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Old 08-12-2011, 06:19 PM   #1
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Summary Of Full-Timing Considerations

I have been asking questions and searching the forum for the past couple of months, regarding the subject of full-timing. I thought it might be of use to others to pull all the info together in one spot, so here goes:

1) the most important piece of advice is "don't sell your house until you've tried living in an RV for an extended period." Full-timing isn't for everyone.

2) surprisingly, most Airstreamers seem to think that an Airstream is not the right choice for full-timing. The roof leaks, the A/C won't keep you cool if it's really hot outside, the heater won't keep you warm if it's really cold, the refrigerator may or may not keep your food cold, there's not enough storage, etc. . A better choice is a motorhome or fifth wheel.

3) trailers are really designed for people that are going to go somewhere and sit there for a month or so. If you plan on moving every few days a motorhome is a much better option.

4) the newer trailers are much heavier than the ones of 40 years ago. If you're buying anything over 19 feet long you're pretty much going to need a dedicated 3/4 ton pick-up to pull it.

5) if your plan is to stay in one place in the summer and a second one in the winter it's actually cheaper to buy 2 "park model" trailers and store them at the two locations.
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Old 08-12-2011, 07:05 PM   #2
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Good post! Thanks!
You mean if I get two park models, I get to drive a car and not a truck?
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Old 08-12-2011, 07:27 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Mr.Bill View Post
2) surprisingly, most Airstreamers seem to think that an Airstream is not the right choice for full-timing. The roof leaks, the A/C won't keep you cool if it's really hot outside, the heater won't keep you warm if it's really cold, the refrigerator may or may not keep your food cold, there's not enough storage, etc. . A better choice is a motorhome or fifth wheel.
But why are you surprised? Every tool has its intended purpose, and the purpose of an Airstream is to travel, not park. If you want to park, look for something called a "park model". The name gives you the purpose it was made for.

One example of why is that an Airstream is round, tubular. This fits with travelling, because it makes for better airflow over the hull, therefore more stability, and better handling. A park model is square. This is amenable to having good storage, high headroom, and low construction cost. Corners work better than curves to put away the things in our lives.

For me, the most surprising thing is that some people that live in my weather zone want to live in it all winter. It should come with a warning tag, like "Warning! Not intended for extended use below 32°F (0°C) and such use may result in freezing conditions harmful to human life!" For anyone who has actually seen what an Airstream has between them and the ice and snow of Ontario, they would run the other way if they wanted a trailer for year-round living.

An Airstream is made for travelling, and as such is the best-towing trailer on the market, and properly cared for, will live forever.
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Old 08-12-2011, 07:58 PM   #4
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He's surprised because we love our Airstreams and want them to be everything to us. We want to wallow around in their confines. We want them to be the better selves that we imagine, beautiful & reliable & functional & able to roll with the punches.
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Old 08-12-2011, 08:24 PM   #5
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Both of you are absolutely correct of course. And one of the reasons that I'm now leaning towards a park model or mobile home is that my idea of a "retirement car" is more like a Pontiac Solstice, not a diesel 1 ton crewcab pick-up. Maybe I could pull a teardrop with it?
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Old 08-12-2011, 08:38 PM   #6
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I have a friend who kept his South Dakota home. Modest, but quite nice, paid for. He bought a used mobile home on a private lot in Apache Junction, AZ. He's been going back and forth for years and is quite happy with his snow bird designation.
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Old 08-12-2011, 11:00 PM   #7
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Interesting. As to your points.
1. True. Full timing is definitely not for everyone..else there would be no houses left.
2. False..at least for me. My Airstream lives in Alaska in the summer (nice and cool) and in Texas in the winter (nice and warm) and the heater and air conditioner work quite nicely in those climates.
3. Hmm..maybe..but maybe not. I have had both and the Motorhome was a giant pain.
4. Nice exaggeration..but not true. I pulled a 25 ft Excella to Alaska with a 1/2 truck with no problems and I see a lot of Airstreams being pulled with vans and small SUVs.
5. I actually looked at the numbers very closely on buying two park models and driving between the two. It might actually work out that way..but then again I could not stay in the beautiful parks in British Columbia or the beaches of Southern Oregon while on the way north or south...at least not with the numbers that I considered...besides just living in two places is boring..life on the road is where its at!
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Old 08-12-2011, 11:53 PM   #8
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4) the newer trailers are much heavier than the ones of 40 years ago. If you're buying anything over 19 feet long you're pretty much going to need a dedicated 3/4 ton pick-up to pull it.
The "half ton" capabilities have risen in tandem with the trailer weight gain. I pull mid 20s Safari with half ton pickup. Its quite common actually.
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Old 08-13-2011, 07:21 AM   #9
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full timin

is travel.....if you live in a mobile home( travel trailer, motor home, etc) and it does not move then you are stationary......

full time travel........is what airstreaming is about
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Old 08-13-2011, 08:30 AM   #10
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Money/costs??????

Not having unlimited funds, I find that leaving out this one huge factor, is for me, what makes me think twice about full timing and the travel involved.

Having just returned from a 3 month tour from the Atlanta area over to and all over 4 Corners and then back consumed quite a bit of disposable income. 5500 miles were put on the F250 V-10 with a cost of $2800 for just the gasoline. This does not cover the replacement of 4 new trailer tires that were only 3 years old; but after 2 blow-outs prudence dicatated the replacement.

On and on........For me, money does matter. God bless........Dennis
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Old 08-13-2011, 09:29 AM   #11
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Money - a very good point that I hadn't considered. My original thought was that full timing would be less expensive than living in a house - evidentially this is only true if you don't go anywhere.

As to the "need a 3/4 ton truck" point, my calculations were based on taking the listed weight of a trailer, adding on 20% and then comparing the result to the towing capacity of various vehicles, as stated by their manufacturer.
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Old 08-14-2011, 02:16 PM   #12
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Mr. Bill, you are looking at the very things we are. In fact, we just spent the past hour or so making a list of features that our FT rig "must have, nice to have, don't care, don't need, must not have." We're looking at a mix of travel and workamping, so we may be in one place for a month or so, and then move every few days for the next month.

We bought our mpg to be a "learner" rig, and it has really helped us in that respect. I told DW that I wouldn't be adverse to trading the mpg for an Airstream that the Mercury could handle, just to see whether we could live with the limitations of an Airstream, since we both like the looks of them.

As for your points, #1 has been spoken to nicely. We're going to sell this place when I retire no matter what, so if fulltiming turns out to not be what we want, we'll settle down someplace. In the meantime, though, we will have had the opportunity to see some other parts of the country that we haven't seen yet.

#2 has had much discussion, and I think it comes down to personal preferences. If I'm "god" there won't be a tv in the place, and the temperature will be in the 60's. If DW is "god" the tv will be a large one, and on constantly. The temperature will be in the 80's. Which one of us is right?

#3 and #4 match perfectly with what I've seen. We're thinking that, for FT use, we'll be looking at Airstreams of 28' or longer, with gross weights of 10-12,000 pounds. Tongue weights will therefore be up to 1200 pounds. That puts us out of the range of most half-ton pickups, but nicely in the 3/4 ton range.

I understand that Airstreams with single air conditioners from the factory generally have 30A service, while those that have dual air have 50A. We'd be more interested in those with dual air, at least for the FT rig.
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Old 08-16-2011, 11:16 AM   #13
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Very interesting thread. Thanks Bill for putting this all together.

We are looking at getting our first AS next year.

I'll be retiring in 11 years. Sooner if my company gives me a 5 for 5 offer. We'll be inheiriting her folks' home when they pass on. We currently have a house next door that we hope the DW's daughter, living with us, will buy.

We won't sell her parents' home, but we'll take the equity from selling current house and and maybe buying a lot or two somewhere to use for long seasonal retreats. I don't think I could pick two areas like Alaska and Texas like the one mentioned (though I'd love to), because my own kids will be popping out the grandkids soon enough and I refuse to miss out on them. The AS will allow us to quasi-relocate where they live (if different from here) for weeks to months at a time..... So we'll be doing a lot of traveling, and some short term full timing.

Again, this thread has helped solidify a lot of my thoughts.
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Old 08-16-2011, 02:19 PM   #14
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I think there is more to explore than to yet call this a "summary" of full-time considerations.

Getting rid of a house is a good idea unless it is income-offsetting or income-producing. Sentiment and habit are bad reasons to hold onto one. Full-time travel has nothing to do with this, IMO, as full-timing is not a substitute but only one alternative to home-ownership in the traditional sense. One can have all sorts of "homes" that mesh well with extended travel if one wants a permanent address. It is not either/or in other words as there are many options.

If ones travel is simply to another state or two, then a road-hazard big motorhome or 5'er is adequate (even though their costs are much higher in the end). If one intends to travel, then an aerodynamic TT with a high mpg TV is the way to go, IMO (especially compared to towing another vehicle and having two drivetrains to keep up with).

My truck averages over 20-mpg for all miles the past 30k. 13-16 pulling a 34'. 24-27 highway solo. I'm hardly restrained from going where I want. The cost of fuel is relevant, but other costs can be more important (pay cash for used TT/TV for starters) to keep fixed expenses low. I can trip plan for best economy in moving the trailer from one place to another, and, once at the new location, keep the number of errand trips to a minimum. The planning covers a lot of sight-seeing.

Workamping a few months of the year can help offset travel costs. Plenty of RV'ers down here in Texas working as oilfield gate guards in the winter at approximately $3000 and up per month, with ground expenses covered. Other examples abound.

I believe the statements made in the original post are okay, but deserve more depth of investigation. One see's things a little differently from the road after having done it awhile. Please continue reading. There is more depth here than what is currently expressed by way of "summation".

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Old 08-17-2011, 10:04 AM   #15
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Yes, I fully agree that a real "summary" would be a small book; my intention was simply to pull together information from several different threads into one place. Regarding workamping, I have long believed that if work were such a fine and noble thing the rich would have kept more of it for themselves.

As someone pointed out in some thread a month or two ago, if your intention is just to travel there are less expensive ways to do so than to buy a trailer, motorhome or fifth wheel. For the cost of a new Airstream I could live in KOA Kamping Kabins for at least 36 months, for example. If I were to travel 3 months a year, that would work out to 12 years. I think the question we need to ask ourselves is, "if I had enough money to do what I really want, what would it be?" For most of the people on this forum I think the answer would be to keep Airstreaming; for those of us trying to decide what to do the answer might be different.
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Old 08-17-2011, 11:27 AM   #16
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With a trailer I can park anywhere for a meal or rest. Without an RV of some sort I am dependent on others to an extent that limits me in many ways; captive to higher shall we call them fixed expenses. They are not quite the same, apple to orange, but that one must find true points of comparison.

I purchased both truck and trailer for just under $30k. I agree that there is a minimum number of nights to calculate to make accurate cost comparisons.

In just seven months of full-timing by us the offset was in favor of the trailer even after upgrades, repairs and supplies versus extended-stay hotels based on re-sale price of the trailer [including storage fees]. My trailer appreciated in value which is the advantage of old versus new.

Other points are just as salient if we search assiduously. In the end it is meant to be re-creational. That's the metaphorical coin flip for each of us.

I hope you'll continue this thread as you discover more of what may be best for your situation. The threads you may want may not have the title to them you expect.

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Old 08-17-2011, 12:59 PM   #17
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1) the most important piece of advice is "don't sell your house until you've tried living in an RV for an extended period." Full-timing isn't for everyone.
Yes. RVing itself is not for everyone, because there is a minimum level of driving skill and mechanical skill that is required.

Regarding full-timing in particular, it involves a trade-off. You give up square footage and amenities for the sake of mobility. Mobility has to be important to you for that to be worthwhile.

Quote:
2) surprisingly, most Airstreamers seem to think that an Airstream is not the right choice for full-timing. The roof leaks, the A/C won't keep you cool if it's really hot outside, the heater won't keep you warm if it's really cold, the refrigerator may or may not keep your food cold, there's not enough storage, etc. . A better choice is a motorhome or fifth wheel.
I agree with the conclusion but not the rationale. Airstreams are, generally, poor choices for fulltiming because they don't have as much square footage of living area, or as much storage, as most fulltimers seem to want. Most fulltimers travel with the seasons to avoid extremes of temperature.

Quote:
3) trailers are really designed for people that are going to go somewhere and sit there for a month or so. If you plan on moving every few days a motorhome is a much better option.
I disagree. I use my trailer for trips with shorter stops and it works fine. Motorhomes tend to have worse road manners than my rig (except maybe for B vans and other really small motorhomes) and it's less work to unhitch a trailer than a toad.

Quote:
4) the newer trailers are much heavier than the ones of 40 years ago. If you're buying anything over 19 feet long you're pretty much going to need a dedicated 3/4 ton pick-up to pull it.
Another way to look at this is that for any larger trailer suitable for fulltiming, the ideal tow vehicle is a 3/4 ton truck or something built on a a 3/4 ton truck chassis (like a suburban or an excursion).

Quote:
5) if your plan is to stay in one place in the summer and a second one in the winter it's actually cheaper to buy 2 "park model" trailers and store them at the two locations.
Maybe, but most fulltimers move around more than that, often a combination of shorter trips out from their summer or winter "base" and lengthy stops on the way between those two points. It also detracts from the constancy of the indoor environment while traveling which is one of the main benefits of RVing.
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Old 08-17-2011, 09:03 PM   #18
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Now you're hitting some of the issues that we're talking about. Both DW and I really like Airstreams, but we're concerned about the "stuff" that would need to go along for FT use. Our plan is to travel for about a half a day or so, park there for a few days to a couple of weeks to see and do what there is to see and do, and then move on down the road. From what most have told us, we're kind of on the line between a MH and a TT.

The MH has more room than an Airstream, but is quite a bit heavier. Of course, a DP can tow a small, economical car for the running around, while the Airstream will require a 3/4 ton truck or SUV, which wouldn't do as well on the fuel. I guess I'll have to run some numbers and see what comes up.

One other factor is the insurance. I'll call our insurance agent one of these days and see if I can get a generic quote for an Airstream and tow vehicle vs a DP and toad. That might be interesting.
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Old 08-18-2011, 09:13 AM   #19
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Every choice in the RV world will have its advantages and disadvantages.
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Old 08-18-2011, 03:29 PM   #20
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Every choice in the RV world will have its advantages and disadvantages.
Not just in the RV world, either!

That's why we are taking so much time to do research. We don't have the money to buy a FT rig and then decide that we would really rather have something else. We need to get it as close to right the first time as we can.

At this point we're kind of ruling out fifth-wheels, mainly because those that are FT-capable seem to require at least a one-ton dually, and probably more. An Airstream is pretty much the only TT we're considering, and part of the question we're asking is whether we should buy one as new as possible or whether we should get an older one and bring it up to current standards.

A DP motor home is the other possibility. I just found out this summer that Airstream used to build such vehicles, so we're looking into those, too.

At least the research is part of the fun.
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