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While mobile homes are places to live, most people only use RVs for things like camping trips. RVs are easy to move around; mobile homes hard and expensive.

If you want to move a mobile home around, you need to use a crane to lift it onto the back of a big flatbed truck. You will have to spend $1000 to as much as $15000 to move your mobile home. This makes them much less mobile than RVs, which you can easily take anywhere.

While RVs (motorhomes, caravans, truck campers, etc.) are vehicles or trailers, mobile homes resemble houses. Mobile homes are usually cheaper to buy new, cost less to maintain and are better places to live. The advantage of RVs is their superior mobility.

If you aren't sure whether to buy a recreational vehicle or a mobile home, there are many other differences you should know about. You might want to know about what it is like to live in either, the monthly costs, dealing with landlords as a mobile homeowner, and more.

I used to live in a mobile home, and I currently own an RV, so I can compare the two. I get the information about prices and living conditions from personal experience as well as from reliable sources.



What is a Mobile Home?

Mobile Homes have been around since the Great Depression in the 1930s. They always were and still are an affordable alternative to regular homeownership.

When you move a mobile home to a location, you will have to pay rent to a landlord, and you will have to connect utilities while you are there. This makes moving a hassle and somewhat expensive, even though you can still move a mobile home many times. They are not for people who want to travel everywhere; they are for people who want affordable housing.

How Much Do Mobile Homes Cost?

While Mobile Homes are not exactly cheap, they do cost only about $111,000 on average, a bit more than a third of the cost of a typical home in the United States. Mobile homes can be double-wide, triple-wide, or larger, often having several rooms. A mobile home can be anywhere from 500 square feet to more than 2000 square feet.

Single, Double, and Triple-Wide Homes

Even single-wide homes are reasonably large. A single-wide home might be 13 feet high, 16 feet wide, and 76 feet long and might have anywhere from a bit less than 500 to more than 1400 square feet of space.

Double-wide homes are not any longer (they max out at around 80 feet long, like single and triple-wide homes do), but they are wider (20 to 36 feet, instead of 12 to 18 feet). Double-wide homes have less than 700 to more than 2500 square feet of space.

Larger mobile homes have many rooms. Triple-wide homes are 32 to 50 feet wide and have less than 1000 to more than 3600 square feet of space. Even if your mobile home is not particularly huge, it might have room for a living room, three bedrooms, an eat-in kitchen, a washroom with a bathtub, and a laundry room.

How Many Rooms Does a Mobile Home Have?

Single-wide mobile homes have 1 or 2 bedrooms and bathrooms. Double-wides have two bathrooms and 2 or 3 bedrooms, and triple-wides have at least three bedrooms and at least two bathrooms.

Can You Buy Land and Put a Mobile Home On It to Live Rent-Free?

Yes, although this is not allowed everywhere, so you will have to look around for the right location. Zoning laws often restrict what types of houses can be built, and they might forbid tiny homes, mobile homes, or trailers. Don't buy any land until you are completely sure that you can live on it legally.

Can You Build Your Own Mobile Home? Are There Regulations?

Building a mobile home entirely by yourself would take a long time and require a lot of skills. Don't attempt it unless you already know how to do most of what is required. All manufactured homes have been regulated since 1976 and must meet certain standards to be legal.

If you want a unique mobile home, a better idea is to buy a custom one from a company. You can order a mobile home with a custom floor plan. If you want to build it partly yourself, you can customize the interior.

What is a Recreational Vehicle?

Recreational vehicles are large motor vehicles that can be used as living spaces. They have beds, kitchens, and bathrooms and sometimes have water heaters, entertainment systems, air conditioning, and other luxury features. They vary hugely in price (from $50,000 to $500,000 to well over a million for a brand new vehicle), and they vary a lot in what they offer.

Some people have lived in vehicles since the early days of the automobile and before then. Some people lived in wagons and traveled around their countries for much of their lives in previous centuries.

Some types of RVs are better for people to go on trips with; others are better for people to live in. Since you can easily relocate whenever you want, some people prefer an RV to a mobile home as a place to live.

Towed vs. Self-Motorised RVs

While some recreational vehicles are trailers, which have to be towed by a truck, others have their own engines and do not require towing. Which one to get depends on how far to travel, what living accommodations you consider important, and how much money you have.

Towable RVs have three main types:

  • The 5th wheel trailer (large and expensive)
  • The pop-up camper (smallest and cheapest)
  • The RV travel trailer (somewhere between the two)

All three types are more affordable than motorized recreational vehicles because they do not have cabs or engines. If you are considering a heavy 5th wheel trailer, make sure your truck is powerful enough to pull it with difficulty. Don't push your luck if you aren't sure if your truck will be strong enough to pull it.

Motorised RVs

Motorised RVs often look similar to RV travel trailers but have powerful engines and don't need to be towed. They are referred to as motorhomes, which are not the same as mobile homes. They are more mobile but more expensive.

Getting a motorized RV is a better idea if you plan to travel around a lot. Many people only want an RV for weekend camping and canoeing trips; a motorized RV is better for that. If you use a towable RV for short trips, you will have to detach it every time you want to take the truck somewhere, which is a hassle.

Motorised RVs are also more comfortable if you want to drive all the way across the country. If you want to stay in your RV for a long time, you are better off with a towable RV, especially a larger one.

Motorised RVs Are Easier to Drive

If you have never driven a truck pulling a trailer before, it can be a challenge. There is some risk involved, especially if you have no experience driving with a trailer behind you.

However, you do not need any special training to drive a truck pulling a small trailer. Read a little bit about the basics of safety and control while pulling a trailer, and then the rest is practice. Drive very carefully at first, and it will get easier with practice.

Large trailers are more difficult than small trailers, and you might need someone with experience to show you the basics. If any of your friends know how to drive a truck with a large trailer properly, get them to show you how. After you get used to it, driving with a trailer becomes easy and safe - even backing up with a large trailer stops being difficult after a certain point.

Classes of Recreational Vehicles

Motorised RVs are split into Class A, Class B, and Class C motorhomes, with Class A motorhomes being the largest. Motorhomes vary hugely in size, with Class A's being up to 45 feet long and smaller class A's being 25 feet. Class B and Class C homes can be much smaller.

Class A Motorhomes

Class A Motorhomes cost the most (from a bit less than $100,000 up to $500,000 and occasionally a million, two million, or a little more) and are the most luxurious. I bought my first motorhome used - a somewhat less than new motorhome can be significantly cheaper than a new one. Older ones can have problems, but you will usually be fine if you buy one that is relatively new and in good condition.

If you want to take a lot of friends or family with you, Class A Motorhomes are the best because they have the most space. Class A Motorhomes are sometimes built using a bus chassis, and they resemble small buses.

A Class A Motorhome is a house on wheels much more than a Class B or C Motorhome is. There might be a king or queen-size bed to sleep in, a full-size fridge, a dining area, and a washing machine or dryer. They can be a bit tricky to drive at first, but it is easier than pulling a trailer.

Class B Motorhomes

Class B Motorhomes are much smaller and cheaper than Class As and resemble buses rather than vans. They feel cramped if you stay in them for a long time, but they are perfectly fine for short trips.

You can fit a surprisingly large amount of stuff into a small Motorhome. There is often room for a kitchen, sleeping area, washroom, and space for everything you are taking with you on your trip. If you need backpacks, fishing poles, metal detectors, life jackets, and more, you can usually fit them.

Since Class B's are small (around 20 feet, usually a little less and not a little more), they are easy for people to get used to driving. Class B's are less expensive than Class A's (usually $65,000 to $150,000, sometimes but rarely close to $400,000) and are even cheaper if you get a used model.

Class C Motorhomes

Class C Motorhomes are bigger and not smaller than Class B's. They fit onto a van frame and have to fit within a custom van's dimensions. They are usually somewhat more expensive than Class B Motorhomes are.

While space in a Class C Home is limited, some of them offer many luxuries. You can get a Class C Motorhome that has a bathtub if you want one, and there might be room for a reasonably comfortable bed and a few appliances. You can't have a true home on wheels unless you get a large Class A Motorhome, but you can still make a Class C home comfortable for more than a few nights on the road.

A Class C motorhome is often a good middle ground between a Class A and a Class B. They are medium-sized and are often cheaper than Class B and not just Class A Motorhomes. They are not great if you have a large family, but 2, 3, or 4 people can travel around in a Class C Motorhome comfortably.

What Are the Advantages of Mobile Homes?

Since mobile homes don't have engines, they are relatively cheap. You can set them up either at a manufactured home park or on your own land and live in them for as long as you want for a fraction of the cost of a regular home. If you decide you want to move to a different area, you can take your home with you.

What Are the Disadvantages?

The only real disadvantage is that it is hard to move a mobile home. You will have to pay thousands of dollars to move it somewhere else, compared to only the cost of gas to move an RV.

What Are the Advantages of Recreational Vehicles?

Recreational Vehicles give you the freedom to travel all over North America. You can travel to wherever high-paying work is easiest to find and leave whenever you want to go anywhere else. You are also effectively your own landlord and won't have to deal with landlords the way mobile homeowners do.

What Are the Disadvantages?

Recreational vehicles are more expensive, and not only because they cost more to buy new. Recreational vehicles lose value over time and can suddenly need expensive repairs.