10 Myths About Alternative Living…debunked

Written by Freedom Strider

On April 22, 2019
10 Myths About Alternative Living…debunked

10 Myths About Alternative Living…debunked

by Apr 22, 2019

Alternative Living is not a new concept; it has been around for thousands of years and was once the norm, with pretty much everyone living in self-built homes.

Nonetheless, many questions spring to mind when it is mentioned, questions that must be answered in order for alternative living to be normalized and understood properly.


In a nutshell, alternative living is anything that questions the norm of what a ‘stereotypical normal home’ should be. Tiny Living, Vanlife, yurts, earth homes – all of these and more are classified as an alternate home. These homes are usually built for an individual to their specific needs, and encompass more eco-friendly ideas, along with often being a lot cheaper than conventional housing and mortgages.

After scouring the web, reading many blog posts and YouTube comment sections, along with doing our own market research, we came up with a list of ten questions that people were most concerned about alternate living.


Let’s crack this coconut, shall we?


Alternative Living is Not Legal.

The number one concern for most people when it comes to living in an alternate home (whether it be a tiny home, treehouse, yurt, campervan, spaceship, whatever…) is that is isn’t legal to do so.

The root of this myth comes from a huge truth: that the legality for alternate homes is not as clear-cut as it needs to be.

However, alternative living can be just as legal or illegal as living in your conventional house – all you need is the right paperwork.

In every country, there are many complicated rules and regulations on how to build regular homes. Everything, from whose permission you need to start building, to which types of people can submit home designs, to how high the building can be and what it is made from.

And if you try and stray from the regularized standard, you’ll be rejected and it is back to square one (not to mention all this costs a lot of money). Governments, councils, local authorities, whoever it is that you need approval from, often close down many perfectly good designs due to unknowns, or certain rules. Rules like building a yurt in a Spanish town will not “fit in” with its surroundings because it is not a white 3-story block of stone, thus, rejection.

Nonetheless, if people stopped at rejection and never pushed forward or sought to change rules, where would humanity be? Probably still rolling around in the mud…or eaten by lions.

Laws are not set in stone, so you shouldn’t be either. Find a way to make it work, whether that be to move to a new place, innovate and come to a comprise, or find another way around the problem.

Every country and authority is different, so it is difficult to summarize, but thousands of people in many countries legally live in structures not considered a standard home.

And if you’re building on wheels, campervans have existed nearly as long as cars, so living in any vehicle, whether that be a van, car or truck, is doable, it just takes research, ingenuity and an open mind (and often is less subject to building regulations).

Just because your home is a yurt, or on wheels, doesn’t make it illegal to live in. In the UK, your vehicle has to follow vehicle laws (be taxed, be roadworthy [i.e. have an MOT] and you have to have insurance), but nothing prohibits your ability to live in your vehicle, as long as you park it legally every night.


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Here is the complete overview of What alternative living is, Why it’s a good idea and How you can get the ball rolling.


Living in a Treehouse-Van-Tiny house isn’t Safe.

Let’s debunk this one quickly: it’s just as safe as living in a house, if not safer.

A house requires a key to enter, and usually has an alarm so if someone smashes through your windows (which let’s face it is not that difficult for someone to do if they were determined), the alarm sounds and calls the police.

Every alternate home can have exactly the same system – a key to enter and an alarm to protect against unwanted entry. Easy peasy.

In fact, for a home on wheels, vehicle glass is harder to break than regular house glass due to it needing to withstand crash impacts. Not to mention you can install tougher glass in any design. Plus, vans and trucks have metal doors – usually quite a bit stronger than the wooden doors which police always manage to bust through…

You can install extra security systems, including extra cameras and sensors, but those can be expensive so sometimes simple external deterrents can work as well, such as bio-hazard stickers. ;D

Furthermore, most people don’t actually hide their valuables away in draws and safes at home, relying solely on their house alarm, so most regular homes aren’t really that safe…

The only thing a regular house is safer in is the fact that someone can’t come in and hot-wire and drive away with your house, so with regular houses, you will not lose your parking spot.


I Don’t Know How to Build a House, so I Can’t go Alternative.

Chances are, any alternate home you’ve seen or heard about has been built, in part, by the homeowner.

You may be thinking to yourself “I’m not a builder, electrician, plumber, carpenter, engineer, architect or designer by trade, so I can’t go alternative” but here are 3 major points:

1. Neither are we.

2. You can learn.

3. Other people are….ask them ;D

If you don’t want to learn a specific trade, there are thousands of people who have, and you can use their services; there is nothing wrong with using tradesmen. There is also a growing number of companies which specialize in building alternate homes only. Of course, they would bump up your budget significantly, but still cheaper than a mortgage.

If you’re up for some learning, figuring out simple systems (like how to wire your house or simple plumbing) can be a great investment.

Despite some things needing approval from trained professionals (like if you were to wire your own house/van you still need a certified electricians stamp of approval for insurance purposes), laying the groundwork and doing the labor by yourself means you’re more able to repair things by yourself, which for us is a huge win.

As I mentioned above, if there is an obstacle, figure out a way to solve it…you can probably guess this will be a theme throughout the rest of this blog.

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‘To scale’ box template of the approximate loadable space in both Mercedes Sprinter and VW Crafter LWB.


Alternative Home Owners are Snobs; I don’t want to be a Snob.

Why thank you very much, thanks for letting me know who I am. ;D

I think this myth is mostly based upon a misunderstanding. There’s no doubt or question that people who live alternatively are usually quite passionate about their lifestyle – which often involves them talking a lot about it to people who are curious and ask…and most people ask. Since it’s quite an unknown territory, people often ask a lot of questions which results in long answers. Prepare your coffee cups now; you’re in for a lecture.

Nonetheless, it is often seen, as with other similarly unfamiliar lifestyle choices (such as homeschooling and veganism to name a few) that people on the receiving end sometimes (too often) take offence at what is being said.

Despite alternative living dwellers talking a lot about the multi-functionality of their home, or that fact that it only cost them $20,000 to build from scratch, it doesn’t mean they are saying it to cause offence. Nor are they looking down on you…nor are they insinuating that you are living your life the wrong way.

Whenever we share a part of what we are doing, we honestly wish to help with the issues presented to us. When people are seeking a solution and we have a relevant answer to do with alternative living as a solution, we approach it as a fun debate rather than “I’m right, you’re wrong, I’m big you’re small… and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

The alternative living community are honestly passionate about what they’ve done and wish to share it, the same as any person would when they’ve discovered something great. They won’t force their opinions upon you, the same way vegans don’t run up and question why you eat meat (aside from a very scarce minority, but every group has their crazies).

It is a fact that alternate homes use less power, are cheaper to build and maintain and often bring their owners more stability in terms of mental health (an aspect of our health that is largely ignored and undervalued) – hence their excitement. Also, living alternatively, as a general rule, is a catalyst for more awareness and personal growth. This is why we are happy and excited to share our knowledge, and we aren’t forcing our opinion upon everyone who asks, we are simply responding to their questions.


Alternative Living seems like too much work, you have to change your whole lifestyle.


Well…not really.

Alternate homes don’t require you to sell everything, move to a field and live in a house made from the most organic straw and only eat carrots grown from your poo…I mean, you can if you really want to, no one is stopping you…

Alternative living often requires a shift in perspective and mindset; a way of thinking outside the norm of mortgage and rent, so you can escape the endless money debt life-cycle and start something new. Alternative living, at its core, is about figuring out what you truly need to live. More eco-friendly housing, a smaller carbon footprint, portability, self-repairability and simpler living – these are all personal aspects on the core value behind it.

“I don’t want to have a minimalize down and sell everything I own.”

Well then don’t. You like your many, many clothes? Make your clothes a priority then, build a huge walk-in closet. Do you like a big kitchen? Then make it a priority and build a big kitchen.

“I don’t want to deal with composting toilets.” 

There are chemical and flushing toilets available.

“I don’t want to have to think about my water supply or electricity.”

Then build your home to connect to the grid or connect it to a big enough system where you don’t have to think about it. In our opinion, it’s best to be aware of your utility usage in any home you live, because it will save you money, but the choice is completely up to you.

That’s the beauty, you can take from it what you want – there’s no rulebook or guidelines.


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Here is the complete overview of What alternative living is, Why it’s a good idea and How you can get the ball rolling.


I have too much stuff; I don’t want to give up everything.

Then don’t. Simple. 🙂

We all have too much stuff – us included. If we all took the time to actually go through what we have, you will see that most of it is not needed. Like mentioned above, alternative living is all about finding out what you truly need. If you like having many things, you can build an alternate home to accommodate for that – build an epic library and storage room! If you wish to live in a smaller home, then it will require you to get rid of things (obviously), but not everything, just the things you don’t actually know you have until you decide to clean your room and find those things.

We travelled to New Zealand with two large rucksacks full of stuff. We lived in a converted car for 10 months and after selling it and we repacked, we had gained about 50% more than what we came to the country with, and most of it was not needed, nor did we miss anything we gave up (aside from our beloved car – we love you Bumi!).

The ultimate solution is to stop buying unneeded junk, but the first step is figuring out what you have and what you don’t need, so you don’t end up buying junk in the first place.

What one person needs is different from what the next person will need – so it is really about knowing yourself.


Alternate Homes are good for singles and couples, but not for families.

Says whom?

(apparently ‘whom’ is the correct way to say it but it still seems wrong to me, and the grammar Nazis would attack me if I hadn’t have put it).

Firstly, a little bit of perspective. Many families living in bigger cities usually live in very small apartments due to the cost of living being so high. Many of them don’t want to move, so they have started to make those smaller spaces more multi-functional to accommodate for their growing families.

The same principle applies when going ‘alternative’.


Whilst it is true that the majority of alternative homes dwellers are indeed either single or are a couple, that doesn’t mean that this type of lifestyle is not suited for larger families, with children of any age.

Whilst it takes more ingenuity to fit four adult sized people into a converted van, it is not impossible, and it doesn’t have to sacrifice comfort either. Or for a more spacious alternate home to fit people more comfortably, yurts are an excellent idea, or if you want to be on wheels, how about a double-decker bus? (we personally fancy converting a double-decker bus) 😀

From what I can tell, the world record for the number of people in a van is 51…that might be pushing it a little too far for comfort.

Examples of some larger families in alternative, smaller homes:

Family of 6, $1,000/ Month, 1 Tiny House

Family of 5’s Modern Tiny House Packed With Clever Design Ideas

BIG FAMILY… tiny house TOUR !

How 2 adults, 3 kids and 2 dogs live in 300 sq ft

RV TOUR Fulltime Family of 6 with HUGE BUNKHOUSE


I won’t be connected to the grid, how can I get electricity, water and gas?

Getting the mains out to remote locations can be difficult and expensive and then you have to pay for those services every month as well…what a bother…

Plus, if you’re on wheels, it’s not easy to be connected unless you are stationary.

Off-grid solutions are become increasingly popular, even for regular housing – solar for electric (or wind/hydro or generators for those without a lot of sun), rainwater collection and filtration systems for water and wood/electric/biofuel for gas and heating. Despite a more expensive initial cost, they often pay for themselves and all can provide enough power to keep your home running if you learn how to use them effectively.

The same principle applies when going ‘alternative’.


Whilst it is true that the majority of alternative homes dwellers are indeed either single or are a couple, that doesn’t mean that this type of lifestyle is not suited for larger families, with children of any age.


And also, let’s not forget that all these are more environmentally friendly as well. 😀

If you don’t have the knowledge to install these systems, you can learn it or find someone already pre-loaded with the know-how to help you out.

Start sketching Van Layout design ideas

‘To scale’ box template of the approximate loadable space in both Mercedes Sprinter and VW Crafter LWB.


There is no privacy, especially in tiny homes.

Well if you make it completely open plan, no there won’t.

Walls, lofts, outhouses, separators and curtains – there are plenty of ways to make more privacy, even in a small space. There is no doubt that you will be in close proximity to others in a smaller space (maths can’t be changed, otherwise you might be creating inter-dimensional wormholes in your van).

But again, customizability allows for personalization and if privacy is a big thing for you, build this into your design in a way that works for you. If you need to, go larger to encompass more privacy. Tiny comes in an array of sizes: nano, micro, miniature, petite, even American tiny…trucks are tiny too.

Alternative homes also often encourage you to spend more time outside, which is another way to gain privacy and more space. Plus, being outside benefits your physical and mental health too.


I’m still unsure

Alternative living is not a split second decision – it’s not like impulsively buying a new computer from Amazon, or spending 3 hours watching funny cat videos on YouTube. It takes time, dedication and a shift in perspective – like looking through a new lens.

All these myths and many more are in place because the regulations behind alternative living aren’t cemented in place – just the same way road rules weren’t invented until the first cars came to be.

These myths are questions you don’t have to think about in regular housing because the rules are already set in stone and there’s nothing you can, easily, do about them, that’s the way they are. For alternative living, we can help shape the rules together by asking questions and solving problems.