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Choosing an RV for full timers

Avi Gili

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Hi guys, we are new to RVing but are very enthusiastic. We are looking to buy our first RV and live in it full time. We heard people refer to it as “Full timing.” We’re hoping to get some tips from all the experienced folks out here and recommendations on selecting our first RV. At the moment, we don’t have a vehicle for the towing. To not be limited by the vehicle, we’re looking to decide on an RV and then buy the truck that best suit for towing it.


After doing a research about the different options available, we came up with a list of features we need in an RV.


RV requirements list:

  • Budget $13,000

  • Travel trailer / Toy hauler

  • Up to 30ft length

  • Sleeps 2 minimum

  • Queen bed

  • Sitting area with a table

  • Private sleeping area (area that can be close off)

  • Ramp back door - preferable

  • Kitchen i.e. refrigerator, range oven, microwave, sink etc

  • Shower & toilet

  • No expandable tent (hybrid)

  • Awning

  • 2 axles


Any suggestions regarding make and models of RV based on those features and budget would be greatly appreciated!

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Welcome to the Escapee forums! We are here to help and we do try our best to supply advice. It is important to remember that no RV manufacturer is so bad that they have no satisfied customers and none is so good that they have no dissatisfied ones. Pretty much any brand can be pointed to as good or bad, just depending upon an individual's experiences.


It is very important that you understand the weight ratings and limitations of both the tow vehicles and of the travel trailers before you make any choices. If you have not done so, I also urge you to read a book or two on the subject of living in an RV before you start shopping, just to be sure that you realize the critical areas of concern and to get some ideas of way others deal with them. You can do this by buying from Amazon or check with your local library as most of them do have some. If you know of any RV shows in your area, those are a good place to start to get a feel for what is available on the market and what they cost. Like any other product, the lowest price choices are always of lower quality than the highest priced ones and the choice is a balancing act between cost & quality.


Is your budget of $13k what you plan to spend on the RV alone, or must it buy both the RV and the tow vehicle?

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Welcome! We all went thru what you're setting out to do so hopefully we can help.

We made out mind up to go fulltime 3 years ago and actually hit the road 1 1/2 years ago.

If I could do it over I think we'd have made the same choice we made back then so we seemed to get it right FOR US.

We had no preconceived ideas of what we wanted and the best thing we ever did was stumble across RV Boot Camp and thru that the Escapees. That one weekend at Boot Camp was so helpful in getting our ideas straight and showing us the pitfalls that I highly recommend attending BEFORE YOU BUY YOUR RV.

Beware of just going to an RV show and wandering around without a plan. ALL RV's look great in the showroom!

Your plan should be to look at each type of RV and to imagine doing the everyday things like cooking, watching TV, using the bathroom, sleeping. Strangely some RV's don't make those things easy! Especially watching TV, they stick them wherever there's space and you end up having to twist you neck to watch it! Some RV's have the beds jammed in an alcove so you have to crawl out of the end of the bed or over your partner to get out and go to the bathroom.

There are so many RV's of every type out there that it's easy to get confused over what you've seen before. Some RV's are made in "Cheap" and "Expensive" models. The layouts are the same but the finishes are much different. So make a list, take pictures, list what you like and don't like about each one and it'll make things much easier.

Finally do yourself a big favor and get a professional inspector to go over any prospective purchase before you lay down you hard earned cash. There are so many systems and ways of powering things in an RV that you could easily miss something like a broken refrigerator or aged out tires that will literally cost THOUSANDS of dollars to replace.

You can do this so don't get downhearted when things don't happen first time out. Persistence and patience are your best friends.

Keep your goal in mind and suddenly you'll find yourself heading out on your big adventure.

Our blog page http://banbrv.blogspot.com/2014/11/you-can-get-there-from-here.html shows how we set about picking our home on wheels.


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Welcome to the forum!


To give you an idea on prices, years, manufacturers and floorplans check out this site. For your budget they have these 5th wheels: 2004 and a 2001 Hitchhiker; 2000 Alpenlite, 1997 Travel Supreme (the most expensive of all when new), 2003 Holiday Rambler and a 2007 King of the Road. There are others listed but all of these are top manufacturers compared to the others. There's also a section for travel trailers and toy haulers so check them out. Full-timing requires more storage than weekenders and a 5th wheel will give you more than a travel trailer. They are also more stable when driving and easier to hookup.


I'd also suggest you set aside part of your budget for tires, possibly new suspension and perhaps some updated decorating, if needed.


At this age examine the roof very carefully for condition and if proper caulking/maintenance done. Inside look at every inch of the ceiling and walls to make sure there have been no leaks. Leaks are extremely difficult to trace and most likely there would have been damage to the framing.


Best of luck to you!



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Saying toy haulers are hard to heat is painting with a broad brush . We live full time in a Work & Play toy hauler , We have no problems heating or cooling , and I believe the ramp door is as good a thermal block as the side walls ... . We have installed 4 six volt batteries , a large invertor , 110 volt freezer and a Honda 3,000 generator .. Our trailer carries 110 gallons of fresh water . Soon there will be 3 or four hundred watts of solar .

The biggest concern with most toy haulers is they must be built heavy to be able to carry your 2 Harleys and four kayaks . We carry NO toys . The garage is our living room and the ramp is our trophy wall with pictures of our kids , boats , what ever floats our boat this week ! Works for us .

As far as I am concerned for a truck , get as big as you can afford !

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How important heating/cooling is is also somewhat a factor of your planned travel. Most full timers chase 70° weather which means the time spent in very hot or cold is minimized. You will always have some but it matters less if it doesn't last long. If, however, you plan to spend months parked in places to work there or to care for family there you have to be prepared to cope with whatever the weather throws at you. Just something else for you to consider as you make your plans.


Linda Sand

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Welcome to the forum.

I will throw my two cents in. You have recieved some very good advice so far. In our case I spent over two years researching different makes models and brands of rv before we settled on our toy hauler. The toy hauler fit what we wanted and needed. I have had ours in 100 degree heat and - 18 degree cold. I would not recommend these temperature extremes to anyone but our toy hauler was very livable in all those conditions.

My advise to you is take your time, think about what you want. You decide what fits you and the life style you want to lead. What works for others may never work for you. Do NOT jump at the first thing you see that looks good. Think it through. Consider every option, think about how it will fit your lifestyle and whether you will have to compromise.

Last bit of advise is buy the RV then fit the haul vehicle to the RV.

As I said just my two cents.

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With $13k your likely looking at a used one. Look at local dealers and what they have on the lots. Look for consignment dealers too. PPLMotorhomes in TX is a good place to look at even if your not in this state check out their website to see going rates for used units.


Most of what you list is going to be in any RV so you need to think of more specifics of what you might require to help you narrow your search down.

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