13 Cheap Housing Alternatives (Realistic And Cost Efficient)

13 Cheap Housing Alternatives (Realistic And Cost Efficient )

Housing is a necessity but for some it can be a luxury. It isn’t always affordable so I thought I’d lend a hand and write about various cheap housing alternatives available out there. 

Whether you’re renting or looking to buy, this list of inexpensive housing alternatives should give you an idea of all the other options other than traditional housing. 

Some of them may be a little wacky but all of them have been tried and tested. 


Stick around, pull up a chair and have a look at all of the cheap housing alternatives available to you. 

Who knows? Maybe you’ll find your next home! 

Here are some of the cheap housing alternatives we’ll go over today:

  1. RV
  2. Manufacture house
  3. Unfinished space
  4. Become a live-in caretaker
  5. House boat
  6. Live-in Airbnb property manager
  7. Tiny house
  8. Shipping container home
  9. Pallet home
  10. Earth berm
  11. Tree house
  12. Free spirit spheres
  13. Yurt


Some of the links on here are affiliate links and I may earn if you click on them, AT NO EXTRA cost to you. Hope you find the information here useful! Thanks.

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Cheap Housing Alternatives

Are you sick and tired of conventional homes and the massive price tag that comes with them? 

You don’t have to throw in the towel just yet.

 I’m going to share with you some of the many alternative living solutions creative and frugal individuals have taken to over the years.


Your home but on wheels -an RV or  recreational vehicle is a motor vehicle or trailer which includes living quarters accommodation. If you like to travel and want to do so from the comfort of your home, you may enjoy living in an RV. 

Like any traditional home, you’ll have access to a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, etc. 

Of course, the whole car console is up front but what’s nice about having an RV is that you can park it at RV camps or parks. 

This RV blogger traveled to 48 different states with an RV and spent under $20,000 that year.

2. A Manufactured House

Another cheap housing alternative for you to consider is a manufactured home. These are common housing alternatives because they are cheap and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. 

The most common type of manufactured home is a trailer or mobile home. 

The average cost of a manufactured home on the lower end will cost you roughly $10k-$15k but if you’re looking for something more luxurious, then you can expect to pay anywhere from $40k-$60k.

3. Unfinished Space

Did you guys watch Ghostbuster or the Princess Diaries? These movies had one thing in common, the characters used a fire station as their living and working quarters.

 I’m not saying go out there and look for abandoned fire stations to live in but instead, look for unfinished spaces that you can purchase for a fraction of the price of a conventional home.

Why are they so cheap you ask? 

Well, more often than not, they can be in odd locations, the building process was never completed, or simply it remained uninhabited. I find that the owner of these spaces just want to get rid of the property and they’ll do it at a low cost.

With a few do-it-yourself activities, you can turn that unfinished space into your dream home and do so without breaking the bank.

4. Become a Live-In Caretaker

Do you have some experience in caretaking or possibly even nursing experience? If you do, becoming a live-in caretaker is an affordable alternative housing solution to consider. 

Live-in caregivers often receive free accommodation and meals in exchange for their caregiving services. 

You can look for caretaking jobs on websites like Care.com.

5.House Boat

Don’t like the idea of a home on wheels? What about a home on water? If you love the water and want to dive into your backyards, try out a house boat.

Houseboats are pretty common in some parts of the world -take the Netherlands for example, over 100,000 people live in houseboats docked by the water.

You can choose to buy or rent but a great website to have a look at is Boat Trader if you’re interested in houseboat shopping.

6.Live-in Airbnb Property Manager

A lot of people have had success renting on Airbnb but have you wondered what happens to the accommodation when no one is living there? 

Or what if the owners don’t even live in the country? Some Airbnb hosts have been known to shrug off their property responsibilities onto others -that’s you.

As a live-in Airbnb property manager, you can live in the property or area of the property for a fraction of the price as long as you manage the turnover process. This could mean tending to the property, managing the guests or other accommodations. 

When I visited Budapest, I met a full time Airbnb Property manager who managed the property of wealthy families living abroad. She arranged the Airbnb I stayed in and started in a separate part of the house rent free. 

7.Tiny House

When thinking of small inexpensive homes to build, the first thing that comes to mind is a tiny house. 

If you’re a minimalist looking for alternative living situations, and you feel like you don’t need more than a few squared metres to live in, then why not live in a tiny house?

You can buy or rent your tiny house but with the tiny house movement fast becoming a trend, new tiny houses can sell for $60k. 

You’ll probably save much more money if you build your tiny house.

8.Shipping Container Home

Looking for cheap unconventional housing alternatives to wow your friends with?

Shipping container homes are actually another form of traditional housing alternatives. Suitable for those looking for the comfort of home in a smaller space but not as small as a tiny house. 

Shipping containers can range from $1500 to $5k -if you’re lucky there are some on the market for $800 each. 

But if the sound of remodelling a shipping container doesn’t sound too appealing to you, you can also purchase prefabricated and designed shipping container homes for $15k and up. 

A crucial tip: Find out what was inside the shipping container before you purchase it. Some shipping containers are used to transport toxic chemicals -you don’t want to be making a home in that one if that is the case.

9.Pallet Home

When thinking of pallets, a house does not come to mind, A bench, swing, spice rack or even bed frame sure, but a house? Nope. 

Turns out, you can actually build a sturdy and liveable house entirely out of pallets. It isn’t a fancy affair but it is something cheap and unique.

10.Earth Berm

J. R. R. Tolkien wrote the famous line, “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit,” as the opening words of his award winning novel. 

I wanted to live in a hole in the ground just like a hobbit and guess what?

 You can -they’re called earth berms!

An earth berm is an underground home that has one front facing area that the world is able to see. They’re also known as earth shelters.

11.Tree House

If you think about it, a tree house is a great alternative to apartment living. 

And when I say tree house, I mean a fully fledged home with all the comforts of a regular house in a tree -not the kind you see children playing in. 

It can be done and it has been done! 

Have a look at this article and behold the wonders that can be done with a tree house. If you’re in Crossville, Tennessee, check out the tallest treehouse in the world, also known as the Ministers’ Tree house.

12.Free Spirit Spheres

Want to bring your tiny house living choice to another level literally? A free spirit sphere is a round home that is suspended by ropes attached to trees. 

This is for those of you looking for a little thrill for their next new housing alternative -not so much for anyone that is scared of heights or the idea of their home hanging in the trees.


If you love camping then a Yurt should be one you list of alternative housing options. I think yurts are basically sturdy and spacious tents that have an amazingly decorated interior. 

It’s like an eternal glamping (Glam+Camping) trip and it’s a fantastic cheap housing alternative for someone who likes to be close to nature.

What Town Has The Cheapest Rent? (In The USA)

The World Population Review deemed Mississippi to be the cheapest state to live in in the United States but according to this article Toledo, Ohio is actually the most affordable city in the U.S. to rent in. 

The average rent price in Toledo is $550, making it one of the three of the top five most affordable cities in the Midwest.

What is the Cheapest Building Material for a House?

If you’re stumped on cheap home alternatives maybe you should have a look at cheap building materials. 

That way you can build your dream home with the best and cheapest materials -that’s another way to ensure you get the most out of your cheap housing alternative.

Keep costs low and by using a mixture of these materials and you’re well on your way to frugal living. 

Not sure if it can be done? Here’s an article that shows you how to build a house for dirt cheap using earth bags.

Earth Bag

Did you have a look at that home they built in the instructables article above? 

When you think of building a home, cloth isn’t the first material that comes to mind -unless you’re building a blanket fort. 

Earth bags are essentially feed, rice or cement bags that are filled with soil, dirt and yup you guessed it -earth.  

The appeal with earthbags and reason for its growing popularity is its low cost. You can build homes for $1k to $5k and have a lovely home that will outlast conventional wood-framed homes.

Traditional Brick

Brick houses are popular because they last long and they are affordable. 

Wait, just a side note -brick houses will last long if you do not live in an area susceptible to earthquakes. 

Other than that drawback, bricks are great building materials to use because they are fire and water resistant. 

They also make for a very quiet home, plus have you seen those exposed brick walls in some houses? So rustic, count me in!

Fresh Concrete

Raw cement is a good building material to consider if you’re looking for a cheap home alternative.

Much like brick, concrete walls are water and fire-proof and because they are not made from organic-matter, you won’t have to worry about maintenance -say bye-bye to mold or mildew. 

Aesthetically, raw concrete is very versatile -it can give that simple clean industrial look or you could paint over it and change the vibe altogether.

Industrial Steel and Iron

Why not build on that industrial aesthetic with industrial steel and iron? Contrary to popular belief, industrial steel and iron are inexpensive building materials – neither materials melt, warp, break, crack or creep and they last long, are cost-effective, and completely recyclable. 

Reclaimed Timber

Trendy, cheap, eco-friendly, what more do you want?

 Recycled timber is a popular low-cost construction material that has seen an increase in use these past few years in the building industry.

It’s popularity means that reclaimed timber has become one of the most common cheap and trendy building materials. 

Wood can be susceptible to things like warping or splitting -old timber is more durable and dried out meaning you won’t run into this problem when using this material to construct your home.

Corrugated Metal Sheets

Once upon a time, corrugated metal sheets were used for purely industrial purposes but with the industrial themed aesthetic picking up among the youth, corrugated metal sheets have gained popularity.  

Besides their low-cost, steel is a very durable material and can withstand harsh weather conditions like fire or rot.

 It’s easy to maintain, it’s recyclable and you can give it a fresh coat of paint or zinc to keep it from rusting (if that’s not the look you’re going for).


From tiny houses to houses on wheels, on water, in the ground and even suspended from trees, there are a plethora of cheap housing alternatives out there for you to explore. 

Take a little risk, follow the path less travelled and who knows? You may come out of it with a new living situation that you never thought was a possibility and extra money in your bank.

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11 Cheap Housing Alternatives (Realistic And Cost Efficient )

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