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Old 06-25-2014, 12:08 PM   #1
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RV Consumer Group, JR RV Reviews, or somthing else?

Hi there!

As this is my first post on any RVing site, I wanted to say hi and introduce myself. My name's Kim, I'm a nurse, and I live in the Chicago area with my husband Ken, who has just retired. My job enables me to work contract hospital assignments from 12-16 weeks all across the country and since we don't want to live in apartments, we have decided to buy an RV to live in during these assignments. Additionally, we love hiking the National Parks, so between assignments we plan to hit the Nat. Parks as well. Due to the time we will spend living on the road, we are really leaning towards a 5th Wheel, as they seem more affordable and more importantly, have the feeling of a home.

That being said, I am a researcher by nature and have started investigating RVing and while I have a lot more to learn, I am at the point where I want to know how RV's are made and what to look for in quality construction (incase I want to buy an older used model), so I think I want to find an independent , comprehensive RV reviewing source. Thus far, I've heard of and read some peoples comments regarding the RV Consumer group, as well as JR Consumer. Sorry for being so long winded, but I am a woman, so....

Which do you recommend I purchase at this point? Or is there another source I am not aware of that you may recommend? Any advice or commentary you would like to share would be welcomed and greatly appreciated.

Kim
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Old 06-25-2014, 12:19 PM   #2
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Hi Kim and welcome to the forum.

I'm sure some of our experts will be along soon with specific advice on manufacturers, models, etc.

Although we too really like the "livability" of a fifth wheel, we ended up buying a 40DP because we didn't want our daily driver vehicle to be a large diesel truck... but many folks on here are happy full time in their fivers.

FWIW, whatever you buy, I would recommend buying a gently used rig. The depreciation hit and "de-bugging" that comes along with buying new are really something to consider. And yes, I bought mine new.

Best of luck to you both.

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Old 06-25-2014, 12:25 PM   #3
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Hi Kim and welcome to iRV2! You have already started at the right place. There is more information here then you can ever consume. Start by thinking about what type of motor home you are looking for. From the large, Class A diesel pushers, all the way down to the smaller van type. Look at the various owner forums on this site and get an idea of what people think of what the currently own. Take lots of time, do your research, and then go to dealers and start looking.
It is a great lifestyle, perfect for what you want to do as a contract nurse. And above all else, ask lots of questions on this site. You'll get plenty of responses. Good luck!
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Old 06-25-2014, 01:16 PM   #4
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Hello Kim and Ken;
Welcome to the world of RV'ing. Coach, 5er, TT. All have their applications. There are upsides and downsides to each.

I believe for long term living you have to consider a 5er. Coach is better for more frequent travel.

First thing I would consider is comfort. Since you will be sitting for longer periods the prime directive is to find something you will be comfortable in. That is floor plan and ammenities.

Do you want to shower in your unit? Or bath? How much hot water? Do you like to cook? Do you like max amount of hot water or can you manage with shorter showers? Will you spend more of your time outside than inside? Will you be picking hot or cooler places or maybe something temperate? When you relax inside are you looking for very comfortable chairs? Etc, etc, etc.

This is sort of like planning a S&B dwelling. Your desires will go a long way to coming to a solution for what would suit you best.

Before finally deciding on your wish list go out and window shop RV's at various dealers or shows. Check out the various features and options that are available. Knowledge is gold when making a decision. I note you are a researcher.

Once you have an idea of what you would like you will find the decision making process easier. It is quite a bit like buying a car, except we have had a lot of experience from very young with cars.

Note that paying less for a unit generally means lower quality materials. Workmanship kind of follows the same trend except there are workmanship issues with even high end units.

Buying used can mean substantial saving but you can also inherit issues that made the previous owner divest themselves of the unit. There are numerous posts where lots of hidden "features" were discovered after purchase.

We have a 5er that we have used for 9 years. We are moving to a coach because we like the coach. We will miss the 5er once we sell it but we like the coach.
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Old 06-25-2014, 02:33 PM   #5
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First, you should understand that neither of those sources is at all comparable to a RV Consumer Reports. They do not do any of their own testing. They do give you some (hopefully well informed) opinions on many aspects of each RV. They also provide extensive information on such things as manufacturer's specifications, construction type, etc. I would be reasonably easy to gather this information (except their opinions) yourself, at no cost, if you are only interested in one or two RVs. However, if you are interested in many RVs, you will be putting in a lot of time.

When I was shopping for our 5er, I purchased the JR Consumer database. Overall, I found it to be generally helpful. The specifications and construction data are usually quite accurate. The opinions are usually good, but must but must be taken with a grain of salt. Sometimes, they will contain a clue that some narrowly directed additional research is required.

In hindsight, I am not sorry that I bought it. If you are just starting out, it is probably well worth the price.

Joel
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Old 06-25-2014, 03:05 PM   #6
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All depends what part of the country you are going to winter in!
A large percentage are not designed for four seasons. Some fivers
offer a "Artic" package.
I also agree with the Dailey driver vehicle, a one ton DRW, can be a bit
of a pain on city streets and parking garages.
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Old 06-25-2014, 03:46 PM   #7
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Had a cousin that did the 'traveling nurse' thing for 5 years...
did very well with it, even when in Alaska and walking amongst the polar bears !
Perfect scenario for an rv...

I'll offer another opinion -
I drive my 1 ton ccsb pickup everywhere in the dfw area
and it is the 'go-to' vehicle with our camping couples wherever we are, the wife has no trouble being the pilot either !

So look at them all and decide what's best for your situation...
understand the pros and cons of each,
some are not warranted for 4 season or full timing so pick the best floor plan for you and know that you will be living in it a lot more than traveling in it

even go out to a park to see and talk to owners...
most are more than happy to discuss them and their choices,
good luck
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Old 06-25-2014, 06:12 PM   #8
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My advice would be to go every show and dealership around. Walk thru and around every RV you can.
Actually picture yourself living in it. As in:
"Where will the clothes go?"
"Where will all the dishes and food go?"
"Where will I store all my other stuff?"
Sit on the couch's, lay down on the bed(s), "cook" on the stove, "use" the bathroom. All this is to get a feel of what it will be like living in it.
If it has slides then can you still get to things like the bathroom and fridge with them in?
Look at every floor plan to see what fits you. There are some manufacturers that we just will not take a second look at because the majority of their floor plans do not fit us. After living full time in our rig for the last few years we know what we like and what we don't. I know we won't go for another rig unless it already has a residential fridge or the TV across from the couch and not above the drivers seat.

There is nothing out there that will tell you any of this except your own eyes. I would not bother to spend money on anything like those reports. If they were more like the way Consumers Reports does things then I would defiantly consider it but they don't. Most of the time they just get the brochures from the websites and/or shows and write up the reports from that info.
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Old 06-25-2014, 11:32 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PyrateSilly View Post
My advice would be to go every show and dealership around. Walk thru and around every RV you can.
Actually picture yourself living in it. As in:
"Where will the clothes go?"
"Where will all the dishes and food go?"
"Where will I store all my other stuff?"
Sit on the couch's, lay down on the bed(s), "cook" on the stove, "use" the bathroom. All this is to get a feel of what it will be like living in it.
If it has slides then can you still get to things like the bathroom and fridge with them in?
Look at every floor plan to see what fits you. There are some manufacturers that we just will not take a second look at because the majority of their floor plans do not fit us. After living full time in our rig for the last few years we know what we like and what we don't. I know we won't go for another rig unless it already has a residential fridge or the TV across from the couch and not above the drivers seat.

There is nothing out there that will tell you any of this except your own eyes. I would not bother to spend money on anything like those reports. If they were more like the way Consumers Reports does things then I would defiantly consider it but they don't. Most of the time they just get the brochures from the websites and/or shows and write up the reports from that info.
Agree - sort of like Siskell and Ebert. You have to see a few of the same movies they rate to get an understanding of their likes and dislikes and how they mesh with your tastes.
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Old 06-25-2014, 11:41 PM   #10
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Best thing is to look around until you find the floor plan you both like and will be comfortable for extended stays. Not everywhere you travel will be filled with sunshine and pleasant weather. Some places have rain and other things that make you stay inside.

You want to be comfortable with the chairs, cooking and eating areas, location and size of TV, size of shower (bathtub), size of bed.

You will be limited in the size you can pull with a 250. It is a great truck but it does have limits. It is better to have a little bit too much truck than not quite enough. After all you will be carrying at least two precious cargos.

As suggested weigh your truck with full fuel, you and the DW and anything you think you may carry. Get the total weight and the weight on the back axle. Add about 300 lb for the weight of the 5 wheel to the weight of the truck and the back axle.

1) Subtract the weight of your truck + 5 wheel from the GVWR (on the door sticker) of your truck.

2) Subtract the weight of your back axle + 5 wheel from the GAWR - rear (on the door sticker).

Take the lesser amount of either 1 or 2 and divide that number by 0.25. Pin weights for 5ers range from 15 to 25 percent. I used the heaviest so you may want to reduce that to .22. However I would not go less than 20%. The number you will get will give you an approximate weight that would be the highest you should look at.

If you can find the GCWR for your truck you can compare that to the weight of your truck plus approximate weight or simply take the GCWR and delete the weight of your truck from it. Do not forget to add weight for the 5 wheel you will have to include.

Adding larger tires or air bags will not change the GAWR-rear of your truck.

Personally I am prefer a 5er for several reasons. TT include the hitch length so for the same length trailer I get more living space as well as the towing characteristics. Plus all of the benefits listed by previous posts.

Still a TT could be considered if you find the one you like.

Found the following link that may save some manual calculations.

http://changingears.com/rv-sec-calc-...eight-fw.shtml
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Old 06-25-2014, 11:46 PM   #11
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Kim,

Regarding the RV review sources, I would say skip them all. At best you have highly biased ex-salesmen who have an ax to grind about safety issues putting out their (and a few other RVers) biases into print. Please realize that they don't drive the units, or even personally look at them. Most of their info is culled from brochures and from a few visits to RV trade shows. They then rate the units according to their own personal beleifs, biases and opinons.

My suggestion to you is to narrow down your choices to a few models and then do your research here and other RV forums. You will soon see patterns of people praising certain models and other models being panned. BTW, this is a good reason to buy a gently used model because you will have lots of first hand data on the good, bad and ugly aspects of it.

As far as a 5th wheel goes, sorry but I cannot comment on those, I have owned 6 Motorhomes in my life and prefer them, however 5th wheels do win in the "home" feel category, you have to pick what is right for you since there are dedicated users of each type.

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Old 06-26-2014, 01:20 AM   #12
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First of all congratulations on Ken's retirement and your soon-to-be employment adventure. Thanks for your service as a nurse.

There are so many excellent suggestions above. We could have used these ideas in our over 40 years of rv'ing!

JMHO- All rv's represent compromises. But from our experience with travel trailers, 5th wheels and now a motorhome, I would tend to recommend a 5th wheel for your use. Your fifth wheel can be very homey but be sure it is well enough insulated for winter use. We had a heavy, well built 5th wheel but our motorhome is much more well insulated. My wife really likes our stacked washer and dryer (not an all-in-one unit).

The 5th wheel is inherently much more stable on the road when encountering cross winds or passing trucks. This is due to the hitch over the rear axle of the towing truck. A 350/3500/450/4500/or 550/5500 single axle pickup truck will have the same exterior dimensions as a 250/2500. Duallies are wider, of course, but many feel they are more stable in towing than single rear wheel pickups. They also require more attention in congested areas. Just look at all the busted extended rear fenders! The heavier duty trucks will have more braking and carrying capacity. Buy your 5th wheel first, then shop for a truck to tow and stop it.

You can count on a range of opinions here at IRV2. Enjoy your research.
Safe travels.
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Old 06-27-2014, 12:10 PM   #13
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I agree that with a 5th wheel you get more bang for your buck, although your daily driver is a pickup. I think for maintenance - pick up versus DP - you are likely to come out on top with a pickup given also you can buy a used pickup and still get an original extended warranty which you may not be able too obtain on a used DP, although there other types of warranty's for DPs.
Go out and check both types of units including a class C, although for full time I think that's a little small. Cost out the maintenance of the types of units your looking at, including things like tires and regular maintenance. Determine what is your budget to buy and budget to operate/maintain. Good luck with your research and choice
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Old 06-28-2014, 05:07 PM   #14
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Thanks so much to all of you; for your kind words and thoughtful advice. The research continues:-)

Kim
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