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Post Info TOPIC: Starter RV - Class A or 5th Wheel?


RV-Dreams Community Member

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Starter RV - Class A or 5th Wheel?


Just researching, so maybe this has been already asked. We are looking at 1/2 time, full time. We have a house we rent out for roughly 1/2 the year. This will give us summers homeless. So we're looking at full timing 5-6 months of the year. 

Concerned about the $$$ necessary to see if we even like the lifestyle. Would it be better to buy a Class A or a 5th wheel? We're trying to stay in the $100-$150K range. I've done some research and it looks like we could do a 2008-9 used Class A, or a truck & 5th wheel that would be nearly new. Our goal would be to get the best we can afford that has the best resale value.

What do you folks think? Which of these would be easier to sell in a few years if we decide to upgrade or get out of the life altogether?

Looking for some sage advice from those who have come before.

Thanks,

Chris



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Chris

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If you'll search the forum and read the wealth of information that Howard and Linda have written up on the main RV-Dreams page(s), this has been asked and there has been quite a bit of discussion on the topic. Most of the time, it comes down to the type of travel you plan to do and how long you plan to stay in each place. If you plan to stay more than a couple of nights each place, a fifth wheel and truck are a good choice. If you plan to move around a lot, a class A is a good choice. In either case, shopping and sightseeing are something that have to be taken into consideration. With a class A, most folks will want to pull a car (often called a "Tow'd" or "Toad"). With a truck and fifth wheel, you may be limited in the places you can find parking with a larger truck such as a one-ton or larger with dual rear wheels and long wheelbase.

A lot of the old-timers have said, "Buy your last RV first." This is easier to do if you know the lifestyle is for you, though. What they're talking about is buying and selling depreciating assets. Buying used helps mitigate your losses, but even used, you will likely eat some depreciation each time you buy and sell. In the price range you've suggested, I think you are looking at used - either for a class A or a truck/fifth wheel combo.

Finally, if you go with a fifth wheel, be careful of your truck choices. Most fifth wheels large/heavy enough to full-time in will require at least a 1-ton single rear wheel truck - and diesel is really a plus. 3/4-ton diesels will pull almost anything, but they can't handle the pin weight of the larger fifth wheels.

Rob

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2012 F350 DRW Lariat 6.7

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2016 Grand Design Reflection 337RLS

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Here is my thought process. Either one will do the job. Class A in general is luxurious, spacious, easy operation, generator at the ready. Also a much higher price point, and whoa-baby, did you price a set of tires? I'd take one in a heartbeat.

I'm taking the 5th. Much lower price point, almost the same luxury, space, and operation. Many seem to use portable generators with no issue when in the sticks. When you park it for half a year, you still have a fully operational truck that is all kinds of handy. In a year or two when you might want to upgrade, you can upgrade the trailer and keep the truck.

Depreciation is big, no doubt about it. I'm hoping to purchase used, at least a year or two, to ease the pain. For me, the freedom is my personal appreciation, that will exceed the depreciation. I hope to be on the road this year.

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Bill


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Thanks for the feedback. I'm leaning towards a newer dually that could pull anything. Then changing the 5th wheel as we figure out what we want to do. I'm guessing we'll be staying 2-3 weeks as we drive as I'm going to be working full time and will only have nights and weekends to sightsee. I didn't even think about the toad that's another cost. If we like it, maybe we go motor home, but I think for now I think 5th is the right way. Now I have to learn about all the tow numbers etc. it's like a fire hose!! Chris

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Chris

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For your situation and use, I think you are making the best choice on a newer truck and used fiver. If the full time lifestyle bug bites, you are all set to shop for that ideal fiver or even motorhome and toad.

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USAF Retired 2010. Began full timing June 2015. 2007 Allegro Bus 40QSP with 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland TOAD. Our blog: keepingupwiththejonesrv.blogspot.com. 



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Take your time, the more you investigate and learn before you make a purchase the more likely you will be happy with your choice. Figure out your top priorities – is it where you go (i.e., RV size, set-up might have an impact), how you will use the space (e.g., is a large kitchen with lots of storage important, will you regularly go out to dinner or otherwise), what are your must haves (e.g., if you are tall – ceiling that allow you to stand upright [you might find that must-have amusing, but there were many fifth-wheels that failed that test for us, due to Ed’s height]; bed size; doors that help create separate spaces in the RV; one or two bathrooms).

Since you are considering future resale of the RV, make sure you take into consideration that you might not be able to sell the RV and/or you may need to accept an offer that is much lower than you prefer and it could take a long time for that offer to occur—so if you purchase your last RV first, it does help to minimize the potential complications (and you get to enjoy living in it the entire time). It also makes upgrades that you may choose to incorporate more cost effective (i.e., you gain all the benefits and are less concerned about resale value).

Lynn



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2014 New Horizons Majestic 40'
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Thanks for the info! I have found that as my wife and I continue to research, we think more about what we'll be doing and then we change our minds. I'm guessing we're at least a year away so we have some time. Just starting to sell things in the house to get it ready to put on the market.

I did read Howard's blog on if he were buying a 5th wheel today and I found that very interesting and a lot to digest.

Going to the fall rally, so my guess is my mind will change 2-3 more times before we settle on something.

-Chris

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Chris

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Chris,

As you read through Howard & Linda’s educational information, I would also recommend reading as many member postings as possible. Some posters (among many) that I think you would value reading include those written by: Bill Napier (member name: Bill and Linda) and Neil Laubenthal (member name: Neil & Connie) – both contain very good information about fifth-wheels and related towing vehicles. Other members that provide some great general RV information and some Class A specific information in their postings are: Bill Joyce (member name: bjoyce) and Barbara O'Keeffe (member name: Barbaraok).

Enjoy the planning!

Lynn

 



-- Edited by Lynn and Ed on Sunday 9th of July 2017 11:33:38 PM

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promocate wrote:

Thanks for the feedback. I'm leaning towards a newer dually that could pull anything. Then changing the 5th wheel as we figure out what we want to do. I'm guessing we'll be staying 2-3 weeks as we drive as I'm going to be working full time and will only have nights and weekends to sightsee. I didn't even think about the toad that's another cost. If we like it, maybe we go motor home, but I think for now I think 5th is the right way. Now I have to learn about all the tow numbers etc. it's like a fire hose!! Chris


 Chris, the bolded sentence in your post caught my attention.  Please be careful about this assumption.  There is no "newer dually that can pull anything."  That's marketing gibberish and it comes from all manufactures.  The error is thinking the "tow" rating of the truck is the only important rating.  Many "get a big dually" and then are disappointed once they find the trailer they want and then find out the truck is not speced to actually connect to the trailer, carry and deal with all the weight in addition to "towing" it.  Bit more to it and I've seen that more than you might imagine get in the pickle.

Most of the newer 3500HD / F-350 trucks will indeed handle the concept you are expressing.  Just understand a bit more about GCVWR / RAWR / GVWR / pin weight as well as trailer tow ratings.  Many threads on this site to gather that information.  Also, the model and year of the trucks change the specs a great deal - a lot with some brands depending on the year.  For example, the F-450 Howard has is a commercial F-450, 2005 model.  It's ratings are much different (higher in some regards, lower in others) then a 2016 F-450 pickup.  So, just a word to the wise.  But the idea of a dually is certainly a good one for safety regardless.

Enjoy the hunt,

Bill



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As Lynn indicated…figure out the right answer first and then you can get the correct RV to begin with. We read when starting out that many full timers suggested a starter RV and then buy what you really wanted but we went about it differently…as did Lynn and Ed. Neither Connie nor I had ever RVed before we took the plunge…I'm thinking that we were never even _in_ an RV. When we decided to retire in 2011 she asked me what we should do. I said "how about selling everything and traveling the world for a couple of years with backpacks until we figured out what we wanted to do when we grew up". She said "how about no". I said "How about an RV?". She said "Never been in one…they seem kinda small." I said "it's bigger than a submarine, let's rent one and see."

So we rented a 32 or 34 foot class C for a month and about the end we were sitting on a lake in western VA watching the sun go down over the lake with a beer in our hands and she said "I think I can do this" and we set out looking. Everything we didn't like about the rental would be easily rectified in a decent rig.

We quickly eliminated Class A on the "no steering wheel in the living room" basis which pretty much leaves 5th wheels. Went to the show and liked the concept and started looking. Looked at construction and quality and pretty quickly narrowed it down to New Horizons or DRV. Took the factory tours and eliminated DRV. Stole a lot of ideas from Jack, went to H&L's rally, and ordered the rig.

We've never thought that we needed to do it again since we carefully researched…there are a few minor things we would do differently but not much.

Lynn and Ed were the same way researching…although I don't think they leased one. I probably answered 25 emails or posts from Lynn back then with suggestions, lessons learned, things to think about, etc…and I knew she picked a lot of other people's brains as well. On our first trip in summer 12…we stopped by their neighborhood in NJ and had a dinner meet and greet…they brought steaks and wine so how could we turn that deal down. Later on…they went to the NHOG Rally in Kerrville as wannabes without a rig yet and talked extensively to the 25 or so NH owners there…we'll always tell you both the good and the bad.

Budgetwise…I think you'll do better quality wise with a truck and 5ver than a used class A  and Toad for the same $$…and really parking the dualley truck isn't that hard. You can't go in most parking garages but we've never found a place we just couldn't go with either of our trucks. We used to have a Mazda 6 as well…it died last summer while Connie was doing the eye surgery thing and couldn't drive anyway…so we've seen both the 2 and 1 vehicle sides of the lifestyle. I really like having her in the truck with me on travel days…but the drawbacks have convinced us to get another car this fall. Parking and touring mileage is do-able with just the truck…but our personal balance beam comes down on the side of having 2 even though I like having her with me.

 



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"No steering wheel in the living room"? When we are set up, the driver's seat turns around and you can't see the steering wheel - just another comfortable seat for people. Same for the navigator's seat. Class As are very different from Class Cs

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2002 Alpine 36 MDDS (Figment II), 2004 Subaru Forester toad (Mischief)
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Barbaraok wrote:

"No steering wheel in the living room"? When we are set up, the driver's seat turns around and you can't see the steering wheel - just another comfortable seat for people. Same for the navigator's seat. Class As are very different from Class Cs


 Or you put a cover it up like we did - http://www.sacnoth.com/Information/WheelTable.htm.  Friends who don't have a cat put a small table cloth on their's.  



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Barbaraok wrote:

"No steering wheel in the living room"? When we are set up, the driver's seat turns around and you can't see the steering wheel - just another comfortable seat for people. Same for the navigator's seat. Class As are very different from Class Cs


 That's my bride's words…and I learned many years ago never to argue with your bride. I know the seats turn around and that you can put a cover on the wheel…but it's not the same to her.

In addition…generally speaking Class A floorplans are also much more tube like with things around the sides, the slides generally don't go out as far as our 5vr's do, and there's much less ability to level the rig with the landing gear where as in a 5ver after unhitching you can level in a much more unlevel site than with most class A's.

The big takeaway I was trying to get across was more along of the lines of Lynn's post…take your time and do it right and you won't need to have had a starter RV.

 



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5er comparable to our DP would require a MDT/HDT truck. No way did I want a monster truck for a daily driver. More important to me was never having to get out of the vehicle to get to the bathroom, and 100 gallon fresh water tank, 100 gallon grey tank, 80 gallon black tank. Plus a small economical daily driver for sight seeing.

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2002 Alpine 36 MDDS (Figment II), 2004 Subaru Forester toad (Mischief)
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I would rather ask a thousand questions before writing a large check than ask one question a thousand times afterward.

We spent a couple of years doing research before we even got to the point of looking at coaches we might want to buy. Start with a given: something will tow something else. If you choose a MH you can tow a fuel-efficient vehicle for the daily driver. You will have two drive trains to deal with and at least 10 tires (six very large and heavy, four car tires). If you choose a 5'er you will have only one drive train and 10 large tires.

We chose a MH because it fit what we thought we'd be doing. Then I joined Laborers For Christ, and now the MH is for sale so we can buy a towable and truck. Oh well.

For us, the biggest advantage of the MH is the fact that it has a built-in generator and large tanks. We truly are self-contained. After a day of travel the interior is at a comfortable temperature because the heat or a/c is on while traveling. We don't have to go outside to fix lunch or use the restroom.

That said, we're on a Habitat For Humanity Care-A-Vanner build now, and there is an Elite Suites parked next to us and the team leader has a Mobile Suites. Both are really nice coaches.

As I said in the first sentence, ask a lot of questions of people and then ask how their answers fit your ideas. You will most likely change your minds several times before you buy something. Go to all the shows, rallies, and dealerships you can. Go into everything you can, no matter the condition or price. You are looking at floor plans at this point. It won't take long for you to figure out which ones you like and which ones you don't.

When you do buy, buy used. Very few people get it right the first time, and more than a few have traded within the first year of buying. Some have traded twice in the first year! That can be expensive.

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Barbaraok wrote:

... 100 gallon fresh water tank, 100 gallon grey tank, 80 gallon black tank. ..


Many good points above.

Keep in mind, when you are determining your must haves and desirable RV characteristics that some of them may be addressed specifically by a Class A or Fifthwheel, but others may be attributes that a specific brand or model may or may not offer. For example, Barbara shared her Class A’s tank capacities--which are impressive and better than ours (our capacities are: 100 gallons fresh water, 70 gallons gray water, 70 gallons black water)--but neither of our tank capacities represent what you will find in all Class A or Fifthwheels—I know that many RVs have less capacity (Class As and Fifthwheels) and assume some have more capacity … so in short, some characteristics depends on the specific brand, model, etc. where others (e.g., not leaving the RV when stopping for a bathroom break on travel days) are unique to a specific type of RV.

It is all about weighing the pros and cons. Everyone's list, and the importance they place on the individual items on that list, is going to be different.

Lynn



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2014 Ram 5500 HD with Utility Bodywerks hauler body

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