Why people choose trailer living over a traditional house

Matthew McConaughey lived in one. So did his Malibu neighbor Pamela Anderson. In Las Vegas, the CEO of Zappos, Tony Hsieh, still lives in one.

Trailers, whether they are parked near a landfill or next to the Pacific Ocean, often carry a negative connotation -- which can be a big mistake.

Tim Hines, Shop Manager, Washington

Tim Hines doesn’t live in a trailer. He lives in a toy hauler. When the 31-year-old former U.S. Navy Air Rescue Swimmer from Washington isn’t out racing his road bike or riding his motorcycle, he’s living every bachelor’s dream. Despite owning a real house, which he rents out to his sister, he chooses to live full time in his home on wheels. Parked in a Spokane suburb, his 44-foot Voltage 3950 toy hauler boasts 13-foot ceilings, four LED TVs, a reclining sofa and a separate garage area where Hines can store his expensive toys, entertain, or sleep guests in the HappiJac power bunk. Every toy hauler needs exterior features like a hot water pressure washing station and an entertainment center complete with a mini fridge—a valuable feature for a vegan like Hines.

Kate Gilbert, Marketer, Texas

“Most strangers think we are having a mid-life crisis,” says Kate Gilbert, author of Happy Camper: How I Quit My Corporate Job And Sold Everything to Travel Full Time. “They don’t realize that this is the lifestyle we have chosen deliberately.” In 2014, Kate and her husband Iain, both longtime veterans of the corporate world, traded their real home for an airstream trailer. Without a mortgage hanging over their heads, the Texas residents could afford to quit their technology and healthcare jobs and travel the world. When they are at home in the U.S., they live in their 27-foot trailer which is outfitted with ingenious storage ideas. For example, the Gilberts store their cooking spices on a magnetic board—freeing up precious counter and pantry space.

Matthew Hofmann, Architect, Santa Barbara

Citing a mortgage and maintenance, Matthew Hofmann likes keeping overhead costs low, even if it means living in a trailer. Hofmann, a Santa Barbara-based architect, shares his mobile home with his girlfriend Joanna and their dog Lilly. “The mobility aspect keeps me mentally free,” says Hofmann who likens trailer living to living on a boat and traveling from harbor to harbor. Last summer, the trio took their self-contained trailer on a cross-country trip. (The custom skylight above their bed came in handy for stargazing in national parks.) Hofmann and Joanna have plans to get married soon and say they will probably continue to live like this for the rest of their lives. Not necessarily in the same vessel, but with the same attitude toward space, or lack thereof.

Lori Mendelis, Realtor, Brooklyn

When Brooklyn-based realtor Lori Mendelis and her husband Mark, a successful copywriter, need to escape the city they retreat to their trailer in the Catskills. “We call it a cabin,” says Mendelis referring to their ESCAPE Classic unit they had delivered from Wisconsin and installed in December. The 392-sq.-foot trailer sits on a 26-acre lot in the forest and features granite counter tops, stainless steel appliances, heated floors and a screened-in porch. A wooden skirting covers the wheels making it hard to tell it’s a mobile home. Mendelis, who is a member of The Corcoran Group’s Multi-Million Dollar Club, likes the fact that it only takes 20 minutes to clean from top to bottom and compares it to camping, albeit at the Four Seasons.

Ginny McKinney, Writer and Entrepreneur, Colorado

Ginny McKinney’s transition from a doctor’s wife to a trailer widow was unexpected. “We were in the fourth trailer,” McKinney recalls of that tragic day in 2013 when her husband, Mr. Virgo, suffered a fatal heart attack while the two were trailer shopping for an early retirement gift to themselves. A few weeks after burying Mr. Virgo, McKinney bought a 16-foot camper trailer. She parked it in her driveway in Colorado and it didn’t take long before the 62-year-old mother and grandmother was spending more time in it than in the house which she realized she was using as an expensive laundromat. After selling her house, she moved into her trailer full time. She can certainly afford a nicer place, but she likes to live modestly. Well, mostly. She does sleep in 800-thread count sheets on a memory foam mattress.