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Old 12-31-2016, 09:11 AM   #1
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Arrow Setting expectations with $25,000

Hi all. New to the forums and doing a heavy amount of research. I've never owned an RV nor a truck and still in early stages of research with a tentative plan to hit the road by the end of the year. I'm not super handy but I am very tech savvy.

Since discovering Airstreams as a possibility for our trip, I really want to make it happen but the more I research the more complex this seems to get. As much as I would love to buy a brand new 2017 Airstream Flying Cloud, I don't think we can afford it and don't think I can convince my wife it's a good purchase either. Our budget is $25,000 and it seems with that range we can get a vintage Airstream.

I love the idea of restoring an Airstream but as I said earlier, I'm not sure how much I can accomplish having never done this before. I also live in the city (Seattle) and would have no place to park this while I worked on it. I've looked through the classifieds on here to see what $25,000 would get me and it's mixed. As an example, we really like the Flying Cloud 30 with Bunk. We would convert the bunk area into baby area for a 1+ year old.

The trip itself may last up to two years. We know it will be at least one year but could be a few more. Not really sure. It may not be something we for a long time but it's really hard to say.

I have a few questions:

1. From my understanding, Airstreams have a high resale value. If we bought a brand new 2017 Flying Cloud for $100,000, how much does it depreciate the minute we take it off the lot? How much would it sell for in two years? I ask this because while I like the idea of using the $25k budget as a down payment, my significant other is not convinced.

2. Generally how much work would a $25k 30 Airstream take to renovate? I'd hate to buy a 25k then have to use another 25k to get it to a decent place to live. And having never done this before, I'm afraid of screwing up.

3. I need more convincing arguments that a 25k Airstream from 30 years ago is worth it over a 25k brand new Jayco.

I think I'm what I'm trying to understand is what I'd get for 25k for a large AS. Obviously not exacts since this can range a lot but I'm setting a budget and need to set expectations if I were to go down this path.

Thanks all and I'm loving the community here. Great info.
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Old 12-31-2016, 09:29 AM   #2
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If you are on a tight budget and you won't be doing the renovation work yourself, a vintage Airstream could break your budget. Based on the use you are planning a Jayco may not be a bad idea. Airstreams like to travel a lot. That's their thing. And you give up some comfort for the ease of towing. So someone towing 25000 miles a year would really take advantage of what an Airstream offers.

Also, if you get a Jayco, you can dip your feet into this lifestyle with less financial risk. But the Jayco will not last as long. It's a compromise.

You're going to have to do a lot of thinking! Good luck.
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Old 12-31-2016, 09:35 AM   #3
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Welcome to Air Forums. You've found the right place when it comes to all things Airstream.

I like the idea of buying used. I think you're on the right track with that approach. It's very likely that you can find a used Airstream trailer in your price range and sell it for a similar amount in a few years. That will definitely not be the case if you buy new. Trailers have a similar (perhaps higher) depreciation to automobiles.

For example, if we sold our 1992, 29 foot Classic - rear twin beds - it would likely sell for $20k or less. Maybe a little more if we really talked it up in the advertisement and waited for the right buyer. $20k or less if we want to sell it quickly. Everything works, it's ready to travel. It's not for sale - this is just an example.

We've seen plenty of early to mid 1990s trailer in the $25k and under price range. Many of them ready to travel.

Don't purchase something that needs to be restored unless you are fully prepared to make that your number one priority for the immediate future. There are plenty of people out there who followed their dreams (emotions) and now have partially dismantled trailers for sale. Restoration is a great thing for some people but it's clearly not for everyone. Making a few tweaks/improvements to an already good/basic trailer is very achievable for most people - restoration is not.

Good luck with your search. Your trailer is out there.
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Old 12-31-2016, 09:39 AM   #4
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You are living in a dream world, airstreams are like any thing else, they depreciate, they need constant attention, start out with a cheaper model trailer, and see if you like using it and go from there, there is nothing low budget out there..
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Old 12-31-2016, 10:00 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelt View Post
>>snip>>>

I have a few questions:

1. From my understanding, Airstreams have a high resale value. If we bought a brand new 2017 Flying Cloud for $100,000, how much does it depreciate the minute we take it off the lot? How much would it sell for in two years? I ask this because while I like the idea of using the $25k budget as a down payment, my significant other is not convinced.

2. Generally how much work would a $25k 30 Airstream take to renovate? I'd hate to buy a 25k then have to use another 25k to get it to a decent place to live. And having never done this before, I'm afraid of screwing up.

3. I need more convincing arguments that a 25k Airstream from 30 years ago is worth it over a 25k brand new Jayco.

I think I'm what I'm trying to understand is what I'd get for 25k for a large AS. Obviously not exacts since this can range a lot but I'm setting a budget and need to set expectations if I were to go down this path.

Thanks all and I'm loving the community here. Great info.
1. I've never purchased new since the depreciation is fairly high, I'm guessing 15%+ off of the purchase price when you drive off of the lot. (but, expect 10% to 15% off MSRP when purchasing a trailer new)
2. Each trailer will require different repairs due to its condition. One persons expectations would be different from the next. So, there is no way to answer this question. (you might spend $500 or $25,000 on repairs)
3. You will never know until you try. I started RVing in a Jayco popup, because that was what I could afford without debt. It was 30 years later when I purchased my first Airstream, and it was 25+ years old when I got it.

You should be able to find an Airstream that is ready to camp AND comfortably within your budget for $25k, a early to late 1990's model probably. The key is having patience to wait for one that is in good shape. When I have been searching I read the various local for sale ads and watch the local RV dealer's lots. It can take a year or more to find the right one for the right price.

If you are thinking about getting a 30' trailer and want to haul a truck bed full of stuff when you go camping, also start thinking about the tow vehicle requirements. That can cost a lot more than the trailer.
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Old 12-31-2016, 10:34 AM   #6
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IMHO If your priorities are taking a year or two off and then selling the trailer due to storage issues with as little impact on your financial well being; don't get an Airstream, new or used.

A new AS will depreciate well over that $25,000 budget practically the minute you drive it off the lot; add a bit of damage through driver error (it happens to newbies) or a bit of hail and it can get very expensive, very fast and no one wants to buy a newer AS with dents or hail damage.

A used one can be a good buy, BUT you'd better know what you're looking at, what you should be looking for and how to fix it WHEN it breaks (notice I stated "when", not "if"). If you're not handy an older AS can set you back a lot of money if you need to get an AS shop to fix, say a subfloor or axles replacement. If you want to go this route I would invite an AS Airforums trailer expert to have a look at the trailer before buying.

I would buy a new trailer (preferably not Jayco; Google UTube Jayco problems), use it for up to 3 years and then sell it. Expect to take a 50% hit on your purchase but if the trailer cost you $25K, you will only loose $12.5K.

Also consider the elephant in the room that you haven't considered........do you need to purchase a new TV to tow this trailer? How much of the budget have you set aside for that?

Many people have had pipe dreams of crossing the open trails inexpensively in an Airstream and found expensive repairs, gutted trailer they can't repair or replace interior; trailer sag, frame rot, expensive and crowded campgrounds, no boondocking signs, expensive gas and broken dreams. I'm one of them, as my dream of driving to B.C Canada has yet to take place BUT I was lucky to be handy enough to repair my motorhome myself and it has increased in value as it's a rare 310 turbo diesel.

Cheers
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Old 12-31-2016, 10:52 AM   #7
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Well, you're interests cover a very wide spectrum. I usually don't think of a person willing to buy a $100k brand new trailer as being the same guy who is considering a rennovation of a vintage trailer (with a $25k budget), vs. buying a white box trailer.

It is achieveable to find a used, older trailer within your budget, but it will take some work. The work up front is to find a used trailer that is not in too bad of shape. Something built in the 80's or 90's, that has been cared for might be had for under $20k. The work that would then need to be done would be limited to "fixing up" rather than completely rennovating, which can still amount to a lot of time and labor. The key is finding a trailer that hasn't rotted away in the first place. Any trailer can have a rotten subfloor and deteriorating frame--you need to get educated on what to look for, and understand the "buyer's inspection checklist," and what you are looking for.

You might touch base with member Continensco. They are going through pretty much the same exercise as you (minus considering buying a $100k new trailer). They are working on the 80's vintage trailer that they got recently with a relatively low budget, and a target to be on the road in 60 months or so.

You could find a 70's or older vintage trailer for $1000 and then spend the next 3-4 years and $24k rebuilding it. I don't recommend it, especially if you have a 1 yr old (who is going to limit the amount of time you can put into the trailer project).

New trailers depreciate much like new cars. If you want to get an idea of how much, try looking at the asking price of trailers that are two years old, compared to today's asking price for the corresponding model. These trailers maintain their value from the point of view that they are always worth something because someone will rennovate it, whereas a 20 year old Mercedes Benz won't get much love (I know, as I just got rid of my '98 e320).

As far as other brands go, sure, you can get more for the money. That being said, many of the white box brands depreciate even more radically than Airstreams do. As an example, a friend of mine is trying to sell a 10 year old white box trailer with a slide-out, in very good condition, with everything working, and has absolutely no bites with an asking price of $7k. A 15 year old white box trailer, regardless of condition, is basically relegated to being a "deer camp."

good luck!
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Old 12-31-2016, 11:28 AM   #8
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How much 25k buys versus condition is the question.

I'll try to give this a range:

A 25-yr old TT will need about $10k to be closer to new past purchase price. All appliances, floor and upholstery plus a lot of miscellaneous having to do with being new. In fact, that's a low number.

A ten year old TT will need little past tires and miscellaneous given good condition. With original owner (motivated) and stored under cover, this would be an ideal scenario. But I doubt 25k would do it.

I'd be looking for a 15k trailer. Plan to do DIY on what I could. And carefully spend the rest.

Inspect as many trailers as possible is still the best advice. Do NOT fall in love with one floor plan. Go for best condition.
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Old 12-31-2016, 11:45 AM   #9
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Great input so far, but I'll offer a slightly different take.

We purchased a new 2017 in November. This was after selling our 2014 16' sport privately. On our sport, we did not negotiate very well, but had a decent down payment. We sold it 14 months later and basically lost the fees (tax, liscense, etc.) plus about 5k.

Right now there are trailers our size on the classifieds 2 ish years old that are selling for about 5k less than we purchased for. We did a much better job negotiating this time and got our trailer at about 20% off msrp. I'm not saying we won't lose anything if we sell in the next few years, but my guess is we would lose a lot less then on a SOB trailer. Of course this is not taking into account any money spent on interest, which can be substantial.

Good luck!
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Old 12-31-2016, 12:01 PM   #10
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I've been a pretty steady reader of the Classifieds here for some time now. We have accepted an offer on our motor home, so we're seriously looking for an Airstream. Our budget is $25,000 also, but we're looking at late 90's/early 00's 34' coaches. Yes, we've found some. Remember that asking price and selling price aren't always the same number.

My guess is that if you buy a solid Airstream for $25,000 and keep it pretty much as it was from the factory (doing some upgrades and maintenance) you should be able to sell it for pretty close to what you paid for it. Take your time, ask lots of questions here, and you should be in good shape. Be sure to make use of the inspectors available here. A couple hundred dollars spent on an inspection can save you several thousand dollars later.
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Old 12-31-2016, 12:22 PM   #11
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Michealt.... you are most likely going to be disappointed in what is available in any Airstream over 23 feet for $25K that a Newbie would find ready to move in and get rolling.

No tow vehicle, as well?

A used Airstream that has passed through several owners is a rolling tinkering project. The learning curve is straight up and not for those who are not handy with tools and options to modify components that are no longer available for older models.

New Oliver trailers in the 23 and 25 foot sizes are half the price of an Airstream in those sizes. I doubt if any are available used, yet. Like Airstreams, the depreciation is not a jump off the cliff on a chart, like most other brands of travel trailers. Something to look into.

You may be intent on buying an older, lets say pre-1990 Airstream, but let reality soak in a bit. Many in the 28 to 34 foot lengths have a good chance of being full timing trailers. When offered for sale, it is important you have someone that is familiar with trailers to give it a 100% look over. Even buying new as a Newbie would not notice options that are not in the model you are interested.

Service seems to be $100 or more per hour and broken into quarter hours segments.

Other options are a Boat. An Airplane. Toy hauler and ATV's. If you want to understand the purchase of a used 'vintage' trailer. Expect a return of ZERO for repairs to the factory standard options within an older trailer. A buyer expects the components to be working at the time of purchase. Unless a vintage trailer is a total restoration... then again a newer model could be also purchased.

If the possibility of spending a week in an Airstream is available to you. Try it. I sold our 2006 23 footer to a buyer that wanted to take his girlfriend and daughters camping. He had it for sale in less than 30 days! It is not for everyone with 'stars in their eyes'.
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Old 12-31-2016, 12:36 PM   #12
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One of my drivers bought a 4 year old artic fox , 29' used 2 times and it was parked in a barn, $19000 it is like new..the original owner used his 1/2 ton ford to pull it and had two bad experience's , he should have had a 3/4 pickup
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Old 12-31-2016, 01:48 PM   #13
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Start looking at trailers. You might be pleasantly surprised. If you buy one folks have been full timing in for a while it could use work, same with ones that have sat for years. The ones that folks buy, take out a few times a year and maintain are what you want. You can find a serviceable trailer 12 to 16 years old for close to that budget. For some reason the longer trailers have a greater depreciation percentage from new. We bought a 2004 19ft Bambi for 25,000 had it two years and sold it for 26,000.Very nice inside and out with a few rock dings. We loved it, but needed to go larger, as our grand daughter just kept growing. We bought 2006 25 footer with a few scratches, but the inside was almost pristine, for 31,000. Again, a nice trailer, no major repairs, and usable from day 1 with new sheets and towels. Double check prices on 30 footers close to year 2000, you could be pleasantly surprised. At a certain point you have to ask your self, "Do I want to rebuild trailers or do I want to travel in them ?"
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Old 12-31-2016, 01:56 PM   #14
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Look at this one it is in Airstream classifieds, new listing 3 days ago.

Year: 2005
Make: Airstream
Model: Classic
Length: 28
Condition: Good
Country: United States
State or Province: Minnesota
City: Bethel
Zip/Postal Code: 55011
Type of Sale: Reseller or Consignment
Phone (Optional): 636.633.1339
Listed: December 28, 2016 12:56 pm
Expires: 86 days, 23 hours
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