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Trailersteading: Voluntary Simplicity in a Mobile Home

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All the advantages of a tiny house at a fraction of the cost! Imagine what you could do with your time if you didn't have to spend $16,000 a year on rent or a mortgage. Old single-wide mobile homes can often be found for free (and installed for a couple of thousand dollars) in rural areas, so trailersteading is akin to dumpster-diving. A trailer allows you to live without d All the advantages of a tiny house at a fraction of the cost! Imagine what you could do with your time if you didn't have to spend $16,000 a year on rent or a mortgage. Old single-wide mobile homes can often be found for free (and installed for a couple of thousand dollars) in rural areas, so trailersteading is akin to dumpster-diving. A trailer allows you to live without debt, to keep your ecological footprint to a minimum with energy bills at or below the national average, and even to blend right in with traditional-house dwellers after a few years. Trailersteading profiles nine mobile-home dwellers who have used trailers as a stepping stone toward achieving their dreams. Some have spent the cash they saved by renovating their trailer on extra insulation, pitched roofs, classy interiors, and even basements, while the found money has allowed others to go off the grid. Many also took advantage of a low-cost housing option to pursue their passions, becoming full-time homemakers or homesteaders. In addition to the case studies, the book presents easy methods of minimizing the negative sides of trailer life and accentuating the positive. For example, did you know a single-wide is easy to retrofit for passive solar heating? That a simple plant-covered trellis can break up the blockiness of the trailer's external appearance? Learn which parts of installing and upgrading your trailer are easy for a DIYer and which parts should be left to the experts, along with how to cheaply heat and cool a mobile home.


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All the advantages of a tiny house at a fraction of the cost! Imagine what you could do with your time if you didn't have to spend $16,000 a year on rent or a mortgage. Old single-wide mobile homes can often be found for free (and installed for a couple of thousand dollars) in rural areas, so trailersteading is akin to dumpster-diving. A trailer allows you to live without d All the advantages of a tiny house at a fraction of the cost! Imagine what you could do with your time if you didn't have to spend $16,000 a year on rent or a mortgage. Old single-wide mobile homes can often be found for free (and installed for a couple of thousand dollars) in rural areas, so trailersteading is akin to dumpster-diving. A trailer allows you to live without debt, to keep your ecological footprint to a minimum with energy bills at or below the national average, and even to blend right in with traditional-house dwellers after a few years. Trailersteading profiles nine mobile-home dwellers who have used trailers as a stepping stone toward achieving their dreams. Some have spent the cash they saved by renovating their trailer on extra insulation, pitched roofs, classy interiors, and even basements, while the found money has allowed others to go off the grid. Many also took advantage of a low-cost housing option to pursue their passions, becoming full-time homemakers or homesteaders. In addition to the case studies, the book presents easy methods of minimizing the negative sides of trailer life and accentuating the positive. For example, did you know a single-wide is easy to retrofit for passive solar heating? That a simple plant-covered trellis can break up the blockiness of the trailer's external appearance? Learn which parts of installing and upgrading your trailer are easy for a DIYer and which parts should be left to the experts, along with how to cheaply heat and cool a mobile home.

30 review for Trailersteading: Voluntary Simplicity in a Mobile Home

  1. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    I started writing this little ebook in September as a response to Radical Homemakers. I made this book what I'd wanted that one to be --- no broad, overarching conclusions, just stories of nine families who chose to live simply with notes on why and how. I hope you enjoy the reading as much as I enjoyed the writing!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    This is a great book dealing with living in a mobile home. The author does a good job of answering the most common concerns with trailersteading. At first I was disappointed that there wasn't more specific plans of what one should do, but then I realized that's because each situation is different, and we all have to make the appropriate steading choices for our story. But the specific examples given have certainly helped me with ideas of what I need to do for my place. For example, being in Texa This is a great book dealing with living in a mobile home. The author does a good job of answering the most common concerns with trailersteading. At first I was disappointed that there wasn't more specific plans of what one should do, but then I realized that's because each situation is different, and we all have to make the appropriate steading choices for our story. But the specific examples given have certainly helped me with ideas of what I need to do for my place. For example, being in Texas, I thought about putting a covered porch along the south facing wall to block all incoming direct sunlight to make the summers more bearable. But now I'll scale back that roof a bit so it still blocks the summer sun, but allows a lot of winter sun for passive heating during the colder months.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jeannine

    I enjoyed the honest, non-judgmental writing that showed the pros and the cons of simplifying ones life by living in a trailer. The lifestyle is not for everyone (and not for me) but this is a book for anyone who has ever contemplated getting back to the basics.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Rosemary

    In places this gets very technical and loses its conversational liveliness, but overall still an inspiring look at voluntary simplicity.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Corina

    I'll give a book five stars if it can totally turn me on to a new idea or make me reevaluate my core beliefs. This one does both!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Frank Watson

    I came across TRAILERSTEADING: HOW TO FIND, BUY, RETROFIT, AND LIVE LARGE IN A MOBILE HOME by Anna Hess while researching mobile home repair. It did provide some information for the Do-It-Yourselfer, but even more pleasing is that it answered a question I have had for a while: What ever happened to the “back to earth” movement of the hippies/pioneers from the 1960s to 1980s? This was of interest to me because my parents retired to the country during that time, and, while not radical about it, rai I came across TRAILERSTEADING: HOW TO FIND, BUY, RETROFIT, AND LIVE LARGE IN A MOBILE HOME by Anna Hess while researching mobile home repair. It did provide some information for the Do-It-Yourselfer, but even more pleasing is that it answered a question I have had for a while: What ever happened to the “back to earth” movement of the hippies/pioneers from the 1960s to 1980s? This was of interest to me because my parents retired to the country during that time, and, while not radical about it, raised much of their own produce and livestock for a very good life. For them it was a lifestyle choice and connection to when they grew up on farms. I was lucky enough to participate in a limited way. For me it was a nod to a lifestyle choice and connection with my heritage. We enjoyed reading about similar adventures from others in such periodicals as Mother Earth News. Many of us were much younger then and that lifestyle requires the stamina and enthusiasm of either youth or stubborn traditionalists. Where would they be now? Hess provides at least a partial answer: A new generation is carrying on the noble experiment of turning their backs on high-paying but empty jobs on the rat race to buy things we neither need nor enjoy in order to pursue a more satisfying life of “voluntary simplicity” closer to the land. The pioneers from a few decades ago explored numerous alternative ways to live. Hess and her family continues this trend, and has one up with an interesting variation: Finding old or abandoned mobile homes (sometimes disparagingly called “trailers”) that can be obtained and little or no cost and rehabbed by a Do-It-Yourselfer at a fraction of the cost of a traditional home. She calls this “trailersteading” and in this book shares both her story as well as those of others. Many people may still look down at mobile homes, but those of us who have lived in them know that can be as comfortable and nice as traditional houses. There is the “status” factor from those who look down their noses at the lifestyle. The trade-off is that it is possible to be debt free, live in a rural area away from the rat race, and have a greater chance to succeed more independently than most. Hess will not make a believer out of you if you do not already lean in that direction. But that is not her purpose. Rather, she wants to share her experience and passion to show that the spirit of independence and adventure is still possible. As Hess explained about her family’s choices: “…choosing to sink our savings into land instead of into a fancy house means that everything we see in every direction now belongs to us, with no debt hanging over our heads. We have the freedom to embark on crazy experiments that our neighbors neither know nor care about, and we have the privilege of eschewing off-farm work, simply improving our homestead when extra funds allow. So if, as one of our critics proposed, this makes us uncivilized, lazy, and irresponsible, then I'm all for laziness!”

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    Took time out from Walden to this, figuring it would be at least thematically sympatico. Since I grabbed this book during a period when it was free on Amazon, I'm probably not the ideal audience and so my grade should be taken with a big ol' grain of salt: it wouldn't surprise me if this book was a perfect fit for the reader who is actively researching using a trailer to enter or transition to the homesteading lifestyle. Hess covers a wide range of questions and considerations for someone contemp Took time out from Walden to this, figuring it would be at least thematically sympatico. Since I grabbed this book during a period when it was free on Amazon, I'm probably not the ideal audience and so my grade should be taken with a big ol' grain of salt: it wouldn't surprise me if this book was a perfect fit for the reader who is actively researching using a trailer to enter or transition to the homesteading lifestyle. Hess covers a wide range of questions and considerations for someone contemplating a low-financial investment, and I found a wide range of interesting tidbits about trailer construction (including an eye-opening section on fire safety). And best of all, Hess has an entirely engaging authorial voice, personable and informed. Turning the pages never felt like a chore, at least until some of the more practical DIY projects were explained in detail (and then it was only because I wasn't interested in the actual projects themselves). On the flip side of things, it's possible that the reader with a very definite approach looking for a very definite answer about the best way to convert and utilize trailers might be frustrated with the book? Maybe? Hess is always on point, but she weaves enough examples in and out of her book that she returns to with enough frequently there were times I wasn't sure if and when a topic was going to get covered. It's possible someone would want a book that is more an instruction manual than this book here? Personally, I wouldn't have traded the book's tone for anything but, again, I think I'm probably atypical and barely in Hess' intended audience (if at all!) If I did decide to pursue the homesteading life, I'd make a beeline right to Hess's other books. But as it was, I found Trailersteading to be a pleasant and informative diversion.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Dana

    I got this book free on Amazon - the last time I looked, it is no longer free - but honestly, it really is a good book! I have no plans to live in a trailer. Ever. But, the title of the book sounded interesting and it was free, so I got the book. I found it to be interesting, informative, well thought out, well edited and quite thought provoking. The author posits, based upon her own experience and that of others, that if you have land and can get a cheap or free used trailer or mobile home haul I got this book free on Amazon - the last time I looked, it is no longer free - but honestly, it really is a good book! I have no plans to live in a trailer. Ever. But, the title of the book sounded interesting and it was free, so I got the book. I found it to be interesting, informative, well thought out, well edited and quite thought provoking. The author posits, based upon her own experience and that of others, that if you have land and can get a cheap or free used trailer or mobile home hauled there and set up, that trailers are easy to DIY and fix up and can be a very affordable and comfortable housing option. The book goes into great detail about how to find the land and trailer, how to get it moved, and many aspects of how to remodel a trailer and make it into a really nice home. With lots of examples, photos, diagrams and more, this book really is a great resource! I highly recommend it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Shea

    This book was a great steal, somehow free on kindle today, and I finished it in one day. Easy to read, great interviews and now I have a better perspective to trailersteading. Would I do it? Probably yes as stepping stone to save money so I can build my own home (preferably cob). By the time you have renovated your mobile home to be energy efficient and safe, buying a "stick built" house is about the same cost but you don't have debt. So yeah, it's worth it. But me personally, my dream home is t This book was a great steal, somehow free on kindle today, and I finished it in one day. Easy to read, great interviews and now I have a better perspective to trailersteading. Would I do it? Probably yes as stepping stone to save money so I can build my own home (preferably cob). By the time you have renovated your mobile home to be energy efficient and safe, buying a "stick built" house is about the same cost but you don't have debt. So yeah, it's worth it. But me personally, my dream home is the hobbit shire with those ridiculously luxurious top of the mountain views or the tumbleweed tiny houses. My dream is definitely plausible if I can find the right land, so the tips provided in this book help. Anyways, this book is great for people who are curious about simple living, and I do recommended it!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mikey Sklar

    I wish someone would have handed me this book before I moved into a trailer. It is a honest discussion of the pros and cons of trailer life. While there are many upsides in terms of ease and cost there is definitely a stigma to deal with too. Anna Hess does a great job of dissecting every aspect trailer life. If you are ready to stop paying rent, but not quite able to purchase a full on house READ THIS BOOK. Disclaimer: My partner and I are featured in this book and have known Anna Hess via email I wish someone would have handed me this book before I moved into a trailer. It is a honest discussion of the pros and cons of trailer life. While there are many upsides in terms of ease and cost there is definitely a stigma to deal with too. Anna Hess does a great job of dissecting every aspect trailer life. If you are ready to stop paying rent, but not quite able to purchase a full on house READ THIS BOOK. Disclaimer: My partner and I are featured in this book and have known Anna Hess via email/blogs for years.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Gretchen Burgess

    Inspirational! I've been craving a life free of debt for a long time, but couldn't find a way to do it. I liked tiny houses, but they don't have tiny price tags. This book helped me see that a trailer could be just as great as a tiny house for a fraction of the cost. Using the ideas in this book be bought a 900 square foot trailer for $4000, and are well on our way to owning the big piece of land we want without a mortgage. This book is a must read for anyone seeking a debt free path to independe Inspirational! I've been craving a life free of debt for a long time, but couldn't find a way to do it. I liked tiny houses, but they don't have tiny price tags. This book helped me see that a trailer could be just as great as a tiny house for a fraction of the cost. Using the ideas in this book be bought a 900 square foot trailer for $4000, and are well on our way to owning the big piece of land we want without a mortgage. This book is a must read for anyone seeking a debt free path to independent living.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Karla

    Every bit of inspiration you need Being a mobile home dweller for the past eight years, I'm always looking for ways to upgrade my living space. When I stumbled across this book I was immediately inspired. The idea of home ownership at an affordable price no longer seems out if reach. Instead I am focusing on saving for the perfect patch if land upon which I can rest my old Schult. And the added bonus of learning about greywater recycling and the basics of composting toilets are a plus! Highly rec Every bit of inspiration you need Being a mobile home dweller for the past eight years, I'm always looking for ways to upgrade my living space. When I stumbled across this book I was immediately inspired. The idea of home ownership at an affordable price no longer seems out if reach. Instead I am focusing on saving for the perfect patch if land upon which I can rest my old Schult. And the added bonus of learning about greywater recycling and the basics of composting toilets are a plus! Highly recommended.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kristina Seleshanko

    For anyone who wants to get out from under rent or a mortgage, this book is well worth a read. In it, the author discusses the pros and cons of living in a trailer, fixing it up for beauty, efficiency, and safety, and making dreams about more independent living a reality. She really gives the reader a lot to chew on. I especially liked that she didn't gloss over the downsides - and that she included lots of great examples about how couples (including those with children) made trailers work for t For anyone who wants to get out from under rent or a mortgage, this book is well worth a read. In it, the author discusses the pros and cons of living in a trailer, fixing it up for beauty, efficiency, and safety, and making dreams about more independent living a reality. She really gives the reader a lot to chew on. I especially liked that she didn't gloss over the downsides - and that she included lots of great examples about how couples (including those with children) made trailers work for them.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    I'm really enjoying this book. As a now-liberal, raised with one foot in an urban city and the other in the rural west -- often with a 23-ft travel trailer with a dog eared Mother Earth News in my cubby -- This book offers a vision of integration. How to use what are intended to be temporary homes in support of phases of life which are both constructive and temporary. Most of the stories are about trailer living in wide open spaces but she is addressing my concerns about using them in more dense I'm really enjoying this book. As a now-liberal, raised with one foot in an urban city and the other in the rural west -- often with a 23-ft travel trailer with a dog eared Mother Earth News in my cubby -- This book offers a vision of integration. How to use what are intended to be temporary homes in support of phases of life which are both constructive and temporary. Most of the stories are about trailer living in wide open spaces but she is addressing my concerns about using them in more densely-populated locations as well.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Seth

    A great look at a good alternative to building a new house or rebuilding an old one: using the cheaper option of a mobile home or trailer as your base of operations for homesteading. Hess not only shares her own experiences but gives a nice variety of case studies from people following different parallel paths, enough to make the case that she's presenting a strong and viable option for people looking to establish a home of their own on the edge of (or off of) the grid.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Charles Calvert

    Fabulous book! At fifty-nine and recently a widower, I am looking to downsize. I retired in 12/2013 and my late wife and I had been looking for land to purchase with cash since we were debt free. Now it's just me this book made a lots of sense and is exactly the route I was planning to go. Excellent read and I learned a lot.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    This had a lot of interesting ideas and arguments in it. It didn't feel very professionally written, though. I did learn a lot about the pros and cons of trailersteading. Some of it was more applicable if you were actually pursuing this lifestyle (like how to re-roof your trailer) than if you are considering the ideas.

  18. 5 out of 5

    David Carus

    Cool Ideas, Very Informational and Practical I picked this book up so I could learn more about how some people are able to live more sustainably with trailers. I learned a lot and it opened my eyes to the benefits as well as challenges of making a trailer a home.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kara

    Since this is essentially what my parents did on their property before they built the home they live in now, I was really interested to learn others do this me some of the different resins why. Short read but lots of information here.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Janelle F. Covey

    Well written and full of useful information. Well written and full of useful information. The section on wood stove installation in a trailer was especially interesting. Recommended

  21. 5 out of 5

    Carrie Donohue

    It made me open my eyes to a few things I had not thought of...

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

    I know this sounds crazy, but this book makes me want to live in a mobile home.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

    I'm always reading books about alternative life styles and this was a good one. It did make me lighten my bias against mobile homes.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

  25. 4 out of 5

    Colleen Matthaeus

  26. 4 out of 5

    Carly Wall

  27. 4 out of 5

    jessica imhoff

  28. 4 out of 5

    Debra

  29. 4 out of 5

    John Manuwal

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sylvia Walker

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