Homes for Nomads

I’m a nomad at heart. While I currently “live” in Asheville, I only spend about two-thirds of my year here. The other third, I live and travel all over the U.S. (and the world) for short periods of time.

I’m also debt-averse. Blame the nomadism or the recession, but the word “mortgage” makes me cringe. I’d rather save and buy pretty much anything outright instead of going into hock for it.

You can see why I’ve never had much interest in 12-month leases or traditional home ownership. Since college, I’ve mostly lived in month-by-month room rentals in shared houses. But the allure of home—having one’s own place—has never left my mind.

Owning a house outright is one of my goals. When I turned 30 in September, I started thinking seriously about this goal, with the above considerations in mind. This led me to discover tiny houses (homes under 500 sq. ft.) and various other homes-on-wheels that are cooler than RVs, but are considered RVs for the purposes of zoning and taxes.

In this post I share some of the neatest stuff I’ve discovered in these fields. I resisted the temptation to dive into pro/con lists and lengthy discussions of how “liveable” these are in the long-term. But if you have direct experience with any of them, please do comment. Click on the images to find related articles.

Update: I forgot to mention that I’m also very interested in building something like you see below with my hands. I spend so much time in front of a computer that I really crave some tactile project. I like the idea of customizing every facet of a home, too. The book Shop Class as Soulcraft also inspired me.


Tumbleweed & Four Lights Tiny Houses

The offspring of tiny house guru Jay Shafer, these are the preeminent tiny house design and building companies. The houses run in the ballpark of $20,000 for materials alone or $50,000 pre-built.

Don’t miss Jay’s ingenious idea for a tiny house community in Northern California: The Napoleon Complex. “Co-Housing for the Antisocial”—ha!

Tumbleweed “Fencl”
Fencl interior



This master’s degree project—not a house for sale—demonstrates some of the best design I’ve seen for a tiny space.

Protohaus loft and rear interior
Protohaus loft and interior
Protohaus front interior
Protohaus interior
Protohaus exterior
Protohaus exterior


Leaf House

A tiny house design/build operation in northern Canada. The model featured below sold for roughly $43,000.

Leaf House version 2 interior
Leaf House version 2 exterior


Cricket Trailers

Certainly not suited for full-time habitation, but still awesome.

Cricket trailers
Cricket trailer interior (with futon option)


Moby1 Expedition Trailers

Like the Cricket, these aren’t really home solutions, but worth a gander.

Moby1 XC trailer


Renovated Airstream Trailers

This is a whole subculture in itself. I was most inspired by this rebuild by Santa Barbara architect Matthew Hofmann. His firm offers tons of inspiring Airstream designs.

Airstream interior – the office
Airsteam interior – Bed, kitchen, bathroom
Hofmann with Airstream


Books I’ve read

Tiny Homes, Simple Shelter

The Small House Book


Books I plan to read

Humble Homes, Simple Shacks, Cozy Cottages, Ramshackle Retreats, Funky Forts

Housebuilding: A Do-It-Yourself Guide


Got any advice for me?




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