10 Advantages Of RVs Vs Tiny Houses On Wheels

  • RV Hub
  • 11 min read

A lot of you may have noticed just how many people are either purchasing, buying, or even building a tiny house on wheels.

The interest in these has lately increased so much that it’s now referred to as the “tiny house movement“.

Tiny homes are cute and have a nice appeal to them because they look a lot more house-like than their more vehicle-like alternatives.

Therefore, it’s not all that surprising to witness people taking an interest, considering they probably want to leave the suffocation of the city behind without compromising on comfort. 

RV Vs Tiny House

But there are a few questions waiting to be asked here:

Are tiny homes really able to match the comfort expectations of homeowners who’ve just left their traditional homes behind? 

Are these small homes really the best option even for those who just want to hit the road or are keen on downsizing and want to live more frugally

Are they really the most suitable living quarters for you to be dragged around when you want to go on camping trips around the country?

Before we dive into the tiny home vs RV debate and make our case as to why we think RVs are much more preferable, let’s get better acquainted with both.

What Is a Tiny Home?

It’s basically a traditional house on lesser square footage, designed for energy reservation and a humbler lifestyle. A mobile house needs to be less than 400 square feet to be classified as a tiny house. 

With the exception of the bathroom, they mostly have just one room which functions as a bedroom, a living room, and a kitchen at the same time.

But, since most tiny houses are DIY, it’s hard to talk about a consistent interior design. In that sense, they are subject to customization. 

Unfortunately, this also means that they are not built in accordance with building codes, which might make their installation and maintenance somewhat of a problem.

Furthermore, although they are built on wheels in order to pass as recreational vehicles and to undermine zoning codes, they are not really made to be constantly on the go.

What Is an RV?

It is the recreational vehicle, as mobile and as dynamic as you like. There are a number of different RV types: 5th wheels, caravans, campervans, popup campers, and motorhomes. They don’t have to stay within the limits of a predetermined square footage, and they are mostly standard-built, accommodating all the spaces needed for sleep, kitchen, living, and bath. 

Most of them have slide-out extensions providing you with more space in case you or your family happen to have a need for that. Moreover, an RV is built with lightweight materials and in an aerodynamic shape, which results in a great performance on the road.

Tiny House VS RV

Okay! Now that we know what it is, it’s time to explain why an RV should be your clear choice if you’ve ever felt indecisive or confused between the two.

Here are 10 advantages a standard RV has over a tiny house on wheels, so you don’t make a costly mistake and sacrifice your comfort or the comfort of your family!

1. The price for a tiny house is very high per square foot of space.

Since tiny houses are DIY material, their cost will obviously differ from builder to builder. But if you want a properly built one, they will often cost more than 30K and often 50K. You can purchase a used RV for far less.

For example, you can buy a used Airstream travel trailer for 15K. Of course, it might need a little work to look up-to-date on the inside, but even if you invest an additional $5,000 on the necessary upgrades, you are still coming in at $20,000 instead of $50,000.

There are other camper trailers that can be acquired for even less. Sure, the newer Airstreams are as expensive as some houses, but you can find a used one that is still in pretty good shape even though it might have spent 30 years on the road.

Other camping trailers can be had for far less and can also be subjected to whatever fix-up needed for fewer costs than a new tiny house.

2. RVs have downstairs bedrooms.

Bedroom in an RV

Many tiny houses have lofts acting as sleeping spaces, and that means climbing a ladder quite often. 

Older people and those with any health conditions might find that a loft is not okay.

Lofts are fine for some, but if you’re planning on living on the road full-time, they might not be ideal. Besides, over the years, you might find that you don’t want to climb that ladder every time you need to use the restroom.

3. RVs are actually made to withstand long stretches of being on the highway.

Tiny houses are tough to move

While a lot of people move their tiny homes around fairly often, the fact is that they are not necessarily made to withstand the wind, oil, water, dust, and debris that can be kicked up when going down the road.

Although it might be true that mobile homes have better insulation and weatherproofing to keep noise and dirt on the outside, that doesn’t mean this won’t take a toll on the outside of the house itself.

If the outside of your house is shingled, then whatever is on the road can be slung up under the shingles and lead to water damage among other things. Roof shingles can be lost going down the road, too.

RVs are made to endure those long hauls and adventuresome weather conditions that can present unwanted surprises on your journey.

4.  Availability of RVs is greater.

Regardless of the popularity of tiny houses, RVs are still much easier to find.

You can check any local sales paper or online classified ads and find an array of RVs in all types of sizes.

5. Better bathrooms in RVs

RVs have superior bathroom

I am not going to say that all tiny houses have composting toilets or alternative bathroom setups but a lot of them do.

While incinerating and composting toilets can work for some, they need to be connected to a sewer so they can be properly plumbed. In a scenario in which they are not cared for and not used correctly, they may cause problems in a smelly and even stinking fashion.

An RV has an upgradeable bathroom which is much more similar to what most of us are used to using on a daily basis.

This difference between the two also affects how mobile they can be. As the bathrooms of the houses have to be taken care of, they will not be as mobile as you would like. on the other hand, you can travel around in an RV without such worries.

6. RVs are lighter weight for towing and more aerodynamic when going down the road.

Traveling with an RV is extraordinary

One part of having an RV or a tiny house is having a vehicle that is capable of towing it.

Tiny houses are made more like a stick-built house, so they are much heavier than RVs, which are manufactured with lightweight materials without losing much in terms of strength.

A lot of the cost of an RV is due to the fact that its weight has to be taken into consideration. The materials used on RVs have to be both light and strong, and that costs more than wood, concrete fiber boards, and shingles.

Trailers are made more streamlined so they go down the road with less wind resistance so you have an easier time hauling.

7. RVs have a better kitchen and food prep areas.

RV Kitchen area

A lot of the tiny homes you see have very small food prep and cooking areas.

If you want an indoor oven and stove combo then good luck.

While some people manage these mostly pre-built houses to include a few stove eyes and a sink, there’s not much else they can do due to spatial restrictions. 

Space for a counter becomes even more valuable, too, because having a dining table will probably prove to be another challenge – a challenge that can’t be met, honestly.

RVs, on the other hand, have dining tables that can be used for just hanging out and relaxing, or as areas where you can prep extra food.

8. RVs sometimes have space for at least a small clothes washer and dryer.

While there are a few people that have sacrificed some below counter space to have a washer or a unit that washes and dries, plenty of those living in a tiny house find themselves at the laundromat, and that is not a cheap solution.

The washer/dryer combos that tiny house owners use are also quite expensive. The dryers of this combo take a long time to do their job, so the possibility that they will be able to meet the washing and drying needs of a family on the road is actually low.

RVs have space for a washer and a dryer – albeit a small one – that will get the job done more efficiently than the ones in tiny houses and without you having to visit the closest laundromat.

9. RVs blend in more.

Selling your RV is easy

Part of the appeal of a tiny house is the appearance. Yet, it will stand out even when parked in an RV park.

If you have a tiny house, you should be prepared for people to ask you a lot of questions. They will even want a tour of its interior. 

If you are a private person, you really need to consider this. Being on the road a lot and staying at a lot of different locations won’t be so much fun when you’re attracting this much attention.

For those who just want to blend in and enjoy themselves, an RV is the clear go-to. It’s incon
spicuous enough to stay under the radar. 

And it might be fair to say that many of the new RV models could easily appeal to anyone’s sense of aesthetics – well, to those of those who wouldn’t mind splurging on a pretty model.

10. Reselling is easier with an RV.

People are more familiar with RVs and therefore it is much easier for them to find comparable ones. That way, they can know what value they are getting for their dollar.

You can easily look up the specs on a fifth wheel trailer or a camper van and find out a lot about it. It can be much harder to find information on a tiny house on wheels, and putting a price tag on it is also very difficult.

You may find that you have to come to terms with a financial loss on that tiny house when you try to sell it.

Deciding Which Is Best For You

Now that I’ve covered all the basics I feel more justified in declaring that an RV holds a fair amount of advantage over a tiny house. RVs are clearly more dynamic and versatile, more suitable for traveling, more friendly in terms of living spaces and their use, and, most importantly, more budget-friendly than tiny homes. In short, they are more likely to meet your expectations. 

I shall rest our case here, and leave the choice to you.

Do you have experience living in RVs or tiny houses? Have you lived in both?

Please share with us the positives and negatives you experienced with either one! What tips do you have for making life easier when living in an RV?

nv-author-image

Mike Napier

I’m an avid outdoor enthusiast who has gone on several excursions along the coasts and has visited 31 of the 50 United States. One of the most important things to me personally is making the most of each day. I'm firmly entrenched in the middle-class and don't mind at all. My freedom and ability to travel and spend time outdoors are more important to me than working at a desk and putting more money in the CEO’s pockets. If camping and active living is your priority, too, you’ve come to the right place.

13 thoughts on “10 Advantages Of RVs Vs Tiny Houses On Wheels”

  1. Thanks so much for the information. Although the appeal of living in a tiny house is up there with traveling the world, I do see the benefit of buying an RV.
    I am 55 (56 in April) and am on disability for chronic pain due to arthritis. So I know a tiny home would be way to much for me. Upkeep, loft bed, and minimum places for my grandkids. I’ll be purchasing an RV for a fulltime home in the future. Once the family home sells I’ll be moving closer to my son and his family.
    If you have any other articles you could recomend on using an RV fulltime, I’d like to study more on it.
    I live in East Tennessee and although I may travel some, I would like to have an RV that is 4 seasons. Any recommendation there would be great. Prefer a travel trailer but am open to a 5th wheel.
    Thanks so much.

  2. Anthony DeAngelis

    I just bought a new fifth wheel by Jayco Eagle. I’m truly impressed. I have been watching the “Tiny House TV Shows” for years now. They are sometimes impressive too. The builders of the trailer Tiny Houses can be very creative for sure. The Jayco people have been building trailers for decades and it certainly shows, they thought of everything. Led lights in almost every storage compartment, weatherproof plumbing, four season ability, and SLIDES, three of them in mine. slides add square footage it makes the space about 14′ wide, not tiny. Easy to finance, insure and buy they have it all over stick built in my opinion. 65 MPH and 10+MPG with the right tow vehicle is easy. Oh, a real flushing toilet and no propane tank under the sink!

      1. We bought an RV to use as a weekend getaway. It is on 14 acres. Much cheaper than building a tiny house and my 2 kids have their own bedroom and we have ours. The space is awesome. I would not want to use a ladder everyday to use my bedroom

  3. I just bought a 2014 Jayco Eagle Travel Trailer, 39′. It is perfect for me and my cat. I wanted to get it because it is cheaper and I can make it what I want when the time comes. I am 65 yrs young and I still work full time and love comeing home. I do have a lot of getting rid of to do, lol. I am not a pack rat for sure. I do know if I have had it for a year and am not using it, then out it goes. My kitchen is very small but not a problem I have all I need and I also wanted this for the fireplace and TV over the fireplace. I love this and intend to paint and remodel in the next 12 months. I also have 3 slide outs. It is also cheaper than the tiny houses I really liked that were shorter.

  4. I’ve been living in my 27′ travel trailer for 8 yrs. In CA. after selling my condo. I absolutely love it. I rent a private little spot on a 5 acre piece of property that I share their septic tank with for less than what others pay for a room rental, that includes utilities. The negative is windows. Deeper windows for more sunlight with vertical breaks rather than horizontal which obstruct views. Easier acces to tanks for deep wash and scraping and having sliding storage drawers under the exterior of the trailer would be huge benefits. I modified interior by removing the dining table/benches for living room space and replaced the master bed with a sofa/bed to create a den/bedroom. I love my tiny home.

  5. If you keep US, you may be ok with a RV, but the canadian winters are more comfortable in a tiny. I personnaly plan to strip my mobilehome to insert insulation un the walls and change aime windows because “the box” (it’s name) is already well equiped.
    Thank you for the info!

  6. I agree with Julie, RV’s may work in the south but up north there just not insulated or heated anywhere near a tiny house. Also I’m not sure which tiny houses the author has looked at but bathrooms are much more like a house than an RV’s and kitchens can be amazing. Tiny houses can be built any way the owner likes. RV’s are far less customizable.

    1. I have been considering a tiny house with the accommodation of a small grand piano, 5’4″ which I have a $$ investment in; it is an instrument which I do not want to give up although I do have a digital Roland which is basically piano sized and not too heavy so I can continue my love of classical music playing. An RV will not accommodate a grand piano. I appreciate anybody’s thoughts about this situation as my scenario is not, perhaps, common. Downsizing from a typical suburban house situation and may be launching out on my own after a failed long-term marriage. Thanks.

      1. Hi Diane, we have a tiny home and wondered if it would be okay to put a small upright piano in it; when I asked one of the manufacturers they said they don’t recommend it because of the weight. However I really want to do it! And your comment was very encouraging to me. What is your current situation? Did you move the piano in to the tiny house and how was it to move it, do you have any feedback etc?

        1. Holy crap Pam

          I will admit I’m practically brand new at looking at tiny homes/RV’s, so I may be totally uninformed and speaking out of line but…. a for-real upright piano.
          WHY?

          Lol idk, doesn’t that seem like the most Stretching It concept when it comes to “small living”, efficiency…….. type of thinking? If I were you I’d just research how best to replicate whatever it is you want from the ancient 1-ton upright, in a nice sleek electronic keyboard/piano of which there are surely a rainbow of choices.

          Good on you for pushing the limits though, I guess; that seems like the exact kind of thing that drives this industry, after all

  7. Except, you can’t live in an RV longtime. Try taking use of its accommodations repeatedly and it’ll ware fast. RVs are made with cheap materials because they’re only meant to travel in. So comparing a tiny house that is meant for long term living to something that’s just for traveling is a bad contrast.

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