Coming down to a buying decision & wondering which "tier" is best for me?
MY SEARCH HAS NARROWED TO VARIOUS MODELS & QUALITY TIERS:
After a lot of research in shopping for a 36 foot or so fifth-wheel for year round living on a remote site (but on the electrical grid) about a hundred miles northwest of Houston, I'm struggling to decide which "quality tier" is the best value for me. Tomorrow I may be hiring an RVSurvey inspector for my final choice of one of these approx. 36' 3-slideouts, reasonably good-condition models:
FAIR: 2000 Kit Companion, around $11,000
OR a 2000 Forest River Spinnaker, around $10,000
GOOD: 2004 Montana Big Sky (Keystone), around $20,000
OR a 2007 Everest (Keystone) with 4-sides, around $18,500
[The 4th slide sounds impressive but it seems more like a big 3rd slide made into two smaller slides.]
BETTER: 2007 Select Suites (DRV), around $28,000
I'M NOT ASKING ANYONE TO MAKE MY CHOICE FOR ME. Instead, I'm simply wondering about some general factors in choosing an appropriate tier and the price/performance payoffs. I'm a widow and will be living alone, so no mob of kids wearing-down anything or slamming doors. I'm quite handy (and have family nearby to help) and plan to do careful maintenance and caulking/weatherizing on whatever RV I do get. I can easily afford paying $30,000 and more but wonder if the extra money would pay off cost-effectively. (I like the general layout and feel of all of these approximately 36' fifth-wheels.) I'm not looking for luxury. Just reasonable comfort and utility costs and not too many long-term surprises from bad workmanship. [I understand the concessions necessary to an economy model. I just don't want to have to open the wall up to fix sagged fiberglass insulation that has created big uninsulated gaps, for example.]
For example, I'm thinking about these factors:
1) Should I assume that the semi-mild Texas winter climate (but the often hot summer climate) means that I could be comfortable in all of them and only see a notable but tolerable difference in energy costs?
2) I know that the DRV models are considered well-build, solid, durable, but if I'm not driving it around and moving the slides in/out, will that matter much for my situation on a long-term, single-site use?
3) In summer I should be able to fully or nearly shade whatever RV I get (and probably get at least roof sun for passive sun heating in the winter)so will the climate-handling differences become modest?
4) The discontinued Select Suites DRV's were the lowest-priced "suites" of the various DRV lines back in 2007. Do they share/deserve the reputation for excellence of the more expensive DRV product lines? Do they have significantly superior insulation to my other possibilities on my list? [DRV proudly proclaims their aluminum "radiant barrier" layer of "insulation" but unless they face that layer toward a 3/4" air space, it is USELESS as insulation---and unless it is perforated for "breathing", such a vapor barrier could be a very bad idea in my area. I'm in that 100 mile wide "no vapor barrier" zone that appears on all energy engineering maps. So I wonder if a wrongly engineer "radiant shield" is mold/condensation prone as well as worthless for my area? The engineers I've consulted say "Yes" but I can't tell from the DRV videos of wall construction whether they are using perforated aluminum layer and facing it towards an air-space.]
5) I'm not clear on whether DRV Select Suites usually came with double-pane windows. I'm very open to general comments about any of these brands.
6) If I unexpectedly had to sell my RV in 3 to 5 years, will it have held its resale value better? [I assume that with fifth-wheels, once one gets past 10 years or so, a unit kept in good condition doesn't vary extremely by brand? Or not?? I have no experience with this.]
7) Some of the RVs lack a 2nd AC roof unit, so I've wondered how much I should "price adjust" for that in making comparisons----because I would certainly need the 2nd AC for Texas summers, even in full shade.
8) How about noise issues from ambient sources outside? (My location will have noisy "special events" adjacent to the property on some weeks of summer and fall---but otherwise wonderfully quiet and peaceful.) Will the construction differences produce any noticeable acoustical properties?
9) I do plan to visit these units around 11am or so in order to see what sort of thermal properties they have. Should I assume that the Select Suites will remain cooler much later in the day than the others.
10) I'm quite willing to add my own cabinetry/storage to compensate and even have some nice "kitchen island" and similar cabinets in rental storage from selling my house.
11) Are the low-end models going to be harder to "seal off" from insects/vermin or anything of that sort? (Yes, I know that most of the differences in pest experiences come down to food storage practices etc. but anecdotal reports of owner experiences of all sorts can provide good tips.)
==> Yes, I've already consulted a lot of owner forums to confirm that there's people who full-time and all-season in virtually every kind of RV---but we all know how purchase-confirmation can lead to owner-compensation and rationalization of quality issues.
I suppose the main question I'm asking is this: For my stationary, year-round living, are the quality-tier differences in these brands likely to strike me as significant four years from now? Yes, I can easily afford the $28,000 for the Select Suite but I'm also a very frugal person who doesn't want to pay $7,000 more in order to get just $4,000 in benefits (for example.)
I'm simply looking for your off-the-cuff, gut-level reactions.....in a "If it were me, I would..." sort of way. (As a lurker on this website in recent weeks, it has often been the spontaneous, casual remarks---even of the barely relevant tangential sort---which have often been of great value to me. So even though I'm asking for grossly over-generalized feedback concerning a border-line "unfair" set of questions, I nevertheless think that many of your observations will be helpful to me. Just tell me whatever you think about any of these brands, models, or whatever you wish to comment.....and I will greatly appreciate your input.
[I am well aware of the various defects and general "unfairness" of my question, so please focus on whatever helpful observations you *CAN* provide based on the information posted. I thank you for your kind assistance.]