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Old 11-12-2012, 10:42 AM   #15
Rivet Master
1988 25' Excella
1987 32' Excella
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The biggest factor for you is to find a place to park it. Finding and buying a unit will then be easier. We stay in our Airstream 3 months of the year in a park in Florida. I do not like the park models much. Lots of people in our camp ground do. I would rather stay in an Airstream. And I think Airstreams are easier to resell than park models if you want to. We lease a space by the year. I will not say how much because compared to CA it will probably make you cry. If we decide we do not like the park or want to go somewhere else we can hook it up and move it. Water is in the lease and we pay electricity and propane. Have not turned the AC on so not sure how much a steady diet of AC would cost.
Heating may not be a problem in LA, but cooling will. A shady parking place, a covered space, or awnings all around help. If you end up with a older unit you might want to paint the roof white.

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Old 11-12-2012, 01:03 PM   #16
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1965 26' Overlander
Ferndale , Washington
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I've lived in my 25' Safari for almost two years and having done the math; it's the least expensive way to live.
I live in rural WA so I've no zoning restrictions. That's the #1 issue you will face. #2 is "waste management" but all you need is acces to a septic field. #3 is electric service for your AC/micro'll need 30amp 110v RV plug-in. Propane you fill at a gas station as you use it and of course a water hose you must have.
At first I thought it a bit cramped but now I can't understand why anyone would want to burry a ton in cash/mortgage/rent with all that stress when life can be much simpler and kinder on the environment. Taxes are nominal compared to a standard abode and insurance costs will depend on where and how you intend to use it. I negotiated a lesser rate as my TT does'ent move and sits on blocks (to save the tires and stabilize the TT rock solid.)

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Old 11-12-2012, 01:19 PM   #17
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To give you an idea of the base rates at a nice RV park in San Dimas, it's $780 - $1,040 per month (depending on the view). East Shore RV Park Rates

>>(Heating is not necessary where I'll be living, the Los Angeles area.)

You're a hearty soul! In many areas of L.A. it can get into the low 30's during winter.
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Old 11-12-2012, 01:55 PM   #18
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1981 31' Excella II
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I lived in a 27 ft 5th wheel in college for 2 yrs. It is doable with any trailer. If you end up getting an Airstream, try to get someone local to inspect it for you. There are folks on here that do that for free. There are a lot of hidden problems with older trailers that can cost you time and money. However, if you have $30k to spend on one you should be able to get a relatively new one. Some of the new ones have problems as well. I would do some research on here for a couple months before I even start looking. You can park in a drive way if there are no restrictions on RV's. Maybe even your folks driveway or yard depending on local regulations. There may also be some folks on here that will let you stay in their yard. I would take some time to familiarize yourself with RV's in general and how all the systems function. Appliances are common to all brands so anyone that has an RV can show you the ropes. I don't know about LA but here in the south there are lots of inexpensive trailer parks, some of these might not be safe. The biggest problem I had in college was living next door to a dumpy trailer and having to put up with drunks etc.

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Old 11-12-2012, 03:48 PM   #19
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South of the river , Minnesota
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Originally Posted by LindsayStove View Post
Thank you for taking the time to comment. I thought that purchasing a used Airstream trailer (in 'great' or 'excellent' condition) would be best for me because the costs seem so much lesser than were I to purchase a house or rent a house/apartment.
You'll have to find out what lot rent costs in the areas you're considering. The suburban campgrounds that are open year 'round in my area charge around $800 a month plus utilities. Some have restrictions on how long you can stay, sometimes because of zoning. I would suggest that you start there.

I simply want to know if it's feasible, life in an Airstream.
It seems to work out for single people and sometimes, couples. For a family it's not enough room.

Could I find someone with a lot of land in the LA area and park it out back?
Zoning regulations and city/state ordinances are the main barrier. In some areas you could pull it off.

Do I need some sort of foundation?

What hookups ARE required? I know toilets are issues on RV's, buses, etc., but I could set up a compost toilet system.
As a practical matter, you need water, electricity, and sewer hookups. Of these, sewer hookups pose the most serious practical challenge and also pose the largest regulatory compliance problem; it's difficult to get something workable installed in someone's back yard (though it can be done). Established campgrounds with seasonal (long-term) sites have these hookups available.

I have not seen any success stories involving composting toilets in RVs. In general there isn't enough room, and even in larger structures, they do not work especially well. There are also code compliance problems in many jurisdictions.

I just need a bit of advice; a story, book, blog, what-have-you that could point me in the right direction. If you truly think there's a better alternative, do let me know.
Start by traveling in one, or at least taking a week-long trip in a rented RV even it it's a different make. It will help you decide what's important.
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Old 11-12-2012, 07:45 PM   #20
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You are starting to get some replies that will bolster your confidence. Yes, you can live for long periods of time in an Airstream. Many people have done it and are doing it right now. They call themselves “full timers”. Many travel but I suspect that some are semi-permanently moored too.

Neither do you need to be parked in a conventional “trailer park”.

Your main requirements are water, electricity and what Del Gurney called waste management.

When I “contemporized” my 1976 Argosy by Airstream 5 years ago, one of my most important and useful additions was a Waste Management Compartment. You can see it at post # 526 on my main thread, here:

Why do I so often call it the best single thing I did in the remodel? Because it gives flexibility: you are not tied to a trailer park.

You can be parked out in an orchard, behind someone’s big red barn. Or in a vineyard. Or shipyard. Or on somebody’s driveway. The possibilities are endless so long as you can access water, power and a place to dispose of sewage. This can be a sewer, a septic tank, a clean out stack, even a nearby toilet if you have a macerator.

When I’m not traveling I keep my trailer under 3 giant shade trees at a Fairgrounds in the middle of a small Ontario town. It’s secluded and private yet I am but minutes from the main shopping street and the other resources that you accumulate in a smaller place.

The water and sewer are 100 feet away, the power about half that. The macerator easily pumps sewage that distance through a 1” hose – and it’s slightly uphill.

When I’m on the road – I’m just back from a 93-day trip and I’ve been out for as long as 171 days- I stay at conventional campgrounds only about half the time. The rest is unconventional overnight (and sometimes longer) parking roadside, gypsy style. I’ve parked not just at shopping centers but at marinas, alongside bays, brooks and inlets, oceanside, next to a waterfall, in a pine grove next to an old Baptist church, lakeside on the campus of Louisiana State University – you get the picture.

All these beautiful spots are free and they brought my average accommodation cost down to $20.12 per night on the last long trip.

I recognize that I had the luxury of custom building something like a Waste Management Compartment, since I had gutted an old trailer and was starting anew.

But you can achieve the exact same thing without a permanent install. See the options here:

Sani-Con System

If you manage to get an Airstream, this can be the next best $500 you’ll spend. It also makes one of the most unpleasant parts of trailer life just another easy to-do-task. Especially in the middle of a semi-private California orange grove.

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Old 11-12-2012, 09:37 PM   #21
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It can be done ... and one advantage over the park model situation that some have suggested is that at the end of your time stationery, after having lived successfully in a single location ... you can move somewhere new at will ... and keep moving as you see fit! You will have everything you need with you. Our Bambi is only a 19' but we (2 adults and 2 dogs) lived in it for 4 months while repairs were being made to our home after a flood. We parked it in the front yard, hooked into our home's sewer system hooked up to our city water, and ran our shore line to a 30-amp hookup where we normally store the Bambi at the side of the house. We even ran an extra line for our home's cable to the Bambi and had all the comforts of a very small space. I work from home ... and was able to do that from the Bambi, too!
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Old 11-13-2012, 04:35 AM   #22
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I will vote with the yes crowd. Do your research. I think your biggest problem will be the local ordinances. I lived for 9 months in a pickup camper in the woods with no power hookups so anything can be done.

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Old 11-13-2012, 04:49 AM   #23
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Park Models

BTW Airstream built park models, from what I know most were vintage fifties. If you can find one restored you can have the best of both worlds.

You could do very well in a 68 Globetrotter, I know.

Jim N5TJZ Air# 174
2012 International Serenity 28
2005 Safari 25 SS Traded
1968 Globetrotter Sold
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Old 11-13-2012, 05:02 AM   #24
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Tampa Bay , ^
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A definite YES! Get an Airstream if that is what your heart desires. With your budget you can avoid a lot of repair work. Location is the important factor.

I lived in my 72' Overlander for 2 years while renovating a bungalow I purchased right in the heart of Tampa. I was hooked to the well, a 30 amp outlet, and used a macerator to dump the tanks about 30 feet away in to the septic.

I loved the simplicity of it and was very comfortable. I never longed for bricks and mortar living while in my Trailer. My expenses were minimal. No water bill. No sewer bill. Electric was less than $30/month even during the summer months with AC cranking. Cable/internet was my big expense. I lead an active life, so it wasn't as if I was cooped up in the trailer. When I was, it was cozy and had all the comforts of home. Wait... it was my home!

My long range plans (in 3-5 years) are to number one... finish my new 77 Sovereign, and number two, to travel. I have a piece of land here in Tampa that will be paid off in about a year. It is zoned for mobile home use (there is still a mobile home on the site). It has electric, a well and septic. It will be my home base for the beautiful Tampa winters, and I hope to hit the road when our miserable summers and hurricanes arrive. When I am here I will have next to no expenses... which will be perfect, since I have already outlived my money!

Go for it! Just find someone local to you to assist in inspecting any trailers you are considering, and work on a safe, legal location to park it.
My 77 Sovereign Renovation
Out in the woods, or in the city, It's all the same to me.
When I'm drivin' free, the world's my home....When I'm mobile.

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Old 11-13-2012, 08:17 AM   #25
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Sent you a PM
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Old 11-14-2012, 09:56 PM   #26
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Hi Splitrock, a park model is not an Airstream brand, no? I looked those up online and they are terribly cute! Alas, I would like to travel around the United States with a trailer when my three years commitment are up. I think for that a park model would let me down!

Hi Aage, I will be traveling in it eventually, I swear!

Hi Foiled Again, do Airstreams have issues on a rather consistent basis? Do they experience problems pretty regularly? I was looking at older, used (but in excellent/great condition) trailers but am now a bit hesitant. I don't want to buy one and then have to fix a hundred things! I'm sure there are many zoning restrictions in LA proper, that IS an issue for me, I have to find a place to park the trailer before I purchase a trailer! Eventually when I "settle down" I'm planning on having a very small, eco-friendly home. Perhaps Tumbleweeds are in the not-to-distant future!

Hi Smokeless Joe, Thanks! I do have my heart set on an Airstream, if just because they're so attractive! When I see one being towed down the highway my heart skips a beat!

Hi SStar, Can you travel with a park model? I do think they're cute and would suit my non-traveling three years very well, but after that I want to zoom off to see the US. I have never seen one of those being towed down the highway, I can't imagine it being easily transportable.

Hi burnsdl, Thank you for the PM offer! I'm sure in the near future I'll be using that, I have many questions/concerns. For starters, do you find a 27' trailer comfortable and practical for two? Is it difficult to pull around? I heard the small trailers (Bambis, no?) are easy to navigate, but of course living in that for three years might be a little too cramped! I'm trying to find a happy medium between comfy accommodations and easy towing when I do begin to travel. I have researched a few RV parks and have found that most - when paying month-to-month - don't include electricity; you're lucky! Do you know if electricity is a significant cost for a stationary Airstream, to be used as a full-time home?

Hi noreen&sal, Thank you for the encouragement, that really helps! I enjoy hearing positive experiences, it boosts my confidence being fairly new to Airstreams and all!

Hi TGTwinkie, I will check out those trailers. I wonder if prices are higher for Airstreams simply because of the 'brand'? I suppose I'll try to be less superficial and check out different kinds of trailers, but I thought that Airstreams are so well known that if I had any issues I would always be able to find some assistance. I mean, are there Arctic Fox trailer forums?
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Old 11-14-2012, 10:45 PM   #27
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Hi Kyle, Wow! A family of three in an Airstream. That's great! What is important to me is fairly basic: being comfortable; having "regular home" accommodations (to a scaled down extent, of course); easy towing; reliability; and availability of help/parts/etc. for when things go NOT the way I hoped! I don't need up-to-date interiors or anything fancy. A larger scale oven, refrigerator, and bed (not twin size) would be nice. A trailer that won't require structural renovations or other major issues right away (up and go!). Do you know off the top of your head a trailer that might fit the above? I still do not yet know enough about Airstreams to know which models come with a full size bed and which models come with twins. I've a lot to learn! Thank you for the links, I have them bookmarked and have browsed through them a bit! And I will definitely go "try some out". Stories like yours are so encouraging!

Hi DaveFL, I will definitely check out zoning laws and RV parks before I purchase one! I thought it would be easier to find a permanent spot to hook up but it's turning out to be a little more involved than that. Not discouraging, just time consuming. Do you know of a site where you can search for RV parks and/or private land zoned for such use?

Hi arcamedies, Do you think that's the best way? To find a comfortable trailer and get the next size up? I was going for the larger size right away, but then I read that it might be difficult to travel with when I do want to take off, so now I'm hesitant. Somehow you knew I didn't have a vehicle that could tow it... But I do have many, many family members and friends with vehicles that could (and do!) tow large trailers who would be able to help me get it to my perma spot. In those three years I'll be 'stuck', I'm sure a towing capable vehicle will find it's way to me!

Hi again Aage, I am checking that out before I start seriously searching for a trailer. Well, I do a bit of both, but... Anyway, yes, in LA it seems to be proving a bit more difficult than expected, but still doable. Just thirty minutes away is horse country, so I might be able to pull something off on private land there, who knows?

Hi Bill M., Yes, I'm finding that out! I looked up RV parks in LA just with Google and only found two. Certainly there are more, perhaps not in LA proper but nearby, but I'm sure it will take a bit of research. And yes, heat is ALWAYS an issue in LA, where it's usually in the 80's around Christmas... Are Airstreams like little ovens? I think I might have more questions for the Airstream salespeople than I currently am aware of... Will start a list!

Hi Del Gurney, Gulp. I don't even know what a septic field is. Certainly my apartment only living thus far and age (25) add to my lack of knowledge there... I don't even know what runs on what in an Airstream. Are all the stove tops available electric? Are there Airstreams with "full" stoves? I asked another user this, what size do you think is comfortable for living, but also easy to tow?

Hi Mike 91208, I grew up in the LA area and never experienced 30 degree weather! Nor 40's... 50's were rare, and usually just in the middle of the night. That being said, bring it on 30 degree weather, I have sweaters! It's the heat I'm concerned with... Thanks for the rates! I've looked at three parks in the LA area, and most are $800/month. Not bad (for LA)!

Hi perryg114, Do you truly, truly suggest I get a newer model? I definitely don't want problems right out the gate but I thought older models in great condition would be good to eventually renovate (superficially - bed, couch, cabinets, etc.), but I certainly don't want to start having to replace things. Do you think it's too risky? The newer models don't have interiors I find all that attractive, so I thought perhaps the higher price for a new one isn't justified. Perhaps it is? Which things need to be replaced/repaired the most frequently? Oy!

Hi Jammer, It seems the cost I found for RV parks in LA are about the same, $800/month. If I were to stay (legally, of course) on private property, would I not have access to electric, water, and sewer hook ups? Do all those have to be installed? Clearly I'm a beginner!

Hi again SmokelessJoe, Thank you so much for the links! Might you know anybody as talented as yourself in the Los Angeles area who might assist me in weighing the options of remodeling and updating an older trailer vs. purchasing a newer or new model? Might you have any ideas yourself?

Hi TBRich, That's good to hear! Perhaps I don't need to fret over whether I should buy a 31' model or an older 34' foot model! Perhaps I could get a 27' or so and be gold. Outside of bathroom and kitchen items, I do not own any personal items besides some books, so I really don't need too much room. I'll have to go physically poke around in a few different trailers.

Hi wahoonc, No hook ups, huh? How did you do that?! I'll need my running water, that I can't give up!

Hi Jim Clark, What size are they? All different like the rest of Airstreams, I presume? What size?

Hi Sneakinup, To avoid repairs right off the bat, what is the oldest year you suggest I look at? What about models? Sizes? Is there anything in particular you'd avoid? I do need something completely functional and in excellent condition right off the bat, as I lack the skills to renovate on my own, and will full-time school I won't have the time/energy. New vs. used? I can't wait 'till I get to the point where I can renovate trailers! I'm jealous! I am still an Airstream zygote!

Hi LilNomad, Sorry, let me check that and write you back! I'm new to these forums/website and don't know how to navigate them too well.
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Old 11-15-2012, 06:00 AM   #28
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1981 31' Excella II
New Market , Alabama
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Airstreams have leak issues and some of them are hard to find before purchase. A big area is the rear floor area which on rear bath models is hidden by the bathroom. The bathroom and holding tanks put extra stress on that area causing rear end separation (ie the back rots off and sags). Center bath models have the same rear end rot problems but you can get to the floor and fix it without gutting the trailer. The rot is caused by the plate in front of the rear bumper that goes up under the floor in the back. This joint is covered by a bumper strip so it is real hard to inspect.

In the early 80's they started using OSB flooring which does not hold up as well as plywood but the frames were stronger in this era. It comes down to inspecting and finding floor damage resulting from leaks. If you can't access the rear floor assume it is rotten. Airstream leaks usually occur between the inner and outer skins and the water travels to the floor without even being seen. Other areas to look for problems are in the 4 corners and around the entrance door. If the trailer has spent its life in CA you have a better chance of finding a good trailer since the climate there is dry. Make sure the trailer came from there and is not an east coast import. Usually, there are dealer stickers and title history to tell you were it lived most of its life.

Replacing the floor is a major job and sometimes involves removing the shell from the frame and also frame repair.

You want to make sure the appliances work like the AC and fridge and stove. The furnace is probably not a big issue but something you will take a hit on when you sell it if it does not work. The lights should all work and the 12V charging system should work. Plumbing is a big issue because many trailers are left with water in the system and the pipes freeze and bust. Many owners patch the plumbing with duct tape, bailing wire, and bubble gum. Also the water heater should work. Make sure the propane systems is up to date with tanks that are in date. It is best not to take the word of a seller on anything unless you verify it yourself.

Airstreams are built better than what we call SOB trailers (some other brand or square ole box) but they do have their issues and ALL RV's LEAK most of the time.

Good luck on your search.


"Hi perryg114, Do you truly, truly suggest I get a newer model? I definitely don't want problems right out the gate but I thought older models in great condition would be good to eventually renovate (superficially - bed, couch, cabinets, etc.), but I certainly don't want to start having to replace things. Do you think it's too risky? The newer models don't have interiors I find all that attractive, so I thought perhaps the higher price for a new one isn't justified. Perhaps it is? Which things need to be replaced/repaired the most frequently? Oy!"

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