Home > Moving > Moving Guides and Tips > 13 Unique Temporary Housing Ideas
Camper van parked on side of the road in mountains

13 Unique Temporary Housing Ideas

Looking for temporary housing solutions? Whether you need short-term accommodations while building or renovating your house, while you’re between leases with rental homes, or because you’re moving to a new city, there are plenty of cool temporary living options available! From tiny houses and van living to Airbnbs and extended stay hotels, check out these 13 alternative housing ideas!

Downsize to a Tiny House

Give tiny homes a try! While minimalist living might not be your dream forever, a temporary tiny house or shipping container home could be great if you’re looking for long-term affordable housing options.

Macy Miller of MiniMotives built a 196-square foot tiny home before upsizing to a 232-square foot design to make a bit more space for her growing family. Her advice for anyone thinking of tiny home living—whether permanently or temporarily—is to start downsizing well before the move-in date.

“We’re trained to hang onto everything ‘in case,’” Miller said. “There is nothing that isn’t replaceable, but you can be comfortable, happier even, with a lot less than you think you can.”

Try a Tiny Home on Wheels

If you’re trying to figure out where to live while you move cross-country, a tiny home on wheels could be perfect! The best part of this short-term housing option is that you can travel while heading to your next destination.

That’s what Jenna Spesard of Tiny House Giant Journey did. On top of the flexibility to live anywhere without a mortgage, Spesard also enjoyed the cost savings and experimentation that came with her own solution to small space living.

She towed her tiny house over 25,000 miles, visiting more than 30 states and five Canadian provinces before settling down in Oregon.

Invest in an Airstream

Maybe a tiny home on wheels isn’t ideal for your situation. Consider upgrading to an Airstream! This is a cool temporary housing solution that also allows you to get in on the van life trend without sacrificing space or amenities.

This extra room is why the Curren Family chose an Airstream when they decided they wanted to spend more time exploring and adventuring as a family. “We find that the cost of living on the road is similar to living in a house,” said Jess Curren. “Instead of paying a mortgage, we have campground fees, higher gas, and more expensive groceries.”

While any children along for the ride will have to let go of typical extracurriculars like soccer and dance, they can trade them in for activities like whitewater rafting and visiting one-of-a-kind museums!

Search Form Find an Extra Space Storage facility near you

Consider Living in a Camper Van

Man strapping surfboard to camper van. Photo by Instagram user @followthesol

Photo via @followthesol

Love the idea of living on the road but don’t have the skills or budget to invest in a tiny home on wheels or an Airstream? Maybe you only need your temporary home for a couple weeks? Opt for a camper van!

Malea and Raphaël Harmel of Follow the Sol have found a more permanent housing solution in their 1985 Volkwagen Vanagon Westfalia camper van. “By living the van life, it’s easy to stop in the middle of nowhere—for example, in front of a deserted beach, surrounded only by the ocean and coconut trees,” they said.

Their top budget tips include buying local SIM cards with data to avoid roaming fees when driving through foreign countries and using the iOverlander app to find spots to sleep.

Explore with a Sprinter Van

Sprinter van parked in mountains. Photo by Instagram user @advanture.co

Photo via @advanture.co

Another mobile short-term living option, a sprinter van allows you to travel, have somewhere to sleep, and potentially make money on the road! That’s what happened for Brandon Nelson, who lived in a converted sprinter van for two years.

Rather than paying rent or a mortgage, Nelson decided to invest more in his van. He built it out as he went, adding cabinets and a counter from refurbished wood. Soon enough, all of his friends wanted what he had, so he launched Advanture.co on Instagram to post pictures of his van and other vans he admired.

When Nelson started getting inquiries from people looking for him to convert their vans, he decided to turn Advanture.co into a van conversion company based out of Santa Cruz.

Set Up Camp in a Cargo Van

If you’re interested in temporary RV living but don’t have the necessary funds for such a big vehicle, consider a cargo van instead! This unique place to live is an awesome short-term housing option, especially if you want to test out what living on the road is like without spending as much to get started.

After leaving his full-time job, Ross Lukeman converted a cargo van into a small RV to lower expenses, explore new places, and work full-time on his Alternative Homes Today business venture.

Lukeman recommends looking for discounted vans that have been used by short-term rental companies for van dwelling. “Put some effort into adding amenities, such as solar power, insulation, and a small refrigerator,” he said. Lukeman also recommends investing in a nationwide gym membership for showers, as well as adding a small food prep area to the van to cut down on dining out.

Go with a Teardrop Camper

Have a truck or SUV that can pull a small camper? A teardrop camper is a more affordable non-permanent living structure that allows you to live on the road.

Valerie and Jessi of Happy Camper Wives suggest choosing camp stops close to grocery stores to avoid spending money on dining out—just remember to bring sturdy kitchen utensils like plastic or steel so they won’t need to be replaced anytime soon.

“Find remote work, learn to boondock, and research money-saving techniques,” Valerie said. She also encourages utilizing long-term stay RV parks, especially in the winter because you can get a lower monthly rate or stay for free if you work/camp.

Embrace Nature in a Tent

If you’re looking for cheap temporary housing, there are few options more budget-friendly than roughing it in a tent! While this lifestyle isn’t for everyone, it can be great for those who love nature and adventure. This idea is also great for people who only need housing for a very short period.

For Richard and Laura Pawlowski of 2 Years in a Tent, temporarily living in a tent allowed them to camp in 15 national parks and get out of debt, as well as get physically healthier. “We re-energized our life, both spiritually and financially,” they said.

They suggest utilizing a roof-top carrier to store tools and equipment if you plan to turn your temporary living situation into a more permanent lifestyle. If you’re a senior citizen, you can save even more money by going to national parks and monuments, as well as U.S. Forest Service campgrounds that offer up to half-off for seniors.

Rent a Room in Someone’s Home

White and gray bedroom in Hermosa Beach, CA house. Photo by Instagram user @shryne_design

Photo via @shryne_design

Finding a room for rent is a budget-friendly and convenient solution to your temporary living woes. While this option requires sacrificing some privacy and square footage, it provides an opportunity to meet new people and save money.

For Laurence and Jessica Norah of Finding the Universe, renting a basement room in the Bay Area they found on Craigslist was the ideal solution to their temporary housing needs before moving to Europe. Their advice to others is to consider every option presented.

“Sometimes, something that doesn’t look like it’s going to work on paper can be made to work,” they said. “If you’re lucky, you might be able to find somewhere to stay at a fraction of the cost in return for a bit of dog walking or plant watering.”

Test Out an Extended Stay Hotel

Extended stay hotels are an ideal option for temporary dwelling between moves or while you’re renovating your permanent residence. Not only can you get cheaper weekly or monthly rates here, but finding a fully furnished home can save you time decorating or arranging while you house-hunt as well.

This is what Leigh Wilson of Campfires & Concierges did for six weeks when she moved from Seattle to Chicago. While she’s  opted to live a more nomadic life now, her advice applies to everyone: “My best tip for doing this is to downsize and practice minimalism before you enter into this situation.”

Wilson also recommends selling things you no longer need on sites like Facebook or Craigslist to make some extra cash before bouncing around between homes.

Book an Airbnb

Airbnb rental house on Great Mackerel Beach. Photo by Instagram user @airbnb

Photo via @airbnb

Another great option if you’re looking for a furnished rental is Airbnb. This is one of the best temporary housing options because you can decide whether you want a shared room, a private suite, or an entire home for yourself.

Bonnie Truax and Trinity Montero of 43BlueDoors have been able to make living in Airbnbs work by opting for small spaces and living below their means. “We have had some good luck with newly-created listings that had no reviews yet,” they shared. “Sometimes, they offer lower rates at first to build up their reviews.”

Other top budget tips include making sure your Airbnb has access to a kitchen to save money on meals and doing a test night at each location if you plan to stay for more than a month. That way, you can be certain it’s a good fit and negotiate a lower rate if you’re staying for a while.

Sublet a Studio Apartment

If you’re looking for temporary affordable housing but don’t want to sacrifice your privacy, consider renting or subleasing a small studio apartment. While you might sacrifice a full-size fridge and have to deal with more cramped living spaces, you’ll likely be able to afford a space of your own in bigger cities.

More free time, less stress, and saving money is why Felice Cohen lived in a 90-square-foot apartment in New York City for five years. “You’ll be amazed at the money you save from not wasting it on stuff that you didn’t really need or want,” she said.

For Cohen and others who’ve tried out the micro-apartment lifestyle, they found that it’s much cheaper when it comes to paying for heating, air, and other utilities.

Get Off the Grid in a Cabin

Cabin in the middle of the woods. Photo by Instagram user @cabinbuds

Photo via @cabinbuds

A cabin could be the perfect short-term option for you! While cabin sizes vary, many people downsizing from a home will find cost-savings and perhaps even inspiration to live with less!

For Roy Barker, selling a large home allowed him to let go of things he really didn’t need. “I got rid of 95 percent of what I had accumulated over the last 40 years,” he said. “I brought about 25 percent of the clothes I had, my laptop, bed, and put a few things in storage.”

Carefully planning meals helped Barker make the most of a smaller fridge, as did using wheeled carts for storage while living in a small cabin space.

Ready to find your short-term housing solution? Check out these websites to find temporary homes now!


Need a place to temporarily store belongings while between houses or traveling? Extra Space Storage has convenient storage facility locations across the country. Find cheap storage units near you!

Pinterest Graphic: Temporary Housing: 13 Unique Ideas