Tony - anything you USE needs maintenance and care. A 2000 unit that has been stored under cover may be fine and may stay fine for 3-4 more years. It may last another 10 if you have a garage or shelter. A 2006 that has been baking in the sun, 2 miles from the ocean front (mine, I fulltime) already has filoform around the belly line, and the taillight surrounds need to be refinished. I've saved so much by fulltiming that I've built in the cost of that maintenance.
Anything you use on the road will get dinged eventually. My then new 2006 got a sideswipe scratch one month after I got it. I put a flag decal over it.
If you can view a used Airstream with a few beauty marks and a bit of filoform or clearcoat failure as "pre-dinged for carefree use" then you can be a happy camper. If you want a perfect piece of art... well that is going to take constant maintenance. I have a dear friend who must spend 15 hours per week maintaining his perfect lawn. He loves working on it more than he enjoys using it! I admire it, but I will NEVER enjoy doing the work. If I won a lottery, my lawn would beat his, but I'd HIRE the workers.
For you, it comes down to PRICE vs. CONDITION. The "right" answer is what makes for YOU most comfortable. Until you get that resolved in your own head, you won't have ANY Airstream for fear of choosing the wrong one.
So set a date to decide. Or even decide that you'll live without one. Just be at peace with the choice.
Best wishes, Paula
(PS: I'm never buying brand new again... well there is that "win the lottery thing" that could intervene. Then I'll probably have 2 or 3.)
Today is a gift, that's why they call it the present.