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Old 09-11-2006, 10:59 PM   #1
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Thumbs up How do you Full Time in the Big City !???

hi guys!

I practice voluntary simplicity (www.simpleliving.net)... and my dream is to Full time in a 25' or so airstream.... I want to do this for the financial savings aspect (i'm assuming) as well as the freedom.

Difficulty: I have a great m-f Job in Dallas, TX and I don't want a long commute !!

It seems like it's much easier to full time or boondock the farther you get from a major city... and harder the closer you get...

How can I get a semi permanent place to park and plug in without paying a campground fee in the city???

Anybody have ideas?

I was thinking of using craigslist.com ... Certainly somebody in Dallas would be ok with me parking in their driveway and plugging up for a small fee, or in exchange for mowing the lawn or something...

Help!

Simple man
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Old 09-11-2006, 11:44 PM   #2
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Hi, Simple Man

Voluntary Simplicity is a wonderful thing. I have a sign on the fridge that says "You might not have it all, but you can have enough."

But I don't know about moving into a trailer to fulltime in one spot. I think the thing that makes fulltiming wonderful is the ability to travel to a new location and new experiences. You might find yourself pretty cramped living in one fulltime. I find the stuff we accumulate is often the only thing that keeps us sane while we are tied down to our 9-5 jobs. The airstream is for getting away, but when you come back it's nice to have some of the comforts (and hobbys) of home. But that's all philosophy, and you might be very different.

Of course when it comes to simplicity, there's probably better ways to live than in a trailer. After all, you will need a truck to move it (yours or a good friends), sewage hookups, water hookups, and electricity. All things that are hard to find in the city. Just finding room for a trailer big enough to live in can be a trick. Many areas won't allow a trailer in the driveway, or too close to the street, or visible to the neighbors.

It's an interesting concept though. Keep us informed as you try to work out the details. And welcome to the forum!
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Old 09-11-2006, 11:55 PM   #3
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Unlikely

First, don't forget the zoning police... or the neighborhood association... or just a nosey neighbor... or a high crime area.

You're not just using using electricity, it's water and sewer, and their lawn, driveway or patio space too. You'll kill their grass, affect their drainage and the view out of their windows. Far better to be in a nice campground with full amenities in your situation. Swimming pool, meeting rooms, fishing, boat ramp, picnic areas and a social calendar are all part of being in a campground.

Most RV parks are still 1/2 to 1/3 what rent for an apartment costs. Many will let you "work camp" for part or all of your lot rent. Would you work the desk, the security hut, do the lawns, lifeguard, clean the cabins, do general maintenance and repairs? If so, you can save a lot of cash.

In a good one - the neighbors look out for you. We had a big storm (Eduardo) come through and all the people on the campground went around to the weekender's campers and closed the awnings and secured the loose stuff. Only one camper lost an awning; the camp crummudgeon who goes ballistic if anyone walks through his campsite, accuses everyone of having a loud party if they break wind after 9pm, etc.

Saving money by staying in some one's back yard may sound like a good idea, but in a month or two they'll be ready to have you leave... and you'll be ready to go.

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Old 09-12-2006, 12:11 AM   #4
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the goal..

My goal is to live with 100 posessions or less... check out www.simpleliving100.blogspot.com... So I think it may be doable in a 25'.. but i have not experience in trailer sizes..


I want to be able to get out on the weekends, but not be tied down to one location.... And I want to beat the system by paying less than others for comfortable living space.

I also want a short commute depending on where i happen to be in dallas/ft worth for several months at a time...

reasonable?
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Old 09-12-2006, 12:26 AM   #5
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Hi,

I am totally clueless about Dallas other than I remember it being a large, sprawling city... how far is a "short" commute to you? To me it would be within walking distance.... if you aren't that fussy... you might see about some of the smaller towns around Dallas. Some may have a bit of land where you could actually park. Sometimes ranchers have a spot for a trailer for a hired hand they may not be using. At least many times folks in California might. Or, better yet, look for a small older trailer park if not in a undesirable neighborhood. Rates are usually low and folks friendly if they are working for a living.

The other thing you might do is advertise to "house sit" and bring your trailer for folks who are gone in the summer or winter months from that area. Many times people need someone to watch their home and might be glad to have someone who isn't living inside of it! Or, try one of those storage unit places. They often are looking for folks to live there to be "watchmen" part of the time. You might be able to job share that one? Who knows. Sounds like you are trying to view this creatively. I would suggest you think outside the box and see what happens! You might even be able to stay in a warehouse as a watchman at night and then on weekends leave and empty your holding tanks,etc. Might get a little tiresome having to deal with that all the time... but that would be personal preference, I think.

Good luck in your search!

Mrs. NorCal Bambi (traveling in S Tardis)
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Old 09-12-2006, 12:53 AM   #6
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I enjoyed your blog. I think it is interesting that you chose a number and decided to make that artificial limit. So what constitiutes the 'good life' to you?

Personally, I could never limit myself like that. Just for practical purposes (like I don't want to be washing clothes that often, I would never limit my socks )and because some of the things I most enjoy in life are my hobbys, and some of them take up a great deal of time, space, tools, etc. But those are the things that I consider 'the good life'.

However, there are many different levels, as my lifestyle is incredibly simple compared to the people I work for. Their lives are filled with very expensive things, and expensive upkeep, and they work very hard to keep it all going and work towards accumulating more. I am sure they look at me as a slacker for not striving to attain all that they have.

I think Claudia is onto something with the idea of being a caretaker or watchman for a storage place or a warehouse. That's brilliant!
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Old 09-12-2006, 01:36 AM   #7
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hi simple man and welcome to the airstream forums....

you are getting some great viewpoints so far, little having to do with airsteams...

that just shows how talented the folks here can be!

i agree with everything noted so far....

the simple life can be defined many ways...

take a look at steve jobs with apple....not many think of this guy as simple...

but have you seen his wardrobe? basically one mock turtle neck style shirt and one blue jean and one shoe style...sure he's got many of each...but never has to waste time deciding 'what to wear'...that IS dressing simply..

as stef notes...giving up stuff just to give it up doesn't make life simple.
it does remove many of the things that make life worth living....pets, hobbies and so on....

now for airstreams....

first, they aren't cheap living...
buy in is not cheap for a livable unit...
next, think of a house and all the systems that must be maintained...
most are inside an airstream...just smaller.
airsteams are not just aluminum tent space...
full timing puts more stress on all the systems so they generally take more maintanence and wear more quickly....
many other rvs are less costly and offer simpler space and so on....

--where to put it?
you will need to get creative to find cheap space in the city....
being creative is not simple...
-how about trying an old style trailer park...usually the wrong part of town...and the view/noise isn't great but some are close in...
-i've lived in many trailer parks...it is an interesting culture..but not simple.
-zoning IS a big issue, and most storage lots have zoning restrictions too...that keep people from living IN the storage spaces they rent....
-so living in a business park/area/building isn't like the old days...where the custodian had a room upstairs or in the back...

-a small motor home, class c, or class b van conversion are easier to hide in a city...
-these can be driven to work, parked someplace different every night...
many parked easily and

now your list is one item shorter...by combining tow vehicle with living space...
-so if ya want an airstream...get one with an engine!

-smaller towns are more forgiving on creative parking...
-i have infact done exactly what you descibe...for years i lived in my airstream behind a medical clinic where i worked...they installed hookups for me...ever heard of gonzo on trapper john? well i did that. there was zoning against this but given my positon and the community need for medical care...no one enforced the zoning.

-still i was happy to get out of my little space when ever possible...thank goodness i had a house to escape to a few hundred miles away...for visits.

-very few urban folks in middle class neighborhoods are gonna see much value in having you living in a trailer in someones driveway or back yard...

ok off airstreams...
why not find a boarding house, mens house, co-op, commune or some other group home...and just get a room? simple living at its' best.

then if ya buy an airstream for weekend escapes....park it in the country somewhere for regular escapes from the simple life....

cheers
2air'
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Old 09-12-2006, 07:34 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2airishuman
now for airstreams....

first, they aren't cheap living...
buy in is not cheap for a livable unit...
next, think of a house and all the systems that must be maintained...
most are inside an airstream...just smaller.
airsteams are not just aluminum tent space...
full timing puts more stress on all the systems so they generally take more maintanence and wear more quickly....
many other rvs are less costly and offer simpler space and so on....

2air'
Please tell me more about airstreams not being cheap living.... What would I pay for a 25' trailer that was clean, liveable, and with all systems in robust working order???

The issue of underestimating the expense of things is something that I run into often... I now drive an 83' mercedes 300TD wagon (one of the most reliable cars ever built)... but I failed to factor in the effect of age on the rubber parts, and consequently have spent thousands fixing varios problems in the last few months... THIS IS NOT WHAT I WANT TO DO WITH MY AIRSTREAM... I certainly don't mind maintenance, and some repairs when needed, but I do not want a moneypit. Please tell me one of these things in good shape isn't a moneypit.... please....

I feel more confident from the previous posts that I can figure out a place to park in the city with a little creativity...

I want to keep my (after purchase) fixed monthly housing cost well, well under $300... Again, if I can't do that, then an appartment of some sort makes sense.

I would be open to some sort of shared living arangment, or mens home or something... but I don't know where to look for places like this... it seems like in order to live at one of these places you need to be recovering from a drug/alcohol/or jail problem, and even if you meet those qualifications, you can't stay at them very long term... I've heared stories from my relatives about "living at the YMCA" but I don't think they allow this any more...
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Old 09-12-2006, 11:07 AM   #9
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I think an Airstream of any age, i.e. lower cost, would turn into a money pit if you full time in it. The systems in an Airstream are some of the best available, but were not designed to be in operation 24-7. While newer units tend to be in better shape and, therefore, tend to better suited for full timing, they also tend to be more expensive. You will find that in the world of Airstreams you get what you pay for. Quality built for more than 75 years at a quality cost. The used market is no different.

A used Airstream in premo condition is going to cost premo bucks. A bargain unit is going to have maintenance issues on the horizon. Refridgerators will need replacing when they are 15-30 years old. Sooner if they have been full timed. Same with furnaces and hot water heaters. Plumbing, too. The A/C will be another system that is not cheap to fix and will go about the same time as the other system. Plan on 800-1500 to replace each depending on whether you do the work or take it to an RV repair shop. Parking an Airstream for years is bad on its axels and they will need to be replaced when they start to loose their resilliancy. Figure $1,500 per axel plus labor to install.

I don't mean to throw a wet blanket on your simple life parade, but if you noticed in the TV show, Paris and Nicki didn't live simply and they didn't full time in their Airstream...they just dry camped in peoples drive way for one cross country trip.

For what you want to do, I think there are better alternatives than used Airstreams. For what most of us do, camping...ur uh Airstreaming, an Airstream is the ultimate in the camping lifestyle.

Just MHO.
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Old 09-12-2006, 11:01 PM   #10
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I'd say a 25' AS, in excellent condition, with new appliances and ready to live in with very little hassle involved, will probably set you back something in the $15k range. That's from prices I've seen on very nice restored units, and newer units with not a lot of wear and tear on them. Of course, there's a big 'more or less' built in there. If you get a modern unit you'll get modern conveniences, and if you get a vintage one you might have to deal with vintage appliances, or with brand new ones that have been retrofitted. Every AS is unique.

No matter if you buy new or old, it would be great to be handy, because you are bound to need it. Just peruse the forum and all of the unexpected adventure people have had with systems breaking down. Things happen, and it's good if you can learn to deal with stuff yourself.
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Old 09-15-2006, 12:08 AM   #11
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AS in Dallas area to live in

Hi.

I "almost" did that a few years ago. My son developed health problems while at UTexas Law School in Austin. I took the AS and headed for Austin. I tried campgrounds away from town (cheaper but more money to drive, and 'way away from everything) and I finally settled on a campground 3 miles from downtown Austin (actually cheaper by the time I factored in driving costs). Since I already had the AS, and since it was in excellent operating condition I did not have the fix-it problems others have mentioned here (and parking it IMHO is no more problem on the axles than it sitting in the drive way melting away). I had a wonderful time in Austin, and could ride a bike to free or inexpensive live music every night of the week. Austin is a wonderful place, and since my son is now an atty there and my daughter is a student at UT, I still spend at least half my time there -- in the AS. Still, I could have easily rented a small studio apartment for what my AS space cost me. Of course, utilities would have cost me more, it wouldn't have been so well located, I would have had to sign leases, I wouldn't have had my own bed, I would have had to ask permission to keep my dog and my cockatiels (smile), I would have not been able to drive up to my own front door, and I couldn't have taken an apartment out on the weekends to explore the beautiful Texas hill country and state parks. And then, when my son didn't need me there anymore, I couldn't have just hooked up and boogied without having to worry about furniture and leases. Since I already had the AS I saved lots of money and bother. I would not have bought one for that.

As to being a money pit: I agree the Mercedes is a wonderful old car. I have a 1970 280 SEL that I have kept up for years! It happened to have been made on my b'day the year I was in Vietnam (10.23.69). As a young man I thought that I would buy ONE car of excellent design and not care about year models, thus beating the racket of being suckered into buying a new model every few years. I love it. I costs about 3000 a year for upkeep to keep it in tip-top condition. The AS is a wonderful, classic design. It costs money to keep it up even if you were lucky enough to find one in almost perfect condition (practically impossible if you are thinking bargain prices). Not a money pit. Worth every penny. For BOTH classic, high quality machines. Is it worth it? For a bargain, no, probably not. But with the AS, you would at least have something if you decided to chuck it all and go somewhere else in three or four years. My goal is to USE my AS, and I do. Since I'm getting to be an old man I don't worry about re-sale value, my goal is to make it provide me a wonderful vacation and travel home wherever I want to go. So far it has never let me down.

Best of luck.

Waynon
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Old 09-15-2006, 11:44 AM   #12
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Simple man---Someone has said the defination of an RVer is a guy with a $500,000 motor home looking for a free place to park. Obviously you not an RVer by this discription but a free place to park an Airstream is just as hard to find. There are people who live the life you discribe but most don't have regular mon-fri jobs in town. Most are artist, writers, or people that have freelance jobs that don't require being close to bricks and morter. From my point of view you are not a simple man as you would like to discribe yourself. The fact you work an everyday job disqualifys you. Perhaps Simpler man would be a better goal to work toward. -- Pieman
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Old 09-15-2006, 11:58 AM   #13
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Quote:
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From my point of view you are not a simple man as you would like to discribe yourself. The fact you work an everyday job disqualifys you. Perhaps Simpler man would be a better goal to work toward. -- Pieman
Ouch!
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Old 09-15-2006, 12:50 PM   #14
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find a park and buy local... no truck needed

After going back to grad school and selling a 4bd house in the midwest, I could not afford to buy even a condo in the big Nevada city I live in. But I enjoy having some modicum of ownership, so I bought a 1979 31' Airstream to fulltime in rather than rent a studio. It is 1/10 the square feet of the house but it's been enjoyable for me the past 14 months or so. It was about 10k but all systems were maintained extremely well with documentation, and stored indoors for 20+ years in an arid climate. This was bought at a dealer, private party would have been less, but I got a nice guarantee on systems for 3 months, and the dealer towed it to the park and helped with setting it up. For about $150 less than a 1 bedroom apartment (and MUCH smaller heating bills), I have a yard, trailer, and can bike to the university in 10-15 minutes. Since I bought locally, I did not have to worry about a tow vehicle. TV costs are huge, along with associated fuel and parking, so do consider this option--the security of the campground and no worries of zoning problems is worth the monthly lease. Also there is a bathroom/shower/laundry facility, so I have been putting off repairing my hot water heater until the winter demands it and can thus save up for some maintenance costs.
The Airstream is a simple way to live in terms of efficiency and space, but is also pretty cool and has plenty of style. Also, I do recommend getting a 31'er over 25, having a rear bedroom is great to give a sense of multiple rooms, and the added closet space for storing bulkier items and tools.

Good luck!
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