Is a Shepherd’s Hut Technically One of the Oldest RVs?

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A blue Shepherd's Hut outside

Shepherd’s huts, also known as gypsy caravans or vardos, have a long history and have recently gained popularity.

While they may not have the same amenities and technology as modern RVs, the concept of portable and self-contained living space is the same. 

Whether you see them as a piece of history or a contemporary solution to alternative living, shepherd’s huts offer a unique and appealing option for those looking for a mobile and self-sufficient lifestyle. 

So is a shepherd’s hut one of the oldest RVs? Let’s find out!

What Is a Shepherd’s Hut?

A shepherd’s hut is a small, portable cabin or dwelling. As their name indicates, shepherds in the United Kingdom and throughout Europe originally used them.

The shepherds would take the huts to remote areas and use them for shelter and living while tending to their flocks. However, modern shepherd huts are much more luxurious than shepherds enjoyed centuries ago.

About Shepherd’s Hut

Shepherd’s huts have a long history, dating back many centuries. The huts were originally designed to provide basic shelter and a place for shepherds to rest and sleep. They often had a stove and other essential supplies.

Their use declined in the mid-20th century as shepherding wasn’t as necessary. However, in recent years, shepherd huts have begun to become popular again. 

Like tiny homes in the United States, their compact size, mobility, and rustic charm make them a popular choice for people who want to embrace a minimalist lifestyle. They are now commonly used as vacation homes, guesthouses, and studios.

A green Shepherd's Hut outside

Do Shepherd Huts Have Toilets and Showers?

With many people looking to embrace tiny living, it’s no wonder that shepherd huts have  increased in popularity. While the original huts may not have had toilets or showers, many modern ones do. 

You can find several options from manufacturers who build flushing toilets into their units. Whether you buy one for yourself or rent one for a relaxing weekend, modern huts work great for a short-term stay.

Pros of a Shepherd’s Hut

When you scroll through social media with posts featuring shepherd’s huts, it’s easy to see why people like them. Let’s look at a handful of the benefits of these unique shelters.

Affordable Full-Time Housing

When it comes to affordable housing options, a shepherd’s hut is one of the best options.

A fully loaded shepherd’s hut can cost around $40,000. This would feature a double bed, storage compartments, wood burning stove, a shower room, a kitchenette, a sink, a small fridge, and a workspace. 

While this may not be large enough for a family, you could easily live in one. Will it take some adjustment from a standard home? Absolutely. However, it’s no different than those who embrace vanlife or RVing.

Encourage Minimalist Lifestyle

Many people want to buck society’s trend of embracing consumerism and choose a minimalistic lifestyle instead. The shepherd’s hut makes it easy to embrace living with less because you don’t have space for extras. 

As Marie Kondo has preached for years, you must evaluate what items bring you joy and eliminate the rest. In a society where it’s common for people to rent storage units because they have so much stuff, the minimalist lifestyle can be freeing.

Getting rid of unnecessary items in your life can be a powerful experience.


One of the great things about shepherd’s huts is that they’re portable. They feature cast iron wheels, which means you can move them around on your property or to a new home if you decide to sell. 

They don’t move as easily as American RVs, but their design makes it possible to move them if needed.

A green Shepherd's Hut outside


Many manufacturers of shepherd huts provide a generous amount of customization. Customers often have flexibility in the materials used and some design changes. 

Additionally, you can easily do DIY renovations. You can personalize your tiny home to fit your unique style and personality. Whether this means using specific types of wood, fixtures, or color schemes, the possibilities are endless.

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Versatile Use

Shepherd’s huts have been incredibly versatile from the start. Due to their relatively small size, you can easily maneuver them into spots.

It may surprise you where you can take your tiny home and park it. They’re one of the most versatile tiny homes you can find.

And you have practically infinite possibilities for how you use them. They’re perfect for short-term guests, extra workspace for remote working, or full-time living. How you use them is completely up to you!

Cons of a Shepherd’s Hut

While there are many things to love about these unique dwellings, there are also some drawbacks. Before you get too far, you’ll need to consider the negatives to avoid buyer’s remorse.

Minimal Space

A shepherd’s hut is the definition of a tiny home. While their sizes can vary, almost all measure less than 200 square feet. Even if you plan to spend most of your time alone in the unit, tiny living can become very challenging. 

Embracing the minimalist lifestyle requires tremendous organization and careful thought as to the items you allow into your space.

These can feel spacious when shopping or walking through them. However, it can feel like the walls close in on you once you start adding your possessions. 

If you plan to make it your full-time residence, there could be times when you’ll spend multiple days stuck inside due to the weather. If you’re not careful, this could play some very challenging mental games with you.

Many Lack Insulation

Because of their smaller size and inexpensive construction, like RVs, many shepherd’s huts lack insulation. This can make it challenging to control the climate during cooler and hotter temperatures. 

Depending on where you live, this can make for a miserable experience and make it hard to enjoy yourself.

While you may love the look and feel of a shepherd’s hut, the local government might not agree. Similar to RVs, the laws regarding using them as residential dwellings can get tricky. 

Some classify these huts as secondary dwellings, which may require approval from zoning or building code committees. It’s best to check the local rules and regulations before purchasing. If not, you could make a costly financial mistake.

An old Shepherd's Hut

Continual Maintenance

If you want your shepherd’s hut to last for years, you need to do regular maintenance on it. This means cleaning and painting the exterior regularly, maintaining the roof to avoid leaks, checking electrical and plumbing systems, and inspecting the flooring and windows. 

Owners who properly maintain their units can use them for decades. However, putting off or ignoring maintenance tasks can drastically reduce the life of your unit. If you’re not careful, you could find it crumbling in only a few years.

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Is a Shepherd’s Hut Worth It?

A shepherd’s hut can work great as a place to disconnect and escape the world or simply for tiny living. You can customize the space to have a look and feel that makes it easy to relax. 

In addition, you can park them just about anywhere to enjoy the view and the sounds of nature. What’s not to love about that? 

Overall, we think a shepherd’s hut can be a great purchase for many reasons. What do you think about these ancient mobile homes?

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