What’s the Difference Between an RV and a Tiny House?


RVs and tiny houses have always seemed so similar to me. They share the same purpose of keeping a low maintenance lifestyle for those who want it. But, what is the difference between an RV and a tiny home? I decided to find out for myself.

So what is the difference between an RV and a tiny house? The difference between an RV and a tiny house is that an RV is a mobile home. It has the basic needs for one to live comfortably, and this unit can be moved from place to place. Whereas a tiny house stays put, and it is a bit larger than an RV, but usually not by much. 

Not only do their differences reside in their structure and functionality, but they reside in their costs. As well as the investments one can make over the years of owning an RV or tiny home. It is almost important to note the quality of life one can achieve living a lifestyle of minimalism. 

What is an RV?

We know through media that RVs can be portrayed as a small home to a family that may be traveling from state to state, or if that family has decided to go camping you will see them in an RV as well.

An RV is also known as a Recreational Vehicle. This recreational vechile is like a home on wheels, inside are living quarters for which a number amount of people can live comfortably in. 

While you can simply choose an RV from whichever looks best it is important to consider the different types of RVs that are available to fit your style. You shouldn’t settle for the average, comfortable RV. Instead choose an RV that will create the best camping, or traveling experience for you, your friends, or your family. 

Different types of RVs

  • Class A: This class of RV is the largest on the market, they are up to forty-five feet in length. 
  • Class B: This class of RV is actually the smallest of the three types, and they are almost always built on a van chassis. (Which are vehicles that fall between the line of RV or Large van). 
  • Class C: This class RV falls in the middle of Class A and Class B. It can range in sizes, from twenty to thirty-four feet in length. 

You can view the videos below that show the inside of those Class RVs.

Class A Tour

Class B Tour

Class C Tour 

RVs that can be towed versus those that cannot be towed also fall under the category of different types of RVs. More specifically, two options you can choose from when wanting to move your mobile home would be one that has a hitch and can be attached to your car. While another is an all-in-one and is able to be driven without being towed. 

Having an RV that can be towed is a real advantage at times! You can park your RV at a campsite with ease and just use your smaller car during the day if you need to run some errands. That feature specifically is great for those who camp during the day for multiple days in a row. 

Just a reminder: If you don’t have a vehicle with a hitch, you won’t be able to rent a trailer. 

Here are some different types of towable trailers:

  • Fifth-wheel trailer: A trailer like this is able to be towed around by pickup trucks, and usually has a sleeping space available over the bed of the truck. 
  • Travel trailers: This kind of trailer is towed behind the back of a truck or a large SUV. These types of trailers also vary in size and in their weight. So it is very possible that the light and smaller your trailer is the more of a chance your truck or SUV is able to pull it with ease. 
  • Pop-up or “folding” trailer: This type of trailer is much smaller and lighter than the average camper. It has sides that expand, a roof that can also be extended, and usually has canvas style walls. This type of trailer is perfect for those who want a more indoor feel but without the extra weight that can come with it. 
  • Toy hauler: This hauler is very much marketed to those adventurers out there. This hauler can fit bikes, paddle boards, and kayaks which can also be called “toys”. You can also find a toy hauler with some living room inside as well! 
  • Utility trailer: This is just another version of a toy hauler but without a living space included. It is basically just a moving trailer for holding in outdoor gear. 

What is a Tiny House?

A tiny house has the same concept as living in a larger sized home. There is a bedroom, a bathroom, a living room and so on. The difference between the average home and a tiny home is that a tiny home’s space is shrunken down to prove a point about living simply and still being comfortable. 

A tiny home is around 2.4 x 5 meters in size. They have the basic needs for living inside which include a living area, a sleeping loft, a kitchen, and bathroom are also included. 

Why live in a tiny home? 

Having a tiny home has proven to bring financial and economic advantages to those who live that lifestyle. Along with those advantages, there are also environmental benefits to living in a small home. 

Here are some cool facts that state the advantages of owning a tiny home (you see the full list by clicking this link): 

  • 68% of tiny homeowners have no mortgage compared to 29% of homeowners in the United States. 
  • 78% of tiny homeowners actually own their home, while 65% of non-tiny homeowners are still paying off their home. 
  • 55% of tiny homeowners have more savings than the average homeowner.
  • 2 out of 5 tiny homeowners are over 50 years old! 
  • Tiny homes are 186 sq/ft while a standard home in the United States can take up 2100 sq/ft. That can make up almost 11.3 tiny homes. 
  • Tiny homeowners are 2x as likely to have a masters degree.
  • The cost to build a tiny home is $23,000 if it is built by the owner. 
  • While the cost of a standard home is $272,000 to which you add on some interest (4.25% over 30 years) which would make the cost $481,704. 

Tiny homes are a great investment for those who are looking to live a simpler lifestyle. The small space can be an advantage to those who do not feel like filling up empty rooms in their average home. Along with the spacing, having a tiny home uses less power and less water. This means a small electric and water bill!

If you are interested in seeing what a tiny home looks like click here for a video link showing a tour. 

Different Types of Tiny Houses

While tiny houses are assumed to have just one simple style,  that assumption is wrong. Tiny homes can come in many different styles to fit ones personality, and preferred style. Below I’ve listed nine tiny home styles that can fit into anyone’s personality, and or lifestyle. 

Bus conversions

This style of home is basically taking a school bus and turning it into your very own do-it-yourself project. While most do not picture buses to be suitable or very spacious to be living in, it can actually be quite roomy if you remove the rows of seats.

A lot of people enjoy the various windows since they provide a good amount of sunlight during the day, but once the weather gets a bit colder they place in insulation in some places to keep it warmer and to have a bit more privacy in your home.

Cob Houses

 Hob homes are generally known and seen as clay huts. It is a perfect mixture of all natural material if you’re into that. It’s cheap and durable which makes it easy to like. While nature can take its toll on the material, you can take careful precautions to make sure your material can withstand many years. 

Vardo Tiny Homes

 This style of living is basically like living in a small wagon. They take on the look of a British Romani wagon, which is perfect for those who are minimalists. The open windows throughout the living space create the illusion of more room. 

RVs

It’s said that RVs are the original tiny home, the living space has always been quite small and it does not cost much to get a hold of one. This is perfect for anyone who wants to live a simple life, where large necessities are not needed.

This specific space was designed to feel less cramped and dark. The tiny home living is to prove that one does not need a large home to experience a large amount of space that comes with a large home. But because of this design, a lot of storage space is placed with cabinets all along the walls in the kitchen.

Houseboats

 This is basically an RV on water. This style reaches out to those that have a sort of fantasy about living on water. And because the waters can be dark, the inside of this living space is usually painted white, to create an illusion of more space. Another great thing about living in a houseboat, the ability to change the scenery whenever you want by simply traveling in your boat to different places. 

Yurts

Living in a yurt style tiny home is perfect to create a close connection to the person living in the home and their surroundings. The construction of the home is round like the tents resembling Mongolian nomads stayed in. Walls of this yurt home is made of basic wooden framing and felt covering.

The walls are constructed with bamboo or wood to create a stable frame. While this style seems to be ancient, it has been modernized for those that decide to live in it during this time.

 Trailer Homes

Most people mistake RVs and Trailer homes to be the same thing when they, in fact, are quite different. Trailer tiny homes are tiny homes that have been reconstructed on a trailer to that you can hitch it to the back of the truck.

This design will need to be handled and built by either yourself or a professional contractor. The reason for its popularity is because of the mobility of the home, you can travel anywhere with your home attached on the back. 

While it is assumed that because this home is reconstructed that it had to sacrifice some of its features, but contrary to that belief there are no sacrifices needed! 

You can keep a front door and a side door and your large windows that way your want for sunlight can still be fulfilled. You can also have a bathroom and kitchen in your trailer as well. 

A-Frame Cabins

Finally, the A-frame cabin. While this has the name cabin, it still falls under the category of tiny homes for its small space and minimalistic look. This cabin has a classic look of all wood and has hints of a rustic feel to it. The tiny home is perfect for those that want to experience this lifestyle but may still want the modern look in their tiny home. 

Related Questions

How long does a mobile home last? A mobile home can last between thirty to fifty-five years, but in reality it truly depends on how well you take care of your home.

Do tiny homes depreciate in value? Tiny homes depreciate rapidly, especially considering they are not often bound to a piece of property. No one should buy a tiny home hoping for a return on investment.

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