Below is a long, but hopefully informative blog post related to floor plan selection. Karen and I just got back from the local RV show. This is the fourth straight year we attended and often spent two days looking over the trailers. Finally, we have decided a rear living room plan with three slides is for us. We decided on a fifth wheel a couple years ago.
This year at the show we ran into my first cousin Lee and wife. They have lived on the south side of the city and elsewhere. First time we ever met up in town. Go figure. He is an engineer by trade. He moved into sales and had some additional training. Lee said people are going to buy what they most want. Some use a spreadsheet and all kinds of data to justify decisions they have already made. I can agree with that. Lee was not carrying a notebook – never thought I’d see that out of him. Fortunately, I was already aware of the risk of justifying a decision by fudging numbers on a spreadsheet.
I want to send out a thank you to Ingrid at the Live Laugh RV blog for helping me decide on a pocket camera purchase. It’s nice to depend on someone who had already done all the homework. Ingrid, I went with the Panasonic DMC-ZS50S (silver). Found it on Ebay as a factory refurbished for $210. It came with a 90-day warranty and I passed on the $34 extended warranty. Love it so far. I bought a small camera case with a shoulder strap that only holds the camera and kept my hands free. Learned that from another fulltimer.
I thought it might be a good idea to get a few questions out for those not interesting in reading further. We would appreciate any answers you offer for these questions:
- With wide body trailers, have you found any concerns?
- A couple floor plans we were interested in lacked overhead cabinets above the recliners in the living room. How much do you use yours? (update, met up with one of the Cedar Creek designers who said they will never put cabinets over the theater seating because it cuts into the view out the window. Personally, I think their slide is not as tall as some which is another reason.)
- What about not having cabinets over the bed?
- Should we rule out any trailers that do not have access to the bedroom and refrigerator with the slides in? It is a given with us that we want access to the bathroom when traveling.
Hit the continue reading button if you are really interest in floor plan opinions!
Warning – Opinions Ahead
Karen and I have been considering what floor plans we would like in a fifth wheel for well over a year. Our anticipated travel habits include longer stays in areas we want to tour mixed with workamping or volunteering. We have spent time in both state and public parks. We have no experience in boondocking but know we would like to give it a try. We suspect there will be times where we stop in a parking lot, for example casinos, while relocating. We do not want a large slide under the main awning and are concerned about not having access to the refrigerator, bathroom and bedroom with the slides in. I’m not sure if it’s a good idea to have water lines in slides also? Having rented an RV for a long trip we learned siting in the RV at a rest stop, eating lunch and using the bathroom was awesome. We figure the floor plan will dictate the length. We want a trailer 40’ or less in length, maybe something around 38’ or as short as possible but still livable with plenty of cargo capacity. We have found nothing under 35’ that we are interested in. Most of the blogs I follow are written by owners of longer trailers so I can get a better feel of what to expect when selecting parking spots.
Here are examples of what we have considered:
1: The rear living room, side bath with off door stairs.
- Karen knows she would lose a potential counter space near the kitchen but does not care.
- This floor plan adds a super slide in the bedroom, adding a closet for the washer/dryer or storage off the hallway. This is a great usage of hallway space. We believe having a space for a front facing washer/dryer rather than having to move clothes around in the bedroom closet would be preferred. Although we know you can get a separate space for this next to the bedroom closet.
- To us the bedroom seems more private although the bedroom door may swing into the bed.
- We are having trouble finding one where the slide does not block access to the bedroom and bathroom with the slides in. In some cases, there are two doors leading to the bathroom but the door from hallway is at an angle. At least we could walk through the bathroom on the way to the bedroom with the slide in.
- The floor plans I’ve found are on the longer side and over 38’.
- We may need to figure out our minimum bathroom layout because in this floor plan they tend to be less usable unless the bedroom super slide blocks the hallway. We are used to having space to dry off after a shower but suppose with a separate door leading to the bedroom that might add an option for this.
- With a wide body trailer the slides can be deeper and in this floor plan that might really open up the walking space around the bed.
2: The ever popular – rear living room, side bath with door side stairs. We prefer the wide body trailers in this floor plan.
- This is our most likely selection for trailers in the 35’ range. Recently I’ve seen more manufacturers building a 35’ in a luxury model. If we went under 35’ there would be other floor plan variations to consider.
- We can see why this floor plan is so popular.
- In all rear living room plans we prefer the television be across from the theater seating.
- With the introduction of the wide body trailers we find the hallway leading to the bedroom to be less confining with the added 6” of space. And the main slide may be six inches deeper.
- For resale, would this be a better choice?
- We are also considering which direction the bathroom door swings in all models.
- We figured out the rear of the trailer is the most valuable space. As the living room space is the most important to us it makes since to use the best space for the living room.
- One variation we found appealing was having a five-slide floor plan where the television was on the door side of the trailer. This seemed to separate the kitchen from the living room a little better. But we can’t find any at 40’ or under in length.
3: We ruled out the rear den with stairs to the front bedroom and rear den/living room that had stairs to both the living room and bedroom (with tons of storage outside).
- We can’t find any other floor plan that offers better outside storage than these floor plans.
- We briefly considered the rear den floor plans that had only one set of stairs, those being to the front bedroom but can’t find any at 40’ or less.
- Just as in the front living room, we are not sure we want to walk upstairs all day long in the models with two sets of stairs.
- Again, would resale be an issue in this relatively less common floor plan?
- This floor plan puts the television along the rear cap of the trailer and could block a valuable view out a rear window. This can be overcome with the usage of a retractable television but the television would be smaller and in our minds, somewhat defeating a benefit of the den layout.
- We like the separation of space between the living room, kitchen and bedroom.
4: We ruled out the front living room.
- Next to the rear den trailers there are no better layouts for a television setup, in our opinion.
- We like the separation of spaces between the kitchen, living room and bedroom.
- With the best space in the rear of the trailer where the bedroom is, this might also be the best bedroom setup.
- We are concerned about walking up stairs all day.
- We are concerned about losing a good view out the back window.
- The basement space is much smaller. Hench the reason we looked at the rear den floor plans. Although I have seen one with a small outside storage area in the rear cap area which was the Highland Ridge (a.k.a Open Range).
- We can’t find a front living room floor plan without the dining room slide being under the main awning other than a few that move the slide to the off-door side. And in those cases, the slide blocks access to the bedroom unless you go with a second entrance door into the bedroom. We had a second door in our travel trailer and hardly ever used it. I’d hate to have to walk outside to get to the bedroom from the living room/kitchen with the slide in.
- The sofa depth is generally less in this floor plan because the living room slides are not as deep (nice if you have short legs however) . And the sofas are shorter.
- And do we really want to give up a taller ceiling in the living room?
- We are not as concerned about resale value compared to the rear den floor plan. We have heard the front living room floor plans had been popular in the past but eventually went out of style. Is that true?
5: We also ruled out a rear and front kitchen after a couple brief looks at it.
- Again, the rear space of a fifth wheel is the most valuable space because of the width when two opposing slides are extended and the ceiling height. It’s reasonable this space should be used for wherever we thought we would spend the most time in which was not the kitchen.
- Keystone Montana also builds a front kitchen plan, but with the shorter ceiling height in the front of the trailer the dinette was just too confining for us.
- The rear kitchen pushed the living room to the center of the trailer where the ceiling was still taller, however, in keeping to a three slide trailer this forced the living room into a narrow space.
6: We are sticking with three slides but were impressed with the five slide floor plan because of the separation between the kitchen and living room.
We figured out coming up with a floor plan we are interested in might also help narrow down what trailer manufacturers we would consider. Keeping in mind we are wanting decent construction along with a usable floor plan. We are still attempting to buy our third trailer first and keep what we buy for at least six years. We hope the benefit of having spent five years planning for our future in an RV might make this goal achievable.
We are paying attention to cabinet locations, having a closet for coats at the front door and such. Karen and I talked about our budget for buying a fifth wheel and are real close to confirming the price point we would target if we bought new. That would really help lower the number of trailers we had to select from – which is a good thing. We have at least a year to decide so no hurry. Someday I hope to post a summary of our short list for trailers, size and price. I’m just not ready to commit to that yet. However you can get a peek at this by going to my trailer ratings page.
If you still have not had enough reading about our floor plan ideas, here are a few more posts:
Trailer Tours – Posted October 2016
Closer to Selecting a Floor Plan – Posted January 2016.
RV Floor Plans – Posted October 2015
Looking at Floor Plans – Posted June 2015
RVingPlanet.com – is a good site to see all the models in one place.