I get a lot of questions about the logistics of living in an Airstream. Let me be the first to say, the logistics are going to be different for everyone because everyone’s life is different. You might have two kids or five dogs. You might be retired. You might work from home. There are all kinds of logistics that will make your life different from mine. That being said, people are often interested in the true cost of living in an Airstream. Today I’m going to be answering the question: “How much does it cost to live in an Airstream?” by sharing what it costs for us to live in the Airstream.
If you aren’t familiar with our situation, let me give you a refresher. Hi! I’m Melanie. I am a librarian at a community college and I run this blog. I live with my husband, George who is an artist and our small (11 lb) dog, Bambi in our 1978 Airstream Sovereign. We currently have our Airstream parked on family land due to my traditional job situation. Here’s a breakdown of our monthly living costs and the reasoning behind the costs.
We do not pay traditional rent to park our Airstream. George’s family owns a small plot of land, about 5 acres, that we park the Airstream on. We don’t pay traditional rent, but we do a good deal of chores in exchange for the land. George’s parents are getting older and he helps them almost daily with tasks around their house. He picks up their mail at a P.O. box, he walks their dog and he has helped his dad install a fireplace, among other things. I usually help them with computer-related tasks. 🙂
We get our water from a well, hence the cost. In the ’70s, George’s uncle had a traditional single-wide trailer on the lot, so the water and utilities have already been set up. We feel very lucky to have this, but that should not deter you from living in an Airstream. There are a lot of people who live on the road in Airstreams, they park in friend’s backyards or they live at a campground or mobile home park, like my friend Amber. The person who sold us the Airstream actually lived in it on a farm! If I didn’t have a traditional job where I physically have to be at work everyday, then we would have definitely considered living on the road and in campgrounds. (If you are curious about our bathroom situation, click here.)
Electricity costs for us vary widely. In the fall and in the spring, we have to use very little air conditioning or heat, therefore, our costs are low. On the other hand, during the winter and summer, our electricity costs skyrocket. I will be the first to say that our Airstream is not very energy efficient. The windows are old and as much as I sealed them, they still let out a lot of cold/warm air. The body of the Airstream is also a reflector. During the summer it heats up quickly. (Read more about how we stay warm.)
Since we are fixed in one location, we converted the Airstream to run on electricity, not on propane, like many of the mobile Airstreams. We made this decision because we knew we would be in one location for a long period of time. We also knew that propane, if used incorrectly, could potentially be dangerous. We wanted to make sure we were as safe as possible.
We’ve been looking into solar panels as a possibility to save money in the long-run, but I still need to do more research. (If you are interested, here are the solar panels I’ve been looking at: Goal Zero Yeti 400 Solar Generator Kit w/Nomad 20 Solar Panel.*)
Since George works from home and I run this blog, Internet is crucial for us. We use our phones as “Hot Spots” for our computer’s Internet, so we use a lot of data. As more places get Wi-fi, I think this will be less of a problem or cost, but it is what it is. I’m not too mad about it considering our other costs are low.
Trash: Gas milage
We take our trash to a local dump, it is inconvenient and time-costly, but it’s an aspect of country life that I thought was worth mentioning.
P.O. Box: $68.00 (annually)
I’ve always lived in cities or towns, so having a P.O. box was a completely new thing for me. I don’t love it. It causes a lot of shipping issues. It’s a headache. We have to go “into town” to get the mail and many companies won’t ship to a P.O. box. It also costs $68.00 a year for a 5″x5.5″ box, but we live in the country and no one delivers mail to our Airstream. So it is what it is.
General repairs: Vary
I wanted to mention this category because although living in an Airstream has been cheaper than living in a traditional home, it also has come with some very home-like repairs. Our air conditioner recently broke, so we had to replace it. That cost about $600. Our hot water heater also broke— another $600. We save money each month just in case a costly repair rears it’s ugly head.
Other non-Airstream stuff: Car payments, gas, food, gym membership, etc.: Varies
Although we’ve eliminated some of the biggest money sucks like rent and water, we still have living costs. We still have to eat and put gas in our cars. I’d love to whittle down some of these costs one day, but for now they stand.
I hope this was enlightening! If you have any more questions, feel free to shoot me an email. You might even be featured in a future post!