Top 5 Reasons To Live In A Tiny House and Top 5 Reasons To Live In An RV

by andrewodom on February 10, 2014 · 5 comments


tiny-house-vs-rv-trailer-600x450What I have come to realize in the last month of living full time in an RV after living full time in our tiny house is that there remains a bit of a schism between the two parties. Tiny house purists seem to disagree that RVs are, in fact, tiny houses and RVers seem to disregard the craftsmanship and overall motive of the average tiny houser because of reasons like it being unregulated building and a possible danger to those around it. Whatever the case, both parties are well within their rights to display such skepticism. Because of this though (as well as many conversations about the topic) I have come  to assemble a Top 5 list for both setups.

Top 5 Reasons To Live In A Tiny House

AFFORDABLE. Because the majority of tiny housers build their own house there is a significant money savings bundled in. In the actual construction much of the work is done by the future owner so money is saved on construction. There is also no mortgage involved which means no monthly payments. That in turn lowers the total overhead of the household and allows for debt reduction, less time chained to the cubicle, and more miscellaneous funds for reinvesting in life.

MOBILITY. The start of the modern tiny house movement was with Jay Shafer and his Epu rolling around the countryside. What’s that? A real house….on wheel? Building a tiny house allows you a level of mobility that makes your house yours and free to take it wherever you feel you are to be living.

DOWNSIZE. The creation of the television program ‘Hoarders’ has taught us all that without careful attention we are all just one potato chip bag, one economy size package of toilet paper, and one….dead rodent?….away from being a hoarder. As humans we tend to nest and create comfortable environments for ourselves by putting everything we can imagine within arms reach. I think of my old college roommate who had “his chair” in our living room. Without getting up he could change channels, change musical selections, read the newspaper from the past month, get a massage, have a cold drink, eat a variety of snacks, turn the lights on and off, and even change his t-shirt if he chose to that day. But to fight this human impulse many of us – especially tiny housers – have made ourselves examine need -vs- want and downsize our possessions to again control our world. Old video game systems? To the Goodwill! Old American Dream? To the trash!

THE WORLD AS YOUR LIVING ROOM. When you have less than 300 square feet of indoor space to live in the last think you want to do (or can afford to do psychologically….but I digress) is live inside all the time. With a tiny house the world becomes your living room. Because you are working less to pay less for life you have more discretionary income to retreat more. Whether it be to have supper with friends, take in a new movie, or enjoy a coffee at the closet cafe, you can! Gyms, countrysides and libraries can become your home-gym/garage, 60″ television, and prodigious, oak bookcases.

TIME. According to The American Time Use Survey conducted by the US Department of Labor on an average day 82% of women and 65% of men spent some time doing household activity (including housework, cooking, lawncare, etc). On the days they did such activity women spent an average of 2.6 hours while men spent 2 hours. So it is safe to say that when maintaining a more mainstream, traditional home you can expect to spend in the neighborhood of 12-16 per week keeping up your house and life within it. Having lived in a tiny house for a year now I can say that other than cooking (which I am not allowed to do unless on a grill for reasons I shall not come clean about) it takes at most 11 minutes to vacuum and Swiffer the floor of our house. It takes less than 2 minutes to make both beds. It take less than a minute to tidy the countertop and about a minute to find my clothes and shoes for the day. 15 minutes compared to 2 hours? Thank you. Thank you very much!

 

Top 5 Reasons To Live In An RV

AFFORDABLE. Using sites like Craigslist or RV Trader or even belonging to Facebook groups can help you find a rig for less than $20,000 as an initial investment. If you go the motorhome route you can even give up your automobile and instead rely on bikes, a scooter, or mass transportation where available. If you decided to have a trailer of some sort then you do have to have a tow vehicle but you are now equipped to stay longer at RV parks and campgrounds and can use your care less, fill up the RV tank less, and manage a monthly budget. In the long run you have no personal property taxes on land or a house, you don’t have to pay for lawn care, and you can even choose to shower and such in the public bathroom at the park. That saves on toilet paper, tissue, water, etc.

MOBILITY. There are no HOAs on the road. There is no end to the places you can see from your window or, when stopped, with your own two eyes. Forget NatGeo in High Def. Park at the North Rim Campground and see the Grand Canyon for yourself…in person!

DOWNSIZE. The creation of the television program ‘Hoarders’ has taught us all that without careful attention we are all just one potato chip bag, one economy size package of toilet paper, and one….dead rodent?….away from being a hoarder. As humans we tend to nest and create comfortable environments for ourselves by putting everything we can imagine within arms reach. I think of my old college roommate who had “his chair” in our living room. Without getting up he could change channels, change musical selections, read the newspaper from the past month, get a massage, have a cold drink, eat a variety of snacks, turn the lights on and off, and even change his t-shirt if he chose to that day. But to fight this human impulse many of us – especially tiny housers – have made ourselves examine need -vs- want and downsize our possessions to again control our world. Old video game systems? To the Goodwill! Old American Dream? To the trash!

THE WORLD AS YOUR LIVING ROOM. Have fuel, will travel. In 2010 we went on a month long camping trip staying at 6 different campgrounds. During that time our living room was a vegan cafe in Asheville, a bustling shopping district in Raleigh, a dairy farm just outside of Greenville, and a river in Charleston. In a month we got to know each other better, get lost in new environments, and take in sights and sounds we couldn’t just nights before.

TIME. According to The American Time Use Survey conducted by the US Department of Labor on an average day 82% of women and 65% of men spent some time doing household activity (including housework, cooking, lawncare, etc). On the days they did such activity women spent an average of 2.6 hours while men spent 2 hours. So it is safe to say that when maintaining a more mainstream, traditional home you can expect to spend in the neighborhood of 12-16 per week keeping up your house and life within it. Having lived in an RV (fifth wheel camper with one slide) now I can say that other than cooking (which I am still not allowed to do unless on a grill for reasons I shall not come clean about) it takes at most 8 minutes to vacuum and sweep the floor of our house. It takes less than 4 minutes to make both beds. It take less than a minute to tidy the countertop and about a minute to find my clothes and shoes for the day. 14 minutes compared to 2 hours? Thank you. Thank you very much!

The argument is compelling. Are RVs tiny houses and – to be fair – are tiny houses RVs? The choice is totally yours. There are still a number of similarities and yet there are a number of differences. The decision is yours. Whatever the case, either option gives you a chance to reclaim your life, discover the world around you, and live outside the norm, taking each adventure as it comes!

What do you think? Are these top 5 lists reasonable? What reasons may I have missed? 

 

photo above courtesy of tiny housers Evan and Gabby.
  • Rachel Rowell

    I think you nailed it! I have been amazed at how much more productive we are as a family due to the amount of time that has been freed up because of 1. having to work less to pay our bills and 2. NOT having 2500 sq. feet of space to clean daily. Literally, I used to complain about how much of my life I spent cleaning and working by butt off to pay for the huge house we lived in….and didn’t need.

    Since I haven’t actually lived in a real “tiny house” I couldn’t fairly say how different they are. But not much I’m imagine though. My husband and I both keep telling each other that one day when we don’t need or want an RV anymore, we would totally live in a tiny house and be perfectly happy there!

    We LOVE the slower paced, tiny, more minimalistic way of life!
    Great post!

    • http://www.tinyrevolution.us/ anotherkindofdrew

      Thank you so much Rachel. I appreciate you commenting. What I have found is that they are not so much different at all. There are structural differences, construction materials difference, and even some mobility differences (in favor of RVs), but by-in-large, quite similar in feel, attitude, and impact.

  • Bj Thomas

    Biggest advantage to the RV lifestyle is summed up in “We can be outta here in 20 minutes” We have been full time RVing for 20 years, just can’t imagine not being able to move our home and will not stop until we are forced to! BUT, if we couldn’t full time travel we will definitely continue to live in a small space like theTiny House.

    I am curious about Tiny House storage, which is important. How much does the Tiny House provide? An RV is designed to have lots of storage; hatches outside, storage under the bed, cabinets tucked everywhere. I live in a 5th wheel and feel that I have everything I ever had in my large homes, just smaller and not quite as much!. I have my sewing machine, both of us have our laptops and two TV’s (an absolute necessity for us-GET for his sports and me to get away from sports!) We do,(most of the time) adhere to the something in/something out rule.

    Another advantage to RV living is “no yard work” although I do have plants. GET’s aunt once asked if we missed having a yard. Our answer: we have a beautiful yard right here at this lake!

    Some people assume that RV living involves no home upkeep but this isn’t the case. RV’s (and I’m guessing Tiny Houses too) need regular home maintenance and have problems. We recently had to have a RV repair company replace a shear pin which had broken off on our slider. Luckily it happened as we were parking it since the slider was stuck in the “out” position!
    We, and our Bichon Dulee, feel lost when we are in a large home!

    • http://www.tinyrevolution.us/ anotherkindofdrew

      Hey there Bj. Thank you so much for adding your comment.

      A tiny house does not have a standard floor plan like an RV does. Like an RV manufacturer each blueprint offers a different layout with a varying amount of storage. This doesn’t even take into account the number or custom houses and builds there are. Storage can range from rather non-existent to ample. I like to think our house has ample storage. We have a full sizes kitchen with more than twice the amount of storage an RV does. We have a “garage” in the front on the hitch which is the equivalent of a pass through storage on the underside of a motorhome. And we have storage under the platform we custom built into our floor plan. There is in fact two areas in our home that have nothing in them because we have nothing to put in them.

      The majority of tiny housers don’t have TVs because they just choose not to. We do have a TV screen but no cable or satellite. We stream through ChromeCast so that our daughter can watch some of the shows we allow her to. You will notice that most tiny house owners have laptops and work spaces just like an RV. They are small but they are there.

      The majority of tiny housers do have some sort of yard but nothing that requires lawn equipment. I know people here at the campground we are staying in this winter that have blowers, weed trimmers, and even bush hedgers. It is all about where you park and what the arrangement is with the owner of the land.

      You are right on. Tiny houses and RVs both have maintenance and upkeep and the like.

  • http://viralmedia.ca/ Dominic B.

    Hi, thanks for the amazing article. This Tiny House trend was really an eye opener for me. Did not know it existed until I saw the article on Reddit earlier today. I Always thought about buying an RV and be able to work anywhere I want (Web/graphic Design) but also an RV isn’t always the fanciest place to have friends over for diner. A cute little house on the other hand is fine. Not that you can be 8 for supper but hey, my friends have big houses ;) And saying goodbye to huge rent or mortgage is what really made me want one. I will have someone draw an amazing plan for a nice house for me and my son and will begin construction as soon as I can. Also, I’m not sure but I’ve looked at a bunch of tiny houses and can’t seem to find any with solar panels.. Any reason why ? I was thinking about making mine mostly with panels to lower the cost in gas/electricity when I’m stationned.

    Thanks !
    Dominic

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