The Tiny house Blog

Trailer or Foundation? What’s the Best Tiny Home Option For You?

Updated on:
June 9, 2023
Beautiful tiny home with french glass doors

When considering downsizing to a tiny home, you’ll eventually come face to face with a fork in the road: do you want a tiny home on wheels or one with a solid foundation? There are several pros and cons to each option. However, ultimately, you should decide based on the following factors:

  1. Your Budget
  2. Your Lifestyle
  3. Desire to Downsize

In this article, we will break down the pros and cons of tiny homes on wheels while keeping those three factors in mind. Before digging into the pros and cons, let’s define the three factors a bit more thoroughly.

Three Factors You Need to Consider Before Buying a Tiny Home

1) Budget: 

Despite many affordable tiny home options on the market, there will always be ways you can pay more money. Luxury tiny homes can be more expensive than regular homes, depending on the features, location and amenities. Though tiny is in the name, don’t confuse these dwellings for cheap, necessarily

That being said, there are tiny homes for all budgets. Suppose you have a large budget and are looking for a tiny home as an additional residence or vacation home. In that case, your requirements for what is livable might be different than if you were looking for a primary residence. For example, you might be willing to put up with less space if your tiny home was a secondary residence. Or you might wish to save on electricity costs and other utilities because of limitations on your budget. 

2) Lifestyle: 

Do you like to travel? Do you work from home? Are you entering retirement or just starting to build a family? When weighing the pros and cons of a tiny home on wheels or a stationary tiny home, you also need to consider your lifestyle. Whether or not you choose a mobile tiny home or a stationary tiny home will be influenced by the following:

  • Are you single?
  • What is the size of your family?
  • How many pets do you have?
  • Do you own a car?
  • Do you travel for work?
  • How comfortable are you with consuming less energy?
  • How comfortable are you with not having a sewer system?
  • Do you like to travel?
  • Are you nearing retirement age?
  • Do you like green living?

3) Desire to Downsize: 

If you are looking for a vacation home or secondary residence, you might not actually be looking to downsize. However, some tiny homeowners strive for a minimalist lifestyle as part of the experience of tiny home living. This can be a big hurdle to purchasing a tiny home, as some people have tremendous difficulty embracing a minimalist lifestyle. 

The desire to downsize and actually downsizing are not the same thing! 

Tiny homes on trailers are somewhat more restricted than tiny homes on a foundation because mobile tiny homes are limited by their need to be road safe. Tiny homes on foundations can be more creative with limited spaces because they are not restricted by road safety. 

Now that we have discussed the three factors you need to consider when deciding on the type of tiny home you’d like to purchase, we can get into the pros and cons of mobile tiny homes.

Escher Tiny Home Gooseneck fifth wheel
Escher by New Frontier

Pros and Cons of Tiny Homes On Wheels

First, let’s talk about the pros of mobile tiny homes. There are many benefits to being mobile beyond the sheer fact that tiny homes on wheels can move. We will explore the less obvious benefits, rather than hammer home the fact that they allow owners to travel.

Some of these side benefits may not have occurred to you:

Pro: Ability to Avoid Natural Disasters

Yes, tiny homes on wheels can travel, but that travel becomes a crucial benefit in cases where severe weather or natural disasters threaten your home. You can move seasonally to mitigate risks during hurricane season or in the event of an earthquake or other natural disaster. 

Homes with a foundation simply cannot do this effectively. 

Pro: Rented Land Has Some Benefits Depending on Your Lifestyle

If you are staying on rented land rather than land you own, you don’t have to pay property taxes, which can be expensive depending on the area you live in. If you are renting a tiny home on someone else’s land, your home is at the mercy of your landlord. 

If you own a tiny home on wheels, it is much easier to move to another plot of land if your landlord decides to sell or develop the land you are renting.

Pro: Cheaper On Average Than Tiny Homes On Foundations

As mentioned above, if you want to spend a fortune on tiny homes—mobile or otherwise—you can find plenty of luxury tiny home builders that will be more than happy to oblige. However, if cost is a concern, tiny homes on wheels tend to cost two to three times less than tiny homes on a foundation. Mobile tiny homes save owners money in several ways:

Save On Energy And Utilities

Many municipalities have annual fees for water, sewer lines, electricity, and other utilities. Tiny homes on foundations don’t need to necessarily be hooked up to the local grids and water supply lines, but it is much easier for these tiny homes to hook up if the owners want to. 

Tiny homes on wheels are usually free from these utilities, which might be a drawback for some. It is possible to hook your mobile home up to the city grid, but this should be done by consulting with an electrician. However, relying on solar energy, fresh water tanks, and composting toilets can save money and reduce your carbon footprint. 

Factor Out The Cost Of Land and the Foundation

Purchasing the land and pouring the foundation are usually two of the more expensive aspects of building a home, tiny or otherwise. This isn't a concern for owners of tiny homes on wheels because purchasing land isn’t a prerequisite for owning one, and they don’t need a foundation. 

Con: You Need a Powerful Enough Truck to Transport Your Tiny Home

Tiny homes on trailers need trucks with enough horsepower to safely and securely move them. If you already have a truck, then this isn’t really a problem, but it’s something to consider for people looking to buy a tiny home on wheels. 

Con: Financing For a Tiny Home on Wheels Can Be More Challenging

Depending on how your mobile tiny house is classed, obtaining a construction loan or mortgage may be more challenging. For financing, you may need a higher credit score to be approved for loans for a tiny house on wheels than you would need for a traditional home on a foundation. 

Con: Less Safe Overall

Though being on wheels indeed offers mobile tiny homeowners the ability to evade natural disasters, overall, homes without foundations are less safe if they have to weather an emergency. It’s the classic gain maneuverability at the cost of strong defense.

Other Cons: 

Miss Out On Land That Appreciates In Value

Unless you also own land, merely owning a mobile tiny home doesn’t grant you the benefits of owning real estate, which are manifold. 

Less Customizable

Because they have to be built to fit on trailers, there are more limitations on mobile tiny homes' designs. Tiny houses with foundations have more freedom to experiment with different designs that aren’t so rectangular.  

Which Option is Right For You?

Mobile tiny homes are not better or worse than tiny homes on a foundation. One option might have specific qualities that appeal to your budget, lifestyle, and preferences. Which choice is right for you? 

About the Author

Jenn Walker is a freelance writer, blogger, dog-enthusiast, and avid beachgoer operating out of Southern New Jersey.

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