We purchased our 2008 Safari 27FB SE in August 2011. It came with a Reese dual cam hitch. We are the third owners (the first did not use it and the second only used it about 5 times). It appeared to be in great shape when we bought it. We had it inspected, wheel bearings repacked, washed, and waxed at a major Airstream dealer before completing the purchase. The savings over new was substantial and we negotiated a price well below what appeared to be the "market" value for similar used trailers.
If you purchase new, most maintenance and repair issues should be covered under the manufacturer warranty (2 years). It is my understanding from reading the Forums the extended warranties sold by the dealers are not worth the cost.
My first year expense experience so far with a 4 year old "lightly used" trailer (owned since August 2011) has been:
1) Complete inspection by Airstream dealer, repair of bifold door, repack wheel bearings - $485.00 I had this done before purchasing the used trailer.
2) Wash & Wax trailer -- $350. Performed by Airstream dealer. Interesting that when I got it home I found the dealer did not wash the roof.
3) Storage -- My neighborhood does not permit on property storage so I have it stored inside a nearby industrial warehouse for $200 per month.
4) Replace 1200 lb hitch bars with 800 lb bars and adjust hitch at Airstream dealer $278.78. This I did based on recommendations on the Forums as I am towing with a 3/4 truck.
5) Replace all interior halogen lights with LED's -- $528.40 I purchased these from LED4RV on the internet and did the work myself. It was easy. This will significantly reduce power consumption. New Airstreams come with them as standard equipment.
6) Replaced converter with updated 3 stage converter - $219.50. I purchased from Best Converter (on internet) and did the work myself. The 3 stage converter upgrade allows me to keep it plugged in at the storage facility without worrying about cooking the batteries. Many owners make this change.
7) Replace 15" wheels and Goodyear Marathon tires with 16" Sendel Aluminum wheels and 16" Michelin LTX MS/2 tires -- 5 wheels $582, 5 tires $1082. I read all of the horror stories about the Goodyear Marathon ST tires on the Forums. Given the original tires were 4 years old, I decided to invest in new tires. Since I was buying all new tires, it seemed reasonable to also invest in the 16" wheels and get the Michelins.
8) Install street side awning $1083 (parts and labor). We added this third awning to shield street side windows and refrigerator from sun when camping.
9) Refrigerator repairs (replace door to freezer due to broken hinge) - $480 part and labor
10) New gas struts on bed $68 parts and labor. Old struts wouldn't keep bed in up position
11) Miscellaneous (hitch lock, locks, new breakaway cable, spare keys, antifreeze for winterizing) est $100
12) Interior furnishings (dishes, sheets, towels, portable vacuum cleaner, accessories) I'm not sure how much we spent but likely several hundred dollars.
13) WBCCI membership -- $85. Includes local chapter dues
14) Floor rot repair due to leak at bottom beltline. The trailer is currently at the Airstream factory in Jackson Center having portions of the rotten plywood replaced and the vinyl floor replaced. Cost will be several thousand dollars.
15) Insurance -- Cost is about $300 per year with a stated value policy
16) License fees -- I believe my tag was about $80.
17) Property tax -- This cost will vary based on your location.
I thought this list might be useful to show what first year ownership costs can be for a 4 year old trailer. Notice, many of the items were discretionary (LED lights, street side awning, trade-up to larger tires, new converter). It also shows some of the repair costs you might run into if you buy a 3-4 year old Airstream out of warranty (floor rot repair, refrigerator door replacement). Repair costs are high so if you buy an out of warranty recent model make sure you negotiate a substantially lower cost than new. I paid about $8000 less than the owner was asking (his original asking price was about what other trailers of the same age and condition were advertised for). It looks like by the end of my first year of ownership I'll have spent close to $8000 on repairs and modifications.
Having put these costs behind me I don't expect annual expenses to be very high. Storage costs, license fees, taxes are pretty much unavoidable. I'm guessing I'll spend less than $500 per year in actual maintenance costs as I will do most of the work such as winterizing, resealing, washing/waxing, wheel bearing repacks) myself. The tires will likely have to be replaced every 4-5 years. It is also possible there will be issues with some of the systems (fantastic fans, skylights, water pump, electronic gear) as the trailer ages. It is hard to predict when these things might occur.
One other word of caution in purchasing a recent model trailer. I spent $485 in August 2011 to have the trailer fully inspected and the bearings repacked by one of the largest Airstream dealers in the country prior to buying the trailer from an individual. The dealer did not identify the beltline leak and floor rot.
The trailer was stored inside after I purchased it so the water intrusion problem and rot occurred prior to purchase. On our second outing, the leg supporting the dinette table punched through the vinyl floor and into the rotten wood under the dinette. This goes to show you that even if you take every precaution and have a used trailer inspected by "professionals" you can experience a major problem.
We like our trailer and got a good enough purchase price that the high first year costs have been annoying but have not soured us on our purchase. Had we paid the "market" price for the used trailer, I'd be extremely disappointed and wishing I had bought a new one. However, if you read other threads about the 2012 trailers on the Forums you'll see many new owners are having problems as well.
There are many lightly used recent model Airstreams on the market. We looked for over a year and inspected several used ones before settling on the one we purchased. If you go with a used one, don't be afraid to negotiate aggressively on price. We walked away from one we really liked because the owner's price was not negotiable. Used or new, you'll likely experience some unexpected extraordinary costs.