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Old 12-20-2011, 04:35 PM   #1
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Help w/ purchasing 5th wheel for fulltime living

I am a middle aged female Navy Vet who is looking to perhaps around mid 2012 purchase a 5th wheel for a permanent domicile. Primarily to be stationary in a nice area with alot of nature, and perhaps in a couple of years look at traveling but mainly stationary to live in full time. So I thought if I joined a forum I could get "a lot" of questions, and I mean a lot....of questions answered from simple basics of how to get water, tv, internet, to what manufacture brands to look at for good quality and good follow up service after purchase, to the various external hookups and external docking....Lots of questions lots of research, and needing lots of help from people who have experience with fulltime 5ver. I live in East TX, and could not find an East TX chapter specifically much less even a TX chapter.....I have an idea of what I would like the layout to be on the inside, but each manufacture has a different acronym for front, back living and so forth so it is confusing.So I'm going to try and post to see what responses I get, but any direction and help would be appreciated....thanks and happy holidays.
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Old 12-20-2011, 05:21 PM   #2
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We also are full time RVers, living in a 5er. We bought property off the state's tax lien list. Two acres with house, well, septic, and a pole for rv hookup. House isn't livable but, is savable. Tv will have to be satellite as we are in middle of forest. Elec & water are available. For phone nothing til verizon finishes 2 new towers. We've enjoyed living in 5er for last 2 years, except when lived in mh park in aurora Co.
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Old 12-20-2011, 05:59 PM   #3
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Look down in the South Central section for the Texas Boomers. They have a rally in January in east Texas. Drop in, meet some folks and they always love to show off their rigs.

For Christmas, there will be lots of the Texas boomers at a camp ground near Bellville, TX (west of Houston).
Coushatte Recreation Ranch Home Page

You will find a vast difference in what some companies call a full time unit and lot of them void the warranty if used for full time use.

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Old 12-20-2011, 08:30 PM   #4
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You may want to look up PPL.com They are in Houston Tx. and have good used and also new RV's. I own a 36TK3 Mobile Suite. It is a rear living room. I pull it with a 1 Ton F350 4x4 dually Ford truck. Camper is a 2004 & the truck is a 2002. I purchased both units used and very happy with them. The camper I purchaseed in 2008 and the truck this year in Feb. Mobile Suite is a very good manufactured camper and is very heavy. Then you add every thing you need to fulltime the weight will increase. Keep that in mine. I love my set up and hope one day to be out there fulltiming also.
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Old 12-20-2011, 08:55 PM   #5
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First thing you might want to consider is where you are going to park your new home? Best for a semi permanent is to park it in an established RV park. With that you will usually get water/sewer/electricity, however you will probably have to pay a metered rate for electricity. Plus most parks now offer wifi internet and cable TV. There are a bunch of other options for the last two. Among them is DirecTv or Dish network satellite TV and using cell technology for the wifi and phone. With a larger, higher quality RV you are going to want a lot of truck. 1 ton dually at the minimum. Can you drive and tow a large trailer by yourself? Not trying to be sexist, just asking, because there are other options if you are not comfortable towing a large fifth wheel or driving a large dually truck.
As for quality full time fifth wheels, start checking Mobile Suites or if you want a good used unit, look for a Teton. Most importantly have fun in your search and don't let yourself get talked into something you really are not 100% pleased with. Because little irks will turn into big problems down the road. One suggestion I will offer, once you find a unit you think you would like, get rid of the salesman for an hour or so and pretend it is yours. Get in the shower, try the toilet room, pretend making a meal. Can you watch TV comfortably? Anyhow you get the idea play house. One deal breaker for us in out last search was, believe it or not, there was no place for a garbage can in the kitchen. It may sound dumb, but little things like that can be a killer in your RV experience.
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Old 12-21-2011, 08:28 AM   #6
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To add to what Don said. Storage. You'll be surprised how many RV's do not have a lot of storage. Make sure you have enough kitchen cabinets, bedroom drawers and closet space. Even outside storage (that is heated) for keeping extra supplies. Another thing you don't see a lot of in RV's is a linen closest. These are the biggest differences between a full time coach and a vacationer coach. Also, look for coaches that have their holding tanks in, at least, heated space; if not heated tanks. An enclosed underbelly which will keep holding tanks warmer in those colder winter months. Compare the "R" value of the insulation. You'll want insulted walls, roof and floor.

In our case, we are not relatively stationary as we spend most of the time in TX. We have DirecTV with San Antonio locals. I use a potable dish so for the few months that we go to PA, we use the CG Cable for locals and DirecTV for everything else. VerizonWireless provide our my internet and telephone service. Along with cell phones, I have their Home Phone Connect which is a little box that I plug my home phone into and it converts it to wireless. So we have a typical home telephone plus the box has a 2nd connection for a 2nd phone. I plug that into the coach telephone jack which connects my DirecTV receiver to a phone line.

If you go with a washer and dryer, research the separate units vs. single unit. I prefer separate units as I feel they handle larger loads. However expect drying time to be double of what you are used to. With rare exceptions, RV dryers are 110V so they take much longer to dry as that 110V is shared between the heater coil and the electronics. Some high end units are now adding 80A service and 220V dryers but these are far and few between. I suspect RV Parks that provide 80A service will be even fewer.

That said, we have been full time for a little over 3 years now and we are still lovin' it.

Mobile Suites and Hitchhiker will modify floorplans to suit your taste. But when you get into that, the price WILL go up. I have always liked Newmar 5th wheels (I have had 2 now). One problem I have with their floorplans are that we want a four door `fridge in our next coach. With all but one of their floorplans, the larger 4 door `fridge will cause giving up the pantry. For us, that is not an option. The one floorplan that would keep a pantry, doesn't fit our taste for other needs.
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Old 12-31-2011, 06:09 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oscarthecat View Post
I am a middle aged female Navy Vet who is looking to perhaps around mid 2012 purchase a 5th wheel for a permanent domicile. Primarily to be stationary in a nice area with alot of nature, and perhaps in a couple of years look at traveling but mainly stationary to live in full time.
Hi, Kitty -

A 5er suitable for full-timing will be a heavy sucker that requires a real truck to tow it safely. For example, the current Mobile Suites lightest 5er has a GVWR of 18,500 pounds and a wet and loaded hitch weight of about 3,300 pounds. That requires a minimum of a 2008.5 or newer Ford F-450 diesel tow vehicle. And a lot of experienced folks recommend a medium-duty truck such as a Freightliner or Peterbilt with single drive axle to tow it comfortably. Plus a new Mobile Suites has a list price tag of $100,000 to $125,000.

But it sounds like you'd be better off with a bigger trailer that's not intended to be drug around as a camper. A "park" model trailer. There is a big manufacturer of park model trailers in Athens, TX, probably not far from you. Go there and do some shopping.
Park Model Home, Park Homes For Sale $20,900 – Texas Region

Park models are trailers, so they can be moved, but they are 11' wide, so you cannot tow them like an RV. However, if you wanted to move a coupla hundred miles to a new location, you can hire it moved without it costing you too much.

The park model manufacturers are pushing RV parks to add park models to be rented out to snowbirds and other travelers, so there are now some available to rent in some RV parks.
Park Models | Trailers | RVs | Cabins | Campers | Mobile Homes
Maybe rent one for a week or so to see if you can stand being cooped up in less than 400 sq ft living space.
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Old 01-01-2012, 11:53 AM   #8
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When my DW and I began looking for a 5er, we went and looked at probably a hundred and 3 times that on the internet. I got sick and tired of looking at 'em. But it was the best time we spent arriving at the 5er we wanted. Is it perfect? No, but it met most of our needs and price point. Going forward we know what will be the perfect 5er for us in a few years. The only thing I would suggest is a must is double pane windows. It will help with condensation and retain heat. There are packages with extra insulation and for a fulltimer that'll be an important consideration. Good luck and thanks for your service.
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Old 01-01-2012, 06:51 PM   #9
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As some others have said, some good deals cam be had on late model used units. As to brand, everyone has their opinion. As for my opinion, I would look closly at Newmar products. A great compamy with well built products.
And a BIG THANK YOU for your service to our Country.
On edit, get the gross weight for the 5er you are looking at and make sure you buy enough truck to pull it.
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Old 01-01-2012, 09:02 PM   #10
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Lots of options. Here's another one.

An elderly widow friend of ours moved to the Phoenix area last year. She found a used doublewide mobil home already set up on a lot in a mobile home park, and bought it for only $23,000. Of course she still has to pay the lot rental of a few hundred dollars a month, but you'd have to pay that if you lived in a fifth-wheel RV. So consider that option in the area where you plan to stay for a while. Prices in east Texas are not as severely depressed as they are in the Phoenix area, so maybe $23,000 is a lot less than you'll have to pay for something comparable.

Use the mobile home, or park model trailer, as home base in east Texas, then you can buy a half-ton pickup and a much smaller RV trailer for your actual camping forays. My 2012 F-150 is "properly equipped" to tow a trailer grossing up to 8,400 pounds (Ford numbers), and I'm pretty sure it will handle my 7,000 pound cargo trailer with no problems while still getting 20 MPG when unloaded and used as a car. Ford makes the same F-150 that can tow a trailer that grosses over 11,000 pounds (Ford numbers). Ford numbers are exagerated by about 1,000 pounds, so I'm pretty sure it will handle an RV trailer weighing up to 10,000 pounds. An F-150 can be a nice "car" as well as tow the smaller RV trailers.

My 2012 F-150 has the nice Lariat trim, with leather seats, XM radio, trailer towing pkg, and trailer brake controller. I ordered it set up for dragging a 7,000 pound cargo trailer, but you can order one set up to tow a travel trailer or small fifth wheel RV. We will be using ours to replace both an older pickup as well as a minivan "family car".
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Old 01-02-2012, 03:37 PM   #11
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If you have the time, and it's not too far, there is a RV show going on at the Fort Worth Convention Center this weekend. You would have many units to look at and folks to answer some of your questions.
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Old 01-03-2012, 08:10 AM   #12
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Try Escapees RV Club the club for all RVers and RV for other RV forums with full timers.
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Old 01-08-2012, 10:03 AM   #13
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I'll disagree with the need for a large 5th wheel (though the big ones tend to be better built). As a Navy Vet, I'm guessing you are used to small living quarters (at least at times). A 30' 5th wheel would seem like a ranch house to a submariner!! Artic Fox has a good reputation and makes some smaller units.

Agree with the endorsements of PPL and Escapees. PPL is a great place to visit with a camera and a note book. All the RV's are open to view and walk through. If you get a chance, sign up for one of the Escapee "Boot Camps" in Livingston, TX, before you buy (about 1/3 of the attendees do not have RV's yet). The money is VERY well spent. I've owned RV's off and on for years and learned stuff. If you come to Houston, PM me ahead of time. We're parked on the north side of Houston for the foreseeable future.

(BTW, Wife and 2 kids are Navy vets, son in law is Army)
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Old 01-16-2012, 08:36 AM   #14
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I agree with SmokeyWren in considering a park model. I don't know what you currently drive but with a residential quality 5er you will need a 3500 series pickup (1 ton) or heavier to safely tow it.That's an additional 40k+ for a new truck. Plus a truck that size may not be what you want for a daily driver.
With a park model you can keep your current vehicle and hire a transport company to move the trailer for you. Your fuel savings alone could more than pay for the move. You mentioned you will be stationary most of the time so it would only be an expense a few times a year.
Also, make sure whatever you get is warranted for full time usage. Not all models are. Full time trailers have dual pane windows, 10-12 gallon water heater., washer/dryer hookups and heavier furnaces. I'm sure there are other features as well but those are the basic ones.
I am fulltiming in a Redwood 36FL and find it to be very comfortable.
Good luck and welcome.
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