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Old 10-20-2003, 04:13 PM   #1
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idle ?s about quality of space, life

i would appreciate hearing, from full-timers especially but not only full-timers, about the quality of life they experience in their airstream. i'm interested in the airstream from the standpoint of design and spatial issues, not living in one myself (only because i would never take it anywhere, and probably couldn't convince my significant other to oust all his junk and live in a space under 500 square feet!).

how do you all deal with the 'lack of' space, or do you even perceive it as a lack? if you don't feel cramped, why not? is it because of the quality of the space, or the design features? which features do you particularly like, or find helpful? if you do feel cramped, could you explain why?

for any airstreamers who do not live full-time in their vehicle, do you think that you would consider it, or is it absolutely necessary for you to have a home base and/or lots of space?

sorry to bother you all, but i am currently exploring personal issues of space. of course, we're all different but i am wondering if people in general really need to live in a large space, or are simply convinced that they need lots of square footage because it is the norm in our society. personally i would rather have a tiny space if it also offered quality and efficiency of design, and suspect that having a much smaller area to worry about, pay for, and clean probably leads to a much less stressful life.

any thoughts or ramblings on this would be great. thanks!

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Old 10-20-2003, 04:17 PM   #2
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My wife and I plan to full-time one day. However, we have small children. Adults, kids and small spaces for extended periods of time do not mix.


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Old 10-20-2003, 04:44 PM   #3
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I'm not currently living in my trailer, but I do plan to do some extended stretches of time in it starting in the next few years... and for who knows how long afterwards.

Having been in the cabinet business most of my life and specializing in "space planning", I can really appreciate all the nooks and crannys and great utilization of space. I think I have reached a point in my life where I want to downsize my possessions and be more of a minimalist.

Now living in the South, and most likely staying where it is warm, I think that old RV saying of "my back yard is wherever I park my trailer" is appropriate when answering your question. I think if I was "trapped" in my trailer because of weather concerns. Extensive rainy climates, long spells of cold, etc., I would probably not consider it. In Florida, I can rollerblade, fish, swim, sit outside in my lawn chair, BBQ, and enjoy all of the outdoors pretty much all year long.

I hope that answers your question... at least from my point of view.

Did I mention that Airstreams are just so cool and would be fun to live in and travel in?
My 77 Sovereign Renovation
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When I'm drivin' free, the world's my home....When I'm mobile.

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Old 10-20-2003, 04:44 PM   #4
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Re: idle ?'s about quality of space, life

Originally posted by suspiria_2
i(only because i would never take it anywhere, and probably couldn't convince my significant other to oust all his junk and live in a space under 500 square feet!).

hehe gotta love that. At our place it is a toss up as to has the most junk That being said, I may be living in my 31 before the year is out. I have lived in many small spaces in my life, I prefer them, you have to think before you buy, you save money by not impulse buying because you don't have anywhere to put it. I lived in a slide in pickup camper for 8 months, it was great, just the bare basics. My last house was a whopping 650 sf, current is about 900sf. As long as I have a comfortable chair and a place to cook not much else matters. I used to have a problem with my extensive library but that has been solved by e-books To me the advantages of the smaller space outweigh the disadvantages. Easy to clean, more time for outside interests, if you don't like the neighborhood, or the neighbors...MOVE! course you might get worse ones It basically boils down to mind over matter...If you don't mind, it don't matter" These are just a few random thoughts...

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Old 10-20-2003, 04:54 PM   #5
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the people to talk to about restricted living space would be those who live on yachts - the kind designed for water born travel.

Full timing in an Airstream or other RV isn't really a quality of life issue but rather a philosophy of life issue.

Quality of life issues involve food, health, safety, and physical comfort. There is no reason why living in an RV would create sacrifices in any of these areas.

Now, if you like to collect stuff, have hobbies that require significant capital resources, have problems with the outdoors, or have other interests or pleasures that conflict with the space limitations of RV living, you might have a problem. But there are usually ways around those problems as well.
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Old 10-20-2003, 04:57 PM   #6
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The biggest thing you have to overcome is the desire for stuff.

When we fulltimed we sold off all but the most signifigant heirlooms. Those went into storage. It is amazing how little you really need. It also requires rethinking shopping, clothes, and cooking. We did carry extra canned goods in the tow vehicle and would go to the store every 2-3 days.

It can be done and in doing it in an Airstream you will be comfortable.
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Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something. -- Plato

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Old 10-20-2003, 05:39 PM   #7
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Interesting thread.

We'll be fulltiming in our 34' Classic next Spring. We expect to be out on the road for at least 3 years.

Right now Petunia and I are in the process of getting rid of over 26 years of accumulations and plan on storing the items that we just can't live without when we return.

Through this process we have both begun to learn that most material items aren't really that important when compared to family, friends and life's experiences. In a way, we feel that we closing one chapter of our lives and beginning a new one.

As for living space, we chose the 34' because it gave us the most room as well as two distinct areas .. the dinette and the lounge .. to park our bodies and feel that we have enough space.

I don't see us sitting around inside the Airstream a great deal of the time ... mostly at night .. we plan on making the world our front porch and back yard. If lack of space becomes an issue ... just open the door and head outside.
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Old 10-21-2003, 09:52 AM   #8
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Small Spaces

There are some excellent books written by and about fulltiming. One is a study done by a couple who have researched the dynamics of small cultures from everywhere in the world.

Some books were written 30 years ago, some more recently, but they all seem to continually show threads about the sense of community, freedom, independence, constant learning opportunities, adventure. It's about a lifestyle choice.

The book written in the 70's quoted a statistic claiming that at that time there were over 20 million people living the full time lifestyle, and they weren't a bunch of drop out hippies either. With the swelling population of aging baby boomers, those statistics are growing right along with them!

I've read these books, they're truly inspiring. I found them at the library, and unfortunately I've forgotten the titles and who the authors are......

Living this lifestyle has been my dream for over 30 years......

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Old 10-21-2003, 10:07 AM   #9
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Stuff is one thing but TOOLS are another. I can live without stuff but not tools. Problem, tools take up space and are HEAVY. I think HEAVY is more of a problem than space.
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Old 10-21-2003, 10:29 AM   #10
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Got to agree with TinselLoaf, I think I'd miss my shop space most of all! I was so releved when we moved from apartments to a house with a garage to play around in!

We lived in college dorms for five years while schooling, and at that time my goal was not to own any more than I could fit in the back of my Mustang hatchback. Of course, I kept myself honest at the end of each school year because I only made one trip home, so anything that didn't fit in the car had to go. Since then we have greatly expanded our holdings, but nothing really important.

When we travel we take the pets along, and so things can get a litle cramped in the 17ft trailer. Next week we're going to try a trip with the new cat along as well! I think space for the pets is probably the most limiting thing for us.

We spent almost a week in the trailer without the pets, and never felt cramped. Everything is so well laid out, we still have cupboards and shelves we haven't filled. We spent lots of time sitting outside just enjoying the fresh air and lack of TVs and phones and reading books. Even on rainy days we've enjoyed the trailer, sitting inside reading, playing board games. It's like a time capsule back to a simpler time (if there ever was such a thing). Plus it's our beach house, our lakeside house, our vacation home in the desert, etc. I used to want a cabin in the woods, now I realize an RV is the same thing, only better because it's not always in the same place!

As for how much space people need, we were lucky to find a small house that perfectly fit our needs. At 1800 sq ft it's bigger than the houses we grew up in, but it's still the smallest house in the neighborhood, in fact it was on the market a long time because it's so small! I can't imagine what people do with the huge houses around us. I really don't need or have any desire to have 2600+ sq ft of house to putter around in (or fill with stuff).

I'm a little jealous of the neighbor's shop building though. It's bigger than our house (actually three of our neighbors have shops bigger than our house). If I had that I could park the cars and trailer inside, and probably still have room for our buisiness (which we currently rent space in town for) and that would be nice. So we do need some space, just not in the same place that some people need it.

Ah well, you must just be feeling cooped up already because Portland winter is setting in

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Old 10-21-2003, 12:06 PM   #11
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Steeles on Wheels

It is not Airstream but is a book about fulltiming with a trailer you might find interesting. The web site is:
2015 Sprinter Class B Camper Van
(Former 1971 vintage Airstream Owner)
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Old 10-22-2003, 12:39 AM   #12
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thanks for all of your responses. they have been interesting so far.

as for me living in an airstream, i would in a heartbeat. i have no problems with small spaces, and would rather have 100 square feet that is well designed (the old "a place for everything and everything in its place") than a 17k mansion. there's really no challenge to living in a large space, and it seems a rather boring and uncreative way of living. a kind of "so, what are we going to buy to fill up this room" kind of aesthetic.

right now, i'm floating around in an apartment that is slightly over 800 square feet, and thinking that it is big (compared to all of the places i've lived in the last 5 years or so), poorly laid out, mostly empty (as i've pared down my belongings because i move so often), and a pain in the patoot to clean. not being able to squat on the toilet and brush my teeth over the sink at the same time gives me a nice roomy feeling, but that extra 3 X 7 feet at the end of the bathtub is largely waste space.

at any rate, that's my personal bias and i wondered if it was shared around these parts. if anyone has anything else, i'm still all ears, or eyes as the case may be
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Old 10-22-2003, 01:37 AM   #13
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This may be way deeper than you are looking for, but most of the people in the world today would be overwelmed with a fraction of the "stuff" we in America feel we "have to have" I find myself constantly trying to make my kids aware of how lucky they are, comparitively. I know all of our parents told us to eat because somewhere kids are hungry, guess it just stuck with me. And sometimes my kids get it.
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Old 10-22-2003, 05:38 AM   #14
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philosophy of life...

I agree with Trumpwer. We, in the U.S. (and Canada) as a society are wealthy beyond the dreams of avarice compared with the material possessions of most of the people alive in the world today. I read somewhere that if you eat daily and have a place that is warm and dry to sleep, you're wealthier than 50% of the world's populace. Add to that all of our 'stuff'... you see the point.

Our society is based financially on 'consumerism'. Sort of a sophisticated "whoever dies with the most toys wins" kind of thing. I find now that at nearly 50, I have things in the house that we have two and three of that I'm not sure we really needed one of. As I look around my house, I have no idea how we manage to accumulate so much 'stuff'. When I was a young sailor, I moved across the country and had all of my worldly possessions packed into the trunk and back seat of a 1974 Dodge Colt two door, and the passenger's seat was empty!

I lived in a 23' Safari for eight months and in a 16' Bambi during the work week for two months. I can tell you that from a philosophical perspective, living in a small space changes your perspective from living a consumer-oriented lifestyle to a lifestyle where you make regular decisions about what you buy to meet your needs.

I enjoyed that lifestyle immensely. I found that as I reduced my daily routine to those things I truly needed to do, and I abandoned consumerism as a pursuit, I found more time for people I wanted to be with and endeavors I wanted to engage in; the kinds of experiences Thoreau wrote about at Walden.


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Former Airstreams: 1953 Flying Cloud, 1957 Overlander, 1961 Bambi, 1970 Safari Special, 1978 Argosy Minuet, 1985 325 Moho, 1994 Limited 34' Two-door, 1994 B190 "B-Van"
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