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sholl3

Choosing a 5th wheel for full time living

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My husband and I are going to start full time living in an RV with our two small children. We are trying to decide what kind of RV we want to get. We know we want a 5th wheel and have decided on the floor plan that we want, so now we are looking at specific RVs. Some of the ones that we have found that have the floor plan we want are the Forest River Wildwood Heritage Glen, the Forest River Columbus Compass, the Forest River Wildcat, and the Coachmen Chaparral. Does anyone know if any of these are good for full timing?

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I am not sure that any of the listed fivers are rated for full-time. That doesn't mean that you can't full time in then but there can be insurance issues when full-timing and they are not built for full-timing. If you like Forest River fivers, try the Cardinals. Many of the Forest River brands have similar models. Good Luck

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1 hour ago, sholl3 said:

Does anyone know if any of these are good for full timing?

As I suggested before, join the RV Consumer Group and you can get quality ratings. Forest River is not a company that is known for quality but one that price is the first consideration. 

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I see many 5th wheels on the road. I’m not sure who makes it but one named Montana seems to be very popular. Heartland makes several fifth wheels, the Landmark comes to mind. They also make several toy haulers that are good for kids such as the Cyclone      that has two jack beds in the garage that can be used at night for the kids and raised up during the daytime making the garage a play room. I believe the newer models have a half bath in the garage and hook up for a washer and dryer too. 

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Montana is made by Keystone.

First question you should ask, IMHO, when looking at a new one, is it rated for full-time.  If not, and they figure out you are full-timing, your warranty is gone.  I don't know personally which one is and which one is not with the exception of a KZ.  We were shown a couple of those they said built for full timing.  The two biggest manufacturers are THOR and Forest river.  There are some others but those 2 companies own a large majority of campers made today.  There are others but those 2 make alot, or have bought out a lot of companies and the quality is all over the scale with them.  IF your buying used, the warranty issue is a non-player more than likely.  Are looking to buy new or used?  You said 5th wheel, do you have a truck already?  Brands/sizes are different, some can haul more weight than others, another consideration.

I've been looking over Forest River Cedar Creek Hathaway Edition campers over the 'net but I don't yet know if it's rated for full timing.

Edited by NDBirdman

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If you find a coach you like, and it is not rated for full time living, I wouldn't worry about it.  The manufacturer's warranty is only good for 1 year anyway.  You may have better luck with a nice used unit.  Much lower cost and probably has a lot of the bugs worked out.

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3 minutes ago, remoandiris said:

If you find a coach you like, and it is not rated for full time living, I wouldn't worry about it.  The manufacturer's warranty is only good for 1 year anyway. 

Many RV warranties do not support fulltime living, but most people consider the rating to be something other than the warranty. The rating system of the RV Consumer Group is commonly used by people who really are not familiar with their ratings. Those who join the organization are supplied an explanation of the way that they group RVs by purpose of design and then rate them within that grouping. There is a sound reason for companies to build RVs with no intent that they be permanent housing since so few buyers ever actually live in one. I don't believe that the Montana is in the RVCG's fulltime group which has very high standards but I do believe that they put it into their extended travel or snowbird group. But they do not say you can't live in a vacation rated RV, only that it will not hold up as well as snowbird rated and much less than the fulltime group. The article on how they rate RVs is available to anyone. 

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What floorplan are you looking at? If looking at Forest River products I would look at the Cardinal, Cedar Creek or the River Stone line.

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I suggest that you look at Grand Design or VanLeigh.  Both seem to have pretty happy owners unlike Forest River and Thor.

As for finding a floorplan, tell the sales person to get lost and you will find him if you have any questions.  Sit in the RV, check to see if you fit in the bathroom, see if you have room to store your clothes in closets and drawers,  Check for kitchen space and pantry.  Basically play house and see how you would get ready in the morning, get ready for bed at night, prepare a meal, where do you store your outdoor equipment and fishing gear.

Ken

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Many questions need to be answered to determine full-time or seasonal.  What climate zone will you be in?  A "recreational" fifth wheel can be mighty cold in the winter without good slide seals, insulated glass, high R value in walls, ceiling and floor.  How much travel will you do?  Alaska, cross country, back roads?  Look at frame strength, suspension, tires, brakes, pin box - there are only a few currently built fifth wheel trailers that have the structure for extreme travel.  If all you do is go to Florida for the winter all of this is moot.  Often, the quality of the inside materials and their susceptibility to moisture and wear determine a full-time or part-time rating by the manufacturer.  Furniture, carpet, bedding, cabinet construction, plumbing fixtures and venting selection determine how well a fifth wheel holds up with full time living.  In today's market, you often don't get what you pay for!   When your full-time home is down for frequent repairs due to stress on marginal parts and materials you quickly find yourself homeless or having a motel for an address.  Glitz is nice but it is not an indicator of overall quality for full-time living unless you plan on only using the trailer for a couple of years.

Edited by RandyA

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We are joining the RV Consumer Group as soon my husband gets paid tomorrow.  I didn't realize they would specifically say which ones were good for full time living.

We would like to buy used, but we are having trouble finding the specific layout we want in used.  Even in new it seems like most of the ones that have a second bedroom have it in the back, but we want the kid's bedroom in the middle with a loft over it.  That was actually why I was looking at those specific brands, because those are the ones that the RV dealership we went to has in the layout we want.  What I would actually love to do is buy a cheap used one with the layout I want and completely renovate it the way I want.  This may be a stupid question, but if we are wanting to fix it up anyways, how important is it to see the RV before we buy it?  Like could I buy a used one from far away and pay to have it shipped here or would I need to actually fly out to look at it?

We don't have a truck yet.  We are planning to get one within the next 6 months and in the meantime we will probably only move once and will pay to have someone move our 5th wheel for us.  We will make sure the truck we get matches whichever 5th wheel we get.

We will probably be traveling all over.  We travel for my husband's work, so we have very little control over where we go, when, and for how long.  The sales person did say that there aren't really any RVs rated for below 0, is that true?

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Actually their is but not mass produced. Some are better than others. Need dense foam walls. Sometimes this difficult to find out. All plumbing inside from the weather. If outside, it will freeze. If budget allows I would look at custom build. But expect to spend 250k for custom build. Get whatever you want and budget allows. Excels were great units. No longer built. Tetons are great units. Stopped production on 07. Drv, some swear by them. I was not impressed with mine. It had a great frame though. You may find a few used New Horizons. Great units. They were custom build though. They will be costly even used. My DRV was drafty. It was an 06. My Teton is tight. No outside air coming in. Easy to heat and cool. I have had it in 0 temps and no problems. Finding a good Teton is changeling. Mine is an 03. 

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Buying an older camper and fixing it up to your likes/taste is a good way to go, make it yours, we did.  But I personally would not buy one without seeing it first.  It could have water/frame/structural damage not to mention pest damage.  If that's not possible, there are people that will look at/inspect an RV for you and send you a report.  I don't know of any, have only read on here about it.  If you have looked/found the layout/brand/model number you want, there are national RV sales boards like RV trader and a few others I think.  Just keep looking, if there are none now, it's bound to change in a week, just keep checking.  Don't, IMHO settle for one close, just have patience and wait for the one u want.  Look at the weights, that will tell you just how big a vehicle it will take to pull it, one ton, HDT, etc.  Good luck.

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21 minutes ago, NDBirdman said:

Buying an older camper and fixing it up to your likes/taste is a good way to go, make it yours, we did.  But I personally would not buy one without seeing it first.   

X2!

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Since you will be full timing in a fifth wheel and traveling, you may be wise to consider 4 season trailers. They tend to be better built, more insulation, and designed to protect the plumbing from temperature extremes. Lance, Northwood (Nash & Arctic Fox), Forest River Arctic Wolf, and Heartland Bighorn are some 4 season fifth wheel trailers that come to mind.

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4 hours ago, IBTripping said:

Since you will be full timing in a fifth wheel and traveling, you may be wise to consider 4 season trailers. They tend to be better built, more insulation, and designed to protect the plumbing from temperature extremes. Lance, Northwood (Nash & Arctic Fox), Forest River Arctic Wolf, and Heartland Bighorn are some 4 season fifth wheel trailers that come to mind.

I took a quick look and the Arctic Wolf in the only one that has the floor plan the OP wants and it lists a CCC of 1607 pounds which is generally only enough gear for one person and they are a family of four. Apparently, the stuff required to make it a 4 season trailer is heavy.

Linda

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Would this be something your looking for

http://www.forestriverinc.com/product-details.aspx?LineID=207&Image=5033&ModelID=1764#Main

or this

http://www.forestriverinc.com/product-details.aspx?LineID=335&Image=12434&ModelID=4609#Main

the River Stone would be the better choice for full timing plus I think either could replace the mid room sofa with bunks.

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The 2018 Cardinal 3825 FL 5th wheel that I have had a sticker of $116,500 and I don't consider that inexpensive! Forest River does make a large number of low cost RVs. Also some very nice ones that are not low cost. My Cardinal is rated for full-timing and we ae pleased with the quality. 

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Just My Opinion... No matter what the Manufacturer says or how much it cost no Rv is suitable for full time living. These are RV;s and the "R" stands for recreational.Full timing is not recreational use however some are better suited for long time living  in terms of quality.

We have been Rv'ing for nearly 30 years and long timing for 13 years. Folks full time or long time in all brands all price ranges.We purchased the  biggest 5th wheel and TV that we could afford. We have had two Montana's both 40 feet, 4 slides and have put nearly 130K miles total on them since 2006. We use them hard and they have held up well but not without problems .IMO a extended warranty is a  wise choice.

My advise and it is worth nothing  is to purchase the best you  can afford no matter the brand.

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When the time comes, Grand Design is the front-runner so far in our list.  In fact, we're seriously considering one of their smaller Toy Hauler 5th wheels.  We can live with a smaller living room, for the storage and space the "garage" gives you and you get a patio too! 

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I think we have decided to go with a used one as kind of a starter RV.  Once we save up a bit more money and have lived in an RV for a little while we will either start remodeling the one we bought or we will trade in for a new one.  We have found a couple of used ones here to look at.  I cannot find any with the floor plan that we love, but we have found some that have a second bedroom in the back instead of the middle.  

Dblr, I would love either of those RVs, they we exactly what we have been looking at.  I will save those for when/if we decide to buy a new one.

What is a good carrying capacity for full time living?

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3 hours ago, sholl3 said:

 

Dblr, I would love either of those RVs, they we exactly what we have been looking at.  I will save those for when/if we decide to buy a new one.

What is a good carrying capacity for full time living?

 

3 hours ago, whj469 said:

I would say 2,500 to 3,000 lbs and a used one is a good choice. Good Luck

On my River Stone the cargo capacity is just over 3100lbs

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Most people figure 1000-1500 pounds per person. Little kids don't own as much stuff, though, since they don't need their own cookware, etc. They do have clothes, toys, and sometimes personal care products and you need enough dishes to feed them as well as yourself. For your family, I would be looking for at least 3000 pounds CCC. I remember you saying you have a lot of clothes. :) 

Linda

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