14+ Cheap Housing Ideas [Your Cheapest Living Options!]

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Homesteaders from all over the world feel the high cost of housing digging into their pockets. And their piggy banks! So, at a time like this, you might need to do some deep digging for some cheap housing ideas and some options for alternatives to the traditional rental property.

Or, you could just read this article to find out what the cheapest housing option would be for you!

Whether your cash flow is feeling the pinch or you’re interested in frugal living, there are some tremendously easy ways to save money on housing. To help out – we are brainstorming the best cheap housing options we could muster – whether you live in Greater Boston, Austin, or beyond.

A rural cabin deep in the forest along a grassy meadow.

Let’s look at some inspirationally affordable and alternative housing options.

Shall we?

Top 13 Cheap Housing Options: An Overview

  1. Volunteer Projects
  2. Communal Living
  3. Live Off-Grid
  4. Buy a House That Moves
  5. Get a Live-In Job
  6. Build a House With Alternative Building Materials
  7. Cob
  8. Straw Bales
  9. Bottles
  10. Tires
  11. Earthbags Construction
  12. Build a Prefabricated House
  13. Build a Tiny Home

Let’s also analyze and interpret the many nuances of building and establishing these affordable housing options.

What Is the Cheapest Way To Find Housing?

The cheapest way to find housing is to search for live-in volunteer or seasonal work opportunities, look into communal living in your area, live off-grid, consider a RV or trailer, and more. It may take some creativity to come up with the cheapest housing option for you, but there are plenty of alternatives to traditional rentals.

We’ll explore each idea for cheap housing in just a minute, but first, let’s go over what the best options are for those of you interested in building a new home.

What Is the Cheapest Way To Build Housing?

rustic tiny home as a cheap housing alternative
A raw timber house like this one (which was probably sealed with pine pitch) is all-natural and built to last. In most cases, smaller houses like this one are much cheaper to build than buy. You just have to have some land.

Building your own home might sound like a huge challenge. But some cheap housing projects can be undertaken by even the most inexperienced DIYer – you just need the ideas to get started!

The cheapest way to build housing or any structure is to use natural or reclaimed materials. Solutions like cob walls, earth bags, and reclaimed windows, railing, and flooring are just as good as new and can save you thousands on a home.

There is nothing quite like crafting your own home exactly how you want it. And if you’re struggling with ideas or need some technical help, there is a growing quantity of bloggers and YouTubers sharing details of their cheap house-building adventures.

Want To Learn More? See how to build your own backyard yurt!

13+ Cheap Housing Ideas: How To Find or Build A House On the Cheap

Yurts are one of the best cheap housing options, no matter where you are.

There are many ways to live very cheaply, without a vast amount of cash to get you started.

The following are some of our top options and recommendations for acquiring the cheapest, safe living quarters – without spending too much cash!

Read More – How to Build a Backyard Yurt! Step by Step Guide!

Ideas of Where to Look For Cheap Housing

One great way to save money while looking for a new housing situation is to consider where you’re looking. There are many opportunities available in most cities – the trouble is figuring out how to find them.

But once you read these solutions, you might have a good idea of what to look for in your area! So, let’s take a gander, shall we?

1. Volunteer Projects

All around the world, many different types of projects are crying out for volunteers to lend a hand. These cover a massive range of skills and interests, from setting up permaculture gardens to teaching foreign languages to children.

So, as far as cheap housing alternatives go, this one takes the cake!

Organizations like WWOOF (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms) are a great way to travel around the country with minimal money whilst enjoying amazing opportunities!

The great thing about embarking on a volunteering adventure is that you usually get food and accommodation in return for your efforts. So, all you need is sufficient funds to get yourself from place to place, and you can see the world almost for free!

2. Communal Living

three colorful tiny houses with green lawn
We love tiny houses! Most tiny homes are under 1,000 square feet. But – some are even tinier – one of our favorite examples is only 350 square feet! No matter the size – tiny houses are one of the best ways to save tons of money on your cost of living. And – some of them are tremendously chic, inside and out!

If moving from place to place isn’t for you, check out communal living. All around the world, people are coming together to create large homesteads, often subdivided into smaller households for families, couples, and single people.

The great thing about these communities is that they connect with like-minded people who share skills and resources. So, if you dream of creating a permaculture haven or an organic vegetable garden, then communal living will be of the best and cheapest living options for you.

3. Live Off-Grid

Going off-grid is the ultimate dream for many homesteaders! And it’s a surefire way to live for less. Imagine if your electricity, water, and food were all free – incredible!

Creating an off-grid homestead takes blood, sweat, and tears, and you may need a decent sum of money to get you started. But if you can manage it, a life without bills is one of the most liberating things you can achieve.

And remember, you don’t have to go 100% off-grid – you might be able to reduce or eliminate some of your costs without running away from the real world altogether. Even suburban dwellers can embrace the off-grid lifestyle by setting up a vegetable garden and investing in solar panels or solar generators.

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4. Buy a House That Moves!

comfy retro caravan in rural countryside
Living inside a caravan or an RV camper is arguably the cheapest and most flexible housing options. You can insulate your RV if you need to stay warm over winter. Or – travel down south and enjoy the beautiful weather! RVs are in high demand and growing in popularity among college students. US Santa Cruz even has a camper park for their pupils. We love the idea!

Mobile homes are a fabulous way to live for very little money. And they also get to see some dazzling places. Many homesteaders and students are now ditching the bricks and mortars for a home that moves anywhere they wish. Without fuss! Mobile home options include RVs or boats.

The great thing about living in a recreational vehicle or a boat is that you have no mortgage or rent to pay! Although, if you want the security of a safe place to stay, you can opt for a campsite or permanent mooring.

(Campsites will cost you a monthly fee. But – expect the cost to be much lower than paying for a mortgage – or a down payment on a home.)

Living in an RV, camper, or boat also offers you tons of options and boundless latitude from place to place when seeking work – even if this lifestyle is one of the cheapest.

You can pick up some seasonal work for a few weeks, such as fruit picking, then move on to the next job.

5. Buy a Prefabricated House

Who said prefabricated homes all look the same? Prefab or modular housing is a great idea for people who have access to purchasable or rentable land.

Buying a prefabricated house is a quick and cheap housing idea. A prefabricated house comes in pre-built sections. The final assembly occurs on-site.

The great thing about prefab homes? You can choose one that exactly meets your needs and specifications. And once it arrives on-site, it will only take weeks or even days until you move into your new home!

These homes can also be very cheap – sometimes cheaper than a non-permanent structure like a yurt.

6. Get a Live-In Job

Want a safe place to live but don’t have the money to get on the housing ladder? Some jobs come with accommodation provided, giving the security of regular income and a roof over your head.

Jobs that commonly offer accommodation include campsite and trailer park wardens, live-in caregivers, and on-site security guards.

Read More – Top Tips for Frugal Living Homesteaders!

Ideas For Alternative and Cheaper Building Materials

With some imagination, alternative building materials can be used to create some fantastic unconventional houses!

The great thing about many of these cheap housing options is that the materials are often very cheap or even free. When it comes to waste products like used tires, many people are happy to get rid of them!

Read More – How to Stock Your Homestead Pantry on a Budget!

1. Cob

tiny cob house in garden natural fibrous building material
If you want to build an off-grid paradise from scratch, consider building it with a cob foundation! Cob is an ancient building material made of sand, clay, and straw. It’s a low-cost alternative to steel and timber. It’s also sturdier than you would think and dries rock-hard.

Cob is a sustainable building material used for hundreds of years. Cob consists of mixed clay, sand, and straw molded into bricks or used to build solid walls.

If you loved making sandcastles on the beach as a child? Then you’ll love working with cob!

The great thing about cob is that the raw materials are available insanely cheaply or even free. Cob buildings have a beautiful organic appearance, with curved walls and unlimited design options. 

Cob is also a powerful thermal insulator, keeping the home cool in summer and warm in winter. And – cob is sturdier than most people think. So, in terms of the cheapest housing ideas, cob is definitely our best bet if you want to construct your house.

2. Straw Bales

Like the idea of a cob home but want a faster building technique? With straw bale building, you use the bales to fill the walls, functioning like giant bricks. The bricks make strong and dense walls. These are then rendered, often with cob, to seal them and create a smooth surface.

This technique requires far less mixing and blending than a (fully) cob house. But it is less flexible in terms of creative design. Straw is also great for its thermal mass properties and is often available very cheaply.

3. Bottles

cheap earthsip house with glass bottle and cob walls
I take a lot of cheap construction inspiration from Earth Ships, a type of sustainable housing that uses reclaimed and natural materials to create organic and durable homes. You can see that they used glass bottles here in their solar heating system.

When we moved into our renovation project, we quickly realized that the former owner had a keen interest in making wine! These many wine bottles meant that we had hundreds of glass bottles stored in an outbuilding, waiting to be turned into a beautiful bottle wall one day.

Bottles can form walls that allow light through without compromising privacy. They do not have the insulating properties of cob and straw bales but work well for internal walls and outdoor structures.

4. Tires

In many countries, used tires are a problematic waste product, and often people have to pay to dispose of them. The (potentially) high cost of tire disposal means that getting a hold of large quantities of tires for free is (usually) very easy!

Tires get used for building houses by stacking them in layers. Each layer gets filled with Earth, which packs down tightly. The finished walls are clad with an external render to cover the surface of the tires.

5. Earthbags

earth bag and cob as a great cheap housing option
It’s very easy to create a house like this one by coiling earth bags around in a circle, staking them all together as you go. Add windows as you coil the bags up, then paste over it all with some cob and you have a house made to last a lifetime. For that reason, it’s one of my favorite cheap housing options on the list.

Earthbag construction is one of the cheapest building options available. This method uses bags packed with soil to build surprisingly-solid walls. The walls are nearly as strong as brick-and-mortar homes.

If you are lucky, the surplus soil from excavating your foundation trench and leveling the site will be adequate for earthbag construction. Although, you may need to add some extra sand. All you need to get is the bags themselves, and you are ready to start building!

Additionally, covering earthbags with cob is one of the cheapest, easiest ways to raise a structure since you just need natural materials like sand, dirt, and straw.

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6. Use Reclaimed Materials

While shiplap is one of the trendiest reclaimed house-building materials out there, there are plenty of substantial ideas out there for building your own housing on the cheap.

For example, you can harvest hardwood from old barns, use windows from older dilapidated structures, find railings and hardware from your local reclaimed construction shop, and much more.

Facebook marketplace, craigslist, and other local reselling platforms can be a great places to find materials like these. People often give them away to anyone who can haul them, so keep your eyes sharp and be patient if you want the best deals.

7. Build With Cement and Cinder Blocks

Cement and cinder blocks are cheap, hard as nails, and have one secret benefit: built-in temperature control. It stays cool longer than other materials, which means you’ll have an automatic air conditioning system, even without electricity. For walls, cinder blocks work similarly, and they are pretty cheap, especially considering their durability.

8. Build a Tiny Home

Having lived in a tiny campervan for six months last summer, I now think large houses are overrated! A small space requires little maintenance, is cheap to heat, and the housework only takes ten minutes a day.

tiny home is cheap to build and will cost less to maintain, with lower utility bills. It is also far easier to integrate off-grid utilities when working on a small scale.


Still have some questions about these cheap housing ideas? Well, we might just have the answers you’re looking for:

Is Living In a Trailer Cheaper Than an Apartment?

On paper, it generally works out that buying a trailer is cheaper in the long term than renting an apartment. The problem lies with building up enough capital to buy your new home in the first place. So if you are struggling to build up your bank balance, you might need to look at other ways to make extra money or cut back on your expenditures.

What Is the Cheapest Housing Option?

An RV, small cabin, or a tiny house are the cheapest housing options. If you want a permanent home of your own, then the cheapest way to live is to reduce your bills to the bare minimum. Try reducing your monthly bills and expenditures.

Where Can I Live Very Cheaply?

Rural states like Arkansas, West Virginia, and Mississippi offer affordable housing and property. But – it’s not that easy! The problem with many cheap housing options is that, somewhere along the way, you will inevitably need some money. The funds required might cover your home’s cost, the price of the land, or the expense of equipment and moving materials.


Are you feeling inspired to live for less yet? Many of our cheap housing options take a dramatic change in lifestyle or mindset, which can be daunting for some.

Ditching the dreaded nine to five job and security of a house is not for everyone. But if you want to follow your dream, there are many cheaper ways to live!

Are you feeling inspired to make a life-changing decision and cut your housing costs? I promise you won’t regret it!

We thank you for reading our articles.

Have an excellent day.

And – if you have more questions about cheap housing options, tiny homes, RV living, or affordable homesteading, please ask.

Thanks again!

More on Frugal Living:

Read More – Starting a Homestead From Scratch and Without Cash!

14+ Cheap Housing Ideas Your Cheapest Living Options and Housing Alternatives

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