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Living in a 5th Wheel

RV Life and Travel reader Bob asks...
(Good? Bad? Problems?)

Is it bad to live in a 5th wheel trailer for a long period of time? Like two or more years? What problems will it cause to the 5th wheeler? Anything I should look out for? It a Colorado 5th wheel.

Coleen, the RVing editor replies:

I think living in a recreational vehicle for long periods of time -- decades -- is an excellent way to live. I don't think it is really a matter of whether it is a good way to live or a bad way to live, though. What matters is what you think about it and how you feel about it. And, sometimes that changes after you've spent a few months or few years full-time RVing.

As for it causing problems to the fifth-wheel, I think the biggest thing is probably going to be accelerated wear and tear. Many RVs are made for occasional use. The quality of the construction components and furnishings, carpets, appliances, and such may not stand up to daily use for years on end. Then, again, they may. The quality of RVs varies greatly and price does not seem to be the deciding factor as to which are superior quality and which are poorly made and finished.

Living full-time in your recreational vehicle may void the manufacturer's warranty. That said, some full-timers don't seem to have any problem getting warranty work done on those RVs.

When you live in a fifth wheel like a home, you need to do home like maintenance.

If you plan to leave it sit in one place for the entire two years or so, you may have some other issues caused by aging. I don't know that they'd be problems. But, be aware of things that could go wrong and watch for them. Another of our readers asked about buying an RV that had been sitting for several years. You may find that discussion helpful. Here's the link to it:

Buying an RV that's Been Sitting Unused

Go to the RV Life and Travel blog.

Comments for Living in a 5th Wheel

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I Don't Think You Need to Worry
by: Anonymous

First off, are you thinking of living in your fifth wheel? Are you traveling, or just moving it someplace and living in it?

As Coleen stated, there will most likely be the usual wear and tear, and things will go wrong, just as they go wrong in a house. RV's are not as sturdy as a house, but they are sure a lot more fun.

Now, that said, you really should take the time to figure out if you are suited to life on the road. Take an extended trip if you can, and then decide if you want that life style permanently.

We are just about to become full time RV'ers. In fact, we close on the 23 of Sept. After that date, we will be "houseless." Our decision to go full time was prompted by several things:

1. We love to RV, and have done it for months at a time and know that we can get along together in a small area.
2. Our home is older and getting to the point that there would most likely be some expensive repairs needed.
3. It is also economic. We will get out from under a mortgage,(we have our 5th wheel and truck paid for) and all the expenses that go with home ownership.

Those are just three of the reasons that we are looking forward to our new adventure.

If you are thinking of full-timing, do your homework, and learn all you can about it, and then just do it. It is not for everyone, but if you are still excited after learning and reading, and talking to people you most likely will have a great experience living in your RV.

Living in a 5th Wheel
by: Barb C.

We have been full-timing 20+ years, only in 5th wheels. This is our third 5th wheel. The first one was purchased used; the second one new; and the third, and most likely the last, was purchased two years old.

My first recommendation is, especially if you're unsure you're going to like 5th wheel living, is to buy used. If you don't like it, sell/trade and move on to something else.

Obviously, we liked it.

Living in an RV can be different than living in a house, mainly because in an RV your "house" may be pulled (or driven) over a road that most likely is not in very good condition. It will require consistent inspection and upkeep to keep it mobile and together, the case with any type of RV. It's a definite plus if you're handy and can do a lot of that upkeep yourself. Also, as in houses, some models are "more trouble-free" than others.

Our second 5W was new. We have learned that new does not necessarily mean trouble-free.

Our third 5W was two years old when purchased, and has been relatively trouble-free after 15 years. A plus is that the first owner took the new price major depreciation on the sale.

We are soon going to become part-timers and are planning to downsize to a Class C motorhome, slightly smaller than the 5W. Since we purchased the 5W used and at a good price and we have kept it in good shape inside and out, although it will have depreciated by probably half, we should still get a reasonable price in resale.

Hope this helps, but the only way to know for sure is to try it out.

And remember: upkeep is the key.

Living in Our 5th Wheel
by: Ralph & Pam

We have been in our camper for over seven years now. We started out doing host jobs at local state parks during summers. After four seasons of that we decided to sell our home and see the country.

We also decided to be workcampers. We do enjoy workcamping most of the time. We just work for our site only, which is nice. We each work three hours a day, get Saturday and Sunday off now and then. We clean mobile homes in the park when needed.

So far, we do not miss a real home. We usually travel northern states in summer. In fall, we go south! My wife stays in touch with her family with the computer!

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