Many people dream about living the tiny house bus life. And with the growing popularity of remote work, a more cost-efficient and adventurous house on wheels definitely seems like an interesting idea. Reason enough to take a closer look at this concept of minimalistic living and traveling.
This article will analyze what different kinds of tiny houses there are, how much a tiny house costs, and how much it costs to convert a bus to a tiny house. We will also look at the digital nomad life on the road in general and see if you even have good internet options to work remotely from your mobile home.
What Is The Tiny House Movement?
The tiny house movement is a social movement, where people decide to go more minimalistic; to switch from living in a normal/big house or apartment to a small house to enjoy more freedom and profit from the many other benefits of this lifestyle.
According to the 2018 International Residential Code, this dwelling unit has a maximum of 37 square meters (= 400 sq ft) of floor area. But of course, we don’t want to be too nit-picky here. After all, the tiny house movement is not just about living in a small space but more about the whole philosophy of this lifestyle.
It is not just the size that varies. Tiny houses can also come in many shapes and types. One of the main distinctive features is mobility:
- They can be stationary, i.e. just like a normal house (but much smaller) they are built on solid ground and connected to the local water- and wastewater-system and power supply network. This is often the case for cabins or converted shipping containers.
- They have wheels which means you can travel with them and live in different places. These houses usually operate with solar panels, water tanks, and portable wastewater solutions.
Since this blog is about remote work and digital nomads, I’m mainly going to focus on the second option. Many digital nomads use a tiny house on wheels to travel countries or continents all while working online from their mobile homes.
Different Types of Mobile Tiny Houses
If you’ve read a bit about the tiny house movement before, you might have noticed that there are many different types of houses. From converted school busses to motorhomes to actual houses on wheels – everything is possible. Let’s look at the most common types:
Converted School Bus House
Converted school busses are amongst the most popular variations of tiny houses. Why? Because they are already mobile, licensed to operate on public roads and they offer plenty of space. All you need to do is to throw out all of the seats and build your little mobile apartment.
But don’t get me wrong here. Rebuilding involves a lot of planning, hard work, and maybe even high costs.
If you want to go the shortcut, you could also buy a ready-made converted school bus tiny house.
Have a look at Skoolie Livin where Chris and Sarah give you tons of information on school bus conversions and the tiny house bus lifestyle.
By the way: It is not only school busses that can be converted to tiny houses. Pretty much all kinds of busses or vans, that are allowed to operate on public roads, can be turned into a tiny mobile home.
The classic house on wheels. While trailers are normally not quite as spacious as converted school busses, they still work as tiny mobile homes. The advantage here is that you can detach them from your car and explore a city or region in a much smaller vehicle.
For more info on that type, check out the popular online magazine Tailer Life.
Tiny House on Wheels
It’s just what the name suggests: a cute little house that has wheels. So pretty much a house on a trailer. I’d say the only difference to the before-mentioned motorhome is that it has more of a “house feel” to it. It looks like a house on the outside and often has two levels on the inside.
But don’t nail me down on it. I’m sure it’s the exact same to many people so it’s just a matter of how you personally define those terms.
And another category of mobile tiny houses is houseboats. While they obviously don’t operate on the road but on water, these are still small dwelling units, where you can live for years (or your entire life if you want to) and which get you from A to B if they are motorized and not stationary.
The two travel addicts Charlie and Lauren, who have a popular Instagram account, live on a narrowboat in England. Check them out if you want to learn more about that.
If you want to explore the houseboat life for a while, have a look at BookaHouseboat, where you can rent houseboats around the world and have some private space to relax on the water.
How Much Does a Tiny House Cost?
This is the one question that people are interested in the most: What does a tiny house cost?
As usual, there is no clear answer to it because it depends on many factors. But to give you an idea of potential costs I listed some examples of prices below:
How Much Does It Cost to Rent a Tiny House?
If you don’t want to go all-in and live in a tiny house permanently, yet, you can also rent one and test if this is the right lifestyle for you in the long run.
Or you can rent a tiny house just temporarily for a holiday. A few days, weeks, or maybe even months of freedom and living on the road before you head back to your normal life and house.
There are several places where you can find tiny houses for rent:
- Airbnb: Check their section for cottages and cabins and you will find the most adorable little houses around the world.
- com: You can also find countless tiny houses for rent on Booking.com.
- Tinyhouse-World: This platform is specialized in mobile tiny houses for rental and sale.
- house: Probably one of the biggest platforms for tiny house holiday rentals anywhere in Europe.
- Tiny House Listings: Another very popular platform for renting tiny houses.
Prices vary depending on the season, the location, and the type of tiny house you want to get. So it can literally be anything from USD 40 per night UP to USD 350+ per night.
How Much Does It Cost to Buy a Tiny House?
If you are hooked on the idea of living in a tiny house for good, you can also buy one and travel wherever you want to with it. As mentioned before, there are plenty of platforms where you can buy ready-made tiny houses, both mobile and stationary. Again, here are the most popular ones:
- Bus Life Adventure
- Tiny House Finder
- Tiny Home Builders
- Amazon and Craigslist (believe it or not, you can find tiny houses there, too!)
Prices start from about USD 10,000 for a very small, older, partly-converted school bus to luxury tiny houses of USD 150,000 or more. It all depends on what you like.
You could also buy an empty bus and get it converted by professionals. Check out the website My Bus Hotel. They have some very cool designs which are perfect for your new life on the road. Prices start from USD 52,000 (without bus).
How Much Does It Cost to Convert a School Bus to a Tiny House?
If you don’t want to buy a ready-made tiny house but prefer to convert a school bus or trailer on your own, you can surely do so! Due to the growing tiny house movement, there is now a big community of people who are happy to share their experiences on the converting process.
First of all, you need a trailer or bus. Depending on your needs you can get small and cheap ones for around USD 5,000. After you’ve thrown out everything that’s in there, you can start planning and building.
Depending on the size of your vehicle, the material you use, and how much comfort you want to have in your tiny house, the prices vary greatly. Here are some real-life examples:
- Meag and Ben from The Wild Drive paid around USD 18,000 for the conversion plus USD 8,000 for the bus purchase.
- Cristie from The Traveling Red paid about USD 41,000, which includes the initial purchase of the school bus.
- Cat and Aaron from Stu the Bus managed to buy a bus and convert it for only USD 13,000. Check out their cost break-down on Trail and Summit.
- Mariajosé and Chase from Tío Aventura also got the bus and conversion for not even USD 16,000.
How to Get Internet When Living in a Tiny House Bus?
Can You Work Remotely from a Tiny House? 100% Yes! Luckily, there are many options today for how you can get internet while being on the road. Which one the right one for you is, strongly depends on your needs and situation.
Internet Option 1: Global Hotspot
One great solution that I have been using for years as a backup while traveling is Skyroam. This is a global hotspot that gives up to 10 devices (e.g. your phone, tablet, or laptop) reliable WIFI. The best part about it is that it works in more than 135 countries around the world. That means you don’t have to get local SIM cards if you enter a new country.
There are different payment options. You can choose to pay per GB you use, get a day pass, or even a monthly subscription. Check out my Skyroam review to learn more about the service or head straight to the Skyraom website!
Internet Option 2: Local Hotspot
As just mentioned, you can also get a local hotspot. That means you have a normal hotspot and will have to buy a SIM card for every country you visit and top it up with your required data volume.
This is a good option if you only travel in one country, let’s say you want to live the digital nomad life in the USA and travel around the states.
But if you are planning to do a road trip, for instance, in Europe, where you are want to work from multiple countries, getting new SIM cards and constantly checking for the best internet deals can be annoying.
Note: Of course, you don’t need to get an actual hotspot device but could also use your phone as a hotspot. But keep in mind that this function drains your phone battery. So an additional hotspot is most likely worth it.
Internet Option 3: Coworking Spaces
Only because you live in a tiny house bus, doesn’t necessarily mean you have to work from one, too. If you prefer working from a “proper” office, you can also base yourself near coworking spaces and use their internet.
Here you can get day passes or monthly passes and work from a shared office. Also, you easily get to know other remote workers and can socialize. On the downside, you won’t be as flexible as if you had proper internet on your bus.
Internet Option 4: RV Park WIFI
Yes, many RV parks today offer WIFI. Some are free, others come at an additional cost. Just as in any hotel, this can be a convenient option. If the signal is weak, you could get a WIFI booster to improve it.
However, if many people are using the internet at the same time, it may slow down a lot, which can be extremely frustrating if you want to get your work done.
If you still want to use this option, make sure you are using a VPN service to be safe from malicious attacks, e.g. phishing or hackers. Never use a public WIFI connection without a reliable VPN! Your data is really at risk here.
Internet Option 5: Local Internet
If you plan to stay in one location for at least 6 to 12 months and your RV park has a cable hookup, you could also check with local internet providers, if a subscription is possible. If so, you only need a modem and could use the internet just as you would do in any regular house.
Since they usually only offer long-term plans, this won’t work if you only want to stay for a couple of weeks.
Who Can Live in a Tiny House?
The tiny house life is for everyone.
Although many people think it’s only for 20-somethings, there are so many “older” people who enjoy this lifestyle, too. Some start when their kids are out of the house and off to college so they have to freedom to travel wherever they want to.
Others start when they are retired. It’s a great opportunity to use your savings, buy a tiny house bus and explore regions you’ve always wanted to go to but never had the time for.
As long as you are physically able to live in a mobile home for an extended period (think of tiny stairs or sleeping in narrow nooks), you’re good to go.
Of course, you should also have either enough savings to keep you going or a location-independent job to make money while traveling.
Also, your family status is completely irrelevant. You can most definitely travel alone in a tiny house bus, even as a girl. Check out Lisa Jacob`s van life story for more inspiration.
If you have kids, don’t worry! The tiny house life is also suitable for families and would make some unforgettable memories and experiences. Have a look at how the Sullivans live with their three children in a converted bus:
What Are the Advantages of Living in a Tiny House Bus?
There are so many advantages of living in a tiny house bus, I don’t even know where to start. So here is only a selection of all the benefits you get from living in a tiny house bus:
- You can have a home base and travel wherever you want at the same time. See new places without even leaving your home.
- You are completely location-independent and can simply base yourself in another city or region if you want to leave.
- You save money when living in a tiny house. Just think of costs such as initial purchase costs, maintenance, or running costs, like heating.
- You can practice minimalism and focus on values instead of materialistic possessions. It’s the perfect time to declutter your home and life.
- You make experiences and memories that are truly unique and last for a lifetime.
- You use less energy and produce less waste, which means living in a tiny house is more environmentally friendly.
- You save time on things like cleaning and maintenance. Less space, less room to clean, and fewer things that can break.
What Are the Disadvantages of Living in a Tiny House Bus?
As with everything, there are downsides to living in a tiny house bus, too. Before you jump right into the adventure you need to become aware of these disadvantages:
- While minimalism is great to declutter your life, limiting yourself to only a few selected items can be very hard sometimes when you’d like to have a bit more luxury.
- Logistics like filling up water tanks, making sure there is enough electricity, or having to empty the toilet can be annoying at times.
- If you are a digital nomad and want to work remotely while being on the road, you have to find a reliable way to get internet and always have a backup plan.
- Living in a tiny house bus with your partner or kids 24/7 all year round can be a bit constricting from time to time.
- It’s not always easy to find parking spaces since not all RV parks or camping grounds allow tiny house busses.
Is the Tiny House Bus Living Practical for Digital Nomads?
If you want to become a digital nomad and plan to get a tiny house bus to travel the world, you can very much do so!
There are many great examples out there of people who live and work from tiny houses on trailers or converted school busses who are happy to share their experiences and lessons learned online. That means you can learn a lot from them and don’t have to figure it all out on your own.
Also, you have many options to get the internet to work remotely when traveling so you don’t have to worry about your income.
Living in a tiny house bus is surely an incredible experience and thanks to modern technology, this lifestyle can easily be combined with being a digital nomad.