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Old 04-25-2014, 07:20 PM   #1
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Purchasing a Used Fifth Wheel for Full Timing

Hey everyone, I'm looking for some advice on purchasing a used 5'er for full timing. My fiancée and I are both college students and are planning on moving into a 5'er full time rather than going through the whole apartment/small house thing. I have read through a bunch of forums on here and since I know most of you guys like to have specific information before giving advice, I'll be as specific as possible.

My fiancée and I currently live and go to college in North Carolina. We are getting married in December, 2015 and plan on moving into a fifth wheel. We will be staying in this area for about 15 months (with occasional travel, as funds permit) while we finish school. After that, I may be going to graduate school, in which case we would be staying near a university for another 4-5 years (again with occasional travel). We are wanting to go somewhere in or near mountains, it's just our favorite place to be, so we will need a 5'er that can be winterized pretty well. For the sake of this discussion, assume we will be in the Boulder, CO area. If I don't go to grad. school, we will likely start travelling full time, depending on whether or not I can find a job with enough income that will support the travelling lifestyle. Now that you know our general plans for living, let me explain our budget.

Our total budget for the 5'er, any additions (solar power, composting toilet, and anything else we find that we need), and a truck is $25,000.

One of the reasons we decided to full time rather than getting an apartment was the money savings. Near a university, an apartment could cost $800-$1000 a month in rent, whereas a used 5'er for $10k-$15k will cost us less than $400/month on the loan. Plus, getting to keep what we've been spending money on is pretty nice.
So for the 5'er, we're looking to keep it at or under $15000. We also need a truck, which we are looking to buy at auction for under $7500. I'll be selling my current car for (hopefully) $6000, which leaves $8500 for additions, hitch, and anything else.

I've been doing a lot of research and my fiancée and I have decided on the floorplans that we like, but I have not been able to find any really good information on structural integrity and build quality of older model 5'ers. I've seen that Excel and Nu Wa are pretty highly recommended, but to stay within our budget we're looking at late 90's - early 00's. Is that an issue for a well built 5'er? We would like to get at least 5 years with little trouble, but of course the longer it lasts the better. As far as amenities and appliances go, we're pretty simple people - we can do without the frills. That being said, we like open living room areas, booth style dinettes, and a decent amount of counter space. We would like to stay in the 32'-38' range.

Okay, now that I've written a book for you, I would really appreciate any advice I can get. Like I said, I've done a lot of research, but experience is king in this world. Thanks in advance!

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Old 04-25-2014, 08:07 PM   #2
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Was going to recommend Excel or Mobile Suites for all weather full timer units, but even used the budget you mention for both "house" and tow rig kinda prices these out unless you just find a heck of a steal somewhere.

I've done the full time year round thing with my Excel. Mainly heated in the winter with just a small ceramic space heater. Kick on the propane when it got serious below freezing to protect the plumbing.

Good luck to you!
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Old 04-25-2014, 08:41 PM   #3
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There are used Excels in our price range (at least according to, but they are ~15 years old. The newest one currently listed is a 2001 Excel M-30 RGO, 32ft with 2 slideouts, for $12,900. Of course, it's located in Texas, so I can't just drive down to go check it out in person.
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Old 04-26-2014, 12:42 PM   #4
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Have you checked Craig's list ? If you you could find a individual that has one for sell most of the time you can get a better deal ,no middle man to make there cut out of it . Hope you find what your looking far .
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Old 04-26-2014, 01:28 PM   #5
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Have you looked at the classifieds here in the 5er section.
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Old 04-26-2014, 02:19 PM   #6
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I appreciate the replies, but I'm not really looking to buy until late next year. Right now, I'm just trying to find out what everyone thinks about the best all weather, full time 5'er. I'd love to hear about personal or second-hand experience with any brand. Right now, I'm looking at Hitchhiker as a lower budget, Mobile Suites as a high, and Excel in the middle. And remember, with my budget I'm looking at late 90's - early 00's for all of those.
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Old 04-26-2014, 02:26 PM   #7
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Well, I vote for the used Mobile Suites but I'm biased. This is the 2nd one we've owned and I think they are a great unit. I believe the first MS built was 2004. They have really good insulation 3 1/4" all around, even the slides. But I also think that Excel and Hitchhiker are really good units. Do your research, read lots of forums, look at owners forums, like, you will see problems actual owners have. I'm sure there's an Excel forum and a Hitchhiker forum. You can post ads on most forums, let it be known you are looking. We got a great deal on our original 5'r, a 2000 Avion, they are a well built unit EXCEPT for the insulation, we nearly froze in the bedroom. When you do find a unit you are interested in, have a professional rv technician inspect it, it's well worth the cost to know what problems it may have.
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Old 04-26-2014, 02:44 PM   #8
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Thanks missourijan for the recommendation. I have been reading up on several forums for about a week and have definitely learned a lot. That's how I came to be looking at those three. Do you have anything to warn against with the MS?
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Old 04-26-2014, 04:56 PM   #9
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Carriage would be a good one to look at in better grade units, but about a 34" is the smallest they made. Problem with a good unit and your budget is they are all heavy. Make yourself completely aware of weight ratings, truck capacities including the one often missed - - how much weight can you put in the bed of the truck. Many people miss that and end up with not enough truck for the kingpin weight of the fiver. I like your thinking and planning but you are going to push it to try and get it all for 25K.

2003 Dodge HO 6 speed Laramie Dually, Jordan controller, RDS fuel tank, Air Ride 25K hitch
Carriage 36' fiver, Onan 6500, Prosine 2K inverter, 3 slides, MORyde IS and Kingpin
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Old 04-26-2014, 05:16 PM   #10
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Thanks Bob, I'll take a look at those. The key to staying in my budget is finding a used truck for around $10000 or less, which we are trying to do by browsing craigslist and public auctions. We believe we'll be able to find a decent truck for around $5000 if we go through an auction. That way, we can easily spend up to $15000 on a 5'er, because I can sell my car for about $6000.
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Old 04-26-2014, 06:19 PM   #11
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NuWa, Carriage, Excel are the three that come to mind. I am thinking you need 12-15k for the 5th wheel and at least 10k for the truck.

But where in heck are you going to put it? The only place for cheap cheap living is out west on BLM land for $180/6 months. Most if not all the land in the east is private land. A RV park will cost $400 - $700/mo.

You could also look at newer 2007ish KZ Durango units.

Good luck
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Old 04-27-2014, 12:41 AM   #12
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I would highly suggest you consider a 2000-2005 era Travel Supreme fifth wheel. They were among the very best and will give u the most bang for ur buck. Even though they r out of business, there r only a few proprietary parts--and those r still readily available.
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Old 04-27-2014, 10:03 AM   #13
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If I get the job that I'm researching right now, I won't have to worry about paying for somewhere to park. Otherwise, we can volunteer/workkamp for the spot and make money from our computers.
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Old 04-27-2014, 10:12 PM   #14
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Hey Jon!

You Got Mail!

PM sent your way!
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