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Tiny House vs. RV – Which One is Right for You?

Mobile Tiny House

Torn between a tiny house and a recreational vehicle? I can help you decide for the best mobile living as we gather important points to consider and key differences between the two options.

Whew, how do you choose between a tiny house or a recreational vehicle?  I’ve seen all the tiny house shows and I’ve popped into plenty of RV’s in my days as a Girl Scout troop leader. It basically comes down to what do you want to be in while you are enjoying the fresh air of the open road. Oh, you didn’t know you could hitch up your tiny house, too? Yes, you can hitch up your tiny house and take it along for the ride, all across this great country. If you are deciding between a tiny house and a RV, doing a little, light-hearted research can’t hurt. Like Jackie Gleason used to say, “And away we go…”!

Related: 30 Amazing Tiny Houses | 12 types of towable RVs| 10 types of motorhomes

The Tiny House Explained

Tiny house with porch

A tiny house is a dwelling that is 400 sq ft (37 sq m) or less in floor area, excluding lofts. Other than that, a tiny house is only limited to the builders’ imagination. This definition only came about in 2017 because tiny houses badly needed a definition. Now, they have one so you can build your tiny house to your heart’s content. Later in the article, we’ll have more about the tiny house movement and its history.

Your Tiny Home Isn’t Just Like My Tiny Home

Tiny house interior

If you’ve ever seen one, you know how cute they are. It’s like a miniature home. Tiny homes can be colonials, mother-daughters, basically any type of house that a large house can be. People want them for different reasons. Some people just want to live more simplistically and leave a smaller carbon footprint. Others like the idea of being able to make their homes along with them as they travel. By definition, the accommodations are small. A lot of the rooms have dual uses, in order to make up for the small size. For example, a living room can also be the dining room and guest room. Tiny homes are innovative in that way and it is part of their charm.

What Is A Recreational Vehicle Or RV?

RV park camping at night

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According to the National Recreational Vehicle Dealers Association, a recreational vehicle or an RV is a vehicle designed as temporary living quarters for recreational, camping, travel or seasonal use. Recreational vehicles can be:

  • pop-up campers
  • motor homes
  • camper vans
  • caravans
  • fifth-wheel trailers
  • truck campers

Recreational vehicles are designed for mobile accommodations while traveling. They can have as many amenities as you can imagine. However, they are not for permanent, residential use.

What Are The Differences Between Tiny Houses And Recreational Vehicles?

First imagine that little boy or a girl running away from home – stick, slung over the shoulder, with a bandana on the end. The bandana is filled with just a few items. They don’t care. They’re leaving. Sometimes, adults feel like that…go grab exactly what is needed and hit the road. What do you want to hit the road IN – is the question?

Here are some differences between tiny houses and recreational vehicles.  Just when you’ve had enough and you’re about to jet, you’ll know what you’re going to jet IN.

Basic Materials For The Tiny House

Tiny log house

A tiny house is made from the following according to tiny home builders.com.:

  • tiny house trailer
  • wood
  • insulation
  • roofing
  • hardware
  • strapping and flashing
  • millwork
  • electrical
  • plumbing
  • flooring
  • paint

These 11 components make up a tiny home. However, these components can be minimized, maximized, or customized, based on your individual desires. This is just a standardized listing and gives you an idea of how tiny homes are born. The tiny home community is often comprised of DIYers (Do-It-Yourselfer’s), However, there are many tiny house builders who are passionate about their work and about the tiny house movement. You can purchase a tiny house floor plan today for about $25 and build your own tiny.

What Rv’s Are Made Of

RV camper

Unlike tiny houses, RVs are not typically built per customer order. That is, generally, you go to the RV dealership and purchase your RV. Of course, there are some customization features you can request in the amenity department, such as a particular type of shower or let-down bed feature.  When you go into an RV shop to purchase, it’s good to know what the best manufacturing features are. That makes you a knowledgeable shopper.

Your RV can be made utilizing “stick-n-tin” construction. This construction method has been around since the 1940s and basically is an aluminum overlay over a wood frame.  According to RVing Planet, com. The other more modern, basic material construction for your RV would be the “laminate” construction method. This method is a layover of fiberglass on an aluminum frame. There are good things and bad things about each method of construction.  For example, the cost of the laminate construction is obviously more and the gas mileage is much more cost-effective because of the lighter materials in use. That’s just the tip of the iceberg as it comes to the differences between the two methods of construction.

Design Features

Enter the world of RVing! RVing Planet also has a list from 2018 with the RV’s 25 coolest features – design-wise. Here’s a quick sampling just to whet your appetite:

  • v-nose cap (the front of the recreational vehicle)
  • all-American suspension system
  • residential refrigerator
  • unique storage
  • window seat
  • rock climbing wall
  • walk-in closet
  • one control system

Wow! The world is vast indeed when it comes to recreational vehicles. It seems like you could have it all on wheels. The design features are extensive and the customization is only limited by your wallet. The same thing goes for tiny houses. Though the concept of a tiny house is usually toward the minimal as opposed to the luxurious. Here is a small taste of some featured design points of the tiny house from the tiny house for us.com:

  • the rooftop terrace
  • climbing walls
  • a chicken coop
  • kitchen to deck extension
  • pop-outs for extra space
  • wine barrel, shower/tub

Note to self, the climbing wall made both the tiny house list as well as the RV list. It’s something about defying gravity and striving upward that appeal to the RV year as well as the tiny house enthusiast.

How Durable Is The Love?

Let’s face it, you’re going to be out there and different weather conditions can suddenly overtake your RV or tiny house. Durability has its place as you research both modes of lifestyle. RV construction has the inherent debate between the “stick-n-tin” method and the laminate method. Fiberglass is the most durable material in terms of what can resist the elements. Along the same line, fiberglass-shingled tiny houses also prove to be the most durable material in use.

What Is The Price?

When you think about these homes on wheels -or not wheels in the case of a permanently-fixed tiny house – the prices can run the gamut of the purchaser’s wallet and imagination. It depends on how many custom features have been added, construction, new or used, etc.  With that in mind, according to CamperReport.com, recreational vehicles cost anywhere between $10,000 to $300,000. The average RV is about $100,000. Conversely, the average tiny house cost is between $30,000 and $40,000, according to RD.com. The price range of tiny homes is anywhere between $10,000 and $180,000.

Where Did These Things Come From, Anyway?

Tiny House with wooden stairs

GoRVing.com places the birth of the RV at about the year,1910. This is the year that motorized campers came on the scene. An innate love of adventure, exploration and getting out in the fresh air have been cited as motivators to get people RVing.

Both RV’s and tiny houses offer great benefits. It comes down to this…RV vs. tiny house = temporary vs. the potential for permanency.

The tiny house movement is really just getting underway, conversely. It is a natural part of the do-it-yourself movement and also a remedy to those who want to “get off the grid”. It is hard to place a birthday on the tiny house since the legal definition is only two years old. People have been living in unconventionally small houses since man inhabited the earth. However, according to tinyhousetop.com, in 1997 Jay Schafer built a tiny house for himself and subsequently started a tiny house building plan business. This reignited what is known as the tiny house movement.

The space for creativity, and unique touches to make your RV or your tiny house you’re very own appeals to enthusiasts. Both entities inspire people all over the world to think deeply about where they rest their heads. As opposed to staying in a hotel while you travel, people find staying in RVs to be just the home away from home that they desire. It’s all about thinking outside the box…the size and shape of that box don’t matter. In this way, RV’s and tiny houses are similar. You get to take a little bit of your personality on wheels around the town, the country or the world.

Related: 30 Amazing Tiny Houses | 12 types of towable RVs| 10 types of motorhomes

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