Low Cost Housing Options That You Haven’t Thought About

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure to learn more.

Have you ever complained about how much you pay in rent each month? It seems like the cost of a decent apartment is always increasing, and my budget just can’t keep up. On the other hand, you may have already bought a house and have a mortgage you have to pay. Bet you wouldn’t mind if that outstanding home loan was much smaller.

My husband and I are still in the renting phase of our lives, but we are constantly looking for alternative housing options that will bring our monthly expenses down. There are definitely quite a few inexpensive housing options out there if you are willing to sacrifice some luxury for savings.

 Low Cost Housing Options That You Haven't Thought About.


11 Low Cost Housing Options to Consider

These first few low cost housing options are ones that are more temporary than long term solutions. However, your savings could be huge if you commit to ones of these options for just a year or two.

Most of these housing options are so affordable because they are small.  A small space means having fewer material possessions. Fewer possessions means less spending, less overhead costs, and a chance to use your money in other ways. Ask yourself is you are willing to give up material possessions for a chance at financial freedom. 

Remember that all these options may not be feasible for every household, and you will need to do your own research before taking the plunge into alternative housing.


Think about buying a used RV. As an example, say you usually pay $1000 in rent for your apartment each month. That is $12,000 a year that you will never get back. You could buy a used RV for that amount, live in it for a year, and then sell it to make most of that money back. Or continue living in it for another year (or longer) to maximize your savings.

You will have the flexibility of traveling, and there are thousands of campgrounds around the nation where you can rent a space short term or long term. Your utility bill will be also take a huge cut!

This option would be best for a single person or a married couple, although families of 3 or more have been successful with it as well. Here are two stories from two different families on what it’s like to live in an RV.

Gone with the Wynns

Tiny House Blog

Low Cost Housing options RV

Camper/Travel Trailer

This is another option very similar to the RV. Consider buying a camper or a travel trailer to make into your new home. These can be anywhere from 10 to 40+ feet long and come in a variety of designs and layouts.

Prices for campers and trailer vary so drastically that you can spend a few thousand up to tens of thousands of dollars. Look for a used camper/trailer that meets your needs without all the bells and whistles. Remember that’s the whole point of these low cost housing options: giving up the luxuries to gain financial freedom!

Once again you will have to find a campground that will give you a decent long term rental price for your space (like the RV option). Don’t forget you will also need a decent truck to pull your camper or trailer!

Ask yourself: Am I willing to give up material possessions for a chance at financial freedom? #frugalliving Click To Tweet


Live near water? Live on a boat! Think about the beautiful sunsets, ocean air, and being rocked to sleep each night by the waves. If you love the sea, this could be the alternative housing for you. You can buy a used sailboat for as little as $3000. Find your used boat here.

Now of course it isn’t always rainbows and sunshine when living on boat. There can be quite a bit of maintenance that goes into a boat, not to mention docking fees, and buying a trailer to haul it. Make sure you do all your research and have plenty of boating experience before you dive into the boating life.

When looking at buying a boat, checking for leaks or mold are two of the most important things you must do. Off Grid Survival has some other great tips on what to consider when living on a boat.

Low Cost Housing options Sailboat

Tent Bungalows

Love the outdoors? Create a “glamping” paradise using tent bungalows. These bungalows can be outfitted with electricity and plumbing, or you can use a composting toilet to be more eco-friendly. Prices are between $4,500 to roughly $10,000 depending on the size that you want. Check out Sweet Water Bungalows to learn more.

You can dress these bungalows up to your liking with custom windows, doors, and building a nice platform or deck around it. These tents are perfect for someone chasing the simple life.

Before committing to the tent life: make sure you are aware of all the local and state housing codes and laws. Also, make sure that you are placing your tent on land that you either own or that you have written permission to use, like land owned by a family member or friend.

Low Cost Housing Options tent bungalow

Sweet Water Bungalows

Get a roommate

Okay so let’s say that you aren’t quite ready to give up your normal apartment just yet.

So get a roommate! Rent is expensive but it is so much for affordable when split in half. Room with someone you trust, preferably someone who have known for awhile.

If you want more space, rent a 3 or 4 bedroom house and rustle up a few friends to move in with you. This is a great, affordable option while you are in college but it can still save you tons once you are in the professional world too. Plus it’s so much more fun to live with friends!

Move in with family

Say you are in between jobs, going through school or dealing with tough financial times. If you have family nearby with extra space, ask if you can move in for the time being.

While this is usually a short term option, it can really save you money while you are getting back up on your feet. Ask to split rent, pay for groceries, or cover a few utility bills while you live there.

Even though they opened their home to you in your hard times doesn’t mean you should be an unnecessary financial burden to your host! Help out as you can.


Set on looking for more permanent low cost housing options?

Did you know that the average home loan in the U.S. is over $220,000? The average monthly payment on that home loan comes out to $1,061. (Based on a 30-year mortgage at 4% interest according to LendingTree.com 2012).

Read: How to Save Thousands on Your Mortgage: The Trick to Paying it Off Sooner with Less Interest

If you are seeking a much lower cost for your home and a much smaller monthly payment then the options below might be for you.

Here are some of the cheapest housing options for you to consider if you want a more permanent home.

Tiny House

I’m sure by this point you have heard about tiny houses. It’s definitely one of the most well known low cost housing options. So maybe it’s time to look at little closer at this “tiny” phenomenon. Did you know that it’s possible to build a tiny house for only $8,000?! Check it out here.

So how tiny is tiny? Most tiny houses are under 200 sq. ft. With how tiny these homes are, you have to understand the housing codes and laws affecting these dwellings. The Tiny Life offers a guide on “Cracking the Code” on building codes and zoning for tiny houses. You can also get a ton of information on tiny houses from the American Tiny House Association.

Done your research? Ready to get started with on your tiny home? These guys can help!

Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses

Tumbleweed RV Homes

And finally… a super nifty infographic all about tiny houses from The Tiny Life.

The Pequod Tiny House by Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses Low Cost Housing Option

The Pequod Tiny House by Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses


You can live in a basement. It might sound creepy, but just hold on a second.

Are you planning on building your own home? If so, you can build your basement first and live in it until you complete the rest of your home. 

This is a great, affordable option if you aren’t financially able to go all in yet on your new phone. It also gives you the benefit of not having to pay rent somewhere else why your home is being built. Then once your home is complete, you will have a basement that is completely finished with all the amenities of an apartment (a perfect Mother-in-law suite down the road!) Put this at the top of your low cost housing options list if you’re wanting to build.

Here is more information on building a basement if you’re interested. Once again, doing research on housing codes and zoning is imperative.

Panelized Cabins

These panelized cabins are really great for individuals who want to build their own home in less time for less money. With panelized cabins, you choose what size home you want and it is delivered to you in pre-made panels. You will have to have the foundation built prior to delivery of these panels, and the panels are then erected upon delivery to form the shell of your home.

Connor Construction offers a 1800 sq. ft. model for only $41,400! However, this price does not include finishing your home on the inside – electricity, plumbing, appliance, etc. They say that their $41k model will take another $40k to finish, plus adding the cost of the foundation. Even so, a brand new house finished to your specifications for only around $100,000 is still a heck of a deal! If you really want to build your own home, I think this is one of the best low cost housing options.

Low Cost Housing Options Panelized Cabin

Panelized Cabin by Octagon Homes.com


Shipping containers

If you love to recycle, you can use a shipping container to create your modern (yet industrial) dream home. Shipping containers can be bought for only a few thousand dollars and then renovated into living quarters. Here is a beautiful shipping container home that only cost $40,000 to complete.

Keep in mind that you will have to research the best place to buy your shipping container from as well as consider how much it will cost to ship it to you. You will also need a contractor that knows how to work with steel for the renovation process. You can learn more about the cost of shipping container homes here.

Here are some great resources to start you on your shipping container home research:

The Ultimate Guide to Shipping Container Homes

What I Wish I’d Known Before Building My Shipping Container Home

Ten Things to Consider Before Using Shipping Containers for your Project


Alternative Building Materials

Building materials are the biggest factor affecting the price of your home. So why not consider alternative building materials? You would be shocked to know what some people build their house out of! Recycled bottles, bags of dirt, straw, the list goes on.

You can also save money by building your house in differing geometric shapes like a sphere. Check out all these earthy alternative housing ideas here.


Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed this post.

Please share, subscribe, and comment below!