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Old 01-27-2015, 12:16 PM   #1
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Active military family looking to go full time

Greetings All,

We're a young military family (myself, former AF), husband is active duty Army Officer with 10 years left. Lately, we have been very seriously considering moving on from all of the rentals, post housing, waitlists, buyer/seller markets, etc. stress and living in an RV full time. We have one son also, who is 4. We move on average, every 2 years, so for us, full time would mean parking somewhere and living there for the duration of his assignment. Ideally (and I'd love more info on this) we would like to be able to stay year round, at the installation's RV park. Of course this would be a big leap, but we have about a year-year and a half to really plan and budget for it, do our research, and then we'd be looking at purchasing our RV at our upcoming assignment. We have 2010 F350 FX4 that is close to being paid off, so we are mainly considering 5th wheels to maximize the use of the truck we already have. Will definitely want bunks in the back for our son, and would love any advice on manufactures to look at. Coming here though for information on full time living on or around active military installations (we are currently at Leavenworth in KS, and most likely will end up back at Lewis/McChord, Carson, Bragg, Campbell, maybe Sill). Thanks everyone and God Bless!
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Old 01-27-2015, 05:43 PM   #2
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I've seen a few AD military folks living in their RV full-time during our travels. Those I've seen are parked in the installations military famcamp. That might be difficult though if your husband is assigned to installations like Ft. Dix, NJ, or Ft. Wainwright AK, etc. where it gets really cold in winter. That's something to take seriously. There is always the possibility of being assigned overseas too.
There are many retired military full-timers in our S.M.A.R.T. travel club.
I cannot recommend a specific make/model of 5er, but you should make a list of those that are listed as full-time living units. Ask to read the warranty when looking at any trailer as most state their warranty is void when used for full-time living.

I recommend finding out your trucks weight ratings, actual weight when loaded up ready to go camping, before anything else. This determines how large and heavy a trailer you may safely and comfortably tow when it is fully loaded.
One online calculator for accomplishing this is: this fifth wheel calculator.
Congratulations and thanks to both of you for committing your lives to protecting our country!
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Old 01-27-2015, 09:45 PM   #3
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Ray gave you some good advice. Something to consider in your trailer search is the insulation package the manufacturer provides. Most TT's and 5'ers are not insulated for very hot or very cold climates. Some manufacturers do offer additional insulation or cold weather packages. We lived in our 27' TT while our retirement house was being built just south of Lewis/McChord. We had temps into the teens and several 12-15" snowfalls that winter. Winterizing water lines was a must and maintaining a comfortable inside temperature used a lot of propane and electricity.

Long term RV/Trailer sites: I'm not aware of many military FamCamps that allow full timers but you should check. A site at a trailer park may be your only option.

As to your F-350 4x4, as Ray said, you'll need to do some research to determine the trailer and tongue weights of the rigs you are considering and the limits of the truck.

From a USAF Retiree to a young active duty family, Good Luck and God Bless.
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Old 03-08-2015, 06:18 PM   #4
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I am active duty Navy and a single mom. I am FT and live on a military base. I love it! Got questions? I've got answers!
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Old 04-11-2015, 11:35 PM   #5
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Thank You for your service!

We were stationed at Ft. Riley KS, waiting for base housing, and spent that 1st winter in our motorhome...and haven't looked back! The next spring we traded for a 5th wheel and lived in a campground off base for the next 4 years. Yep, survived 5 Kansas winters in a RV and loved it! Our campground was full of active duty (singles, families and geographical bachelors).

Husband retired from the Army and we went Fulltiming. As we travel, we stay in as many famcamps as we can. The famcamps always have active duty staying there, it is more common than you think.

First, check to see what weight you can safely pull with your current truck. It will give you a starting point for your RV research. RVs with the "winter package" normally have better insulation for cold and heat, but double check with each RV. This may sound silly, but go through A LOT of RVs, see what you like and don't like. Life changes and what you like and need today in an RV maybe not be what you like and need in 2 years, it's okay, we've all been through it. It will be adjustment to a smaller space...you might not like it or you may love it!

Good Luck!
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Old 04-14-2015, 06:46 AM   #6
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Most FAM Camps have limited stays, 14 to 30 days. Fort Leonard Wood does not even have one. Would be best to stay at an RV park off Post. I served the Army for 35 years and retirement is great! Good Luck!
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Old 04-14-2015, 08:06 AM   #7
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Here's a blog by a military wife living in a 5th wheel. Lots of personal / family items, but you may find something that answers some of your questions Crowdedcamper.com Crowded CamperŪ - A mom's life in a Crowded Camper

Quote:
Originally Posted by NB32 View Post
Greetings All,

We're a young military family (myself, former AF), husband is active duty Army Officer with 10 years left. Lately, we have been very seriously considering moving on from all of the rentals, post housing, waitlists, buyer/seller markets, etc. stress and living in an RV full time. We have one son also, who is 4. We move on average, every 2 years, so for us, full time would mean parking somewhere and living there for the duration of his assignment. Ideally (and I'd love more info on this) we would like to be able to stay year round, at the installation's RV park. Of course this would be a big leap, but we have about a year-year and a half to really plan and budget for it, do our research, and then we'd be looking at purchasing our RV at our upcoming assignment. We have 2010 F350 FX4 that is close to being paid off, so we are mainly considering 5th wheels to maximize the use of the truck we already have. Will definitely want bunks in the back for our son, and would love any advice on manufactures to look at. Coming here though for information on full time living on or around active military installations (we are currently at Leavenworth in KS, and most likely will end up back at Lewis/McChord, Carson, Bragg, Campbell, maybe Sill). Thanks everyone and God Bless!
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Old 04-14-2015, 03:04 PM   #8
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I met a navy family living in a 5th wheel in San Diego. They were saying at a KOA. They were in a Heartland Cyclone Toy Hauler. I have the same 5th wheel myself. It has two bucks in the garage area and a half bath in the garage. There is also a Yetti package available to insulate the rig for colder weather. I pull my Cyclone with a 2012 Ford F-350 6.7 diesel with no problems.
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Old 04-14-2015, 05:32 PM   #9
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Its a viable option especially with your housing allowance. An RV polar package (insulation) is really important for both cold and warm climates. Most likely you will end up off base after a month or so as most installations don't allow long term stays. That varies widely by service and geographical location though. I would recommend two A/C (with heat pumps) to be comfortable in the heat or high humidity. Your truck will do fine if you understand its numbers and buy a 5er that when loaded is under the maximum towing hitch and pull weight. Lots of bunk bed models and some convert into storage when no longer needed. Look at lots of different models before choosing.


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Old 06-01-2015, 07:12 AM   #10
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THANK YOU! Everyone for all of the information. We've been spending the last few months in research mode, and touring different rigs that we might be interested in. We have ruled out a few, and have narrowed in on two Open Range Roamers with the four seasons package. We're a bit torn, now, because one is a TT at 37' and the other, a 5er at 36'. Both offer essentially the same floorplan and weight on either will still be under GVWR for our truck. Any opinions? I know the TT vs 5th wheel debate is a lot of personal opinion, but since this will be our first RV, we have no opinion yet, so would love yours. What we like about the TT: Lower to the ground. We have a 4 year old and two dogs, and feel like this will be easier (and safer) for everyone. Cons: We have a long truck - F350 diesel crew cab with 8ft bed. So adding a 37' tt onto that...seems like a pretty long rig. Also, we have a Lear cap and love the heck out of the storage that gives us. The Open Range 5er has amazing storage, but we will be sacrificing the truck bed and having to remove and store the cap. Worth it? Not sure. Also, 5er is about $10k more. Worth it? Not sure!

Thanks everyone again! We are planning on living in our camper and throwing all of our BAH at it (and campsite rental) until it's paid off. Figure we could let the Army pay for our RV instead of taking it all for an on post rental house. Then I think we'll use it mainly for trips and in between pcs'ing, anything really. Want to be able to stay comfortably for months at a time. We were impressed with the all seasons package offered on both of these rigs. Anyone have personal experience with Open Range? I'm on a FB page for military RV families and a few have said their experiences overall, have been pretty positive. These are the plans we're focused on:

2015 Open Range Roamer 310bhs, Clinton MO - 114744925 - RVTrader.com

2015 Open Range Roamer 367BHS, 5th Wheels RV For Sale in Equinunk, Pennsylvania | C. Neer RV Inc. NMR36 | RVT.com - 120119
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Old 06-01-2015, 11:06 AM   #11
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I have an Open Range Light. 2013 travel trailer, 38 footer. The only issue I found is the room in the back doesn't get the right circulation.. I still need to get that fixed.
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Old 06-01-2015, 11:59 PM   #12
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Towing a 5er is more stable and to me safer in nasty weather while on the road. I would also choose the 5er for the extra storage and by adding some canvas to enclose the hitch area you create more room to get your "stuff" out of site. Either rig though looks like a good choice for your needs.


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Old 06-02-2015, 06:02 AM   #13
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I agree with Chiefly1 - the 5th wheel is a more stable platform to tow. You do not feel the white knuckle feeling when being passed by semi's on the hwy. We have had both and do enjoy the 5th wheel better.


I put a tool box in the bed of my truck for storage. Also, a tonneau cover will keep your other stuff out of sight and protected from the elements.


My vote - 5TH WHEEL
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Old 06-02-2015, 07:03 AM   #14
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Being retired military, we stay at a lot of military famcamps and many of them accommodate full time active duty. My vote would be for the 5th wheel, tho I have never owned one. I like the feeling of more space, definite master bedroom feel, but most importantly the storage space! That would be my deciding factor...storage!
No doubt your little one will have a blast no matter where you go...and his friends will envy his full-time camping!
Let us know what you decide...will be an interesting journey for sure.
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