View Full Version : Your opinion here:

10-02-2009, 11:31 PM
Hello everyone, I'm a soon-to-be fifth wheel owner with questions. My most important one is more of an opinion question. I would like to direct it toward those of you who have actually lived in a fifth wheel for a decent period of time, say 6 months or more. So here's the question: Given that the weather conditions where I live are decent, how hard would it be to live out of a fifth wheel for a whole year? We can shorten it to only a 7 month period but I was just wondering how you people felt about living in one for an extended period of time. We are going to have to move 3 different times while I'm on my clinicals so that's why we're buying one. So, just in your humble opinion, should we wait and only do it for 7 months, or did you enjoy it SO MUCH that you would recommend it for an ENTIRE YEAR. Just a little background on us: It will be my wife and I and our two dogs. We have the tow rig but not the fifth wheel yet and we're looking to spend $10-12k on the fifth wheel. Your opinion would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

10-03-2009, 08:58 AM
We do live in our 5th wheel and have done so for over 5 years now. It's our only home and we have no plans to stop RVing in the foreseeable future.

The key issues are fairly simple. You will be in a confined space. You MUST be able to get along together. You must learn to deal with small spaces for living storage and doing daily chores.

You are limited in what you will be able to do for hobbies as there is limited space and weight capacity for toys or tools.

You must also have an RV that has good insulation. There is no RV that is as well insulated as a regular well insulated stick structure. There is simply no way to do so economically with walls of 2.5" thickness and a roof attic of about 4" not to mention a thin floor suspended above the ground.

Appliances are limited. Not all RV's have an option for a washer and drier. Virtually none have a dish washer. Water, grey and black tanks are limited if you must stay without hookups. You'll need a substantial generator if you need air conditioning without hookups as well as fuel for the gen set.

Some RV parks will allow long term camping and others will not so you may be limited where you can put the rig, especially in colder climates.

You will also need to have a daily driver kind of vehicle. If you are comfortable using your tow vehicle that's a non issue. Have ENOUGH tow vehicle for the trailer to be moved safely.

This should be enough to start thinking about what you want to do. Go look at as many RV's as you can and research on the brands that are normally used for "full timing". Those are the ones you want to look at. Do not get stuck with a cheap weekend camper as it will not fill your needs. This is going to be your home so pay attention to what you look at. RV's are not necessarily cheap to buy or to own. They also do not appreciate at all. They will decrease in value, sometimes very rapidly.

10-03-2009, 10:07 AM
We have been fulltimers since 1998, most of that time in a fifth wheel.

You don't say where you live or what kind of tow vehicle you have. If you live someplace where it gets extremely cold in the winter...or extremely hot in the summer...it will take a bit more work to make an RV (of any type) comfortable in those extreme conditions, but it can be done. And concerning your tow vehicle, just make sure you have enough truck to safely pull the weight of your fifth wheel (think GVWR of the fifth wheel, not dry weight).

10-03-2009, 11:00 AM
Thanks for the replies. As far as tow vehicles go, I don't think we will have a problem there. We already have a 2005 Chevy 2500HD 4x4 diesel to tow with. Can you please recommend some good, AFFORDABLE brands for 5th wheels? We will only be fulltiming for a year max and that will be in a mild climate. We will have to split it up between west Texas and northern Oklahoma, so I'm not extremely concerned about the weather. We aren't use to living in efficient homes anyways ;) Thanks again!

10-03-2009, 12:26 PM
We already have a 2005 Chevy 2500HD 4x4 diesel to tow with.
That will be sufficient for a light-weight fifth wheel.

In order to determine exactly what your truck is safely capable of hauling, load it up like it would be for any trip with a full tank of fuel, you and all the people, pets, and gear that will normally travel in the truck and get it weighed. If you do not already have a fifth wheel hitch installed in your truck, add 200# to this weight.

Once you have the actual loaded weight of your truck, subtract that number from the truck's GCWR (Gross Combined Weight Rating)...that will be the maximum *loaded* weight of any fifth wheel you should be pulling (as I said above, think GVWR of the fiver, not dry weight).

Now subtract the actual loaded weight of your truck from it's GVWR...that will the the maximum hitch weight your truck can safely handle (assume 20% of the fiver's GVWR as a loaded hitch weight).

Now that you know the weight (GVWR) of the fifth wheel you can safely pull, you will be in a position to go out and shop. DO NOT, under any circumstances, pay any attention to the sales person when they tell you that you can pull anything on their lot with your truck. Since you've done the math, YOU will KNOW what weight you can pull!

10-03-2009, 05:13 PM
We've been fulltiming for 4 1/2 years now. During that time, we've seen all types of people in all types of older RV's in all kinds of weather and all 4 seasons. Many of them were bought used. There were singles, couples and families. But they all had one thing in common, they seemed to enjoy it. Many were temporary, such as waiting for a house being built or going to college.

If your budget is low, then used is probably going to get you what you need. You just might need to make some adjustments or do minor remodeling. Two dogs could make it more challenging, but not impossible. There are adjustments, but it's not difficult if you're flexible.

If you're moving, it's so much easier to find a new RV Park than it is to move into a different Apt. And is sometimes cheaper.

10-03-2009, 07:01 PM
Hey thanks Hitchup. Yeah, we don't want to have to move into another apt. The good thing is we already have a 5x15 ft. portable pen to keep our dogs in. Does anyone know anything about this model: http://dallas.craigslist.org/dal/rvs/1401581369.html
We're seriously considering it, but if there are alot of horror stories we will just keep on looking. Thanks

10-04-2009, 09:11 AM
First off do not get real serious about a rig in craigs list or ebay unless it is in a spot you can actually go look at the trailer. There are too many scams out there to buy something that costly without looking it over carefully and having all the systems checked out. Some things like the fridge are VERY expensive to replace.

Hitchhiker is a brand that's been around a long time. A 33' rig is on the smaller side for full timing but in the right range. It has a washer and drier so you have a plus there. It may also be overweight for the 3/4 ton truck you have though.

I don't have a 2005 towing guide but the 2006 booklet I have lists an average towing range of 10,500 to 14,000 lbs. A few 2006 models with a specific gear ratio (3.10) and the turbo diesel will go a bit higher. You'll need to check with Chevy to determine the actual capacity of your truck. Since you almost certainly have single rear wheels, the axle weight capacity is another limiting factor. A 5th wheel puts 15% to 20% of it's weight on the truck through the hitch. You could be inside the total weight capacity but overloaded on the rear axle depending on the real pin weight of the rig.

Only consider the max or GVW of the trailer as no one tows or lives in an empty trailer. The empty weight is not likely to be accurate any how. You'll also be looking for about 2,000 to 3,000 lbs CCC or cargo carrying capacity in the trailer and that does not include a full water tank. You will be putting your "stuff" in the trailer and it needs to be able to carry the weight. Older trailers especially were made with very little capacity for cargo weight.

Look at the axle and tire limits. A 2000 model trailer of that size may have 6,000 to 7,000 lb axles and D rated tires. If the tires are more than 4 years old by manufacturer date (tire manufacturer) figure on needing to replace them no matter how good they look externally. RV tires normally have a life of 5 years even if they only have a couple thousand miles on them. If the trailer has been sitting for months or a year in one spot the tires are probably brittle and will let go soon.

10-04-2009, 10:39 AM
Hitchhiker is a brand that's been around a long time. A 33' rig is on the smaller side for full timing but in the right range.
I know there are people who will say you can't fulltime in anything other than a 40' rig with a dozen slides (OK, that last part was a slight exaggeration :wink: ), but we do just fine fulltiming in a 32' fifth wheel. We wanted a shorter fifth wheel for two reasons: 1) we do a lot of boondocking and wanted a rig that would fit in *most* places (however, even at 32', there are places we're too big to get into), and 2) we wanted to stay within the weight ratings of our truck.

10-04-2009, 12:42 PM
Yeah, we're looking at something between 30 and 35 ft. also. The only thing I'm really worried about is buying a low quality rig and ending up going broke doing repairs. We are definitely getting a used one. I just haven't done enough research yet to know what to look for. Our only must haves are: 2 slides (one in the bedroom) and a washer/dryer.

10-04-2009, 05:29 PM
We have a Mobile Suites 32TK3 that is actually 33'8". We feel DRV makes the best rig on the market. If you want to stay under 35' as we did, Mobile Suites makes 2 units in this lenght, the 32TK3 and a 32RE3. We have seen the generator option on this unit and it takes up too much storage space. We have visited with couples that also have this model and most of them really love it as we do. Those who want more storage either have the generator box or just want more room and realize they need longer than 35' to get it. Personally, the 32TK3 has plaenty of room and plenty of storage. We would also suggest the single chair as opposed to a love seat in the slide out to add more interior space.

We tow with a 2006 F350 CC DRW with the 6.0 diesel. This truck has plenty of pull and stop pwoer for this size unit. Th only thing I added to the truck was air bags. This helps greatly with the ride, empty and towing, and levels out the rig when towing. As you already know, by staying in a shorter unit, you can also tow with a standard 1 ton truck which has allot of economic advantages when purchasing and opens more options.

Good luck with your search and check out the DRV floor plans for the 32TK3 or 32RE3 models for a really quality built rig. You will not be dissapointed!

10-04-2009, 06:26 PM
Those rigs are nice, but the fact is I'm looking for something practical. If you had read my original post you would have seen that my budget is only $10-12K, not $100K. I'm just a grad student who is going to be spending a year on the road and moving back into a house after that. Thanks for the input though. Anyone else?

10-05-2009, 09:16 AM

Check out this website. It is more active than this one and has tons of info on trailers as well as lots of folks who are full timing. Joining the forum is free.


The main club is the Excapees and it's a very good source for info on just about anything RVing.

10-05-2009, 09:17 AM
You are going to have to be looking REAL closely at fivers that fall into your price range--either you settle for a very small one (not good for full-time) or a real old one (not good for repairs). Start now to shop prices and sizes to get a database so you will know when a good buy comes along.

10-05-2009, 10:52 AM
Thanks Joe

10-05-2009, 12:41 PM
OK, I have another question: How old is too old? We're looking at a Hitch Hiker Champagne right now. It's a 1995 model that's been well cared for. Has had 2 owners. Too old to be a fulltimer?

10-05-2009, 01:00 PM
There are RV's with 20 year old appliances that are still working. So it's hard to say at what age is too old until the 5er was inspected by a qualified tech.

Hitchhiker has always had a good reputation. In fact, HH's were first on our list since they were more affordable than Teton's in 2005. The Champagne is the better finishes and may weigh more than your Truck can tow. Have you checked your tow ratings out at Trailer Life.


10-05-2009, 02:36 PM
Yeah, that's definitely something to consider. They said they were pulling it with a 3/4 ton Chevy also, but I will look into it.

10-05-2009, 04:32 PM

How old is too old? Hard question. Thats why I suggest you start immediately looking at used units that meet your size/weight requirements. If you are diligent and patient, you will know when you come across a great deal--and you have to be ready to pounce, because if it IS a great deal, it will be gone before long.

I have owned 9 rvs, only one new one, and haven't gotten stung on any of them--oldest was a 88 model in 93, a Holiday Rambler Alumalite.

Gotta get out an look at advertised units--some you will know right away it isn't good, some will be possibles, and one, just one, will be a perfect fit. And get your wife deeply involved in this--they are usually the one who needs everything right, not you.

10-05-2009, 05:07 PM
Yeah, she will definitely play a big role in deciding. I see that you live in TX. So do I. Would you make any suggestions for good dealers or places to look?

10-05-2009, 08:03 PM
email me at joejd @ aol.com