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Purchase Tips

Young buyer advice

Austin Levin

I'm new to the forum so I thought I'd introduce myself. I'm a 21 year old mechanical engineering student at Colorado State University. I hold a VFR Commercial certificate with a large amount of my flight time spead among various 182's and Citabria's. I once received a ride in a 180 from a gentleman from Skyview WY and have been enamored by skywagon's ever since. 
Ideally I'd like a IFR capable 180/185 for long cross countries with moderate bush flying abilities (No STOL kit needed, but unimproved and off-airport operations will happen)
I have about 2.5 years until graduation at which time I'll likely be able to finally purchase a 180/185. I have a few questions regarding this:
  • Assuming I never plan on selling the aircraft, is it more beneficial to get a higher end 180, and hot-rod it to a 185 at a later date? Or better to get a lower-end 185 right off the bat?
  • Aside from increasing my financial stability, are there any things I can do to prepare for purchasing/ownership while I'm ~2 years out?
Thanks for your help!