About Alternative Housing: 8 Inexpensive and Safe Alternative Housing Ideas that Anyone Can Adopt

A small roof over your head,

A belly full of food, 

A dress to wear,

A heart draped in peace,

A family to call home,

These are your five best pals on the journey called life.

We can hardly imagine our lives without a house. Their constancy in our lives has made us take them for granted. Why are we talking about alternative housing ideas in this blog? We can agree that alternative housing is not a traditional choice for most of us. However, modern times are witnessing a surge in demand for alternative housing solutions. If you are reading this blog, you must already be considering cheap alternative housing ideas. Do not worry. This blog explores eight safe, affordable, and feasible alternative housing options. 

What is alternative housing?

Before diving straight into the ideas, I should probably explain the meaning of alternative housing. Alternative housing breaks the box of stereotypical housing. It includes a collection of non-traditional or unconventional housing ideas that are affordable and eco-friendly compared to traditional living arrangements. Alternative housing undoubtedly lures us to a unique living experience. Some commonly adopted alternative housing ideas include nesting in vans, floating surfaces, tents, and container homes.

What explains the rise in alternative housing?

Affordable alternative housing became immensely popular during the last decade. A large fraction of the population (especially in America and the UK) is opting for alternative houses. According to data, 51% of millennials in the UK prefer purchasing cheap unconventional housing alternatives to traditional houses. There are a bunch of reasons for the surge in alternative housing lifestyles. Let me share some of the most common reasons behind this trend.

  • Property prices across the world are skyrocketing. Therefore, paying a mortgage is becoming more difficult each day. Alternative housing makes living affordable for people. 
  • Interestingly, many people feel that alternative housing positively impacts their mental health. Alternative housing ideas like caravans, houseboats, and trailers are mentally appealing to them. 
  • Over time, we are running out of greenery. Our future generations are yet to feel the burdens of environmental degradation. Determined to conserve the environment, people are interested in eco-friendly alternative housing ideas.

8 Affordable and Safe Housing Solutions

A few days ago, I was watching a documentary. I featured a woman who was staying in a tent with her kids. The crew asked her the reason for her decision. “Well, it is an affordable alternative housing option for us,” she expressed. Honestly, I never gave much thought to alternative housing ideas. However,  the documentary made me realize more people like this woman are shifting to affordable alternative housing. I am writing this blog post to dish out eight alternative housing options that anyone can afford.

Live off the Grid in an RV Van 

Van Life

One of the popular alternative housing ideas is living in a van. RV vans are an affordable and safe alternative to off-grid homes. VanLife is extremely cost-effective. Owning a van is much cheaper than paying mortgages or rent. Leveraging amenities like free parking, WiFi, and restrooms will further reduce your expenses. And it is a no-brainer that the repair costs of a van are way less than those of a house. The Van Life particularly appeals to people born with a desire to explore the world. It allows you to break the monotony of life and travel to any place you want. Therefore, it fosters a sense of freedom in people. Plus, you do not need to face any hassles associated with relocation. Be it youngsters, freelancers working remotely, or retirees, van life suits people from any age cohort. Finally, Van Life makes you independent in the true sense of the word by teaching you to become self-reliant. 

Bonus Tip!: Living in an RV van is one of the best alternative housing ideas. However, I recommend doing in-depth research if you opt for this option.   

Enjoy Living in a HouseBoat

Life on a Houseboat 

Living on a houseboat feels like a never-ending cruise.  The tranquil water lashing against the land, the pollution-free environment, and the soothing view of nature shield your mind from the stress and chaos of conventional life. Boat life has a positive impact on physical and mental health. If you are looking for alternative housing ideas, then living on a houseboat is a good option. More affordable than a conventional living arrangement, a houseboat can offer you a realistic living experience. Living in a houseboat also exempts you from the burden of property tax. 

Bonus tip!: Buying a houseboat is a high-return investment. If you have some initial funds to invest, buying a houseboat is a suitable alternative to buying a house. 

Live Eco-friendly in a Tree House

Life in a Tree House

Tree houses remind me of my childhood. The thought of dwelling in the lap of nature used to evoke a carefree vibe in me. Well, little did I know that living in a tree house would be a huge trend someday. In recent times, living in a tree house has become popular. Fortunately, it is one of the most eco-friendly and affordable alternative housing ideas. A treehouse is usually elevated from the ground, thus ensuring your safety and privacy. Moreover, you can easily construct a tree house from cheap, eco-friendly recycled materials. Ensconced in the goodness of nature, life in a treehouse is relaxing and pollution-free.

Bonus tip!: Getting electricity on a tree house can be risky. I recommend you decide on an alternative energy source like solar or wind power if you plan to live in a treehouse. 

Live in a Converted School Bus

Inside a Converted School Bus

School buses were an inseparable part of our school days. We associate them with our simple, fun-filled childhood. But, hey! You can convert buses to make them into homes. Bus homes, or skoolies, are among the most functional and spacious alternative housing options. You can build these living spaces without any difficulty. All you need is a proper guide to school bus conversion. To add to this, a skoolie has a lower upfront cost than a conventional house and is a safer alternative housing option. The cost of a traditional home in America is between $155,000 and $416000 but a skoolie will cost you something between $20,000 to $30,000.

Bonus Tip!: Usually, people who love traveling choose to live in a skoolie or a school bus. However, parking a skoolie in certain places can be challenging. I recommend you do a proper pros-and-cons analysis before buying a school bus.   

Living in Shipping Containers

Container Home

One of the most popular alternative housing ideas is that of a container home. Many families across the globe repurpose shipping containers to construct their residences. There are several reasons for vouching for its reputation. First of all, dwelling in shipping containers is a cheap alternative to buying a house. Plus, this alternative housing solution is very durable. Finally, being eco-friendly, this alternative housing option is an environmental lover’s favorite. 

Bonus Tip!: There are some challenges in living in shipping containers. For example, container housing might face some municipal objections. Like every time, I recommend you learn more about this alternative housing option before making a decision.

Build Yourself a Beautiful Log Cabin

A Minimalist Log Cabin

Raise your hands if you ever dreamed of building yourself a log cabin! Our love for log cabins is courtesy of childhood books. Remember the cute illustrations of log cabins on their cover pages? How badly we wish to live in one! Well, fortunately, staying in a log cabin is one of the most popular alternative housing ideas. Log cabins offer much more than just a beautiful habitat with a rustic vibe. It is a no-brainer that log cabins are an affordable alternative to buying a house.  They keep the home warm during the winter and cool during the summer, thus reducing your energy bills by about 30%. Interestingly, owing to the size of the logs used to build log cabins, they are more fire-resistant than stick-framed homes. You can equip your log cabin with anything and everything you please, including vaulted ceilings, modular kitchens, and cozy fireplaces. 

Bonus tip!: Log cabins are prone to damage by water and UV rays. Remember that they need regular maintenance. 

Join an Off-Grid Community 

Living Off-grid

Not all interior housing options imply isolation.   Certain types of interior housing have a community built around them! This particular alternative housing idea is perfect for people who love to dwell in a community of like-minded people.  Often, people interested in cheap unconventional housing alternatives join hands to form a sustainable and independent community. United by some common values, these communities create a separate civilization. You can join any such independent, off-grid community. This is one of the most unique and inexpensive alternative housing ideas.

Bonus Tip!: Here is a list of some popular off-grid communities. 

  • Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage (Missouri)
  • Freedom Cove (Vancouver Islands)
  • Earthaven (North Carolina)
  • Earthship Community (New Mexico)
  • Twin Oaks Community (Virginia)

Try out WWOOFing!

This idea is for all the readers who love farming. WWOOFing, aka World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, allows people to volunteer on farms across the globe. The hosts will provide the volunteers with a resting place and board during their stay in return for their service. Sometimes the volunteers even get paid.

Bonus Tip!: Want to know more about WWOOFing? 

Check out their website: https://wwoof.net/

Areas where WWOOFing is operational

We are children of an era of breaking conventions and embracing new trends. Alternative housing is one such trend. In these times when our traditional houses are becoming too costly to afford or harmful to the environment, alternative housing ideas are opportunities to craft an affordable home. You do not need to break the bank to build a cozy shelter for you and your family. In this blog, I have shared eight safe and affordable alternative housing options for anyone to adopt. Some of these ideas are eco-friendly and energy-efficient. Read, research, and get the best alternative housing for yourself.  

Jagyasheni Sengupta
Jagyasheni Sengupta

If you are an introvert like me, then you are no stranger to the struggles of expressing yourself in a room full of people. The urge to make myself heard got me writing. Hello everyone! I am Jagyasheni. I write stories, blogs, and articles and draw pictures for a living. Throw me some words, and I will weave them into something beautiful.

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