I appreciate the admiration when people check in on Project Airstream. It usually goes like this: “You guys aren’t still living in that thing, are you?” To which I reply, “We sure are! The Ahlmann Family Airstream is alive and well.” And they respond, “Wow, we wouldn’t survive. How can you do it?” This comes with an expression that skates the border between admiration and pity, depending on the person, and then the conversation moves on.
Let me tell you a secret: It’s not that hard.
When we sold the house, gave away most of our stuff, and moved into a 31ft. Airstream, we didn’t put a timeline on it. We figured, better leave ourselves a way out in case we go crazy. But then, 18 months later, we forgot about it. It became normal (at least until somebody brings it up), and we found that the following things result from our unusual tiny home accommodations:
1. We have more fun. It takes 15 minutes to clean the “house,” so that leaves more time for soccer, running, family trips and cooking with friends.
2. We spend more time outside. Quite a few activities don’t fit inside, so they happen outdoors. This means fresh air and connection with nature. Another family in a similar Airstream once told me: It’s not like living in a tiny house; it’s like living outside, with a l luxurious kitchen and bedroom.
3. We usually know what the kids are up to. There’s no way to get far away from mom and dad to cause mischief, so this makes lines of communication very open.
4. We take more family trips. Packing takes 20 minutes. That is, I can hook up the Airstream to a truck in that time while Rachel and the kids secure the cabin and load the bikes, at which point we have “packed” everything we need for a week (or a year.)
5. We have more money. We bought the thing for the price of a used car, and spent half that amount painting it and fixing it up. That leaves the former mortgage payment available for college savings and other useful things.
6. We worry less about stuff, and more about people. This is likely because we don’t have very much stuff, meanwhile we have more time to spend with people.
So I appreciate the admirations. But now you know the truth. Living in an Airstream is strange, but it’s not as hard as it sounds.