Tiny Living: Vans, RVs, Skoolies, and Tiny Homes
Tiny Homes, RVs, and Skoolies, oh my! The world of tiny dwellers is growing vastly every year as more and more people embrace the tiny lifestyle.
Tiny Living is the art of living with less space and ultimately fewer things. But from someone who has lived the tiny life for over 7 years, I can guarantee you tiny living is by no means an indication of tiny experiences. In fact, my tiny life decision has given me an abundance of big adventures!
The great thing about tiny living is that you can customize your tiny life to fit your needs.
School busses that once transported school kids now transport your living room and kitchen. Remodeled fifth wheels that now resemble an HGTV catalog, the possibilities are really up to your own desire and dreams.
So, if you’re getting into the tiny life or looking to migrate to a different model, this article will go through some of your tiny living options!
Tiny Living in a Van: What You Need to Know
Starting with ideally one of the most transportable options, the Van is an excellent setup for those looking to fit in and blend in.
Van Living Is Adaptable
You could be parked next to someone’s bedroom at Planet Fitness and not even know it as Vans truly embrace the go-anywhere attitude. One night you’re camped in the middle of a National Forest and the next you’re driving your home through a grocery store parking lot. The point is that Vans are adaptable to most places because they fit into most places.
Tiny Living in a Van = REALLY Limited Space
Not only are Vans the smaller, more navigable tiny living option but they’re the poster vehicle for the efficiency of space. Because most Vans are incredibly compact, so are all of your things which means the use of space is an essential thing to consider.
There have been some fascinating Van remodels that truly captivate the idea that you really can thrive with less. Under-bed storage and sliding outdoor kitchens. And with retractable showers and composting toilets, some Vans can provide anything that a sticks and bricks home would, although a smaller, modified version of it. Nonetheless, your needs are being met.
Looking for a Van To Live In?
Vans Are Great For Tiny Living
Now keep in mind Van life also means carrying your home with you everywhere you go. Most of the time it will be your primary vehicle which means your personal space is coming to the laundromat with you or even to work if you’re commuting. For some people, that’s a perk! Being able to take everything you need everywhere you go is an amazing way to make sure your views are always changing.
But it is definitely something to consider if you are looking into more slow-run/long-term tiny living. Vans are better suited for travelers who will be on the road often.
Hopping from park to park, state to state, a quick stop for a shower and then on to the next. Compact and ready to go. Need to downsize? Check out this post on how to downsize your life to get ready for live on the road!
Tiny Living: Vanlife Pros
- Great accessibility: you can take these things anywhere
- Designable: create whatever space you wish
- Still get access to any amenities you need and decide what you don’t
- Great for cross-country road trips
- Freedom from stuff!
Tiny Living: Vanlife Cons
- Not ideal for long-term use or big families
- Small space: may not be suitable for everyone
- Having to rely on external amenities: laundromats, gym showers
- Driving your home everywhere you go
Van Manufacturers & Sellers to Consider:
- Airstream– Yep! They make Vans too.
- Adventure Wagon– Portland-based van builds
- Colorado Camper Vans– Want to add a little extra room to your van… check them out!
- Boho Life– Sells converted Vans after one year of rental use
- Vanlife Trader– A great resource to buy used!
Tiny Living: What You Need to Know About Skoolies
Skoolies or school buses are what most children use to get to and from school.
Skoolies are a lot like vans in that they are often just passenger vehicles that have been turned into passenger living spaces. Rows of seats become couches and kitchens. The back seat where the “cool” kids gather to gossip now totes your bedroom and closet.
The idea is that Schoolies are just big vehicles that can easily be transformed into tiny homes with the same transportability as they were designed to have.
Living In A Skoolie Is BIG For Tiny Living
Amazing things can be done with these school bus tiny homes and because they are usually much bigger than a Van, they offer a lot more space and function. This is a great deal for families who want to travel but need more space to coexist. But they are also just a great idea for travelers that want more room to live with the same ability to get from place to place.
The other wonderful thing about Skoolies?
Windows. Lots of wonderful windows as most school buses are already designed with them. This means the views are endless from the massive windshield in front, around to the emergency door and back again. This setup is truly perfect for those who are looking to bring the outdoors in.
But windows are not the only perk as Skoolies are just a terrific way to customize your tiny dream. They really are an empty canvas, once the seats are removed, as they can be shape-shifted to fit any need.
Want an L-shaped couch or an office space? Up to you.
Prefer having an island kitchen over a galley? Go for it.
And check out our RV Kitchen Accessories: The Ultimate Guide, to find out what fellow RVers love in their tiny but mighty kitchens!
Skoolies Are Great For Tiny Living
Whatever your tiny life desires, Skoolies are a fantastic way to provide that.
Like the Van life, however, there are still some limitations, as again, you are taking your home with you everywhere. Skoolies also often come with limited sizing options so while your canvas is blank and customizable, it is also narrow and certified for transporting up to 72 children in rows of 3, depending on the size.
The point, is that one size may not fit all, so keep that in mind. But Skoolies are an excellent way to see the country or bunker down with ample room for creativity and coziness.
Tiny Living: Skoolie Pros:
- Great room for more space or more people
- Completely customizable
- Road certified
- Perfect for long term use on or off the road
- Easy to get around
Tiny Living: Skoolie Cons:
- Taking your home everywhere
- Limited design: school buses don’t allow for slide outs or lofts
- Gas: with prices high, you are now having to put gas in your home to get around
- Epic Skoolies: Based in the Pacific Northwest
- Davey Coach: Completely customize any conversion
- Phoenix Skool Buses: Partial conversions to help you on your way!
- Chrome Yellow Corp: Learn how to create your own conversion
- Skoolie for Sale: Check out these awesome pre-lived in Skoolies!
Tiny Living in RVs: What You Should Know
Ah, the RV. The longest-standing tiny home dwelling and arguably one of the most versatile. Purely in the number of options you will have when choosing an RV, they really are an ideal way to begin a long-term, full-time tiny life journey.
The first motorhomes supposedly came into being in the 1900s, so you know the innovation since then has been awe-inspiring. From slide-outs to outdoor kitchens, to the entire back portion of your trailer unfolding into a patio. It really is incredible what RVs can do these days.
The other thing about RVs, is that they are abundant! People are always buying, selling, trading, and manufacturing these vehicles which makes them easy to obtain.
I had no idea what the tiny life was like until I bought my first travel trailer. Even though it was the smallest RV I’ve lived in since it was an accessible way to find out if tiny life was for me. I could have just as easily found out it wasn’t, but because I chose to start off with an RV and not jump right into something more permanent like a Tiny Home, I was able to ease into what is now a 7 year journey.
If you’re new to tiny living like I was, you can view this post on RV Newbie Must Haves, which goes through the basics of what you need in your RV!
Living In An RV Provides Options
The term RV is commonly used in the Travel and Tiny Home Industry, but the truth is it’s an umbrella word used to describe a vast grouping of vehicles. Fifth wheels, travel trailers, motorhomes, and coaches, there are so many ways to live tiny in the RV community.
Motorhomes are most like the Skoolie in that that they are driven as opposed to pulled or towed. They can be small and compact or massive movable mansions, it’s your choice. Fifth wheels are also a bigger option because of their over-bed setup. Utilizing the space above the gooseneck or hitching point offers a whole lot more room in the back.
Travel trailers can also provide a lot of living space, but they can also be teeny-tiny too. Look up “teardrop trailer” for proof. There are trailers with slide-outs and bunk houses, toy haulers with removable back walls and space for ATVs or motorcycles. The possibilities are vast.
Tiny Living in RV Means Room to Customize
But the great thing about travel trailers or RVs is that, again, they can be customized!
While these vehicles aren’t blank canvases like the Skoolie or a Van, they can be revamped just the same. In fact, I always encourage people to start their RV journey by buying old and making new.
RV renovation is a budget-friendly way to get the tiny home of your dreams. And with most RV having the same basic amenities, it’s just up to you how you want the rest of the house to be designed. For more RV renovation advice check out Reasons for RV Renovation: Why You Should Consider Renovating Your RV.
RV Pros For Tiny Living
- Campground friendly
- Tons of available options; easy to shop used
- Slide out for more room
- Great for families and long-term use
- Travel trailers offers the chance to leave the house parked
RV Cons For Tiny Living
- Not as customizable
- Not always able to fit on free lands or tight spaces
- Costly: The price of RVs is rising
- Learning curve for towing and transporting, may take time to get used to driving
RV Manufacturers to Consider:
- Winnebago: Known for motorhomes since 1958
- Forest River: Not just RVs but so much more!
- Keystone RV: From Travel Trailers to Toy Haulers
- Jayco: Well-known and trusted in the RV community
- Lazy Days: Buy used on Lazy Days RV
Tiny Living In Tiny Homes
While any tiny dwelling is often called a “tiny” home, there is a special place in the portable home industry for what most would call a house on wheels. From tiny cottage-like dwellings to modern design masterpieces, Tiny Homes have become an increasingly popular way to live a more permanent tiny life.
While some Tiny Homes are planted on property or land, the idea behind a lot of them is to create the same moveable freedom most RVs, Skoolies, and Vans do (be it at a much slower pace).
But they also create a sense of freedom for those looking to get away from the “keeping up with the Joneses” lifestyle. Many who have begun their Tiny Home journey talk about the weightlessness of having fewer things and admit that living tiny became a way to shed the need for stuff.
Tiny Homes Feel Like Tiny Homes
But the great thing about Tiny Homes and the transition into them is that they feel and look so similar to the homes we see in any city neighborhood. An extra tiny version, of course, but having all the essential amenities, nonetheless.
These spectacular homes truly come in all shapes and designs. The only major guideline to follow when creating a travel-ready tiny home is to build it suitable for roadway conditions, including following Federal Height and Weight Laws. But even within these dimensional specifications, these wheeled wonders are an architectural dream.
Most Customizable Tiny Living Option
Tiny Homes are the most customizable tiny dwelling because they are completely built from the trailer bed up. Lofted or floor to ceiling windows, do you need more storage or prefer more living space? What about the outside of the house? Well, you design that too. It’s really your own tiny dream come to life!
But like any tiny decision, there are things you’ll have to consider before jumping in. Tiny Homes are the most permanent of the portable and should really only stick to one extended spot at a time.
RV parks and campgrounds are not always suited to receive a Tiny Home guest and many National Parks or BLM locations are not either. And while they are mobile, in my opinion, they’re a little more delicate to heavy road travel.
But if you have a landing pad or plan to migrate every few months or even years, these Tiny Houses truly are an incredible gem to the tiny life movement.
Tiny Homes Pros For Living Tiny
- They make excellent long-term homes
- Completely customizable
- Freedom from things and mortgages
- Great for more space or more people
- Can be completely off-grid
Tiny Homes Cons For Living Tiny
- Not as moveable
- Expensive: you are building a home and the costs will reflect that
- Tiny homes require commitment
- Not for everyone: tiny life isn’t for everyone so this doesn’t make a great first tiny experience
Tiny Home Manufactures:
- Tiny Home Builders: As featured on HGTV
- Wind River: Based in Chattanooga, TN
- Tumbleweed Colorado: Certified green Tiny Homes
- Pacifica Tiny Homes: California tiny home dreamin’
- Teacup Tiny Homes: Based in both the US and Canada
So, Take Your Pick On Tiny Living…
Are you moving fast and traveling hard in the Van life or taking the family along in a transformed Skoolie? Or maybe someone’s getting rid of their travel trailer and now is the time to get a feel for how life on wheels works for you. But for those looking to settle in and get cozy, Tiny Homes turn any tiny dream into a big reality.
Whichever type of tiny you choose; the adventure is all yours!