We’re in the middle of a surge in housing prices that is lasting longer than many expected. The national average home price went up an astronomical 19% in 2021, according to the S&P; CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index.
Even areas of the United States that have traditionally lagged are surging in price, not to mention the interest rates on mortgages. Some folks, however, decided to avoid throwing money away on a high mortgage and instead converted their vehicles into homes.
Following are some of their ingenious efforts. If any of these conversions inspire you, be sure to shop around for the best auto insurance before building your new road home.
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Camper van chic
A couple from Texas retrofitted a 1984 VW camper van with living, sleeping, cooking, and eating space, and hit the road for adventures. They opted for a minimalist style with feather garland decorations, a vintage stove in avocado green, and pieces of furniture that serve more than one function.
It’s tiny, but it’s enough room for the two of them and their dogs. And since it’s a camper van and not a trailer, it’s easy to maneuver on the road.
Little Lost Caboose
Little Lost Caboose is a tiny house built inside an old-fashioned red train caboose. It’s in the woods on a hill in Minnesota and has the feel of a cozy cabin inside the body of a train car.
The main floor has hardwood floors and contains a sitting area with a couch and a desk. It has a view of Lake Superior out the window and a kitchen area with a counter, stove, and refrigerator.
There are full stairs with a railing up to a sleeping loft with a queen-sized bed and light wood-paneled walls. There’s a large deck outside the caboose with chairs and a hammock and firepit in the yard. The house doesn’t have plumbing, so you need to bring water for cooking and bathing.
The Majestic Bus
The Majestic Bus is a converted Bedford Panorama bus in Hay-on-Wye in Wales that can be rented out as a guest house. The Majestic Bus is a charming little cottage with wooden floors and pine wood paneling and beautiful light coming in through all the windows.
It has a small and efficient kitchen with a gas stove, refrigerator, sink, wooden counters, a living room with a couch that folds out into a double bed, and a bedroom space with a double bed and woodburning stove. The electricity in the bus is provided by solar panels.
The flush toilet and bath are in a separate bathhouse with another wood-burning stove. It is just a short walk from the bus. There is also a hot tub, two decks, and a fire pit in the yard surrounding the bus. Four people can sleep inside the bus, and another four can sleep in tents in the yard during nice weather.
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Cottage built onto a bus frame
Mira and Jeremy Thompson of Key Peninsula, Washington, had a cottage built directly onto a school bus frame to create a mobile tiny house that fits their small family of three perfectly.
Mira designed the home, and Jeremy did much of the building and woodworking, including building the bed, creating the sleeping nook for their toddler daughter, and refurbishing the wood stove that heats the house.
The house looks like a cottage on the inside so completely that unless you notice the stove and loveseat built over the wheel wells of the bus frame, you won’t realize that it is a mobile tiny house built onto a bus frame.
House inside an airplane
Retired electrical engineer Bruce Campbell built a house on the inside of a retired Boeing 727 airplane outside of Portland, Oregon.
Campbell’s focus is on livability and durability, not charm. He’s kept many of the features of the plane, like rows of seats and the cockpit, and he made the toilet and sink in the bathroom usable. With no focus on decorating or on trying to make the inside feel like a regular house, the plane feels like a living space for — you guessed it — a guy who really loves airplanes.
Campbell feels very comfortable in his airplane house and loves the safety and durability of the fuselage. He paid $100,000 for the retired airplane back in 1999 and has since put another $120,000 into moving and converting it into a living space. As weird homes go, this one is definitely out there.
House on a Prius
James Lawler, a landscaper from Australia, built a tiny house on the back of his Toyota Prius hybrid car with reclaimed materials. It took him a week to build and cost him around $150.
The house has a roof, a chimney, and a stained-glass window. It has room for Lawler to sleep in but no kitchen or bathroom. Lawler built the tiny house as a step up from a camping tent, not to be a permanent residence. So, he focused on insulating it for warmth but not structural stability or longevity.
Lawler’s house was just a place for him to crash while he went to a week-long music festival. But the house is not up to Australian building or vehicle codes, and Lawler was fined by the police for driving his Prius house.
Camper on a truck
The company Nomad Vanz sells a camper built onto the chassis of a Ford F-550 or a Ram 5500 and is a solid, livable house or adventure base. The camper is customizable, and you can choose a generator or a battery pack plus solar panels to power your lights and appliances.
With a toilet, water heater, furnace, stove-top, microwave, air conditioner, king-sized bed, and a dry shower base, this is a fully livable house. Driving this house is like driving the truck that it’s built on, which makes it a truly mobile home and perfect for adventures and off-roading where an RV or trailer couldn’t go.
These tiny houses will never make a list of affordable homes since it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars for one of these Nomad Vanz products. But if rugged adventuring in a real house is your thing, it’s a solid value.
A lot of people used the pandemic as a chance to realign expectations for their lives, and owning a regular home, in a regular neighborhood meant needing help paying the mortgage down the road. It wasn’t the dream anymore.
For those who have chosen mobility over square footage, these tiny homes made out of vehicles are solid temporary or permanent housing solutions.
Being able to get on the road with your house is also a great way to reduce financial stress by investing in experiences instead of real estate.