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Old 01-09-2013, 11:40 AM   #1
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Question Newbie from Georgia (who has questions!)

Hello, all. My husband and I (39 and 33, respectively) have made the decision to sell our house and go fulltiming! Of course, we aren't doing it right away. We're giving ourselves about 4 1/2-5 years to research, prepare, and get the house ready for sale. I came across this site not too long ago, and boy, am I glad! We are completely clueless when it comes to RVs! We've looked at a few fifth wheels at the Atlanta RV show last year (we're going again this year), and we have looked at a few motorhomes at Camping World. We prefer fifth wheels to motor homes, but we're open to the possibility of a motorhome should an opportunity for an awesome deal arise. Our primary research, though, is going into fifth wheels since that is our preference.

I've looked over the forums, and there is a great deal of information for a newbie - almost too much! I'm very pleased with what I've found, though. I've discovered that I should be looking at the quality of the construction and choose an RV company based on that before even looking at their floor plans because, obviously, floor plans can be changed. I'm having trouble with understanding some things, though, because, well, we're newbies and don't know anything! I couldn't tell you what an I-beam is or what a box construction is. We aren't engineers, nor are we particularly knowledgeable about electronic systems or construction or anything of that sort.

That leads me to two questions:

#1 - Where in the world can I learn more about RV construction, maintenance, and operation? In order to make an honest assessment of the quality of construction of an RV, I have to know how one is built, used, maintained, etc. I have looked at a few YouTube videos by RVGeeks and others, and I have read posts by people who have talked about RV maintenance and operation, but to be quite honest, I'm still completely lost! I don't know anyone who owns an RV, and I don't want to bother anyone at campgrounds with questions (they're there to vacation/relax, not to be bothered by some clueless wannabe!), which is why I've turned to the internet. But it's still overwhelming. Is there a comprehensive "how to operate and maintain your RV" manual and guide on how RVs are constructed and what one should look for when making a purchase?

#2 - Are we absolutely crazy for wanting to fulltime when we know pretty much nothing about engineering, electronic systems, plumbing, etc.? I am a classically trained musician with a penchant for yarn crafting and baking, and my husband is a software engineer who enjoys training for triathlons and has the ability for minor electrical work. We aren't exactly handy people, which worries me since most people who fulltime seem to have at least one member who is quite handy (or maybe those are just the people who happen to post most often?), but we don't know the first thing about converters, batteries, HVAC units, or anything like that. Are we fooling ourselves by thinking we can do this?

I know, this is a really long post for a check-in, but I didn't know where else to post these questions. Thank you for reading this far! And if you can answer these questions, thank you even more!

- Crystal
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Old 01-09-2013, 12:51 PM   #2
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Since you are in the planning stage and concerned as you should be about construction,I would suggest a trip to some of the Manufactures sites and tour their facilities. They do welcome individuals so see their product and it would be a great step in planning your purchase. Welcome to the site and hope you have a high time RVing.
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Old 01-09-2013, 01:28 PM   #3
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X2 from Trackman about visiting some manufacturers. You have several years to plan and it would be a good investment to pick out a few of the manufacturers that are of interest and take a couple of trips to talk to the folks at thier facilities. Of course sales folks will always talk and will tell you what they think you want to hear to buy their product, however, if you find some dealers that sell multiple models, and a good honest salesperson (I know that may be hard), you can learn a lot just by talking about what you want.

Have fun, be a little crazy and take your time. Nice that you are planning now to live your dreams.
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Old 01-09-2013, 02:06 PM   #4
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Hi Crystal! Welcome to IRV2! It's great to have you guys with us! you've got your work cut out for you, but at least you've got plenty of time to do all the research.
I think that if I were in your position, the first decision would be whether to go with a motorhome or a towable. There's a lot to consider there. Do you plan to do a lot of traveling around the country or will it be mostly in a relatively small area? We pulled a 5er for 10 years before going to a Class A a few months ago. We loved the 5er for local camping and weekend trips, but there are definite advantages to a motorhome for long-distance traveling. Of course, the ownership of a motorhome, particularly a Class A DP, is going to be much higher than a towable. Knowing that, will the budget handle the extra expense?
Once you've made the decision as to MH or towable, THEN you can start trying to narrow it down, new or used, etc.
I would suggest you post your individual questions over in the appropriate areas of the forum for better results. Not too many folks hang out here in the Welcome area.
Good luck, happy trails, and God bless!
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Old 01-09-2013, 04:20 PM   #5
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Thank you all for your replies. Touring the manufacturers' facilities wasn't something I planned on doing right away, but per your suggestions, I'm going to see if my husband wants to spend some time this July (the only month he isn't doing a triathlon or cycling event) taking a road trip to Indiana or Kansas. I've got family in Indiana who would be happy to see us, too.

Joe & Annette: For the first few years, we will be travelling around the east coast, staying close to home (Atlanta) because a) if any problems arise with the rig upon starting out, I figure it's probably better to be close to where we bought the RV, and b) my mother will need to get used to me not being around, but I still want to be close enough to visit (even if it's just me taking a little road trip to her house without the rig), so I don't cause her undue stress.

We do plan on travelling all over the country, though. Alaska is a definite must as some point. I have family in Arizona, and Aaron (DH) went to school in New Mexico, so we'll be spending some time out west. Plus Aaron wants to finish section hiking the Appalachian Trail, so we'll definitely be making our way up the east coast. We we will be travelling everywhere. Not at once, mind you! We don't plan on travelling more than 300 miles in between stops. One thing I've learned from reading other people's travels is that the excitement to see everything at once can overwhelm you, and you end up doing too much, too fast. We're going to curb that. So while we will be going everywhere, we won't be doing it all at once.

As far as motorhome vs fifth wheel, we definitely prefer a fifth wheel. Part of the reason is that we will still be working. We will be in our late 30s and early 40s when we get on the road, and therefore will still need income. My husband works from home, now, so taking his work on the road won't be too much of an issue (I'll definitely be looking in the forum later regarding internet capabilities), but because of that, he will need decent work space. Most importantly, since we're not going to have a sticks-n-bricks to go back to, this will be our year-round home. We want this to be as comfortable and homey as possible, and we feel the fifth wheels give us that feeling the most. If an opportunity to grab a used but fairly new motorhome at a good price arises, though, we aren't going to say no. We would just end up trading up in the future.

Thank you again for all your replies! I will scour the forums and absorb what I can!

- Crystal
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Old 01-09-2013, 04:43 PM   #6
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Crystal, I'm a little jealous! Wife and I are around your ages and bought a 32 ft motorhome 2 years ago with only 15,000 miles on it. We have thoroughly enjoyed it over the past couple years, mostly local, live in Florida so there's lots to see without too long of drive, but still only has 18,000 miles on it. We've been to the keys for a week pulled the boat and a scooter, and Jekyll island in Ga for a week, but lots of just weekend getaways within a 100 miles or so from house. I would love to sell house and go full-time, but my wife is more level headed and has hesitations of that sort of thing. One thing I have come to realize after 2 years with a motorhome is that I really hate driving. Lol! So that's been kind of a stumbling block to my full timing plans. But kiddos to you and your husband for commitment to take the plunge! I hope you keep us posted of your adventures, and maybe set up a Facebook page or blog where us who are envious can follow your adventures. Good luck. And keep us all posted! Dave in Florida.
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Old 01-09-2013, 04:59 PM   #7
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cvanwieren, if I were you (and I was not long ago) I would keep an open mind. I would go on a few trips, local or whatever with rental or lease units. In short order you will learn what is important to you and what is not. Often some major selling points of one unit or another (even type TT, Class A, B, or C) may not be a factor what so ever when it gets down to your intended use. I have a Class A, many times I think A 5th wheel would be nice but the pro's do not out weight the cons for me. One thing I would caution anyone on is the little things that start out to be a tiny PIA right off the bat usually end up being a giant PIA when you consider that you must deal with that everyday that you are on the road. What I mean is, if you find a unit that would be perfect except for (blank), make damn sure you can live with (blank).
I like many an excited for you, be cautious, go slow, and when you take the leap, don't look back.
As far as the maintenance woes that go along with it, you'll figure it out, you really have no choice, a multi meter and patience go a long way!
Enjoy!
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Old 01-11-2013, 09:40 AM   #8
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That's great advice above; renting both or all options. The only true way to get a feel for something is to actually experience. As it pertains to "know-how", I think you'll find that most people garner their education on the fly, so-to-speak. Something to consider would be to look into purchasing your dream unit before you sell the house and move in, and then utilize the "heck out of it". By the time you're ready to put the For Sale sign in the front yard, you'll both be seasoned RVers and the fulltime idea won't seem so daunting.

Good luck!
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Old 01-11-2013, 09:50 AM   #9
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before you sell the stick house you should pick up a used rv and try it out before you sell.if it does not work out you will still have a home to go to.
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Old 01-11-2013, 09:53 AM   #10
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Howdy and welcome to the forums. I have to agree with previous statements that you try it before selling your home. You can pick up a used RV as we did and try it out for a few months.
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Old 01-11-2013, 10:18 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cvanwieren View Post
That leads me to two questions:

#1 - Where in the world can I learn more about RV construction, maintenance, and operation? In order to make an honest assessment of the quality of construction of an RV, I have to know how one is built, used, maintained, etc. I have looked at a few YouTube videos by RVGeeks and others, and I have read posts by people who have talked about RV maintenance and operation, but to be quite honest, I'm still completely lost! I don't know anyone who owns an RV, and I don't want to bother anyone at campgrounds with questions (they're there to vacation/relax, not to be bothered by some clueless wannabe!), which is why I've turned to the internet. But it's still overwhelming. Is there a comprehensive "how to operate and maintain your RV" manual and guide on how RVs are constructed and what one should look for when making a purchase?

#2 - Are we absolutely crazy for wanting to fulltime when we know pretty much nothing about engineering, electronic systems, plumbing, etc.? I am a classically trained musician with a penchant for yarn crafting and baking, and my husband is a software engineer who enjoys training for triathlons and has the ability for minor electrical work. We aren't exactly handy people, which worries me since most people who fulltime seem to have at least one member who is quite handy (or maybe those are just the people who happen to post most often?), but we don't know the first thing about converters, batteries, HVAC units, or anything like that. Are we fooling ourselves by thinking we can do this?
Crystal, where in GA are you.? Next week I'll be all of 3 miles from GA (In SC off I-85).

Daughter lives in GA as well, but off I-95.

To address your questions;

You are already in a good place, You can ask questions here of folks who actually live in RV's some of us full time.

I myself can not talk about construction of any but one motor home, The one I live in. That one being a 2005 Damon Intruder 377W. I have a few complaints, but overall it seems to be fairly well built. It does not (yet) show signs of falling apart, 3 2 years part time and 4 full time.

But there are many others, and this I can tell you, Some are better built, A Prevost for example, is very well built (At what, half a million dollars starting they ought to be).

class A v/s 5er. I think you should take another look at the Class A with towed, here is why.

For 35-40 feet of house, you are going to get around 8-10 MPG tops going down the road, Diesel or Gas is taken care of by the "Range" there. That's not a lot, You drop your 5th wheel and you get perhaps 16-20 with the truck if you are lucky.

Modern cars are in the 30-40 MPG range.

So when you run to the store for bread (I make my own) or go to see the sights, With the class A you have the smaller, easier to park, High millage per gallon car, as opposed to the bigger fuel guzzeling truck to drive.

Yet another advantage of the "A" is that.. Well, from time to time I feel the need to exit the driver's seat for a different seat.. Today it happens to be raining, Well I can get to that seat without going outside and getting wet.

Now the 2nd question: Are you crazy... No, in fact the folks who say "oh that's too expensive" And trust me, Off-line you will have folks saying that, They will talk about the high cost of fuel for example.

Well. THEY are the crazy ones. I will explain why

I spend around 100/month on fuel (or less) in "normal" mode, and about 500 on my semi-annual hike, That's is what 2,000 a year on fuel (1,000 from summer to winter quarters and 1,000 running cg to cg during each of those seasons. Plus 382 for registration tax on the motor home (In Michigan it's a tax)

That's compared to over 3,000 a year in property tax.

I pay about 100/month for memberships (2) which take care of my summer parking and 2/3 of my winter parking, and 120/month for the rest of my winter parking, Average less than 200/month, this includes electric, water and sewage.

Electric natural gas water and sewage used to run me over 200 a month back in the sticks and bricks.

So.. Which is more expensive? Taxes and fees on the sticks and bricks of course.

Plus, if the house next to mine gets firebombed,,, again.. I'm one quick turn of the ignition key from a new address.. Not so easy when it's cemented into the ground with concrete.
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Old 01-11-2013, 12:09 PM   #12
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Welcome Crystal,
I see you all are from Woodstock.We purchased our 2011 Daymon Daybreak from CW there in Woodstock.For the most part we are Happy with our purchase but, I have been camping on and off since the mid 70ies.We don,t full time and like you we still work.Feb 1st we will start just to work 2 days aweek for awhile.My DW will be 70 Feb 12th and I am 63 so we have age on you so my Hat is off to you if you are able to go full time at your age.We live in Centre Al. and work in Atl. Not to far from you.If we can Help just PM me and I will give you my 2cents forth.Good Luck an many Safe and Happy Travels
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Old 01-12-2013, 09:06 AM   #13
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Thanks for replying, all! Here's a few answers to your questions:

My husband and I live in the north Atlanta suburbs, off I-75 & I-575, about a 20 minutes drive down the interstate from the city perimeter. Far enough away to not have to deal with the city, but close enough for my husband to drive to the Falcons games.

Yup, there's a camping world just down the road! I think we even took a look at that Damon Daybreak, as that was one of the motorhomes we liked.

Whether we get a fiver or MH, we will still have our little KIA Soul we purchased last year. That little car is bigger on the inside, gets great gas mileage, and it was built right here in Georgia (on the Alabama border, Papaw! We pass it every time we visit my sister-in-law and her family in Auburn). We wouldn't tow it behind the fifth wheel; we would drive separately. If we got a motorhome, I'm not sure if we would tow it, either. I kind of like the idea of being able to help my husband out when we're going down the interstate (giving him room to change lanes, scoping out traffic ahead to see if we should get off on a certain exit, etc.). We read about that from RV-Dreams, and it sounded like a good idea.

I completely agree that fulltiming can be cheaper than living in a sticks and bricks, but it's also what you make of it. If you're parking at a KOA every night, it will get pricey! If you to go to the mom & pop RV parks, or if you're willing to boondock it for a couple of nights, the cost will get significantly cheaper. Also, unlike some people I've read about, Aaron and I will not be travelling very far distances at a time. I don't plan on putting a lot of wear and tear on the RV (as much as one can, anyway - you are basically driving your home through an earthquake, after all) or spending a lot on gas. We'll eventually see it all. We're not in a rush.

I've posted a question on here regarding RV problems you've encountered. Please, feel free to give me all your horror stories! We honestly want to learn from these issues, both in regards for things to look out for when purchasing an RV as well as problems you've encountered with manufacturers.

Thank you all again! Hope to see you on the road in a few years!
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Old 01-12-2013, 10:50 AM   #14
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Crystal -- What a thrill for you both, and how smart you are to do this while you are young.

Since you won't be full-timing for another 4-5 years (it may be shorter than that as you get more excited about getting started!!), I'd recommend that you buy a cheap unit and do as much weekend and vacation RVing as you possibly can.

The best way to learn about RVing is to do it.

We had a popup tent trailer as our first RV, and we spent 157 nights in it in 2 years... that's a lot of nights!!! We camped every chance we got and took several long trips in it.

While at the campgrounds, talk to the hosts and any other long term or full-timer types you can find to learn as much about the lifestyle as possible. We learned more from talking to folks we met than in any other way.

You can either use your cheap starter RV as your first full-time unit, or you can trade it in when you are ready to take off.

Good luck with your research and planning... and have a ball once you sell up and go!!!
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