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Old 06-08-2017, 04:50 PM   #1
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Full Timers: Do you have a "base camp"? Also, what is RV culture like?

Hey y'all. I'm new to the AS forums, and this is my second thread ever. Hello!

My husband of 10+ years, Doodle Dog, and I are considering making the leap to the AS life. We've picked out our ideal model after a bit of shopping (would need further confirmation, but at the moment it's a Cloud 25FB Twin). Anyway, point is, we've done our research and are very attracted to the life.

Reasons:
-- I love travel, but hate hotels (noisy, dirty, pricey, and on our recent cross-country trip, we didn't like having to stop early or beeline to make it to our points-reserved room)
-- Weird road attractions are super interesting. Like, Oasis of Kansas in Colby, what was that? I don't know, because we had to get to Missouri by whatever hour. I don't expect greatness, I just want to see the thing.
-- Having one 35-lb dog makes a trailer pretty attractive, because she can be with us without staying in iffy hotels or paying huge pet fees.
-- We both work from home, although figuring out Internet is a big deal that could make or break the whole thing, since his job requires a boatload at a time. Internet access is a moving target that is a bit daunting.
-- Our best moments have been in national parks and places of natural beauty, like Volcano Ntl Park and Big Sur. I loved being there, and hated leaving, and was envious of people in RV's who could explore at off-peak times and generally just "be" there. Cities are great for shows and food, but nothing charges me up like seeing elephant seals barking or standing awestruck in front of a weirdly shaped rock.
-- We're introverts, which is actually something I wonder about almost enough to ask for another thread about it. Are RV people generally just introverted, or is there a partyish, Nattie Lite vibe to many of the RV grounds? There are so many spots that we could never get a good picture of the culture in general. I camped frequently many years ago, and some was great, but some was hell punctuated by bad drunk guitar. PS, introversion doesn't mean we hate people--I get lonely, actually--it just means we have our fill after a bit and then need a break. We prefer meaning over fluff.
-- We considered doing this RV life a few years ago, but bought a smaller house instead. Now, we sold that property, and are renting, and here we are again considering a mobile life.
-- I just kind of want this inside and out, even though it's scary. Even though there are unknowns no matter how much research you do.

My big question right now is: Do full timers have a kind of base camp, with a basic secondary dwelling, that they use for an address and call home during those times of the year or season when they want to just stay put? Do you ever have enough and just need a month or two to be still? If so, do RV parks serve that need?

We thought a permanent base camp was so clever, but the logistics and costs are daunting at best. Very few places that I've found have such accommodations, and the few that do only allow class A monster-size homes or are priced astronomically. OR, If you buy land with the idea of putting a one-room cabin on it, there are a zillion cost, convenience, and zoning considerations. Plus no one to tell you if it's robbed or flooded.

All these little turnarounds and headaches got me to wondering whether this is why full-timers Are full-timers, and not semi-timers with a little pad to call their technical home.

So BIG QUESTIONS:
1. How do you tell which places are nice to stay for the short or month-ish or seasonal times? If it sucks, can you cancel? (What I am trying to say is, many of these websites are sketchy as hell, and I worry about putting a credit card into them. Also, since the whole idea is mobility, how do you handle when you book for a month and want out after two days because it's not as advertised?)
2. Do full-timers also have cute little one-room base camps where they can chill out if they're tired of being on the road and need to sit still for a bit? If so, how did you work that out, and where should we look?
3. In general, what is the vibe at the well-reviewed RV sites? Is it mostly nice, regular folks, or are there lots of people you'd be wary of leaving your kids with (aka meth labs on wheels)? I'm trying to ask if there are sketchy people without sounding like a total B. Please know my heart and where I'm actually coming from. We're trying to figure out if places are party zones for acoustic guitar and beer cans until 2 am and not-great citizens, or places we could work and meet folks now and then and feel safe.

I hope that all comes across the way I mean it. I hope this all works out and we get to meet some of you one day. I hope for world peace. But, world peace is a toughie, and a trailer is a reality, so here I post. Cheers, and epic thanks for your opinions and insights.
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Old 06-08-2017, 05:59 PM   #2
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Full Timers: Do you have a "base camp"? Also, what is RV culture like?

Welcome.

We've been full time since February, after three years off an on extended travel. We travel coast to coast, and like the freedom and movement. We do not have a house. We also have nothing in storage.

Our rig is a Dodge Ram 2500 truck, and a 30' Flying Cloud Rear Queen. It works for us and our Mini-Schnauzer.

Specifically:

1. We use www.campgroundreviews.com, a lot. Some (most, actually) are hits. Sometimes you have an experience you'd rather not repeat. But you have to try and stay at a park for a few days. Generally it's a 'pay ahead' type of deal. We've cancelled at parks, but per policy, we lost our money.

2. We sold our house in Tampa. We don't miss it, at all. Being "on the road" means you are "on the road." I think for us, having the 30' trailer makes a big difference. At first we bought a 27FB Twin. We did not like the Twins because:reasons. We also did not like the L dinette, at all. But it is a popular design layout.

Unfortunately, unless you actually live in a TT for a while (weeks) the little things that drive you nuts will not appear. You think you have the BEST LAYOUT EVER.

But you don't. Hence my advice is "buy used".

3. The vibe at most RV Parks is fine. There are of course as many RVers as there are RVs. I've never stayed at a park in which I saw sketchy people. (It may make a difference in that we can choose highly rated parks.)

Again, welcome. Full timing is a lot of fun, but does require some adjustment.

Rich
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Old 06-08-2017, 06:59 PM   #3
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Full Timers: Do you have a "base camp"? Also, what is RV culture like?

Fun question to consider. First off, full disclosure: we don't full-time ourselves (at least not yet), but we know people who do that, and my parents did it for at least 5 years.

By all means, get an RV and go camping as often as possible. Used is a great way to start as long as you pick the right point on a sliding scale between "ready to camp" and "handyman special." If you're evaluating a used Airstream, then if possible get a volunteer inspector from this forum to take a look at it for you, as they will be able to tell you where on the scale your target trailer probably lies.

A few key things:
(1) If you are still working, you *must* have a job that allows you to work remotely. I have seen too many working full-timers who get themselves trapped in a job that does not allow this. Then, when winter comes, pipes are freezing, and on and on. It is miserable to be stuck in an RV in the wrong climate for a good chunk of the year. Airstreams are NOT year-round RV's unless you are using those wheels to help maintain a livable climate inside and out. Don't let this happen to you.
(2) If you are working and require an Internet connection wherever you go so that you can do your job remotely, solve that problem *before* you go full time. Research and then experiment with cell carriers to make sure you've got a plan that will handle your data requirements. Make sure you have an antenna / router solution that will give you the connectivity you need. Make sure you understand that many national parks, monuments, etc. Have ZERO cell phone coverage, even with the best setup.
(3) You *must* be financially prepared to handle the occasional minor disaster. Let's say the fridge dies, or a storm rips off your awning because you forgot to bring it in, or you suddenly realize you are going to have to replace all the tires on your RV. If you don't have the requisite financial capability to handle these things, you are not ready for full-timing.
(4) You really should have a clue when it comes to picking up a tool or debugging what in the world is wrong this time. You don't need to be a mechanical expert, but you need to be able to read a manual, use some basic tools, figure things out, and know when a situation requires expert assistance (see #3, above).
(5) Your tow vehicle should have both the towing capacity and load capacity you need. These are two very different things and both matter. The latter is more important as you move to full-time status and are carrying everything you care about with you wherever you go, either in your trailer or your tow vehicle.
(6) Try to become a "minimalist" - see item #5, above.
(7) Look at sites like http://campendium.com and the AllStays app.
(8) Don't worry too much about the RV Park vibe - for us, the only thing we've ever seen that made us want to run away was a park or two filled with the depressing miasma of people struggling along in their sad dilapidated semi-permanently-parked RVs. These are generally hard-working folks doing the best they can, but I spent my childhood in trailer parks, and these places probably hit me harder than they hit other folks. Bottom line, I do not want to camp in those places. If a place looked truly sketchy, we wouldn't even "drop anchor." That is what wheels are for.
(9) Become familiar with Federal BLM land as well as similar state lands, and camping there - what it takes, what it's like, and whether you enjoy it. The price is right if it is right for you.
(10) Connect with other folks who are already full-timing. Follow their blogs, watch their vlogs, and generally start reaching out. Get honest input about what is great and what is pretty terrible about full-timing. It can be awesome if it is right for you, but it will *not* be all posies and daisies, blue skies, and rainbows. Some of those roses have thorns, best to know about some of them first.
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Old 06-08-2017, 07:17 PM   #4
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Full Timers: Do you have a "base camp"? Also, what is RV culture like?

Ooh, forgot a couple of other apps that can be helpful: RV Parky, iExit, KOA (yeah, I know, some folks love to hate on KOA, but in a pinch it can be helpful), and the Ultimate Public Campgrounds app (there is a US version and a Canadian version). Another helpful site is http://freecampsites.net. You might also want to check out Boondockers Welcome, and Harvest Hosts. There are others as well, but this is a start.
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Old 06-09-2017, 12:17 PM   #5
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Join Date: Feb 2017
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Welcome aboard! I've been full timing since April and will try to answer a couple questions. If I could part any wisdom with buying an AS it would be to buy a used one. One with all the issues worked out or an older one when there was actually quality control from the AS plant. Yes, they are handmade and much like a new home you will have issues but I bought new and have had in my opinion way too many "issues". If you look at some of the older AS too you'll see the difference in quality IMO. If you can't find a used one and or set on buying new, get a price quote from rvdirect.com and ask your dealer to price match. You can get up to 22% or even better off MSRP. I think I read somewhere AS is pushing 70 or so new trailers off the assembly line a week! The dealership here in NC has a pretty good inventory with 2018's rolling in. In regards to the culture at RV parks, for me it's been pretty laid back from what I've experienced. I'm going to put a plug in here for a stay at Highland Haven AS Park in VA. It's an experience well worth the trip. As far as the model you are looking at, I have the 25 twin FB and wouldn't have gone with any other model having seen them all. It just works the best for my situation. Everyone's will be different though. Best of luck in your search and the decision to full time. I say go for it. Parachute won't open unless you jump!



Quote:
Originally Posted by RadioWagon View Post
Hey y'all. I'm new to the AS forums, and this is my second thread ever. Hello!

My husband of 10+ years, Doodle Dog, and I are considering making the leap to the AS life. We've picked out our ideal model after a bit of shopping (would need further confirmation, but at the moment it's a Cloud 25FB Twin). Anyway, point is, we've done our research and are very attracted to the life.

Reasons:
-- I love travel, but hate hotels (noisy, dirty, pricey, and on our recent cross-country trip, we didn't like having to stop early or beeline to make it to our points-reserved room)
-- Weird road attractions are super interesting. Like, Oasis of Kansas in Colby, what was that? I don't know, because we had to get to Missouri by whatever hour. I don't expect greatness, I just want to see the thing.
-- Having one 35-lb dog makes a trailer pretty attractive, because she can be with us without staying in iffy hotels or paying huge pet fees.
-- We both work from home, although figuring out Internet is a big deal that could make or break the whole thing, since his job requires a boatload at a time. Internet access is a moving target that is a bit daunting.
-- Our best moments have been in national parks and places of natural beauty, like Volcano Ntl Park and Big Sur. I loved being there, and hated leaving, and was envious of people in RV's who could explore at off-peak times and generally just "be" there. Cities are great for shows and food, but nothing charges me up like seeing elephant seals barking or standing awestruck in front of a weirdly shaped rock.
-- We're introverts, which is actually something I wonder about almost enough to ask for another thread about it. Are RV people generally just introverted, or is there a partyish, Nattie Lite vibe to many of the RV grounds? There are so many spots that we could never get a good picture of the culture in general. I camped frequently many years ago, and some was great, but some was hell punctuated by bad drunk guitar. PS, introversion doesn't mean we hate people--I get lonely, actually--it just means we have our fill after a bit and then need a break. We prefer meaning over fluff.
-- We considered doing this RV life a few years ago, but bought a smaller house instead. Now, we sold that property, and are renting, and here we are again considering a mobile life.
-- I just kind of want this inside and out, even though it's scary. Even though there are unknowns no matter how much research you do.

My big question right now is: Do full timers have a kind of base camp, with a basic secondary dwelling, that they use for an address and call home during those times of the year or season when they want to just stay put? Do you ever have enough and just need a month or two to be still? If so, do RV parks serve that need?

We thought a permanent base camp was so clever, but the logistics and costs are daunting at best. Very few places that I've found have such accommodations, and the few that do only allow class A monster-size homes or are priced astronomically. OR, If you buy land with the idea of putting a one-room cabin on it, there are a zillion cost, convenience, and zoning considerations. Plus no one to tell you if it's robbed or flooded.

All these little turnarounds and headaches got me to wondering whether this is why full-timers Are full-timers, and not semi-timers with a little pad to call their technical home.

So BIG QUESTIONS:
1. How do you tell which places are nice to stay for the short or month-ish or seasonal times? If it sucks, can you cancel? (What I am trying to say is, many of these websites are sketchy as hell, and I worry about putting a credit card into them. Also, since the whole idea is mobility, how do you handle when you book for a month and want out after two days because it's not as advertised?)
2. Do full-timers also have cute little one-room base camps where they can chill out if they're tired of being on the road and need to sit still for a bit? If so, how did you work that out, and where should we look?
3. In general, what is the vibe at the well-reviewed RV sites? Is it mostly nice, regular folks, or are there lots of people you'd be wary of leaving your kids with (aka meth labs on wheels)? I'm trying to ask if there are sketchy people without sounding like a total B. Please know my heart and where I'm actually coming from. We're trying to figure out if places are party zones for acoustic guitar and beer cans until 2 am and not-great citizens, or places we could work and meet folks now and then and feel safe.

I hope that all comes across the way I mean it. I hope this all works out and we get to meet some of you one day. I hope for world peace. But, world peace is a toughie, and a trailer is a reality, so here I post. Cheers, and epic thanks for your opinions and insights.
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Old 06-09-2017, 12:28 PM   #6
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How very fun! I have lurked around airstream sites for years as they are architecturally beautiful and the thought of upgrading from tent camping and hoteling was super intriguing. I have never towed anything and am lucky to be able to spell RV. So I started looking and decided a 25 would be perfect since it is just, no pets, and I wanted double axles. Ended up in a 2017 27fb for he pantry, queen bed, and panoramic windows. The thought of buying used scared me as the whole concept was so new. Did weekend trips. Then went coast to coast and back over the holidays. When I got back I realized how much there is to experience, how wonderful the people you meet on the road, and incredible flexibility. I am a total introvert, but everywhere I went people were wonderful. Airstreamers in particular will saddle up and chit chat. Came home, fixed up the house, just sold it, go full time in august. If you feel your heart tugging, follow it. If you think the 25 is perfect, look larger. The saying goes, buy your second airstream first.
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Old 06-09-2017, 01:04 PM   #7
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I've been full timing for a year, no previous RV experience. The best resource for the money that I have found is: http://escapees.com. For $40 a year, it's a steal. I have stayed in many RV parks and the escapees coop parks are very good and economical. Their website has many educational offerings as well. You will find most answers to your questions here, also.
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Old 06-09-2017, 03:20 PM   #8
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Tom- I recognized your name from Airstream Addicts on FB and thought "oh, is this the awesome house guy? No! Please tell me he didn't sell that house!!" You did. Your home was spectacular. That being said, I hope you enjoy every single minute of your full-timing adventures! Happy Trails to You!
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Old 06-09-2017, 04:46 PM   #9
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Some really good questions you have there Radiowagon.
Welcome to the forums.

I've been full timing in my 345 motorhome for about three years now.
Haven't been able to do as much traveling as Id like, as the cost on the road adds up so quickly.

Also I haven't pared down my stuff enough to be self contained in the coach.
So I have rented a spot in a more of a trailer park here in central Az for a lot of that time. Even when traveling as it would have cost nearly as much to put the stuff in storage while traveling. Plus it feels good to have a home base of sorts to know I can come back to.
It is an interesting community in this trailer park, sort of a last resort kind of situation, for those that can't afford better. Not nearly as fun or friendly as in R V parks. But ok for now.

At any rate, my brother and I have just bought a piece of property in the Fla panhandle to develop into a home base for both of us. He has been full timing in he's 30' classic AS trailer for about five years.
Yep I caught the aluminumitus while having my first RV experiences with him.

He has been vollunteering in a Fla. state parks for most of that time. And really likes some of the parks along the coast in the panhandle.

Some resent health issues he's had, have made it clear that full time park vollunteering may not be a forever thing.

The place we found is about 25 miles inland from the Panama City beach area.
And is located in a pocket of old growth mixed forest, with lots of big mature oaks and magnolia trees on our place.
we are planning to build pole barns for our rigs with room to build some screened living area adjacent to the rigs in the pole barns.

There is a two car shop and a one car plus sized shed for storage and extra vehicles, allready in place.

If we can get the variance we have applied for we would like to develop additional sites for guests and to rent to others that would like to base themselv s in the area.

The key for us is to maintain the wooded nature of the place providing separation of spaces and the park like feel.

It is just less than two acres, we figure that we can have up to five or six spaces
And still have the space to make it nice for folks that don't want to park right next to neighbors. And like a little room to themselves.
Ultimately it would be nice to build a small shed at some of the sites for those that would like to base themselves there and have a bit of personal storage space or a little work space for projects or craft activities etc.

We hope to attract some likeminded long term tenants. That enjoy the place and being around each other. And still want to do some traveling at times.
Rather than a flow of short stays of passers by.

All will hinge on the success of the variance, and our success in finding a few folks that like and fit the plan. Fingers crossed.

To answer another of your questions. The atmospher in parks does vary considerably. The tightly packed commercial parks with spaces cheek to jowl.
And folks just stopping in on their way.
To state and other types of parks offering more natural settings, where folks tend to stay a week or so and are usually fun to touch in with, folks enjoying vacation time are usually up for a good time and are good company.

I loved that saying. Your parachute can't open till you jump. Ha, good one.

We have just made the jump and are watching for the chute to open now.

Cheers Richard
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Old 06-09-2017, 05:41 PM   #10
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I must have inherited the "pack rat" gene from my mom because I never perfected the art of traveling light so a home base is important to me. If you can achieve minimalism you might do well without a home base. As mentioned above you will need lots of headroom on your credit cards to stay comfortable on the road and deal with emergencies. For me I've been glad to have a home base with a great camping spot next to the creek and in the shade, I rent the funky mobile home to some reliable tenants who keep an eye on things and help with the mortgage. The key is good tenants so the property isn't a burden to me. I do believe the less stuff you have the more free you can be so your mileage may vary!
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Old 06-09-2017, 07:26 PM   #11
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Crestview , Florida
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Full timers too

We have been full time for a little over a year now. We also have a 30' and a RAM 2500, recently acquired when our Duramax suffered a costly catastrophic fuel injection pump failure and Chevrolet refused to help as 5 yr warranty was 5 months expired although mileage only 51,000.

The 30 is much more suitable for us than the 27FB it replaced. We do not have a "base camp". We are on the road and loving it. Someday we may look into a piece of land and set up a home base, but for now we just want to be free to follow the sun!

Paul & Holly
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Old 06-09-2017, 11:46 PM   #12
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No doubt you are realizing there are many ways to successfully full time. I think the way one approaches full timing is an extension of one's personality and dreams. Some make meticulous plans and others follow the wind - neither one is the right way to do it.

My wife and I were a lot like you back in August 2014. We spent two months reading airforums and felt we were at a point where we could make the jump and hit the road. We were leaving the rat race and intended to embrace a life on the road where our tomorrows were unscripted for the most part. Still, our first step that month of October was to find a winter stop in which we could survive. We chose Snow Canyon State Park just outside St. George, Utah where winters are relatively mild. From there we fell into a camp hosting gig for the winter where our full hookup was invaluable - electricity helped cut down on propane use, and the availability of water and sewer allowed us to concentrate on the learning curve of our trailer and full time life.

One of the great benefits to landing in St. George was we were able to recognize great medical facilities and practitioners. Not to get into political debate, we also found a health insurance agent to navigate through the insurance red tape of 2014 and establish Utah as our medical home base; I highly recommend finding and using the expertise of a health insurance agent - it's free and streamlines the process. Establishing Utah as our health insurance base stipulates six months of living within the state. As fortune would have it, we fell in love with southern Utah and pretty much enjoy the benefits of public lands found in the western states. We have been able to make forays during the different seasons to other states but always return to our winter camp hosting gig during which we take care of our medical check ups. We have cut our ties with California and find trailer and vehicle insurance and registrations cheaper in Utah.

We have never stayed in a RV park and choose to boondock on BLM and National Forest roads. However, when we are winter camp hosting we stay in a state campground whose management has set aside a spot for us outside of the campground so it's like boondocking but with hook ups. The last two spring/summers we decided to work and make some money to offset the costs associated with a truck accident and subsequent medical bills, and so stayed in the campgrounds of our employers. While we have a passive income with a rental property back in California, we choose to work in order to maintain a comfortable savings account. Two thoughts on this: One, we have been able to find service jobs with very little research or planning but rather by staying in a location long enough to develop relationships and those in turn network into knowledge of job opportunities. And two, a life on the road and a regular passive income allows us to take on relatively menial jobs - jobs that aren't necessarily easy or stimulating but doable with the knowledge that they aren't forever. I have cleaned rooms and toilets, maintained grounds, helped a bit with carpentry, and now work in a gas station convenience store for minimum wage. I embrace them for the opportunity to meet new folks, make new friends, and recognize just how hard a lot of people work to make ends meet - it's enlightening. After this summer we will say good-bye to our new friends and hit the road for further exploration somewhere else.

I apologize for the long-winded response but it's because I feel so strongly about full timing - it's clearly a different way of thinking and living out of the box (no pun intended toward SOBs). For us, life on the road has been a mixture of adventure and staying put for a season or two. The former makes for great memories and stories. But the latter has surprisingly resulted in so many new relationships - friendships across state lines, race, politics, beliefs, and income brackets, that will last forever. So find your Airstream or RV and your tow vehicle, find your home base...and then go find yourself. It's the best thing that ever happened to us.
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Old 06-10-2017, 12:36 AM   #13
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Just wanted to clarify: I was not referring to credit cards when I said "financial capability." If you are planning to take on fresh debt to go full time, you should probably think carefully about that plan. Your margin of error shrinks with every dollar of debt you carry.
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Old 06-13-2017, 08:46 AM   #14
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I would suggest having the internet connection issues tested and secured. After that get moving and solve the rest of the issues you are still wondering about on the road. Delay too long and you will never move off dead center. I once heard of a sailor that said if you are still looking at boats, looking for the perfect one for two years, you will never buy a boat and sail.
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