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Old 03-27-2011, 08:04 AM   #1
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Considering Airstream life...answers please

As an older single woman who has been tied to a historic building in a small town for five years and wanting a lot less overhead, I am considering buying an Airstream to have as a primary residence in say Santa Fe. My concern is safety, first and foremost. The other is I have five cats....yes I know that is over the top, however those sad looks when they knock on the door is difficult to turn one's head. All indoor cats. While I appear high maintenance I am really very simple in my desires and more into quality of life then material things. That said only an Airstream turns my head.

I have friends who have for years traveled the nation in their RV for the summer months to avoid the heat in the South. They however are a couple. They assure me all would be fine.

So do I go for a relative new Airstream. Do I go the gamut of the renovation and special touch approach which I am very capable of doing....say like a Ralph Lauren type thing, or do I totally forget the idea.

It seems a logical move for a few years and then of course perhaps move to a house once I decide for sure where I want to live the rest of my life. I am a writer by background and what I want to once again pursue. So all that said, please share your insights, thoughts and suggestions. I want to hear it all. Good and bad.

Thanks and enjoy your day.
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Old 03-27-2011, 08:20 AM   #2
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Welcome. First, why do you think safety is an issue? I hope some of the Gal's we have met who full time will chime in. Second, I think I'd rather spend my time traveling than refurbishing, so a new or newer model would be in my cards.
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Old 03-27-2011, 08:21 AM   #3
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I met a woman on one of our local Rallies who did this ( no cats at that time tho) she had never had a camper, bought a later model Airstream, added some personal touches and headed for the road. We had to show her how to back it in and set up at the park. In no time she was a full timer and travelling the US. Hope this is helpful.
Find an experienced Airstreamer thru the Forums if you don't know someone who could help you check out what you want to buy.There a lots of friendly folks who are able and willing to help.
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Old 03-27-2011, 09:05 AM   #4
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Glad to see you here AnnieG, welcome to the forum!

Safety is no issue. Airstreams offer just as much illusion of safety as any standard house. Good thing about the AS is if the neighborhood gets bad you can move your house!

I think the rest project is simply a matter of taste and time. We would love to take on a project one day and refurb some old shells, but we need a place to be. We bought a used unit to avoid some of that sticker shock and couldn't be happier. We have been taking on little projects here and there to get things somewhat personalized, new cushions, drapes, bedding, etc... It doesn't take gobs of resources to really change the feel of the of such a small space.
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Old 03-27-2011, 09:10 AM   #5
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Greetings from the Florida Panhandle

First off, welcome to the Forums. We're glad to have you with us.

What you are proposing is quite doable.

Your first consideration, safety, is not a problem. In a campground setting, you are probably safer than in any traditional neighborhood in this country. Generally in a campground, someone who appears up to no good is pretty quickly confronted/reported. A locked Airstream is significantly more difficult to forcibly gain entry to than a traditional house.

The five felines could be another matter. A crowd like this could be problematic in 200 or less square feet. A lot would depend on your tolerance for cat dander and their tolerance for travel. Many cats are nor interested in long car rides. You would probably have a better shot at making this work with fewer cat friends.

There is a learning curve to Airstreaming, but it is not launching rockets. You can learn these things and enjoy the freedom of Airstream travel and living.

I would go with a new or newer Airstream. Vintage Airstreams are really neat but probably not the best choice for the inexperienced who want to travel extensively.

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Old 03-27-2011, 09:13 AM   #6
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Santa Fe is a high cost place. Commercial campgrounds are full and expensive in the summer and low cost camping is 30-40 miles away.
There are lots of threads in this forum on winter living and the bottom line is Airstreams are not very comfortable when temperatures get below freezing.
Days in the teens (or lower) are not unusual in Santa Fe in the winter.
For full timing in an Airstream, I would consider a warmer and cheaper place.
We feel as safe in our Airstream as we do in our home (assuming we are in a safe area). The Airstream is robustly constructed and has a deadbolt.
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Old 03-27-2011, 09:13 AM   #7
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Santa Fe NM is at 7,000 ft. and does get pretty cold in the winter. Of all the points you bring up, this is the one which would be the most concerning to me. Hopefully someone who full times in this climate can chime in with suggestions.

Have you considered migrating south for the winter to lower elevations?
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Old 03-27-2011, 09:30 AM   #8
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Not sure what you have in mind but I must point out, Airstreams are meant for travelling. If you mean to stay in one place and not move, they are a very bad bargain.

By that I mean, for the same money you can buy a mobile home that is way better and roomier IF you are going to stay put.

The Airstream is designed specifically for travelling. The streamlined design and sophisticated suspension design make it tow great. But reduce interior room and cost money. This is all wasted when you are sitting still.

The aluminum construction means they are not very good at keeping heat in, or out. In extreme weather, like below freezing or over 80 they are very hard to heat or to air condition.

Hope this is clear. Airstreams are great for travelling, not so great when parked for long periods of time.
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Old 03-27-2011, 09:36 AM   #9
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Have a look at a discussion group moderated by a single woman who "full-times" with pets. Hunter is an excellent source for this kind of information.
AirstreamList : The original Airstream discussion list..
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Old 03-27-2011, 09:37 AM   #10
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Cat dander shouldn't be a problem with regular cleaning. We clean daily as we fulltime with our 3 dogs. We also babysit our grandpuppy daily. Yeah, that's 4 dogs. What a mess on a rainy day.
The tough part is finding a decent place to stay at where your neighbors aren't 6 feet away. Look through the Winter Living section here on the Forums. There is a loy of helpful information there to help you plan.
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Old 03-27-2011, 10:31 AM   #11
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I did it five years ago. I bought new, but there are PLENTY used Airstreams out there. Save big bucks- buy a 2 to 5 year old model. Airstreams are NOT meant to be parked - and though I travel a lot less than I'd like to - I do get out on the road and go from time to time.

Campgrounds vary. A few are real dumps, but by and large most are very nice. Check your Woodalls, or ask here before you go.

I know several people who travel with cats - but 1 or 2 - not five. Many cats do not travel well: never adjust. You shouldn't leave them in the trailer. It bounces and could injure them. They'd have to be caged in the back seat while you travel. I'd get cages and try this out to see if they are good travelers before you actually buy an Airstream. Start with a 5 minute trip and work your way up to 30 min. One trick, once you get them in the cage feed them each a very small helping of their favorite treat... take them on the road, then at the end, give them more of the same treat. They MAY associate getting into their cages with fun if you do this consistently. Truthfully, if you have one or more cats that get sick every time they travel, you'll be cruel if you don't find that cat another home. Many do travel well, but if all 5 of yours don't... you may want to put the whole plan on hold.

You will almost certainly need to have an outdoor roofed cage. Your Airstream will STINK with five cats if you don't keep at least one box outside and sift the litter daily. This would give them room to play safely - otherwise frustrated cats take to clawing furniture! Look up travel cages or travel kennels on the internet. Most Airstreams have outside access doors which can be used to allow cats to climb in and out of the airstream at will.

If you want to be comfortable with that many cats - I'd suggest a 30 ft Airstream at a minimum, and possibly even the tri-axle 34 footer. Cats and people need some "alone time" I have a 25 footer, and even if I were totally retired I wouldn't consider more than one cat or dog as a companion in that size trailer.

Towing the trailer - Staying in Santa Fe over the cold, cold winter? Bad idea if there's a reasonable alternative - like the valley of the Sun in Arizona. If you go for a 30-34ft trailer you'll need a 3/4 ton truck or SUV - think about a 2500 Suburban as a cat transport with storage. If you want diesel - it's going to be a truck. If you aren't careful, the gas guzzler can eat up quite a bit of the savings of a smaller domicile.

Cold - Virginia Beach had it's worst winter in 30 years, 3 weeks below 30, three snowstorms, etc. But still our winter starts at the end of November, and generally is over by early March - It's 44 here today, so still nippy. I went through my 30lb propane tanks twice during the coldest snap but made it on the heat pump the rest of the time. I wouldn't want to try this in Ohio. Wool socks help!

All that said, 5 cats... If you travel it's going to be limited by the needs and safety considerations of the cats. Ideally you'll want to stop after 5 hours and feed the cats - then allow them some time to use the litter pan. That's an "unload the cages, unlock the Airstream, get out the litter box, feed & water the cats, wait for nature to take it's course. Of course getting going again after that? Well, many people don't really like to travel more than 300 miles per day - and the cats should tolerate that OK. They can throw up and get diarrhea if they're not good travels and 100 miles in a truck with that smell... because you've got to get to your next campground. woof!

Setup and breakdown time. Where will you keep your indoor litter box - most opt for the shower - which means pausing, moving it and brushing out the shower before you take your turn - or us the campground shower. You'll have to catch and cage the cats, put the cages in the vehicle, tear down & fold the cage, stow litter pans, food, water dishes, etc. every time you travel. I wouldn't say "don't do it" but I willl suggest you think about it carefully.

You'll need to have the cats chipped and have halter collars with ID on all of them - just in case one gets elusive and runs out of the door.

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Old 03-27-2011, 07:53 PM   #12
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Welcome! You can make anything work although 5 cats may be a little much. I'm a single senior woman that rv's but I drive an Airstream MH. You may want to check a used MH out. There would be more room for cat cages when you're driving and you can see or hear them. In a MH you just stop and don't have to hitch, leave it or walk outside to do any cat care or camp. It's a wonderful life style. There are a lot of single activities out there, you can workcamp for some extra $$$ if needed. Be sure whatever you buy has a good generator. Once you are around RVer's you will hear all about locations you would enjoying staying at for different weather conditions. Go on line to yahoo group solo-net which is a very supportive site for new single RVers.
Good luck,
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Old 03-27-2011, 08:33 PM   #13
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Thank you for the input...the MH has been a consideration even though I love the look of an Airstream. Five cats always seem over the top however we always all end up in the same room anyway and I currently live in 2500SF. So I think I can make it work and maybe I would move around a bit. My second career was a flight attendant so travel is not exactly foreign to me...although on the ground cruising is a bit different.
Thanks again for the input.
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Old 03-27-2011, 08:40 PM   #14
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Thank you all for your very informative input. It is a big decision although the eccentric in me is being pulled that direction. Just as living in a historic building did five years ago. Now time to do something different in a less demanding and much smaller way. The cats are all great cats...but then everyone who has cats feels that way...they are very easy going. Three traveled from Florida to Texas and the two country boys I think would be fine. They are happy to be where ever I am and extremely grateful for the home. And hey if it doesn't work then my daughter and son in law can take over and I will land somewhere...I always feel however all things are possible.
Thanks again for the input. If anyone else has anything to add, please do. Enjoy your night where ever you are.
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