They have had many names; the camper, caravan, camper trailer, assisted RV, and originally (and my personal favorite) the bumper pull.
Travel trailers are one of those things that very few people are thoroughly aware of but those who swear by them as if they are these hidden gems of mobile living that offer a sweet spot between being far more comfortable than a tent but considerably cheaper than getting a full RV.
In this episode of weird and wonderful real estate, I’ll be attempting to decipher the appeal and offerings of the often not so humble travel trailer (which I’ll personally be considering real estate in this blog).
So to start things off,
What Is A Travel Trailer?
Travel trailers are the modern renditions of compact mobile homes. They are attached to a vehicle and towed away, from location to location to provide accommodation that both provides safety from the elements and is more comfortable than sleeping in your home.
It would be pretty accurate to envision travel trailers as pretty much huge fixed tents on steroids. one previous interpretation of a travel trailer was just that; a fold-down trailer tent.
These days, travel trailers can be very modern, comfortable, and convenient to the point that they are viable replacements for hotels and motels for some people. This is exactly why I’ve decided to stretch the definition of real estate to involve them in this editions rundown of “weird and wonderful real-estate.”
The History Of The Travel Trailer.
You can find the origins of leisure travel trailers dating back to the 1880s and having the roots of its popularity founded on a Dr. William Gordon Stables who ordered a “gentleman’s caravan” to travel in as well as journal a book (the gentleman gypsy) on his travels in it. This book later moved the Duke of Newcastle to commission his own “travel trailer.”
By the 1900s travel trailers had officially cemented their popularity spot and have continually sprouted dedicated companies, brands, and people to build and innovate them for dedicated people, groups, and clubs who love them.
All this has led to the wide spectrum range of travel trailers we find today; from hyper-economical to hyper-luxurious. And I am going to be covering everything you need to know on a foundational level if you think you might be interested in diving into the weird and wonderful world of travel trailers.
How Does A Travel Trailer Work?
Considerations – What You Should Know About Travel Trailers If You Want It To Be Real Estate.
- Can you live in a travel trailer? (seasonality)
- How affordable is it to live in a travel trailer? Campground costs
- The lifestyle of living in a travel trailer.
- Is it safe to live in a travel trailer?
- How mobile is mobile living in a travel trailer? Moving the thing (towing capacity)
- The amenities of a travel trailer. Electricity and Plumbing
- The life span of a travel trailer.
1. Can you live in a travel trailer?
When it comes to creating a travel trailer like an actual piece of real estate you want to live in permanently, 3 dictators control just how viable an option this is
Firstly, it would be the government who decides just where you can and cannot park it for permanent dwelling and the quality of your trailer which not only decides whether or not you have the amenities and facilities needed to permanently live there but whether the trailer can keep you safe through the year – in winter as well as summer.
In the first case, the government won’t be too happy if you park your 3ton house on wheels in the middle of the road and you’ll likely have to accommodate and pay to lodge on a designated trailer park or campground.
For the second question, you will have to strictly evaluate the type of trailer you have; does it have an appropriate kitchen, bathroom, and sleeping facility – can it supply the required water and electricity and is it quality enough to keep you freezing over in winter.
2. How affordable is it to live in a travel trailer?
Comparatively, living in a travel trailer will be significantly cheaper and be amongst the cheapest options of living that all allow you to own the asset. But as with homes, you get what you pay for and that can range from as low as $5, 000 for high-end tent replacements up to $149, 900 for real house replacement contenders (Airstreams).
Past the purchase of the actual trailer, there will be other cost variables such as paying to accommodate the trailer park/campgrounds as well as potentially having access to their grid for water and electricity.
If you’re going to be living on your grid, the costs may rank up to weekly or monthly water delivery and solar panels. But another often neglected and crucial part of living in a travel trailer is the cost of the required car/truck you’ll need to appropriately move the thing (which could also be a main source of electricity).
3. The lifestyle of living in a travel trailer.
As I stated above, the variety you have in what you can accommodate in travel trailers is almost as flexible as the variety you can get in single-family homes – vast and innumerable.
That being said, one thing you can be assured of is this; you are going to have to downsize. Travel trailers are in a way; “Tiny homes on wheels.” They may vary in size but as a rule; they are going to be smaller than living in a traditional home and you are going to have far less space to accommodate people and things.
Unless you’re getting a lavish and large travel trailer; you need to expect to cut down on what you bring in and keep in the trailer. Attached to this, is the consideration you’ll have to make on just how many people are planning on living in the trailer and will that number potentially get higher down the line (growing family).
4. Is it safe to live in a travel trailer?
Just as with living in a traditional home, safety depends on the accumulation of multiple variables.
- The neighborhood – Where are you parked?
- The structure – The quality of your trailers in terms of security.
- 3rd party variables – security systems or campground guards and surveillance.
Travel trailers can be just as secure or vulnerable as traditional homes; the only difference is that in a travel trailer, you can move.
5. How mobile is mobile living in a travel trailer?
As I previously and lightly mentioned above, one of the biggest variables that control getting the mobile part of mobile living out of your travel trailer is the independent vehicle you need to tow the thing.
A travel trailer isn’t an RV or manufactured mobile home – it’s a home “attachment” as in; it needs to be attached to your home and taken somewhere and connected to something.
The larger, more luxurious, and closer to a home replacement the trailer is – the larger the truck you’ll need to move it. + the more fuel you’ll need. It can often be the case that it’s not the budget of the trailer that limits buyers but more accurately the budget of the trailer + the needed vehicle to move the thing.
6. The amenities of a travel trailer.
If you’re going to want to permanently live in your travel trailer – your travel trailer will need to provide some basics of living. If I’m going to stand by my point of considering travel trailers a form of real estate; then I’m going to hold them to the same standards I would a traditional home – or at least tiny homes.
That would need the travel trailer to provide or have access to the following
- A private place to sleep,
- A private place for bathroom use (washing and toilet),
- A private place to lounge,
- A private place or way to cook.
Considering the above, I would have eliminated the bulk of low range travel trailers and a few medium-range travel trailers but, to be honest; a lot of modern travel trailers do check each box of the above.
*The above factors are my criteria for what would classify a travel trailer as a form of real estate. Travel trailers can easily be permanently habitable without the above solely from the fact that the facilities and amenities would be provided by the campground they are accommodating.
7. The life span of a travel trailer.
Forever is a long time, but you won’t live forever and neither will your travel trailer. The probable and expected outcome is that your travel trailer lasts you anywhere between 10-25 years of consistent daily use (the large range depends on your consistency to maintenance).
Some key areas of maintenance you’d have to keep an eye on would be the following:
- The flooring,
- Tow system and
- Amenity system (plumbing and electrical system).
All in all, if it can break or get damaged in a traditional house, it can break and get damaged faster in a travel trailer. If you want to have your travel trailer for a long time, you’ll need to be diligent and vigilant with keeping an eye out for proactive repairs.
Pros and Cons Of A Travel Trailer.
Pros of travel trailers.
Cons of travel trailers.
|An affordable way of living.||There is more to keep an eye on and repair.|
|Flexibility to travel.||Road Regulations, laws, and costs.|
|Cheaper insurance.||Limited size, Amenities, and facilities.|
Pros of Travel Trailers.
1. An affordable way of living.
Even when we break the costs down into 2 categories – “The cost of entry” and “The cost of living;” travel trailers are far cheaper as real estate than most traditional forms of real estate – including tiny homes.
The cost of entry is the accumulative cost you would need to have full access to your travel trailer which would involve the cost to purchase the trailer + the cost of having an adequate vehicle to tow it. The larger/more expensive the trailer the larger/more expensive the car/truck.
The cost of living would involve the costs of fully running the trailer which would include water, electricity. waste disposal and fuel use. Which would generally be far lower than a traditional home because the travel trailer is smaller and would need less.
2. Flexibility to travel.
Travel trailers are meant to be moved (the travel part of their name isn’t just there for show). This allows for certain nuance benefits for the owners of travel trailers in that they can save money by staying in their trailer instead of other lodging facilities such as hotels and motels when they travel – often at better comfort as well.
Along with that, travel trailers make traveling more convenient and you focused; you don’t need to pack anything because you’re taking everything; which can easily include the family pets.
3. Cheaper insurance.
Relatively speaking, travel trailers are comparatively cheaper to insure than almost all other mobile home units which include manufactured mobile homes and Recreational Vehicles. Annual Insurance can start as low as $150 a year.
*The larger and more expensive the trailer, the higher the insurance cost; but comparatively, similarly sized travel trailers will be cheaper to insure than similar-sized RVs and tiny homes.
Cons of travel trailers.
1. There is more to keep an eye on and repair.
The mobility factor of travel trailers is both an advantage in that you can conveniently pick up your entire life and move it somewhere new and a disadvantage in that all that moving around puts your property at higher and more frequent risk of damage.
This damage is not just for your travel trailer but also for the vehicle you use to tow it and the tools that connect the two. For long and convenient life, everything will need to be periodically inspected as the breakdown of one thing leads to everything being less useful.
2. Road regulations, laws, and costs.
Along with how being on the road can lead to damaging your car and your trailer – your heavy trailer contributes to damaging the road, and because of that; most states will charge you additional road tax because of your trailer.
Adding insult to injury, your travel trailer may have certain restrictions imposed upon it because of its height, weight, and width which may lead to the trailer not having access on a certain road. This would lead to some inconvenient navigate on your part.
*You also usually aren’t allowed to have passengers in the trailer while the trailer is moving – A travel trailer is not an RV; the fact that it’s this foreign attached by a cable entity is deemed unsafe for accommodating while moving in most states.
3. Limited size, Amenities, and facilities.
As with tiny homes but probably to an even greater extent, you are going to be forced to compromise on certain luxuries that you’d get in a traditional home.
For one thing, as big as travel trailers can get, you won’t have access to what most people would consider the minimum level of privacy in a travel trailer you have to share with multiple people.
In most cases, travel trailers will only have one separated bedroom and bunk like features for other guests. The more amenities and convenience you want, the larger and more expensive the trailer, as well as the larger and more expensive the needed truck to move it.
In terms of amenities and facilities, travel trailers have innovated greatly to accommodate the majority of assets you would need to live but that will usually be the bare minimum requirement and you might find inconvenience in the capacity of hot water, electricity limitations and how you’ll need to find an appropriate place to dispose of bathroom waste at the end of every week.
Though travel trailers will often be a far more affordable option for permanent lodging than most other mobile home options; this does come at the cost of being far more difficult to acquire financing for.
In most cases, the interest rates charged for loans to finance a travel trailer will be on the high end of the spectrum.
Who Are Travel Trailers For?
Given all the above considerations, travel trailers seem like a viable side by side alternative to minimalists who might otherwise consider tiny homes but would also like the additional freedom and nomadic capabilities provided by the mobile travel trailer.
Concluding Thoughts On The Travel Trailer.
The deeper i got into the weird and wonderful world of travel trailers the more i began to actually see them as a viable permanent home replacement; especially when you start look as the medium to high end offerings that you’d get from brands such as Airstream.
I may not plan to back my stuff up and decide to be a “gypsy of today” but travel trailers are officially and currently hold my top for mobile living in style.