A few months ago my friend and I packed our bags and drove three hours into the desert to escape the city and see the stars. Our final destination: A trailer in Joshua Tree, California. We were surrounded by cacti, coyotes, and not much else.
Though our home away from home more closely resembled the RV from Breaking Bad than a sleek “silver bullet”, I found myself thinking, “I could live here.” For someone who has a problem committing to living in one place for an extended period of time, a house on wheels could be the best possible housing situation.
If the idea of simplifying your life and living in an Airstream trailer sounds dreamy to you, too, I’ll be the first one to encourage you to give it a go. But before you commit, here are a few things you should know.
1. Storage is limited. In the beginning, while you’re making repairs and renovations, be sure to plan for hide-away shelving. Every nook and cranny should be considered as a storage opportunity. Get creative!
2. There are tax benefits. Your Airstream trailer may qualify as a second home mortgage. In this case, the interest on your loan is tax deductible.
3. Watch out for leaks. The way an Airstream trailer is designed makes it susceptible to leaks at the seams, windows, and doors. If leaks aren’t repaired, the water will eventually rot out the floor, which is expensive to fix.
4. The return on investment isn’t fantastic. While a classic Airstream in excellent condition with all-original parts could potentially fetch a great return, a trailer that has been modernized and updated may be worth a lot less.
5. You’ll need insurance. Much like homeowners insurance, a policy on your Airstream trailer should cover everything inside your mobile home and offer full replacement of the trailer in case of theft or accident.
6. It’s pricey to stay connected. Unless you’re only using free WiFi at coffee shops and campgrounds, you’ll have to invest in a mobile hotspot to check your email, look up driving directions, and watch movies.
7. Bigger isn’t always better. Sure, lots of living space means you’ll be more comfortable, but a super-sized Airstream trailer will require a lot more planning to make sure you can fit into spots you want to visit.
8. Registration fees vary by state. You can set up legal residence pretty much anywhere, but some states are more trailer-friendly than others. South Dakota is a favorite for many mobile dwellers because the state doesn’t tax on income and has low car registration fees and decent insurance rates.
9. There’s no privacy. If you’re planning to move into an Airstream trailer with your partner or family, be prepared to get very familiar with their unique quirks and bathroom habits, if you catch my drift.
As with owning a traditional home, there are great benefits and great responsibilities that come along with living in an Airstream trailer. If you’re looking for the adventure of a lifetime, living on the road might be just the ticket.