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WanderingWebsters

What Size Is Best For FullTiming

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We just sold our 33' travel trailer and are looking to buy a Fifth Wheel which we will start full-timing in at the end of this year.  We would like something with the roominess of a 40' or longer but we are seeing many people who are full-timing are downsizing to smaller RVs because of the problems and "scary situations" some of the bigger ones encounter.  We are looking for any and all comments/opinions anyone may have on this subject.

We are currently looking at a Jayco 38' RV which seems like a modest "in-between" length.  Again any and all opinions are welcome as we are stuck right now.

One more thing if it matters we are pulling with a 1 ton diesel dually.

Happy Camping to all.....

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Welcome to the forum!  Congrats on the full timing!  We don't full time but like you, enjoy our 33 footer 5th wheel.  I could see us living full time in it as we like the layout.  The layout you choose will make all the difference in my opinion.  I love the rear kitchen floor plan, leaves more room IMHO for the living room, feels like a bigger camper than it is.  We are looking at a 39' Momentum toy hauler, the living room space is much smaller than what we have now so it will be a challenge I feel but we only plan on 4 to 6 months a year snow-birding in it.  I don't think I would want to full time in our camper of choice.  Personally, your truck choice was probably a good one, I love the stability of the dually in windy situations.  Most campgrounds we have stayed at so far has had 40' RVs there but some looked cramped, had to drop camper and park elsewhere but in my limited experience, 40' should be fine.  Older state parks on the other hand, I have been a tight fit with my 33' but you've probably experienced that yourself by now.  We also are throwing around the idea of a 32-34 foot class A with toad for our next RV.  This coming winter's snowbird trip will be our deciding factor in which way we go next year.  Have you looked that direction?

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Welcome to the site!!  We successfully full-timed 8 years in a 33' 5th wheel and 8 years in a 40' motorhome.  Absolutely no difference to us with either.  They both had enough room for us; both had only two slides - which was a must because we used public parks with trees.  Didn't want to have to maneuver slides between trees; and more importantly, both got us into the same campsites when using our favorites.  We tried 38' motorhomes but found they weren't as good with handling because of the wheelbase as compared to the 40'.  We always hated driving the big truck around, especially on back roads scouting for critters.  We absolutely loved having the Jeep with our motorhome.  It gave us endless fun in the backcountry and we acquired many new friends through the activity.

I don't know what you mean about 'scary situations' as we didn't have any.  Bottom line.... get what you need to be comfortable.  Campsites for you are out there regardless of what you hear.  We've stayed in many national parks, national forest campgrounds, Corp of Engineer parks, county and city parks along with lots of boondocking on public lands.

Have fun in your new adventure!

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2 minutes ago, 2gypsies said:

  We tried 38' motorhomes but found they weren't as good with handling because of the wheelbase as compared to the 40'. 

I'm curious, your saying a 40' class a handles better than a 38'?  Does a 40' handle better than say a 34'?  If I go that way, and the op, thinking about just the road handling, and the comfort while driving, a 40 is a better choice?  Or did I misunderstand your statement?  Going that way, I'm thinking a DPusher is a better choice?

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Thanks for the opinions thus far.  on the handling issue i don,t think that is a problem.  We have heard some say "nothing bigger than 36-38 feet with 3 slides" because anything bigger causes to many problems parking at to many parks.  We have heard some say the parks get very tight and parking gets scary at times trying to maneuver a 40'  rig into place and avoiding "obstacles" (like trees).

So we are questioning whether to stay below 40' or just get what we want in a floor plan and storage and hit the road knowing there is plenty of places to stay and park. i am a very confident driver and am not afraid of the lengths at all on the driving part - but we need to park it eventually lol.

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Another welcome is in order! We are happy to have you with us and will do all that we can to help. There is a comment about motorhomes that is far different from my own experience, but since you aren't shopping for a motorhome, I have no idea why it came up?

The size of RV that a couple need to live comfortably in is a very subjective thing, just as is the case for sizing a fixed house. They make different sizes of both because people have different desires, needs, and budgets. I would strogly reccommend that your budget be the final rule on both size and quality since you won't be comfortable if you overspend. My wife and I were very happy for nearly 12 years of fulltime travels in a 36' class A with no slides at all. But we have also known people who were not happy with a 42' fifth wheel that had 5 slides. You and your spouse being comfortable is the most important thing to consider after cost. I would also suggest that if budget is limiting, you would probably do better in a high quality RV of 35' than with a 42' RV which requires constant maintenance and repairs. 

It is true that there are places that the largest RVs can not go, but a major factor in space required to park any RV is the skill level of the driver. There are campgrounds that nobody can get a 40'+ RV into but if you plan ahead and always stop early it usually isn't a major problem. There were a few places that we were not able to take our 36' and that will happen to any RV that is much over 20' in length but it is not common. More and more RV parks and campgrounds are adding sites for the larger RVs so the problem is less than it once was. If you and your spouse will not be satisfied in less than 40' of RV, it would be a mistake to get one but you do pay more for them and you do need to plan more in advance. We all must balance the choice of RV against our own budgets, space requirements, and our travel plans. 

Edited by Kirk W
correct a typo

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We were full time in a 38/39' fiver.  Had a good floorplan, a w/d, and decent storage.  We rarely if ever had issues getting in and out of any campground or RV site.

Our current set up is larger and we still don't have problems finding sites.  

I think you have to look around the try to find the "perfect" floorplan and RV when going fulltime.  

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We have fulltimed in a 39'10'' (40') for 16 years. Took it to Alaska, and where ever else. Very rarely have been restricted. We use quite a few Forest Service CGs. It also has 3 slides. And as far as using our Dually as a daily driver that has been no problem either as I tend to park away from most no matter what I'm driving. And I have seen a few that avoid you because of the "size" of the truck, I love it!

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3 hours ago, Kirk W said:

 There is a comment about motorhomes that is far different from my own experience, but since you aren't shopping for a motorhome, I have no idea why it came up?

If this is referring to my comments, I gave the comparison of a 33' 5th wheel working out as good for us as a 40' motorhome.  I also stated... bottom line, get what you need to be comfortable.

 

 

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4 hours ago, NDBirdman said:

I'm curious, your saying a 40' class a handles better than a 38'?  Does a 40' handle better than say a 34'?  If I go that way, and the op, thinking about just the road handling, and the comfort while driving, a 40 is a better choice?  Or did I misunderstand your statement?  Going that way, I'm thinking a DPusher is a better choice?

We were only looking at Newmars.  Different manufacturers may be different for you.

The 40' had a wheelbase of 276".  Some have a long overhang which gives it poorer handling - in our opinion.

To us, the 40' handled much better on the highway tested at the same speeds.

Edited by 2gypsies

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Been fulltiming in a 40' 5er since March.  Have traveled extensively in 38' - 44' 5ers for the past 8 yrs.  Never an issue with size IF YOU DO YOUR RESEARCH!!  YOU have to look at parks/campgrounds in the areas you want to stay.  As long as you do that, I see no reason you will run into problems.

Use the dually as a daily driver all the time.  You learn to park further away from store entrances, avoid drive thrus, and fill the tank without the 5er attached the night before you travel.

And not to change the thread's topic, but invest in a TPMS for both the truck and 5er.  I am happy with my Truck Systems Technology (TST) brand system.  10 sensors with room for expansion if ever needed.

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Find the floorplan that you like the best, walk through it, sit down, stand up, lay down, stretch out, pretend you are both cooking in the kitchen together at the same time, then go into the bathroom, one stand in the shower while the other pretends to shave or put makeup on, etc. Go into the bedroom and pretend one is getting dressed while the other is getting clothes out of a drawer or closet. Then make notes on how much room you had. Was there enough?  If so, mark it with a + sign on your list, then wash/rinse/repeat with the next floorplan.  If not, figure out what were the most important actions that you made (i.e. cooking, bathroom, bedroom) and look at other floor plans with an eye towards those actions.  For example, you may discover that you really need a 1,5 bath model, or you need one that is mostly kitchen, etc.

The point is: take your time, do your due diligence BEFORE you spend any money.

 

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Sit on the toilet lid and see if you can close the door.  Are you comfortable?   Kick of your shoes, get the the shower and pretend to wash your hair, hit your elbows on anything.   Have the slides pulled in and go through all of the things above - you never know when it will be necessary to live in the rig with all the slides in.   Can you get to everything you need to get to, is there anything vital that you can't get too?   There might be a drawer or two, that's ok, just note that so that would be where you store things you would only need once in a while.

Yes, this takes time.  But it is the only way to whittle down the number of  possible rigs to ones that will work FOR YOU.

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Sit in "your" chair long enough to see if it stays comfortable. I like to park there and read the RV's manuals to keep me there long enough to get a good test.

Linda

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Have not been full time, but have been 4 to 6 months at a stretch for about ten years.  We have used TT around 28', 5th at 40', and DP at 42'.  

You seem comfortable driving and parking a larger unit.  You have a dually.  Look at the higher quality or upper end units, and go back in years for your price point.  I say this as we were disappointed with the quality and survive ability of the current name brands.  The older name brands just wear better. They are heavier, so need the dually.  They are built well enough to enable remodeling and redecorating.  

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Again folks thanks for all the comments.  You have allowed us to rethink the size of our 5er because a lot of the floor plans we liked were in the 40-43 foot range.  We had ruled them out because of their length but i think this has a new perspective.  

Happy Camping to ALL

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the biggest you can afford and still be comfortable  driving or pulling, even with two people they get small after a while, we has a 29ft and then traded it for a 38, much better for us to live in and have some space 

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We've been full-timing in our 40' DP with no slides now for five years. We intend to put it up for sale later this year and "downsize" to a 34' Airstream TT, also with no slides. I say "downsize" as the actual living space in each is about the same. We know people who full-time in a 1973 (yes, 1973) Dodge Van conversion. Whatever you are comfortable in is the right size for you.

I'd suggest that you go to every dealer and show you can and spend some time in every RV you can, no matter the price or condition. Pretend to do all the daily activities, and it won't take you long to figure out what works and what doesn't.

Once you know what floor plans work you can start looking at rigs that have those plans. Yes, there will be minor differences between manufacturers, and those minor differences will guide you to the right one.

As you are looking at rigs, pay attention to how well they appear to be standing up. Remember that they typical RV only gets maybe 30-45 days of use per year, so as a full-timer you will be putting on 8-10 years of wear and tear each year. There is a reason why many fulltimers with towables have heavier coaches. Structure and quality are heavy. Before we bought our Foretravel we met a couple who had started fulltiming a year earlier. They bought a "popular" MH brand new. Less than a year later they traded it even-up for a 10-year-old Foretravel because they could see that their original choice wasn't going to stand up to full-time use. No, they never told us what that "popular" brand was.

If possible, go visit the factory of any brand you are considering. Even if you aren't going to buy a brand-new rig, seeing how they are put together will go a long way toward telling you what you might be comfortable with.

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we are seeing many people who are full-timing are downsizing to smaller RVs because of the problems and "scary situations" some of the bigger ones encounter"...…. We are in a 40 foot Montana. We do not know what that statement means.  We purchased the biggest 5th wheel we could afford a 40 foot, 4 sides  Montana.

Wife had never driven anything that big but was a pro in a very short time. We are not "full timers: as we have a S&B but spend most of the year in the 5th wheel.

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