Have you ever heard the saying, “You can have things fast, cheap or easy, but you can’t have all three?” I’m not 100% sure that’s the exact saying, but that iteration would be the short version of why we chose to live in an Airstream instead of a tiny house. But lucky for you, I’m going to tell you the long version of the story like a grandma who has had too much wine.
Before I get into the knitty-gritty of our choice, I want to preface this post by saying that I do consider our home a tiny home, just as I would consider tiny homes built on trailers “RVs”. Honestly, I don’t think labels are important. What’s important is spreading the message about smaller, happier homes. Alright! End of rant.
When we started this journey three years ago (OMG, THREE YEARS!), tiny houses weren’t really a thing. Or, if they were a thing, I didn’t know about it. And maybe I’m not giving myself enough credit, but I didn’t have the imagination to imagine the existence or explosion of the tiny house movement. However, if I had to make the choice again, I would still choose an Airstream over a tiny house due to our limited time and budget.
We had about 3 months to create a working home. I had just landed a new job in a new city. And that job was (and is) a full-time, traditional job, so it was important for us to quickly create a home. George, my husband, was transitioning to working for himself, so his time was more flexible. That being said, he did not have time to stop working completely. We had already moved out of our previous home and we were living temporarily with my in-laws, so we were feeling the pressure to have our own place. An Airstream already had the foundation of a home. We didn’t have to research how to build a home from the ground-up. Yes, we did some research on how to fix the AC or how to fix the stinky smell in our pipes, but we already had a some-what-usable bathroom and a kitchen. And that’s the important part!
When George and I started this journey, we were newly married and cash-strapped. We had about $5,000 in the bank. That’s it. We knew we needed to stop living paycheck-to-paycheck. We took a huge (to me) risk by investing the $5,000 to buy the Airstream, but the risk has paid off. As we worked, we used that money to renovate the Airstream. (It cost about $1,500 to renovate the Airstream and you can read about that process here.) We used parts from the Airstream, stuff from our old home, and reclaimed materials to renovate our home on the cheap. We could not have built a traditional tiny home in three months for $6,500. I’ve seen a wide range of tiny house costs online, but according to a few articles I’ve found, like this one, $25,000 is about average. And if we had more time, I guarantee, we could have spent less in our remodel.
Now the question is, if I had unlimited time and a bigger budget would I still chose to live in an Airstream over a tiny house? And the answer is… I don’t know. I love our Airstream and I’m super proud of it. On the other hand, I’d like the challenge of building a tiny house and I’d like to truly customize a home to our needs. But in my world, as in most people’s worlds, there will always be limited time and limited budgets.
What would you chose– a tiny house or an Airstream? Talk to me in the comments!