Tiny Houses vs. RVs: Which One Should You Buy?

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If you want to say goodbye to the sticks-and-bricks lifestyle and take on a life on the road, you have various options: travel trailers, campers, motorhomes and alike. But for those that desire highly customized experiences in the outdoors, tiny homes tend to be held in high regard.

Understandably, once it comes to tiny house vs. RV, different RVers often have different ideas. For people that intend to transit to full-time RVing, choosing between the customizable tiny houses and traditional recreational vehicles is certainly a major headache.

Perplexed by the opinions of other full-time RVers about tiny houses and recreational vehicles? Then this article could help to clear up your confusion. Below, you would find everything you need to keep in mind about tiny house and RV for full-time RVing.  

Tiny House And RV: Definitions

To make an informed decision, it’s essential that you firmly grasp the characteristics of tiny houses and recreational vehicles. So check out the following summaries to see what qualifies as a tiny house/RV.

  • Tiny House: As the same suggests, a tiny house is just a small-scale residential structure made for simplistic living. Most tiny houses in use these kinds of days should be well under 400 square feet but a few may go as low as 80 square feet. Standard tiny houses usually consist of one cohesive space with rooms open to one another. For mobility, a lot of people decide to build tiny houses on wheels which make them pass as recreational vehicles. That allows the houses to gingerly get around city laws as well as zoning codes.
  • RV: To put it plainly, an RV is a vehicle that features some sorts of living quarters designed for accommodations. A wide range of recreational vehicles exist like fifth-wheel trailers, popup campers, truck campers, … In addition, the amenities available on RV changes considerably from vehicle to vehicle: some only pack basic beds and appliances while others boast decked-out interiors with bedroom, bathroom, kitchen. To provide RVer with more space, particular recreational vehicles incorporate slide-out sections that would enlarge the interiors once extended.

Tiny House vs RV: The Full Comparison

The Pros And Cons Of Tiny Houses

tiny house living


  • Customization Is Second To None

Overall, depending on models, recreational vehicles could be extremely flexible and versatile, especially ones that come in multiple floor plans. Still, in tiny house vs. RV, RV falls behind tiny house in terms of customization. Being put together by the owners themselves, tiny houses should be able to closely match the demands as well as styles of people that use them. By going the tiny house route, you may add and remove things at your leisure which permit you to adapt to an assortment of settings.     

  • Top-Notch Resistances And Endurances  

Manufacturers of RV must think about lots of expenses while producing vehicles so they make compromises here and there. As a result, quite a few recreational vehicles nowadays seem to have barely acceptable build quality. But in the case of tiny houses, virtually everything is built from the ground up in order to suit the personal tastes of the owners. Naturally, the average tiny houses possess markedly superior resistances and endurances to commercial recreational vehicles.

  • Speed Up The Transition Process  

For people that generally live in stable houses before moving to full-time RVing, the transition process may be tough. Nonetheless, if you elect to start your life on the road with a tiny house that resembles your old house, you would pull through smoothly. In fact, numerous RVers head out with tiny houses instead of recreational vehicles precisely because they wish to enjoy the outdoors in house-like accommodations. Aesthetic is by all accounts a matter of preference but it still influences the overall experience so don’t underestimate it.        


  • Require A Lot Of Resources

Since tiny houses often have to be built practically from scratch, they entail significant investments of money, time and effort. Actually, using the resources that go into building a modest tiny house, people should be able to pick up a decent RV with sublime features. Even if you sought out used houses, it’s noteworthy that RVers tend to sell tiny houses with the attention of recouping initial investments, making a profit and so on. That means if you have a tight wallet then tiny house is an ill-suited choice for full-time RVing.

  • Mobility Is Less Than Ideal

Technically, tiny houses with wheels could be moved from spot to spot like recreational vehicles. However, compared to purpose-design RV, typical tiny houses don’t exactly handle motion well. Several owners of tiny houses also report that they need to conduct substantial repairs after moving for a short distance. That is why if you plan to camp out in a particular area throughout most of the year and only move occasionally, a tiny house is undoubtedly a good bet. But if you like to move around now and then, get yourself a recreational vehicle.           

The Pros And Cons Of RVs

rv living


  • May Head Out Right Away

Want to begin full-time RVing as soon as possible? If that is so, it’s strongly recommended that you consider purchasing a recreational vehicle. Since an RV comes along with much-needed amenities, you could leave pretty much immediately. In the case you have to make a couple of modifications to your rig, the resources required still fall well behind that of tiny houses. Because of that, in the opinions of experts and veteran RVers, RV is the winner in tiny house vs. RV once it comes to readiness.

  • The Acquisition Cost Is Fair

Unlike the meticulously built tiny houses, mass-produced recreational vehicles don’t require big spendings. Of course, premium models of RV have steep prices but on average, the cost of a recreational vehicle is more reasonable than a tiny house. As a result, for budget-minded RVers that have to take care of multiple expenses on the road, RV clearly overcomes tiny house finance-wise. So if you wish to save a few bucks for future needs, you should go for a recreational vehicle.

  • Getting Insurances Is A Breeze

In general, getting an RV insured is a straightforward process, you could get a number of packages for your rig. The same cannot be said about tiny houses: few insurers would be willing to insure such non-standard residential structures. Therefore, regarding tiny house vs. RV, many RVers lean toward RV because they know that they may count on the insurances if things turn south. After all, unforeseen incidents happen from time to time which is why lots of people like to play it safe.


  • Prone To Shake In Use

Due to the relatively light constructions, recreational vehicles these kinds of days tend to shake as the wind picks up. Certain models of recreational vehicles integrate special accessories to boost stability but the issue remains. Hence, it’s of utmost importance that RVers keep an eye out for secured camping spots while driving in RV. In addition to that, if you decide to grab a recreational vehicle, remember to take a look at its suspension system for odd signs periodically.

  • Steadily Lose Value Over Time

Like cars, recreational vehicles depreciate as time passes by so resale value is only a fraction of the acquisition cost. On the other hand, the value of tiny houses often hold steady and could even raise depending on the regions

Reaching The Final Decision: Questions To Help You Choose

After reading the above analyses, you still have a hard time making up your mind? Well, in that case, these questions should help you out.

rv vs house
  • How much money could you spend at the moment?  

Once it comes to tiny house vs. RV, cost usually stands out from other considerations. All in all, if you have a fat wallet and time to spare, a tiny house would suit you well. But in the case you don’t like to make big spendings that may strain your delicate finance situation, it’s widely advised that you settle for a recreational vehicle.

  • Do you plan to move regularly as a full-time RVer?

For RVers that travel extensively, recreational vehicles prove to be the ideal choices because they have been built to handle motions in the first place. As for tiny houses, assuming that they pack solid wheels, they could move too but don’t expect them to hold together after extended trips. For RVers that embrace the mobile lifestyle, the performance of recreational vehicles unquestionably is superior to that of tiny houses.

  • Is sustainability one of your main concerns?

Building a tiny house, likely from the ground up, requires lots and lots of materials to achieve the desired parameters. In contrast, you only need to make a couple of tweaks here and there if you purchase a recreational vehicle. So if you truly care about sustainability, it’s a good idea that you purchase a recreational vehicle instead of putting together a tiny house.

About Peter Wade

Peter Wade is a co-ordinator and writer at www.RVTalk.net. His hobbies are coffee, RV camping and photography. He now enjoys exploring the U.S. by RV with his two dogs. After obtaining a MA degree in Public Relations and Journalism, he had 8 years of experience working for the R&D Department of Outdoorsy. Peter provides a unique look and insightful knowledge about the RV lifestyle, and fills his blog with everything from RV camping guides to reviews about necessary RV accessories. If you are an RV enthusiast and want to get the most-updated trends of the RV industry, Peter’s articles are the must-visit contents.

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