Weird ways to live cheap

Tree house built for children
Tree house built for children (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I was little, one of the books that it seemed like everyone had read was the Boxcar Kids. It seemed like every little kid that I knew dreamed of something happening to their parents and running to the nearest woods to find an ancient rail car and to make it into the coolest hide out that you’ve ever seen.

Right now, it’s really trendy to take something never meant to be a house and making a home out of it. There are the “little houses,” which are souped up trailers that are halfway between a mobile home and a tree house. There are actual tree houses, like the hotels that are popping up all over the world that let you sleep among the canopy. There are Earth ships, and houses that can be printed and put together within the week. Those have become known, they lack the edgy newness of the trends that are ahead of their time. But, there are more.


These homes are made out of things that you may have, but not have a use for. For instance, a box car. Or, several hundred bales of hay that don’t have a horse. How about some pallets that you don’t need anymore? They can use them, and many more things to build into your forever home. And, as a plus side for us college kids, it’s cheap to make them!

“If you are looking for an alternative shelter for your property, there are many options available,” said Survival Spot. “I picked some of my favorite alternative housing options for consideration when planning a bug out home, storage unit or improvised shelter.”

Boxcar House (via Tumblr)

Survival Spots types of alternative houses are:

  1. Box cars – Shipping containers cost a little bit more than some of the other methods mentioned in this post, however their durability more than makes up for the cost. some amazing homes have been built out of shipping containers.
  2. Straw – Building structures using straw bales can be surprisingly affordable, and a lot more comfortable that you might think. A wide variety of structures can be created with the help of straw, everything from a small storage unit to a large family home.
  3. Pallets – Pallets are cheap or free in most places, so it’s no wonder they have become popular materials in alternative building. Your house won’t be a fortress, but it would certainly work for temporary survival.
  4. Earth Berm – You don’t have to be a hobbit to have a house like one. People all over the world have utilized earth berm home building for it’s amazing cost, insulation and protection from the weather.
  5. Earth Bags – Using earth bags to build a home is one of the oldest methods for creating a shelter. Dirt insulates well, is everywhere and usually won’t cost you a dime. While an earth bag structure can be very durable, they have less durability than many other types of structures.
  6. Bottles – The green revolution has spouted several building types that would normally be ignored. The recycled bottle structure is an eco-friendly and beautifully unique type of home. And of course, the materials are very and cheap and possibly free.
  7. Geodesic domes – The dome has always been a powerful structure considering it’s relatively cheap cost and simple building process. The open space in domes helps air flow throughout the house, giving it a very consistent temperature. Domes are also very resistant to wind
    Free Spirit Spheres (via Tumblr)

    and heavy snow because of their uniform strength. You could buy or build a geodesic dome in almost no time at all.

  8. Free Spirit Spheres – What do you get when you mix tree houses and spheres? You get one awesome looking “free spirit sphere”, aka the tree house for adults. While they’re pricey compared do a DIY project, a free spirit sphere could be a great getaway cabin or backup housing unit.
  9. Tree House – The kid in all of us has dreamed of having an amazing treehouse, complete with all the necessities of living. Some pretty amazing (and hidden) tree houses can be made with limited budget and training.

Would you live in any of these structures? Are there any alternative homes that we missed? Let us know in the comments!!

Collegian Blogger Sarah Ross can be reached online at or on Twitter at @HowSarahTweets. Read more of her content on or at under Music. Leave a comment!