so need assurance that it works. 

Families with children often have a hard time picturing themselves living in a tiny house, and that’s probably because tiny homes are new, albeit their growing popularity. 

When you live in a tiny house with your family, it allows the entire household to bond and spend quality time. Families who spend time together do not just get closer, it also teaches the children to grow up in a nurtured environment. 

Tiny houses are also almost clutter-free. Living in a small space encourages you and the family to be tidier and more organized, giving no room for clutter.

But there are problems. One is that tiny houses usually only have one bathroom, meaning showering and nighttime routines need to be scheduled. 

There is also a limited space for the kids to play. But then again, a tiny house inspires dwellers to enjoy the outdoors and go with nature. 

Now let’s talk about mobile homes for families. 

Living in a mobile house is way more different than living in a tiny house. Stability is a major concern in a mobile home, especially if you live with kids. 

Also, when you’re always on the road, you don’t have that much option when it comes to the education of your kids. Yet, that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. 

Many parents choose to homeschool their children while they’re on the road. Another option is to travel only during the off-months of a school year.

Environmental Impact

In tiny houses, you use both nature and technology to provide you the best comfort using very little carbon footprint. Most tiny homes use solar power or natural gas as a source of power

It’s not only how tiny houses get the energy that has a positive environmental impact. Most tiny housers use repurposed and recycled materials to build their homes. This way, they’re able to reduce the amount of waste that comes with building a house. 

On the other hand, mobile homes also have a positive impact on the environment. But then again, RVs are not for a permanent dwelling place, but only as a vacation vehicle. 

RVs are mostly reliant on gas, and they sure use a lot of it when you hit the road. So, in this case, mobile homes are less environmentally friendly than tiny houses. But the good news is, you can now purchase mobile homes with eco-technology.  

How Tiny Houses and Mobile Homes Similar

Despite the differences, both tiny houses and mobile homes share a good amount of likeliness. For example, both allow you to travel around the country without ever living your comfy home. 

Also, they both let you escape from building codes and taxes. They also offer financial freedom. What’s more, tiny houses and mobile homes inspire you to live a minimalist, clutter-free lifestyle. 

Final Thoughts

Tiny houses and mobile homes both have upsides and downsides. While the setbacks are deal-breaker, you have to consider as well what you will be gaining. 

The bottom line is, both offer a lot of benefits that traditional houses cannot offer, such as mobility, financial freedom, and the opportunity to travel and get closer to the family.

Related Questions

Are tiny homes also mobile homes?

Tiny homes are houses under 500 square feet. Meanwhile, a mobile home falls under the federal HUD code — a national standard that overrides all local building codes. 

Can I put a tiny house on my land? 

Yes. However, you must follow building codes and other regulations (depending on the size of your tiny house and the rules in your community). 

All About Tiny Houses is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

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