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We traveled the continent in our Airstream, and now we're turning it into a permanent jungle home where we can raise our daughter and live off the land

siya and kristen zarrabi run towards their airstream
Kristen Sarah and Siya Zarrabi head to their Airstream, named Luna. The mobile trailer that was central to their travels for the past five years is now the base of a home in Costa Rica.
  • Kristen Sarah and Siya Zarrabi spent five years transversing the continent in their 1976 Airstream. 
  • Now, they've settled in Costa Rica and are building a $60,000 home around the travel trailer. 
  • Their young daughter prompted the move — they wanted her to be surrounded by nature. 

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with travel videographers and tiny home enthusiasts Kristen Sarah and Siya Zarrabi, both 36, who traveled North America in an Airstream for five years with their daughter, Kai, and dog, Atlas. The couple, originally from the Toronto area, wanted to settle down in Costa Rica but didn't want to leave their Airstream behind — so they decided to build a house around it. Now, their daughter sings to the animals and picks her own food. They make a living by hosting trips, and from content creation and an online shop. The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Kristen: Almost six years ago, I had this idea that I really wanted to buy a camper van. I was talking to Siya about that and he was like, "Oh, but if we're going to be living in that, we'd need something bigger." That's when I came across the Airstream.

I'd actually never seen one before. I said, "Wow, check this out. This looks so cool."

A month later we purchased our Airstream. We found a vintage one from 1976 on Craigslist, and we drove four or five hours to pick it up.

Siya: We were such rookies at that time, we didn't know anything — we basically had a dream, jumped into that dream, and then learned from there.
Kristen Sarah and Siya Zarrabi airstream
Kristen Sarah and Siya Zarrabi with their four-year-old daughter Kai, their dog Atlas, and their 1976 Airstream, which they named Luna.

Kristen: That's how we've done everything. We've been together since we were 17. 

At the time we bought the Airstream, we thought "we're going to get it and we're just going to live in it as is."

But as we started to make some changes, we realized we needed to gut the whole thing. We spent a year working with some other people to completely renovate it, and then we moved in. That was our home for the last five years. 

When we had our daughter, who's now four, we re-renovated it because she needed a space. We made a room for her and space for her to play, and continued traveling all across North America until the beginning of 2022 — when we were living in Florida. Then, we decided to ship the Airstream to Costa Rica, where we had bought land.

Siya: We loved the Airstream. There's no doubt about that. We love that lifestyle — being more minimalist, tiny, and mobile. We also loved Costa Rica.
Kristen Sarah and Siya Zarrabi airstream
An aerial view of the Airstream on Sarah's and Zarrabi's land in Costa Rica.

We wanted some way to combine our two worlds.

We shipped the Airstream from Florida to Costa Rica last year.
Kristen Sarah and Siya Zarrabi airstream
The ship that brought Sarah's and Zarrabi's Airstream to Costa Rica.

The shipping was originally going to be $5,000, and then a war broke out somewhere in the world and all the fuel prices skyrocketed. Everything skyrocketed. It ended up costing us about $11,000 to get it here.

Now, we're designing a whole structure that the Airstream is going to live in, on our land.
Kristen Sarah and Siya Zarrabi airstream
A rendering of the 1,500-square-foot house that Sarah and Zarrabi are building around the Airstream. They've dubbed the house "Casa Luna."

We eventually settled on an open-concept design for the home. 

There will be a laundry room and a washroom, and the Airstream is essentially going to be the bedroom. We paid just under $60,000 for the new construction.



Kristen: We're going to build steel beams into the foundation to make sure that the structure is solid, and the bones are strong.
Kristen Sarah and Siya Zarrabi airstream
A rendering of the 1,500-square-foot house that Sarah and Zarrabi are building around the Airstream.

Then, we're going to cover everything in local teak wood and make it look really beautiful. That way, if we do get a termite nest, we're not scared of our house falling down because teak is termite-resistant. 

Siya: Our land is in an eco community in Costa Rica. It's 180 acres but that's not all ours. We have a half-acre for our house and Airstream. The rest of the land is divided up amongst 150 other families from 30 different countries.
Kristen Sarah and Siya Zarrabi airstream
The plot of land owned by Sarah and Zarrabi in Costa Rica.

Our water comes from springs. We're going to be growing our own food. And then there's community centers, a big pool, and a huge bamboo structure that is the largest in Costa Rica. 

Kristen: Right now there's a massive community garden we get our produce from every week. There is kale, watermelons, papayas, and bananas, and many types of greens, herbs, tomatoes and onions. It's a lot of vegetables, and there are fruit trees for five kilometers.

The whole idea is to really live in alignment with nature, and where animals and plants live harmoniously together. There are people from all our other countries, but there's also a high percentage of locals living in the community as well. 

Siya: Our daughter was a big force behind us moving here.
Kristen Sarah and Siya Zarrabi airstream
Kai, the couple's four-year-old daughter, with her parents and their dog.

It's pretty beautiful to see her grow up here because it's the childhood I wish I had.

Kristen: She has a such a fascination and love for insects and animals  — she's surrounded by them daily. We have a donkey and horses. She knows so much about wildlife where her food comes from. Instead of juice boxes, she drinks coconuts from our land. She's able to pick her own food.

Siya: We'll just see her standing at the fence, singing to the horses or just talking to the donkey, and the animals love that. The animals are as gravitated to her as she is to them. It's so special because when I go back to my parents' house in Toronto — the house I grew up in — and I look at the kitchen window I see bricks, five feet away.

That's the view out of the kitchen window. Whereas here, she sees mountains out her window. 

Kristen: She also speaks two languages. It's amazing how their little brains work —  they're able to absorb so much information.

Siya: We wanted to give her the best life possible. And I think, so far so good.





Read the original article on Business Insider

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