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Old 02-06-2009, 11:43 AM
 
Location: Fort Worth/Dallas
11,882 posts, read 24,258,425 times
Reputation: 5356
Quote:
Originally Posted by MissingAll4Seasons View Post
We've been looking to do the same as we build our little cabin in the woods on our homestead. I can't give you specifics on models and what not, but I can share the info that we've come up with...

1) There are two types of trailers - travel (towed behind the truck) and 5th wheel (attached in the bed of the truck). Travel trailers give you the benefit of using the truck bed for other things; but they often have a little less space, are harder to rig up (usually need two people), and usually are a bit more clumsy on the road. 5th-wheels don't allow much use of the truck bed; but they are a little more spacious, can usually be rigged by one person, and are a little more stable on the road. Both allow you to leave the trailer somewhere and still have use of the tow vehicle for transport (unlike an RV or Van Camper).

2) Make sure you get a trailer that can be leveled! Built-in leveling jacks and stands can be very very handy, and even necessary, if you don't have a level pad to sit it on.

3) Make sure you understand what fuels/power the gadgets work on and how to switch between different sources for those that are duel-fuel. If most of the gadgets work on battery (12v), then you need a power converter if you're hooking up to 120v service... or you can just get some solar panels or a generator. The fridge can normally work on electric or propane... make sure you get one that can do both because you never know what's going to be available. Same for the water heater.

4) Don't forget a heater! Even if you live in a warm climate, where you'd need A/C more than heat, there will be days/nights when you need some heat. A lot of the trailers we looked at don't have a heater, or the heater is electric (not efficient and very expensive). You can't just put any old woodstove or propane heater into a trailer... so do your homework!

5) And on that note, remember that most trailers aren't very insulated... many only R-10 or so. If you can get ones that have been polyurethaned foamed they are a little better. The windows are cute and they help you feel less cramped, but you lose/gain a lot of heat through them too... you'll need to figure out a way to put some good insulating curtains up on them.

6) Get the strongest and lightest chassis and the strongest most fuel efficient tow vehicle you can afford. This really does make a difference! We looked at a trailer that had to be rebuilt on a stronger axle with a new floor because the weight of the gear inside it exceeded weight limit and broke through! We saw another that had literally ripped the a$$-end off the tow vehicle due to the strain on the hitch -- trailer chassis was strong, hitch rig was strong, truck chassis wasn't!

7) Know where you're going to put your trailer up BEFORE you buy! Are you going to be off in the woods somewhere or at a park? Will you need to pay a "rental" fee for your slip and services (utilities at RV parks can be pretty expensive)? What services, if any, will be available on site? What are you going to do for fresh water? What are you going to do with the waste water? Can you get propane nearby? Will you need a generator, solar panels, or a wind turbine? Are those allowed or useful on the site? What about phone, internet and TV? Will you need a satellite dish and are they available or useful in that area? Are there city/county zoning regulations/ordinances that prohibit mobile homes (YES - many jurisdictions only let you do it for a year while you're building another permanent structure!)?

Just a few things to think about Good luck!!
Wow, all of this is GREAT info! Yes, I am considering all of these things. I don't want to be left out in the cold without the ability to keep warm or have fresh water.

I was in the Army for several years so I know about living "portably."

As for a place to park, until I determine where I will need to go for work, I can park it at family or friends homes for a short period of time.

I have a cell phone that has no roaming so that isn't a problem.

As for the Internet, which is a MUST, I will purchase an air time card and use that. The money I'll save by not having a mortgage will easily offset the use of such a card.

The satellite dish isn't something I'd want because their upload/download speeds are horrible.

I really appreciate your welcome advice!
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Old 02-06-2009, 12:09 PM
 
Location: Interior AK
4,697 posts, read 4,784,923 times
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Sounds like you're doing all the due-diligence steps in your planning Being able to live portably with a lot less "stuff" is something that I think the military is excellent for teaching... I grew up Army and I still go through my house every quarter getting rid of things. Somehow, I still have an aversion to owning more stuff than I could fit into a 10' UHaul! We've been looking at travel trailers between 20' & 26' because that's enough room for the two of us, the two cats, and some stored gear... plus they're way easier to drive around than the 30+ monsters!

In our situation, we will be in the middle of nowhere on our own land. No fees or regulations, but no services and no cell reception either! We have to go satellite whether it's slow or not. Getting a tow trailer rather than a 5th wheel also means we can put an ATV in back of the truck, since we'll need it until we get a proper trail cut back to the property that will take the truck and trailer. It also gets down to -70F in the winter sometimes, so we'll hopefully have our cabin built before we freeze to death because there is no way any tin can on wheels was designed to handle that temp

I totally agree, if you can get out from under a mortgage that you can't afford anymore (like us, too), everything else is a cake walk! I hope you can sell your house without taking a loss, get your trailer set up somewhere cheap (and legal!), and find a new job (that you enjoy) soon.
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Old 02-06-2009, 12:56 PM
 
Location: Fort Worth/Dallas
11,882 posts, read 24,258,425 times
Reputation: 5356
Quote:
Originally Posted by MissingAll4Seasons View Post
Sounds like you're doing all the due-diligence steps in your planning Being able to live portably with a lot less "stuff" is something that I think the military is excellent for teaching... I grew up Army and I still go through my house every quarter getting rid of things. Somehow, I still have an aversion to owning more stuff than I could fit into a 10' UHaul! We've been looking at travel trailers between 20' & 26' because that's enough room for the two of us, the two cats, and some stored gear... plus they're way easier to drive around than the 30+ monsters!

In our situation, we will be in the middle of nowhere on our own land. No fees or regulations, but no services and no cell reception either! We have to go satellite whether it's slow or not. Getting a tow trailer rather than a 5th wheel also means we can put an ATV in back of the truck, since we'll need it until we get a proper trail cut back to the property that will take the truck and trailer. It also gets down to -70F in the winter sometimes, so we'll hopefully have our cabin built before we freeze to death because there is no way any tin can on wheels was designed to handle that temp

I totally agree, if you can get out from under a mortgage that you can't afford anymore (like us, too), everything else is a cake walk! I hope you can sell your house without taking a loss, get your trailer set up somewhere cheap (and legal!), and find a new job (that you enjoy) soon.
Thank you so much. Yes, the Army, especially the tactical unit that I was in prepares you to live a less cluttered life. I actually prefer that. I suppose we could probably make a good 15 or 20K just selling the stuff we have here that we won't need, and that's on top of whatever we get for the house.

In all honesty, this could be the best thing that ever happened for us. BTW, I have a potential job offer that pays very well in Oklahoma City; I am waiting on the final word.

If that comes through, it's travel trailer time, clean living, and saving money like you won't believe!
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Old 02-07-2009, 08:40 AM
 
Location: Back Home In TN…YAY:):)
15,651 posts, read 15,018,982 times
Reputation: 71890
It can be done especially if you need to be on the move. If you are planning on staying a long time in PA or any Northern states you need to make sure the trailer is meant for full-time living. They can get very cold. Also with a Toyota Tacoma you will have to stay small. You also need to consider the cost of the trailer plus the parks. Can you just rent?

I would check with rv.net for more info.

Good luck.
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Old 02-07-2009, 01:02 PM
 
Location: Lake Forest, CA
1,773 posts, read 4,893,394 times
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A Toyota Tacoma for a tow vehicle for a travel trailer? That would be out of the question for any trailer besides a tiny lightweight fiberglass model. I've towed a folding tent trailer with a compact pickup, and even that was a strain, and that was in fairly mild terrain. If you are serious about this and intend to move the trailer around from place to place, get a good tow vehicle. Sometimes people sell both the trailer and tow vehicle as a package deal for a reasonable price. If you can find a trailer and tow vehicle that have not gotten much use, you would be ahead of the game because the tow vehicle would be equipped with all the accessories needed to tow the trailer. There's a lot more to it that just a hitch on the back of the truck. Good mirrors, electrical harness connections, trailer brake connections. Safety first when pulling a trailer, it can be a danger to you and others if it's not done right.
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Old 02-07-2009, 03:21 PM
 
Location: state of enlightenment
2,204 posts, read 2,949,096 times
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"Safety first when pulling a trailer, it can be a danger to you and others if it's not done right."

What he said. The worst thing you can do is use an underpowered tow vehicle. Come up with a realistic budget (fuel, food, maintenance, utilities, parking/dumping/water fees). Get, The Complete Guide to Full-Time RVing" by Bill & Jan Moeller. There's a Yahoo group, All about RVing. Look into a converted bus. RVs are made from flimsy fiberglass made to go maybe 100k mi while buses are built to high safety standards to go a million miles. Here's a typical example of an RV conversion: eBay Motors: 1971 MCI Bus Conversion (item 330305221645 end time Feb-09-09 16:38:47 PST) (http://tinyurl.com/d2fvk3 - broken link)

Keep in mind the tandem axels on 40' buses give lower mileage, require extra maintenance and 4 extra tires. If you go with a 35' like the GM 4106, 4104 or MCI MC5 it's maneuverable enough to use as a primary vehicle and fuel economy is a bit better.
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Old 02-08-2009, 09:26 AM
 
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
11,100 posts, read 24,024,770 times
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recycled has it right:
"A Toyota Tacoma for a tow vehicle for a travel trailer? That would be out of the question for any trailer besides a tiny lightweight fiberglass model."

There are a few RV forums and a couple of usenet (googlegroups) RV groups full of political flamewars and curmudgeons. You would find a lot of opinions there.

What you are wanting to do is called full-timing. A major expense will be your lot rent. If you are hoping for a job in a particular area, you would be wise to get the listings of campgrounds and trailer parks that accept travel trailers, and find out the rents. Full-timing is a lot more expensive than it seems at first glance.

We lived in a travel trailer on our own rural land for the better part of a year. If you can do the same, you might save some money. Understand that if you are away from it to go to work, you have no security. Not only can people break in easily, it is entirely possible for someone to hook it up to a truck and steal the whole thing for a deer camp.

If you really want to full-time on your own on the cheap, get a van camper. With these, you can stealth park in different locations, never have to worry about being far away from your property, don't pay double insurance and registration fees, can escape a bad park quickly and easily, etc. When we were van camping in our converted conversion van, we met a disabled vet who lived like that, making use of the discounted rates at the Florida state parks, and living on a very small pension.

Otherwise, you may find a rental in a trailer park cheaper than just about anything else. I did that once a long time ago when my income dropped.
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Old 02-08-2009, 03:25 PM
 
3,460 posts, read 2,269,124 times
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IMHO, you'd be a lot better off buying a cheap 3/4 ton pickup and using it to tow your trailer. You should be able to get one in decent running condition for a couple thousand dollars, and the extra towing capacity will let you have twice as big of a house to live in.

Instead of using pods, a cheaper long term storage strategy would be to buy a used enclosed trailer for a couple thousand, and load all your stuff in there. You can usually park a trailer in a secure lot for $25/month, which will save you $50-75 a month over paying for a storage unit.
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Old 02-08-2009, 06:22 PM
 
Location: Some place very cold
5,503 posts, read 13,203,374 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Synopsis View Post
Can anyone give me any advice on what to purchase, where, and other particulars?
Well then, you MUST check out Airstream Forums - Airstream Owners Community. You'll find plenty of information there, and everyone is so nice!

You can probably purchase a 70s or 80s Airstream for a decent price. And get a diesel truck for around $15K. Don't buy anything new!

The folks on Airforums can tell you where to live throughout the year. Some places are cheaper than others. Plenty of full-timers on the board!

Go for it!

Woof x3
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Old 02-08-2009, 06:35 PM
 
Location: Floribama
8,555 posts, read 14,819,764 times
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Since you don't have a large truck to pull a travel trailer with you may be better off trying to find a good used motorhome. Your best value will be to find one about 15-20 years old that has been garage kept with low miles. Since you're going to living in it I would look for one at least 32 feet, that way it would have a sofa, dinette, and extra chairs.

Like this...

1994 ALLEGRO Allegro Bay for sale in Davie, FL - RVTraderOnline.com
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