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Old 06-14-2010, 11:06 PM   #1
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Airstream - a good "starter home" for a young couple?

Hey all!

I've been fascinated by Airstreams for as long as I can remember, and I've always been a big traveler and love the outdoors. Right now I live in New England but am thinking of relocating to Austin, TX with my boyfriend. I mentioned the idea of living in an Airstream to my boyfriend, and he liked the idea. We're both in our mid-twenties and work in creative fields and like to do things a little differently than most our age. We don't want to settle down in one place just yet and like the option of taking our "home" with us. We have both lived in NYC and are used to small spaces. My Brooklyn apartment was cramped but I loved the small space. I made use of every inch of space. We both live "small", if you will, from going to college and having to downsize our possessions to living in small apartments in NYC. So I don't think a small space would be a problem for us. I've been eying the 23'-25' models.

My hesitation is parking this thing for most of the year. I see lots of topics on here from people who travel full-time in their AS, but what about living in it parked? Especially in a city setting. Is it easily possible? What sort of expenses should I expect to live in it parked for, say, 10 months out of the year? If we lived in an apartment I'd expect that we'd rent a place that was around $1200/month. Is living in an Airstream significantly cheaper than that if it's parked based on the prices of typical hook-ups at RV parks in city settings? I wouldn't live in an AS just for a cheaper place to live... I just love the lifestyle and style of an AS and have always thought outside of the box, so to say! I'd also like to travel internationally every year for weeks at a time too and think the expense of leaving the AS behind would be a lot cheaper than paying rent on an apartment while I was gone! Thoughts?

Thanks!
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Old 06-15-2010, 12:24 AM   #2
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My first thought is that the 25' is the smallest I would consider for full-time, after having just looked at a 23' unit yesterday.
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Old 06-15-2010, 01:56 AM   #3
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Pecan Grove RV Park - Austin, TX

I've wanted to try this place if I can get away for a while. If it looks interesting to you you may want to call them and check monthly rates and availability to factor into your decision.

Austin would probably be OK for 4 season RVing, but areas like the northeast get cold enough to have hardships in the winter in an RV. You'll definitely want a fairly mild winter climate.

Google city with "rv park" and see what listings are available and what the monthly rates are. Monthly rates are frequently deeply discounted from daily rates. You can also do a google image search with the rv park name.

Woodalls directoriy available at bookstore have listings of RV parks.

I'd check on the settings RV parks present, and the prices. If these are agreeable to you, then perhaps it is a good time to get acquainted with the trailers.

Over the years I've run into quite a few people working out of RVs. Here in mild CA at least.
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Old 06-15-2010, 07:34 AM   #4
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I started investigating living in an RV park in South FL (not Miami, more like 150 miles north) when deciding to attend nursing school. I was stunned at the costs! We're talking $1500 - $1800/month (not including power/electricity)! That's about $500+ more than rent for a nice 2 bedroom apartment in the same area. Sooooo, I'm gonna say that living in the city might be kinda spendy - dependin', of course . Some of the more *camping* type parks in my local area are a bit cheaper - but have other issues (no wifi, cable and are definately NOT in the city).

Wishing you luck though. It's something that I have a yearning to do - at least try!

Laura
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Old 06-15-2010, 08:47 AM   #5
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Thanks for the responses! Please keep them coming. This is very good information!

I've done a bit of poking around and it seems like the average full hook-up is about $375 to $700 a month in the Austin area. I'd be willing to go for the more expensive price if the location was more centrally located because my boyfriend and I will split the cost, which would only be about $300-500/person. Pecan Grove RV park is like MY DREAM spot. It's in a fantastic location and the vibe is really cool. However, I've heard it's difficult to "get in" there. There are lots of permanent residents and I hear there's a wait list? Other RV parks in the area I've been looking at are Lone Star, Aero, and Royal Palms. Nothing beats the location of Pecan Grove though.
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Old 06-15-2010, 09:10 AM   #6
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AtomicKiwi-

We left Southern Connecticut this winter and spent a month in Texas. What a great state!

We stayed for a week in Pecan Grove and it is a terrific location. We got to know the manager and it sounds like it is very difficult to get in full time.

There are plenty of other great spots in Austin and elsewhere. We really liked Marfa too.

See our blog at 65tumbleweed.tumblr.com for some pics of our trip.

Also, if you intend to buy nearby, I'll help you check out a trailer. Check your PM (personal messages).

John
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Old 06-15-2010, 01:03 PM   #7
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Hi, Atomic Kiwi, Consider the lack of insulation in an Airstream; they are really only 3 season trailers.....no severe hot or cold

If you can find a bargain, it is better than renting an apartment/house BUT if you can buy a stick-built house--consider the option.

Airstreams/sobs also, decrease in value usually....depending on your expertise in buying, stick-built houses usually appreciate in value.

I'd tack my $5,000-$8,000 down on a fixer-upper in "the path of progress" in some urban setting.
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Old 06-15-2010, 01:14 PM   #8
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"Airstream Only Park"

I've not traveled to Texas in my Airstream YET, but there are at least two "Airstream Only" parks in Texas. Hit the "reviews" tab on this website - or do a google search for Airstream Only Parks. Normally, you buy a membership in these and pay a modest maintenance/utility fee.

Quite often seniors become "snowbirds" after retirement - and live the winters in a warm climate, then go home to the north in warmer months. (Ghoulish perhaps...) Sooner or later these people pass on to their rewards leaving their Airstreams to be disposed of by their next of kin who may have no interest - or have their own Airstream. Bargain used Airstreams can be found at virtually any Airstream Only Park. As long as the dear departed didn't die in the Airstream and lie undiscovered for a week to 10 days, why not consider gently used?
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Old 06-15-2010, 01:57 PM   #9
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You are right about Pecan Grove. When I lived 45 miles southwest of downtown Austin in the hill country (Between Wimberley and Driftwood, you may want to check them out too.), I had friends in Pecan Grove. Very cool place.

Kistler's comments about the weather are valid, but the Austin climate, much like here in Little Rock, is good for Airstream living. However, the idea of $5,000 to $8,000 down for a fixer property in the Austin area is not realistic. It would not be anywhere near reasonable here in Little Rock, and housing is much cheaper here than Austin.

Another plus to Airstream living when you move there, or anywhere for that matter, is that it will give you a chance to get to know the area. You can decide if you want to stay there and, if you do, where you want to buy. You can use that time to find just the right place.

Austin is a great place. As I mentioned earlier, check out surrounding communities too. San Marcos, just down I35 is a great mix of small town and city. My first Airstream, the Trade Wind, came from San Marcos. Just a great area all around Austin. Just be aware that a lot of people think so and the real estate prices reflect this.
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Old 06-15-2010, 02:46 PM   #10
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We own a 25' classic. We lived in this trailer for three months in the fall of 2004. It was good to get back home and buy a house. I cast envious eyes on units around 27' with A FRONT bed. In the past we have spent our winters in Northern Arizona - near Laughlin, Nevada. So I concur with others newer Airstream are really not 4 season RV's.
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Old 06-15-2010, 08:57 PM   #11
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You should seriously consider a larger trailer. The ones in the 31 to 34 foot sizes do not cost much more (used) than the smaller ones and are no harder to tow once you get used to them. The only disadvantage is you need a larger tow vehicle.

For your purpose the larger trailer will be the better buy. Most people want the smaller ones and that keeps their prices high compared to the large ones so the difference in first cost is little or nothing. There is some extra expense for upkeep and tow vehicle but worth it when you live in the trailer full time.
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Old 06-15-2010, 11:03 PM   #12
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I'm currently living in my Airstream 25' and working in the Denver area while I continue to look for work back home in MN. I would not want to be living in one that is any smaller, but this size is fine for one person. Airstreams are definately 3 season trailers as they use a LOT of propane when its cold. Urban RV parks can be nasty places to live... gravel everywhere, campers too close together, and riff-raff neighborhoods and neighbors - but perhaps you can find a nicer one. The main advantages for me are it is somewhat less expensive than an apartment, does not require a lease, and I am packed and ready to go if/when I find a job that can get me home to my family.
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Old 06-16-2010, 07:46 AM   #13
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As far as pricing goes... For an AS (let's say a 25' - 31'), what would be the average price for one in good condition (any year)?

I've been looking on eBay Motors and Craigslist and see ones anywhere from $1000 to $15,000 (from 50's models up until 90's). I don't think I'll be able to afford going any newer than the 90's? I'm hoping to spend $10,000 or less. Around $5000 would be ideal though. I don't want to do too much structural work on the thing (if any) - basically just cosmetic work to modernize the interior and some cleaning up. Is my budget realistic?
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Old 06-16-2010, 08:53 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AtomicKiwi View Post
As far as pricing goes... For an AS (let's say a 25' - 31'), what would be the average price for one in good condition (any year)?

I've been looking on eBay Motors and Craigslist and see ones anywhere from $1000 to $15,000 (from 50's models up until 90's). I don't think I'll be able to afford going any newer than the 90's? I'm hoping to spend $10,000 or less. Around $5000 would be ideal though. I don't want to do too much structural work on the thing (if any) - basically just cosmetic work to modernize the interior and some cleaning up. Is my budget realistic?
I'm not too sure how realistic $5000 budget is for an AS without needing some mechanical work. But without planning to travel in it and with planning to reside in a park, some of the cadidates for repair/replacement might not be as critical (i.e. running gear - axles, converter/inverter, propane compatible appliances). But, $5000 is still putting you in a vintage unit that will might need cosmetic and mechanical/structural work. There are lists on this forum for things to inspect. Off hand, there are a few that cannot go without attention: weatherproofing (window seals, vent gaskets and seam sealing) and *rear end sag* found on many that have rear bathrooms. This can be fixed, but is definately more than a cosmetic improvement!

Don't be to certain about advertisements on ebay, craigslist, etc. and see statements like "ready to go", "no leaks", etc. The owners might not be aware of the real condition. The PO of my unit didn't realize that axles can even *go bad* (and he didn't know that was the cause of multiple broken rivets, ceiling damage and things falling out of the cabinets = slowly shaking the trailer apart); he didn't know it leaked (because he stored it with the tongue high enough that the water ran to the back and puddled where it wasn't obvious); etc, etc, etc. He wasn't trying to rip anyone off - he was just unaware! Thankfully, this forum has volunteers available to help you inspect any trailer that you're interested in!

A budget of $10,000 puts you in a good position of finding a unit with the above repairs already completed and some interior improvements as well. I paid $7,500 for mine - not necessarily a good price - and it needed new running gear and a few other things. I've put in over $3000 so far (not including buying a newer, more adequate truck) and I haven't really started the cosmetic work that I intended... Funny how I don't even notice all that brown laminate anymore. I camp as much as possible and would love to full time in it in a park environment like you are considering!

Laura
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