Frequently Asked Questions

Airstream Front View copy 1. Do you really live in the Airstream… like all the time?
Yep! We live in the Airstream in the stifling heat of summer and the bone chilling cold of winter. In case of an emergency (like a hurricane), we’ll go to a relative’s house nearby. But other than that, we’re in it the whole time!

2. Why?!
Despite all of our luck and hard work, we felt that couldn’t get ahead financially. We still lived paycheck to paycheck when we moved into our Airstream. We knew that if our rent and other bills stayed the same, we we wouldn’t be able to buy a house in the foreseeable future and my husband, George wouldn’t able to pursue his art full-time. We saw an endless cycle of debt in front of us and it was much less terrifying to live in a tiny trailer than to take on massive debt.

3. When did you move into the Airstream?
We moved into the Airstream in August of 2013 and we’re still here!

4. How large is your home?
Our Airstream is a 31ft. Airstream Sovereign. The inside is approximately 188 square feet. (For more info about how we manage to live in such a small space, check out: How we live in 188 square feet.)

5. Are you parked or do you travel?
Right now we are parked in order to save money. We would love to travel with the Airstream one day.

6. Where are you parked?
We are parked on land owned by my husband’s family. It is a beautiful farmed and wooded plot. We stay on the land in exchange for chores.

7. Where do you do laundry?
We have very gracious relatives who let us do laundry at their house in exchange for chores around the house.

8. Do you have electricity?
Yup, sure do! The land that we are on previously housed a trailer about 30 years ago. We simply hooked into the pre-existing grid.

9. How do you stay warm or cool?
You can read more about how we heat and and cool the Airstream here. I’ve also given some actionable tips on how we stay warm and toasty here.

10. How do you get the Internet?
Our iPhones provide us with the Internet which is essential. I couldn’t blog and George couldn’t do his art without it. It’s been a bit more expensive to use our phones as hotspots instead of having a direct Internet connection through an Internet or phone provider. (Our phone contracts are through Verizon, if you are curious.) It’s the best option we’ve found so far because of the excellent coverage Verizon provides. And paying for extra data is still much less cheaper than rent. You can read more about the technology we use here.

11. How do you deal with the sewage “situation”?
Again, the land that we are on previously housed a trailer about 30 years ago. The trailer had a septic tank and we just hooked up to that!

12. How do you receive mail?
We have a P.O. box at the local post office.

13. How much did your Airstream cost?
Our Airstream was $5,000 and we spent about $1,500 on fixing her up. Read more about our buying story here.

14. How long did it take you to fix up the Airstream?
It took about 3 months of intense work.

15. How can I live this life?
This life isn’t for the faint of heart. It isn’t easy, but it is rewarding. 90 percent of living this way is deciding that you want it and sticking with it.

Feel free to ask questions in the comments section and I’ll do my best to answer them!

31 thoughts on “Frequently Asked Questions

      1. Erica Arszman

        What about hot water? Did you have to replace the hot water tank and I’m guessing it runs on electricity. Can you provide a link to the tank you used?

      2. melanie Post author

        Hi Erica, we did have to replace the hot water system. We got an Atwood, but I wouldn’t recommend it. It went bad in less than 2 years and it took 4 months of fighting with the company to get a new one. Next time I’d try a tankless, like this one. It runs on propane and it does have to be properly vented.

  1. Agee Rogers

    Hello. I’m interested in this lifestyle for various reasons. I’m curious as to where you live-northeast, southeast. I’m in NC, & trying to decide on an older Airstream or a custom tiny house. We get all seasons here, so the hot summers and cold winters concern me. Thanks for sharing if you’re able.

    Reply
  2. Pingback: Ask Melanie: How do you deal with lifestyle criticism? – a small life

  3. Rick

    Very cool & inspiring lifestyle. It’s very nice to have the land set-up & situation you have. How did it come about? And is the rest of the family (extended, that is) ok with the arrangement? Hopefully it is a gracious situation? I don’t have any close relatives with land so, I would have to purchase which leads to the debt thing. Also, is there a blog installment where you cover the chores-in-exchange-for-favors thing in little bit more detail? Sorry, if that’s prying… I’m just so curious and facinated.

    Reply
    1. melanie Post author

      The land has been in my husband’s family for years. Everyone is fine with the arrangement. No hurt feelings! I don’t have a blog installment about the chores. The chores really range from helping with computer stuff to cleaning out the attic.

      Reply
  4. Wyatte

    Hi there! I love your trailer! Do you guys have a water tank that you fill up regularly? Any recommendations for a water heater that doesn’t freeze up in the winter?

    Reply
    1. melanie Post author

      We are hooked up to a well system. Unfortunately we’ve had very bad luck with our water heaters and I wouldn’t recommend the ones that we have bought.

      Reply
  5. Kearston Allen

    We are about to jump in to updating a 1973 Airstream! In what order did y’all remodel? Did you paint then put the flooring down? Or opposite? I’ve been trying to research which one to do first.

    Reply
    1. melanie Post author

      Kearston, congrats! It’s been a long time, but I’m about 90% sure we painted first then put the flooring down. Good luck on your adventure!

      Reply
      1. Kearston Allen

        Thank you! We are SO excited. Btw- I love your site! It’s been super informative.
        One more question.. you said that you sealed the floors with KILZ Water Base Primer. Was this after you put down the laminate just to help prevent water damage?

  6. Kearston Allen

    Okay okay that’s what I was thinking at first but then was like well let me ask to be clear. Learning a lot 🙂 haha thanks!

    Reply
  7. Mike Stewart

    How water tight are airstreams? I’m thinking a roof over
    with a standing seam metal roof would give many years of protection. What are your thoughts? Also
    how hard is it to remove dents on the outer skin
    of your air stream?
    Regards,
    Mike Stewart

    Reply
    1. melanie Post author

      Hi Mike, older Airstreams can be compromised due to old caulk. Polyurethane caulks work best. I would think a standing seam metal roof would be effective if you weren’t moving your Airstream often– but it would be costly. We haven’t had to remove dents. Here’s some info about how to do that: http://vintageairstream.com/dent-removal/

      Thanks for reaching out!

      Reply
      1. Mike Stewart

        Hi Melanie, many thanks for your reply.
        I have in the past worked with sheet metal.
        But never aluminum. Just wondering have
        you ever heard of archedcabins.com? They
        build a very affordable little cabin all metal.
        As of now I’m torn in about 4 or 5 different
        choices : metal yurt 18ft, Air stream rv, fiberglass dome home, earth sheltered fiberglass pod home, quanset hut……. all of
        these are very reasonable in saving money.
        The home builders of the brick & mortar type
        in my way of thinking are trying to get rich
        quick off of the buyers as I see it they are
        ripping people off with their 150K prices.
        Regards,
        Mike Stewart

  8. Ash

    Have you had an issues when it’s a storm like lightening? I keep reading different forums sharing concern. What do you do? What are your thoughts?

    Reply
    1. melanie Post author

      Hi Ash, we do have storms where there is thunder and lightning, but it’s not something I worry about too much. Lightning usually strikes the tallest object around and we are never the tallest object around. We do have hurricanes and ice storms where we live– those are less frequent, but when they do happen, we go to a friend’s house. We’re much more worried about trees falling on our home than lightning strikes. Don’t let fear stop you from doing something you want to do!

      Reply
  9. Alli

    Hi Melanie!

    What style fridge did y’all install in your airstream? We are looking are into renovating one and didn’t know if there was a certain style we needed to get or if a regular kitchen fridge would work?

    Reply
    1. melanie Post author

      Hi Alli, it depends if you are going to park somewhere permanently or if you are going to travel. We were stationary, so we just used a 3/4 size fridge bought from Lowe’s. If you want to travel, you’ll need a fridge that runs on 12 or 24 volt DC or gas. I’ve heard good things about the Dometic ones, like this, but you could also always just google “RV fridge.” Hope this helps!

      Reply

Leave a Reply