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Tiny Home Versus Mobile Home

Tiny homes and mobile homes may seem similar, but they come with key differences that need to be considered when looking at a lifestyle change. Discover more here.

January 3, 2018

Many people use the terms “tiny home” and “mobile home” interchangeably. However, there are key differences between the two. In order to make the best decision for your family and lifestyle, let’s cover these differences and help you choose the right option to meet your unique needs and expectations.

What Is a Tiny Home?

A tiny home is generally referred to as a home that is typically less than 600 square feet in size. These tiny homes often come with all the amenities of a regular home with full-size kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms, laundry spaces, workspaces, etc.

In most cases, tiny homes are built on a permanent foundation with separate utility lines, so they cannot be moved elsewhere. Tiny homes, also often known as Accessory Dwelling Units or ADUs for short, are a great way to downsize and minimize your life to cut down on rising housing costs.

What Is a Mobile Home?

A mobile home is a home that is relatively small but can be moved. When you think of “mobile homes,” you probably think of traditional manufactured homes that don’t even have wheels and are rarely moved. However, in recent years, a new kind of “mobile home” that is truly mobile has become more popular.

These homes are built on trailers and are designed to be transported all over the place for a more nomadic lifestyle. Depending on the design, these contemporary mobile homes often have features similar to those seen in a luxury RV—with kitchens, bathrooms, air conditioning, heat, Wi-Fi, etc.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Each?

Tiny homes and mobile homes offer two different types of lifestyles. Each one comes with pros and cons that you should consider before making such a life-changing decision.

Tiny Home

Tiny homes are a great option for those looking to downsize, live more sustainably, and save money at the same time.


  • Quality: In terms of quality, tiny homes can offer extremely high levels of quality. With the right builder and designer, your tiny home can feel just like a regular home in terms of the construction and features, just with a smaller footprint. Check out this smaller ADU unit as an example.
  • Customization: In terms of customization, tiny homes are totally customizable. You can work with a custom tiny home builder to create the right floor plan with the right features to fit your unique needs. For instance, if you need more than one bedroom, you can achieve that within your tiny home with a smart design.
  • Affordability: In terms of price, it tends to vary a lot with tiny homes. The good news is that there are things you can do to get the most bang for your buck. Working with an all-inclusive tiny home builder like Cottage rather than going with a pre-fabricated option or a design-bid-build approach can save you tens of thousands of dollars.
  • Size Options: In terms of size, there is also a lot of variation when it comes to tiny homes. Most of the time, tiny homes are less than 600 square feet, but they can be much larger if you have the room, the desire, and the funds to do so. For instance, there are tiny homes that are larger than 1,000 square feet in size with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms!
  • Unique Aesthetics: In terms of look and style, tiny homes offer top-notch aesthetics both inside and outside. If you take the custom approach, you can choose to have the outside of your tiny home match the outside of the main house. You can also choose the interior style and finishes to meet your needs and expectations.
  • Minimalist and Sustainable: Finally, tiny homes are part of a wider movement towards a more minimalist and sustainable lifestyle. You can rest assured knowing that you’re contributing to a larger sustainability movement as a result of this lifestyle change.


  • Longer Build Time: In terms of timeframe, it can take longer to build a tiny house since they are often built to custom specifications, are permanent, and involve separate and fixed utility lines. However, with an experienced tiny home building company, you can speed up the time frame and get into your tiny home as soon as possible.
  • Stationary: In terms of mobility, tiny homes aren’t usually designed to be moved around. Instead, they are built with a fixed foundation and utility lines. So if you’re looking for a more mobile lifestyle, this may not be the best option for you.
  • Potential Cost; In terms of price, tiny homes can quickly get expensive if you’re not careful. While you may have to pay more to get the features you want, it’s a great long-term investment that will help you minimize your living and utility costs for years to come.

Mobile Home

Mobile homes are a great option for those looking to travel or looking for an extremely affordable housing solution.


  • Quick Build Time: In terms of speed, prefabricated mobile homes can be built extremely quickly. This is a good option if you need a near-immediate housing solution.
  • Relatively Cheap: In terms of price, prefabricated mobile homes are quite cost-efficient. However, you could end up spending more money on land costs and other extras that drive up the final costs.
  • Mobile: In terms of mobility, mobile homes offer the flexibility needed to live a more nomadic lifestyle. Depending on the type of mobile home, they can be built onto a trailer that you can haul with a truck or SUV.


  • Poor Quality: In terms of quality, since mobile homes are usually pre-fabricated, they may not use the best quality materials or construction process.
  • Few Custom Choices: In terms of customization, another downside of prefabricated mobile homes is that you’re not able to customize your home to fit your unique needs. Instead, you get what you get.
  • Hidden Costs: In terms of price, mobile homes often come with unexpected or extra costs. At the end of the day, it’s up to you to make sure that you’re getting a complete and accurate quote for your mobile home.

Which Option Is Best for You?

Choosing between a tiny home and a mobile home can be difficult. So based on everything we’ve covered about each one, let’s talk about how to determine which option is best for you:

  • If you’re looking to embrace remote work and freely travel around the country, then you should probably consider a mobile home.
  • If you’re looking to take advantage of land that you already have or want to rent your tiny home or ADU unit in the future, then you should probably consider a tiny house.
  • If you have unique housing needs, then you should probably look into a custom tiny house.
  • If you’re looking for a quick and cheap housing solution, then you should probably think about a mobile home.

Move Forward With a Tiny Home

If you have determined that a tiny home is the right option for you, let’s talk about the next steps. This is where the real work begins. First of all, you will need to find a tiny home designer and builder. It’s best to go with a full-service partner that covers each step of the process, from feasibility to design, permitting, and construction.

Full-service tiny home builders like Cottage offer an all-inclusive process by incorporating design, engineering, site prep, utility, foundation, and construction costs into a single quote.

Cottage has an established network of vetted professionals that we use to complete the work on your tiny home, and all of our work comes with a one-year workmanship guarantee.

So to get started on your tiny home journey, reach out to the experts at Cottage for a free consultation to cover the needs and possibilities for your new tiny home.


Rising Housing Costs Leave Homebuyers Struggling | New York Times

Survey Reveals Why Tiny Homes Have Become so Popular | Business Insider