Updated Housing Costs for Alternative Housing Options in 2023

We’ve looked at the current costs of building alternative housing options. We ran through our list of 25 housing types to find the most recent costs individuals have paid this year or estimates by companies who manufacture, fabricate, or convert alternative housing options. 

Only estimates

Keep in mind, these are only estimated as the construction industry has had constant changes in their pricing 2019 to 2022. We will continue to update this list periodically.

Here are the current cost estimates for a simple, base model alternative housing project. Sweat equity is not discounted; we are not considering that, in most cases, you also have to purchase the land or the vehicle, which is variable.  The choice of finishes is not considered either, as those are personal preferences and could cost much more than a DIY build, second-hand, or scavenged building materials. These are for homes approximately 1000 sqft. to 2000 sqft, which is an average size home since the national average for a new construction home in the U.S. in 2023 is 1600 sqft.

Current build cost estimates for alternative housing in 2023

Type of HousingEstimated Cost in 2023
Tiny House$30,000–$60,000
Container House/ Single Container$10,000–$35,000
Silo House$15,000–$50,000
Strawbale House$30,000–$90,000
Cob House$30,000–$90,000
Earth Bag House$6,000–$10,000
Earth Berm House/Earth Sheltered House$100,000–$200,000
Railcar House/ Box Car House$10,000–$35,000
Converted Bus/ Schoolie includes purchase$20,000–$30,000
Converted Van/ Van Camper$12,000–$30,000
Converted Box Truck$10,000–$30,000
Prefabricated House$55,000–$130,000
Manufactured/ Mobile Home$40,000–$75,000
Geodesic Dome Home$100,000–$250,000
Wood Pallet Home$5,000–$10,000
Hempcrete House$100,000–$250,000
Aircrete House$100,000–$250,000
Permanent Camping$3,000 start up, then cost of campsite
Yurt/Tipi$3,000 start up, then cost of campsite
Traditional/Stick-Built Home$282,000+

While alternative housing might not be for everyone, it’s good to explore all of the options. Check with your local zoning laws to be sure you can build the type of home you want in your area. They like to fine people if you start without approval, so have all of your permits in order before building even on your own land.

Many types of homes, traveling, camping, sailing, come with added costs of needing to park, camp, or dock somewhere. Monthly these can start to add up unless you get creative. You can find free parking on boondockers.com and other boondocking sites. There are also rules as to how long you can stay in any given area before being “evicted.” With a little upfront preparation as to knowing your next few locations, you can stay within the regulations.

Alternative housing is a unique lifestyle as many options are smaller than a traditional home. However, depending on the climate, you can have plenty of entertaining space if you can use our outdoor space as a living area. This may come with some start up costs for seating, cooking, and entertainment items.

To learn more about what it takes to start an alternative housing lifestyle check out our article on that or dive into the 25 types of housing.


Eva is a freelance copywriter specializing in all things real estate, B2B, PropTech, ReTech, CRETech. Owning rental property herself, Eva's love of real estate has turned into a passion for alternative housing options and educating people about the different types of housing available.

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