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Old 10-18-2017, 08:54 AM   #1
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Interstate lifestyle options

There’s a whole set of subforms on the topic of “Airstream Lifestyle” but nothing that really comes close to representing “Interstate Lifestyle” as a standalone thread, so I’m hereby hatching one.

I mean, sure, there’s overlap between the two, sometimes extensive overlap depending on how someone desires to use their rig. But Interstates present their own opportunities and challenges. Once you get done rejiggering your electrical, and upgrading your battery capacity, and fixing your poltergeist awning, and convincing your stubborn retractable step to keep working, and praying that your macerator stops jamming, then what lifestyle are you going to pursue, and according to what rationale?


I’ll kick off the thread with an announcement that will probably surprise at least a few folks who are familiar with the work of LB_3 and I: Yesterday we signed the papers on a lot in Texas Airstream Harbor (TAHI).

Wha-aat?! The consummate off-gridders? The extreme boondockers? The long-distance voyagers? The DIY-obsession people? The non-retired couple? The non-rallying people? This decision makes sense HOW?

Let me explain.

No matter what else we do, LB_3 and I can never escape the fact that we must continue to live in the deep south (our jobs are here). We simply cannot use our rig locally for months and months of the year due to the extreme heat. Sure, we can travel north and we plan to keep traveling north and west and whatever else. We’ve got a great boondocking lakefront property in Canada, but we can only do Canada once per year at most. So what about the rest of the year? How do we EXTEND the amount of time that we can use our Interstate locally, and enjoy more of Texas on weekends and much shorter holidays?

Our rationale included these points and also some important others that I’m intentionally not listing here:

(1) Our rig is an Airstream and we put a thousand hours of personal labor and thousands of dollars of upgrades into it. We plan to keep it for another decade.

(2) We do not want the time commitment, high cost, maintenance, and risk burdens of carrying a full-fledged conventional second homestead (such as a cottage; Texas has no state income tax and our property taxes are correspondingly sky high in compensation – it’s very expensive overall to go that route). We absolutely do not need all of that – we got the Interstate in large part so that we could avoid all that. We just need some kind of periodic refuge from the heat.

(3) We also will refuse to partake even occasionally of the conventional RV park / trailer park lifestyle. Too limiting and too depressing, frankly. Totally wrong headspace for us (I’d feel like a beached whale baking in the sun with hook-ups while having to endure a lot of other folks getting drunk and partying). But still, some kind of infrastructure has to support us in the heat. We cannot remain in our preferred style of being totally off-grid when the heat is extreme.

(4) By my estimation, TAHI has 0.64 mile of frontage on Lake Sam Rayburn, which IMO is one of the most desirable recreational areas in Texas. Unlike Lakes Houston, Conroe, and Livingston, Rayburn is not overburdened by the intense population pressures found closer to Houston, with its 6.5 million residents. TAHI is essentially in Angelina National Forest and is a stone’s throw from Sabine National Forest. It is therefore a potential launch pad for exploring these undeveloped public areas which are so very rare in the state of Texas.

(5) The price point was compelling for us. I don’t know much about these communities and how they compare across the country, but the ones in Texas seem to be characterized by similar construction: a metal cabana structure that includes a covered area for the Airstream plus a variably-sized attached space with utilities available, that the owners either build out or not build out as they see fit. Those smaller areas can be air conditioned, but there is the recognition that it’s not a conventional house paradigm – it’s a modest structure by intentional design, because the bulk of the investment remains with the Airstream, whether it’s a trailer or a motorhome.

So here’s our target scenario: In our long, long hot summer, we can only stay outside for a couple of hours in the morning before it gets really brutal outside. So we go for a hike in the National Forest, then high-tail it back, put the Interstate in its little covered protective slot to shade it and prevent it from reaching 107 degrees which it routinely does in our exposed homestead driveway, and then chill out in the cabana. Then maybe at sunset as the heat of the day is abating, come back outside, tote the kayak down to the lake frontage, toss it in the water and go for a paddle (LB_3 knows how to sail, and wants a small sailboat, which we can keep at a place like this). Plus do a bit of socializing along the way. That kind of thing.

I’ve read some of the Airstream trailer threads where people scoff and ridicule the idea of a branded Airstream community. My advice falls into the realm of common sense: Do your own research before you judge. Every option has pros and cons. Ultimately LB_3 and I don’t know if we are going to enjoy this option, but we won’t learn the answer to that unless we try. It’s one lifestyle option – it’s not the only option. If it turns out that we don’t like it, we will simply re-sell (we already know of one person who would be interested in buying – someone else had also put in a strong offer on this one).

There’s a great deal that I’m NOT going to say about TAHI itself. It is a private community and people have an expectation of privacy. Some of them are Air Forums participants but many are not. If someone wants to know more regarding my/our observations regarding the community, please feel free to PM with questions.

Here’s a pic of the unit we are transacting (the little trailer parked beside the longer enclosed portion belongs to the seller and will be removed). We plan to DIY upgrades to this unit as time allows. On the upper photo, that blue extending all the way down to the grass level behind the trees in the distance is the water of Lake Sam Rayburn.

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Old 10-18-2017, 09:10 AM   #2
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Looks like a good plan for you two at this point in your lives.

Enjoy.

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Old 10-18-2017, 09:26 AM   #3
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You rock! Will follow this space closely.

In our case, we will not be able to park our AI at home due to HOA rules... that means finding a place to park it. And I was thinking along the same lines. Why not find some place that has similar setups and buy a spot there. Better to pay a monthly fee for something I own than a rental parking space.

I have not looked hard since I still have a few months before our AI arrives. But I will start to do so in a week or two.
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Old 10-18-2017, 09:44 AM   #4
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You rock! Will follow this space closely.

In our case, we will not be able to park our AI at home due to HOA rules... that means finding a place to park it. And I was thinking along the same lines. Why not find some place that has similar setups and buy a spot there. Better to pay a monthly fee for something I own than a rental parking space.

I have not looked hard since I still have a few months before our AI arrives. But I will start to do so in a week or two.
I think there is an Airstream community near Melbourne and another north of Pensacola. Nothing like the one there in TX though!
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Old 10-18-2017, 10:45 AM   #5
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When I was working for a living, the key to Airstreaming— or "Interstating"— effectively was to maximize the time off from work.

Here's how I did it. Depending on your employer, you may or may not be able to follow my example.

Since I was a Federal civil servant, I got 26 paid vacation days a year, or 8 hours off per two-week pay period, beginning with my 16th year of Federal service. For the benefit of non-civil servants reading this thread, the way it works is: 4 hours per pay period for years 1-3, 6 hours per pay period for years 4-15, 8 hours per pay period thereafter. I bought my Airstream 3 years before I retired, so I was already well into the 8 hours leave per pay period category.

Federal civil servants also get 10 paid holidays per year. New Year's, MLK Day, Presidents' Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans' Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. In the New Orleans metro area, our District Engineer used one of his three discretionary leave days per year— that in other districts might be used for snow days— to give us Mardi Gras Day off as well.

We could also elect to work— with supervior's permission— up to 24 hours of "credit leave." Like compensatory time, but with less paperwork involved, but we could only work up to 2 hours of credit time per workday. We could bank up to 3 days of credit time, but then we would have to take some of that banked credit time off before we could work any more.

And in most cases if we had to work overtime (once they finally ruled that engineers could get paid for overtime), we were usually able to choose whether to work overtime and get the money, or work compensatory (comp) time and get extra hours off. Most of the time I chose comp time since I wanted to extra time off more than I wanted the extra dollars.

In any week that has a Federal holiday, I only had four work days. So by taking 4 days off, using any combination of annual leave, credit hours or comp time hours, I got a 9-day vacation. Depending on how much credit time and comp time I worked, I could conceivably have gotten 10 or 11 full weeks off in a year by taking 40 or 44 days of leave.

And in some years, Mardi Gras fell in the week before or the week after Presidents' Day, so I could get a 16-day vacation (2 weeks plus the weekends before and after) by taking 8 days off. Some years, Veterans' Day and Thanksgiving fell in consecutive weeks as well, so same thing. And New Year's Day is always in the week following Christmas, so that was always a 16-day vacation— if I could get the time off.

The way it normally worked for me, since I was sometimes forbidden to take certain weeks off if someone else had already asked for that week off or had a more compelling reason for taking off even if I asked first, was that I would get about 5 weeks off for 5 holiday weeks, and then a 4- or 5-day weekend for each of the other holidays.

Which still gave me plenty of Airstreaming time. I usually did all of that with annual leave, and used credit/comp time for rallies and such that didn't fall on holiday weeks or weekends, and to cover non-Airstreaming days off for other emergencies.

Of course, especially from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the holiday weekends were when the campgrounds were busiest. Since I didn't own property to go camping on, I always had to make reservations in advance, to make sure I didn't arrive at my destination with no place to stay. One of the drawbacks of RV camping when someone else controlled my schedule.
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Old 10-18-2017, 10:48 AM   #6
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I think there is an Airstream community near Melbourne and another north of Pensacola. Nothing like the one there in TX though!
Thank you. Found it.

https://www.landyachtharborofmelbourne.com/

But looks like rental and not a place where I could buy a spot. But I think it would be great for a few years while we learn the ropes.
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Old 10-18-2017, 03:03 PM   #7
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Thank you. Found it.

https://www.landyachtharborofmelbourne.com/

But looks like rental and not a place where I could buy a spot. But I think it would be great for a few years while we learn the ropes.
Hmmm, we looked at this a couple of years ago, I thought you could buy in as a shareholder. Looks like it is all lease and short term rentals. Oh well, not my cup of tea anyway. We prefer variety.
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Old 10-19-2017, 07:14 AM   #8
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With these communities, you don't buy the land. You don't acquire title to the land as in a conventional real estate transaction. You buy the membership. The membership comes with paperwork which specifies which lot(s) you have rights to. Whatever is on those lot(s) is yours exclusively. Technically I believe it could be disassembled, picked up, and trucked away as personal property if someone decided to do that. Of course, nobody could truck away a concrete building slab and concrete driveway, and that's where a lot of the expense comes into the equation.

Our realtor did not assist us with this transaction but I did bounce ideas off him as a reality check. He noted that many transactions in foreign countries are structured similarly, where there are restrictions on non-citizens owning land.

In the case of an Airstream community, they structure it that way (and do many other things) as leverage to preserve a certain improvement standard. Unfortunately, there are some people out there who will allow their own conditions to get trashy if they are not incentivized to the contrary. LB_3 and I did not want to go high-end on this, but being in non-trashy, neat, orderly conditions surrounded by quiet, sober people... those things were non-negotiable, and they are exactly the things that are more challenging to find at lower price points no matter what the structure of the deal.

TAHI has a newsletter (on their website) and in the back of the newsletter are property offerings. You can get an idea of the prices there, although they reflect a great diversity in the extent of cabana upgrades.
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Old 10-19-2017, 09:04 AM   #9
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I called Land Yacht Harbor... really a great place and what we are looking for in terms of facilities and how it is maintained... but we do not qualify for it.

Must be 50 or older - check! I just turned 50.
Must be not working or retired - I can't see when I will be able to retire... so this disqualifies us
Must live there at least 6 months out of the year - even if the commute is not that far to Orlando, they discourage this as they look to minimize traffic in the community. I can understand that.

You buy a share from a shareholder (or heir) and then pay a yearly fee. No issues here. But the above requirements do not allows us to buy the share. Sucks, but I understand the reasons behind it.
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Old 10-19-2017, 09:10 AM   #10
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There are RV communities like the Airstream one depicted here, where individual lots are purchased, improved on, and the owners can rent them out when they are not using them...so don’t be discouraged if an Airstream-only one doesn’t fit your criteria, as there may be something else available.

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Old 10-19-2017, 11:00 AM   #11
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I would think the not working stipulation would be hard to enforce. So many folks like to or need to work beyond their actual retirement years.
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Old 10-19-2017, 11:45 AM   #12
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I would think the not working stipulation would be hard to enforce. So many folks like to or need to work beyond their actual retirement years.
Especially when so many people telework from home these days and skip the commute.

And does the prohibition against working also include unpaid volunteer work?
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Old 10-19-2017, 12:14 PM   #13
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Cool

Maybe I am going the wrong way about this… Please validate my reasoning.

The places around here where I can store my AI are around 150.00/month. This is uncovered, no hookups. Just a parking space to store it.

Using the example of Land Yacht Harbor, this is a place where I would have to pay around 5K to buy the share, then pay around 2.1K the first year, and 800.00 for the following years. It has water, electrical, dump, etc. facilities as well as external storage. It is a place that I felt comfortable leaving the AI without any worries.

Being a newbie with a new AI, I am probably being paranoid… but the two RV camp grounds that I have seen so far scared the heck out of me. Not well maintained, many of the RV units were in very bad state… not the place that I would want to store my AI or spend time in…

And others that I looked at, where I could buy a spot, where only for Class A RVs...

I will keep looking… and we plan to stop by LYH anyway to see if there is anything that can be done that would satisfy their requirements while still allowing us to keep it there… …long shot as I know that the purpose of the LYH is to have a community and not a storage place. It is certainly a place we would like to be when we retire...
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Old 10-19-2017, 01:03 PM   #14
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Being a newbie with a new AI, I am probably being paranoid… but the two RV camp grounds that I have seen so far scared the heck out of me. Not well maintained, many of the RV units were in very bad state… not the place that I would want to store my AI or spend time in…
I've been to a couple of RV campgrounds like that. Not ones I would have chosen to visit, but I was there for a rally, and to this day I have no clue why the rally host chose the place. But I guarantee that I would never go back, not even for another rally.

If you are looking for space in as non-exclusive campground that offers long-term rentals for both storage and occupancy, they are likely to be run down and filled with unsavory types, often migrant construction workers who may be undocumented aliens.

I would recommend that you rent long-term storage space if necessary, but not long-term camping space for your Interstate. One of the main advantages to an Airstream Interstate is its mobility, and going to the same place over and over to camp in it kind of defeats the purpose, in my opinion. Why have an engine if you go to visit it, instead of taking it to visit other places? But that's my personal opinion, and doesn't necessarily reflect the opinions of anyone else here on the Forums.

An Airstream-only community will tend to be well-maintained and have a better clientele than non-exclusive campgrounds, but I still have difficulty understanding why anyone without a physical disability would rent a campsite year-round so that they don't have to move their Airstream to go camping.
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