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Old 11-13-2022, 01:14 AM   #1
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Considering a Fifth Wheel...realistic?

Well, I'm back to the forums again. I know the term "realistic" has been thrown around a bit, but I do realize that taking out a loan on a Country Coach Intrigue with a salary of roughly $30K a year estimated is laughable.


I want to approach this adventure in a much more grounded manner. In a few months, I could theoretically take out a loan for a $12,000 1997 Fleetwood Avion; it is not a class A, and much cheaper than a motorhome. My credit score is 700. A 2001 Chevy Suburban 8.1L would serve as the towing vehicle. I was concerned about the logistics of parking at Matanzas State Forest, but to my pleasant surprise, per FDACS.gov and the Florida State Parks website, it states "Camping within managed lands, except in designated hunt camps, is limited to 14 consecutive nights to prevent any camper from taking up long term camping at any one campsite and possibly displacing other campers. After 14 consecutive nights, the camper must leave the state forest for at least three nights before returning for a new stay..." which means overnight camping in lands is allowed. It also says, "Camping within managed lands where a fee is required is authorized upon payment of that fee." It continues: "No person shall remain in any day-use area during the times it is designated as closed unless a State Forest Use Permit (FDACS-11228, Rev. 07/15) has been issued by the Service in accordance with subsection 5I-4.005(2), F.A.C." I had no idea one could purchase a State Forest Use permit, because the daily fees would eat me alive. The site clearly states: "The Individual Annual Entrance Pass provides day-use park entry for a single, named passholder.", and it is only $60! Am I missing something, LOL? Almost seems too good to be true. I know I am a bit naive, but I think this information is very promising.
I researched campervans and class C's, but they are much too cramped. It seems to me Fleetwood Avions have high quality interiors and space with real character, and the logistics of towing a trailer as opposed to all of the electronics inside of a class A would make much more sense.



I am just a college student, but I really do love the idea of boondocking and living off the grid for maybe $500 a month, as opposed to renting $1400 a month apartment. I've lived in urban areas for a long time, and the notion of living in a rural area, that primacy and self-reliance, is very appealing. And the whole point of motorhomes is that your home travels with you. So I was curious what this community's opinion was on this matter.
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Old 11-13-2022, 06:21 AM   #2
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Contrary to all the hyper, RV living is NOT cheap. Not only the initial cost must be considered, but maintenance is also a significant issue. Do you have savings and the skill to replace a water heater or AC if needed? Are you aware you will need a generator to provide charging capability for your batteries? How are you going to provide for internet access which I assume you need as a student? Are you aware of the weight requirements of a trailer and especially a fifth wheel? It isn’t tow weight that is your limit on a fifth wheel, it is payload. Yes, people can live in RVs off the grid, but it takes some knowledge and skills (or a bunch of cash) to do so. What experience do you have?
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Old 11-13-2022, 07:00 AM   #3
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I'd call the State Park where you plan to camp the majority of your time and ask them if your plan would work. Would being a Campground Host work for you?

https://www.floridastateparks.org/volunteers

That may be a way to get your toe in the door for longer term stays.
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Old 11-13-2022, 08:10 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by WolfCoach View Post
I could theoretically take out a loan for a $12,000 1997 Fleetwood Avion; it is not a class A, and much cheaper than a motorhome. My credit score is 700. A 2001 Chevy Suburban 8.1L would serve as the towing vehicle.
In addition to the other comments about expenses, towing a 5th wheel with a Suburban won't be very easy either!

Seriously, both '97 Avion models I found have a (presumably) dry weight of 11.5K - loaded up you are likely in the 14K range. They are also 38+' long.
That trailer is heading towards 1-ton dually pick-up truck territory, or at the very least a 1-ton SRW (single rear wheel).
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Old 11-13-2022, 09:30 AM   #5
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Time limits on public land is to help prevent the land from turning into Trailer Trash, and to make it available for others. Too many people abuse land and ruin it for the rest of us.
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Old 11-13-2022, 12:03 PM   #6
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A Suburban is an SUV unless he meant a Silverado. If the Avion is a 5er, how can it be towed behind an SUV? I can't see how he can afford to do his plan on a $30,000 income even if it needed no maintenance.
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Old 11-13-2022, 01:27 PM   #7
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Old 11-13-2022, 05:35 PM   #8
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They are talking about a DAY USE pass; not camping.

Also, you can't tow a 5th wheel with a Suburban.

The site clearly states: "The Individual Annual Entrance Pass provides day-use park entry for a single, named passholder.", and it is only $60! Am I missing something, LOL?
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Old 11-14-2022, 04:04 PM   #9
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Contrary to all the hyper, RV living is NOT cheap. Not only the initial cost must be considered, but maintenance is also a significant issue. Do you have savings and the skill to replace a water heater or AC if needed? Are you aware you will need a generator to provide charging capability for your batteries? How are you going to provide for internet access which I assume you need as a student? Are you aware of the weight requirements of a trailer and especially a fifth wheel? It isnít tow weight that is your limit on a fifth wheel, it is payload. Yes, people can live in RVs off the grid, but it takes some knowledge and skills (or a bunch of cash) to do so. What experience do you have?

I believe maintenance would only be about $100 a month on a 5th wheel. In 3 months, I may have around $8000 saved. There are many DIY guides on Youtube, for instance, that can be followed. I have repaired broken computers before, so I have some repair experience. I would install solar panels for about $1000, and use a mobile hotspot for Internet. Well, here is something interesting:

At :05 in this video, the vehicle towing the Avion is not a Dodge Ram 3500 V10. According to the door insignia, It is a 3500 5.9 I-6 Turbo Diesel, which has a towing capacity of 11700 lbs. According to the 2001 Chevy Suburban owners manual, the 8.1 Vortec on the 2500 has a towing capacity of 12000 lbs. The Ram has a payload of 5100 lbs, while the Suburban has 3200 lbs. Changing Lanes RV states, "In terms of payload capacity, a fifth-wheel will have between 20% and 25% of its total weight on the pin." A theoretical maximum of 25% of the Avion's listed weight of 12000 lbs is 3000 lbs, which a Suburban should be able to handle.

I've camped in the Appalachian Mountains before, and I would admit I have no experience with RVs. But plenty of people purchase their first trailer/MH and they have to learn the technicalities of it. I would think it would be feasible, not all that different from routine repair.
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Old 11-14-2022, 04:07 PM   #10
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I'd call the State Park where you plan to camp the majority of your time and ask them if your plan would work. Would being a Campground Host work for you?

https://www.floridastateparks.org/volunteers

That may be a way to get your toe in the door for longer term stays.

That is essential, I will do that.



I'm not sure if allotting my time to that would be possible if I'm going to college and working, but I'll see.
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Old 11-14-2022, 04:13 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by mistercee View Post
In addition to the other comments about expenses, towing a 5th wheel with a Suburban won't be very easy either!

Seriously, both '97 Avion models I found have a (presumably) dry weight of 11.5K - loaded up you are likely in the 14K range. They are also 38+' long.
That trailer is heading towards 1-ton dually pick-up truck territory, or at the very least a 1-ton SRW (single rear wheel).

What about with an automated safety hitch system?




In this video, a Dodge Ram 3500 with the 5.9 I-6 Turbo Diesel, rated at a 11700 lb towing capacity, is towing the Avion. The 2001 Chevy Suburban 2500 8.1L Vortec has a towing capacity of 12,000 lbs.
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Old 11-14-2022, 04:16 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Jkjavelin View Post
Time limits on public land is to help prevent the land from turning into Trailer Trash, and to make it available for others. Too many people abuse land and ruin it for the rest of us.

I definitely understand, public lands should be treated with respect. I've vacationed in the Appalachians, and have been aware of the importance of that.
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Old 11-14-2022, 04:21 PM   #13
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A Suburban is an SUV unless he meant a Silverado. If the Avion is a 5er, how can it be towed behind an SUV? I can't see how he can afford to do his plan on a $30,000 income even if it needed no maintenance.

With an automated safety hitch system, it may be possible. https://fifthwheelst.com/automated-s...ch-system.html


In theory, $200 a month would go to the loan, $200 for insurance, $100 for repairs, $200 for groceries, and $200 for incidentals, the rest would go to savings...just estimates though.
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Old 11-14-2022, 04:23 PM   #14
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It says, "No person shall remain in any day-use area during the times it is designated as closed unless a State Forest Use Permit (FDACS-11228, Rev. 07/15) has been issued" One can purchase a STUP for $60.


https://fifthwheelst.com/automated-s...ch-system.html
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