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Hi,

If you are, or are considering, fulltiming in an RV, how did you select your particular RV?

 

Of course, it all depends on how one intends to use it, number of occupants, hot/cold weather, etc. I wouldn't ask you to tell me which rig to get, I'm just asking to hear the story of how you selected yours.

 

Thanks for sharing!

 

David

 

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We are also looking to fulltime with a year or two. We know we want a fifth wheel (DH has always wanted one so that's a given) What I am doing is making a spreadsheet with the specs for the various units we are considering. Because we will be fulltime, I want to make sure that it is well made. We are looking at things like, weight, insulation, tires, carrying capacity, and lots more. I probably have 10-12 categories. Every person would have different things to put on their list. Because we are not yet ready to buy, I want to be able to look back at the list as we add new possibilities. We'll see how this works for us. Good luck to you in finding the perfect unit to meet your needs.

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When you start to look at full time RVs, you will find a lot of variation in RV pricing. If you want a true full time unit suited for 4 season use, you will need to make a short list of these units. Currently there is Mobile Suites (DRV) and Lifestyle. There is a whole host of lesser unit such as Redwood, Cedar Creek, Montana, Cardinal claiming to be full time units. Look at the warranty on each and see what they say about full time use. LOts of folks full time in these units.

 

You will want to look for dual pane windows, Mor/Ryde IS suspension, disc brakes, better insulation, nno particle board, etc. These units are heavier and will require a 1 ton dually (3500 or F350 series) as a MINIMUM truck. The larger trailers will require an F450 or larger.

 

Select the trailer first and then get a truck suitable for towing the load and carrying the pin weight. Get a copy of the truck manufacturers towing guide and thoroughly read and understand it. Above all do not believe the RV or truck sales person on what you can tow. Do your home work and understand the towing ratings.

 

Ken

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If you are, or are considering, fulltiming in an RV, how did you select your particular RV?

 

Of course, it all depends on how one intends to use it, number of occupants, hot/cold weather, etc.

We based our choice on our years of RV experience and what we wanted to achieve and the way that we enjoy living. We chose a gasoline powered motorhome that was inadequate by the standards of many people, yet it served us very well for nearly 12 years, until health issues intervened. The point of this is that the only people whose requirements matter are those who will be living in the RV. Do not put too much stock in the opinions of others about what you need in terms of size, type, or necessities. Quality of construction is very important if you expect to keep it for a long time and travel extensively. Things like good insulation and dual pane windows are important to comfort in either hot or cold weather and no matter how much you travel you will at times be caught by weather extremes.

 

Budget is very important to keep in mind since it is very difficult to enjoy living in even the most luxurious RV if paying for it will keep you in a financial bind. On the other hand, if you go too cheap, you could find yourself in a situation where repair costs are wrecking the budget and cramping your travels. We chose the RV that we did because it was a good compromise between the dreams of grandeur and the conservative financial limits. That worked out very well for us as and it allowed us to live comfortably but not luxuriously, while keeping a financial reserve that allowed us to move on when health issues dictated.

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We started out with a 27' travel trailer with no slide and soon realized it was too small with lack of storage space.

 

We then got a 33' 5th wheel with two slides. It served us well for eight years of full-timing. Friends got us hooked on Jeeping and we always disliked driving the big truck siteseeing.

 

We switched to a 40' motorhome towing the Jeep and used it for another eight years of full-timing. We absolutely loved it and especially liked towing the small Jeep which gave us much pleasure. We specifically wanted only two slides on the same side because we used public parks a lot where the sites had a lot of trees. We didn't want to have to find sites that we had to maneuver any more slides amongst the trees, especially on opposite sides of the motorhome. Our choice worked very well for us and we never had an issue finding sites for our 40'. We just had to do a little more research.

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When we were planning on going full time we knew we would be moving around a lot, that's why we chose a motorhome over a 5th wheel. However, had we planned on staying places for extended periods of time, we would have a 5th wheel. It took a good 1 1/2yrs. to decide on our particular coach. I narrowed it down to three, and because of the deal & equipment our current coach has I decided on it. The private seller had done a lot of upgrades, and we've added to it over the years. Everyone sees it differently. Plan carefully, and if used, get those maint. records and an independent inspection done. Then come on out to play. We don't regret a day of it after being out here for over 5yrs.

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We started RVing after our honeymoon as DH discovered he gets air sick and sea sick but loved to drive. He likes his comforts and tent camping was not an option. The second year of our marriage I came home from work and their was a 23 ft class C MH in the driveway. We both have spontaneous streaks and if it doesn't hit us right away it wasn't meant to be. We were hooked on the lifestyle after our first weekend at the beach. The engine was too small to tow a toad so it was bicycles to get around once we arrived at a destination. We put a lot of miles on that baby; weekends in the winter and 2 and 3 week vacations in the summer and the in-laws used it for football game tailgaters.

 

9 years later we wanted to go bigger so DH test drove a 35 ft Class A and it made him so nervous to have so much glass and no engine in front he said NO way.

 

We started looking at 5th wheels because we had been told they were easier to maneuver than a travel trailer and we had NO experience towing anything at that point. We found a person in the RV Trader that wanted to down size so we traded our MH for their 29 ft fiver and pickup.

 

We liked the convenience of having a vehicle once we arrived and the truck was used the rest of the time for his small commute to work.

 

Two footitis they say and the next fiver was 32 ft and 2 slides; we thought we had a mansion, I was worried about the GVW so our next purchase was an MDT.

 

We knew we wanted to full time but due to work hadn't gone that far from home in our travels so sold it all and hit the road fulltime in the 32 foot vacation RV for the first year to see what else was out there and experience all 4 seasons in it. We went to many RV Factories to learn about the product and pick the best for our way of traveling. We went to Casper, WY, York Nebraska, Junction City KS and Elkhart, IN it was a great experience to talk to the factory employees vs salesman and other RVer on the tours.

 

When we sold our 1st fiver we could no longer belong to the owners club of that brand but one of the members told us to check out the Escapees. Members had everything from pop ups to Prevost and the club was a great resource. We did and learned a lot at Escapades.

 

In the second year on the road we found a 40 ft fiver in Florida at the Tampa RV show but couldn't make a deal, then in New Branfuels, TX we got closer then finally in Phoenix, AZ all the snowbirds had left for the season and the dealers were ready to deal and we got our fiver which we still have today.

 

Since we bought it we added a washer and dryer, dishwasher, big screen TV, replaced the dinning table with a large desk for my computing and crafts and replaced the sofa with a window seat across the back that doubles as a bed as needed and lots of storage underneath. 3 years ago we got our first dog and now she has claimed the window seat and loves to look out the back window.

 

No dining table? We received a calling card from a seasoned RV'er that read: Drinks 6, Feeds 4 and Sleeps 2. We use trays to eat inside while we watch the news. We use the picnic table when the weather is inviting and when we have company. IF we have company and can't eat outside or in a rec hall of an RV park we have a 48" round table that folds in half for storage. Fits 4 people very comfortably and we use a recliner, my desk chair and our two patio chairs for seating (it helps when everything in the rig can serve more than one purpose) and this summer we played a lot of Hand and Foot on it.

 

My advice is to find the RV for the two of you not for all the what if's company and grandchildren etc. The percentage of time you will be living in the RV vs the time you have company is how you should plan for the features and benefits of the unit you purchase. .

 

There are pros and cons with every RV you just need to figure out how you want to travel? and how much you want to spend? Kirk has much sage advice; working within your budget so you can enjoy your travels is a biggie. It is also a depreciating asset but if you are not living in the RV you are paying rent/mortgage payment somewhere else. If your rig is not convenient or takes too much effort and time away from your travels/activities your time on the road may be short. We have had many fulltimers over the years tell us to treat it as our home. Anything you would have or do in sticks and bricks you will continue in the RV but on a much smaller scale. ie washer and dryer and dishwasher. Lots of people enjoy the social encounters and experiences in laundromats, I am not into laundry; life is short, time is finite and I would much rather be out and about so the washer and dryer was great for me.

 

For awhile we just had the MDT for transportation once we were parked, then we decided to buy a car and I would follow him ...we chose not to double tow. This summer we decided to try renting a car when we were stationary for an extended period of time so we each have a vehicle if we want. (I like to shop, he doesn't but living in an RV he doesn't mind me shopping because he knows nothing more will fit LOL He can't understand I can spend the day window shopping and not bring anything home) Weekly and monthly rates are less expensive than daily rates much like rv parks. We learned a lot about renting a car, liked it and will do it again next summer. We now have a home base and leave our car there. FYI: Be sure to check with your insurance company to make sure you are covered with rental cars. Before we bought a car our MDT insurance would not cover car rental even if the MDT was in the shop for repairs.

 

A new craze on HGTV is "Tiny Homes". http://www.hgtv.com/shows/tiny-house-hunters Lot of great ideas that can be used in RV's as well.

 

Good luck with your search and HAVE FUN....

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This was back over twelve years ago. We wanted to take our motorcycles with us and travel more then two weeks per year. We first looked at Motorhomes. Had a Winnebago picked out. A enclosed trailer picked out. Then decided to look at 5th wheel toyhaulers. Didn't find any we liked. While looking at toyhaulers the wife came across guys buying used semi trucks to carry motorcycles. Liked that idea. Researched semi trucks and started looking at regular 5th wheel trailers. Liked the Hitchhiker the best. The way it was built. They had a floor plan we loved. Later on we bought a car, wife leads with the car and I follow. Sold the motorcycles and the loaders, but still have the same truck and trailer we started out full-timing RVing in, on October 9, 2004.

Edited by Nolan

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We started planning to go "full time" about 5 years ago (when we retired). Since we had a large amount of "lead time" and were in no big hurry we were able to look, drive, read and talk to anyone that would talk about their experiences with us. One of the best things we did was join this forum. If you will take the time to look at all the forum topics and read as much as you can you will be wayyyyyy ahead of the game. The folks here have "been there and done that" and love to share their knowledge with us "newbies". We decided early on that we wanted a Class A (used), then we started looking at all the different brands...and let me assure you that there are major, major differences in each one. If you are going to buy used, try to buy the highest quality of coach that you can with the money available. We were determined not to go into debt and had a set amount to spend. Once you start to look at the higher end coaches you will begin to see why they cost more. Quality of workmanship, materials used in construction ect ect. We were fortunate enough to be able to live in a small class A for a year at my last job location so we were able to use all the controls (ac, heat, plumbing ect ect) hands on. It also did not have a slide and that answered a question for us (we were thinking we could live without a slide) the extra room is wonderful. To me the most important thing is to educate yourself as much as possible before you jump in. Don't make any hasty decisions that you will regret for a long time and have fun with the search!

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We bought our motor home three years ago last month. Had never owned a motor home, had not even tent camped in 30 years. it was our intent to fulltime for a couple years, see how it works. We kept our house. Everything to be used would have to be acquired...

 

When we decided to retire and pursue fulltiming, we had about three months to "go from zero, to on the road". We bought books, we read blogs, we talked to RV Dealerships. Most important thing we did during this time, was to decide our anticipated "pattern of fulltiming".... How much boondocking How long in parks? How often to travel? Where to winter? Costs of these things?

 

We decided that we will 'mostly' stay in the West & Southwest. Travel patterns would be to stay 1 - 2 months at a location. We would park the RV, and do regional travels in a car/truck. We would boondock occasionally, and for approximately 1 - 2 weeks at a time. We would winter in the South.

 

We hand delivered an RFP-like document to local RV Dealers. In it, we described our goals, and focused down to a small Class A, or a 5th Wheel equipped with generator/battery configuration suitable for boondocking. And we started looking for a good truck... As we progressed, we found we could get into a smaller (gas) class 'A' and buy 'toad' cheaper than we could buy a suitable 5th wheel and Truck. (I was surprised by the cost of a good truck.) We started this search with a slight bias towards a 5th wheel.

 

What we settled on, was a 5-year old, "just traded in one owner" 36' gas class 'A' motorhome, well maintained, low mileage. At about the same time, came across a 4-year old, very low mileage Honda CR-V. Bought them both. We had them fitted for towing & braking... and a DISH traveler Satellite... new tires... and (in January 2013) headed from Michigan to the Escapees Boot Camp in Congress, AZ!

 

We have been very happy with what we purchased (see our blog signature). We have no problem with a gas unit and have traveled most of the Western States. The build quality is excellent. Very importantly, we kept our house, and we kept most of our 'retirement bank' intact. When time comes to leave the road, we will have no problem with that next step. And Good Lord willing, we will keep fulltiming for many years to come... we love it!

 

Jim

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Before we bought our last fulltiming rig, I got the CD from RV Consumers Group for towables, since that's the type of RV we wanted.

 

I sorted according to star ratings and looked only at those with 4 stars (the only 5-star rated fifth wheel was the New Horizons which was out of our price range). There were 3 "must haves:" Space for a washer and dryer, a king-size bed, no longer than 32.'

 

We eliminated several good brands because they all started at around 34'/35' in length. Others were eliminated because they either didn't have a washer & dryer option or a king-size bed option. We finally narrowed our choices down to three brands. At that point, we went shopping. We looked at all three brands, any of which we would have been happy with. What finally swayed our choice was height: the brand we selected had a total height of 11'10" while the other two were both 12'8." Since we mostly boondock and like USFS campgrounds, this lower height was important to us.

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We knew we were going to be using the RV full time while we explored North America. Lots of over night stays and short stays. It made sense to do without a toad and buy something that would be easy to park in towns.

 

We also wanted a reasonably spacious interior.

 

The Safari Trek at 28 ft with the magic bed that hides in the roof gave us the maneuverability and space.

 

Other stuff that mattered, generator that could be started without going outside, leveling jacks, large underfloor storage compartments and no slides.

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We wanted to do the tourist things like drive Historic Route 66 so we bought a small RV that we could drive through cities and park at museums and diners along the way. We didn't tow a car since stopping at grocery stores and laundromats worked just as well as stopping at museums. Like I always told our daughter, "Different is good." Knowing how you want to travel is important in deciding what type of rig to buy. In what other rig could we have parked in downtown Chicago by paying two meters front to back so we could eat at an historic restaurant near the beginning of Route 66?

 

Linda Sand

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I agree, there is a wealth of knowledge contained in this thread that anyone considering going full timing or just thinking about buying an RV should read...there should be a "hall of fame" or "must read" category for threads to keep great threads available for those looking for this type of information.

Edited by singwing12

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Its been a couple of months since this thread was 'hot'.. but here's my 2 bits worth: The most vital factors are quality, age & price. There actually is a 'premium quality tier' of RVs and motorhomes. You will get a deluge of advice on the quality issue, but remember that durability over time depends on quality not to mention your pride of ownership. My suggestion is that you get the most bang for the buck in a used, premium quality rig, gas powered. I like Newmar and Tiffin but there are others in the top tier. Take your time, do your research and go for it :)

 

Now for the "blow back" on the quality question.

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