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Old 06-25-2019, 11:06 PM   #1
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Cabin vs Airstream (long post!)

Hi - Grab a cup of hot chocolate and dive right in!

For the past few years, my wife and I have been throwing around the idea of buying a little cabin somewhere nearby (we live near Seattle). We’ve looked at various properties around western Washington, especially on the Olympic Peninsula and in the Cascades near Mt. Rainier. We imagined waking up in a little A-frame somewhere and enjoying the lack of city noise and the fresh air.

During these past few years, we’ve also done a LOT of local traveling and exploration. We’ve covered most of Washington State, much of Oregon, some of Montana, Northern California and even a full tour of Vancouver Island. We’ve done all these road trips without an AS or any type of RV, staying in all types of accommodations from hotels to tipis. During these adventure-filled years, we’ve realized how much we love exploring new places and building a library of favorites, a few of which we’ve gone back to year after year.

A couple of years ago, I went and looked at some white box RV’s and Airstreams and really liked what I saw in the AS. The classic shape, iconic design along with the features and amenities really impressed me. At the time, we were living in a 600 sq ft apartment and paying lots of money on top of our rent per month to park 1 vehicle. Moving forward with an Airstream wasn’t in the cards as it would have been much too costly with the additional storage fees and the inconvenience of not having it at home and ready to go. So, we put the thought on a back shelf and waited and continued to explore.

Fast toward to about a year ago: After renting for the past 8 years in Seattle in a neighborhood on top of a hill with a great view of Mt. Rainer, we took the plunge and bought a house. We couldn’t be happier! Not to mention our new to us mid 1950’s era house cane with two driveways! I couldn’t believe it when I saw it. A house within our budget, with two driveways! We now have a place to store an AS.

The thought has been again taken off the back shelf and is being considered. Do we want to look at cabins and move in that direction, or look at an AS and have a cabin on wheels? We’re career professionals in our late 30’s without any kids. Well, except for our 4 year old Golden Retriever who still sometimes behaves like a 90lb puppy. Our current plan is to continue to have weekend getaways, which we do now using various types of accommodations. We also take 1-2 one week trips per year somewhere far. Yosemite NP, Glacier NP, Crater Lake NP and a bunch of other spots along the Pacific, for example.

So, the question, which I think I’ve basically answered for myself is, cabin vs. AS?

As far as AS’s go: I’d want a single axle model. I like the Caravel 20FB and the Bambi 20FB. I’ve seen a Caravel, but not the Bambi in this floor plan, which I will do as soon as one is available to view.

I have a 2016 Chevy Silverado 1500 with a towing package and capability to tow 8600lbs; so I’m all set there.

If you’ve read this entire thing, good on you! I appreciate any advice you’re willing to share.
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Old 06-25-2019, 11:14 PM   #2
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Sounds like you've already answered your own question. The Airstream it is. I know for the wife and I we prefer to be mobile and see various places with the comfort of our Airstream every bit of the way. Everyone has different preferences but sounds like you know what to do haha! Either way, enjoy your travels.
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Old 06-25-2019, 11:42 PM   #3
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Sounds like you want a mobile vacation home!

One thing I'd encourage you to do is to rent a travel trailer. Whether Airstream or SOB. It'll at least give you some insight into whether travel trailer style travel is the type of lifestyle or vacation you're looking for. Many also opt for the van life in the form of an Mercedes Sprinter. More mobility, less living comfort. But for a couple, potentially still a great option.
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Old 06-26-2019, 06:15 AM   #4
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There are some things you have not said. You have a house, do you do your own maintenance and repairs? How handy are you? Whatever your answer, a mobile vacation home is going to require more ongoing maintenance than a cabin that is in good shape at the purchase.
It sounds like you are close to an Airstream dealer, which would allow you to just pay for any maintenance without much trouble.
If travel is in your blood, you have the answer. But if all you really want is a nice place for a getaway, I think a cabin is a less stressful answer.
For years we thought about a second home at the beach or in the mountains, but I did not want the ongoing cost of upkeep and taxes. We bought an Airstream, one that was free of factory defects at purchase. However, after 6 years, the ongoing maintenance is aggravating, if not troublesome. I am a 4 hour trip from the nearest dealer...4 hours there, drop it off, 4 hours home. To pick it up, two more 4 hour trips. I am a handy guy and do most of my own maintenance, but there are some things I cannot or won't do. This year it was replacement of a leaking fresh water tank.
Frankly I am also tired of campgrounds that are just RV parking lots, lots of those here in the East. The tranquility of a mountain cabin with my nearest neighbor a half mile away, or more, has a lot of appeal...
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Old 06-26-2019, 06:26 AM   #5
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Lifestyle questions for you to consider.

What your travel style is and what you want to get out of your leisure time.

If you like to be pampered by amenities when you travel, then the airstream may not be as suitable as staying at VRBOs or hotels. If you like to always eat out when traveling then same.

Also your tolerance of others in your near space vs need for seclusion. A cabin in the middle of no where is different than a campground with neighbors all around you.

What is the traffic situation where you live, and do your jobs require you to be in the office M-F or do you have some ability to work remote with connectivity or bunch up work hours and take off for 3 days in a row?

Are there several places you would enjoy staying at for a weekend that are an easy 90-120 minute drive on a Friday night?

What about friends and family? Do you currently do travel activities with others, and do any of them camp? If not, will this mean your relationship will change significantly?

Advantages of an airstream vs cabin are you have ability to travel near and far, ability to go to different locations, and control over the environment when you stay, and can easily and quickly sell if your needs change.

Advantages of a cabin are more potential for appreciation, easier to bring along others, more nimble travel going to and from. Potential to expand as able, less potential for damage/accident, and higher solitude.

ps--where we live we have several friends who have lake houses. It is fun to visit them there, but they are a lot of work /chores and are expensive to keep maintained. Septic systems, boat lifts, HVAC, driveways, and a nice boat can cost about the same as a used Airstream.
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Old 06-26-2019, 06:40 AM   #6
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There are campgrounds that have Airstreams onsite for rent, many in very nice locations. Have you tried that out? Good way to find out how you like RV trailer camping I think, at minimal cost. Personally would not have wanted to limit my travel options and adding the maintenance obligations by owning a vacation cabin when I was your age and working full time.
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Old 06-26-2019, 06:50 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SYC2Vette View Post
There are campgrounds that have Airstreams onsite for rent, many in very nice locations. Have you tried that out? Good way to find out how you like RV trailer camping I think, at minimal cost. Personally would not have wanted to limit my travel options and adding the maintenance obligations by owning a vacation cabin when I was your age and working full time.
I think about my friend that had a vacation condo about 4 hours away. It was a nice place in good shape, but still a good percentage of the weekends he spent there were maintenance related. The AS is 20 ft. from my front door when I need to work on it.
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Old 06-26-2019, 06:58 AM   #8
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You've covered the emotional gratification angle pretty well. How about the financial? A depreciating asset vs an appreciating asset. Can you afford to pay cash for the AS? It is never a wise nor a profitable endeavor to finance a depreciating asset. But then, real estate on the West Coast can also fall into that category depending on your time horizon. Have you considered renting an RV?
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Old 06-26-2019, 07:32 AM   #9
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Think vintage

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tomzstream View Post
You've covered the emotional gratification angle pretty well. How about the financial? A depreciating asset vs an appreciating asset. Can you afford to pay cash for the AS? It is never a wise nor a profitable endeavor to finance a depreciating asset. But then, real estate on the West Coast can also fall into that category depending on your time horizon. Have you considered renting an RV?
If you buy a vintage one, it may appreciate or at least hold it's value rather then depreciate.
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Old 06-26-2019, 07:38 AM   #10
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sounds like your in the position for an Airstream. We bought a Flying Cloud 19 a couple years ago and love it. I personally wouldn’t buy a single axel unit again though. Instead, I would opt for a dual axel Flying Cloud.
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Old 06-26-2019, 09:35 AM   #11
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With the trailer, if you don’t like the neighborhood, just move.
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Old 06-26-2019, 09:36 AM   #12
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I found a cabin in one location can get boring. Traveling in the camper opens up and list possibilities.
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Old 06-26-2019, 09:58 AM   #13
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AS vs Cabin

This is a great dilemma to have! We also considered similar options a few years back. We looked at several cabins in the Flagstaff area which is 90 miles from where we live in Phoenix. Honestly, we couldn't find one that we liked and certainly not in the AS price range. So we opted for a 2018 27' Globetrotter and absolutely love it. We put 13,000 miles on it the past 18 months and have visited some of the most amazing places in the country (including 2x to the Seattle area).

Having said that, I agree with the comments on maintenance. Your cabin won't be bouncing down the road at 60 MPH. Things shake apart and break in EVERY TT so you'll need to know how to fix some lightweight things. Each time we stop, I check for loose screws (there are a handful) and this keeps things running fairly smoothly.

Best of luck!
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Old 06-26-2019, 10:07 AM   #14
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Being still in your thirties, you are young!

So, with all the other good points made, I would pass on some good advice I got years ago from fellow Airstream owners who were now old and retired and had been most everywhere twice:

"Go forth, travel, see the world -- and do it while you're young!"

When I was in my thirties, I could do anything! Learn how to twist a wrench if you don't already -- it's fun and fulfilling. Traveling with a camper isn't exactly strenuous, but there is some lifting and crawling about involved. Do it while you can! In another 20-30 years, you will discover your body isn't as strong and flexible as it is today, and it will go by FAST, trust me.

Then, THEN, you can revisit that cabin idea! Yes, you can have your cake and eat it too, just be patient and go forth and explore while you can!
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