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Old 07-19-2018, 07:44 AM   #1
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Portland , Maine
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Can I get some feedback on my "master plan"?

Hey there,


I'm new here, and very grateful to have found what seems to be a passionate and helpful community.


I wanted to run my plans by you all to get some feedback.


I'm a 30 year old software engineer who has worked remotely (from my laptop) for the past 5 years. I live in Maine, and although I love it here in the summer and fall, I don't like the winter (which is almost half the year here).


Over the past three years I've done a "snowbird" thing where I save up during the summer and fall, and then in the winter I fly somewhere warm for 3-5 months and stay in an airbnb.


I recently was forced to find a new apartment and rents are rising in my area, in the $1200+ range for a studio, which I can afford, but the rental life is weighing on me. Those rates make it harder to save to buy land or build a home.


So this is where my master plan arose...


I don't have many belongings, so I live pretty light. All I need is a place to cook, a bed, and a decent internet connection to do my job. I'm risk averse to debt because of how student loans are a real-world ball-and-chain but I thought, even if I were to buy an airstream new with a loan, 1) the payments would be significantly less then rent. So I could save for other goals faster (I understand if I were to stay at expensive campgrounds, I wouldn't be saving as much) 2) I could do the snowbird thing without having to save for airbnbs. 3). I would be owning the airstream rather than just renting. 4) I tend to take really good care of my belongings so theoretically I could maintain it well and, if I needed to, could sell it down the road (to free myself of the debt). 5) If I buy land, I could live in it while I build a house. 6) Once I have a home, I could renovate it into an airbnb and rent it out to people.


The negatives are that there are of course obstacles and challenges with full-time RV life. Ensuring I have electricity and internet when I need it, keeping my food cold. Problems that don't exist when renting an apartment.



To me, it just feels like the right move. The pros far outweigh the cons.


I think my only uncomfortable feeling is taking out a loan, but I rationalize it because I would need to take out a mortgage anyway for a home and this is honestly like buying my first home in a way. And if necessary, I could sell it and remove a good chunk of the debt.


So.. what do you think? Have you done something like this? Do you know what my biggest obstacles will be?
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Old 07-19-2018, 08:12 AM   #2
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Hi

It's a pretty good bet that parking the trailer will cost you between $20 and $40 per day. Right there you have $600 to $1200 in costs. Does that include electricity / water / sewer ? Who knows / that depends.

The Airstream is a depreciating asset. Sure, you can get a terrific deal on a beat up used one, put a lot of work ( = $$$) into it and "sell it for more than I bought it for". I've done that with houses. Don't ask about what went in between buying and selling . If you buy new, it's likely you will have about $5K to $10K per year in the early years of depreciation. If it's financed, there's interest. That can be quite a bit if the loan is for $70,000....

So .... hmmm .... does $1,200 in rent still seem so bad? What's above is not your full costs, it's just a quick stab at a couple of them. A lot depends on what trailer you buy and exact situations on each end of your journey.

You will need a tow vehicle when you move the trailer. How much of a vehicle gets into how big a trailer you buy. Most Airstreams get towed with a large SUV or a fairly big truck. Neither is what I would pick as a daily transport. Either you rent a tow vehicle when you move or you own a larger ( = $$$) vehicle all the time.

Indeed your plan does give you freedom to move around. You have the ability to do "drop in" jobs. If that translates into significantly higher pay (even for a couple months), that goes into the plus side of the ledger. In some professions / specializations that alone tips things quite a bit.

One thing to avoid in your planning: "I can just park and live for free". Unless you are out in the middle of the trackless western desert ... not so much. Even there ... err ... water .... Anyplace you can work, there will be local regulations about how you can live in an RV ( = campsite / RV park ).

So, no clear answer. Sorry about that ....

Bob
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Old 07-19-2018, 08:29 AM   #3
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It can be done, either with an RV or a yacht, using the Intercoastal Waterway. Similar issues of campgrounds (marinas) dumping waste, getting water. I'd recommend purchasing in a low or no tax state, like Florida, and setting up your residence there via the mail services companies.
Read some blogs of those in similar careers to see how they have done it. A Streamin Life comes to mind. Traveling nurses and a variety of construction contractors and consultants have this kind of lifestyle. It works for them. Talk to a financial planner and a tax consultant.
Make a very detailed budget spreadsheet, and run out all your expenses and income, and see if it is practical for your situation.
Think hard about your lifestyle, and what kind of RV supports that lifestyle. OK with a pickup truck? Laundry in laundromats? Entertainment? Dining? Visiting relatives? Pets? Health care?
Few of us get to live the life we want. We get thrust into situations or responsibilities that impose mortgages and minivans. That can be great, or just tolerable. Decide on what kind of life you want to live, and go live it, full speed and eyes open. Good luck.
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Old 07-19-2018, 08:38 AM   #4
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Hi,

Welcome to the forums!

There are plenty of folks on here who live in their trailers full time, and migrate around the country for seasonal work, so I can well imagine you will get some very personal anecdotal information.

I would encourage you to do a little more research into the real costs of your full-timing cost-benefit analysis. For example:

Understand the actual cost of parking in an RV campground--the ones out on the edge of town, next to the freeway, may only be $35 per day, but the "nice" ones that cater more to the long-term residents, in a more desirable part of town, may be upwards or $750 per month. Understand also that many cities/neighborhoods have regulations about what can be parked where, so even your plans to live in the trailer while building a house may not include being able to live in the trailer on your own land.

An RV or trailer (Airstream or some other brand) is really not an investment, like real estate. Rather, it is like buying a car--the moment you roll off the lot, that trailer starts to depreciate. Buy a $60k trailer today and decide to sell in a couple of years, and you won't be recovering that $60k. Similarly, if any tax deductions still exist for mortgages, they are very unlikely to apply to the purchase of a trailer. One good way to combat this situation is to buy a used trailer that is in good shape. You should be able to pick up a fully functional, campable, liveable trailer for less than $20k. Granted, it may be 20 years old, and you will have to learn up-front how to do some repairs, but you will need that knowledge eventually anyway.

Consider also the other expenses associated with an RV/trailer. First, you will have to have a reliable tow vehicle, next, there will be repairs and maintenance on the RV and the tow vehicle as time goes by. Depending on how handy you are, you can do many/most of the RV repairs yourself, but these are expenses you wouldn't have as a renter.

Now, if your dream is to live full time in a trailer (and you are just rationalizing the decision with the cost-balance), then disregard the expenses, and go full speed ahead!

good luck!
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Old 07-19-2018, 08:43 AM   #5
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HaveSomeJoe

Yes it's absolutely possible and sounds like fun.

There have recently been a lot of threads on here with folks talking about the idea of doing just what you mentioned. They get a lot of good realistic and down-to-earth feedback. Often times they don't appreciate that frank feedback because they feel like others are raining on their potential parade.

There are also several people on here doing exactly what you describe some of them working some of them not.

Might be good to just keep reading the forms and looking for the threads that talk about full timing and what some of the expenses might be.

Once you work up a realistic budget of some of your known expenses you will have a better idea whether that fits into your lifestyle.

Most all of your expenses will be the same with varying amounts except rent which will now be RV Spot rental. Monthly rates are usually discounted from daily rates for long-term residents. Utilities will sometimes be included in an RV spot if not sometimes electric is separate. And then add propane if you think you will be using that. Airstreams are not typically thought of as four season camping and anytime you hit a freezing temperature you are going to have to do certain things to keep your pipes from freezing and to keep the inside warm and or cool on a warm day.

You will not be able to depend on Campground or RV Park internet and so you will need your own Unlimited plan or Wi-Fi booster set up. Seeing how your work is dependant upon your internet connection if it's not good you have to be willing to move.

You will need a tow vehicle unless you find a recurring spot to Snowbird in and you have your trailer towed there by a transportation company.

Being handy and being able to fix small things is also good with some understanding of tools and DIY.

Keep us posted what you decide.
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Old 07-19-2018, 09:09 AM   #6
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Many issues to consider as already raised in this thread or others. One to add...you are not likely to impress a date when he/she hears you live in a trailer.
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Old 07-19-2018, 10:10 AM   #7
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You are in a perfect position to make this doable. There will be as many opinions on this as there are people weighing in. No one will know if this will work or be a fit for you better than you. Do your homework and find what will make you happy.
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Old 07-19-2018, 10:15 AM   #8
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If you have not RV'd before, you'll have a little bit of a learning curve on how to hook up and unhook and dump, etc.
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Old 07-19-2018, 11:11 AM   #9
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I suggest you look at www.technomadia.com, a young pair of software developers that hit the road many years ago in a trailer, now have a bus and boat. They publish their costs, tech know how and this will give you some insight as to the nomadic life while working full time. Trailers are not an investment, they are a cost of living expense.
A great idea and opportunity, go for it!
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Old 07-19-2018, 12:16 PM   #10
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Why not buy a cheaper tear drop or something similar used, that won't skin you alive. Do this for a period of time to make sure it's the life style you like. I love RVing, but would never trade off my teather of hard real estate for a mobile unit. That's my life style.
I towed a much cheaper trailer for years before I bought my Airstream. I could not have afforded the payments then. But now I can because for years I saved up.
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Old 07-19-2018, 01:23 PM   #11
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Have you considered an Airstream motorhome? There has been some that looked to be good buys on the Airstream classifieds and some nice trailers as well. Don't be afraid to ask for help. You may find helpful Streamers living close by. Good luck in your planning and adventure. Florida is a useful place to look.
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Old 07-19-2018, 01:26 PM   #12
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My first WFH software job was in 1978 and we have come a long way -- wires no longer required! I am now 60 and still a WFH software engineer from NH who FINALLY took the plunge this year and am living with my wife and two cats in our Classic. My employer is in San Antonio. I may have gone overboard but I have a Verizon Above Unlimited (mostly for personal) and an AT&T Wireless Internet 100GB (mostly for work) plan. These have been sufficient so far, running Slack, Zoom, Git, Pandora or Amazon Prime Music all day. It is still an experiment and work-in-progress but this forum is a great place to learn and explore! We'll be heading to Maine for September, then down to South Carolina in October before things get cold. We enjoyed our 20 years of ice and snow in NH. Now it's someone else's turn! I highly recommend the life!
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Old 07-19-2018, 03:18 PM   #13
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Thank you all so much. I GREATLY appreciate both the frank and the encouraging advice.


I went to a small dealer today in New Hampshire and became disillusioned a bit to my original fantasy. I was imagining payments in the $250 range but it looks like it would be closer to $500-$700 for something new. So that has me reeling back a bit and readjusting my expectations. It seems like what maddogkenno says would be a better move. I bought my car new, and enjoyed not having to deal with the constant maintenance of buying a junker, so that was a lot of my rationale.


I still think I want an airstream, but if I can find something decent for 20k or less, that would be a lot more reasonable.


I'm pretty handy and willing to learn to do repairs, and yes, I was kind of thinking I could figure out how to live off-grid to keep costs down.



I may need to slow down a bit. Part of my excitement is that I'm avoiding renting a new apartment while I figure this out but I may need more time to do things right.
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Old 07-19-2018, 03:21 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevinshortnh View Post
My first WFH software job was in 1978 and we have come a long way -- wires no longer required! I am now 60 and still a WFH software engineer from NH who FINALLY took the plunge this year and am living with my wife and two cats in our Classic. My employer is in San Antonio. I may have gone overboard but I have a Verizon Above Unlimited (mostly for personal) and an AT&T Wireless Internet 100GB (mostly for work) plan. These have been sufficient so far, running Slack, Zoom, Git, Pandora or Amazon Prime Music all day. It is still an experiment and work-in-progress but this forum is a great place to learn and explore! We'll be heading to Maine for September, then down to South Carolina in October before things get cold. We enjoyed our 20 years of ice and snow in NH. Now it's someone else's turn! I highly recommend the life!
That's awesome Kevin!


That's essentially what I'd be doing too. Slack, Hangouts, and the occasional push/pull to the git repo. A co-worker of mine lives on his sailboat with a Verizon MiFi and he never has any issues so I know it's possible. I was imagining if I got solar panels I could even do long sessions of cheap boondocking but I'm not sure I'm thinking it all through this early.
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