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CeeLaVie

New buyer looking for advice please

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Hi everyone,

We have made the commitment to get on the road for the next two years (at least) but we are, despite researching carefully, unsure of whether to go with a Class A or a fifth wheel + truck. The purchase prices of Class A motorhome vs 5th wheel + truck seem comparable so it comes down to what would work best, and this is what we don't know!

Our situation: We're an older couple, kids left home. We've done a lot of road trips in vehicles ranging from SUV's with our camping gear to six months in a VW Combi travelling Europe. We're on the road whenever we can get away, in whatever the local rental place has available. Both of us work from home and rely on fast, reliable internet to do so. One of us is employed full-time so has to be able to set up an office space and work uninterrupted Monday thru Friday. 

We don't want to buy new. That part we know for sure. The rest is what we are vacillating over... motorhome or 5th wheel in our circumstances? We will spend most weekdays parked somewhere. We don't want to be driving in the dark because we want to see everything and work days finish around 6pm Eastern. So, weekends are when we will be moving. We might stay in some places for a week, or a few months. If we have reasonable connectivity we might stay boondocking until we run out of tank space. 

What is essential is the ability to stay comfortable during winter. During the holiday season we will be in Canada most years, in the east usually, which means in snow and ice. We will be heading in the opposite direction to most snowbirds because we want to be with family for the holidays. 

We've read everything we can and have visited some dealers (there's not much to choose from locally). We've used a lot of different vehicles ourselves and know a Class B isn't for us. Class C may be too small for living full-time. We want to boondock as much as possible, and stay in a lot of the federal and state parks. I'm not antisocial but I'm never happier than when I can smell trees and sit under a sky of stars with no sounds except maybe some passing animals. I guess you could say we're not really RV resort park kinda people. 

Is there anyone here living a similar kind of lifestyle that can give us some pointers please? We're really stuck on this motorhome vs fifth wheel decision and could use some tips and advice from you please. Oh! Budget, we're a bit flexible. If we can get what fits us for under $70,000 we'd be happy. 

Thanks. 

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Welcome to the group.

No matter what RV you choose it will be difficult to live full time in the snow and Ice if you plan to move often in those conditions. If you have a location where you  can set up during the more reasonable temperatures and do it well, you may be able to enjoy a winter and then see if that's really for you.  It really won't make a difference which type of unit you choose there are pros and cons with each. Really it's what you find you like the best. 

I have spent a few weeks in sub zero temperatures in an RV built for full time use and while I had no unrecoverable issues it's not something I would do again in the future with out some significant planning. 

You mention using Class B and C units. Did you take an additional vehicle for use while parked? How did that work for you? With a 5th wheel you have the tow vehicle that can be disconnected and used for other tasks and the "Camper" stays put. I tossed it around many years ago and went with the 5th wheel and on from there. 

 

Rod

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Can't provide a personal recommendation, but I can add a second question that may help with the decision making.

You say you want to be in eastern Canada for at least part of the winter.  So to my mind, it comes down to wondering which setup handles better in the winter?  I would think a Class A.  It basically reminds me of school buses, and they operate all winter.  I would think it would be way too easy to jackknife a fifth wheel on slippery roads.

But I've never driven one.  So maybe some fifth wheelers can chime in on that aspect.

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The big problem is wanting to spend the holidays with family in the RV. Most are not meant for truly cold weather for an extended time. I would stay south and fly back for a week or a month in the winter.

Now for the decision.

Do you have a toad or tow vehicle already? If the answer is yes just go whichever way for $$ savings. If you need to buy both a rig and some vehicle $70000 will not go far.

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First, welcome to the Escapee forums!

Nobody can tell you what will be best for you to live in. The debate over which is better, a fifth wheel or a class A is one that goes on constantly because we each have different needs and desires. I suggest that you not only check out the Escapee website but you should also look at Xscapers site since it is aimed more toward the working RV folks. There are also Facebook pages for each that will be worth your time to visit. We lived for nearly 12 years in a Class A and loved it but based on observation of the working fulltime RV community, far more of them travel in a fifth wheel so you may well be better off with one. Only you can make that choice. I would also suspect that with the budget limits that you have you will be looking at older RVs and it is important to remember that older RVs also require more in repairs and maintenance than would a newer one.

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You are probably correct as far as the cost comparison of those two picks, fiver vs. class A, when you consider buying the truck.  The only kicker may come in when you add in the cost of a toad.

RVs are not insulated nearly as good as homes.  To stay in cold climates for extended periods will be a challenge based on your budget and what you will probably be buying.   These are just my initial thoughts, sorry I couldn't be more help.

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If you're using a pick up truck to tow a fifth wheel and want/need maintenance you'll have access to more locations suited to the task vs a Class A which may have you waiting in a three week line, then have your house in the shop for an undetermined amount of time. Or call the mobile tech in either case, 5er or motorhome.

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10 hours ago, CeeLaVie said:

Hi everyone,

We have made the commitment to get on the road for the next two years (at least) but we are, despite researching carefully, unsure of whether to go with a Class A or a fifth wheel + truck. The purchase prices of Class A motorhome vs 5th wheel + truck seem comparable so it comes down to what would work best, and this is what we don't know!

Our situation: We're an older couple, kids left home. We've done a lot of road trips in vehicles ranging from SUV's with our camping gear to six months in a VW Combi travelling Europe. We're on the road whenever we can get away, in whatever the local rental place has available. Both of us work from home and rely on fast, reliable internet to do so. One of us is employed full-time so has to be able to set up an office space and work uninterrupted Monday thru Friday. 

We don't want to buy new. That part we know for sure. The rest is what we are vacillating over... motorhome or 5th wheel in our circumstances? We will spend most weekdays parked somewhere. We don't want to be driving in the dark because we want to see everything and work days finish around 6pm Eastern. So, weekends are when we will be moving. We might stay in some places for a week, or a few months. If we have reasonable connectivity we might stay boondocking until we run out of tank space. 

What is essential is the ability to stay comfortable during winter. During the holiday season we will be in Canada most years, in the east usually, which means in snow and ice. We will be heading in the opposite direction to most snowbirds because we want to be with family for the holidays. 

We've read everything we can and have visited some dealers (there's not much to choose from locally). We've used a lot of different vehicles ourselves and know a Class B isn't for us. Class C may be too small for living full-time. We want to boondock as much as possible, and stay in a lot of the federal and state parks. I'm not antisocial but I'm never happier than when I can smell trees and sit under a sky of stars with no sounds except maybe some passing animals. I guess you could say we're not really RV resort park kinda people. 

Is there anyone here living a similar kind of lifestyle that can give us some pointers please? We're really stuck on this motorhome vs fifth wheel decision and could use some tips and advice from you please. Oh! Budget, we're a bit flexible. If we can get what fits us for under $70,000 we'd be happy. 

Thanks. 

C-L&Vee,

 

Seems like you have a job & Family problem not so much as a RV problem……

 

VERY FEW RV rigs are configured for travel in snow and ice…...chains seldom fit in the tight and flimsy wheel wells.

 

There is a reason that many RV users are called “Snowbirds” ……….they tend to try to stay several hundred miles South of the “snowline”.

 

We have BOTH class A and a truck / trailer RV and snow is a royal pain in both setups, and can be a danger to you and others on the road.

 

I grew up in a family that operated a LOT of trucks and towed a LOT of trailers in a LOT of snow and it is a DEADLY endeavor PERIOD and it is in NO way recreation PERIOD.

 

On the best of days snow in a RV sucks and on a bad-day it can be deadly……

 

You ask for advice, and so here it is from a guy that been there and done that……..IF you want to travel in Canada in the winter get a good 4 wheel drive rig and good chains and then camp out in warm motels……

 

If you simply gotta “RV” just buy some airline tickets for the family……….and have a nice cool drink under the awning…...Christmas under a palm tree aint't all that bad……..

Drive on........(Don't get crosswise in the RV in the......snow)

Edited by Dollytrolley

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Please do listen to everyone who is telling you that snow is not where you want to be with an RV.   

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I'd highly recommend you travel south for the winter & fly back for visits.  It will be a lot cheaper than paying for propane to stay north in the winter in addition to other issues you may have because of the cold temps.

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4 hours ago, Dollytrolley said:

You ask for advice, and so here it is from a guy that been there and done that……..IF you want to travel in Canada in the winter get a good 4 wheel drive rig and good chains and then camp out in warm motels……

Most RVers who stay north for the holidays don't try to live in an RV while doing that. Many move south then fly home for the holidays. You could buy a motor home that tows a Jeep (or similar) south then drive just the Jeep north for the holidays. Or buy a 4-wheel drive truck that tows a trailer then drive just the truck north. If you absolutely NEED to have both units north, please, at least look at Arctic Fox and see what they recommend.

Linda Sand

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I agree with everyone else that you do NOT want to be in Canada for the winter.  We actually don't want to be anywhere that is gets colder than 40 degrees.  It's just to hard to keep an RV warm and cozy and also very costly.   Also - where will you park the RV?  I'm sure most of the rv parks are closed.  Will you have access to electric and water?  A dump station to use?  

I'd go south and either go back for a visit at holiday time --- or give the kids/grandkids tickets to fly down and see you.  Let them enjoy a warm winter break.

 

 

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23 hours ago, CeeLaVie said:

What is essential is the ability to stay comfortable during winter. During the holiday season we will be in Canada most years, in the east usually, which means in snow and ice. We will be heading in the opposite direction to most snowbirds because we want to be with family for the holidays. 

I used to tell our daughter there are no right answers to wrong questions. I think you are getting that from our responses. RV + Winter + Canada = uncomfortable. 

As to reliable internet for working on the road, I highly recommend https://www.rvmobileinternet.com. Chris and Cherie do intensive testing of many systems and give you honest reviews to help you pick what will likely work best for YOU.

Linda Sand

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14 hours ago, Dollytrolley said:

You ask for advice, and so here it is from a guy that been there and done that……..IF you want to travel in Canada in the winter get a good 4 wheel drive rig and good chains and then camp out in warm motels……

 

Thanks for the advice. I'm assuming, from the replies, that people on this forum don't like the cold weather very much 😉 

I appreciate the comments - thank you for taking the trouble to reply. I realise that RV + winter + Canada may be uncomfortable but I hoped to get advice on which RV's are the most comfortable (or most nearly comfortable). We will be in Canadian winters. The idea of being south in warm weather at that time of year doesn't appeal much and leaving a rig parked up somewhere then flying to Canada seems to defeat the purpose of having a travelling home, for me. 

I've seen RV's on the road in Canada when we've been doing winter road trips, and there's always some parked at ski resort RV parks. (If we had made the decision to go last winter I might have stopped and asked some of those travellers about their experiences with winter. But we missed the right season for that.) However, we don't intend to travel around much once winter truly sets in. Just with a toad or truck (depending on what we get) so we can get out ice fishing and snowshoeing then home to the RV at night. FWIW, we have never used a 4x4 or chains in Canadian winter, not even when winter touring in northern Quebec. Good winter tires are enough. On a car or SUV that is. Because we will be in Canada next winter we will do a winter driving course to learn how to handle skids with a rig. I imagine it's pretty hair-raising!

There are some RV parks open during the winter, mainly in ski areas, and we will have electricity for sure. We only need to keep an RV warm enough to keep everything functioning and to prevent any damage from the cold. What that temperature is, I don't know. 

I'll keep researching for sure and will look into the Arctic Fox RV's that Linda suggested. 

Thanks again folks! Much appreciated advice. 

 

 

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15 minutes ago, CeeLaVie said:

Thanks again folks! Much appreciated advice. 

Sounds like you have it ALL figured out after all...........I like the part about a 'Harry-skid-driving-course" .......

Dang now that I think about it maybe our Freightliner Century Tandem with the old M-11 and 10 speed Road Rager with the toyhauler would be a real kick in the pants.............'during the ..........Harry-skid-driving-course" .......

Shucks I wonder why RV insurance is so cheep.........

Dang I'd just love to see the driving instructors face as he got the old Freightshaker well into the.........'Harry-skid-driving-course".......

C-L-V,  shucks for under $70 k you could get both a class A and a truck and trailer and just use the one that makes it through the........ 'Harry-skid-driving-course" .......

Your welcome..........

Drive on.............(Ain't it a giggle giving .........advice

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38 minutes ago, Dollytrolley said:

Sounds like you have it ALL figured out after all...........I like the part about a 'Harry-skid-driving-course" .......

Dang now that I think about it maybe our Freightliner Century Tandem with the old M-11 and 10 speed Road Rager with the toyhauler would be a real kick in the pants.............'during the ..........Harry-skid-driving-course" .......

Shucks I wonder why RV insurance is so cheep.........

Dang I'd just love to see the driving instructors face as he got the old Freightshaker well into the.........'Harry-skid-driving-course".......

C-L-V,  shucks for under $70 k you could get both a class A and a truck and trailer and just use the one that makes it through the........ 'Harry-skid-driving-course" .......

Your welcome..........

Drive on.............(Ain't it a giggle giving .........advice

I'm really sorry that I seem to have offended you. That was certainly NOT my intention. I haven't got it all figured out, at all. That's why I came here looking for advice!

Not everyone wants to follow the sun and not everyone hates winter. I explained what our lifestyle is and asked for advice on how best to achieve it within the choices of Class A or 5th Wheel. I didn't ask for a lecture on whether spending holidays with family was a good idea, I asked which type of RV would help us do that. 

There are winter towing/anti-skid/ice handling courses in Canada so its not stupid to do one, IMO, but clearly that has caused a problem for you.

I'm sorry I asked some questions. This is an awesome way to introduce a newcomer to the FRIENDLY world of RV'ers. Thanks. 

Edited by CeeLaVie
Edited to avoid antagonizing more than it seems I already have.

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Just to clarify - over the funds. We have cash and will spend whatever we need, within reason, to get the lifestyle we want. We don't want to buy new (said that already) and don't want to have hefty finance. If we can get what we need - RV wise, not including trucks, toads, or any other vehicle (if it turns out a Class A isn't the best idea)- for under $70K then we will be very happy and will be going off on the adventure with no debt, no financing to worry about. If we can't get what's needed for $70k, as I said, we are flexible. Please don't read more into what I say that what's been said! I didn't expect that stating that amount was going to cause a problem 😟 

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Well, if your mind is made up, your mind is made up.🙂

A couple of things:

People who park their rig in one place in the winter ALWAYS arrange for the local propane supplier to install a LARGE tank and hook it up to their rig. You WILL be using a lot of propane - way more than a similar sized house would use cause a house is WAY better insulated than any RV - and without a large stationary tank you will be constantly shuttling your rig's regular propane tanks to the propane place to get them refilled.

Your water hose.  People have to wrap that with electric heat tape and cover it with insulation, and even WITH all that, your water supply can still freeze up.

Your black and gray water tanks.  You need a rig where they are in basement compartments, not exposed, AND the basement compartments need to get heat from the living space - not all designs allow this.  Many people find it necessary to run supplemental electric heaters in these compartment to keep the tanks from freezing solid.

Many people will try to rig shielding from their rig to the ground, to keep a cold wind from blowing UNDER the rig and robbing heat.  This can range from installing snaps along the bottom of the rig to allow canvas to hang down to the ground to more elaborate constructions of wood and foam insulation.  Some people have tried to use hay bales.  This is a VERY bad idea, they always get infested with mice and such, looking for a warm place to spend the winter, and they can play merry hell with your rig's wires.

Finally, many oil field workers in North Dakota live in RVs, and some of them have posted YouTube videos on what it's like when the bottom drops out of the thermometer. You can search for them to get some more ideas, but I gotta tell you some of them are pretty depressing . . .

Good Luck

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Are you planning to live in the RV during the winter? You mentioned that the rv just needed to be warm enough to keep things going. To me that would mean 40-50 F degrees. But I sure wouldn't want to live in anything that temperature. You can't be out every day all day, you will need home time.

Have you googled RVing in winter to see what others have said. A week or 2 is one thing but 4-6 months is another. Why don't you go to a cg that has permanents in  it and talk to them.

I don't think any of us are saying it can't be done but most of us feel it is challenging to winter in Canada.

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5 hours ago, CeeLaVie said:

Thanks for the advice. I'm assuming, from the replies, that people on this forum don't like the cold weather very much 😉 

I appreciate the comments - thank you for taking the trouble to reply. I realise that RV + winter + Canada may be uncomfortable but I hoped to get advice on which RV's are the most comfortable (or most nearly comfortable). We will be in Canadian winters. The idea of being south in warm weather at that time of year doesn't appeal much and leaving a rig parked up somewhere then flying to Canada...........cut........ an RV warm enough to keep everything functioning and to prevent any damage from the cold. What that temperature is, I don't know.. 

 

Years ago there was a fiver forum I belonged to.  There was a active member on there that was full time in Alaska.  They had to take some pretty extreme measures to stay in their fiver all winter long.  Skirting and heavy insulation underneath, plus auxiliary heat pumped into the basement area if I recall correctly was one of the required issues.  Even with all that getting water was still an issue at times and all in all it was expensive.  

Everyone has their dream, but based on the desire to stay around $70,000 I think yours could stay just a dream.  If it was me I would be looking for a barn-a-menium set up.  A large metal insulated building to purchase where you could park your RV and toad inside during the winter in Canada.  If it was set up correctly with heat and utilities it could be very comfortable but still less expensive than a regular home.

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After a brief bit of research it seems that at your price cap a 5th wheel/truck system could be the most favorable as going the Class A route, with toad & dolly(?), could be a more difficult find in acceptable shape. Of course what is acceptable will differ among us, but that's my view FWIW. Along with the cold management techniques shared by Optimistic Paranoid, be sure to get on the roof for snow removal. Snow can be a good insulation against wind and cold but the base layer that is in contact with your RV will contain a considerable amount of water due to this and heat from your RV, and the water will find a way inside if given a chance. This snow removal can be pretty exciting and might provide content for a person's FAIL video series so be careful. Snow from the roof can be packed against your sheeting that's protecting your basement. Incandescent light bulbs give off considerable heat and a string of them, similar to what's used for temporary lighting, when used with sheeting could keep the underside of your rig toasty while keeping the mice & such away. A light bulb at the back of your refrigerator, accessed from the outside, would help it function properly and strategic/careful placement of incandescent lights could keep basement storage or tank area warm without propane. I seen 110v heat wrap tape in plug in form that could be helpful here as well. Happy Trails!

Edited by rm.w/aview

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Older high line Class A Diesel that has big enclosed tanks.Newell, Foretravel, Country Coach. King Aire. Many will have a diesel fired aqua-hot for heat and hot water, that will run off your 150-300 gallon diesel tank, along with your generator. No slides to leak heat. Tanks should be big enough so that you only have to dump and take on water when convenient.  It can be done,  Got caught in a couple of snowstorms, coach actually did better that a lot of cars because of its weight.       Just note on the aqua-hot,  most that have that system will have heat exchangers in the water bays on a thermostat that will prevent freezing. With 100 gal+ of fresh water and the same gray and black capacity, you can be self contained for a long time and only get your hoses out to refill and dump every week or so. The aqua-hot will burn about 1/2 gal of diesel an hour, so 2 or 300 gals will last you weeks before refilling, Propane is only used for cooking and/or fridge, so only need refilling probably yearly. A lot of these coaches will have dual pane windows and heavy blinds on the windshield so heat retention is good. Plus is you can use engine heat to keep motorhome warm when traveling in that cold weather.

Edited by jcussen

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You may also need to add a heat source for your refrigerator if it is the absorption type refrigerator typically found in an RV.  They do not work well in the cold.  They need heat in the absorption process to function properly.  I think the most used method is a light bulb near the exterior opening, or even partially blocking the exterior access door venting.  Not experienced with that though.  

 

The floors are always cold, which makes you feel cold especially legs and feet.  Multiple layers /throw rugs on the floor help.  Windows will need to be double pane some type of window covering that is insulated to keep the cold out.  Single pane windows would be about useless in the cold.  Roof vents - those plastic covers don't retain heat very well -- make sure to get the vent insulating pillows so stuff int he openings.  I think they make one for the skylight too.  The door area is also cold as there isn't much insulation in the door.  You might want to hang an insulated blanket over that opening once you are inside and staying put.  If you end up with a Class A the windshield is a major problem of letting cold thru the single pane windshield as well as condensation - enough that water will be running on the inside of the windshield by morning.  Even double pane windows will be wet - exterior walls in closets, behind the sofa, under the bed compartment if you have storage.  Anywhere your warmer air hits poorly insulated areas.  You will probably need a dehumidifier to help with all the moisture buildup.  

 

 

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8 hours ago, CeeLaVie said:

I'm really sorry that I seem to have offended you. That was certainly NOT my intention. I haven't got it all figured out, at all. That's why I came here looking for advice!

C-L-V..........rest assured that my offense-meter needle is resting at ......Zero.....

What I have tried to "gift" you with is "Facts" from the "school-hard-knocks".............I have been there and done what you Think you want to do.............it can get UGLY on a so-so-day and it can get DEADLY on a Not-so-good-day........here is the deal........deadly can be a self inflected-ending, where it gets really ugly is when you make BAD decisions that result in bad endings for other folks.

So here is likely your best choice since you are DETERMINED to push past the LIMITS of normal RV use............buck up your $$$ and get a "Expedition-RV" these rigs are essentially a all-wheel-drive-truck with plenty of tire /wheel-well space for chains and winch on each end so think of it as a snow-plow-rig with a RV box on the back with massive heating system(s) to keep you alive at way-too-below-Zero.

For way too many years I HAD to attend "Harry-skid-harry-fire-harry-flat-tire-harry-brake-failure-harry-electrical-harry-engine-harry-harry-U-name-it-training EVERY six months..........at Flight Safety International and you know what...........a huge part of that training was things you should not even attempt to do.........but we spent a LOT of time sweating it out in full motion simulators for those time when really bad things happen........

Sitting in a RV Park with snow knee-deep and way-below-Zero might be your bag........however you allude that yo want to exerciser your "Harry-skid-training" on your weekend moves.........  This involves risks that involve other folks.......what has just only hinted at here is the Fact that RV units are "Highly-compromised-vehicles" on dry highways in good weather however operating a RV in snow and ice conditions elevates the risk factors greatly.......

In my later years I often became involved in wrongful death court cases and a slang-term that Lawyers use in that the accident-perp would be in a ..........."rush-to-eternity".............in other words in hindsight ......what was he thinking??

Maybe I come across a but gruff or grumpy or unfriendly and maybe I am at times .........however I have seen a fair amount of heartache and hopefully your "plan" can be "adjusted" to lower your risk factors.........

 

Drive on...........(RV with care.......)

 

  

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Stairs may or may not be a factor for you.  Class As have entry stairs, but that is all.  A 5er has entry stairs as well as stairs to the bedroom and in some cases stairs also to the living room.  

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