Living full-time in an Airstream has been the biggest adventure of my life (so far!). It’s also been the craziest/best/most spontaneous thing I’ve ever done. I don’t regret it. Not a day. But George and I did very little research before we decided, hey, let’s live in an Airstream! Embarrassing little research. If I had to do it all over again, I might be a little more prepared. Although, if I was more prepared I might have wussed out! There’s a lot of realities and obstacles to living in an Airstream.
- The buying process may be harder than you think.
Our buying process wasn’t easy. We easily found the Airstream on Craigslist, but our trailer was acquired in a divorce and there was all kinds of legalese associated with the title. In the end we had to title our trailer in Maine. Why Maine? Well, they have looser titling laws and personal/commercial trailers can be registered in Maine regardless of where you live. Maine also has low-cost registrations!
- Things get dirty real quick
I have a strict no shoes policy in the Airstream, but that doesn’t keep the dirt from sneaking in anyway. It’s such a small space that if we miss even one day of cleaning, the place is a wreck. Which leads me to…
- Junk will look junkier in a small space
You need less “things” than you think. Always. But even the tiniest bit of junk will look junky in a small space. At first I wanted to have lots of open shelves for our things, but things looked too cluttered in such a small space. We did fix the problem with drawers, but I wish I had planned for more hide-away shelving in the beginning.
- If you are living in a vintage Airstream, things will break/go awry.
Things might even go awry in a new Airstream! Just like owning your own home, things will break and go awry. Unlike a home, there are less people with special skills able to fix things. You’ll need to be handy. Or live with someone who is handy (thanks, George!). And you’ll need to be willing to experiment and learn. We’ve learned so much from online forums and YouTube videos.
- There’s no privacy
The bathroom situation gets ugly. ‘Nuff said.
- It’s going to get cold and hot.
The temperature in the Airstream is super fickle. We stay relatively warm with two heaters and the air conditioning works well, but there are times when the weather gets so extreme outside that no space heater or mobile home air conditioning unit will do the trick. We also live in the south so it’s humid most of the time, we control this with a dehumidifier, but it will never be the perfect humidity and temperature in there.
- There will never be enough space for certain activities.
Working out in the Airstream and cooking in the Airstream are both a struggle. There’s never enough room to chop or dice and create even a one-course meal. And jumping around in the Airstream, forget about it. I can do a few push-ups or squats, but forget high intensity training in there. I tried it once. It was not pretty.
- I don’t think of myself as “homeless,” but others might.
I was recently reading an article about homelessness. It described folks living in their campers at the beach. I don’t consider myself homeless at all. George and I chose to live this way for so many reasons. And yes, the main reason was financial, but I don’t consider myself homeless. The Airstream is my home. If something ever happened to the Airstream, we could find ourselves an apartment. Airstream livin’ isn’t out of desperation, but it is out of the desire to stop living paycheck-to-paycheck. Some people judge us for our decision, but it’s proved to be one of the best decisions of my life.
Got any questions about living in the Airstream? I’d love to hear them and answer them in the comments!
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!