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Old 11-07-2011, 09:16 AM   #1
1 Rivet Member
Tampa , Florida
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 9
Full-Timing with family to save money

Greetings everyone,

I have lurked about on the forum for a year or so and wanted to ask everyone's opinion of an idea I have. I don't mind criticism or suggestions, that's why I'm asking! lol.

So here goes.

I work from home in IT and make a good living. My wife is a stay at home mom and we home school our 3 kids ages 13, 7, and 4. We are kind of nomadic, having moved many times. We have owned homes in Florida, Texas, and South Carolina but seem to get bored living in suburbia. We are also very minimalist and not concerned with material things.We are tired of the cleaning, upkeep, and electric bills of a large home.We have downsized dramatically all our possessions. Any extra toys that we must keep for the kids we store in a closet at my father in laws house. We like to spend our money on food,family time, and adventure.We have been researching full time RVing for a few years now and are very familiar with FOTR, Long,Long Honeymoon, and many airstream blogs.

We have talked to the kids about going full time and traveling around the country and they are very excited. We currently live about 4 miles from Disney in a rented 3 bedroom townhouse. Our lease is up in 7 months and we are planning to buy a used airstream, gut it,and remodel it. We currently pay $1000.00 per month in rent plus about $275.00 a month for electric and about $75.00 a month for water for our family of 5. We've researched camping fees such as KOA's seasonal and non-seasonal rates. It seems we can still pay less rent in an RV park with a little boondocking here and there. Are we fools to try this lifestyle or should we go for it? Will we be surprised how much money we save or spend?

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Old 11-07-2011, 09:39 AM   #2
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What would concern me most is the "buy a used airstream, gut it,and remodel it." statement. This can become a huge issue to do, complete and so on, especially in the 7 months you have left on your lease. And then there is the tow vehicle that you will need to have. I think a good 34' might work for you, but get one which is in good condition to begin with, and get a good Tow Vehicle, and be off without the heartbreaks that a gut and renovate job will surely bring.

Just my thoughts, but realize that I am a childless and never married old, your family situation is very different from my experiences.

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Old 11-07-2011, 09:47 AM   #3
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Tampa , Florida
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Thank you,

My father is handy for electrical issues, but i have considered that a complete remodel might be hard to do with such little time. We have a 2005 GMC Yukon xl. We could always go month to month here in our lease while we worked on the Airstream. I'm more interested in this idea as a whole. Even if we didn't have to remodel an Airstream, lets say we had one that was good to go, would the lifestyle be cheaper than living in a small condo?
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Old 11-07-2011, 09:55 AM   #4
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A few years ago Airstream made a model called the "Bunkhouse". It was designed specifically for a family. You might try to find one of those to look at, and see if it fits the bill for you.

Here is a link to one that just sold, but the link has many photos you may want to see.

As far as gutting an old Airstream and starting from scratch, be very cautious. That is an extremely large undertaking with many pitfalls.
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Old 11-07-2011, 10:03 AM   #5
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Consider long and hard the closeness of living together in a AS, even a 34, with a family of five. Everything must have a place, and very little of "everything" by the way, and each family member will need to be almost compulsive about putting back each used item before getting another out of storage. Shoes? boots? winter wraps? bulky in-the-way items? Study area for home schooling and storage for educational supplies? Privacy for those I've-got-to-get-a-quiet-mespace-right-now!? This sounds hard for a thirteen year old. Just some thoughts, though you've probably already addressed these ideas... Best wishes making your family decision. ~G
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Old 11-07-2011, 10:06 AM   #6
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With 5 people, you need the big trailer, the 34'. The Yukon won't tow it, IMO, safely, especially with 5 people in it.

My wife and I half-time in a 31' and it gets a mite claustrophic in there after about 5 months... There is NO privacy, there is very little storage, with the standard 6 gallon water heater, showers will not be sequential in any timely manner. The refrigerator, at best, has about a third of the capacity of your average home reefer with a miniscule freezer.

If I was going to try to full time with a family I would (I hate to say it) buy a big honking sob 5th wheel.

Just my 2 cents

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Old 11-07-2011, 10:09 AM   #7
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I believe that its doable if you want it to be. Kids are resiliant and if they are used to moving, they will look at it as another adventure. But what happens as they grow older and want to establish roots with friends? If any of your children are girls, there will be a time that they want their own!
If this lifestyle is for you guys, why not try for something a little newer? You're either going to dump a bunch of $$$ in a remodel or save the $ and make payments on a newer model. THere are tax advantages too to check on.
We have run into many families living in their rigs (mostly 5th wheelers due to space) and they seem to love it. Majority of families we have met move with yes it can be done.
It probably wouldn't hurt to rent a RV or go to one of the KOA campgrounds and rent a Airstream for a week or so, just to see if its doable for you. With three children, bigger would be better. There is a family with, I believe, 7 children that use their AS alot and have made some interesting changes to accomodate everyone...they are on this forum....someone help me here!! met them at Fallaluminum.
It would be fun, especially for the younger ones. But please stay away from your local dealer in Tampa.
Have fun with your journey and let us all know how everything turns out.
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Old 11-07-2011, 10:25 AM   #8
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To answer your question "will this lifestyle be chaper than a condo", possibly.

Your housing expenses are not crazy high right now. If you had a 2k mortgage and high utilities then yes you could probably save money.

I think the only way you will see savings is if you stay put. If you want to explore and see the country you will have little savings if any and probably none.

We just finished 90 days of full timing in one location. We saved 1k a month over renting the house we currently have. We have 2 teens and 3 small dogs. We did just fine. We were ready for a house after 3 months but I bet if we had been exploring the country we would have a lot more fun but certainly not save the 1k a month we did.

Go for it! Your not tied down and worse case you can sell your AS and go back to renting.

Best wishes.
Shannon & Sandra
2012 30' International Serenity
2008 Toyota Tundra w/propride hitch
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Old 11-07-2011, 11:04 AM   #9
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Thanks everyone, one savings we counted on was the un-metered electric at the KOA and other parks we have researched. Is this foolish to count on this? Are parks starting to meter electric more?
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Old 11-07-2011, 11:04 AM   #10
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Well you might make it work if you became a park volunteer where you give them so many hours a week and they give you free rent. I don't know how that fits your lifestyle. You could also search members here and many offer curtesy parking but they may not be expecting 3 kids to show up but I am sure some love kids and won't care. Keeping your roving home maintained is not trivial. You might be better off with some sort of motorhome that way you have one thing to maintain.

I have thought of taking several months off when my daughter gets a little older. She is 5 now. We would home school her on the road. I won't be selling my house though. I am getting close to 50 and don't know if I will ever really retire so I might as well start traveling now instead of when I am dead. The way the economy is now days they only way to get anything for your money is spend it. You leave it in the system and it will evaporate.

I am in the process of restoring an 81 Excella II and it is a BUNCH OF WORK.


P.S. One member here pulls his trailer with a pickup and he has another camper in the bed of the pickup.
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Old 11-07-2011, 11:52 AM   #11
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If one big advantage to you is saving money on electric - yikes. Your current $275 in electric will pale quickly to the gasoline bills incurred by towing the Airstream around.

Your monthly bills for a family of five are already pretty low. I think that full-timing on the road with an Airstream needs to be done as an adventure or learning experience, not necessarily saving money. Nightly campground costs alone (say $30 a night) would get even pretty close to that $1000 a month in rent...

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Old 11-07-2011, 12:00 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by mutcth View Post
If one big advantage to you is saving money on electric - yikes. Your current $275 in electric will pale quickly to the gasoline bills incurred by towing the Airstream around.

Your monthly bills for a family of five are already pretty low. I think that full-timing on the road with an Airstream needs to be done as an adventure or learning experience, not necessarily saving money. Nightly campground costs alone (say $30 a night) would get even pretty close to that $1000 a month in rent...

Hey Tom,

We figured we would stay in place 1-2 months at a time. Maybe travel around Florida exploring the beach's. Do you think we would still eat up our savings in gas?

- Bill
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Old 11-07-2011, 12:06 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by salabencher View Post
Hey Tom,

We figured we would stay in place 1-2 months at a time. Maybe travel around Florida exploring the beach's. Do you think we would still eat up our savings in gas?

- Bill
Yes, it's not just the towing that uses alot of gas. The driving around the tow vehicle while parked eats up alot too. They are not all that fuel efficient to use, and you will want to "get away" from the trailer alot more than a house.
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Old 11-07-2011, 12:07 PM   #14
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We're basically doing exactly what you describe -- I work in IT and as long as I have internet access, we're good to go. We have 2 kids (7 and 9) and 2 dogs as well, and have been out on the road for going on 7 months now. I can say that in our situation, it's not more expensive than our last house, but I can say that it's not cheaper, either. Basically we've found (again, our experience, you're mileage may vary) that's we're still spending the same "basic" amount every month, but it's just against different things.

Case in point, we were spending around $900/month in that's our campground budget. Before you had internet access, cable/dvr/sat, phone electricity, water and that's our gas and internet budget (yes, we DO spend in and around $300/month for phones and internet access -- we have 2 verizon phones, 1 att phone, and mifi's through verizon, sprint and att for coverage, and you do need them). Our nightly campground budget is basically $30/night and we typically stay places for a full week to get that weekly rate. We've found that our grocery bill is the same and for the most part, everything else is as well (except your maintenance things such as oil changes, etc).

As far as the comments that you have gotten (and will get) about it being closed in, claustrophobic,'s our take: the trailer is for me to work in, everyone to eat and sleep in, the kids to do their school work in and that's all (unless its cold or raining)...when I'm off work, I'm not in the trailer -- the whole US is my backyard! When the kids are done with school, they're outside playing, or hiking, or whatever.

Our kids have adjusted well to the change, and love it and look forward to doing it. When it's no longer working or fun, then we don't do it anymore...plain and simple! You will find a lot of people who will frown upon the idea, not having it done it themselves (all with the best intentions, mind you), but remember, what works for you might or might not work for them and vice versa. We're doing for as long as we can, because quite frankly, we can, and don't want to be like so many who wait until too late in life to try it out.

If you're like us and have been moving a lot anyway (we've been on a 2 year cycle ourselves), what's the difference, really?


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