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Old 11-07-2011, 01:26 PM   #15
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With a Teenager?

Uh.... (...thinking to self...have they just lost it, or do families that are that compatible actually exist? )

It all depends on the teenager and the timeline. My gut says "NO."
Being a teenager isn't sunlight, roses and Sweet Sixteen parties. Teenagers need a certain amount of stability - sometimes just to have something to rebel against. And they NEED friends. More importantly they NEED the beginnings of "independent living" away from the "mind control" of mom, dad and siblings, even if that just means hanging out with friends more than hanging around home.

The other kids might be more adaptable, or they might be less so.

Being on the road? Well it's not as hard as it used to be, with cell phones, Twitter and blogs, but if you decide to go... then bring (or send) your teen home periodically so she can have her BFF's. Making friends later in life is much harder, but if you've been to a high school reunion, you know that it's like yesterday since you've seen most of your high school buds.

Of course fulltiming could consist of fulltiming six months on the road, and six months "at home base" wherever that is for your family.

I agree. You've GOT to have a 31 or 34' if you go Airstream. And I definitely agree to get a very gently used one. I'd use a 2500 Suburban or a Van for a tow vehicle - and have it set up for a private sleeping/reading room for the one who just needs an hour alone. (betcha it's YOU!)

Traveling -as others have posted, gasoline or diesel WILL eat up any savings on electricity. However, you don't have to travel every day. Pick a city and spend one to three weeks exploring locally... then move on.

DO stay in campgrounds with nice shower houses - even with a 10 gallon water heater, the Airstream bathroom experience is best if only shared with one or two other people.

Best wishes, Paula
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Old 11-07-2011, 01:27 PM   #16
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Thanks Shawn, we will check out your blog!

- Bill
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Old 11-07-2011, 01:34 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Foiled Again View Post
Uh.... (...thinking to self...have they just lost it, or do families that are that compatible actually exist? ) but if you decide to go... then bring (or send) your teen home periodically so she can have her BFF's. Making friends later in life is much harder, but if you've been to a high school reunion, you know that it's like yesterday since you've seen most of your high school buds.
I can say that even with our "preteens" (I suppose 9 and 7 are that)...we do this same thing -- we have a storage building in OKC that we use for our stuff, but also for the seasonal clothing change-over -- when we are there we always have get togethers with their old friends from school and they also write letters and send postcards to them as well from the road.
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Old 11-07-2011, 02:26 PM   #18
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<SNIP> the Airstream bathroom experience is best if only shared with one or two other people.

Best wishes, Paula

Now Paula, in my CCD there is no way to get more than one person in there at a time.
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Old 11-07-2011, 08:12 PM   #19
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Salabencher, my wife and I are teachers, and we homeschooled our three kids all the way through high school. We would have loved to do what you are talking about doing. If you have been homeschooling all three of your kids all the way, then you won't have nearly the problems that some have mentioned. As you are well aware, there really is a different mindset in homeschooling families.

That said, the issue of private space is one that you will need to face. I've not had the opportunity (yet) to be in a 34' coach, but I have been in a 30' one. The only private spaces are the bedroom and the bathroom. The rest of the coach is one (not very) big room. I'd suggest that you seriously consider a van conversion as your tow vehicle, because that will give you not only a much more private space, but also more space to spread work out.

Another thing to think about is the various homeschooling laws in the different states. If you aren't already members of HSLDA I strongly urge you to join. Tell them what you're wanting to do and they should be able to give you some good pointers. Some states are not at all homeschool-friendly.
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Old 11-07-2011, 08:42 PM   #20
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We choose Texas for our home state because no state tax and they have good homeschooling laws. Escapees are located there. We joined HSLDA to CYA.
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Old 11-07-2011, 08:47 PM   #21
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Hi All,
As a former home schooling mom, may I suggest some other areas that you will probably spend MORE not less...food and house-keeping supplies. You won't have the storage space to buy large quantities of things like toilet paper and paper towels. These things cost less when you buy in bulk. There will be no big freezer to buy whats on sale either or to preserve your home grown produce. RV refrigerators are smallish making for very frequent grocery runs.
Oh yes, you'll also spend much cash and many hours at the laundramat too...no washer/dryer!

Our kids are all adults now but we traveled quite a bit when we were schooling and made it all into "field trips" for learning. You might want to consider keeping a home base and taking extended camping trips to interesting places from your base rather that going full time.

I agree with the others on a remodel too. A serious remodel of an older AS can cost a great deal and take many months.

Good rules of thumb would be...
"What ever you think it will cost, DOUBLE IT!"
"How long you think it will take, DOUBLE IT!"

If you are in-experienced in doing the work you could get in over your head very easily.

May I suggest you try a few weeks in a rental (of any brand) and see if the nomadic life in VERY close quarters is really do-able for your precious family or more of an exciting dream. Kind of a "try before you buy" sort of thing.

Be Blessed!
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Old 11-07-2011, 11:03 PM   #22
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Bill- Welcome to the forum. Here is some feedback for what it is worth.

You are fortunate that you can work via the internet, your kids are being homeschooled, you have a minimalist mentality and your kids seem excited about your fulltiming adventure. Without these plusses, you would not have a prayer.

If you are doing this to save money, this will not happen and it is a lousy reason to do this. Do it for the places that you and your family will be able to see and the experiances.

First, rent a trailer and take a trip- the longer the better. You will learn a lot.

Second, buy a used unit that is ready to travel. Pick your battles. You will have enough challenges to deal with. If you decide that full timing is not for you, you can sell your trailer and won't loose much.

Live where the outside temperature is pleaasent, so your kids can spend lots of time outside and your utility usage will be minimal, especially if you are boondocking. Canada and northern Michigan in the summer is a wonderful place to be.

After careful gathering of data if you decide that you think that it will work for your family then go for it. If it works, great. But you will never know unless you try it.

Good luck, Dan
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Old 11-08-2011, 10:26 AM   #23
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You'll do what you want, and you're right to ask the questions you have. I'd continue to plan despite the rainy parade around here, my comments included in that. I'm not going to try to persuade you one way or another, but this is written in that manner:

I'd nix the remodel idea from the beginning. A perusal of threads around here will show that the combined skills of carpenter, electrician, plumber, auto mechanic, electronics tech and the rest combine to make for headaches just in planning. Takes time, much time in out-thinking factory engineers and planners. IMO, makes this idea as much an impossibility as any other. With a remodel completion date three years hence, maybe (and contingent on extensive prior RV experience). And, frankly, many re-models suffer in comparison to OEM. An advantage gained, here, but lost here and here and here as a result.

The single most important consideration as I understand your question is equipment cost -- capital outlay -- thus what timeframe of calendar and miles: three years, five years? One needs an endpoint, a calendar date, to make an initial spreadsheet work; with $$ room for changes as one goes along. Make no mistake that you will put it on the line somewhere and in some fashion.

Implicit in this is loss of income. I think from the assumption, if it can be outsourced, it will be, as this is the larger trend nationally and globally. Implicit also is serious illness. In other words, what is my capital investment, and how much can I afford to lose? One can, obviously, face the same predicament in rented housing. And be faced with trying to replicate the same all over again, a $$ non-starter due to reduced income and/or higher expenses versus living with relatives. The obvious advantage of an RV is that one has an "out", another means of shelter, etc. It can be parked about anywhere.

While an A/S is cool, you are looking at very hard use. I'm no fan of other design types, but their size and disposability make them more attractive. A 5'er (correct brand, size, layout) is almost a no-brainer for this situation (family versus couple) as the storage, on-board generator, and water tankage are deal-breakers in my mind. A month here and two months there are what these things are good for. I'd care less about maintenance and appearances . . I'd be going nuts with trying to keep up an A/S to like-new standard. The mistakes you will make are "livable" with more space, etc. Plus, there is always inclement weather, colds and the flu, etc. Days on end indoors for those affected and those who must care for them.

Starting big is easier. Potentially cheaper for initial outlay. RV techs and other service shops are comfortable with SOBs. Some are quite wary of A/S (and for good reason). Clarity will come from experience, and being able to pinpoint how to size down will be workable. Give it more than a year.

As to transportation: yes, more trips to store and laundry. Walmart Man. Decent planning can alleviate much here. All trips are combined, in other words. No last minute runs. A discipline that pays, but also costs in terms of headache to adjust. No matter the RV type (critical with one, less so with the other). Bicycles of the proper type can reduce this expense (short trips). Best to use the seven months and log every vehicle trip now being made: time, distance, objective. And then restrict use to certain hours, then to certain days. Etc.

The Tahoe is unacceptable. I'd say that for a couple it can be made workable, but with a family (and, as in above posts) the need for storage and usable space makes a van, Sub or big pickup a better choice based on payload. A Megacab Dodge Ram would be on my list, in 1T configuration, SRW. That A/S bunkhouse linked above has up to a 1,260-lb TW. Any trailer big enough will be similar. A 1/2T can't carry anything, a 3/4T runs out of payload, and the 1T is closest in fit and numbers. Shortbed is okay for an A/S, but a crewcab DRW with longbed is almost required with a 5'er. (These aren't the only choices, but they bookend what is available). (I also wrote more about tow rigs, my view, here).

For the above reasons, this is a situation where I'd rate the TV as more important than the TT (or 5'er) against the usual thinking around here. The family Conestoga is one thing, but a good mule team is harder to find . . but they could pull anything. Best to start at this end of the combination rig, IMO.

The big savings for full-timers is not against rented housing, but when one is presently a homeowner. The reduction in fixed expenses plus maintenance/repairs (assuming a non-income producing property) is where the savings lie. But that's just money. The less stuff in storage -- paid or not -- the better. What is great about full-timing is the lack of headaches, the time freed from house work, and the greatly reduced distance to re-creational activity.

People have been doing this for years. Sailboats, gypsy wagons and the rest. So how important are social factors? I tend to think glorifying teenagers in this society (immature adults) is a mistake; there is no doubt it is as much a marketing label as any other (Gen Y and similar crap; someone elses profit, not my well-being), thus easily ignored. It wouldn't stop me at all. Your kids will be much more interesting (let's hope in the best sense) than the drones from suburbia.

Follow your heart, but be able to walk away from the traveling if need be. Park that big dude somewhere and re-group.

.
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Old 11-08-2011, 01:55 PM   #24
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Thank you everyone for the posts and private messages. I appreciate the time you have spent to answer our question and value your opinions. This has been something we have discussed for a few years and we want to do this right if we proceed. Lots to think about.

- Bill
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Old 11-08-2011, 07:07 PM   #25
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Bill, you are absolutely correct in asking LOTS of questions, both here and on other forums. If you haven't already joined the Escapees forum, do so. You may just find that someone else has already done what you are thinking about doing and can give you the benefit of their experiences.

DW and I are less than three years away from buying our FT rig, and we haven't even decided on the class yet, much less a manufacturer or model. We will buy used, no matter what we decide on. The plan is to have some time and money in the budget so that we can do whatever repairs and upgrades we feel necessary for our satisfaction and comfort while we still have this place. We're NOT going to do any major remodels, though! Whatever we buy will need to be at least useable the day it comes home. Ideally, we'll have about six months between bringing the coach home and putting the farm up for sale. I want to be able to move into our FT coach the day we sign with the real estate company - just in case.

Both DW and I love Airstreams, even though neither one of us has ever slept in one. That said, we're wondering if even one of the larger ones is a good choice for a FT coach for us. Notice I didn't stop after "coach." You and your family will need to decide what will (or will not) work for you. Only you can make that decision.

Enjoy the research. That can be almost as exciting as actually bringing your new home home.
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Old 11-09-2011, 04:33 PM   #26
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Salabencher, I may have rained on the parade too hard, but don't toss the towel on a TV with an Airstream. Families have certainly made do with less as to space & amenities.

I would like to recommend the series of books by TRAILER LIFE (magazine), used, on the various aspects of RV choice, ownership, maintenance and repairs. It's possible that an approach from this angle will provide more information -- for the purposes of this thread -- of what you are willing to do, to put up with, in re the care & feeding of TV and TT. In other words, more specific experience by various members may be brought to bear, and a rig closer to what is comfortable might be suggested.

My folks had a 28' Silver Streak for more than a quarter-century, and the long vacations taken in my high school years found me happily sleeping on the floor on an air mattress, my two sisters on a fold-out couch, and the 'rents on the twin beds. Pulled by a luxury car. Little different than what is seen now in most respects. We'd leave the 101F Texas heat and maybe head to Colorado . . and, below freezing in Leadville, or rain in Montana found us with enough clothes to suit.

How close, rhetorically, will your family want to come to what is extraneous to those few requirements?

Although my folks didn't own one, nor yet do I, a free-standing screened room outdoors is on my list. Before I go to pricing them, I'll be soliciting opinions after reading up on that topic around here. They look to be a good way to keep some activities outside all the time. A form of privacy, not just bug protection.

There is bound to be a middle way to explore. Look forward to any new angle which occurs to you.

.
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Old 11-09-2011, 05:28 PM   #27
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Is it a pipe-dream? Depends upon your perspective. Google "tiny houses" and you will find a lot of info about living in spaces as small as 100 square feet. Of course not with that many people. I read about a Dr. (MD) in California that lives(with his wife and kids) in a really small camper and runs a surfer school out of it. I understand that he works in local hospital emergency rooms at night to pay for what ever they don't make from the surf school. I think the article I read said they had a bunch of kids and they slept in the camper but in southern California they could do most everything else outside. I saw them once when in California at a State beach park. Bunch of people with surfboards grouped together for lessons. Camper van in the parking lot. Not the life for a lot of folks, but we are all individuals. Too often we are bound by what we think we "should" do rather than what we want to do. Then when life is over we say, "shucks, I really wanted to do something else."
good luck, bill b.
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Old 11-09-2011, 08:07 PM   #28
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The biggest question is will you regret not doing it. The type of RV is personal preference.
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