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AmyB

My Life is Happy Chaos - Advice Please :D

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TLDR; I am wanting to take a year off for a career reset/freelance and RV, but I'm in complete flux over what vehicular path to take! (But please read details below if you can - context matters.) Also, if we enjoy this lifestyle, I'm certainly prepared to commit to it for longer.

Hey all! I'm a newbie to the forum and so much a newbie to RVing that I haven't started yet. Hee.

The past year has been wonderfully transformative. I got a divorce that has been long in coming, and now that I have taken care of that, I'm turning a critical eye toward my career. I'm currently employed full-time in a very niche field in high demand where, I believe, I could make a LOT more freelancing than I can where I am. I don't need to make more, however. What I really want is location-independent life, so I can work from anywhere in the country with an internet connection. (Or even out of the country, maybe, someday.) I'm just tired of the cubicle, but the nature of my current job ties me to this location.

So my best friend and I have discussed taking a year and RVing around the country with my big old dog. He's a boxer/mastiff cross, and weighs about 90 lbs. (Also he farts a fair bit - who knows, it may matter!)

Right now, I have a home I do like, with an affordable mortgage, that's pretty centrally located in between two major cities. I also own a Subaru Outback outright, but it doesn't have a tow hitch. I'm told I could have one put on at the dealer for about $700. Aftermarket elsewhere probably cheaper. I do have some savings, plus the value of my car, but I would really like to do this as cheaply and as sensibly as possible. We do have some friends in various parts of the country willing to let us set up the camper on their land for awhile, if we need to. The plan is to work and travel, and fund our lifestyle as we go.

So here are the options I've considered:

1) Getting a tiny camper that my car can tow. The Outback is rated for about 2700 lbs. But I've read enough forum posts to know that you can't push that, and it would probably be best to get a camper that weighed in around 1000 lbs to be safe. I'm not a big fan of this idea. I grew up camping in tents but my friend has never camped. She's handy, and the tree-climbing sort, so I don't doubt she'll have fun, but I think she's overestimating the pleasure of staying in something like a T@G with a 90-lb farting dog. The other thing is that most of those campers are expensive, because they're new and feature a high level of customization. I also don't see it having great resale value, as it would appeal to a very narrow market. My uncle suggested a pop-up, but I really prefer something with hard walls that would feel more like a home and less like a tent.

2) Getting a "lite" camper that can be towed by an SUV. Because of my dog, and just my own preferences, I don't really want a truck. I've done some research, but the options out there are pretty overwhelming. I'd love to hear anyone's recommendations about the best SUV for towing and the best well-made camper of an appropriate size to be towed by that SUV. I don't really want slides, to me they just seem like one more leak point, and used is really what I'm looking for, to keep costs down. So preference would be for something that holds up well. I also don't want a fifth-wheel or really anything longer than 25'. I think that would be the perfect size for us. 

3) Getting a class-C or class-B vehicle. I have been looking mainly at class-Cs from the 90s, but I know that any vehicle of that age is likely going to have significant wear and then there's also the engine to consider. There just don't seem to be many class-Cs or Bs in the price range I was looking (less than $15k). Also, I've watched a lot of videos about trailers vs motorhomes, and I have to say the logic in favor of trailers makes sense to me. I like the idea of unhitching and sightseeing with the tow vehicle, and not having to pack up camp. I also like the idea of the tow vehicle having more resale value than a motorhome in the event we decide that it isn't working out, for whatever reason, or if life needs call us back home. And if our vehicle needed work, we wouldn't have to get a hotel room because our "home" was in the shop, etc.

Along with all of the above, I'm also weighing the options of selling versus renting my home. I've only owned this home for a year, but the market is doing really well right now. If I sell it, my realtor says I could probably make almost $10k after realtor fees and buyer repair requests. Single family homes are flying off the market in days. But there is the hassle of then being on the buyer's timeline. If I rent it, I could take care of everything at my own pace and then let the rental company know when I was ready. My house would basically be able to pay for itself while I travel, but then you have all the usual hassles/risks of renting, maintaining insurance on the house, maintenance, etc.

I know this is kind of all over the place. Any advice/suggestions/anything from anyone would be greatly appreciated. This group came highly recommended on a podcast I just listened to, so I'm excited to come and sit at your feet and soak up whatever wisdom you can graciously bestow upon me!

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

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Welcome to the Escapee forums! We are here to help and will do all that we are able to assist and support you.

1) I'm not sure what you mean by " something like a T@G " but about the only thing in an RV that you can safely tow with a small car is one of the tent trailers. For two people and a large dog I would think that at least 20' trailer length is needed. Pam & I travel as long as 5 months at a time nowdays in one that size and it works but it also has very little storage capacity so we also have a truck with a shell on it for extra storage. Living all of the time means carrying everything with you so keep storage in mind.

2) There are SUV's which are built to tow fairly large RV's so that should not be a major problem. Many are rated to tow 5000# and there are models that are rated higher.

3) With the budget that you have, you won't find much in good condition for the price which is motorized. I'd suggest that you do some "looking only" shopping to as many large RV lots as you can find, just to get a good feel for what different RVs cost and at what age and condition,

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Another point aside from Kirk's, forget about obtaining any RV with the thought of good resale value, won't happen. Suggest you and friend rent say, a Class C for a weekend and get a feel for what coming. DO NOT jump into anything without a lot of research.

 

Jim

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10 minutes ago, Kirk Wood said:

Welcome to the Escapee forums! We are here to help and will do all that we are able to assist and support you.

1) I'm not sure what you mean by " something like a T@G " but about the only thing in an RV that you can safely tow with a small car is one of the tent trailers. For two people and a large dog I would think that at least 20' trailer length is needed. Pam & I travel as long as 5 months at a time nowdays in one that size and it works but it also has very little storage capacity so we also have a truck with a shell on it for extra storage. Living all of the time means carrying everything with you so keep storage in mind.

2) There are SUV's which are built to tow fairly large RV's so that should not be a major problem. Many are rated to tow 5000# and there are models that are rated higher.

3) With the budget that you have, you won't find much in good condition for the price which is motorized. I'd suggest that you do some "looking only" shopping to as many large RV lots as you can find, just to get a good feel for what different RVs cost and at what age and condition,

Yes - I have pretty much overruled my friend on the idea of a tiny camper. I just don't think it provide enough of what we need, especially since we would both be using it as sort of an office on the road. Her rationale is 'Well, we have the whole great outdoors!' and my rationale is 'It rains.' (Can you tell I grew up a tent camper?)

I think your idea of window shopping is a good one. We were planning to do that weekend after next, just to get a feel for size/craftsmanship. 

Thank you for the reply!

 

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10 minutes ago, jblscooper said:

Another point aside from Kirk's, forget about obtaining any RV with the thought of good resale value, won't happen. Suggest you and friend rent say, a Class C for a weekend and get a feel for what coming. DO NOT jump into anything without a lot of research.

 

Jim

Good idea, thanks! I had looked into renting a Class-C, but the cost was pretty high and there weren't very many places I could find that rent them in the size I was looking for. (The whole point was to see if we could get by in a 20-25'.) Unfortunately, CruiseAmerica doesn't seem to rent in my state, and I checked out Outdoorsy and another popular site I forget the name of, and there wasn't much available near me either, but I will keep looking!

Also, I had read that campers don't hold their value well. I meant more that in a tow trailer most of the expense is in your tow vehicle, which there is a greater demand for as a used vehicle than there is for an actual motorhome. So if I ever wanted to sell it, I would never expect to get back what I paid, but I would likely have more sale opportunity on an SUV than a motorhome, and an SUV would probably hold its value a little better than a motorhome. Or is that not logical?

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I'm familiar with the T@B type trailers and although they are pretty high tech, you have to be pretty commited to be full time in one, especiallly with a big dog. I think that would be pretty tough. I look at the camper vans in a similar fasion although they do at least have more travel room. 2 people and a large dog in a camper van is quite a commitment. Storage and space is always at a premium in those.  

The Class C's are overall pretty reasonable. Your $15k budget could be tough depending on your personal perferences and age of the motorhome. You can certainly find some in that range and I've seen some decent ones myself. I was looking and trying to keep it newer than '97 and there were some decent ones to be found. Just know you might have some work to do or deal with a pretty dated interior. If you went the Class C route, could you set your Subaru up for towing? That may not be possible if it's an auto, but I'm pretty sure you can flat tow the manuals. You might be fine to go without a car too. I think if you find a Class C in that range, take care of it and get a decent price, you could probably sell it for about what you paid for it. At that age, most of their depreciation has taken place and then condition just becomes the biggest factor. 

I wouldn't stress too bad over getting repairs. I've seen many full timers where they are able to camp in lot of the place fixing it, especially if it's going to take more than a day or two to get to it. They leave during the day while they work on it and come back at night. Of course this is where a tow vehicle would come in very handy so at least you still have a way to get around and run errands.

As for renting a Class C, they are a bit expensive, but look at the rental specials where they need one way rentals. http://www.cruiseamerica.com/rent/hot_deals/ This is either repositioning their rental fleet around the US for the upcoming season or driving brand new rigs from the factor to their future location. The rental part is dirt cheap this way and they give you so many allocated days to do the trip. The most expensive part of this way would be your airfare to/from the two places or maybe drive time if you take a car along. 

 

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40 minutes ago, BlueLghtning said:

The Class C's are overall pretty reasonable. Your $15k budget could be tough depending on your personal perferences and age of the motorhome. You can certainly find some in that range and I've seen some decent ones myself. I was looking and trying to keep it newer than '97 and there were some decent ones to be found. Just know you might have some work to do or deal with a pretty dated interior. If you went the Class C route, could you set your Subaru up for towing? That may not be possible if it's an auto, but I'm pretty sure you can flat tow the manuals. You might be fine to go without a car too. I think if you find a Class C in that range, take care of it and get a decent price, you could probably sell it for about what you paid for it. At that age, most of their depreciation has taken place and then condition just becomes the biggest factor. 

As for renting a Class C, they are a bit expensive, but look at the rental specials where they need one way rentals. http://www.cruiseamerica.com/rent/hot_deals/ 

Thanks for the rental tip - that's awesome!

Also... can I ask where you had the most luck seeing those class C listings? I have been looking at rvtrader and Craigslist (ick - so many scammers) but haven't had much luck.

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I did some investigating and located the T@G teardrop trailers, and after looking them over, I suggest that the idea of trying to live in one for a year is a certain recipie for the end to a friendship! I highly doubt that very many people could live comfortably in one alone for a year, but there are some folks who manage things I'd not be able to  do, so at least move that direction with great caution. If you were to buy one, where would you keep all of the posessions of two people with no other home?

On the budget, while it is true that there are motorhomes available for the budget that you have, you need to understand just what they are. I sold our 36' gas powered class A motorhome when it was 14 years old for $12,000 just a few years back. I consider that it was in very good condition for an RV of that age, but good is open to definition, so I'll share with you what it's condition was. First of all, it needed 6 new tires at a cost of $300+ per tire, not including mounting and balancing, which came to a little more than $2000 and that was in 2012.  The RV had 2 airconditioners and one of those was showing signs of serious fatigue, so I suspect that it was near due for replacement, which would run at least $500 more to replace. The V-10 engine was nearing time for spark plug replacement, another $250 to $300. Given a new owner who had to hire all of the maintenance work done, I told the new owner to anticipate being able to put it back on the road fulltime for a budget of about $5000. My point is that like anything that has been used for 10 or more years, maintenance and repair cost can be expected to exceed those for the same product, when new.

There is nothing at all wrong with shopping for an older RV but it is important to realize that one of the main reasons the price drops as it does is the increasing need for maintenance and repairs. 

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Do you mind me asking why you are reluctant to investigate a pick-up?  You don't have to go big, say 250/2500 and up territory.  The smaller pick-ups, and even something like the Colorado, have excellent towing capability for the right bumper pull trailer. 

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8 hours ago, AmyB said:

Thanks for the rental tip - that's awesome!

Also... can I ask where you had the most luck seeing those class C listings? I have been looking at rvtrader and Craigslist (ick - so many scammers) but haven't had much luck.

Mostly RVtrader or RVT. It's been a month or two since I did that. There weren't a ton in that range, but I saw some now and then that looked like decent rigs if the owners were telling the truth. Most in that price that looked good didn't last long at all. I was watching pretty consistent for awhile there just to get an idea. 

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16 hours ago, Kirk Wood said:

nothing at all wrong with shopping for an older RV but it is important to realize that one of the main reasons the price drops as it does is the increasing need for maintenance and repairs. 

Thank you so much for this advice. It's true - I need to strike a good balance between reasonable improvements and price. If I can buy a trailer for $7k that needs $3k in improvements, but there is a $10k out there that doesn't need the same repairs, I might as well choose the latter and have a newer unit.

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13 hours ago, spindrift said:

Do you mind me asking why you are reluctant to investigate a pick-up?  You don't have to go big, say 250/2500 and up territory.  The smaller pick-ups, and even something like the Colorado, have excellent towing capability for the right bumper pull trailer. 

It's a couple of things. For one thing, personal preference. I just prefer SUVs to trucks. I like having the whole space enclosed and accessible from inside the vehicle. The other reason is my dog. I have a pretty big dog who has seizures, so I like the idea of being able to give him a safer confinement space in the back of an SUV versus the second row of cab seats in the truck.

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12 hours ago, sandsys said:

I think it might help you to read http://rvsueandcrew.net. She travels with just her dog(s) but you can learn a lot about how to live in a small trailer from her site.

Linda Sand

Thanks, I will check that out!

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I don't want to burst anyone's bubble. I think what you are proposing to do is a fantastic idea! Just considering your Outback as a TV w/trailer, though... personally, I just don't see how that would be a tenable living situation with 2 adults and a 90lb dog.

Your Subaru may have a towing capacity of 2700lbs, however...

GCVR (Gross Combined Vehicle Rating. Outback + trailer + cargo) is 6200lbs.
Subtract from that the "curb weight" of the outback: 6200-3800 = 2400lbs.
Subtract from that basic weights: 2400 -250 (additional adult and dog) -200 (full fuel tank) -100 (hitch/accys) = 1850lbs.
For stability/safety it's recommended to stay within 80% of actual tow capacity. 1850@80% = 1480lbs.

What your left with.. considering a 1000lb towable... is 480lbs for everything else (water, propane, battery, tools, dog misc, household goods, food, clothing, bedding, etc etc etc.).

Typically, a good minimal rule of thumb for full timers is to budget approx. 500lbs of basics necessary to make your trailer functional (propane, tools, etc etc) and 500lbs "cargo" per person (bare minimums). You can see where this is heading... right? ;-)

Finding a 1000lb trailer that would provide adequate living space (note I didn't say storage capacity) for, basically, 3 people would be incredibly difficult. Even throwing out the 80% margin of your tow capacity would leave you with only 850lbs for everything required for your trailer to be live/towable and everything in excess of the shirt/fur on your backs.

1000lb hard sided trailers.. you're basically going to be looking at T@G's or Happier Camper's. 

What "could" be done? A second vehicle driven by your friend. You tow and she carries the cargo.

Aside from that... I just don't see how it could work without moving to a larger more capable tow vehicle or changing your TV + trailer strategy in favor of a motorhome.

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Look hard at the amount of 'STUFF' you are going to travel with. Then look hard at the amount of storage space each type of camper offers. Class As and SOME fivers have lots of storage. Travel trailers and some class Cs often have next to none.

We drove around North America in with a geriatric GSD in a small class A for two and a half years and we completely filled all available storage lockers and cubbies with stuff. If you plan to move a lot a small Class A or C makes sense and you need not tow a car.

However in your position I think I might look hard a fiver, yes you are going to need a pickup truck to tow it but at your budget 10 k on truck and 10 k on a fiver makes sense.

You don't give a location but if you are close to Houston PPL have 10 or so fivers under 10k.

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42 minutes ago, The Quiet Assassin said:

Look hard at the amount of 'STUFF' you are going to travel with. Then look hard at the amount of storage space each type of camper offers. Class As and SOME fivers have lots of storage. Travel trailers and some class Cs often have next to none.

We drove around North America in with a geriatric GSD in a small class A for two and a half years and we completely filled all available storage lockers and cubbies with stuff. If you plan to move a lot a small Class A or C makes sense and you need not tow a car.

However in your position I think I might look hard a fiver, yes you are going to need a pickup truck to tow it but at your budget 10 k on truck and 10 k on a fiver makes sense.

You don't give a location but if you are close to Houston PPL have 10 or so fivers under 10k.

My friend and I are both pretty minimalist, so I don't think that we'll have too much difficulty paring down, and we have friends and family who would be willing to store sentimental things we want to keep but don't need access to every day.

I'm near Louisville, KY. Lots of people camp around here, so I have seen some fifth-wheels around here, but they are really a lot bigger of a rig than we feel we need. I definitely see the appeal, and a coworker of mine swears by his, but I figure we can always upgrade later. I would rather invest less and decide later I'd really like to have more, then upgrade, than buy more than we end up needing and be out more money upfront. I have my eye on a used Jayco Jay Flight trailer being listed for about $7k (though I wouldn't buy it at that price) and it's about 24' minus the hitch, and when we checked it out, it felt like it would be a good size.

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I will answer the other part of your quandary--sell your house instead of renting it.  Yes, you might have good luck with renters, but there is also a good chance you might not.  I had a very bad experience, which turned me against renting anything out!  Even a security deposit might not make up for the damage. The only exception to this advice would be if you had a spectacular home in an area where you know you want to come back to. 

Then, take the $10K and put it toward your RV or a tow vehicle. 

Normally, for a woman, I would suggest a motorhome, but it sounds as if you might want to stay in one place for a while, rather than constantly being on the move, as I am.  (I am a 73-year-old-lady who teaches online and is constantly moving.  Or moving maybe once a week, which is constant to me.)  A slightly larger trailer with a decent tow vehicle would give you more room, but I don't think you have to go huge.  Maybe an SUV would do it, but consider a van as well.

RVSue is an interesting lady, but she mostly camps in the desert and does not work while traveling, other than on her money-making blog.  She also lives alone and spends a lot of time outdoors.  With your dog, if you want to leave him in an RV, you need AC and electricity. And a second person could make it nuts in a confined space.  Sit in the potential RV and decide who sits where and when, and what you would do if you had three rainy days in a row.  Can you fit in the shower?  Can you reach the lights on the ceiling?  (I am short so I have to hop up and down to hit them, but I fit nicely in my short shower.)  Try out the bed.  IN other words, just pretend for a couple of hours.

Edited by Solo18

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You mentioned a recent divorce.  You also mentioned "turning a critical eye towards your career".  I can understand wanting to take off after a divorce.  Unfortunately recovery from a divorce and traveling in an RV are not positive factors towards building your career.  The jump to fulltime RV living is not something that is especially easy or stress free.  I suggest you take a step backwards and rethink your goals.  Consider a trip of a few weeks or maybe even a few months.  Relax, unwind and recover.  Then settle on your career goals.  If you want to freelance, start doing that......but not from the road.  If your best move is to freelance and you are making a success of it, great, then consider RV living and travel.

If you are still determined, I recommend you realize you need to spend some money to travel comfortably, to be able to live comfortably on the road and to be able to have suitable internet and space for working.  Forget the Outback.  It is not going to tow anything big enough for 2 adults and oversized dog and working space.  You can also forget most "SUVs" for the same reason.  Most are glorified family haulers and few are actually able to tow anything of any size.  You will need a bigger SUV.  The smallest I would consider would be a Honda Pilot or something similar that will tow 5000# or more.  As to the RV, there are a lot of choices for used trailers at reasonable cost.  You will quickly find that most of those choices are for units that are bigger than you might want.  You will spent a lot more to get a reliable suitable tow vehicle.  If money is a concern, you might want to consider solar panels and taking steps to get by without hookups.  You should do some research on places you might want to travel to.  Consider the costs for campgrounds/RV parks.

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One thing I would do is try to change the dog's diet.^_^  A non-farting dog makes a better companion in a small trailer.  Then I would spend time cruising RV dealers to figure out what you really want.  If you are buying used, I'd have an inspection done before I would buy it.  Watch out for dealers as they want to sell, and may tell you your Subie can tow something it can't.

Edited by elliott&vicky

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11 hours ago, JimK said:

You mentioned a recent divorce.  You also mentioned "turning a critical eye towards your career".  I can understand wanting to take off after a divorce.  Unfortunately recovery from a divorce and traveling in an RV are not positive factors towards building your career.  The jump to fulltime RV living is not something that is especially easy or stress free.  I suggest you take a step backwards and rethink your goals.  Consider a trip of a few weeks or maybe even a few months.  Relax, unwind and recover.  Then settle on your career goals.  If you want to freelance, start doing that......but not from the road.  If your best move is to freelance and you are making a success of it, great, then consider RV living and travel.

If you are still determined, I recommend you realize you need to spend some money to travel comfortably, to be able to live comfortably on the road and to be able to have suitable internet and space for working.  Forget the Outback.  It is not going to tow anything big enough for 2 adults and oversized dog and working space.  You can also forget most "SUVs" for the same reason.  Most are glorified family haulers and few are actually able to tow anything of any size.  You will need a bigger SUV.  The smallest I would consider would be a Honda Pilot or something similar that will tow 5000# or more.  As to the RV, there are a lot of choices for used trailers at reasonable cost.  You will quickly find that most of those choices are for units that are bigger than you might want.  You will spent a lot more to get a reliable suitable tow vehicle.  If money is a concern, you might want to consider solar panels and taking steps to get by without hookups.  You should do some research on places you might want to travel to.  Consider the costs for campgrounds/RV parks.

 

Excellent advice!

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Hey guys...

Thank you so much for all the advice! There's some really great stuff here and lots of awesome resources to check out. It will keep me busy for quite some time.

We ended up spending a good two hours at a local RV dealership, crawling in and out of RVs of all sorts, even ones we knew we'd never consider buying, just to get a feel for layouts, amenities, quality, and prices. Super old, gently used, and brand new... fifth-wheels, Class As, all sizes of towables. A few common themes did filter to the surface, and we noted those.

I had been checking Craigslist every day for what was on the market (quickly learned how to spot the scammers, and lawd there were many) and came across a used Jayco trailer I really liked. It's a 2004, Jay Flight 24FB. I Googled it and did see some complaints, but more positive reviews than negatives, and I eventually learned that virtually every model has its critics. Like those Escape trailers - I really liked them, and everyone raves about them, but even then I found people who said their rig was poor quality. So it seems like every manufacturer has off-days, and that you should employ a hefty grain of salt no matter what you're looking at, and not rely on reputation alone.

This camper also hit our size sweet spot. We didn't want something bigger than 26', and this one comes in at that including the hitch.

I watched a boatload of YouTube videos and listened to a lot of podcasts, so I knew what to look for when I went to see the Jayco. I had a mechanic friend come along to give his opinion on the tires, axles, roof, wheels, etc. and my friend and I went over the interior with a fine tooth comb, checking floors and walls for sponginess, and everywherrrrrre for water damage. We didn't find any issues, and this is where I'd say going through the icky VERY used rigs at the dealership was a bonus. I got to feel what spongy floors feel like when you step on them, and smell what water damage smells like.

I thoroughly vetted the sellers, who had kept the unit in storage aside from driving it three miles each way to their campsite. I stealth checked them on Facebook to make sure they were on the up and up, among other things, and they had clearly taken great care of the trailer - they insisted on showing us everything, and even again when they dropped it off for us. He was a wealth of knowledge about camping and told us to call him if we had any questions at all. In total, he spent probably a good two hours with us, giving us tips and showing us how to operate everything, from lubing the axles to cranking up the antenna. We tested the A/C, the heat, the fridge/freezer, the hot water, the jacks... I don't think we left any stone unturned. We even checked the outdoor shower.

I feel like we got a good deal. I ended up paying $6200 for it (plus complimentary bourbon - Kentucky's favorite currency), and all the used units I was finding at that price locally were in really bad shape or they were pop-ups, which we had decided we didn't want. 

So now I have a trailer. I still need a tow vehicle, but I'm happy to keep driving my fuel-efficient car for another couple of months while we make some cosmetic improvements to the camper.

As for the freelancing/divorce side of the equation - my divorce happened a year ago, and I was the one who initiated it, and it had been long overdue. So I don't really have much in the way of recovery to do. (I am the kind of person who overthinks and over-researches, so usually by the time I do something, it's long overdue.) I have also been researching self-employment for awhile, so it's not new either. It's a good point, though, managing how much stress you add to life at a time, which is why I'm going to try to launch the freelance business in the next couple of months, before we take the show on the road. 

As for my dog's diet - he's half Boxer so I think he's always going to fart. LOL. But in any case, he's on a premium food that has no grain. It's 80% protein and 20% carbs in the form of produce. I got him a "slow-eating" bowl and that does seem to help some, but his farts are still occasionally epic.

I do have a follow-up question: the specs on this camper are: 

Unloaded Vehicle Weight (lbs.)    4615
Dry Hitch Weight    520
Gross Vehicle Weight (lbs.)    7100
Cargo Carrying Capacity (lbs.)    2485

Can I still safely pull this with a used SUV such as a Ford Expedition, Chevy Tahoe, or Yukon Denali? I've been advised to get one that has the factory tow package, not aftermarket.

This was long - sorry! I couldn't even think of a decent TLDR summary for it, it was so all over the place. Thank you again for all the advice, I've been so touched by all your kindness!

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If you're looking to "safely pull"... basically what you're looking for is 7100lbs w/20% margin tow capacity vehicle.. so 8520lbs. That would count out the Expedition and the Tahoe. Both are in the 6.6k range and not even close enough to make it work. The Denali "might" be doable (8300-8400 tow cap) but with a reduced safety margin. Yukon cargo capacity.. about 1600lbs. Subtracting full fuel (210), additional adult (150), 90lb dog, hitch weight (710) you're at about 1160lbs. Leaving 440lb's of actual cargo capacity. Not bad, but would be extremly easy to exceed. Lastly you would be looking at the GCWR (Gross Combined Weight Rating) @ 14k. Your trailer is 4.6k dry. The Yukon Denali is.. at the curb.. 5.5k. You're at 10.1k. Add in the basic cargo (people, fuel, dog, etc) that's 1.6 so 11.7k. That leaves 2300lbs cargo capacity between both the Yukon and your trailer. You're trailer is listing 2485 and the Yukon has a reserve of 440, but you can see that you wouldn't be able to actually utilize those numbers. With proper gear ratios, engine, tow package.. it's not undoable.

Is it advisable? IMHO, I've seen worse setups, but it's what I would call a "white knuckle" tow package. Meaning.. you're going to be pushing all your ratings at max.. all the time. It's very hard on your tow vehicle. Stopping and controlability will be marginal under any kind of adverse driving condtion. Gas mileage will be quite poor and if you plan to do any trips over any mountain ranges be prepared for a "screaming" engine at very low speeds.

The numbers are coming from a 2017 model year Yukon Denali. The older the vehicle the more likely that those capacities will drop.. possibly quite dramatically.

As long as you understand all of that and are dead set on an SUV type vehicle then, yes.. it's doable. Personally.. with that trailer, I wouldn't full time with anything less that a 3/4 ton... especially if you are considering a used oder model. You can always put a shell on the bed box and do a knock out pass-through gasket so your "puppy" doesn't feel so "removed" from the two of you. 

Edited by Yarome

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