Mobile Tiny Houses: A New Way of Living

A dive into Mobile Tiny Homes

Have you ever dreamed of living in a cozy, comfortable, and affordable home that you can take with you wherever you go? If so, you might be interested in mobile tiny houses, a growing trend that is revolutionizing the way people think about housing.

Mobile tiny houses are small, portable structures that are designed to be homes. They typically range from 100 to 400 square feet in size and can be built on trailers or wheels. They offer a unique alternative to traditional homes, as they allow owners to enjoy the benefits of minimalism, mobility, and sustainability.

But how much does it cost to own a mobile tiny house? What are the legal and practical challenges involved? And what are the pros and cons of living in one? In this blog post, we will explore these questions and more, as we dive into the fascinating world of mobile tiny house living.

Average Cost Analysis

One of the main attractions of mobile tiny houses is their affordability. Compared to the average cost of a traditional home in the US, which was $295,300 in 2020, mobile tiny houses are significantly cheaper.

The average cost of a prebuilt mobile tiny house is around $45,000. However, the cost can vary widely depending on the size, design, and amenities of the house. Some mobile tiny houses can cost as low as $4,000 or as high as $100,000.

If you are feeling adventurous and handy, you can also opt for building your own mobile tiny house from scratch or from a kit. This can lower the cost even further, as you can save on labor and materials. Bare-bones kits for mobile tiny houses are available for as little as $4,000 to $10,000. Of course, you will also need to factor in the cost of tools, permits, land (if applicable), and other expenses.

Building your own mobile tiny house can also give you more control and flexibility over the design and features of your home. You can customize it to suit your preferences and needs, as well as add your own personal touch.

Legality and Parking

While mobile tiny houses may seem like a simple and convenient solution to housing, they are not without their challenges. One of the biggest hurdles that mobile tiny house owners face is the legal and zoning regulations that vary from place to place.

Unlike traditional homes, mobile tiny houses are not subject to the same building codes and standards. Instead, they are often classified as recreational vehicles (RVs) or trailers, which have different rules and restrictions. Depending on where you live or where you want to park your mobile tiny house, you may need to obtain certifications, permits, licenses, or inspections to do so legally.

Some places may not allow mobile tiny houses at all, or only allow them for a limited period of time. For example, in Ormond Beach, Florida, you are required to move your RV every 45 days. Other places may have strict requirements on the size, shape, or appearance of mobile tiny houses, or limit them to certain areas or communities.

On the other hand, some places are more welcoming and accommodating of mobile tiny houses. For instance, Oregon has lifted some of the regulations on temporary tiny homeowners, allowing them to park their mobile tiny houses on private property or in RV parks without hassle.

The legal and zoning landscape of mobile tiny houses is constantly changing and evolving, as more people become aware and interested in this alternative form of housing. Therefore, it is important to do your research and consult with local authorities before you decide to buy or build a mobile tiny house.

State-by-State Classification (THOW vs RV)

Another challenge that mobile tiny house owners face is the different classification of their homes across different states. While some states consider mobile tiny houses as tiny houses on wheels (THOWs), others classify them as recreational vehicles (RVs). This can have significant implications for the owners, especially regarding zoning and permits.

THOWs are mobile tiny houses that are built to resemble traditional homes, with standard materials and features. They are usually intended to be permanent or semi-permanent residences, rather than temporary or occasional dwellings. THOWs are often subject to residential building codes, which can vary from state to state. Some states, such as California, Colorado, and Maine, have adopted specific codes or standards for THOWs, while others have not.

RVs are vehicles that are designed for travel and recreation, rather than for living. They are usually built with lightweight and aerodynamic materials, and have features that facilitate mobility and comfort. RVs are subject to federal standards set by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). However, these standards do not apply to RVs that are used as permanent residences, which can create confusion and inconsistency.

Depending on how your mobile tiny house is classified, you may face different challenges and opportunities. For example, if your mobile tiny house is considered an RV, you may have more options for parking, as you can use any land that is zoned for RVs. However, you may also face limitations on how long you can stay in one place, or how you can use your home. On the other hand, if your mobile tiny house is considered a THOW, you may have more stability and security, as you can use any land that is zoned for residential use. However, you may also face more restrictions on the size, shape, or appearance of your home, or have to comply with more stringent building codes.

Therefore, it is important to know how your mobile tiny house is classified in the state where you live or where you want to park. You may also need to obtain a conditional use permit or a variance to develop your unit, depending on the local regulations.

Not sure on how your state views THOWs? See if this blog helps: Navigating the Legal Terrain of Tiny Houses on Wheels (THOWs) Across the U.S.

THOW vs RV Comparison

As we have seen, mobile tiny houses can be classified as either THOWs or RVs, depending on their construction, purpose, and mobility. But what are the main differences between these two types of mobile tiny houses, and which one is better for you?

The answer depends on your personal preferences, needs, and goals. Here are some of the factors that you may want to consider when choosing between a THOW and an RV:

  • Construction: THOWs are built with standard, higher quality materials, such as wood, metal, or stone. They are designed to withstand different weather conditions and last for a long time. RVs are built with lightweight, lower quality materials, such as plastic, fiberglass, or aluminum. They are designed to be aerodynamic and fuel-efficient, but not necessarily durable or resilient .

  • Purpose: THOWs are built primarily to be homes, rather than vehicles. They are meant to provide comfort, functionality, and aesthetics, as well as reflect the owner’s personality and style. RVs are built primarily to be vehicles, rather than homes. They are meant to provide convenience, mobility, and adventure, as well as suit the owner’s travel needs and preferences .

  • Mobility: THOWs are not designed to be moved frequently or easily. They are often heavy, bulky, and require a large towing vehicle. They may also need special permits or licenses to be transported on public roads. RVs are designed to be moved frequently and easily. They are often light, compact, and self-contained. They can be driven or towed by a regular vehicle, and do not need special permits or licenses to be transported on public roads .

Depending on your lifestyle and goals, you may prefer a THOW or an RV for your mobile tiny house. If you value quality, stability, and customization, you may opt for a THOW. If you value flexibility, convenience, and adventure, you may opt for an RV. Of course, you can also find a balance between the two, as there are many hybrid models and options available on the market.

Pros and Cons

Living in a mobile tiny house can offer many benefits, but it can also pose some challenges. Here are some of the pros and cons of mobile tiny house living:


  • Affordability: Mobile tiny houses are generally cheaper to buy and maintain than traditional homes. They can help you save money on mortgage, rent, utilities, taxes, insurance, and maintenance. They can also help you avoid debt and achieve financial freedom.

  • Sustainability: Mobile tiny houses require less energy and resources to build and operate than traditional homes. They can help you reduce your environmental impact and carbon footprint. They can also help you adopt a greener lifestyle, by using renewable energy sources, recycling materials, and minimizing waste.

  • Mobility: Mobile tiny houses offer the flexibility and freedom to move and change locations. They can help you explore new places, experience different cultures, and enjoy different scenery. They can also help you adapt to changing circumstances, such as job opportunities, family needs, or personal preferences.

  • Community Aspects: Mobile tiny houses can help you connect with other like-minded people and form communities. They can help you share resources, ideas, and experiences with other tiny house owners. They can also help you support and learn from each other, as well as create a sense of belonging.

  • Lifestyle Advantages: Living in a mobile tiny home promotes a minimalist lifestyle, reducing clutter and focusing on essential needs. It can also help you develop new skills, hobbies, and passions, as well as enhance your creativity and productivity.


  • Limited Space: Mobile tiny houses, by definition, have limited space which can pose challenges for storage, hosting guests, and overall living comfort. They can make you feel cramped, claustrophobic, or isolated. They can also limit your options for furniture, appliances, and personal belongings.

  • Legal and Zoning Challenges: As we have discussed, laws and regulations regarding mobile tiny houses can be complex and vary greatly by location. They can make it difficult to find a legal and suitable place to park your mobile tiny house. They can also expose you to fines, penalties, or eviction if you violate them.

  • Mobility Limitations: While mobile tiny houses offer mobility, frequent movement can compromise the structure and quality of your home. They can cause wear and tear, damage, or malfunction of your house or its components. They can also increase your fuel and maintenance costs, as well as your environmental impact.

  • Maintenance Issues: Despite their size, mobile tiny houses can require significant maintenance, particularly if they are frequently moved. They can require regular inspections, repairs, or replacements of your house or its systems. They can also require special care and attention to prevent or deal with issues such as mold, pests, leaks, or rust.


Mobile tiny houses are a new way of living that offer a unique combination of affordability, sustainability, and mobility. They are not without their challenges, such as limited space, legal and zoning issues, mobility limitations, and maintenance concerns. However, they also offer many benefits, such as simplicity, flexibility, and community. Mobile tiny house living is not for everyone, but it can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience for those who are willing to embrace it.

We hope you enjoyed this blog post and learned something new about mobile tiny houses. If you have any questions, comments, or feedback, please feel free to share them with us. We would love to hear from you and learn from your perspective. Thank you for reading and happy tiny house living!