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Old 03-06-2008, 09:48 AM   #1
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Hello! I'm new to this site. I found it by doing a massive amount of research on travel trailers and fifth wheels. I have a few questions.

I'm currently a student (graduating next year) paying around $600/month for rent (my wife and I). I work seasonal jobs during the summer, and plan on doing this after I graduate for quite some time. My wife and I are greatly considering purchasing a 5th wheel and living out of it full time. We are backpackers who have no problem living out of a tent for extended periods of time. Our thought is that if we purchase it now (we have a VERY CHEAP place to hook it up for the duration of my schooling), then we will save money in rent, and come out owning the fifth wheel in a year or so (We're buying used. around $5000-$6000). We are looking to purchase a lightweight 16'-17' with a shower/bathroom.

Now, my questions. I would first like to hear some input from anyone doing this full time. Our plans are not to packup and move somewhere else every week, but to live out of it and use it for work/school/etc. We have researched the pros and cons to both situations, and feel that we could adapt to the lifestyle changes. Before making the step, I wanted to talk to people that do this currently, and get their experienced input. One question I have is about insurance. Also, we don't plan on parking this at a campground for extended periods of time. We will usually have a dedicated spot for this to be put.

If anyone has any questions, comments, input or suggestions I would greatly appreciate it. I'm trying to do my best to get a good understanding about this and the lifestyle before making the move. I'm sure more questions will hit me soon, and I'll post them as they do.

Sorry for the long post. :-)

-Nathan
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Old 03-06-2008, 10:05 AM   #2
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ahhhhhh..... been there done that. It can be a wise choice. I kept both undgrad and grad school as cost effective as I could by living in a small camper. Had the same one for 5 years. finished with it after living behind the "originall" basketball hall of fame for 1.5 while it was reconstructed to a Physical Therapy School. Moved up to a bigger one after grad school and was in it for 3 more. Did it again many years later for a few years and about to be doing it again but in a cabin 12x16 for potentially rest of my life unless a woman comes along.

. Biggest thing to look for is CABINET SPACE when shopping.
. Also insulation. Talk to manufactures about the insulation of their rigs in the era of the one's your considering. Also look at how easy or hard it would be to add more insulation.
. A motorhome might be wiser. you can pull an economy car with it as you change locations but true they are more spendy for the buck. Well true there is two of you.... so 5er should be ok cause one pulls it and other drives the economy car as you shift around your lives.
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Old 03-06-2008, 10:21 AM   #3
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ahhhhhh..... been there done that. It can be a wise choice. I kept both undgrad and grad school as cost effective as I could by living in a small camper. Had the same one for 5 years. finished with it after living behind the "originall" basketball hall of fame for 1.5 while it was reconstructed to a Physical Therapy School. Moved up to a bigger one after grad school and was in it for 3 more. Did it again many years later for a few years and about to be doing it again but in a cabin 12x16 for potentially rest of my life unless a woman comes along.

. Biggest thing to look for is CABINET SPACE when shopping.
. Also insulation. Talk to manufactures about the insulation of their rigs in the era of the one's your considering. Also look at how easy or hard it would be to add more insulation.
. A motorhome might be wiser. you can pull an economy car with it as you change locations but true they are more spendy for the buck. Well true there is two of you.... so 5er should be ok cause one pulls it and other drives the economy car as you shift around your lives.

I started out looking into ditching the apartment and living out of a van. I think I could do it, but I don't think it would be good for the two of us. After doing more research, we found that a 16'-17' Scamp or Casita might be our best bet (a LOT more room than a van). We don't want a motor home for a few reasons (we're both 21. just starting our lives, and don't want any large commitments). a) size (we want to be able to pull it easily, and to park it nearly anywhere). gas (we have a fairly effecient gas vehicle as it is, and don't want to upgrade to a 8mpg rig). c) having the living space seperate from the vehicle (an important one). We feel that is best right now to keep our car & camper seperate (we cannot afford to spend more than $6000 on a trailer right now. we do not want to get a 35 year old motor home with 200 000 miles and motor/engine problems as long as our arm). Later on in life we might decide to upgrade, but for now, we want to be able to park it, and drive our gas effecient vehicle around town.

Would you mine sharing some of your experiences with us? (Cost, Heating, Cooling, Parking, Problems, Pros, Cons, etc).
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Old 03-06-2008, 11:26 AM   #4
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I lived in an 1985, 32 ft fifth wheel for over a year...It does work! you will need to have a place to store all your belongings since you will be limited to space. My 85 was clean and well preserved by the original owner and I only paid $2500 for it 4 yrs ago.
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Old 03-06-2008, 11:28 AM   #5
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I am in the planning stages as well. I have been doing a lot of research and trying to position myself to go Fulltime.

What I'm finding is there are many different styles of fulltiming; anywhere from a couple living happily in a 13' Scamp to another couple living their dream in a large truck and a 5er.


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For me, I want to stay with a Molded ALL Fiberglass TT. It seams the Canadian brands do the best job making a well made, four season insulated Trailer. Escape and Bigfoot are on my short list. Just my perspective. I bought a 25' Bigfoot and pull it with a Dodge Pickup.

One thing you might want to consider is Domicile. The three states that our considered the best for Fulltimers financially are Florida, South Dakota, and Texas. Having good mail forwarding becomes an issue. South Dakota & Texas both have good mail forwarding. The bottom line for me is that South Dakota seems to be the best cost wise (insurance & registration costs & no State income tax). Texas seems to be the best if your an Escapee. Both have no State income tax.

There are some good "Work Camp" places you might consider. Right now Big Sur is looking for Volunteers. You work 20 hours a week (2 long days or 3 short days) and you get FREE parking with FULL hookups. This is available all over the US. Here is a list of current opening available in California. http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=911

I hope this helps.
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Old 03-06-2008, 11:45 AM   #6
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Thanks. Mail isn't that big of a deal to us. All of our banking is done online (we also have a wireless broadband cell phone card - I work online), as well as our bill paying/etc. I've lived in an apartment for 3 years and the only thing I need mail wise is deliveries (we'll be stationed at places long enough to have these items shipped wherever we are at - whether it's a business or a friends house).

How much does insurance usually run? And as I said, our plan right now is to:
a} live out of it FULL TIME until I graduate (spring - fall of 09).
b} until I graduate, use it all summer for travel/work.
c}use it after for work at seasonal jobs (where we'd be able to park it at a friends house or the company we work for).

Thanks for information about working off your stay at parks. That's one thing we hoped we might be able to do in the future.
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Old 03-06-2008, 11:55 AM   #7
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How much does insurance usually run?
Insurance is very individual. It is based on Domicile, Truck and Trailer, driving record, and age. You will need to get quotes based on your situation. Here in California it is twice what it will cost in South Dakota.

BTW, health insurance is also much less in SD.
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Old 03-06-2008, 11:59 AM   #8
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Mail IS a big deal, even if you don't expect to get any.

You NEED a physical address and a mail address, or you likely won't be able to keep stuf like bank accounts, driver's license, plats, insurance, credit cards, etc.

Lots of info in the archives of Full Timer Forum at RV.NET and Escapees.
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Old 03-06-2008, 12:08 PM   #9
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Mail IS a big deal, even if you don't expect to get any.

You NEED a physical address and a mail address, or you likely won't be able to keep stuf like bank accounts, driver's license, plats, insurance, credit cards, etc.

Lots of info in the archives of Full Timer Forum at RV.NET and Escapees.
I was implying us getting mail directly. I'm been living at school in a different state for 3 years, and 99% of my mail is sent to my parents house. So that won't be a big deal.

I've been searching forums for a while, and have read a lot of threads, but I was looking for someone who has done something similar and could offer direct advice. Of course each situation is different. I'm greatly leaning towards this, which is why I decided to post it.
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Old 03-06-2008, 03:02 PM   #10
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I think my wife said it best when she said you gotta LIKE the person your with.
If you have that then everything else will work out.
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Old 03-06-2008, 08:10 PM   #11
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I think my wife said it best when she said you gotta LIKE the person your with.
If you have [b]that then everything else will work out.
I think this post: "Murder in a Fiberglass Trailer" is a good thought provoker.
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Old 03-06-2008, 08:28 PM   #12
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Quote:
I lived in an 1985, 32 ft fifth wheel for over a year...It does work! you will need to have [b]a place to store all your belongings since you will be limited to space. My 85 was clean and well preserved by the original owner and I only paid $2500 for it 4 yrs ago.
Sorry, I have not done this myself. But I have read voraciously about those who have. If you have been doing your research for a considerable period, you have sifted through a lot of information already.

One thing you have going for you is your age, or rather, Lack of it. Your sense of adventure has not yet been clouded by harsh reality, and I think that's a good thing.

Your parents are great people to be providing you with a mailing address. That's a wonderful asset! Not everyone out there can count on people to do that for them.

A lot depends on how many belongings you have already accumulated, and what you can live without. Do you want your trailer to be a Home, or do you want to live in a crowded storage container? I know a couple whose 30 foot trailer resembles the latter more than the former.
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Old 03-06-2008, 08:47 PM   #13
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One thing you have going for you is your age, or rather, Lack of it. Your sense of adventure has not yet been clouded by harsh reality, and I think that's a good thing.
I think that is a compliment, so thanks! I am not trying to sound over-confident, but I really think it is something we can do. Our original idea was to use a van/tent, but after some thinking and "investment analyzing", we feel that upgraded to a TT would be good. Our activities and lifestyles blow us around, and we like it that way (it's kind of weird. as soon-to-be college grads we're anxiously waiting for the day we can pack up and do seasonal work for low pay, but get to do the things we enjoy doing full time - backpacking, skydiving, mountain biking, rafting, climbing, scuba diving, skiing, etc). Since we started dating we have had no desire to graduate college and move right into the 2 story house with a white picket fence. We might get a house one day, but we want to travel and do what we love doing before hand.

Quote:
Your parents are great people to be providing you with a mailing address. That's a wonderful asset! Not everyone out there can count on people to do that for them.
Yes, it is. Both or our parents are very supportive. They weren't at first, but they've been dealing with our lifestyle for 3-4 years now, so they have chosen to accept. They have no problem collecting our mail and sending it once every month or two either. They are even helping us get our first TT.

Quote:
Home, or do you want to live in a crowded storage container? I know a couple whose 30 foot trailer resembles the latter more than the former.
Right now, we have a lot of "stuff". We are typically gone 3-4 days a week doing stuff (randomly any of the activities listed above), and live out of an accord. We have slowly been getting rid of everything we don't need, and, our parents are also ok with us leaving a ton of stuff at their place if we want.
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Old 03-07-2008, 11:19 PM   #14
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Two thoughts on fiberglass 5th wheels. We've greatly modified our 19' Scamp 5er side-bath trailer (bought when it was one year old of so for $11k) and have made lots of modifications up front, replacing the "gaucho" sofa with a chest-of-drawers, hang space, a pet bed/kennel area, laundry hamper space, cabinets, put in a bigger bed, and other handy things.

Looking at our list of modifications, most of the stuff we installed was storage space. Even if you're used to living small, living out of a trailer will challenge you for finding places to put stuff. Our way of dealing with the issue was to buy a trailer with a good basic floor plan, then change it to better meet our needs. That's pretty hard to do when you're living in the trailer while you're remodeling it.

The Bigfoot 5th wheels (I think they're 20') impress me as being better laid out for full-time living. Not only do they come with a fair bit of storage space, they also have a very comfortable and somewhat larger dinette space. I can't envision doing homework assignments while sharing the dinette space in our Scamp 5er with someone else.

Our Scamp 5er is much lighter than the Bigfoot, and can easily be towed by our 3 liter Ford Ranger; the Bigfoot requires more muscle, perhaps a 4 liter Ford Ranger would suffice.

--Peter
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