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15 Affordable Housing Alternatives

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If you work from home, there are tons of amazing housing alternatives out there that offer our remote workers the opportunity to live in unique and inspiring places.

From a yurt to a shipping container, these alternative housing will help you find your perfect space.

Whether it’s being surrounded by nature or living near other like-minded people, we have something for everyone.

You can live close to where you work or far away from the city noise – whatever makes sense for your lifestyle and career goals.

We even have options if you want to travel while working remotely!

So check out this list of 15 alternative living spaces today!

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Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, I will make a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

What does housing alternatives mean?

Housing alternatives are unique housing structures designed to make people rethink traditional living spaces.

These structures serve as an alternative to the usual accommodations like homes and apartments.

But they can be used as a space for short-term rentals or a full-time residence.

15 Affordable Housing Alternatives

If you are ready to find a new place to live, check out these 15 alternative living spaces for some inspiration!

Shipping Container House

This may sound like an unusual choice, but a shipping container house has several benefits for those who want to live off-grid.

These containers are watertight and can withstand harsh weather like snow and rain.

Plus, they’re inexpensive and easy to maintain!

With a little bit of creativity and work, you might be able to renovate the existing space or transform new containers to fit your needs perfectly.

Average cost of building a shipping a container house: $10,000 – $35,000.

Pros: this material is waterproof and easy to maintain and clean.

Cons: it can take time to make your house comfortable, especially if you need to build it yourself.

Tiny House

A tiny house is an ideal option for those looking for a change in lifestyle.

Tiny houses are often used as permanent housing or as vacation properties to spend time with friends and family.

Average cost of building a tiny house: $8,000 – $150K.

Pros: this living space is easy to maintain because it’s so small.

You won’t need to do much cleaning or maintenance to keep your house in great shape.

Cons: these houses are small, so they aren’t ideal for everyone.

This type of living arrangement can be particularly hard if you have kids because there isn’t a lot of space!

Converted boats

This is one of the most unique housing alternatives because it allows you to live on the water.

If you love being near the water, then a boat could be your new home away from home.

Average cost of converting a boat to live in: $30,000-$180,000.

Pros: if you don’t have much money but still want to experience living near water, this may be your best option.

Cons: it can be difficult to find a boat that works well as a full-time residence.

And It may take some time to renovate the existing structure to make it livable.

Van living

A van is a great space for living because it’s cheap, mobile, and can be very easy to set up.

It provides you with shelter from the elements while enabling you to travel wherever you want.

Average cost of purchasing and converting a van:  $30,000 – $200,000.

Pros: this type of housing alternative can provide you with privacy while still being inexpensive.

Cons: it’s not very comfortable and you have to work extra hard to maintain your living space.

Related Post: Ultimate Guide to Life On the Road: How to Start Living Inside a Van


A yurt is a traditional Mongolian structure that provides great shelter from the climate and environment.

This is one of many housing alternatives available to people who want to live simply in nature.

Average cost of building a Yurt to live in: $11,500-$44,000.

Pros: if you love being in nature, this type of living space can bring you closer to that.

Cons: these homes are known for being difficult to heat in colder climates.


A treehouse is another great living alternative for people who want to live closer to nature.

It can provide a beautiful view of the natural surroundings and even serve as a great place to work.

Average cost of building a tree house: $7,000-$15,000.

Pros: this type of living space gives you privacy, openness, and closeness to nature.

Cons: it can be difficult to find the perfect tree to build your house on if you don’t own land in a forest or in an open field.

RV and Motorhomes

For many, living in an RV or motorhome is a great way to live simply while seeing the world.

It allows you to explore and see all of the places that you want and still provides a simple shelter from harsh weather.

Average cost of purchasing an RV: $10,000 and $300,000+.

Pros: this type of housing enables you to travel and see all sorts of places.

Cons: some motorhomes and RVs can be pricey and difficult to maintain.

It may also be hard to find a place to park your vehicle for periods of time when you want to get out of the road.

House Sitting

House sitting has become very popular over the past few years.

It allows you to live in an already established space for free.

All you have to do is make sure that everything is kept safe and clean throughout your stay.

Average cost of house sitting: $0 since you are exchanging your labor for a place to live.

Pros: house sitting allows you free living without having to pay any money.

It also gives you a chance to save up some money by not paying rent or utilities.

Cons: it can be hard to find places that need house sitters, especially if this isn’t your primary job.

You also need to be very responsible and aware of the responsibilities that come with house sitting.

Related Post: How to Travel for Free by Finding Housesitter Jobs

Manufactured homes

Manufactured homes are relatively inexpensive to purchase and if they’re placed on a piece of land, may not even require a mortgage.

If you can’t afford the payments, rent is usually affordable as well.

Average cost of purchasing a manufactured home: $50,000 – $100,000+.

Pros: this type of housing enables you to get a new home in an affordable price.

It also provides you with the chance to buy a piece of land and not have to worry about paying rent or utilities.

Cons: manufactured homes are more difficult to customize and modernize, which can be frustrating for many people who want their own unique style.

Pallet Homes

Pallet homes enable you to build your home in an affordable and sustainable way, which is perfect for those who want to save money.

Average cost of building a pallet home: $5,495+ depending on the size and style.

Pros: this type of housing is sustainable and inexpensive to build.

Cons: pallet homes can be difficult to secure if you know nothing about carpentry.

They also require a lot of work and determination since wood can warp or break easily.

Earth Berm Homes

Earth berming is the process of creating walls by digging into a hill or mound.

They blend in well with nature, making them more enjoyable for those who want their home to feel secluded.

Average cost of building an earth berm home:  $10,000+ depending on size and style.

Pros: this type of housing is sustainable and inexpensive to build.

Cons: it can be hard to maintain the hill or mound around your house since you are living in an already naturally made space.

You also need to know how to build with earth and be able to work with the land around you.

House Swapping

House swapping may be right for you if you are the type of traveler who likes to live in luxurious homes while still being able to save money.

There are many websites, such as Home Exchange, where people can connect who want to swap their homes for a period of time.

Average cost of house swapping: $0 – $2,000+.

Pros: this type of housing enables you to live in a luxurious home for free or at a very low cost depending on how much work you are willing to do.

You also have the opportunity to meet new people and become friends with those who now live in your previous home.

Cons: it can be hard to find someone who is willing to trade their home with you and swap for a certain amount of time.

You also need to work extra hard to maintain the house and make sure everything is kept presentable and clean throughout your stay.

Related Post: Beginner’s Guide to Swap Housing Around the World

Bus House

Many people have turned buses into homes by removing the seats and other parts inside, making them a unique space for living.

Average cost of converting a bus into a home: $20,000 – $30,000.

Pros: these housing alternatives is sustainable and inexpensive to build.

Cons: it can be difficult to customize or to modernize a bus.

And it can also be tough to deal with the disposal of waste and other aspects related to living on the road.


Glamping enables you to get the best of both worlds by camping in comfort and luxury, while still having access to amenities.

Average cost of glamping: $50+ per night depending on amenities.

Pros: this type of housing is easy and affordable since it’s like camping but with luxurious accommodations like beds or showers.

Cons: it can be difficult to find glamping spots depending on where you live and there is a chance you may not get the entire space to yourself.


Timeshares enable you to stay in a luxury home, usually in the form of a condo, hotel or vacation spot for an affordable price.

Average cost of timeshare: $20K a year depending on amenities and location.

Pros: this type of housing is inexpensive and luxurious depending on the property you choose.

It is also easy to manage with little maintenance since you are usually renting it out.

Cons: these types of housing can be difficult to deal with if you don’t use your timeshare every year or plan to only use it for a short amount of time.

You might find yourself paying excessive fees for things like maintenance fees, taxes, and more.

These are just some housing alternatives that are perfect for remote workers who want unique and inspiring spaces to live.

By taking the time to find the right housing, you can save money and enjoy your life in a way that works best for you.

Housing Alternatives: Frequently Asked Questions

If you are a remote worker, you may have a few questions about the alternative housing options that are out there.

Here are some frequently asked questions to help you get started on your search.

What kind of benefits come with living in alternative housing?

There are a lot of unique and inspiring benefits that come from living in alternative housing, especially if you are willing to live outside the box.

If you have the ability to choose between renting or buying a home, it is beneficial to choose an alternative because you could save money or find a space that works easier for you.  

What are some disadvantages of alternative housing?

The main disadvantage of living in alternative housing is that it might not be the best option for everyone.    

Some of these options are more sustainable than others, which means you might have fewer expenses.

But you may also need to deal with things like maintaining your home or picking up and moving every so often.

How much do housing alternatives usually cost?

This varies depending on what option it is.  

Many of these types of housing are inexpensive because they are considered alternative, but you will also find some that can be out of reach financially.  

It’s important to look at not only the cost but also what you get for your money.

Key Takeaways

Now that you know a little more about alternative housing and what it’s like, you might be interested in giving one of them a try.

These types of spaces can save you money or give you something unique and sustainable to live in.

They might be a little tricky to manage, but they can also give you the freedom to live in a way that works best for you.

Even if you don’t think that housing alternatives are going to work for your lifestyle, it doesn’t hurt to try looking into one or two of these options.

And who knows, you might find something amazing!

So what are you waiting for?

Go out there and explore!

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