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Old 11-11-2012, 07:37 PM   #1
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Exclamation Living permanently in a stationary Airstream

As a California gal I have been paying far too much for rent, and after a few calculations here and there I have decided that purchasing an Airstream trailer (28' and up) and living in it would be the best (and cheapest) housing situation for me. (I prefer small spaces and have little to no possessions I care about.)

That being said, I don't know much about Airstreams and what is required to permanently (three years, possibly more) live in one. I do not want to move around campground to campground, space to space. BUT I don't know where to find a park or private land where I can live and have all my necessary hook-ups. Showering, cooking, toileting, and everything else. (Heating is not necessary where I'll be living, the Los Angeles area.) My family lives in the area and I can use their address for the DMV, mail, etc. I want to be settled by August 2013.

While it seems like a great idea and I'm planning on buying an older, cheaper trailer, I don't know too much about what the requirements are to live in an Airstream. Will the utilities cost an arm and a leg? And clearly I cannot purchase my own land and just park the thing on it and start living! I know it's more involved than that. So is anyone else doing this - living permanently for a year or more - in an Airstream trailer (not RV)? If so, do you have any advice/help, stories, etc.? Good idea? Bad idea? Either/or with reservations? Thank you all so much. (New poster here.)

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Old 11-11-2012, 08:18 PM   #2
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Why not just buy a park model and live in a trailer park?

Click on the link to see a picture of the Sioux River falls near my home.
Eastern South Dakota is very pretty with hills, rivers, and trees.
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Old 11-11-2012, 09:15 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Splitrock View Post
Why not just buy a park model and live in a trailer park?
Very true. The difference in headroom and the straight vertical walls make for a much roomier feeling.

And in general, the only advantage of an AS is in travelling in it. Park it and you're further ahead with a square trailer.
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Old 11-11-2012, 09:29 PM   #4
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Totally agree with prior posters. Airstreams are expensive, and do require maintenance to prevent leaks, etc. Their whole forte is travel... they travel better than any other RV out there.

You might want to look at Tumbleweed Tiny House Company for tiny houses - which have a cool factor of their own.

A park model home and RV's all have one big unpredictable future. That is the ever increasing cost of energy and the tax burden of park owners. Most RV's including Airstream aren't built primarily for energy efficiency, so heating, cooling and utility costs will continue to escalate. What happens with the "zoning wonks" is another big deal too.

Of course if you got a tiny house/engineered home on your own land you could help cut costs and conserve energy by simple things like washing dishes without running a gallon of water, taking boondocking showers (bucket of soapy water, scrub thoroughly, rinse), insulating properly and using shade to effectively avoid (or capture) thermal gain, using natural light whenever possible, using LCD lights, and on and on.

Good luck whatever you do.

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Old 11-11-2012, 09:33 PM   #5
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I think Lindsay already said that she wanted to live in an AIRSTREAM, not some other RV.

Stick with it Lindsay. There are people with imaginations here and they will show up sooner or later. They might have real world experience too.

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Old 11-11-2012, 10:04 PM   #6
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Airstream or park model

For what you are planning the park model may be the best option. Much less maintenace and upkeep than an Airstream, also less investment. The park model has house type plumbing, no tanks, just hook up the water hose, elec. cable, and sewer line and you are ready to go. I use a 40' Idle Time park model for my job, I live in it half the time and it is quite comfortable. Dual air & heat, 220 volt, electric cook stove, large bath room, all very efficient. In the Texas / Louisiana area the ex-Fema trailers are still available, the park models were selling in the 5 to 7000 dollar range, not sure now. You can google fema trailer for sale, it may give you an idea.
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Old 11-11-2012, 11:30 PM   #7
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Hello all,

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.

In the LA area, mobile homes are near the same price as single-family homes (and town houses, condos, etc.). I was hoping to own something of my own and for not too much. In Los Angeles, a basic house with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms in a "good" area starts around $450,000; out of my budget. A one-bedroom apartment in a "good" area starts around $1,500/month; my budget, but wasteful. (The cost of housing were I to rent an apartment for the three years I am - signed, sealed, delivered! - committed to Los Angeles will be over $54,000.)

I thought spending $30,000 or so on an Airstream (not including the cost of land/space & utilities/hook-ups) would be much better. I am not ready to commit to one place "forever", hence the mobility of an Airstream (clearly more mobile than a mobile home). I am also not going to live in it for more than five years, max. After my three-year commitment is up, I want to travel around the US. I also considered an Airstream for that reason.

I do have people in my life who could assist were repairs to come up, and family in the area in case of any Airstream crises, and so on. I could learn what I can, read books, tinker around...

I simply want to know if it's feasible, life in an Airstream. Could I find someone with a lot of land in the LA area and park it out back? Do I need some sort of foundation? Certainly I could just live in a long, flat, cement driveway. What hookups ARE required? I know toilets are issues on RV's, buses, etc., but I could set up a compost toilet system. 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. If you think this is a decent idea, do let me know, even if you can't assist much further than that (it would boost my confidence in my search for answers!) Thank you for all your help!
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Old 11-11-2012, 11:57 PM   #8
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My wife and I live full-time in our '27FB. Due to my job, we'll be in northern California (near San Francisco) for a few years and quickly tired of the steep housing costs in Silicon Valley. As it as, we had been shopping Alirstreams for a while, so we decided to buy in early July. We are parked in an RV park and are fully hooked-up when not traveling.

By comparison, the cost of living is much cheaper versus renting. I pay a monthly "rent" which includes full hook-ups (water, sewer, electric) and cable TV. Beyond rent , I pay only for dedicated high speed internet through Comcast.

This type of living is not for everyone, so be sure you will be ok with mall spaces. I'd be happy to elaborate on anything or answer any questions you might have - send me a PM anytime.

Good luck.

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Old 11-12-2012, 03:36 AM   #9
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Go for it

I agree with SmokeLess Joe. Anybody can have a park model. But we are a special breed (cooler ) and probably dream in color and 3D. So go for it. You'll learn-as-you-go. Sal
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Old 11-12-2012, 06:53 AM   #10
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I would look at an Arctic Fox or Nash travel trailer. You can buy a new unit for what you would pay for a used A$.
They have double pain windows and are more suitable for full time living than the A$. IMHO
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Old 11-12-2012, 08:50 AM   #11
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Yes, you can live life in an Airstream. We (a family of three) are doing that now. We do spend most of our time on the road, but when you get right down to it, the only difference with what you're looking at is that our scenery changes.

Are some other RVs (and for that matter houses, apartments, and yurts) better for what you want? Maybe. With everything, there is a tradeoff. What is it that you want? What is important to you?

We could easily have a lot more of both living and storage space than we do now if we had chosen a fifth wheel or class A with slides and basement storage. We could have better insulation. Or we could have stayed in our sticks & bricks house and kept all our stuff.

But the Airstream makes us happy. We enjoy being in it, and we enjoy being on the road with it. Why would you spend your time and money on something that doesn't make you happy? If an Airstream does it for you, then it is a good choice for you. Maybe not for anyone else, but it is a good one for you.

As I said above, I don't really see your desired lifestyle as fundamentally different than any other fulltimer. You're just sitting in one spot for a long period of time. Checking out the blogs of those who do live in our Airstreams will give you an idea of what it is like. The Chinese Buffalo and Weaselmouth are, I think, the ones closest to what you want to do. From there, go read some others.

Go to a dealership and spend a few hours in one (or more) Airstream(s). "Try out" living in one, go in the shower, try out the bed, figure out where you would keep your various items. Does it work? Will you be happy? If so, go for it. If it doesn't work, there is always a market for Airstreams. So you'll get at least a good part of your money back out of it. Can you say that for renting?

Good luck and please let us know what you decide and how it works for you.
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Old 11-12-2012, 09:47 AM   #12
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Airstreams or any other brand with wheels would be doable BUT getting a movable home is easier than parking it. Find a good location, check per month cost of lot and who supplies utilities. Check zoning, permanent living is usually controlled in all incorporated areas, farmland or rural usually less control but not necessarily safe.
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Old 11-12-2012, 09:48 AM   #13
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Kyle is right, first find out what you think you'd be comfortable in and then plan on the next largest model (people usually do). Once that's done before you buy, hunt down RV parks convienant to where you want to live and visit them, talk to the folks living there, check out full timers. Once settled you can have your RV delivered to the site and if you want to move it, there is always someone who can, or you can rent a truck to do so to the next stop. You may find that you'll be addicted and get your own tow vehicle and start a migration here and there, the world is your oyster, you be the pearl.

Best of luck
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Old 11-12-2012, 10:22 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by LindsayStove View Post
Hello all,

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.
Thanks for clarifying your goals and plans, Lindsay. And, to answer your question, yes, if carefully chosen you will most certainly get a wonderful Airstream for $30,000. One that, as you can see from the responses, many people can and do live in.

But in your place, I would first explore to confirm that there is real estate available where you can legally park, and hook up with power, water, and sanitary sewer, in what you call a "nice" section.

I for one will be interested to hear about exactly what is available to do that in LA. I'm guessing it will have to be in a trailer park, since most residential areas won't allow trailers "permanently" connected as an abode.

Good luck, and "see you down the road"!

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