If there's one trend that's surprised us in the small living movement, it's the steady rise in prices, to the point that luxury models fetching around US$100,000 are pretty much the norm. That said, there are still affordable options out there and each of these five tiny houses are available for under $50,000.
To be clear, we're only covering homes that are available to purchase (or at least were at time of writing) and have tried to feature as wide a variety of designs as possible, including a modern design, barn-style tiny house, and a non-towable shipping container-based home.
Here's our pick of the five best tiny houses under $50,000, plus a few honorable mentions, and be sure to check out the gallery for more images of each tiny house.
Escape is a big hitter in the tiny house scene and has produced a number of attractive homes, but at $46,600 the standard Vista hits the sweet spot between features, size and price. With a total floorspace of 160 sq ft (14.8 sq m) all laid-out on one level, there's not a whole lot of room available in there, but hopefully the generous glazing prevents it from feeling too claustrophobic.
The Vista includes a kitchenette, dining and living area, and a bedroom area. There are plenty of options available too, including a pop-up TV in the bedroom and a full off-grid setup with solar power, composting toilet, etc.
Deriving both its name and design cues from the weathered barns that dot Montana's Bitterroot Valley, this tiny house sits on a 20 ft (6 m)-long trailer and was constructed using SIPs (structural insulated panels). It's clad in reclaimed materials and off-cuts, including rough cut lap cedar, rusty reclaimed corrugated metal, and cedar shakes.
Inside, the Bitterroot Valley tiny house includes a main living area, kitchenette and bathroom, in addition to an upstairs loft reached via storage-integrated staircase. Floorspace comes in at 272 sq ft (25,2 sq m) and though the model we covered recently didn't even have a shower, Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses says it will build another with water heater, shower, basic appliances and plumbing for $46,000.
The wildcard of our selection, the Man Cave is less a proper house and more a party pad on wheels. Designed by Upper Valley Tiny Homes, the Man Cave is best suited for hunting trips, weekends away and the like, and measures just 7 x 18 ft (2.1 x 5.5 m). Its price currently comes in at $42,830.
Aside from a basketball hoop and a ladder to access the rooftop deck, the exterior is pretty plain, while a removable ramp and garage door allows a (small) quad bike to be driven right inside. The snug dwelling includes three beds, including a sleeping loft upstairs, while elsewhere lies a tiny putting strip, kitchenette, and bathroom with toilet and shower.
At the rear of the Man Cave is a large slide-out BBQ and power comes from a 500 W rooftop-based solar array.
US building supplies firm 84 Lumber takes a neat approach to tiny houses that we're surprised isn't offered by more firms. With its Roving tiny house the idea is that handy types willing to roll up their sleeves can buy either a Build-Your-Own kit with trailer, plans, and materials for $6,884, or a Semi-DIY kit for $19,884, which includes tiny house shell and trailer already complete. Those who prefer their tiny houses built for them can purchase the Move-In Ready option for $49,884.
The tiny house itself has a total floorspace of 154 sq ft (14 sq m), split between a living area, kitchen, closet, and bathroom with shower and composting toilet. A sleeping loft and secondary storage loft are both accessed by ladder.
Custom Container Living
Not a tiny house on wheels but still very much part of the small living movement, this unnamed shipping container home by Archie, Missouri-based Custom Container Living will set you back $47,000.
For the money, you get 312 sq ft (28 sq m) living space built from a single 40 ft (12 m) shipping container that has been cut and extended in height by 30-in (76.2 cm). The interior includes a main living area, kitchenette and a generously-proportioned bathroom with tub and shower. Storage-integrated stairs lead to the sleeping loft and a secondary smaller small lies at the other side of the home for storage purposes.
The firm also offers another larger container home that's suitable for a family for $54,900.
That rounds out our look at sub-$50,000 tiny houses. A few models worth a mention that didn't make the cut include France's Tiny Stream, which costs the equivalent of just $26,600 and the Wheel Pad, a disabled-access tiny house not intended for full time living for sale for $50,000.
There's also Escape's Vintage, which offers a more traditional cottage-style look but costs $59,800. Finally, a tiny house that was built for just $500 highlights what can be achieved with some scrap materials and a lot of hard work (not to mention a friendly landowner to let you put the home on).