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Old 11-13-2012, 05:16 PM   #1
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Looking to downsize and simplify. Is Airstream a good option? Why? why not?

Hey Folks,

The wifey and I live here in Sonoma County (Northern California). We have been spending the last year downsizing (3 bedroom house to an apartment), and are currently looking at moving to a small home on wheels. This could be an airstream or it could be a small house like the ones these folks make. Tumbleweed Tiny House Company

We do not plan on moving this often, as we will either buy or rent the land where it sits, however according to Sonoma County zoning codes, it must be on wheels. Being able to tow the thing around would be a nice bounus.

We are leaning towards an airstream for the following reasons.
1) Cost
2) Ease of construction (we do not have to build a shell, it is already there)
3) When we do want to move it it is lighter and easier to tow.
4) Wifey likes the exterior appearance of the airstream more.

Wifey has high standards for interior finish (bamboo floors, diamond plate shower, concrete countertops ect.) I figure a can do this for about $12k on an airstream less the cost of the trailer itself. I have the required plumbing, electrical, and carpentry skills to do these things to a house(not sure about airstream). We would be looking for something gutted. Am I way off on this cost estimate? Would we be better of going the tiny house on wheels route?

Your input is appreciated.
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Old 11-13-2012, 06:14 PM   #2
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Item 3: Diamond plate and concrete countertops are not what I would install in a trailer where weight is your enemy. I would think of other types of material to accomplish the finishes you desire. Look at the newer Airstreams and take your cue from them.

If you buy an older Airstream you have to think about replacing axels, convertors, frame sag, floor rot, the list goes on and on so I would say your budget might be tight at 12K.

As far as the Tumbleweed it is cute but will tow like you are dragging a wall down the highway. Airstream knows trailers and builds trailers that are designed to to be towed not cabins on wheels. Two completely different animals. Only one has any serious engineering behind it.

Let me add that towing is serious business and your life and the life of your family may depend on how your trailer is setup.

Have fun Jim
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Old 11-13-2012, 09:20 PM   #3
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Jim,

THanks for your input. I am well aware that a tiny house does not to well. This will get moved 2-3 times/ if ever. I really down care if the thing tows like a brick on wheels, I will drive slower. Wifey likes the look of the airstream.

Regarding heavy items/appliances you have a good point here, but again this is a trailer that will not be moved often.Given this case how much weight can the airstream frames actually take? I understand that there is a difference if the weight is centered over the axels vs. at the ends of the frame. I am leaning towards the tumble weed after doing lots of research this afternoon.
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Old 01-19-2013, 01:01 PM   #4
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If you look at new oned to get some ideas on how to build within a shell do not have a heart attack when you see the cist if a new one....triple yikes.
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Old 01-19-2013, 01:17 PM   #5
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If you are planning to live full-time in this purchase, I can't imagine managing in a Tiny House; does it even have a bathroom??

We are now in our 34' Ltd for 9 mos, and it is very comfortable--enough room for husband to work on his laptop at the dinette while wife watches TV or reads in the living room or goes to bed in the rear, and room for Doberman on the floor (always the most inconvenient place, of course).

To live in full-time, I wouldn't want to go smaller than 26', and even that might be pushing the personal space envelope, but then each couple's requirements are different, I suppose.

Good luck with your choice and search!

Vivian
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Old 01-25-2013, 04:15 PM   #6
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Hello from Statesville, NC.
I agree with Jim. Also, I live in a 34' full time. Plenty of space for me. Since purchasing the 34', I do not think I would want anything smaller. Good luck in your search.
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Old 01-25-2013, 08:03 PM   #7
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If you are planning to live full-time in this purchase, I can't imagine managing in a Tiny House; does it even have a bathroom??

We are now in our 34' Ltd for 9 mos, and it is very comfortable--enough room for husband to work on his laptop at the dinette while wife watches TV or reads in the living room or goes to bed in the rear, and room for Doberman on the floor (always the most inconvenient place, of course).

To live in full-time, I wouldn't want to go smaller than 26', and even that might be pushing the personal space envelope, but then each couple's requirements are different, I suppose.

Good luck with your choice and search!

Vivian
I agree with this, from experience. It's why I purchased a 35' Silver Streak last month. I'd make my purchase price fairly high to make that 12K go a long ways. I figure 10K on something 20-years old just to bring up to date . . . and then the cosmetic aspect is another budget altogether. High quality in all furnishings that will last a decade, IMO. Curtains and upholstery is expensive . . and worth it.

Heavy furniture is not recommended. Ever. Plenty of alternatives. This is not a house, per se. It's main function is being able to traverse the roads, and the type of "full timing" you envision can be accommodated. But leave the impractical to the concrete-slab "homes".

The many systems of a TT (and you may want solar: heavy batteries; other examples abound) means space and weight are at a premium thus design must be careful.

Take your time, read, and ask questions.

Welcome (two months late) and good luck!

.
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Old 03-16-2013, 03:03 PM   #8
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Jeremymm,
We moved from a 3,000 sf house into a 188 sf airstream trailer over five years ago. Loving it still, we spend twelve months a year living on the road. Our 25' International suits us to a "T", we love the modern aesthetics and great space design Airstream Co put into it.

If we couldn't find another of these then we think we would be happy in one of the new 30' Serenity airstreams. They also are just great looking inside, very comfortable, great space.

No plans to stop living full-time in our airstream. We don't miss but one thing of home ownership, it is the space to entertain indoors.
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Old 11-17-2014, 12:05 AM   #9
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I am not sure I understand your goal.

You are comparing apples and oranges, but the real question is "Why?"

One of your posts said something about "... it must be on wheels."
This leads me to believe your goal is not to 'full time' but to live somewhere that you can beat the high property taxes by not making permanent improvements to a lot, although you probably will need electric, water and sewer which will count as infrastructure improvements even if you can avoid personal property tax on a trailer (or two).

Most I have seen who live in a trailer (stationary) build a pole barn to keep rain or snow off their rigs, and put skirts on the underside to protect from freezing or to keep the heating bills to a minimum and keep animals out. Some also build nice adjacent two car garages... but I have never understood why they just don't build a small house and sell the trailer.

Sounds like maybe you should consider two of those houses on wheels so you could park them together and bridge between them... both still on wheels!

All of the things that make an Airstream a good travel trailer will make it less desireable for squating forever in the same place. Why don't you consider a 'double wide' mobile home and keep the wheels on. A move 2 or three times is easy with mobile homes, but it sounds like moving is not really high on the goal list. The mobile homes made in the north are usually better built than the southern units, but neither will do well in a tornado or big windstorm since they are not built to the same codes as houses.

A local who has restored two dozen vintage cars bought a 1966 unit that was gutted. He said it would take $30K to $40K to restore it, but vintage airstreams properly done are worth a lot of money these days. I got the impression he wasn't concerned about the money.

Anyway, once you firmly establish your goals, the decision should be easy since the two options you are considering are so vastly different.
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Old 11-19-2014, 12:49 PM   #10
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Sounds like maybe you should consider two of those houses on wheels so you could park them together and bridge between them... both still on wheels!

Anyway, once you firmly establish your goals, the decision should be easy since the two options you are considering are so vastly different.
I think this is some of the best advice I've read on Air Forums in a while.
Also, the mutli-"tiny house" idea is funny but interesting. Just imagine a family where each kid and the adults each have their own "sleeping/private" trailer, then there's a common one for kitchen and shared uses with a patio/outdoor area in between them all, covered for fun outdoor time year round.

One thing I've seen people have trouble with is how to then tow them somewhere, well, I'd just have it trucked on a large flatbed if I didn't already have a tow vehicle
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Old 11-19-2014, 01:27 PM   #11
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There are a lot of options.

Here's one more. Look for an 80's vintage AVION trailer. They're similar to Airstreams but built like tanks. HEAVY frame. Put in a washer, whole house vacuum, hot tub, concrete counter tops, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

When you see the later model Avion interior - the problem is it's well built - French Provencal. Uhhhh-hhhh. You'll want to gut it, but hate to lose the seriously well built dovetailed joints, etc.

It will tow better than a Tiny House and is well insulated.

Paula
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Old 11-19-2014, 02:56 PM   #12
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we think we would be happy in one of the new 30' Serenity airstreams. They also are just great looking inside, very comfortable, great space.

No plans to stop living full-time in our airstream. We don't miss but one thing of home ownership, it is the space to entertain indoors.
How do you manage storage?
Do you rent a storage unit? Or just get rid of everything.
In downsizing from a class A, I'd miss the storage bays, the Airstream doesn't have anything as large. I'm thinking, tools, extra clothes, etc.
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Old 11-19-2014, 03:08 PM   #13
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Buy a mobile home. Sounds more like what you want. They have wheels.
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Old 11-19-2014, 03:18 PM   #14
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There are a lot of options.

Here's one more. Look for an 80's vintage AVION trailer. They're similar to Airstreams but built like tanks. HEAVY frame. Put in a washer, whole house vacuum, hot tub, concrete counter tops, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

When you see the later model Avion interior - the problem is it's well built - French Provencal. Uhhhh-hhhh. You'll want to gut it, but hate to lose the seriously well built dovetailed joints, etc.

It will tow better than a Tiny House and is well insulated.

Paula
I am totally biased, but I would agree...... look for a 34' 80's vintage Avion. However, that Tiny House idea really intrigues me. I'll spend a lot of time looking at their website, and the blog of the trip that couple is making with their Tiny House.
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