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Old 04-27-2008, 01:52 PM   #1
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investigating RV life, after getting wiped out

Hi, I am investigating living in a RV for a few years while I recover from being financially wiped out via a failed marriage engagement. A friend of mine swears Airstreams are the way to go (though he doesn't have one), so I decided to look in to them first. Before I actually tried to live in one, I would rent one, and see how it went.

The pros: I have a good job that pays $70k a year, had the same job for 5 years, single, no family, no pets, few belongings, used to moving, sometimes adventurous, work as a computer programmer, early 40s, if I was a retired millionaire I would probably want to live in an RV.

The cons: No savings, $5k credit card-debt, no RV experience, live where it sometimes freezes (northern NJ), need a good internet connection, prefer quiet places, don't know anyone with an RV, my regular car is a wrangler, don't like what I've read about living in a "winterized" RV, tend not to meet new people.

I assume I could get a loan to buy an RV, which may be an erroneous assumption. While I've been in debt a long time, I've never missed any kind of payment. I purchased and later sold a house 10 years ago.

I really do not know much about where I could live in a RV, I've been searching for RV parks around where I live - but I'm not sure if they are campgrounds or places where you can put an RV for an extended amount of time. Ironically, I wouldn't need to move the RV, just live in it. If I did live in one, I could use it to visit relatives in other states. I was looking in to Motorhomes so I could tow my jeep if I had to, if I had a truck I would look at Travel Trailers. Maybe a "Park Model" is a better choice, if they are even available to me. I have an aversion to trailer-parks.

Any suggestions?
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Old 04-27-2008, 02:45 PM   #2
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Wasn't it 'The Rockford Files' where the detective lived in a dumpy trailer supposedly just off a picturesque Malibu beach? In the real world zoning would have knocked that thought into kingdom come.

A lot of RV parks double as semi-permanent residences for many people. It would be darned hard to do this without a sewer and a frost-free source of water. So how about setting up your own lot by itself? You could run into zoning issues if you aim for municipal utilities. Further out in the country a dedicated septic system and a well would make this a uniquely permanent or expensive experiment. And they'd probably need a building permit at the very least. You'd have to make the case for that.

There are ways to move an RV onto a lot without having a tow vehicle yourself.

Search the forums on the term wintering. I don't think an Airstream is heads above other units for doing this. A 1970s or 1980s unit might seem 'economy' as far as basic price but you'd have to have some luck and excellent patience finding a unit ready to use as-is. Think ... 1970 Dodge Charger with all systems ready to roll away.

Good luck! It would be interesting to see how this evolves if you go this direction.
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Old 04-27-2008, 02:47 PM   #3
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Programmers unite!

I'm a CIO within a few years of retirement. Really just a programmer. My opinion is that NJ might be a bit too cold for full time Airstream living. While the furnace works fine to keep things warm, the propane it uses might be significant. Other than that, there wouldn't be any challenges to your plan. However, if you weren't planning on doing some roving, there might be better solutions to your housing situation.
As to being connected, broad band access to the Internet on the road is pretty straightforward and is getting economical enough to use as a permanent connection.
When I retire, we'll probably be completely "off the wire" and rely on various forms of wireless connections to stay online.
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Old 04-27-2008, 03:46 PM   #4
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Northern NJ

Truthfully, I wouldn't do it in NORTHERN NJ.

I'm fulltiming in Southern VA, 12 miles from the NC border. Winters are at worst six weeks of freezing cold weather. Two refills on the propane tanks, a small ceramic heater and a heat pump/air conditioner get me through just fine. You're area? Three months of bitter cold.

If you're just looking to save up money for a year or two, then the "park model" and the trailer park ARE a better solution. If you don't tend to meet people, who cares who the neighbors are as long as they aren't running a meth lab?

As for the "not meeting people" - that's a choice. In almost any campground most people are friendly if you make the effort to smile and be friendly. (And if you do meet the "people of the corn" - you can move out in the middle of the night. )

IF however, your job would let you telecommute (even just from Nov-Feb) then an Airstream is a distinct possibility. Before you do anything else, I'd recommend a day trip to Colonial Airstream a bit to the south of you. Take a serious look at their inventory up close and personal. The DO sell a lot of 2nd and 3rd Airstreams.... so they take some trade ins!

If you are dead set against buying a serious tow vehicle, and only want to move it once in a while, rent a truck for the moves, or even pay to have it moved. I have a 2500 Diesel Silverado to pull my rig. Reality check is that I'm going to have to buy a gas-sipper for a daily driver. I'm thinking a Honda that I can put in the bed of the truck. (YES Terry, I will be super careful! I had my first motorcycle license in 1966 and still have all my fingers and toes.)

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Old 04-27-2008, 04:29 PM   #5
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@CanoeStream: I kiddingly told a friend of mine I was going to live on a houseboat or in a warehouse "like in all those 80s shows", lol. I have considered buying a plot of land and putting a Park Model on it, though I'm sure it could be a legal hassel. I read where some town was putting a stop to a camping ground that was selling Park Models and leasing the land for it, in West NJ I think. I have no problem sharing my story as long as I remain anonymous, lol.

@flitzwhopper: Is getting electricity a problem? I'm guessing a park fee would cover the cost of using a powerline, perhaps they meter it? I program in C, and am pretty much a geek. Ubuntu 8.04 is out, by the way, lol.

@FoiledAgain: Indeed it gets cold here for a few months. I lived in VaBeach for some years, and went to a high-school where the cheer-leaders couldn't say the school name, lol. Good point on not having to meet my neighbors. I'm acutally quite friendly once I know people, but it takes some time to get to that point. Some of my coworkers telecommute, but I have not pushed for that yet.
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Old 04-27-2008, 04:42 PM   #6
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own vs. rent

The questions you ask are twofold. I won't give any opinions about the actual pros and cons of full-time RV life. I've only camped in mine. Though I have read that AS just aren't made for cold climates as well as some other brands out there.

Plus, I have heard that many RV parks (not camping sites, but living locations) generally have certain rules about the quality of RV. For instance many require that they be white, not that yellowish variety of the 70's and 80's, plus they need to be newer than 2000, say. I've just heard this, and it is probably not true of every location.

Owning a trailer, especially one on which you depend for your everyday shelter, is a more expensive proposition than one might assume. Eveything costs more to fix in a trailer than a house. Renting an apratment or home would allow you to focus on life instead of repairs. Perhaps, for the sake of the lifestyle choice, renting a fixed location would be better than buying a trailer and living in it.

Just my 2 cents, and probably not even worth that. If I only had 2 cents, don't think I would live in a trailer and it sounds like you have a bit more than 2 cents to your name.

Airstreams are cool, though.
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Old 04-27-2008, 04:52 PM   #7
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vote against

As a full timer, I vote against this move. You havent spoken at all about why this would be appealing to you except that your buddy says to. I can see this turning bad. But thats just my take on it.
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Old 04-27-2008, 05:02 PM   #8
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There a big difference between wanting to live in an Airstream or travel tailer of any kind and having to do it for financial reasons. There's no doubt that you could do it and do it in N.J. but it's not inexpensive. Your trailer, especially an Airstream is going to cost more (new) per sq. ft. than any house your likely to buy. Then again you have a lot more freedom to live where you want. I don't know why it should cost more than a house to fix most anything in an Airstream. Unless your starting with something that's been neglected for years. People do it every day and if I were in your situation I would seriously consider doing the same.
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Old 04-27-2008, 09:04 PM   #9
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@OregonArgy: That's a good idea to check out the requirements for any potential parks I find. I recently had a lower apartment, and moved because the people above me were too loud. Now the person that lives under me says my creaking floor is too loud. I was going to find another apartment when I realized maybe I should consider an RV.

@GenDisarray: Indeed it could turn out bad. What would appeal to me would be: 1) the ability to easily move if I didn't like where I was, 2) my monthly $1,000 rent going to something I would own, 3) having a vehicle that I could take on occasional interstate trips, 4) having the ability to become a roving consultant if my job ended, and 5) having a limited space to dissuade me from collecting too much junk.

@craftsman: I think I would want something newish, mostly because I don't already have the resources/skills to fix something up. So are saying you *would* consider an AS/TT?
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Old 04-28-2008, 08:50 AM   #10
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whatever it takes...

C, Java, PHP now and Fortran, assembler, Pascal, PL1, Basic before.... programming is programming.

Electricity isn't usually a problem. Most of the Airstreams are DC systems for camping and have a power supply that charges the battery. When you are on shore power the AC outlets are live. Still these campers don't use much electricity.

I would highly recommend purchasing an older park model. Typically, they are very well cared for and lightly used. They are also cheap. $5k to $10k because the older small models are the ones that are in demand. Most of us want light trailers that we can travel with. The gasolne prices are making that trend accelerate. If you buy an older park model and find that you aren't happy with the decision, it is pretty easy to sell the unit for what you have in it.
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Old 04-28-2008, 11:45 AM   #11
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For a single man I like the idea, entertained it myself until being married at 40. On the other hand, for a disaffected single man, it may prolong the problems, seen and unseen.

I put up a thread on "mobile telecoms" in On The Road that may be of use. Many RV'ers are nice as can be, so we never felt the lack of company while "homeless" most of last year. But, recall, most are in the late 50's and older. Most whom we met who were working were in particular skilled trades and, of all things, insurance investigators/claims representatives.

Were I to do so, I'd be certain of, say, church membership and other so that one is not isolated. Alone is easy, lonely is a bad place. One can easily slip from the former to the latter without quite realizing it. The Internet is nice but is absolutely no substitute.

Hope you'll keep investigating, and good luck on finding a story that inspires!
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Old 04-28-2008, 12:04 PM   #12
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Exclamation

Quote:
Originally Posted by flitzwhopper
I would highly recommend purchasing an older park model. Typically, they are very well cared for and lightly used. They are also cheap. $5k to $10k because the older small models are the ones that are in demand. Most of us want light trailers that we can travel with. The gasolne prices are making that trend accelerate. If you buy an older park model and find that you aren't happy with the decision, it is pretty easy to sell the unit for what you have in it.
Fitz are you speaking Airstreams here?

Are you under the impression that anything over 25 ft is a park model Airstream?
I think the "official" definition of a "park model" trailer is one without selfcontained systems such as on board holding tanks and battery-12volt services. Not sure whether Airstream ever actually marketed these types other than maybe custom unit now and then.
Maybe Fred Colwell could advise..??
I agree that the shorties are the most popular and the most expensive (valuable) vintage ones. But I am not sure the long-boys should be considered park models. However if fuel prices keep going as I think that they will, then (IMHO) many Airstreams will become park models.
That is what mine was (on a deer lease) and exactly what I envision as it's next life as well, a portable lake house.
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Old 04-28-2008, 01:11 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by innjtown
What would appeal to me would be: 1) the ability to easily move if I didn't like where I was, 2) my monthly $1,000 rent going to something I would own, 3) having a vehicle that I could take on occasional interstate trips, 4) having the ability to become a roving consultant if my job ended, and 5) having a limited space to dissuade me from collecting too much junk.
Honestly, if you are not planning on actually being mobile on occasion, I would recommend against this plan. My camper is small 8 months of the year and really nice the 4 months or so I travel. Even as much as I am on the road, I expect it is likely I will get at least a 6 month lease somewhere next winter. I'm not trying to be a wet blanket, just providing information. Good luck what ever you choose.
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Old 04-28-2008, 05:23 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Distantdrummer
I think the "official" definition of a "park model" trailer is one without selfcontained systems such as on board holding tanks and battery-12volt services. Not sure whether Airstream ever actually marketed these types other than maybe custom unit now and then.
Most Airstreams didn't have black tanks until 1959 or grey tanks until 1973...some in the 40'-early fifties didn't even have bathrooms at all.

So by default, they were all "park models".

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