Hi folks! Welcome to IRV2! We're sure glad you decided to join the bunch here!
We started RV'ing in 2001 with a 28' 5er. Too little, immediately went to a 32' 5er. It was OK but made the mistake of going to an RV show in Atlanta and ended up ordering a 36' Cedar Creek 5er which we have been very happy with for 10 years. It was perfect for going out to the local campground for a few days, and occasionally taking a short out-of-town trip.
We sold our business and retired in 2010 and wanted to take a long trip out west that we had been planning for several years, but were never able to take off from the business long enough to make it worthwhile. Due to medical problems we had to postpone the trip until this year. Early this year we started planning for the trip. We have kicked around the idea of going to a Class A for some time, but were so happy with the 5er that we didn't give it too much thought. We started thinking how convenient it would be to have a MH and be able to stop anywhere, such as a Wal-Mart parking lot, crank up the generator and spend the night in total comfort without looking for a campground (and paying for it).
To shorten the story, we found a great deal on a Class A that would give us about the same living space as the 36' 5er, and decided to take the plunge. The trip out west would be the decision maker as to whether we wanted to keep the MH or the 5th wheel. We kept the 5er so we could make the decision when we came back.
My wife was scared to death riding in the MH at first, and is still a little nervous after 6000 miles! She has a motion sickness problem and the rocking motion of the MH gave here fits for the first half of the trip, but that is better now. We had no serious problems with the MH on the entire trip. We loved the comfort of the MH.
If you plan to buy something now that you will use for traveling around the country after retirement, then I would suggest you give the MH a lot of consideration. If most of your RV'ing will be local or fairly close to home, the a 5er with a good tow vehicle might be a better solution. As others have said, you have to be prepared for the much higher maintenance cost of the MH. For example, a set of tires for ours will be in the neighborhood of $3600! Right now it needs a set of shocks and the ones I plan to put on it will be about $1000! If anything serious goes wrong with the Cummins diesel engine in the rear I may have to sell the house to pay for it!
It's a lot to think about, just take your time, do your research, and jump in! Good luck & God bless!