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RV Full Time Question


MrJohnson89
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Hello! I am just at the beginning of my research into RVing, and have read many posts about people going full-time. What I cannot seem to find is someone who matches with what my family and I intended to do. Maybe someone can help or put in their two cents.

So, my family of four consists of myself, my wife, and our two boys (10 and 2). We have become interested in the idea of full time RVing. Now, I have found several families who travel the country year round. That would not be us. I am a public school teacher and so I would need to reside within range of my school for the 185-odd days that I am required to be there. What we would do, is live in the RV full time and take it for travels during my time off (every holiday, Christmas vacation, summer, spring break, etc...) . So in essence we would be stationary for at least 185 days a year in our RV. Now, in proximity to where I work is a Thousand Trails campsite. It is within twenty minutes of my work. That is most likely where I would think about staying for the long term, I heard that it could be quite cost efficient if I used the Thousand Trails annual subscription. What we plan to do is buy a class A (Thor A.C.E I seem to lean towards. Maybe five or six years old) 

The other thing is that we have a Dodge Grand Caravan and that would be our tow. I did not have a easy time finding people who towed a van, and so that might be an early struggle as well. 

Anyone do this, or know anyone who lives this lifestyle and can provide input or guidance, it would be much appreciated. Again, I am only in the early stages of research and just trying to get a feel for the realm of possibility. Thanks! God bless! 

 

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To use Thousand Trails like that you would need to get a seasonal site.  Some Thousand Trails have a waiting list, so you will need to contact that specific Thousand Trails.  Your seasonal schedule would work quite well for that.   Then, if there are Thousand Trails in the areas where you want to travel you could use your same membership to stay in them.

Thousand Trails properties are a mixed bag.  We've stayed in some really nice ones and we've stayed in a few with no desire to return. 

Good luck in your research.

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Welcome to the Escapee forums!  The first thing that I am wondering is where you are located? Comfortable RV living is much less of a challenge if you reside in a place where temperature and weather extremes are rare. The current model year of Thor Ace has no untils of more than 33' in length so you are looking at a pretty small RV for 4 people, especially if there is very much bad weather to keep everyone inside. There is a 32' model that has a full wall slide with bunk beds, so I'm thinking it must be what you have in mind. If this is what you are considering you need to understand that you will be living in somthing les than 300 square feet of livng space. There is no doubt that what you are considering is possible, but the question is, can your family of 4 do so in comfort for a long term. The Ace is generally considered to be an entry level RV and may not be a good choice for living in fulltime. I suggest that you might we well served to consider joining the RV Consumer Group to get the educational materials that they supply. 

As suggested, you should contact the RV park that you have in mind and talk to them about your plan to see what it will cost to do this. I would also suggest that you visit the Escapees Xscapers pages as they are intended for the still working RVers. We are happy to assist and support you as much as possible here too, but the vast majority of us are retired so there will be questions that you may have which none of us have dealt with. 

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Yes as already said you need to lock down a RV park you can long term in.  I did such when I got divorced in 2004

I bought a one year old 27 foot TT (just paid off the guys loan) and placed it in a small RV park about 1 mile from 

the beach in Orange County CA.  Back then it ran $500 a month plus electric.

I was still commuting to Los Angeles for work so it was a inexpensive place for me to live.

What I want to address is the size of MH you are talking about a ACE and they can be very small and cramped, take 

the time to look at various models to see what fits your families needs.  Don't forget you are a family of 4 and kids 

have toys and they need room to spread out.

As for your mini van and it is front wheel drive I believe you will need to put it on a tow dolly.  If it is all wheel drive

you may be looking at a car trailer.  Then that would bring up another subject where are you going to store said car 

trailer.  Most campgrounds would require you to rent two spaces.

And keep in mind the 10 year rule if you are looking at campgrounds that are not State Parks or National Parks. 

A lot of private campgrounds (possibly even Thousand Trails have the 10 year rule.

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4 hours ago, MrJohnson89 said:

Hello! I am just at the beginning of my research into RVing, and have read many posts about people going full-time. What I cannot seem to find is someone who matches with what my family and I intended to do. Maybe someone can help or put in their two cents. What we would do, is live in the RV full time and take it for travels during my time off (every holiday, Christmas vacation, summer, spring break, etc...).  What we plan to do is buy a class A (Thor A.C.E I seem to lean towards. Maybe five or six years old). The other thing is that we have a Dodge Grand Caravan and that would be our tow. I did not have a easy time finding people who towed a van, and so that might be an early struggle as well. Anyone do this, or know anyone who lives this lifestyle and can provide input or guidance, it would be much appreciated. Again, I am only in the early stages of research and just trying to get a feel for the realm of possibility. Thanks! God bless! 

 

Welcome :) All vehicles that are designed to tow or have the capability to tow will have towing limits, or weight limits in other words. Plus the towing vehicle will have it's own weight limits that enters into the equation. So beginning with the towing vehicle, or in your case (potentially) the Class A there is:

  • the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating which is the maximum weight the vehicle's designed for, and in your future the tongue weight of the trailer/dolly will be factored in here, as well as hitch weight
  • the Gross Combined Weight Rating which another maximum weight for the towing vehicle
  • the towing capacity of the towing vehicle
  • the hitch capacity that is installed on the towing vehicle

I bring these up not knowing what you know about RVs towing a vehicle or towing an RV behind a vehicle. These weight limits are just that, limits on what you can/should do with a particular set up, and items to bear in mind as you do research. Check the brochures & websites for info on your future Class A for these capabilities before listening to what the salesman may say. There will also be the sticker that's required on vehicles to find this information, look inside the driver's door jamb on your van for an example. On RVs there is a sticker at an entry door and one posted on the RVs exterior. As you shop and take pictures, take a sticker picture also.

Your Dodge Grand Caravan should be weighed as it may travel, then deduct the weight of you & passengers (if you are not alone at the time) to give you an important factor in the equation. Check the Thor A.C.E. towing capabilities, hitch capacity, and the GCWR against this weight, and also include the weight of the dolly that you'll be using to tow the Grand Caravan if it's front wheel drive. On a side note, Motorhome Magazine has an assortment of Dinghy Towing Guides that may be helpful, if only for more information (prepare for overload, at first there seems too much but then it seems to level off, or maybe we just get smarter) http://www.motorhome.com/index.php?s=dinghy+towing+guides Another item I like about that mag is the amount of information that they give regarding the specs of an RV that they're reviewing, some of which you won't find on many brochures/websites.

Good luck with your search, see & get into as many RVs as you can, go to every RV Show or dealer that you can, and watch walk thru videos till your eyes bleed. You will be a smarter shopper for it because another tidbit always presents itself, something that you may not have considered before. Here's a tidbit that may alleviate some pressure, many folks don't get the right RV for them until #3 as they learn what's what on the first two. Lots of experienced folks here that are eager to help so y'all come back now hear :) 

     Spot

Edited by $ Spot
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The most critical question I have is probably where is the school? Is it a reliable weather situation?

I looked at the current model of the Thor ACE with the bunkbeds and was not impressed with it's ability to contain a family of four for more than a weekend. Yes there are seats and beds for that many people but there is only one dresser and one closet and the closet is tiny; it might hold your work clothes but where will your family put their clothes? The kitchen appears to have one upper cupboard and one lower one with with a pull-out pantry that is only counter height--where will you store your cooking gear, your table ware, and your food? I doubt the two of us could live in this rig let alone adding two kids.

Sorry to be such a wet blanket but it's best to consider such things before committing. I'm sure there is a better rig for you out there somewhere.

Linda

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BTW Thor doesn't have a great reputation.  I saw it first hand a few weeks ago when a guy came in driving a brand new Thor ACE.  It was his first time out.  He never did get the auto leveling jacks to work right.  I went over and helped him manually get it level.  The next day he told me that the kitchen sink wouldn't drain, apparently something was wrong under the sink because all his other drains were fine.  He was on the phone with his dealer making plans to drop it off for warranty work. 

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If you don't plan to stay in the classy resorts you'll definitely find places to stay with an over 10-year RV.  The key is to kept it well-kept looking.  Also, public parks don't have that rule.

If looking at motorhomes here are some around 2015 models since you're looking at used ones.

https://www.generalrv.com/blog/12-must-see-bunkhouse-rv-floorplans/

If looking at trailers here are some:

https://www.rvingplanet.com/blog/top-5-best-quality-travel-trailers-with-bunk-beds/

There are many sites you can view if you do a Google for trailers/motorhomes with bunks.

Here is a full-timing family site that may give you some ideas:

http://fulltimefamilies.com/

Good luck with your plans!!

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23 hours ago, Kirk W said:

Welcome to the Escapee forums!  The first thing that I am wondering is where you are located?

The Profile list Yuba City, CA which is north of Sacremento. No knowledge of climate.  What a challenge with a two old.

Clay

 

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1 hour ago, MrJohnson89 said:

is there another brand or style that you would recommend to a family of four aiming to be full time RVers? 

In motorhomes in price ranges most of us shop I would suggest Tiffin(Allegro), Newmar, and then Winnebago. All three have a long history of customer support and a strong reputation.

1 hour ago, MrJohnson89 said:

How old is too old for an RV. I know some have alleged to the 10 year rule, but there seem to be many rvs used after the first 10 years. 

The so called 10 year rule is usually only applied in "destination parks," meaning those that cater to season long rentals and even then if the RV is well maintained and attractive, most will waive it. Very seldom is it an issue for short visits of a week or less.  Too old is a very subjective thing. With gas chassis motorhomes it is more a matter of miles than of years for the chassis components but age combined with use plays into the life of appliances and equipment, no matter what RV you consider. An RV refrigerator will typically last for about 10 years if used fulltime, but it may last 20 years or more when only used occasionally. That same thing is true for air conditioners and other appliances. Water heaters tend to fail somewhere around 10 years of use with water in them but those also can last far longer if they sit empty most of the time. While appliances can be repaired, major failures often mean the money is better spend to replace with new. The older the RV you buy is, the greater the risk of disaster is and the more important it becomes to have it inspected professionally. 

If you think of this as you would for a car, there are good, reliable used cars and there are old clunkers. You might be served well by an old clunker if you only use it to go on short trips, but you would not want to have your family depend on it for a major trip. That same thing is true of RVs. There is a market for the old clunkers of the RV wsorld but it isn't from people who plan to house a family in them as their permanent home. Some are sold to be parked on a hunting lease, some are used for local trips only by people with a house to live in, and some are bought so the owner can try the RV life without the expense of a newer, better condition RV. It just depends on what you wish to have and on how much of your time you are willing to spend in repairing and maintaining the RV. The older an RV is, the more often it must be repaired. 

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