Is an Airstream Worth the Money?

Is an Airstream Worth the Money? |

Recently I was nerding out on my site, looking at some of the statistics and I noticed in my search box, someone had typed in the question: “Is an Airstream worth the money?” And like any good question, it got me thinking. Good, hard, breakthrough-in-the-shower style thinking. Is an Airstream truly worth the high price tag?

Let me be the first to say that I love the Airstream brand and style. It’s iconic, it’s stylish, it’s Americana at it’s finest. And I truly believe that Airstreams are well-designed. 65% of all the Airstreams ever built are still on the road. That’s a true testament to their staying power.

The Airstream style was what truly convinced me to live full-time in a RV. I hate to admit this, but I can be a bit superficial and my home’s style is very important to me. Three years ago, I don’t think if I would have been easily convinced to live full-time in a RV if we bought a beat-up Winnebago.

It’s important to mention that we got an unbelievable deal on our Airstream. We bought it for $5,000 and fixed it up for about $1,500. I am well aware that most people aren’t going to be able to score a kind of deal like that. And if you are buying a new Airstream, well, you are way out of my league. (And quite frankly, most people’s league.) A new Classic model Airstream starts at $135,600. In the area where I live, $135,000 would buy a small house. If you can afford to buy a new Airstream, go for it!

But if you can’t, an Airstream is a not a requirement of this lifestyle. I would never, ever tell people to go into debt to buy an Airstream, or even a RV. That defeats the point. What’s truly important is living below your means and getting on track for a more minimal, manageable and enjoyable life. (You can read the original story about why we decided to live in a RV here.)

If all you can afford is a beat up camper and you can make it a comfortable home for yourself, I say, go for it. Living in a RV has given me so much. It’s made me less superficial. It’s made me realize what’s truly important in life. It’s helped me to save money and it’s helped me to truly live more.

The Airstream isn’t the important part. I named this blog, A Small Life for a reason. It’s not An Airstream Life. It’s about learning to live with less and gaining more in the process.

Do you agree? As always, feel free to chat with me in the comments.
love, melanie

Update:  I wrote a book! “The Ultimate Guide to Living Full Time in an RV, Airstream or Motorhome” will show you how live a smaller, happier life in an untraditional home. This is an interactive guide designed to help you plan your journey to smaller living with worksheets and useful tips. Get it here!

19 thoughts on “Is an Airstream Worth the Money?

  1. Raissomat

    135’000$ is 1/2 a downpayment on a small/medium house here in Switzerland..crazy!!!!
    Personally I’d be ok to live in something REALLY ugly from the outside, as long as the inside is cosy and well made!

    1. melanie Post author

      Move here! Hahaha. Yeah, $135,000 where I live won’t get you a pretty house or even a very nice one, but it’ll get you a house.

  2. Elizabeth Vega

    Completely in agreement with you that living within one’s means takes priority over style any day… although with enough patience, creativity and hard work, it’s possible to do both.

    Airstream deals do exist: a friend of ours has done essentially what you have, finding an old one for a good price and fixing it up herself. We’ve also got friends who have restored old Shasta trailers, and we’re working on converting a school bus into an RV/tiny house!

    But I also know what you mean about how having a lovely environment makes frugal living so much easier. A little beauty goes a long way in combatting “frugal fatigue!”

    1. Emily

      I found this comment to be extremely accurate. “A little beauty goes a long way in combatting “frugal fatigue!” My husband and I have been living full time in an 34ft 1985 Avion, which is aluminum like an airstream but far less expensive and beautifully made. We have been able to update a few things and decorate it so it suits our tastes. The equivalent airstream of this year would be double the cost to buy, due to the name brand. Either way, though, I fell in love with airstreams and avions because of the classy lines and curves. Living in a box style trailer would not have been as appealing to me.

    2. melanie Post author

      You’re right, good deals are out there, I was just thinking about my friends overseas and out west where Airstreams can be very expensive due to demand. Good luck on your school bus build!

  3. rachel brown

    We recently bought an older airstream and began living in it and we did not get even that close of a deal on her, but honestly she makes me smile overtime I pull up to her and that is worth a boatload of money to me! Your ‘stream is so cool! We are headed back to home at the end of the month for the holidays and to give our girl a “face lift.” Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. Natalie

    We are living month to month and sinking. We are wanting to downsize & get an RV to live in. If we can get the monthly payments for less than our monthly rent, would you still be against going in debt to make the jump? We have a 2 year old. I found a RV with 3 separate rooms and that’s more than we have in our 1 bedroom apartment. I’m so tired of paying so much for it. We will have to move in about 10 months to a two bedroom apartment because there is three of us. (Weird rule about only 2 people per bedroom) but that means more money to pay for rent. It seems better to get out now while she is little & we don’t have more kids. We will never get out of debt at the rate we are going. I think if we live with less we will be so much happier & free. And if we have a smaller space it will force us to be more frugal & minimalistic. Love your blog!!! Thanks for your time!

    1. melanie Post author

      Hi Natalie,
      That’s tough. I would never want to make such a big decision for you, but I would say to consider the other costs outside of the RV monthly payments. You’ll have to find a place to park it so you might have to pay rent on land for the RV, electricity or propane costs, water, food, etc., etc. Living in an RV can be cost effective, but only if you are smart about it. Good luck!

  5. Steffen Smith

    I want to find an Airstream that I can pull with my Dodge Conversion Van. I don’t want the super long one because it’s just me. I think that if I can live in a well insulated Airstream, I truly believe I can find inner peace. I was raised on 135 Acre farm. When both my parents died, my sister’s wrote her will and excluded me from it…there were 5 of us…2 boys and 3 girls.i was married twice and divorced twice. Both cheated on me. It’s been 6 years now on the singles boat again and I’m not looking for a mate. If God wants me to have another woman in my life, he will arrange it. I need inner peace. That’s why I want an Airstream. An Airstream is well worth the money and I feel I deserve one. I’m 58 and look 40. I have a lot of life to live and I’m ready to travel and see life in an Aitstream!!!

  6. Stan

    Just picked up a 1970 23 foot airstream I am about 4 months into my rebuild but it will be worth everything. It has already made me very happy, can not wait to get on the road, hoping spring time.2018. By the way I got this little jewel for Free. some one show me how and I will post pictures. Stan

  7. Catherine lacrosse

    Oh my gosh! I just bought the exact same airstream (minus the blue carpet!). We have the same bathroom and everything. It’s so overwhelming now that it’s in my front yard. I can’t wait to read more of your blog.
    Thanks for the writing and sharing.

  8. Stewart Bowland

    As a mechanical designer I’ve offended wondered if another company couldn’t compete against Airstream with a comparable product offering but at a more reasonable price? I live in Canada and with today’s exchange rate ($1US = $1.22 CDN) I’d think it would be viable. They need some competition.

    1. melanie Post author

      I know there’s been competition to the Airstream in the past, but most of the companies have gone under. There’s even some companies now that try to compete, but the look is different. I believe Airstream has their style patented. I think if you really want to live in a trailer, looks and style shouldn’t stop you.

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