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Old 01-11-2011, 01:20 PM   #1
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Can someone reality/sanity check this plan for me?

I just want to start my first post off by saying what a wealth of knowledge this forum contains. There is definitley a sense of community/maturity here that you don't often find on car forums and the like. This being said, I hope to get some sound advice for a complicated position I'm looking at taking. I appreciate anyone who takes the time to read this saga of half baked logic.

I work for the government and in the past the job has sent me to places overseas for months at a time. I own a home in IL where my wife lives and works but my company office is in DC where I crash with my parents when I have to work stateside. The years of being away are wearing thin and I am taking a job in San Antonio. My problem lies in the fact that we don't know when my wife can transfer her job and where we want to build our new home while being saddled with our current undervalued home.

She's a designer and insists on getting some land and building a low impact "green" home. We are over 40K upside down on our mortgage thanks to the economy in Chicago and there is no way I can factor floating two mortgages if we were to simply buy another house in San Antonio. While that idea is hard to factor, my head explodes trying to figure out the logistics of floating my Chicago house while dealing with trying to find land and build a house in TX all while starting at my new job.

Originally I thought of renting an apartment but I don't like being locked into a lease with the possibility of getting rid of the Chicago house in an unknown timeframe or my wife's transfer coming through. Plus the rental rates are shamefully close to a mortgage and I feel like it would be throwing money down the drain for no equity. I also don't like the idea of finding an ideal property to buy that I can't enjoy unless I break out of my lease early. Month to month renting might be an option but these places are in less than desireable locations in San Antonio.

Then I thought about renting a room in Craigslist but that option still had many people looking at leases or short chunks of time that offered no stability. Plus, I'd like to have my wife visit often and it's weird sharing a stranger's house. Any higher prices to get the whole home and we are back to the rental situation stated above.

My final "brilliant" idea was to live out of a trailer. My wife has always wanted an AS but they always seemed too expensive or it wasn't the right time since I was gone so much. I did some research to discover that they were the best quality on the market and held their value the best. Thus a plan and some assumptions started to form.

I would buy an AS and rent out a space at a campground. Then I would seek out some land and move my AS onto it once it was good to go. Then I would stay in it during the time it takes to sell my IL home and finish the design/build of my new home. This also leaves flexibility of my IL house possibly selling or me making the final decision to rent it out as the economy sputters along. Once the new house is built, we are going to stage the AS as a guest house/office but still be able to pull it out for road trips when it's not "docked".

I would also sell my 2010 Camaro and hope to buy a F150 FX4 4X4. I've always loved this truck but I have a 05 Tacoma and it didn't really seem reasonable to own a full size pickup just to own it unless it had a purpose like towing an AS. Towing my HD and camping with the Tacoma is easy as pie right now so I could never justify it before. My assumption is that with a tow package on the F150 I am limited to a 25' AS. I'm interesed in the new 2011's with the Ecoboost motors. Is this truck strong enough to pull anything like a 27'? I don't care about maintaining speed up hills and stuff; I just want to get there with my AS. A larger truck like a F250 would just not be feasible as a daily driver and TV for me. Is there anything special I need to consider in the tow setup like axle ratios or hitches? I've read some about WD hitches but don't really get it.

I plan on living the AS by myself initially but later my wife will join me with our 100lb Lab, 50lb Aussie Shep and fatcat. I've figured I would need at least a 25' AS to fit us all and am worried that anything bigger would limit my ability to use the AS as a travel camper down the road with the size truck I want. 25' sounds real tight to me and I hope for a 27' with its layout but I'm up in the air if peace and sanity can be claimed with all of us crammed in there fulltiming.

My final assumption that has NO logical research is the idea that I can just buy a plot of land (approx 1.5-3 acres) close enough to San Antonio and wait to build my house on it later. I know of one community that will allow you to purchase the parcel and there is no time limit on when you have to put a home on it. I also know you don't get assessed for much property tax until you develop the land. I don't think my neighbors would apprciate the fact that they built $300K-$600K houses and there is a shiny metal tube sitting in the community. Most of the lots are around 3 acres but it's not like the AS would be discreetly tucked away. I'd also have to figure out how to tap into electrical and sewer before the house is built.

So, there you have it, my half idea/fantasy. I know everthying I'm rolling around is not a polished concept but I'm hoping for some insight to make this a possibility. I'm positive there are some financial reality checks that might make this an equal cost of living in a rental house or apartment but just more complicated.

My major doubt was, "If this idead is so wonderful and simple, why isn't everyone doing it?"
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Old 01-11-2011, 01:44 PM   #2
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In 1970 I quit my job at the biggest newspaper in NJ. Moved to South Jersey and got a job building boats for about 1/3 the salary. But, better schools for the kids, more fresh air. Endedup being a truck driver for the last 35 years. No regrets. I did it my way. Sal.
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Old 01-11-2011, 02:02 PM   #3
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Tow vehicle questions will always start a debate here. I know the F-150 will be fine.

As for spot in Texas, I would look for property that allowed for an out building. Build a simple barn structure that would allow you to obtain sewer and electrical taps, and park the AS inside or under a loafing shed roof attached to the barn. This will offer protection while you are away and probably meet any restrictions about what you do on your new land. After you can complete your move, the barn is a staging area for the construction of your home and a place to store stuff after you build.


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Old 01-11-2011, 02:02 PM   #4
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Your plan makes sense to me, but then I am also comfortable pulling my 34' Airstream with our 2009 F150 5.4l. She has been up and over the Smokies a couple of times. At this point I would be comfortable anywhere but the Rockies (unless I had a trubo/supercharger setup.

From what you describe, any of the Airstream line would be doable.

Happy streaming. Be sure and keep us up to speed on your adventures.
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Old 01-11-2011, 02:32 PM   #5
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sane.... or maybe as crazy as you

We've a similar plan. Bought about 40 acres in Rockies that has power to the lot and covenants allow staying in an RV while building. Bought a fixer upper on east coast near family for colder months with big enough yard and fence for Airstream while renovating. It may take a few years but I can handle all the work.

We are waiting to sell our main house. But are now designing two small, low maintenance homes with good spot to park the Airstream.

Having done a lot of building and renovation, I'd caution about "green". So much of the of the techniques and material are hype. I like to focus on minimum size needed, simple open floor plans and roofline, conventional classic style and materials for region, and design with a focus on energy efficiency (e.g. thermal mass, air infiltration, good windows). Grid-tie solar is a good long term investment depending on the deal the utility company will give you. Costs for green stuff quickly get out of control and many contractors/subs "see the green folks coming". AAC blocks for example are made from natural materials, can be stucco'd on outside and plastered on inside. Oak, pine or ceramic tile floors, tile roof, concrete slab - natural stuff, reasonably priced and you can finds subs easily.

Of course it is an endless debate here but an F150 with 5.4L will easily tow a 25 or 27' Airstream and, as you say it is a bit nicer commute vehicle. Get a tranny cooler, 4:10 gears and load range E tires. 4x4 and locking differential may be nice options if you will be out in the boonies.
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Old 01-11-2011, 02:40 PM   #6
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We bought 10.5 acres to move to in three years. We restored a 1973 airstream to use when we go to the property. This year we built a metal building where we will construct an apartment inside. We are going green also

I think you have a great plan. good luck.

Brian
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Old 01-11-2011, 02:43 PM   #7
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Hi Slip7;
I hope that you are aware that you will be opening a can of worms which only you can handle. Your idea of living full time in AS is economically sound, but there are many thing you must consider first. Will you be allowed to keep a trailer and for how long, and better get the agreement in writing with the seller of the land. Be sure to check township ordinances first. You will need electricity and water and laundromat close by. You will need to make the trailer freeze proof. You will contend with gray water removal. You will also have solid waste disposal. Living on bare land may make things much to difficult for you. Leasing a campsite is a better move because you will have power water and sewer and perhaps the cable.

When it comes to full timing in an Airstream, be sure to make it your personal choice. Do not let anyone talk you into how wonderful it is. Some truly love it some cannot take full timing. I spent many years in military. Got used to sleeping in hammocks and tiny bunks, got used to tight cockpits. One thing which is not for me is living in a trailer. We own a restored from ground up 1973 26" Argosy. It is beautiful inside
with most comforts of home. But I could not stand living full time in it, and after two weeks I need to be in my home. You are the only one that can decide on which side of that coin you will fit. If you can, test yourself by renting one for couple of weeks. After that you can make your own decision and avoid a possible mistake. Please do not take my statements as Gospel it is only my personal feeling and outlook. Thanks, "Boatdoc"
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Old 01-11-2011, 03:13 PM   #8
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When you get your land, put in the septic system. Its probably the first thing you have to do anyhow. You will have a place to dump. When I built I lived on my 36ft. trawler for a year, and all the waste went overboard. [It was 1970, and nobody cared.]
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Old 01-11-2011, 03:22 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdalrymple View Post
Tow vehicle questions will always start a debate here. I know the F-150 will be fine.

As for spot in Texas, I would look for property that allowed for an out building. Build a simple barn structure that would allow you to obtain sewer and electrical taps, and park the AS inside or under a loafing shed roof attached to the barn. This will offer protection while you are away and probably meet any restrictions about what you do on your new land. After you can complete your move, the barn is a staging area for the construction of your home and a place to store stuff after you build.


Regards,
I really like this idea. One of our plans was to construct a workshop where I could place my motorcycle lift, store the bikes and allow my wife to refurbish furniture. Tacking an awning port or something is a great idea!
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Old 01-11-2011, 03:30 PM   #10
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What year (ish) trailer are you looking for? Some of the older ones are much lighter than the newer ones and if you plan to just park it in a spot for a while, you might not have to sell that Taco to pull it once or twice.

I spent a lot of time looking through the archived specs when we got our first one to make sure I could pull it with a 4Runner. Then I decided to go the 3/4 ton route so it didn't matter, but our 2008 V6 4Runner pulled the 70's 25 footer just fine with no major suspension squat either.
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Old 01-11-2011, 03:54 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Aviator View Post
...I am also comfortable pulling my 34' Airstream with our 2009 F150 5.4l. She has been up and over the Smokies a couple of times. At this point I would be comfortable anywhere but the Rockies (unless I had a trubo/supercharger setup.

From what you describe, any of the Airstream line would be doable.
This is a relief. Now I have a lil flexibility of finding a good fit for us. I hear some campgrounds have size limits on how big your trailer is allowed to be.
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Old 01-11-2011, 03:59 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by webtrippin View Post
What year (ish) trailer are you looking for? Some of the older ones are much lighter than the newer ones and if you plan to just park it in a spot for a while, you might not have to sell that Taco to pull it once or twice.

I spent a lot of time looking through the archived specs when we got our first one to make sure I could pull it with a 4Runner. Then I decided to go the 3/4 ton route so it didn't matter, but our 2008 V6 4Runner pulled the 70's 25 footer just fine with no major suspension squat either.
SHHHhhh...don't let the my wife hear that! I've wanted a F150 for a while and the AS puts me in a win-win situation. Nice to know I might have flexibility if I find myself without it for a while though...
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Old 01-11-2011, 04:04 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Wayward View Post
...Having done a lot of building and renovation, I'd caution about "green". So much of the of the techniques and material are hype. I like to focus on minimum size needed, simple open floor plans and roofline, conventional classic style and materials for region, and design with a focus on energy efficiency (e.g. thermal mass, air infiltration, good windows). Grid-tie solar is a good long term investment depending on the deal the utility company will give you. Costs for green stuff quickly get out of control and many contractors/subs "see the green folks coming". AAC blocks for example are made from natural materials, can be stucco'd on outside and plastered on inside. Oak, pine or ceramic tile floors, tile roof, concrete slab - natural stuff, reasonably priced and you can finds subs easily.

Of course it is an endless debate here but an F150 with 5.4L will easily tow a 25 or 27' Airstream and, as you say it is a bit nicer commute vehicle. Get a tranny cooler, 4:10 gears and load range E tires. 4x4 and locking differential may be nice options if you will be out in the boonies.
I'm with you on the "true" cost of green. That's her gig. I'm mostly influenced by anything that is cost effective and highly efficient for my bang-for-buck ratio rather than any defining eco-principles

Thanks for giving some detail on the truck specs I need to know. That's two thumbs up for the F150
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Old 01-11-2011, 04:19 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by boatdoc View Post
Hi Slip7;
I hope that you are aware that you will be opening a can of worms which only you can handle. Your idea of living full time in AS is economically sound, but there are many thing you must consider first. Will you be allowed to keep a trailer and for how long, and better get the agreement in writing with the seller of the land. Be sure to check township ordinances first. You will need electricity and water and laundromat close by. You will need to make the trailer freeze proof. You will contend with gray water removal. You will also have solid waste disposal. Living on bare land may make things much to difficult for you. Leasing a campsite is a better move because you will have power water and sewer and perhaps the cable.

When it comes to full timing in an Airstream, be sure to make it your personal choice. Do not let anyone talk you into how wonderful it is. Some truly love it some cannot take full timing. I spent many years in military. Got used to sleeping in hammocks and tiny bunks, got used to tight cockpits. One thing which is not for me is living in a trailer. We own a restored from ground up 1973 26" Argosy. It is beautiful inside
with most comforts of home. But I could not stand living full time in it, and after two weeks I need to be in my home. You are the only one that can decide on which side of that coin you will fit. If you can, test yourself by renting one for couple of weeks. After that you can make your own decision and avoid a possible mistake. Please do not take my statements as Gospel it is only my personal feeling and outlook. Thanks, "Boatdoc"
Yes, these are natural questions that started popping in my head right away. I'm currently searching the forums for threads on these subjects. I'm prior military as well and know where you are coming from. As a matter of fact, the AS idea came from the fact that I've been forced to live in small metal shipping containers and tents in some crappy environments for the past two years. I got so used to it that fulltiming in a silver tube sounds like a luxury in comparison Whenever I come home from downrange, I get to feeling like I'm not actually using my whole house and it's just decorated with lots of nice "stuff".
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