When I purchased the airstream, it came equipped with a propane heater. I do not feel comfortable using it, so I have supplemented with an oil radiator heater in the interim, while I have my mini wall mounted wood stove installed. (cubicwoodstoves.com) The wood stove should be more than toasty. The sun also heats the space in the late morning/early afternoon afternoon and I often turn off the heater even when it’s cold- a little tin can = natural solar heating.
I use a potable water hose hooked to an outside faucet from the house that is on the property that I live. I also have a reversis osmosis water filter hooked up under my sink. Winterizing involves unhooking my hose. I thought that Georgia’s winter would be mild enough that it would be a relatively small problem, but this winter has proven otherwise. I am researching a few different options to prevent the hose from freezing.
I have a 6-gallon propane water heater installed in the bathroom.
I had a 30 AMP converter installed from the main electricity source at the house/outside workshop and a custom electrical cord runs down to the airstream and hooks into the airstream electricity. I use normal outlets/lights inside, and the A/C runs off of the electricity.
The stove, oven, and water heater run off of the propane tanks. The propane heater and gas/electric combo refrigerator also ran off of the propane but I am un-installing them.
I installed a Nature’s Head compost toilet and removed the original RV toilet. I love not having a black tank or having to dump sewage. I dump the solids every 3-4 weeks into my toilet compost pile that I built beside the airstream, and the liquid every other day.
I love that the toilet doesn’t create waste or use water. I strongly dislike that I sometimes forget to dump the liquid and it overflows. That is a mess.
One time, I came back from vacation to crazy mushrooms growing out of the toilet. That was both cool and terrifying at the same time. There are photos.
Sometimes the toilet smells when it needs to be dumped. Sometimes it smells when it needs to be cleaned, just like any other toilet would. Does the entire airstream smell of sewage? Nope. Also, separating liquids and solids is a big factor in avoiding the porta-potty smell. The most surprising thing to me is that my compost pile never smells.
Do you all fit in it comfortably?
Comfort is relative, and I never set out to live a “comfortable” life. An adventurous life, full of connection and community- that is what I am building. One reason for living in a small interior space is so that we can spend MORE time outside of it! But there were a few non-negotiables for me. For instance, I wanted all of us to be able to fit around a table to eat, play games, and do art comfortably - so I installed a big table. I want all of us to have beds- so I am working on renovating the beds. We can all sit on a bed and snuggle and read. But could all 5 of us do simultaneous somersaults or shut a door and be in separate rooms? Nope. Can we survive a rainy day at home? Absolutely. Can we survive two rainy days? That’s questionable.
When I purchased the airstream it had two RV twin beds and a full-size futon. I switched the futon out for a table that can convert into a bed (potentially up to king size). And I am building bunkbeds over the twin beds. It will eventually have 4 twin beds and a convertible king size bed.
What storage do you have? -- clothes and books, mostly.
I have 2 closets in the bathroom, one for my clothes and one for household items. Each kid has one drawer for their clothes under their beds. (So, their clothes are limited to what can fit in one drawer.) My benches around the dining table open up for storage! There isn’t a ton of storage, but some of it is empty because I don’t have enough stuff to fill it!
I am still brainstorming better book storage.
Where do you have it parked?
I am currently parked in town in a friend’s backyard. I hook up to their electricity and water, but more importantly, we share dinner and childcare and support each other- we’ve become family.
How was the adjustment to a smaller space with kiddos?
It has been a surprisingly smooth transition. It took a few months to find our new rhythm and make adjustments, but since then, it’s been so so good.
How “portable” are you?
Currently, not at all. One day I possibly could be. It is currently fenced in, and I do not own a tow vehicle.
Was it expensive?
Airstreams can range from $6k-$100k+....it all depends on the condition, year, size, etc. Mine was a decent price for a vintage airstream that is fully livable without major renovations.
So are you living in it full time?
Yes! I am there when I’m not traveling, and the kids are there half-time.
How “warm” does your heater actually get it?
It depends on the outside temperature. When it’s running all the time, it keeps it very warm during normal GA weather. When it’s below 40, it is still a little chilly (in the 60’s) inside. The primary issue with it is that it’s slow to warm up the space, so if I’m not home it’s going to be cold!
I’m told that my wood stove will most likely make it too warm, and fast.
What will you do when your kids get older/want their own room?
I wonder about this, too. I highly doubt I will live in the airstream forever, as my family’s needs change. But it’s hard to imagine what life might be like in a year, or five. I am open to morphing and shifting and changing to make a life that works for all of us. But I don’t have specific plans for when my kids hit puberty.
When are ya'll gonna take it on a grand adventure?!
I'd like to wait for the kids to be a little older. But I'm always scheming.
How is the airstream life different from what you expected?
Before I moved in, I worried that I had a glorified idea of what tiny living would be like. Instead, it’s been even better than I expected. I love living communally; I love living minimally; and it hasn’t been nearly as stressful as I thought it might be single-parenting four kids in a small space.