The Cost of Towing a Tiny House

We travel full time with our Tiny House and so far we’ve gone 15,000 miles in eight months. We’ve figured out the logistics on our own, including the cost of towing a tiny house. Below I’ve outlined OUR monthly expenses in hopes that it is helpful for our fellow travel bugs.

So, here you go folks, these are the REAL COSTS for towing a tiny house.

OUR MONTHLY EXPENSES ON THE ROAD

GAS: $726

Our Tiny House weighs 10,100 pounds when fully loaded. We tow with a Ford F-250 Diesel 4×4 and get between 8-10 mpg. We put 2,070 miles per month on our truck. That number includes ALL driving, not just towing.

MAINTENANCE ON TRUCK: $294*

*This number has been divided by the eight and a half months we’ve been on the road to calculate our average monthly expenses. Total truck maintenance is $2,499

This number is SUPER high! We had to replace a few parts in our truck, including the FICM, the alternator and two batteries. I can’t say whether this is due to towing or not, because the 2006 Ford F-250s are known for these problems. Sigh.. that’s life I guess. Hopefully this number will start to go down.

MAINTENANCE ON TRAILER: $55* 

*This number has been divided by the eight and a half months we’ve been on the road to calculate our average monthly expenses. Total trailer maintenance is $467.50

We had a regular 10,000 bearing inspection (they were good). We had to replace our tongue jack because we crashed the Tiny House on our maiden voyage… Full explanation here. We also had to replace our chimney cap a few times due to damage from low tree branches.

TRUCK INSURANCE: $95 

We are insured through State Farm. We have liability coverage on our “tow load.”

TRUCK PAYMENT: $0

Our truck is paid off. Yippee! We used to have two cars and a motorcycle in our “pre-tiny” lives. Not having a car payment is a blessing.

TINY HOUSE PAYMENT: $0

Our Tiny House is paid off. Yippee! We used to pay $2000 a month in rent in Los Angeles.

TINY HOUSE INSURANCE: $0

So far we haven’t found a Tiny House Insurance plan that is affordable and available as a multi-state / multi-country plan.  At this point, it’s not affordable for our tiny house to be insured. While we travel down the road, it is covered under our truck insurance as a “tow load.” When we are parked and detached, it gets tricky. Let us know if you have heard of an insurance plan that would work for our situation.

MOBILE INTERNET: $130

We use Verizon wireless as our provider because they have the fastest data service. We’ve been relatively happy with the service, but it’s expensive. Due to our web related jobs, we need at least 30 gigabytes a month. Obviously if you do not need 30 GB (or the internet at all) this number is irrelevant. Campgrounds sometimes have WIFI available, but it’s usually terribly slow.

CAMPGROUND FEES: $208

We park in campgrounds on average 8 nights a month. The rest of the time we park on private property, offered by some of the most gracious people in the world (our followers and other Tiny House enthusiasts). That helps A LOT! Campground fees can average between $10 – $60 a night. We are a member of Passport America, which offers a 50% discount on thousands of campgrounds all over North America.

PROPANE: $12

We use propane for our cooktop, water heater and sometimes to power our refrigerator.

WATER / ELECTRIC: $0

We fill up our water tank in campgrounds or from our parking hosts. So far we haven’t had to pay for water or power (of which we use very little), aside from our campground fees.

TRASH: $0

We carry our trash and dispose of it responsibly in campgrounds.

TOTAL AVERAGE MONTHLY EXPENSES FOR TINY HOUSE GIANT JOURNEY  = $1520

While this number might seem high, it’s less than our old apartment rent payment in Los Angeles (which was $2600 a month not including utilities, car payments, gas, etc)! We could save a lot of money by traveling less and canceling our internet, but that’s not the lifestyle we want.  You might notice that we did not include food expenses, phones expenses, health insurance, student loans, etc. That is because those expenses would be the same on or off the road, tiny or big.

We hope this is helpful! Could you do it cheaper?

*This article was originally published on Tumbleweedhouses.com

53 thoughts on “The Cost of Towing a Tiny House”

  1. Thanks for the article! Was wondering if your trailer maintenance included the cost of replacing any damaged tires? If a tire is damage on a tiny house trailer where could you have it fixed or how could you fix it yourself?

  2. Thanks for the article! Was wondering if any of your trailer maintance fees cover the cost of replacing a tire? What happens if your tire gets damaged and where can you take it for repair?

  3. I enjoyed your article! A question I have is how did the tiny house tow behind your truck? Where you able to go the speed limit? Thank you for your time.

    1. Hi! The tiny house towed fine behind our Ford 250 truck. We did purchase a weight distribution system which helped with the sway. Check out the materials list for more details on that. We could go the speed limit, but preferred to go about 50-55 mph.

  4. Really good article and sort of confirms what I thought. Granted West coast real estate is generally more expensive than east coast but you can get a lot of house for $1500/month mortgage. What’s missing from this equation is that most of the people on TV are kids that don’t have a gigantic truck laying around even though they INSIST they want it on wheels. Generally a new or used 2017 Ford 250 4×4 Diesel truck, which is NOT something most people have laying around, costs between $50-$70,000. The math on purchasing a tiny house and moving place to place just doesn’t compute. Given the above monthly costs plus the cost of a truck. I could buy a nice cozy cottage on a lake someplace with a smaller carbon footprint (solar, tankless water heater, geothermal heat). Not arguing that a tiny house might be fun but the TV shows are not telling the truth about how expensive it really is. I wonder how many people that build these on wheels actually move them.

    1. Seems you’re writing commentary on the “cost” of the car rather than the tiny home lifestyle. Who said you need to buy a shiny new *2017* F-250?

      A “used” F-250 from 2006 with average miles in good condition has a KBB value of ~$5,500.

      1. My truck was used, a 2006 actually with over 100,000 miles, but it’s a diesel. You don’t need to buy a truck unless you are moving constantly. You can rent one easily for occasional moves. This article is about travel and towing costs, not the typical tiny house lifestyle.

  5. I didn’t see food costs or cell phone costs listed as part of the monthly expenses. That would bring the total up even more. Obviously, the less you travel, the more money you save.

  6. Very informative article thank you! We’re watching tiny homes as we read this and I’m glad we found an accurate account of what it costs. Hope you’re having a great adventure!

  7. When you’re driving, do you need any specific lights on the house itself that are not on the trailer?

    It looks like you have two lights higher up on the house.

    Chris

    1. I’ve looked all over for information on healthcare plans that are not state specific and it is incredibly difficult to find any information on the topic.

      1. I don’t know if they offer non-employeer plans, but Oxford Health (by United Healthcare) does multi-state plans for distributed workforces. Sorry I can’t be of more help, but perhaps the tip will lead you down the right path.

  8. Tiny House Giant Journey, I talked to my State Farm agent and she said they would cover my future tiny house under RV or Recreational camper. You may want to inquire about these options. Hope this helps

    1. Thanks Cindy. Our State Farm agent contacted State Farm 2 years ago when we were getting started and they wouldn’t consider it. Maybe things changed! If you plan on building it yourself, make sure they are OK with that too.

  9. If you traveled around just one state, let’s say Colorado, would your house be easier to insure? Is it so expensive because you go from state to state? Is there not some RV insurance that would cover the house?

    1. If the house is legally considered an RV and registered as such, typical RV coverage should work just fine. Coverage territory for most policies is the US, its Territories and Canada. Outside of this, you’re at the mercy of that country; some will allow US insurance carriers to settle claims, others do not. Going into Mexico, you’re usually safer buying their insurance at the border.

      What an awesome experience; it’s exciting to live vicariously through your journey!

  10. I would think using a “gooseneck” trailer would be more beneficial as it would distribute the weight more efficiently.
    I am also wondering if any weights and measures authorities have ever stopped your setup to inspect for safety.
    I live in a budget deprived state that could probably see it as an “advantage to take advantage” of a rig pulling a setup like yours if it isn’t appropriate to bridge laws,etc.

    1. Well, we’ve never been pulled over just for an inspection. Our tiny house is perfectly legal on the road, with Recreational Trailer license plates, within street legal dimensions (both height and width) and weight restriction of the trailer.
      While a gooseneck trailer usually tows better, it wasn’t a good choice for us. Most gooseneck safe longer than our rig and we didn’t want anything bigger. They also make the bed of the truck unusable and they make it hard to build something that actually looks like a “typical simple house.”

  11. Thank you for sharing this! We are in the processes of working to get where you are and this information is really helpful. It’s one thing to want to do this, but when you get to the point where you think you can and then find out you simply cannot afford it it’s a complete let-down. This is absolutely doable and I thank you so much for sharing and giving more support to my dream 🙂

  12. Thanks for your article about the costs of towing a tiny house. The tiny house movement is gaining a lot of momentum these days. I know that a lot of tiny houses can work around building requirements/codes if they have wheels instead of a foundation. That’s great that you have a vehicle that can tow your tiny house. If you don’t, I’m sure you can hire a towing company if you decide that you need to “move.”

  13. Hello guys !
    I’m from france so sorry for my bad english 🙂 Here is some questions :
    How often do you move the house ? every day ?
    What about security , people with RV have sometime unwanted visitors especialy when they are alone.
    For the truck maintenance the insurance do not help ?
    Is the solar pannel enought to feed your computers, pump, lights and internet system ? can you detail your power uses and production? What’s happen if you run out of electricity ?

    Any way, you do a great job with your house, very inspiring. Thanks to sharing your experiences, So congrats !!
    Have fun, living your dream 🙂

    1. We moved our house on average a couple times a week. Sometimes every 2-3 days, sometimes once every two weeks.
      We have never been worried about security. We have a hitch lock just in case, but it’s never been a worry for us.
      Some insurances cover truck maintenance but they are very expensive and not that common.
      The solar is enough for us. We now was 390W of solar panels and a 1,250Wh battery/inverter system. It all depends on your use. Our computers use 55-75W to charge, light bulbs are about 5W, waterpump is around 100W when in use and Internet is through our phones (5W chargers). We can usually plug in where we park, so we never run out of electricity.

      1. Thanks a lot !! And what about cold an hot temperature? Do you plane to do a movie about your trip ? Have fun 🙂 !!

  14. Could you talk a little bit more about your electric situation? Do you use solar power at all? Was it difficult to find appliances, (the fridge specifically) that could run both on power and propane? How do you keep your food cold on the road? Thanks in advance!

    1. On the road, we use a small solar system. We have two 100W panels and a Goal Zero Yeti 1250 solar battery. Finding appliances wasn’t too difficult as they’ve been available for RVs for a long time. We just made sure most of our energy heavy appliances could run on propane. Our fridge is a three way fridge, Dometic RM2354 and our water heater is instant propane, PrecisionTemp RV-550 NSP. As for being on the road, the fridge is a great cooler! We can go 6-8hrs with some ice in it and it’ll stay cold enough. But we do have it set up now so that it can run on propane as we drive around, not needing to fill it with ice.

  15. This has been very helpful though I am all by myself it will be hard starting over my dream is to live in my very own tiny home I have no car payment or bills just cell but have to start over due to very bad sircumstances , I’m saving for my new tiny home and it is my dream and future need all the knowledge I can get I would like to help build it but would need help don’t know anyone by myself hopefully this will change in the future I watch all your videos on u tube I have a U tube channel in my name DENISE SANABIA , I CANT WAIT TILL IM LIVING IN MY TINY HOME

  16. Helped so much, have an Elm on Martha’s Vineyard (haven’t found a spot for it yet} but your cost analysis let me see what truck I needed, I thought I needed a 350! If I leave the island and travel, now I know what $ I need to do it. You guys are my heroes. Kayaked around Alaska to glaciers & walked to a glacier lake – you will see many more – and don’t miss cramponing up a glacier – what a thrill. If you get discouraged, just know you are my heroes!

  17. Thanks for providing this often overwhelming information in such an understandable format. I’ll always return here because I need some info here in my project. Thanks author of this site. Keep it up!!!

  18. I also have a 2006 Ford F350 I bought new. When I bought it I had all kinds of problems for the first 30k miles. (oil cooler x2, egr cooler, head gaskets all under warranty) I always had problems overheating while pulling loads. After they replaced my head gaskets, I installed a coolant filter and have pulled up to 25k pound loads with no problems. Check out ford-trucks.com and search coolant filter. I spent $70~, well worth it. And I now have 130k miles. The problem is the oil cooler which is a coolant-to-oil cooler, and has very small passages for the coolant to pass through that can get clogged with casting sand from the casting process to manufacture the engine, and other debris.

  19. As you know from the tips in this article, there are things you can do empower yourself when it comes to keeping your car in good running condition. Thanks for these tips!

  20. Loved it loved it loved it…..keep on trucking guys..no better way to see the world and expose us all to the next generation of self sustainable living! God bless and stay safe.

  21. Given the choice to do short stays in places and to drive a lot of miles per month, you all are doing great on expenses!
    If you get to the point of staying put for longer periods, even in full hookup RV sites, you’ll save some money (discounted park fees and less fuel use).
    The only way you could have possibly saved a chunk of change would have been, if possible, to buy a new truck that was “bullet proof.”
    We were able to buy a new RAM 2500, gas engine, 6.4 liter, which does a great job towing about the same weight with a bit better mileage and less cost per gallon than diesel. That may be a luxury item for many, but it’s a great way to go if possible.
    Keep enjoying! This will be one of the best years of your lives!

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