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Old 02-09-2009, 05:36 PM   #1
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Total Cost Of Ownership?

I've almost got the wife convinced to buy a trailer now and not at some point in the future when the timing is "right." (I think you make your own timing, and if you wait for it to be perfect, you'll never do anything.)

Anyway, it's relatively easy to figure out how much you'll be paying for the Airstream itself, whether you have to finance it or whatnot, but I can't find any examples of the "little things," like storage fees for folks without enough land to store at home, insurance, and the like. I understand that these costs vary based on a ridiculous number of factors, but I'm only looking for ballpark figures. If you finance and have to store your trailer, but you use it 6-10 weekends a year, what is your approximate monthly outlay to maintain your Airstream? (I know no one likes to talk about money in this great of detail, so if you're willing to share privately, please PM me.) I'll be happy to write a follow-up post with the results of my findings and share it with the community.

Also, what kind of "extras" should we be thinking about at the time of purchase? Is it worth negotiating for a weight distribution hitch, or some kind of dealer-installed upgrade? What would you do differently now if you had it to do over again?

Thanks! I can't wait to join y'all out on the road!
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Old 02-09-2009, 06:54 PM   #2
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There are lots of different answers to this question based on value of the trailer, and city you live in. For example my cost per month for insurance and storage off site is about $117 monthly. Off site storage costs can be as low as $20 a month to almost $150 a month. Insurance depends upon whether you use your tow vehicle coverage to stand alone policies.

If you are going to store off site, call around in your locale and get estimates. You can do the same on insurance by determining what you are going to buy and then call and get quotes. My figure that I gave you is really meaningless since you really don't know the particulars of my storage situation and the type of insurance I carry on my Classic.

Do your research and get some actual figures to get that ball park figure regarding your monthly expense.

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Old 02-09-2009, 07:43 PM   #3
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There are maint costs as well....bearing repacks, tires, batteries, LP, etc.

Roughly every 2-3 years depending on use, bearings will need to be repacked. Tires are about 4 years before they have to be replaced and then batteries are about every 3 years maybe 4 if kept in good shape.
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Old 02-09-2009, 09:02 PM   #4
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What would you do differently now if you had it to do over again.
Kept our first A/S. "63" Safari.
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Old 02-09-2009, 10:22 PM   #5
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Welcome!
Some things we added later and/or should have gotten right up front:
Awnings all around - keeps it much cooler in direct sunlight
Bigger A/C (we'll do this when the 13,500 BTU quits)
DEFINITELY the Weight Distributing hitch
Disk Brakes (we'll do this when the drums wear out)
We also got the bigger trailer - had been looking at 19' and 22' but go the 28 - and I'm glad we did - even though it is just the two of us, the extra room is great - especially on rainy weekends.
The largest bed you can afford (since they are in direct proportion to TT size) is highly recommended.
Let us all know what you decide on and POST SOME PICTURES when you get yours!

Best of luck!
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Old 02-09-2009, 10:52 PM   #6
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Greetings from thr Florida Panhandle

We have a 2005 25FB that we bought new in June, 2006. we have pulled her over 40, 000 miles, and have slept in her 350+ nights.

We have off-site storage for her that is $80/mo

Insurance is about $300/year

We are on our second set of tires, and almost ready for a third at $400/set

Our wheel bearing have been serviced 3 times at $250 a time

We use a Hensley Hitch System ($2500). Expensive, but if I couldn't have it, I'd get rid of the trailer.

A second Fantastic Fan at $400

Sewer Solution - $150, really only $100 since the junky throw-away slinkies are $50.

Various hoses, fittings, adapters, chocks, legos, and other absolutely necessary crap - $300

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Old 02-10-2009, 06:41 AM   #7
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Diesel fuel, $2.35 gallon.
Weekend away, but in your own bed, priceless.

Airstreaming becomes a lifestyle and an enjoyable hobby. There isn't a month that goes by that I'm not doing some type of maintenance, or shopping for little improvements. The rewards/returns are there just as much when the trailer is sitting in the backyard as when it's in a campground.

Tom

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Old 02-10-2009, 06:56 AM   #8
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Got the 24ft at first with the mid pull out bed. Didn't work for us so we went for the 31ft with the rear bedroom. We love this trailer. Can't bear to part with the 24ft which my husband uses sometimes for work. These things just grow to be part of the family, so be careful. We pay about $250.00 a year for insurance on the "classics". You can lessen your expenses by first buying the best kept trailer you can afford. Look it over carefully and keep in mind what you intend to use it for. Occasional camping doesn't take as great a trailer as full-timing on the road. Count of greasing wheelbearings, new tires, maybe axels on the older ones, new A/C after a few years, and other upgrades you may want. We don't really spend a lot on ours now that we got them like we wanted them. Ordered a new toilet for the 31ft this week because of a leak. That's about $120.00 and we'll install ourselves. Overall, just have fun. Taking your own bedroom with you is priceless just as Tom said.
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Old 02-10-2009, 07:34 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by macninja View Post
What would you do differently now if you had it to do over again?
I forgot to add as Bob added, not buying a new one (again).
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Old 02-10-2009, 07:50 AM   #10
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legos

Brian
Legos= stackable coach leveling block's.
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Old 02-10-2009, 08:13 AM   #11
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If we were buying again, we'd NOT get the extra skylight that we did and probably not get either of them. They let in an AWFUL lot of heat and there is plenty of light without them.
The additional FantasticFan was a good buy.
Our storage is really a six month site with full hookups that we are allowed to use 4/15 through 10/15, and the same site (hookups are turned off) that is storage only for the other six months (we can take the TT out during that time for trips). Total cost is about $1,800 a year ($150 a month).
We do the wheel bearing maintenance ourselves - just like a car, but WAY bigger drums / bearings.
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Old 02-10-2009, 09:10 AM   #12
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Here's what I suggest (and occasionally do). Create an Excel spreadsheet with the cost of every major "system" and an expected lifespan. Let's say you expect your fridge to last 20 years at a replacement cost of $1000. That's $50 a year. Four tires at $100 each over three years... that's $133 a year on tires. It's easy to just think of "consumables" like tires and batteries but a real TCO tries to capture the overall costs. I'm not saying an Airstream isn't worth it, but as with many things, it costs more than what one might think at first glance.
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Old 02-10-2009, 11:57 AM   #13
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Here's what I suggest (and occasionally do). Create an Excel spreadsheet with the cost of every major "system" and an expected lifespan. Let's say you expect your fridge to last 20 years at a replacement cost of $1000. That's $50 a year. Four tires at $100 each over three years... that's $133 a year on tires. It's easy to just think of "consumables" like tires and batteries but a real TCO tries to capture the overall costs. I'm not saying an Airstream isn't worth it, but as with many things, it costs more than what one might think at first glance.
That's really good advice. Of course I won't do that because I don't really want to see the bottom line!
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Old 02-10-2009, 12:14 PM   #14
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My advice would be find the right trailer and buy it - now! It's the best thing I ever did, and usually my schemes are crazy things we end up wanting out of a couple years down the road.
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Old 02-10-2009, 12:15 PM   #15
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Many of the above items are well known in advance - you know about most of these things. We found the major "unknowns" are campground costs - how many nights out, etc.. and fuel consumption. Last summer when we were traveling, it cost me $85 to fill my tank while in Virginia. Today, I pay a little over $35 for the same amount. You can't figure out these variations very well. Just know that it will cost you more than you think. How many miles will you travel each spring, summer and fall??? Nights out and fuel are the two most difficult to guess ahead of time. Once you start using it, then you'll discover the little additional items that others have in a campground that you never thought about - the water pressure gauge on the water; the drill bit that fits your stabalizers so you don't have to crank them up and down by hand; the little toasters that make your s'mores perfectly, etc...and on and on. We discovered that no matter the cost of the fuel, it is so much less than the 25-27 gallons of fuel we burned each hour with our boat so it is much easier to take. Is it worth is to go 'streaming all summer - you bet it is!!! Enjoy and have a great time.
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Old 02-10-2009, 02:32 PM   #16
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If we put our children on a TCO spreadsheet, many of us would have fainted. Owning an Airstream is generally a recreational/lifestyle decision. We buy one and then we figure out how we're going to afford it. Where a TCO worksheet is handy is when a person needs to really know (for budget reasons) what it's going to cost. Many of us are in a situation where we can pinch here and tuck there to make ends meet. We can forego some amenities for the sake of a new Dometic fridge for the Airstream, or new tires, or new batteries, or something. Other folks don't have the same luxury. A travel trailer, like any home, is an organic entity. It ages. It has system problems. It needs occasional repairs... some predictable, others not. I think it would be terribly sad for a lifelong Airstream fan to get into "too much coach" and then be forced to sell. The TCO number may not be pretty, but it's one of those things that exists whether we want to put it on paper or not. That said... I strongly recommend having children. Our have been a blessing. I'll let you know how the Airstream turns out.
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Old 02-10-2009, 02:58 PM   #17
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Wow! Thank you all for replying so quickly and thoroughly!

I'm in the process of getting estimates for storage, since there just isn't any way I can store an Airstream on my 1/5th of an acre in the city. As much as I hate the idea, I'll have to keep it in a storage place most of the time, but we (me, the wife, and the dog) intend to use whatever we get as frequently as possible.

Thanks again to everyone for replying! If you think of anything else, please don't hesitate to post it!
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Old 12-10-2020, 09:59 PM   #18
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Do none of y’all rent your Airstreams out when your not using them? I am on the lookout for an AS to completely redo myself but I rent out my crappy Jayco for $75/night and it’s gone every weekend. Looking at RV share Airstreams rent out for a whole lot more. Lol saw this post was from 2009.
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Old 12-10-2020, 10:02 PM   #19
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Do none of y’all rent your Airstreams out when your not using them? I am on the lookout for an AS to completely redo myself but I rent out my crappy Jayco for $75/night and it’s gone every weekend. Looking at RV share Airstreams rent out for a whole lot more.
A few do, but most do not. I would never rent or loan my Airstream to anyone. It is a personal thing. We do not rent our home out either.
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Old 12-11-2020, 06:42 AM   #20
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If you are trying to justify the money spent/spending then you might as well find another hobby/interest. But in reality, when you try to justify money spent on any hobby/interest it can look on paper to be a losing equation.
Over the years, I've had just about every money pit there is. Other RV's, boats, horses, 2nd homes, etc. The only thing missing I guess would be an airplane but that's way out of my league. Yes, all of these things are money pits but I wouldn't have done anything different because all of these things brought me and my family enjoyment at different stages of our lives. I'm down to just the airstream now(brand new, first one for us) and as my wife and I are moving into another chapter of our lives(empty nest) we feel that it will bring us enjoyment and to me, that's worth it. I would certainly not advocate anyone go into excessive debts or live beyond their means to support this or any hobby. That opens up a whole new set of problems. But if you have the means, and its what you want to do then go for it, and you are right, the 'perfect' time may never come.
Is the extra money spent on the airstream brand worth it? Maybe, maybe not. Mine is in the shop and it's brand new but that's another thread. I will say that 'airstream' is a lifestyle, and in order to enjoy that, of course you have to buy an airstream.
As far as an answer to the OP's direct question: I have bled money in the months waiting on our unit to arrive, and since taking delivery. 80% of the bleeding has been for things we want for the trailer, not necessarily what we 'need'. I sold just about all of our RV/camping supplies with the last RV we had, so I'm essentially starting over. The good news is that a lot of those purchases are 'one time'. Until you visit your camping neighbors and see the next 'gotta have' of course. We are fortunate to have storage on our own property but I will say shop around for your insurance. Rates vary widely. We went with Progressive, they are very competitive right now.
Good luck and let us know what you decide!
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