What started off more than 40 years ago as a project with no boundaries or set plans has turned into an underground enigma. Read on, as Bruce Beach’s story is truly one of a kind.
He Wanted to Be Safe
Bruce was born in 1934 in Kansas. He witnesses the horrors the Vietnam War brought and the Cold War that came after. Following these events, Bruce and his wife decided to move to a safer, more secure environment and chose Canada as their new home. Canada was neutral; it didn't have the controversial issues the USA had with the East, and all they wanted was to live their life in tranquility and peace.
These were the 1970s, and Bruce wasn't the only one worried about the new reality that hit the world. The nuclear threat hovered over, and no one had any idea what the future held. Bruce felt that he couldn't let the great leaders of the world take ownership of his future so he decided to do something about it. Even he had no idea how outrageous his project would become.
He named his project "Ark Two," given his life mission. As he described it, the name only emphasized the importance and professionalism it would involve. There was another reason for naming the project "Ark Two". Bruce had no intention of going on this adventure alone. He hoped like-minded people would follow, and together, they could create something wonderful and great.
Canada was no strange land as Bruce's wife was a native. They moved to Horning's Mills, her hometown, and began living the rest of their life. Little did they know, that what they planned to be a safe and secure haven, would soon turn into a newspaper headline.
Going Up North
Horning's Mills was a relatively isolated place and just over an hour's drive from Toronto. It was picturesque and peaceful, but most of all, it was safe. Horning's Mills turned out to be the perfect place for Bruce to make his plan a reality.
The town was established way back in 1830 which made it even more appealing for Bruce as he was a history lover. Someone named Lewis Horning was the one who brought the place alive and Bruce thought the world of him. He inspired him and strengthened his belief that anything was possible.
Getting Down to Details
By 1980, his goal was already fully planned, the sketch was complete, and he was ready to take things another step forward. For us, it would have seemed a ridiculous venture; however, it turned out to be the most incredible plan Ontario (or anywhere else) had ever seen. It was innovative, it was thinking out of the box, it was everything Bruce wanted it to be.
Bruce had it all worked out. He could see into the future and he was always one step ahead. His masterpiece would start with one wrecked school bus but soon enough, this bus would turn into a kingdom.
It All Began With a Bus
In 1980, Bruce bought his first bus for $300. Soon enough he was the proud owner of several buses. He didn't care if they operated or not as he wasn't interested in their mobility or engines. All that mattered, was their structure. Within no time he owned no less than 42 buses.
They were all stacked next to each other in an old empty lot not far from his home. The 42 buses were enough for taking Brice on to the next level. It was now 1985 and things were about to escalate.
It Had to Be a School One
If you wonder why Bruce collected only school buses, it's because they are quite different than ordinary buses and it was their special features that would eventually make his project efficient. As school buses are used mainly for children, they were constructed differently.
Unlike regular buses, the school ones have an open floor plan. The second thing that came in handy was the fact that school buses had steel beams which made them safer. Upgrading regular standard buses would have been too time-consuming and there was no way he was going to waste time on altering the vehicles.
Thanks to its unique design, a school bus can easily carry heavy weights such as big piles of heavy sand, something Bruce would later need for his craft. These buses were buried underground, and sand was essential. The yellow bus had more unique features, Bruce would later discover.
Bruce completed setting up the 42 buses. It was now time to bring his creation to life. The walls of the buses turned into winding corridors, and seat slots became storage niches. Rooms were born and before he knew it, his 12 acres of land were transforming into a metal and steel habitat.
A Little Help From a Friend
Bruce was in luck as like-minded wanderers volunteered to help. They rolled up their sleeves and although it took a few years, they finally completed constructing their new safe and secured home. Bruce never thought it would take so much time. These were long and sometimes agonizing days; however, he was so determined to turn his dream into reality, there was no way of giving up. He was now ready for the next step.
The complex had to be sealed before pouring in the concrete and turning it into a permanent residence. Not only that, but by covering the buses with concrete he would isolate them from the outside world and keep his creation in hiding. Bruce had no idea that it wouldn't be long before his 42 buses would catch the police's attention and cause disruption and concern. But why?
It Was Like No Other
"Ark Two" became the biggest structure in North America which was set underground. Up until then, there was nothing quite like it. Yes, some of us might find it difficult to comprehend and see Bruce as an outrageous person, however, there is no doubt that on any scale, this was a great accomplishment.
Bruce created a 10,000 square feet bunker, and this bunker had the ability to be used as shelter during a nuclear blast. This astonishing place could accommodate almost 500 people at once. It was shocking that someone actually built it, but hay, there are no limits to what human kind can do.
The Entire Community Could Fit In
It was designed in such a way, that it could house the entire community around them for several months. Bruce wasn't thinking only of himself, but he took his entire neighborhood into account. Now, if bruce thought constructing and pouring the cement was a challenge, there was more to come.
Bruce was passionate about "Ark Two." In fact, he was passionate about everything he did in life. There were no shortcuts, no easy ways, and whatever he touched was done to perfection. This was the project of his life and he was about to invest everything he had into it.
Bruce took his project another step forward and consulted with no less than Toronto's subway designer and engineer. This designer was responsible for the construction of the system too, so he reviewed Bruce's plans. Bruce was not going to give up on being professional all the way. Starting with the design and through to the execution.
After inspecting it, he made a few changes. Now the plan of the site was complete, it was approved by a certified engineer (who even gave a few tips concerning the design) and Bruce could finally elevate his creation. Things were not going to stop there.
Preserving Their Spot
No matter how talented Bruce was and no matter how passionate he was about bringing "Ark Two" alive, there was no way he could execute this alone. He needed a few more pairs of hands and a few more believers. Only like-minded souls could participate in such a project.
Luckily enough, Bruce had many friends to come and help, and there was a good number of volunteers that could see the potential "Ark Two" had. They all shared the same vision and they all shared the same fear, however, they were not going to let it come between them and make Bruce's vision into a reality.
50 Per Day
More than 50 people gathered each day and took part in constructing this gigantic creation. For most, this place would be a haven of safety and as they did not know what the future might bring, they felt they had to do everything in their power to secure themselves.
Some of the volunteers thought the whole idea was ridiculous; however, they still took part in constructing the site. But why? Why did people who had no interest in eventually using the concrete bus premises spare their time and help in bringing "Ark Two" to life?
Not All Were Believers
Bruce was no fool. He promised each person who helped build the site space in the shelter. He knew that this way he would keep the volunteers motivated and complete the construction of the shelter much faster. There was no time to waste. Even the non-believers, and those who thought Bruce was talking nonsense, felt they had nothing to lose. If a nuclear threat would eventually become reality (although it was unlikely), they would have somewhere safe to go.
Bruce didn't expect much. He asked each volunteer to spare one or two weekends a year and dedicate them to the building of the underground shelter. They would have to carry out basic maintenance and ongoing renovation and in return, they would be safe. Bruce was certain that sooner or later, a nuclear disaster would occur. There was no talking him out of it and the majority of the people around him felt and thought the same.
The Heavy Steel Door
Access to this modern cave was not as easy as entering a townhouse. There wasn't a door and a doorbell, and there weren't simple stairs to go down or climb up. The entrance to "Ark Two" was as complicated as the construction was. Firstly, you had to assure you were permitted access as not everyone could simply enter. Once access was granted, the real challenge of actually getting into the place hit you.
A rusty old door stood between the real world and what would soon be discovered as an isolated shelter from a modern threat against humanity, as seen through Bruce's eyes. This door was the only part of the Ark visible to the outside world. Behind that door stood a power generator and from there on, the underground labyrinth began.
The Living Area
Moor than 14 feet separated the ground level from the actual habitat. The living area of this place was hidden deep below. So, you might have thought that getting into the shelter was the main obstacle, however, once in, bigger issues were awaiting. The living area down below was so compressed and lacking natural airflow that if one person carried a virus or some sort of illness, the outcome would have been chaotic.
Without a proper medical center and without professional sickness screening, some individuals could inadvertently bring with them all sorts of infections and diseases. This could harm hundreds. Such an incident could mark the end of an entire community as the shelter was intended to house all residents around. Instead of being a shelter of safety, it would turn into a mass grave.
Bruce, as always, thought a few steps ahead and built a decontamination chamber at the entrance to the shelter, right after the heavy steel door. This was to reduce any risk of contamination and of spreading of disease. Bruce was no amateur and the could imagine the outcomes of someone spreading diseases in the shelter.
Bruce built this chamber to perfection. It had a double sink made of stainless steel, a shower for adults, and a bathtub for children and disabled people. It even had a food decontamination section! If Bruce was going to do something, he was going to do it properly.
More Was Needed
The chamber at the entrance to his underground world was not the only professionalized room. Those entering the enigma would need more than a sterilization unit to survive. Electricity, fresh running water, and much more were essential. Bruce thought of all this way in advance and an entire plumbing system was planned and installed underneath the living areas.
It ran along the entire premises and ended in a septic tank. The bunker had access to potable water from a nearby well, making the stay as convenient as possible. It wasn't perfect, but it sure answered all of their essential needs.
Three Months of Solitude
Diesel generators full of fuel were scattered around the shelter which made it possible to live for almost three months. Bruce planned his haven in such a way that nothing would come as a surprise. So, besides Bruce, who obviously thought wonders of his project, what did others think of it, and more importantly, what did other "Preppers" think of it?
Preppers are people who live in a joint community and share the same thoughts and beliefs. They believe that catastrophes are bound to hit the earth and sense that chaos is always awaiting them. Bruce Beach was part of this community. Many Preppers thought that his project, "Ark Two" was absolutely phenomenal and something to be proud of. It was like being in outer space or in a different universe. No one could believe that Bruce built this amazing habitat from 42 wrecked school buses. It was incomparable to anything else.
Food, Glorious Food
Food was another essential item Bruce didn't neglect. Two kitchens, which were more like industrial or restaurant kitchens, were constructed in the shelter. One was designed for preparing food, and the other for cleaning and washing up.
Across the corridor from them, two enormous storage rooms were built, each full of dry food, cans, pantry supplies, and anything with a long duration date. At first, Bruce thought that the food issue was the least of his problems; however, he was wrong. The food turned out to be the biggest problem he had.
Tons and Tons
The shelter was supposed to cater to almost 500 people at once which turned it to be one of his greatest obstacles to confront. “I don’t know how many tons of food we have had to throw out over the years," Beach said once to the 'National Post'. The shelter was on standby for almost thirty years and during these years, canned goods, preserved items, and long-lasting goods were replaced on so many occasions, over and over again.
Now, food, clean water to bathe in, and other essential needs were not the only things these people needed. Every demand had to be answered in one way or the other, and there was no way of bypassing anything. As we explained, these "Preppers" really did believe the end of the world was coming. The living areas consisted not only of bedrooms but also classrooms for the children, a library, a communication center, a dentist and doctor's clinic, and, believe it or not, a mortuary.
It looks as if Bruce had it all planned. He took everything into consideration assuring all who entered the Ark would be granted a comfortable and pleasurable life in the shelter. Having said that, and with all the facilities Bruce and the Ark provided, it was no luxury hotel. There were downfalls to such a place and the ones who entered had to be prepared.
"Ark two" was designed in such a way that keeping families together was not always possible. The shelter had to house as many people as possible which meant men were on one side, and women and children were on the other. It was only the sleeping accommodations that were separate as for the rest of the time, families could be joined. The living spaces were relatively spacious and comfortable.
A Children's Place
Going to school in such a claustrophobic environment wasn't an easy thing, so Bruce has to think of a creative way to make life bearable for the children. Bruce built a colorful and bright playground. It consisted of educational toys alongside traditional games and it had plenty of room for the kids to hang about.
We know the shelter was built in such a way that if (or when) catastrophe hit, the residents of "Ark Two" could stay safely underground for a good number of months. However, Bruce never forgot about communicating with the outside world. The bunker was equipped with an advanced and super-innovative radio system that could send and receive messages on AM and FM frequencies. It was so strong it could reach all over North America.
Preparing the Preppers
Going back to the Preppers, those who prepare themselves for the worst and believe chaos was on its way. As it goes, National Geographic found this phenomenon quite fascinating. Bruce was featured on one of the episodes of "Doomsday Preppers", a TV documentary created by NatGeo. Bruce wasn't so enthusiastic about this whole idea as he didn't want to be categorized under any group or definition. He was different.
Bruce believed that most Preppers were self-centered and thought mainly about their own well-being and their own safety. Bruce, on the other hand, was driven by completely other things. He was driven by the desire to help others and he considered his community as a whole. He was a philanthropist. He contributed enormously to society and never put himself before the rest, however, there were many who thought and felt otherwise.
Trouble Was Calling
Apparently, the government of Ontario was not very happy with "Ark Two". They saw it as an environmental hazard and apparently, spent a big portion of its financial budget trying to close it down. The shelter was built on Bruce's private property, so what was the problem? Well, apparently, he didn't have any permits. The authorities had every good reason to trouble Bruce and demand he closes the place down.
Trying to pave his way out, Bruce explained that he considered "Ark Two" as a service for the public. He went on and said that the shelter he built was open for anyone who was seeking safety and sanctuary. There was no plan to refuse entry to anyone who didn't think alike, there was no intention to restrict anything or anyone. His purpose was to save and protect as many people as possible.
A Legal Matter
Bruce's explanations weren't enough. The authorities were not convinced and he found himself going in and out of courtrooms, not once, not twice but over 30 times. Another department that wasn't very happy with the bunker was the fire department. They said the site was a fire hazard. They have even managed to close down the place on more than one occasion. Bruce felt this whole parade was illegal.
Bruce felt the authorities were missing the whole point of his project. Instead of focusing on the main purpose and what he was trying to accomplish, they were too busy categorizing the shelter as a hazard area. He claimed that his bunker was exactly the opposite of something that is dangerous or toxic. "Ark Two" was a protective place against a destructive situation. In his eyes, it was the exact opposite.
It Was Only a Matter of Time
Bruce was a true believer in the occurrence of a third world war. He was certain sooner or later, something would hit home. He had a rich history in the US air force, and he had great knowledge of computer science. There was no way anyone could tell him otherwise, however, he found it almost impossible to try to convince the authorities about the future awaiting them all. He was ready to take his project even another step forward.
Bruce once said, "I used to always say the end of the world was going to be two years from now, but now I say it is going to be two weeks from now — and if I am wrong, I will revise my date." He was determined and decisive. He was now ready for the next step. He ran an online "reconstruction network," and he named it SAFE. He voluntarily shared relevant information about his project "Ark Two" and his evacuation plans.
There is more behind the name SAFE. It stands for "Safe America for Everyone". This meant his home, shelter, and heart were open to everyone, regardless of religion, color, gender, or beliefs. Bruce said that he was an optimist when it came to mankind, however, he couldn't help being a pessimist when it came to the near future. He knew a disaster was just around the corner, but he felt it would be an opportunity to change our ways significantly.
He believed a better, healthier, and more stable society would be born out of the chaos. A more open-minded and more accepting society. Everything had a reason, and whatever was planned to hit them had reasoning too. Something good had to come out of it, and he wanted to get people thinking and reordering their priorities in life.
The World Thought Otherwise
Bruce was so enthusiastic about his plans; however, the world had its own plans too. He sadly passed away at the age of 87, way before the world came to an end and way before there was any purpose for his dream. He was a great believer in unity and harmony, but he forgot one important thing.
He spent almost half of his life preparing for the future while neglecting the present and all it had to offer. Today, his wife and family are left wondering what would have happened if only Bruce's plans had really come true and the world would have come to an end. Bruce's world sure did, but in a different way.
Gone are the days of mega-mansions and luxury lifestyles. With the rise of housing costs and an increasing need to "go green", people are turning to new housing styles. These can include anything from the Instagram glorified "van life" lifestyle to DIY homes on self-sustaining hilltops.
While many of these options are low-cost, they do still require a bit of cash. Whether it be over the price of conversions, construction, or upkeep, it's best to find out what these alternative lifestyles actually look like, and if they are worth the cost for you.
Project Van Life
This is by far the most popular form of alternative living that appeals to anyone from hardcore nomadic hippies to rich hipsters on a break from city life. The US is currently seeing a home revolution with folks across the nation converting old Sprinter vans into mobile homes. It's cheap to buy and you can obviously travel anywhere.
Of course, the sky is the limit in terms of luxuries and amenities, but for the basics, it can cost as little as $3,000 to buy and build your own vehicle. Things can get steep but it's still a whole lot cheaper than buying an actual house.
Not everybody wants to rough it. You can't blame them. If you can afford to, then why not. These luxury vans that have some of the luxuries of a home can start at around $15,000. If you like, you can even get a van for about $100,000 and feel like you never really left home but can still wake up to wherever you want.
The legendary Volkswagen or a brand new Sprinter can cost between $25,000 to $60,000,. That's us the van itself, never mind random additions and upkeep.
What Comes After The Purchase?
Once you've made the initial purchase, you'll be surprised that there are things that you need to add, like a toilet and sink. Yup, only occasionally do vans include primary things like toiles and insulation. Generally, those are all add ons. You can also go to town on what type of flooring you want, the cabinet designed and bed frame (if at all.) alternatively, a hammock and minibar or cooler can work just as well.
If you want to go cheap, you can put around $1,000 into basic amenities. It may not be the most aesthetic thing in the world and if this is for you Insta-lifestyle, you should probably rethink it, but this is a version of van life that works for many.
Anything Is Possible
If you want to get a serious bougie van with fancy showers, designer cabinets and lighting fixtures, then these things can cost a pretty penny. Prepare to fork out anything between 20-50 thousand dollars
It's important to take into account the amount of time it takes to convert a basic van into a luxury home. It's certainly a consideration before commencing such a project. Think about time.
The more you install, the more the upkeep and maintenance costs go up. Of course, that's not the only thing. Gas, car insurance, camping, parking fees, and speeding tickets are ongoing considerations. And that's just the driving-related expenses!
Van registration is also a costly affair. That can cost around $1,200 monthly. Think about whether or not these ongoing are affordable while you're on the road.
House Or Van?
No matter the costs and your personal range, the van is still ultimately cheaper than owning a home. In fact, for around the same money, you can build two, even three vans. The downside? A house's value increases over time, while van's value decreases. With a van though, you can always change your environment.
The van-life's social media appeal can also make for a lucrative business. Social media influencers make quite a killing over their Instagram-worthy lifestyle. You can't always do that in traditional homes. Then there is personal richness versus material richness. You pick what works for you!
You Gotta Be Frugal
If you're on the road, you're going to be spending money. Many sources claim that it's impossible to do van life for under $20,000. That number just depends on what you're willing to compromise.
Building the cheapest van possible can always work for some. You also have the option of adding as you go. It all depends on how long you plan to be away and what you want to use.
If buying and accessorizing is not the route you want to go, you can also get resourceful and start building your own thing. There are endless resources when it comes to van building. Create your own kitchen and living room spaces. It can be 100% unique.
Alternatively, you can just opt for pre-built structures and go from there. There are so many ways to live out of a van.
Forget The Vans
There is certainly more than one way to live cheaply and alternatively. These days you can pretty much create whatever home you want from today's technology and resources. The options are endless. Flip whatever you like to a home on wheels and cruise away into a dreamlike reality.
Depending on how many people you're traveling with, you can also pick bigger options like a school bus for example. The work required to convert a school bus into a mobile home might be a little more, but done properly, it can be totally worth it.
It Can Be Super Financially Savvy
It's possible that the idea of living out of a school bus sounds like any baby-boomer's nightmare, but you would be surprised as to just how pro-green and economical this can be. It's not that different to van life, it's just much bigger.
This may like the costs a little more but you can fit in more amenities. If you choose this route, how much money do you really need? Here's the breakdown.
What Do You Get Out of It?
Converting a school bus into a home can be great. It's almost as spacious as an actual house, well, a smaller house. You can be totally nomadic if you like, but at the same time move around as much as you wish.
Building and refurbishing will take more time to finish but don't worry, it's totally worth it. A big question however is, do they last?
School busses are built to survive just about anything. They are meant to transport kids after all. Whatever money you put into your school bus home will be well worth it as you are less likely to suffer from constant road-side breakdowns.
The cost to buy a bus is roughly the same as a van, sometimes even lower. The asking price starts at around $3,000 and can go up to $10,000. You can find a perfectly good one even for $2,500 after a good amount of research. But where do you start?
Find the best deal at your local bus dealership, online auctions, or even Craigslist. Don't rush the process. You can definitely pick up a good deal with a little bit of research.
It's crucial to check out the vehicle's maintenance records before purchase. Don't be too concerned about mileage as you're likely to replace a lot.
The Building Costs
All in all, it can cost about $30,000 to convert a bus into a home. That estimate is made of both the initial purchase as well as all the building materials and tool required to reconstruct the bus.
Of course, one can always do it for less than that. You might want to use some elbow grease and say goodbye to hired laborers to save a buck here and there.
More Space = More Time and Money
Like with anything, the more work something requires, the longer it takes. Converting us is going to take longer than a van, simply because it's bigger. Think carefully if you have the time and the money to convert a bus over a van.
It requires time-consuming planning and research. You have more options to consider when designing and refurbishing a bigger space. Try to create a blueprint of the interior and work according to that. Consider how you would like to space things too.
Adapting To A New Lifestyle
When living in a bigger space you can install virtually anything you like. A large bus can accommodate a real bed, dining room take, and various appliances. These furnishing costs can start getting pretty hefty and might make you start to wonder why you opted for a mobile life to begin with.
You may also have to upgrade some things for "the off the grid living." Sometimes less is more.
The Bathroom Dilemma
If you're not into outdoor plumbing, take comfort in the fact that a fully converted school bus can contain a shower, sink, and toilet. These certainly do add more to the price tag. If it's too much, you can always just stop over and use nature.
Another option, if you find yourself settling into one spot for a longer period of time, you can try a compostable toilet. That can cost about a thousand dollars. This system requires no septic tanks or sewer lines. This might be more suitable for more permanent housing situations.
Convenience Versus Hardwork
Whatever your preference, whether it be luxury conversion, or a "just the basics" home on wheels, in the end, you get you what you pay for, so it's important to be satisfied with whatever type of effort you choose to expend. Living luxury has a price, but it may save you a lot of hassle when you're on the road. The basic option may give you a little extra cash in your pocket, but requires some compromises
It just comes down to what kind of person you are and what kind of trip you want in the end. You could settle for one option and instantly regret it. Conversely, you could also totally surprise yourself.
Location, Location, Location
Living in a small home is all good and well. Until you realize that sometimes, you can't just plonk down on whatever piece of land you want. Sometimes you have to pay for it. A big cost factor is deciding where to place your actual home.
This price range will be a big determining factor of how much you end up spending on the whole setup. Land prices, surrounding areas, etc. These are major considerations and obviously, some areas are much cheaper than others. It might be important to ask yourself: Could your tiny home be a potential deal-breaker?
Camp or Rent
When living in a tiny home, you need to think about whether or not you suitable for road life or not. You can either buy a piece of land, rent a spot and park and RV or even rent property to place your miniature home.
Costs vary depending on what you choose, and of course, certain comforts play into it too. Ask yourself how permanently you want to live in certain areas or if you want to keep moving. Keep in mind tiny homes are a big way to cut costs and lessen environmental damage.
It's not as pricey as you think it is to buy land. There are certain spots that you snatch up for as little as $100. It all depends on where and how big. Consider what's more important, owning land, or living in a good location. If you're lucky, you can have both.
Building your home on a reasonably priced piece of land can come to about $100,000, that's for both that land and the home.
If you think that living in an RV might be for you then you will be happy to know that is a very popular option. It can come with quite the price tag though and in some cases can be the equivalent of paying rent for an apartment.
Prices can range between $500 and $1,500. Still, these costs are pretty much all-inclusive, so you're covered for water, electricity, Wi-Fi, and trash. While the cost may be similar to an apartment, at least you will have more privacy and will feel like you have owned your own home detached from others.
A World of Tiny Homes
When choosing the type of off-the-grid-life, you want, you will discover that there is a world of housing options out there that's not just busses, vans, or RVs. People seeking new types of living situations are coming up with amazing new designs, some even pretty high end.
These small homes allow for a simple life with fewer materials. It's even spawned an entire architectural and social movement that explores creative and resourceful ways of living. Is this option more suited for you? Let's find out!
What You Get
Building a complete tiny house on wheels can cost around $60,000. That's quite a lot of money but bear in mind that it includes a bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen. Like a van or a bus, unfortunately, its value deprecates love time, but the land it's on can actually increase in value over time.
It's important to investigate just what type of land works for you and more importantly, where.
Live Like a Hermit
Renting land in a secluded area (and not an RV park) are generally cheaper. There are some major trade-offs to consider though. Your utilities aren't going to be part of some all-inclusive package like it would be with an RV parking spot.
If you find a good secluded spot, expect to pay as little as $200 month.
Jazz Up Your Tiny House
There so many ways to live "tiny." Choose a spot in the city, or in the woods. You can even "pimp it out" with jacuzzis or designer and custom made features. These expenses add up but they do make for comfortable living.
What are your goals for building a tiny home? is it to be environmentally conscience? Is it to be mobile? Or is to simply save some money. Whatever your choice, it's easier to navigate what you want.
There are countless designs and styles available for you to choose form. From mobile homes like a caravan, busses, vans, and RVs to shipping containers and houses made out of junk. The price range differs for every option and each one provides a different kind of life style.
What type of lifestyle appeals to you most? Can you build it yourself, or do you need a professional? Do you prefer to be environmentally friendly? These are the kind of questions that will help you determine what you are looking for. Still not sure what's out there? Keep reading to find out more alternative living.
Forget Land, Try Water
When living tiny, we tend to think this only revolves around road-life or abandoned little plots of land in the middle of nowhere. Takin to the sea or any other body of water is just as freeing. The cost can be as low as $12,000.
Living on the water is the ultimate way to see the world. You can set sail whenever you like. Sure it requires a little more effort and know-how than driving, but it's totally possible. Try life on a canal boat and even liv in big cities. It's far cheaper than getting a mortgage or paying rent in an expensive city center.
For about a thousand dollars you turn some old shipping containers into a full-fledged home In fact, the whole housing system has become quite a trendy alternative and some rather artistic designs have begun to pop up.
These hunks of corrugated steel have even begun housing communities of artists. Check out Container City, a peaceful cottage community in London.
Forget about bricks. Civilizations have been living in tents for thousands of years and they were just fine. Why shouldn't we try it out, even if it's temporary? Folks have been opting for tents and even building communities on beach fronts.
Okay, granted, it can be pretty risky, and sometimes you can be kicked right off. It's cheap but it might not be the best option for long term living.
The Straw Bale Home
Taking the countryside life a step further, the straw bale home is also becoming an incredibly trendy option. Hay actually doubles as a great insulator so this will do well in colder environments.
You might want to reinforce it with slightly sturdier materials lest a wolf comes to huff and puff and blow your house down.
The Hobbit House
A method of housing that has been around for centuries has recently made a comeback. The house in a hill or earth berm is essentially a house underground that is built into a natural hill. While the front entrance is exposed the rest of the structure is basically housed by the ground itself.
The earth berm is cozy and safe and comfortably off the grid. The only downside is, its quite complex to construct. Perfect for hobbits!
The Earth-Bag Home
Who thought you could build your house out of rice. That's right. Bags of rice or feed-bags filled with soil or dirt are good substitutes for bricks. These sturdy bags can be a perfect wall for a home and you could do it yourself.
It's a great way to use alternative materials. You can also make some pretty cool designs this way.
Recycle Your Bottles
The perfect option if you want to repurpose waste. The recycled bottle house might not be for everyone but it's a great way to save money and be environmentally friendly. It also has the potential to look super artistic.
if you want to take your recycling to the next level and have the patience, then build your house out of bottles. With a little time and effort, you can have your own home at virtually no cost.
The Geodesic Dome
These energy-efficient homes are super unique look like they're straight form the future. You might also be surprised that super easy to build. A Geodesic home can be as little as a few thousand dollars.
These funky domes will make you feel like you're living in a sci-fi film. They're stylish, incredibly designed, and are perfect for a minimalistic lifestyle.
Free Spirit Spheres
For the free spirits out there, because its in the name. This tiny house takes living tiny to a whole new level. A round tree-house that swings from the trees, you might be less inclined to entertain. But who needs that when being in your house is an adventure in of itself.
Aside from being super fun and unique, the Free Spirit Sphere house is inexpensive as it is an alternative.
Tree-House For Grown-Ups
Did you ever think that your childhood fantasy could come true as an adult? This might seem completely far-fetched, but there are people who are actually living in some pretty awesome treehouses out there.
It's inexpensive and probably the best way to immerse yourself right int nature. Be careful when you build it though, this isn't some after school hangout for kids.
Introducing the cob house. The most eco-friendly type of house that exists. It's also just terribly adorable to look at. The interior is also wonderful and looks kind of dream-like with its rounded curves and smooth walls.
Of course, it's also one of the cheaper housing options and you can totally do it yourself. With its sand and clay mixture, you will leave no carbon footprint. Expect to pay a few thousand dollars for the whole thing.
This sustainable home is known as the Earthship. It's not as dramatic as it sounds, even though it sounds like it could come straight out of Star Trek. It is perfect for those who are seeking an alternative lifestyle and don't know quite where to begin.
You can also enjoy the amazing selection of designs. They are architecturally mind-blowing.
Hemp Concrete House
Have you ever heard of a house built out of hemp? Did you even think it was possible? Apparently it is! If you can make wallets and bags out of hemp, it looks like you can build a house too. The hemp concrete is super sturdy and, as you may have guessed, completely environmentally friendly.
If you're eager about investigating non-traditional materials to build your home, this might be a viable option. This is not only for tiny houses. You can build a pretty substantial and large house with these materials.
While yurts are traditionally used in Mongolian, Siberian, or even Turkish communities, these kinds of homes have been taking hold in the west for quite some time. The collapsible tent is made out of animal skin or felt and is surprisingly firm and sturdy.
They are extremely inexpensive homes and decorated properly can be quite beautiful. If it gets a little cold, you can always insulate it.
Living in nontraditional housing can get rather isolated. Often you're on the road or in a secluded area in the middle of nowhere, not surrounded by many people. But it shouldn't have to be! Seeing as it's becoming so popular, many people have taken the liberty of creating communities in these alternative settings.
Often situated in outer city limits or deep in forests, people who would like to purchase large plots of land, combine their money and resources, and live together. This way the burden is shared by all.
Another form of community living, a Baugruppen is a little more specific in terms of who actually resides there. Generally, these communities are created out of common interests or a need of wanting to have a specific type of society.
These types of communities also tend to be a lot of hands-on and everyone looks out for each other. It works only if everyone is strictly in on it.
The Box-Car Home
Looking for more creative ways to create your perfect living situation? The box-car home is another idea that belongs to the ongoing list of non-traditional houses.
This Alaskan inspired housing method is extremely beautifully designed and amazingly cheap to do so. You can really go to town on creativity with these things, both interior and exterior wise.
Who thought this was even an option. These houses are constructed out reinforced styrofoam and can really survive most types of harsh weather.
People have turned these little houses into some seriously gorgeous homes too.
African Prefab House
For a house on a budget, the African Prefab House method is the way to go if you're trying to do some serious saving. The design may not be as artsy as other alternative houses out there, but it will certainly make for a nice and modest home.
The housing style is particularly popular across South Africa, so it may be slightly harder to come by in other countries. Still, if you can get your hands on those materials, you sure will have an adorable house.
Here's a method that involves a lot of time and a lot of passion. Buying and fixing up broken up old houses is a fantastic way to create the home of your dreams with existing foundations. And if you want to discover your inner designer, it's also the perfect route to go.
It's also a great starter home for a newly married couple and the perfect way to embark on a team project together. The appreciation value will also skyrocket over a few years, so bear that in mind.
The Pallet Home
Pallets just lie around unused all over the place. So some people have taken the liberty of actually repurposing them, and what better way to do that to actually build yourself a nature house from scratch. It costs next to nothing.
If you have a piece of land and a little money, a simple pallet house is ideal. It might not be the most permanent situation but if you're saving up for something bigger then this might be perfect.
Live In An Outbuilding
For less than $10,000 you can have a beautiful little outbuilding or cabin in the woods. The prefabricated materials are easy to assemble and available even on roadside highways.
Find your perfect little secluded spot for your home and reside in peace.
This is trend is growing increasingly popular in Germany. Take Nicolette Stewart, for example, who, in 2005 moved to Germany after quitting her office job. There she moved into a "wagenplatz" (trailer park) where she lived out of an old caravan.
She replaced the rotten boards, cleaned it up, installed some insulation and appliances, and voila, it became home. This sounds like a dream to many. What's even more incredible is that anyone can do it. If you have an appetite for the adventure of course.
Living in a Truck
Just like living in a wagon, bus, van, or RV, a truck is also a perfect option for living on the road super comfortably. A truck can accommodate as much as a small apartment can so you can cruise in total luxury.
They're chunky things to drive, so keep that in mind. It's the kind of thing you park and chill in for a few weeks, even months.
Living in a Storage Unit
It's certainly no permanent solution to living, but if you find yourself in a temporary housing crisis, this might be the perfect option. Sure, you might encounter some legal issues and be subject to eviction and complaints but if you get lucky and can stick it out, this is a super cheap option for decent housing.
You can save money on the side and eventually move out to a bigger and better place. Who knows, maybe you'll get comfortable and stay a little longer.
Homeless By Choice
Who needs vehicles, cabins, or little prefabricated huts when you can just hit the roads and take shelter anywhere! Living nomadically can be an adventure if you're careful of course. It's possible to find dwellings all over the place.
Just pack your sleeping bag and even yourself a trip. Food might be a little harder to come by. You might be an expert forager by the time you're done.
Seeking The New Norm
Whatever route or method you choose for your alternative lifestyle, make sure that effort and the costs fit exactly with your intentions.
Whether it be on the road in a simple van, hiding out in a picturesque village, or even just heading off by foot, the alternative lifestyle is definitely a cheap yet enriching experience that can work for anyone.