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Old 05-07-2015, 11:49 AM   #1
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Home Hunting with our Airstream on the Road

Full Timing? Winter Living? Workcamping? House Hunting?

Yep... all of the above sure was appealing, but finding that perfect spot with conveniences and accommodations for those retired, do not always come in one neat, tidy package. Nothing ever does.

Beginning with the 2006 Safari we now had the flexibility to travel the Rocky Mountains from New Mexico north to Montana and Colorado to the eastern borders of California, Oregon and Washington. Places we had thought as possibilities for our final retirement home, our second home, our... Winter AND Summer living home.

It took six years of traveling, camping and... looking. We took into account taxes, prices of real estate, winter and summer climates, infrastructure, quality of life (a basket of things from having a Costco to adequate Hospital(s)). Each of us have specific interests and what we find as desirable.

We found some beautiful homes. Some with beautiful views in New Mexico.

Lake property south of Kalispell, Montana.

Mega new expanding cities like Tucson, Arizona, outside Phoenix, Arizona.

Tourist towns like Cody, Wyoming.

Smaller towns like DuBois, Wyoming. Somers, Montana. Lakeside, Montana. East of the Sandia Mountains, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Small communities. Medium sized communities. Even Ranch properties in western Nebraska, Wyoming and Idaho.

We would find an area. Boondock and walk or drive the area. Taking notice of what the residents thought of their town and making our own assessment of what WE thought of the places we visited. What were the Downtown Districts of the medium and smaller towns like. Thriving? Boarded up windows. Empty store fronts. We were very detailed in what we wanted and kept looking.

Water sources. Quality of Life... for our interests. Weather. Infrastructure. You name it... we looked. And looked. And found one town, similar in lifestyle and small home town feel we have outside of Castle Rock, Colorado.

This town was a compromise to our current Rocky Mountain 6300 feet elevation, all four seasons, and a thriving community nearby... home. This town we had visited 18 years ago as a curiosity. But never forgotten. Until we began looking in earnest and camped in or outside of many possibilities... this place had a special charm. Our current home has also all of these positives... except the Winters seem to be getting longer and colder. We can handle heat much better than the cold. Our Airstream gave us the ability to actually LIVE part time where we wanted and what time of the year.

After spending three years looking at various properties for sale and not finding a home that complemented our simple and conservative tastes... a property was found this year that was developed for ten lots. We had seen the demolition of a home with the extra acres of open ground less than five months earlier. This Winter... we found our second home and future permanent home. We purchased the lot and spent several months getting the floor plan, interior and exterior down on paper. The contractor/builder who has built homes in this town for several decades, specializes in engineering a limited amount of available real estate and making parcels out of empty spaces. In our case, the real estate was worth more than the home upon it.

This is just the beginning of OUR STORY. We will have two homes. It will take some years to fully make the transition to one, but our Airstream winter and seasonal living of the house hunt is finally coming to an end. We should be inspecting the finished home in four months. There are many things we need to do and decide before that final move. It could take several years or a decade to give up both homes we have found perfect for our needs and recreation.

Sometimes not all stories finish with a good ending. We still have our options. Our current home that we love, except the winters. The home in the process being built that we expect to love... but will have time to decide which suits us better.

Snow Birds understand when traveling from the long, much colder Winters than we have here on the Front Range of Colorado. You are also thinking hard about making a change. Our "change" took eight years of looking and the hard part is finished. The hunt.

What are your thoughts of making this decision? Are you currently... looking? What makes a place special to you, or not even to consider? All of this is not simple. Eventually, I will disclose where we are planning to live Full Time, if it even matters to anyone we do not even know personally. Express WHAT YOU want to discover, if any place at all. Some of you have done this process of hunting and are settled. Not satisfied with Full or Part timing in your Airstream, any longer.

You have heard our and my story. What is yours?
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Old 05-07-2015, 12:39 PM   #2
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Interesting thread Ray......... Well done!
It will be VERY interesting to read the different thoughts and comments as this thread moves forward.

Cheers
Doug
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Old 05-07-2015, 01:03 PM   #3
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We also have a home that we dearly love. We have lived here for almost twenty years. It is located in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. We are so far out in the Florida Panhandle that we are in the Central Time Zone. We are three houses off the ocean along one of the nicest beaches in the country. Our four grown sons live within a day's drive in Atlanta, New Orleans, Tampa, and Jacksonville.

We both retired from the Federal Government in our early fifties. Soon thereafter, we started Airstreaming. We have been at it now for a little over nine years. We have traveled all over the country. We have spent over 1,500 nights out camped in our Airstreams, and have towed our Lucys almost 140,000 miles. We have have spent over 40% of our retirement traveling in our Lucys. We have enjoyed Airstream travel immensely, and would not trade the experience for anything in the world.

As we have traveled this great country, we have seen a number of locals that we thought would make a fine retirement home. We especially like the West and New England, but we have not yet found a place that would entice us to pull up stakes and move there permanently.

We are kind of the opposite of snow birds. When the beach get hot and crowded, we take the Airstream and head to cooler and less crowded places. Our Airstreams have been our ticket to a great retirement. We hope, Lord willing, that we we are able to keep this up for many more years.

We are quite happy with where we live, but there could be somewhere better and nicer out there. I guess that we will just have to keep looking.

Brian
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Old 05-07-2015, 01:10 PM   #4
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Wow! We are just now beginning the same journey. We love our little home in the town where I was born and raised, we have put our hearts and sould into remodeling and making it "ours". We just paid it off within the last year. But the winters have just become too much for my bones to handle anymore and that coupled with the fact that both our adult kids now reside in Colorado. We are gonna make the move when my wife retires in about 18 months. We have started to down size slowly and Im trying my best to stop buying more TOOLS!

So it looks like central to northern CO is where we are going to end up but man the process is going to be big. It sounds like you folks have done a terrific job in your hunt, good on you for taking your time and really evaluating your move. Might be checking in with you from time to time to see how its going. Once again, great job on your thoroughness in the process.

Good luck and heres hoping the construction goes well without too many "change orders" along the way. Sure nice to have the Airstream to live in and explore while making the decision. What an advantage over those who have to rely on hotels, rental cars, airline tickets, etc etc etc during the process. Heres to ya!

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Old 05-07-2015, 05:31 PM   #5
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This is part of our plan, too. We'd like to spend the next several years looking at areas that might be a place to settle down again when we decide it is time to get off the road.
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Old 05-07-2015, 05:51 PM   #6
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Timely thread.
We just signed the final papers for the sale of our home in the beautiful Okanagan Valley 2 blocks from the lake.
We have been talking of a move back to Tracy's home of Vancouver Island for the last 3 years and last years 4 month getaway down south convinced us that it was time for the move from our large home to a smaller one in a small community on the Island.
The move will also make it possible to head south in the cooler months without the difficulty of timing the storms in the winter.
The ocean has always had a huge draw and we are realizing our dream of heading home.
Right now we don't actually have a new home picked out, just the community. We are going to be for a while as my daughter calls it " Free Range"


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Old 05-07-2015, 06:41 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by gandttimes View Post
Timely thread.
We just signed the final papers for the sale of our home in the beautiful Okanagan Valley 2 blocks from the lake.
We have been talking of a move back to Tracy's home of Vancouver Island for the last 3 years and last years 4 month getaway down south convinced us that it was time for the move from our large home to a smaller one in a small community on the Island.
The move will also make it possible to head south in the cooler months without the difficulty of timing the storms in the winter.
The ocean has always had a huge draw and we are realizing our dream of heading home.
Right now we don't actually have a new home picked out, just the community. We are going to be for a while as my daughter calls it " Free Range"


George

Interesting move George. We have been looking at the whole downsizing thing but holly cow I never realized how much stuff I own.....darn!

We plan to head west this summer to begin our "Retirement Tour" and see where it takes us... Coming from the Prairies, we need to maintain the small town feel but yet have easy access to larger centres that have proper hospitals and airports. Do you think the rain on the coast will be an issue after being in the sunbelt of the Okanagan?
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Old 05-07-2015, 10:51 PM   #8
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Hi Doug.
Everyone seems to ask about the rain. Fact is the east coast of Vancouver Island gets a lot less rain than Vancouver. The area we are in now gets a lot of rain and low cloud during the winter and can be quite depressing now that we are not here for the work.
After experiencing 4 months in Oregon and California this last winter we realized that life is too short to not be where you want and can be.
The area we are looking at is exactly what you are describing. A small town within reach of all the amenities with easy access via one of 2 ferries to be able to head safely south even in January or Feb which as you will know from experience is hard to do from all areas in Canada.


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Old 05-08-2015, 11:13 AM   #9
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Ray, it is nice to see someone else likes one of my favorite areas to hang out in the Airstream, Dubois, WY. And you know, they pronounce this interesting and charming town, ‘Do Boys’. ☺ But, my favorite area, and one on my top two locations to finally call home base is 60 miles South of Dubois, Lander. Just love the area, people, town culture and some of the best fly fishing in the US.

I am in the process of a similar but maybe a scaled down version of your plan. Having retired early, 59, I took a big hit on future cash flow but the trade off has been freedom and yet some health to enjoy.

I just sold my 1997 21’ Excella Classic and looking forward to my 2016 25’ FC, due in mid-June. I am single and live on a wonderful country setting in S.W. Michigan. Like many places it is just getting colder and the snow seems every year to break a record or almost so. Kind of wondering about the global warming thing. Apparently Ms. Michigan’s Mother Nature did not get Mr. Gore’s memo. Anyway, with kids all off to higher education, it is time for another plan.

My home/property in Michigan goes up for sale this fall. I intend to continue taking extended trips in my 3 year journey travels in what I want to do and/or where to set some roots, or not. I have been all over the map in my brain with all the scenarios possible and in many cases thought I had figured it all out. I cannot over emphasize how the mental journey of emotions, practicality and common since has battled back and forth.

My challenge, financially, has been two choices; you either commit full timing it or build one last place somewhere else ( still want 4 seasons but less winter harshness). Where I am mentally now is with a third plan and it seems to make the most since for me, I call it Plan-B.

The first couple of stages for Plan-B are in work: get the house up for sale, order a new Airstream and continue to look for a final home base. Plan-B will have me living in two domiciles. The Airstream for winter and a small, not necessarily a ‘Tiny Home’, but a well thought out 800-1,000sf cabin capable of all year living if needed down the road. The property will have a couple of full hookups for guests I have met along my journeys and one for my 2016 FC. The 25 FC will make for a great guest house when not traveling.

I head out the end of this June back to MT, WY and ID in the new Airstream. Having lived in ID when I was in college and visited every summer I am very very attracted and drawn to this marvelous and diverse State. Currently, I am looking for 3-5 acres in Northern Idaho (mainly lower Panhandle area) to place the small home and rest spot for the Airstream.

Interesting to put this in writing since this is an audience that gets it. It feels good to do so, since telling my plans to aquantances (which I gave up explaining Plan-B) and friends…they just stare in your eyes like I (we) are nuts. Maybe we are, but rather be nuts than not.

I hope our paths cross in the future and hopefully in a couple of years a spot for traveling Airstreamers to stop by and relax in Northern Idaho.

Best and safe travels to all.ß
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Old 05-08-2015, 11:14 AM   #10
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I'm signing on just to learn where Ray plants his feet.

Ray, is there still that little Campground with the railroad tracks just west of the interstate and south of Castle Rock? Good complementary breakfast as I recall.
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Old 05-08-2015, 11:17 AM   #11
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Ray, Interesting post! We purchased a 360 Classic Pusher last year. It had dawned on us that while we talk of retiring to the South East, our travels always take us North West. I am not a fan of high humidity, which puts me off the SE direction. I am also tired of the dreary, dragging Illinois winters.

Hopefully the Pusher will take us in all directions over the next few years, while we decide where we really want to be. I am looking forward to the freedom!

Can't wait to see more about how your plan develops.

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Old 05-08-2015, 10:01 PM   #12
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The Ice Man... Ray, is there still that little Campground with the railroad tracks just west of the interstate and south of Castle Rock? Good complementary breakfast as I recall.
********

Ice Man, you sure get around! This campground is north of Colorado Springs and south of Castle Rock. You would exit on Tomah Road from I-25, exit 174. Larkspur, Colorado. Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park Camp (Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts | RV Campgrounds and cabins)

Several years ago it sold and the new owner(s) have added all kinds of things for the kids to do and appears they have put a lot of money into the park. I see lots of trailers, RV's and buses parked up in the scrub oak. It is about 7 miles south of us and I drive past it enough to see the progress made in the last couple years. It is almost exactly between Colorado Springs and Denver, Colorado. If I were coming into the area... this would be a place to check out. The next would be Chatfield Reservoir campground. South of I-470 and west of I-25. It is a Colorado State Park with boating and camping on the high ground above the lake.
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Old 05-08-2015, 11:07 PM   #13
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Most people retire where they are. Family friends community. That's our dilemma. Our home is now too large. The yard is a lot of effort. A smaller house with a place to store the Airstream would be ideal.
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Old 05-08-2015, 11:13 PM   #14
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One thing I have to make real clear... If you move from the Midwest, myself Lees Summit, Missouri over 20 years ago to Colorado. You pay twice as much for a Front Range Colorado home you had in Missouri! If you move to Colorado from many parts of California... you get the same house for half the California price. Figure that... But it is true. Not entirely true, but when we told the realtor we wanted a house for a bit more than what we sold our nice Missouri home... I swear this place she showed us must had been abandoned for a few years. We did not even step inside... and we decided to pick up a mortgage and paid twice the price for half the house we had before we moved. True story. I had a 14 foot Casino Craps Table that did not fit the Colorado house from my old business in Missouri. I was going to chain saw it into small pieces to take to the land fill... but eventually sold it for $1200. Whew. I still miss the Craps Table now that we do have room, currently.

Small towns in the West and Southwest can have great deals on houses as the younger people are leaving to the city. Denver and the Front Range of Colorado are having 20% price jumps on average. This is from the local paper which also said Castle Rock, Colorado was the #3 place to move to in the USA. Great if you are selling. The Front Range of Colorado has a wonderful climate. It can get cold in the Winter, but it can warm up and the snow melts in a week. We are expecting snow on Mother's Day... and I put the snow shovels away after we began to get upper 70's during the day weeks ago. I was digging up dandelions and mowing, then back to snow this Sunday, and back to mowing Tuesday. This stuff will be gone Monday when it is back into the 60's. You need to bring all four seasons of clothes in your trailer camping out here, as well... in the Summer. Just in case.

We are also downsizing, which is more difficult to do than "up sizing".

Having a trailer and house "hunting" is a real... hoot. You find a place to park the trailer at a truck stop for a day or two, with permission is a good idea... and drive around, walk the streets and talk to people you meet. If you have a dog, well a working dog, everyone wants to meet your dogs, and maybe us later, in our case. You really get the scoop on what is going on in town. They ask, "Are they friendly?" and I sometimes think they are speaking about the wife and I, out loud.

I will give out the name of the town/city/county special place after we move into it, which should be September 1st, 2015. It had to be a "special" place to motivate us to move from our current home. We will even take anyone around town who gets glassy eyed with the thought of finding their own special place, with less effort.

My wife and I are in our 60's. We have been looking for a "special place" for eight years to down size. Seriously looking. The FIRST question I ask when browsing an area that has beautiful views... where is the fresh water source as our number one important question in the west. Number two is that we would rather have natural gas than propane or a wood burning fireplace for heat and hot water.

Some towns in our travels we did not even slow down to look. We have seen large commercial buildings for asking prices that the bricks would be worth more, compared to a larger town price. Great if you can use a building for that business you never had the extra cash for the building, and maybe remodel the upstairs into an apartment.

You will also see some Colorado mountain towns with a rack full of bicycles and just as many cars of younger people living in one house... Yikes! Too wild for us.

You will soon realize that your traveling in your trailer now has a purpose... driving aimlessly to places you otherwise would never visit and might find that special place. You may even decide that your present home IS and always HAS BEEN that special place. It will take us a few years to settle into this new place and will have plenty of time to enjoy every camping spot when traveling between each home.
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Old 05-08-2015, 11:28 PM   #15
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Yep, we want less house and more driveway. Oh, and a *lot* less HOA.

We wouldn't hesitate to move if we found the right place to settle and retire.

That said, the Front Range won't be the place for us, given we recently escaped a late April snowstorm in Denver, and a torrential hailstorm that hit the place this week. However, we like Ray's approach - using the Airstream to try out and get to know a place that might be nice for retirement, followed by looking at property to see what can be found in the area. Great idea!

We're fine with four seasons as long as the winters are relatively mild and the summers aren't insanely hot. Phoenix and the Coachella Valley are definitely off the list (too hot!). So is anywhere in MT, WY or ID (too cold!). Texas is also off the list (it's just too Texas-y). Oklahoma, off the list (we're allergic to tornadoes). On the other hand, Santa Fe looks pretty tempting, Flagstaff is a possibility, and we're fairly happy in the PNW. Sequim, WA, and the surrounding area has real potential, though we might also like Oregon or Northern California. We'll see what happens as we get closer to the time to make that decision.
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Old 05-09-2015, 01:02 AM   #16
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[QUOTE=Ray Eklund;1618830] If you move to Colorado from many parts of California... you get the same house for half the California price. Figure that... But it is true. Not entirely true, [QUOTE]

Hi, We sold our 63 year old Southern California house and bought a similar sized brand new house in Salem, Oregon for less than half the price. And love it. Medical insurance system was one deciding factor.
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Old 05-09-2015, 01:02 PM   #17
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Yep, every storyteller tells his own tale suited to taste and life's experience. We sold the 125 y.o. house we lived in for 20 years outside of Chicago 18 months and 29 states ago to embark on a grand experiment. Took my job on the road since my boss wouldn't let me retire, so our travels dip into the more remote and scenics spots as often as we can, but mostly we wander to whatever seems like the next good place.
To use a dining metaphor, it's a dim sum or a tapas banquet, but so far we never stay long enough for the entree. And when we can, eat desert first...
At the start, one goal was to find that perfect place we might settle into ...partly because we'd never RV'd before and who knew? We think we may return for an entree serving at a place or two, Port Townsend, WA, or Bend, OR, or Asheville, NC to name a few. But the longer we're at this, we're starting to toy with a different idea (it's still an experiment, you know). That's to maybe settle down in two or three places. Just a piece of land with a trailer pad, some hardscape and perhaps a utility-plus building. With a parcel east, another west we could settle in, have a base and enough land to build a Real House down the road when the mood (or events) inevitably strikes. Donno. Think it may take me another decade or so to decide...

Al & Robin
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Old 05-09-2015, 02:21 PM   #18
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(SNIP)

But the longer we're at this, we're starting to toy with a different idea (it's still an experiment, you know). That's to maybe settle down in two or three places. Just a piece of land with a trailer pad, some hardscape and perhaps a utility-plus building. With a parcel east, another west we could settle in, have a base and enough land to build a Real House down the road when the mood (or events) inevitably strikes. Donno. Think it may take me another decade or so to decide...

Al & Robin
Interesting thought process......
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Old 05-09-2015, 02:36 PM   #19
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I think that we have the perfect setup for us for now-we have a house in North Central Florida as our home base where we spend the colder months- equidistant from the coasts so- dare I say it?- hurricanes not generally a problem. Close to major medical facilities and no real tourists in this neck of the woods....The Airstream lives under cover when we are not camping...For the Summer months,we have a piece of land in the mountains of NC that we constructed a cover for the Airstream with a deck on one side and a carport on the other-this is the perfect getaway spot. We feel well protected from the elements in either place. Have not explored west of the Mississippi yet, but last year, our first year of retirement,we made it to New England, and up to Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, taking our time over 5 months- only used the Air Conditioner 2 hours all Summer. In the winter months, Florida has so many campgrounds, we could stay in a different one every week and not repeat...we think of downsizing from our Florida house on 5 acres to a smaller space, but now that we are retired, we are getting the house fixed up the way we like it....maybe when we are too old to mow the lawn...retirement is awesome, and having our Airstream is a great way to travel...best of luck on your adventure!
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Old 05-09-2015, 03:27 PM   #20
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The greatest thing about owning an Airstream: remember it has wheels. So if you don't like where you are or if you're just tired of where you are you can go someplace else. Sal
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