View Full Version : Tiny houses vs. trailer homes

June 29th, 2017, 07:14 PM
I'm watching this new(ish) trend to "tiny houses" with interest, amusement, and confusion.

I'm amused mainly b/c sometimes it seems like millenials discover the benefit of something (like buying something small so that you don't have a mortgage) and then they act like they invented it. Seems like "tiny homes" is one such example. I'm not bashing tiny homes. I think the concept of avoiding a mortgage is great! But it's nothing new, is it?

In the interest of trying to stay open-minded, and since a few of you mentioned you live in (or are looking at) either trailer homes or tiny homes, I would like somebody to explain to me what the difference is between the two. Other than a tiny home possibly having a loft and a more traditional cladding, I don't see what the big new invention is.

Thank you!

June 29th, 2017, 07:34 PM
My experience is limited, but my daughter and I have been researching tiny homes. I posted a link to one that her boyfriend was considering purchasing in the 'house' thread.
I guess the biggest difference I have seen is that 'most' trailer homes (certainly not all) seem to have that pre-fab look about them (inside and out), whereas tiny homes are often custom built to the buyer's wishes. I think both are fine, it all depends on what you want! I actually don't love tiny homes - I need a bit more space than your usual tiny home provides (the definition of a tiny home is basically anything under 400 sf). Trailer homes can run much larger than that.
I must say, the tiny home we actually got to go into - it did not feel so tiny because of the layout. Most tiny homes look too cramped to me because of the usual placement of the kitchen. The one we saw was quite nice.
I wouldn't want to live in one, but I can certainly see my daughter being able to love being in one. She is very much a minimalist, and tiny herself ;)

June 29th, 2017, 07:35 PM
The towable tiny homes are usually only 8 ft wide, where most single-wide mobile homes are at least 14, many are 16 wide. And many mobile homes now come with traditional roofs and siding. And the tiny homes I've seen seem to cost quite a bit more per square foot than mobile homes. Pretty much just fancied-up camper trailers.

Navy Wife
June 29th, 2017, 07:39 PM
I think the main difference is tiny homes are more mobile than mobile homes. DD lives in a mobile home that is 14 x 60. It takes 2 semis to move it, so it isn't very mobile!. The tiny homes supposedly can be moved with a heavy duty pick up. For the money, I would buy a motor home with slide outs or a 5th wheel. They have more room in less space and are built to travel. I'd hate to see the inside of some of those tiny homes after they are moved more than a couple of miles! There was one with a beautiful acrylic tub which wouldn't last through 3 big bumps.

June 29th, 2017, 07:44 PM
I've been watching Tiny House Nation since it started. I think the homes give a sense of individuality. I don't think it has to do with millennials so much, there were plenty of older folks on the show too. I like watching the pairing down process. It makes me look at my own things and would I part with them.

K. McEuen
June 29th, 2017, 08:39 PM
Most mobile homes are moved once or twice in their lifetimes. They aren't meant to be towed behind the family vehicle. They also aren't like living in a closet, which is the feeling I think I would get in a tiny home. I've always been impressed with the use of space in most models of mobile homes. They normally have fantastic storage and many built-ins.

This link takes to to a virtual walk through of a mobile home that my sister was going to look at, before she saw the house she made an offer on. This place is HUGE and I would not consider it very mobile.


Be careful, I kept getting stuck in the laundry room when I was taking the virtual tour. It is almost like walking around in a video game.

June 29th, 2017, 08:44 PM
I too occasionally watch Tiny House Nation....and I love it. My parents started camping when I was a baby in a tent camper in 1954.....( okay, so now you know I am 62 yrs old ) I was 9 months old when I went camping for the first time.
My parents loved camping, and I still do, however we sold our 38 ft trailer years ago when the kids became teenagers and didn't really like camping any more.
The Tiny House concept is really nice, although for someone like myself, with tons of stuff ( such as fabric ) a Tiny House wouldn't be something I could live in.
My 1st DH ( prior to his death) talked about moving into a Senior Apartment when the kids moved out....but honestly, since his death ( and my re-marriage ) I can't see moving out of my paid for home and the fact that I have so much fabric...well, it just wouldn't fit into a tiny house....But I am amazed with the show. I like the guy that builds the tiny homes ...Zach, he is really creative.
( Well, I like the other man too...just can't think of his name right now )

June 29th, 2017, 09:08 PM
Ok, so I get the ease of moving it thing. But where are you going to continually move this tiny house to?

Also, when I watch the shows, without fail, it seems the primary motivation is the ability to pay it off and therefore have money to travel and the like -- to not be mortgage poor. In that regard, like someone said, it seems like you get a lot more space for you money from a trailer home.

But to each their own. It will be interesting to see how long this trend lasts.

June 29th, 2017, 09:11 PM
Tiny home...travel trailer...about the same thing. It's called marketing....

June 29th, 2017, 09:13 PM
Its fairly new and novel, and a lot of people just can't seem to see past that

cv quilter
June 29th, 2017, 09:25 PM
We watch the Tiny House Nation, too. Love it. Find it amusing and interesting. See some really neat ones and love the cleverness of some of the designs. While we do think that not all the people shown are not Millenials, we don't see many in our age category (70s (officially "older")) we are amazed at what the cost of these little wonders is. We are RV enthusiasts (past and present), and marvel at what those interviewed on the show will pay for something that they can tow anywhere they want to, when they can buy a beautiful 5th wheel and tow vehicle or motorhome, with much more room and adaptability to surroundings, for usually less money. The insulation value of them, comparatively, is very much the same, while the ability to shift layouts and options is sometimes superior (Not always). As far as mobile homes go, I lived in a double wide 43 years ago, loved it, would live in one again, single wide or double wide. I think they are absolutely beautiful.

June 29th, 2017, 09:50 PM
I have not seen the show, but I have seen several photos layouts of the homes. I can't figure out how they are finding different spots to move to. Do they just buy small hunks of land when the urge to move hits? Do they have a bunch of relatives with large yards?

Many years ago, we did live in a trailer home. I loved it. We had 2 small children and didn't want to rent, so that is what we could find. It was spacious enough for all of us. The only thing I didn't care for was the master bedroom was at one end and both of the kids bedrooms were at the other. It took a while for me to hear them if one of them woke up at night.

June 29th, 2017, 10:03 PM
When you watch the show a lot of times they want one is for their jobs.One show the wife did nursing all over the country. Another was teaching, or sports or military,

June 29th, 2017, 10:17 PM
I don't think mobile vs not is the case. Mobile homes can now be triple wides and the square footage can be huge. The tiny home is a movement directed towards consumerism/materialism. Those that purchase tiny homes do not have fabric stashes or hobbies that require square footage. They are usually outdoorsy too. Millinals like to follow trends. Trends cost more money. And in 20 plus years if not before they will realize they are over being trendy. Like what was said a marketing technique that is fallen for.

June 29th, 2017, 10:29 PM
Even if I were single, I would not even contemplate a tiny home. I would get claustrophobic. I like my 2,200 sq. ft. home. We have a large back yard & enjoy the space. My 2nd DH & I lived in his 14 x 70 ft. 3 BR mobile home when we first got married. It was set firmly in place with skirting, etc. with no intentions of ever moving it. I had to store some of my furniture when we got married. We eventually bought a house & sold the MH. We contemplated getting a double wide, but found a lovely house that met our needs. Lot rent for MHs now is very expensive compared to what we paid back in the 1970's.

June 29th, 2017, 10:58 PM
I would have to have three tiny homes. One to live in, one for my fabric and one to sew in. I love watching the show, but I also love having space to put things. Every one have a great day.

June 29th, 2017, 11:27 PM
I love that show and watch it all the time. I always laugh when the guy (usually it's a guy) lays down in the unfinished loft and declares I think we could make it work. Um no. Me: There's no mattress up there yet dumbhead you will hit your head every time you sit up. I could not live comfortably in such a small space and definitely need more storage. I wish they did follow up on these shows 2-3 years later to see if they stayed.

June 29th, 2017, 11:31 PM
I love that show and watch it all the time. I always laugh when the guy (usually it's a guy) lays down in the unfinished loft and declares I think we could make it work. Um no. Me: There's no mattress up there yet dumbhead you will hit your head every time you sit up. I could not live comfortably in such a small space and definitely need more storage. I wish they did follow up on these shows 2-3 years later to see if they stayed.

They probably rent them out on their next property. lol

I could live a lot smaller, but I'm not into the ladders. I hate stairs as it is.

June 29th, 2017, 11:50 PM
Yeah I forgot about those ladders. I wouldn't like that one bit either!!

June 30th, 2017, 09:42 AM
The smallest house I have lived in was about 1500 square feet and I was fine with that. (It was not a 'mobile' type home, just a small house). But any smaller than that would not be for me. I look at those tiny houses on tv and online and they look so adorable and efficient, but to actually live in one day in and day out would not be for me! lol

But for those who could actually live in such tight quarters happily, I think it's a great concept, new or not. What goes around comes around, right? :D

June 30th, 2017, 10:30 AM
Actually almost every generation comes up with things they feel like they 'invented'. LOL I just smile and nod when I hear it. I am sure there were things I did this with at that age also. In their defense many do come up with a new twist on an old subject.

As for tiny homes, I love watching the show. Really enjoy how creative they are in building and designing. I personally would not be happy with one at this stage. I can see myself liking it when I was younger. We also had campers when I was growing up and at one point my parents parked it at the campgrounds for 2-3 weeks in the summer. It was about a 30 min drive for daddy to get to work so he did not even take vacation time. I do nor love camping but if I did my dh would have been on board with it. He grew up camping also and had a tent when we got married.

The tiny home builders who travel- one episode had a traveling nurse. There was someone at our church whose dil did this. They had lived in hawaii for a few months, up north, out west, and finally in Texas. They did not have children yet so it was perfect for them. I never saw it but heard of their adventures. He had various jobs. When they lived in Alaska he was counting fish for the state- I am sure it was more involved but that is what it boiled down too. LOL They both made good money.
My own kids are all about having less is better so I know if they could, they would probably love that lifestyle.

I don't think tiny homes and minimalism is going to go away. It is just cycling back to around in lifestyle. Think about it. Many of Our great grandparents lived in small homes they inherited or parents helped get, the kids all shared rms, they often had 1 bth, few gadgets, and did not spend a lot of time 'relaxing on the couch' because there was no tv, computers, or cell phones. They relaxed by the radio all together in the evening or on the porch with neighbors. The new tiny home/minimalism things is a new twist on going back to that lifestyle- but with more gadgets.

June 30th, 2017, 10:33 AM
Oh I wish they did follow up too! I would love to know how many sold it! LOL

June 30th, 2017, 10:40 AM
I live in an area where a bunch of trust fund baby millineals are congregating. There are some enterpsing folks marketing tiny houses starting at $50k! Then land and septic and well.
We built a tiny home for the gc to camp in. (See my post this week on where I live. Lots of pics) DH and I built it from wood we cut and took to the saw mill. Bought a metal roof, windows,wiring, flooring nails and paint. Material cost $10k in 2006. It is 16x16 with a 16x16 foot porch..and an upstairs. No, it's not mobile. If I had to, I could live there....meaning if the economy collapsed, my house burned down, etc. It's cute...not comfortable. The upside is , if this were our home and we needed to sell, it would sell faster than a single wide. It could be financed with the land whereas no one will loan money on a used single wide. It would convert to a studio , sewing room, or workshop sometime sometime sometime down the road.

June 30th, 2017, 11:21 AM
The towable tiny homes are usually only 8 ft wide, where most single-wide mobile homes are at least 14, many are 16 wide. And many mobile homes now come with traditional roofs and siding. And the tiny homes I've seen seem to cost quite a bit more per square foot than mobile homes. Pretty much just fancied-up camper trailers.

Shirley, the one we saw was 11' wide - and I think the newer plans for that specific one are 12' wide.

There are definite zoning issues with tiny houses right now, because they still are a novelty. My daughter's boyfriend didn't want to have to jump through the hoops of getting a special permit to put it on his parents' property.

June 30th, 2017, 12:46 PM
one of DD's friends gave up their real house for a tiny house. They designed the layout and did alot of the work themselves. They found someone to rent them space out in the woods-don't know the details as far as water/electric etc. they are quite thrilled but then again they were also thrilled to buy their first home a few years ago. Personally i think it is a fad that will get old for most people. While I could certainly do without a lot of the stuff i have, i like to spread out, would not like to feel i was living 365 in a camper

June 30th, 2017, 02:50 PM
I forgot to add that there's a lot of Tiny Houses on YouTube.com for sale.....now and again.

June 30th, 2017, 10:06 PM
I like watching the shows, too. I googled Tiny Houses and found some horror stories, 'though. It can be hard for people to find places to put their homes (zoning regulations), one house in Texas was stolen and later found, people who've never built a thing have gotten in over their heads etc.
But they are darn cute.

July 1st, 2017, 09:00 AM
I have watched a ton of those shows on tiny houses. It is an intriguing way to live, but I keep saying that those people don't have hobbies. I did see one episode with a young woman who sewed (can't remember what she sewed), but she didn't have the equipment or stash that many of us do. Then again, maybe that's a good thing?

July 1st, 2017, 09:36 AM
Tiny home...travel trailer...about the same thing. It's called marketing....

My thoughts EXACTLY! They can charge more for it though if they call it a "tiny home!"
Also, it doesn't seem that they're self contained like an RV is. You have to have hook-ups to water, sewer, and electric, right?