What Kind of Rig for Us

(Updated 1/18/15)

Selecting a rig type with livability and budget in mind. Brand, size and other similar decisions are to be decided much later.

This will be our next major decision and hopefully one that has a small chance of changing in the next eight five years.  We have already established a budget and defined what we expect to be our travel habits.

We are going to use the January 2015 RV show here in Kansas City to hopefully finalize if the rig will be a fifth wheel or motorhome.

Our expected budget for the rig in 2023 2019 dollars is $ 128,000.  That’s for the truck, fifth wheel or motorhome.  I have owned a couple of pull behind units in the past to include a 30 foot travel trailer and we already decided that would not work for us.  We are willing to increase the budget for a rig if necessary and have not made the decision as to new or used.

We are planning for extended stays, maybe a week or more in one spot and workamping for longer periods of time.  We may also snowbird at times.  Mostly, we are looking for something that is very livable and know we may want to return home to Missouri for extended periods because our family lives here.  We plan to sell the house and the stuff. We have not decided if keeping a small storage unit is in our future or not. Our exit strategy, if needed, from the fulltime RV lifestyle includes investing at least a portion of the proceeds from selling our stick and bricks home to buy another.

Although I’m leaning towards a diesel truck or motor home, that decision is not finalized but I suspect that will be a budget consideration.  We talked about it and really want the flexibility of going where we want, when we want.  That should demand a rig that can handle reasonable winter/summer conditions and hills.

Over the next couple of months I’ll be coming up with a list of brands to tour at the RV show and plan to first go through those units before checking out all the other rigs.  I’ve boned up on the fulltime fifth wheel list and trying to find out if we should be looking at a gas Class A because of our budget. I assume with our budget a Class A diesel would have to be a used unit.  We have also begun to consider the current floor plans.

Hopefully cutting the decision down to which rig (fifth wheel or motorhome) will make the initial decision easier, especially considering livability is most important. We don’t plan to make a decision on what brand of home until maybe a few years before making a buying decision.

I’ve also thought about checking the brands a few years before retirement and deciding on a short-list.  Seems reasonable to get up to speed on new rigs that may become our used unit purchase at a later date if we decide to go used.  I’ll wait and purchase an RV ratings subscription until then.

Our local RV show is advertising they will have 200 units on display.  Although all the brands we would like to consider will not be at the show, we are hoping that with at least one good example of a fifth wheel and another of a motorhome will be all we need to make the decision. We plan to spend a couple of hours inside each rig and ask a lot of questions which we feel is easier to accomplish at an RV show compared to browsing at a dealership. Maybe we will get lucky and run into a fulltimer at the show.

I found this site which has some good info regarding rig selection.

Update – after attending the 2015 RV show in Kansas City we decided a 5th wheel is in our future. Here is a link to the blog topic about the show and our reasoning.

Comments are always appreciated.

Mark from Missouri

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12 thoughts on “What Kind of Rig for Us

  1. Mark, I’m leaning to a used 5h wheel due to the price. Plus if I break down I dont lose my truck and home. We will be buying a 2-3 year old rig at about the 7 year mark, that gives us time to get everything we need installed and tested. Looks like a rig about 32ft is the best option for us since we like national and state parks.

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    • Cool, makes a lot of since. We have not decided on length of rig yet. By chance I was watching some YouTube stuff this morning and found a blogger putting up videos you might be interested in. He runs a web site called rvacrossamerica.net. He had a bunch of videos he took from state parks. Not sure how he is doing it, but heard in one video he is pulling a 38 foot fifth wheel. I’d like to pick you brain about the decision as to what length of unit. We are in the very early stages of planning and figured getting the 5th wheel vs. class A decision out of the way is a hard one.

      I hope to met a lot of others like yourself who are planning out there long term.

      By the way – happy vets day to ya Bill.

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  2. Came over from the Escapees forum. You need to get together with the following blogger who is on the same countdown journey you’re on.
    http://fulltime.spantz.com/ I follow his blog as he makes his weekly post. He’s got some good ideas of getting out of debt and questions about solar you might be interested in. Best of luck to you. By the way – we have a 32 foot fifth wheel.

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    • Thanks Sandie to include for your post over on Escapees – I’m going to put it on the list to find a good scanner and start scanning those important papers and photos. It should be fun deciding on what media to store the info on. My cousin is in to that so I’ll give her a call and ask for recommendations. Great minds think alike. I found the Spantz web site some time ago and Bill is following this blog.

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  3. Good luck on your quest to find the right rig. We love our 31′ fifth wheel but if I were starting from scratch, I would go with a 32′ (max 34′) class A with a jeep. We like exploring the back roads and staying in National Forest or State Park campgrounds.

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  4. We started the journey thinking we would be in a spot for max 14 days and keep moving. Within the first year our view on that changed and we really like being volunteers or workamping for maintenance (tires etc) money. Many benefits and a big one is that you get to really explore and get to know an area befor moving on. We like never being in a hurry and having that flexability with our time. If we had stayed with the original plan we would be needing to get a MH but the 5er is great for what we are doing.

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    • Welcome to the blog Wayne and thanks for the input. Karen and I are thinking we want to travel to an area and stay for extended periods of time to get to know the place and eventually do some seasonal workamping. We talked and decided livability was the most important aspect of which home we choose because we will be in it for a long time.

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  5. Mark, We retired 6 months ago (FT). After leaving work we volunteered at a COE park in AL. While there I had the chance to talk with a lot of people about their rigs, both MH and 5er’s. Everyone had great reason’s why they chose their RV over another, it all came down to what was important to them. Below were some of the more common reasons:

    MH–Pros: Able to have tow vehicle, walk around inside without having to get out, great ride, storage, luxury, comfort, like home.
    Cons: Expense, usually had to have tow vehicle, parking could be limited, generally had to disconnect tow vehicle before backing up, registration can be costly.

    5er–Pros: Able to use your current truck (if large enough), short turning radius, flexible (toy hauler, multiple floor plans), storage, comfort, luxury, no need for tow vehicle.
    Cons: Having steps leading to bedroom/bathroom, not able to have smaller tow vehicle.

    Almost everyone said they would not buy new again, look for RV that is 1-2 yrs old, cheaper and less hassle. Once you narrow down the search, look for specific blogs for that brand, model, year. If you see an RV you like ask the owner able his choice, usually they will invite you in to see if for yourself, everybody likes to show off their RV.

    Hope this helps

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    • Glenn, thanks for the feedback. I also sat down last night and read through your blog and got some good ideas from it.

      Sounds like a year or two old rig is a smart selection. After much thought, I’m coming to the opinion there may be three critical factors when we select a rig type.

      First, what is our budget? I know our budget right now would mean a five or six old diesel pusher, slightly used gas class a or a slightly used high end full-timers fifth wheel. We don’t own a truck right now and are torn between the idea of driving a truck site-seeing vs. a toad. How is that working for you?

      Second,we had already ruled out a couple of rigs types based on the type of travel we plan to do which also leads into the third point.

      Third, based on livability (which is a relative term). We have owned a popup and 30′ travel trailer in the past. Like a lot of other people, we plan to drive more the first six months or so. Then we really want to spend long periods in one place. We also plan to stay longer term in areas where our family lives, especially to visit our daughter and her husband. Grandkids would impact that as well. Later, we are going to find a good RV park near them that we might return to on a yearly, or more, bases. At least that’s what we are thinking now.

      We are keeping our options open and know our opinion is highly subject to change. It’s refreshing to see you guys doing it in a truck camper.

      Happy holidays,

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  6. The nice thing about a TC is that we could still have a tow vehicle for sightseeing. We had our Ford Focus (40 mpg) with us while we were camp hosting and used it for the few trips we took. We have put it in storage now because we do not want to take it with us for the next 12 months (traveling from GA to SC to TX to MI to MT to AK to AZ) we went with TC so that we can get into small spaces that others would have to pass up. We love our little camper for the traveling (plus we can tow a boat) that we are planning, but we have discussed if we decide to camp host more a 5er might be better. Some of the folks that had pushers said if you run the numbers that renting a car when you need it is sometimes cheaper than towing, if you figure in cost of vehicle, insurance, maintenance etc. Almost all said Enterprise was the go to rental.

    Decisions-Decisions

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    • Had not thought of the renting idea. We were considering if we get a 5th wheel trying it without a second vehicle for a while. We intend to travel more the first year or so, then slow down spending a month of more at any one place. Then, we would consider if having a second vehicle around for site seeing and such was worth it. I’ve been following a few forum topics on the subject of a second vehicle with a 5th wheel truck combo. Some claim other than the initial cost of buying a second vehicle, most of the extra cost are offset by the fuel savings. I’d have to see those numbers to see how they are doing it. Guess this is all part of becoming flexible.

      Sat around tonight and talked with a friend about he notion of going fulltime in an RV. I get what others are saying in that their home stays the same and only the scenery changes. I’m thinking buying what we can afford is #1. Then livability is a close second.

      If I had to make the decision today it would be a larger 5th wheel. I know we would be giving up some areas we would not fit in. You guys must have considered this a long time before going with the truck camper. I could see that being an advantage in that it may be more economical to upgrade later compared to trading in a larger fifth wheel. In your earlier months of travel you will be able to get in where ever you want and take your boat.

      My friend has visited a lot of national parks and is firm when he says he could not have fit a large rig in the areas he wanted to camp. He said the larger rigs were at the more commercial sites (he described them as larger parking lots) while he was camping next to the trees inside the park.

      Looking forward to following your travels Glenn.

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  7. Pingback: Updated Summary of Trailer and Truck Purchase Decisions. | Our Future in an RV

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