Curious About Fiberglass RVs - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-29-2018, 06:10 AM   #1
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Curious About Fiberglass RVs

Hi everyone,
My name is Gwen and I'm 21. I got into all this because of an initial interest in tiny houses. Then I realized I could save a ton of money by buying an old RV and renovating it, and then I came across fiberglass RVs and I love the look of them, the small size, and the light weight. I'm thinking an Escape would be the best option for my needs, though I'm not completely decided. I'm looking forward to reading peoples' stories and interacting with and learning more about the community!
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Old 06-29-2018, 06:44 AM   #2
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Curious About Fiberglass RVs

Welcome, Gwen!

I encourage you to think carefully about how you will use the trailer. Tiny houses, conventional RV's, and molded fiberglass trailers have different strengths and best uses.

If you are going to park it in one place and live in it year round, for example, a tiny house or well-insulated conventional trailer is a better deal. A used conventional RV costs much less than a tiny home, but requires more upkeep and even the best aren't as winter-ready as a tiny home A tiny house is better for year-round living, but quite a bit more expensive than an RV, and it can be hard to find a place to set it up legally.

On the other hand, if you will be pulling it around, following the seasons to mild weather, the light weight and low maintenance of molded fiberglass is an advantage. Be aware that molded fiberglass trailers are significantly more expensive and generally much smaller than conventional RVs, as well as minimally insulated (with a few exceptions), so they really only make sense if you plan to be on the move.

I lived in a 16-year-old, 24' Holiday Rambler travel trailer when I was your age just starting out teaching in a rural community with limited housing. HR's are well-made, aluminum-framed conventional trailers with enclosed plumbing for cold weather. I paid someone with a big truck to tow it to the RV park where I lived for 4 years. It was very comfortable.

Nowadays, for towing around on vacation, our Scamp is perfect because I still don't own a big truck.

Use the right tool for the job.

Best wishes!
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Old 06-29-2018, 06:57 AM   #3
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Tiny House vs FGRV

Gwen,

Welcome to the forum! Glad you found this place for the wealth of information and experience that is available.

My wife Laura and I were also interested in tiny houses and found our way here as well. Although slightly different circumstances, the motivation was basically the same. At that time, we owned our own farm and possessed the land upon which we intended to plant our "tiny hide-a-way house" to which we may escape in times of stress. The idea was based on the concepts espoused by multiple people who supported the tiny house movement, but I discovered Jay Schafer of Tumbleweed Tiny Houses. Jay professed the ideal of inexpensive repurposing of materials to help reduce costs and reduce waste in landfills. Jay also offered plans to build your own house and that is the ideal that Laura and I adopted. Unfortunately, as fate often does, our plans changed and we sold the farm and moved to town where it would not be extremely difficult to build a tiny house without violating city codes.

Having abandoned our dream of a tiny house when we moved, we modified our goals and targeted a FGRV as it seems you have now done. We started small with our first camper when we purchased a 16' Scamp from someone in Michigan. After one season of camping and some soul searching, we admitted that the Scamp was simply too small for us and we sold "Ziggy." We are currently camping in our second FGRV and we believe that "Gladys" may well be our "forever" camper. Gladys is a 20' Bigfoot Fifth Wheel camper that seems that have everything that we can ever want including more storage space than we can figure what to do with!

However, our journey has proven to be directly opposed to Jay Schafer's ideals of keeping things simple and inexpensive. Both of our campers, purchased second hand, required some repair and improvement that has not been inexpensive. In both cases, we thought we'd made careful examination of the camper, only to find the required repairs that are considered common to used campers. We have completed most of these repairs ourselves but the cost has still been what I would consider high. In the end, both campers cost at least 50% more than the purchase price to repair or modify, putting the camper into "nice" usable condition. I would not put these costs higher than that of a budget tiny house when compared to Jay Schafer's dream of building on a budget. However, most of the reality television programs have lost sight of the goal of saving money as well as repurposing materials to save the environment and landfills. The result is a tiny house with expenses in the realm of many smallish real estate available on the market. And some of these behemoths require a special moving company to tow them because they are so large that they have lost the ideal of mobility weighing in a many thousands of pounds with multiple axles and residential grade appliances.

Bottom line: a FGRV can be found for less money than those reality television beauties, but the repairs and maintenance will still nibble at your wallet. You can purchase a new camper, like an Escape, but it will cost your a pretty penny too. Even a used Escape will not come cheaply. Of course, none of these campers look like they resemble a pile of repurposed junk like some of those built employing Jay's ideals either, unless, of course, you want them too. In that case, you, like everyone here, are free to personalize your dream camper to make it your own.

Again, welcome to the forum. We are all very glad you have joined the mayhem. Happy Camping!

bill (not laura)


edit: links you may find helpful

http://www.fiberglassrv.com/forums/f...del-72514.html


http://www.fiberglassrv.com/forums/f...dys-83209.html
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Old 06-29-2018, 07:19 AM   #4
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When I read your post, I intended to reply and thought I would have to defend the Tiny House movement once again. I too, was very serious about building and moving to a Tiny House for my retirement, even to the point of buying and drawing scaled plans. I realized, however, that I wanted to do substantial travel, found out about molded fiberglass trailers, and here I am. I own a 13 ft Scamp and have a 16ft on order.

Past experience, when Tiny Homes were mentioned in general discussion on line, they were bashed as ridiculous and outlandishly overpriced, especially on RV related sites. I always felt the need, even though I have decided against one for myself right now, to defend them, especially since the TV shows have come out and so distorted the movement. I was pleasantly surprised by Jon and Bill's responses, however. They have presented my arguments beautifully. No need for me to repeat.

A Tiny Home may still be in my future, but not for a while. Still contemplating selling my conventional home and buying a "Home Base" piece of property with electric and water service to park the Scamp at for several months each year (I like to garden), and travel whenever the mood strikes.

Welcome to the forum and good luck making your choices.
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Old 06-29-2018, 07:45 AM   #5
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Hi everyone,
Thanks for the comments! I'll reply to them individually.

Lyle,
I was planning on building my own tiny house to save costs. I did a ridiculous amount of research, made my own 3D Sketchup model, and recently went to the Tiny House Fest in Vermont, where I got the chance to ask people questions about tiny house living and even got to have my tiny house plans reviewed by two professional architects at no additional cost! I still love them, but it seems they won't be meeting my needs like a fiberglass RV (or a RV in general) would, as I'll touch on later.

Bill,
I'm surprised you mentioned Tumbleweed tiny houses, because they tend to be some of the most expensive models out there, at least nowadays. I definitely think that living so tiny isn't for everyone, so I understand wanting to upgrade to something a little bigger. The tiniest of the tiny houses are cute, but for most people they aren't realistic. Also, I appreciate the advice about buying an older model. I think renovating the inside would be fun, but I don't know if I would be able to deal with having to make any major repairs.

Jon,
I didn't want to go much into my personal situation, but I've put a lot of thought into what I need for a living space. I'm autistic and looking for a way to slowly get myself accustomed to living independently. Living in a tiny house was the first real option I was introduced to, but it would take a long time to build myself, would need to be certified as a handmade RV, and it would be difficult to get rid of when I plan on moving off my parents' property. A RV, on the other hand, I could renovate the interior of to make more comfortable, and could either give it to my parents or take it with me as a camper when I move out. Ultimately, what I'm looking for is something I could keep on my parents' property (we have a fair bit of land and with only one house next to us, we probably wouldn't get complaints). I wouldn't mind using the bathroom, shower, and laundry in my parents' house, but I'd like it to have a solar setup so it can run on its own. I'd live in it three seasons out of the year. I don't mind investing some money into it as I currently don't have to worry about paying bills or anything of the sort, and once I have some money to spare I could pay my parents rent to help support them. With that information, do you have any suggestions? A well-insulated fiberglass RV like an Escape seems like a good option to me, but I don't know everything that's out there.
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Old 06-29-2018, 07:45 AM   #6
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Welcome Gwen and have fun in your search. Hope you find happiness in what ever you decide to do!
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Old 06-29-2018, 07:50 AM   #7
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Living in Massachusetts, I would aim for a true four season trailer like a Bigfoot. Now if you plan to ignore the plumbing, an Escape might work OK. Its the plumbing that is the first issue, with all the drain valves, water tank, and some of the plumbing outside the heated space (ready to freeze).

Other than Bigfoot and Oliver, the rest of the fiberglass trailers out there are three season. The Escape can be had with thermopane windows, and underside insulation, which does help in cold weather.

Various threads out there on winter camping.

One other "challenge" with Escape is they stopped making their smallest models (13 and 15 foot) several years ago. So finding either one of those sizes is nearly impossible.
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Old 06-29-2018, 07:57 AM   #8
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Curious About Fiberglass RVs

A nearby town actually has a development- a park with rental sites- specifically for tiny homes. I find that refreshingly forward-thinking on the part of town officials.

I am sympathetic to the less-is-more approach to housing, but like Bill, repulsed by what reality TV has made of the tiny house movement: wretched excess miniaturized.

Let's hope they don't get their teeth into molded fiberglass trailers... "Fiberge" eggs may be next... LOL!
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Old 06-29-2018, 08:04 AM   #9
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Curious About Fiberglass RVs

Gwen, I'm with Bill. For parking on your parents' property, a 17.5' Bigfoot would be a great choice. Starting around 2005 they have winter upgrades, including double pane windows, so they'll be more energy efficient all year long than an Escape.

Used units come up regularly in the $12-20K range. Being molded fiberglass they should hold their value fairly well. Bigfoot is very well made.
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Old 06-29-2018, 08:13 AM   #10
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Hi Gwen,

Using a trailer to satisfy your desire for a tiny house may work out, but it's not really a good match in a number of ways.

If you want to travel with a trailer, then a trailer is a must. If you want a tiny house on a piece of land just so you can save money or reduce landfill, then the trailer may not be suitable at all.

As pointed out, trailers are not necessarily cheap, especially fiberglass ones. Used ones can require a LOT of work to renovate and many of them are not efficient, comfortable or practical for winter use. Re-purposed materials are not necessarily suitable for trailers either, as trailers have special needs not the same as houses. Special interior insulation, finishes, appliances are good examples.

I finished out a small, one room, building and turned it into a 450 sq ft house with radiant floors, a wood stove and covered porch. Fully insulated, it is excellent for cold weather, can be left empty for long periods without a problem, can be rented out or used as a spare bedroom. It is just a very nice little place that is cheap and low maintenance. It's fun to be there.

If you want to travel, the trailer is great and the house worthless. If you want low cost living and stability, with a floor plan of your choice and a piece of ground, the trailer will be a compromise. If you want to park a trailer on a piece of ground somewhere, you can avoid building permits and have lower property taxes, but you may not have power or water.

You'll have to look at the impact of your building process on your landfill goals and decide if low landfill goals are important enough to drive the entire design of you home, but, for sure, the smaller the project the less waste overall. A small house wastes less materials, is far cheaper to build than a big house and is much easier to heat. Building a more-or-less conventional design, but small house, uses conventional materials and conventional techniques, so it can be cheap and quick. But renovating a fiberglass trailer uses special materials and techniques, so it can take longer and be just as expensive depending on how much you do yourself and your skill level.

Overall, I'd say it's best to decide what your goals are and then decide how to meet them, but I'm not sure a fiberglass trailer is always a good match as a home. Do you want to travel? Do you have good building skills and tools? Do you want to live in a cold environment? You you want land? Is this a long term or short term home? Are you simply trying to save money, or are you willing to spend more to make a very comfortable and stable home?

If you really just want to save the maximum amount of money and have a place right now, just buy a used sticky, coat the roof and move in. After a couple of years when you have more, you can sell it and move on. No landfill impact, very low initial cost, allows you to winter in warm climates and summer in cool climates. And it can be used to live in while you build your home, which is also a huge benefit. It will also help you decide how much room you need and if living permanently in a trailer works for you.
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Old 06-29-2018, 08:26 AM   #11
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Tumbleweed Tiny Houses

Gwen,

I loved Tumbleweed when the movement was just taking off. Jay Schafer had the corner on the market and was one of those leading the way. However, everything began to change and things got out of control.

It's only my opinion, and I don't want to put words into anyone's mouth, but I know that Jay is no longer with Tumbleweed. It's my opinion that he left when the entire industry lost their roots and forgot what the main advantage to owning a tiny house was all about. Just my $.02 and not worth the paper it's written on.

If'n we're ever able to fulfill our tiny house dream, it'll be something that'll supplement our Bigfoot on some land that we may own someday....I see a tiny sunroom with a lofted sleeping area and some extra storage that can be used as a companion to our Bigfoot...maybe across a permanent stone patio or deck joining the two living areas with a fire pit as a common area...hummmm... water, electric and septic tank...just day dreamin'....

bill (not laura)
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Old 06-29-2018, 09:28 AM   #12
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Welcome

Welcome to the forum Gwen. Also check out the Fiberglass camper groups on Facebook.
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Old 06-29-2018, 11:13 AM   #13
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I think of all the options available to you a larger Fiberglass trailer may be the best way to go as you seek your independence. The biggest reason why is you can have it now and not wait to build something in order to move on. The next biggest reason is lets say something happens and it doesnt work out. The financial risk is minimal unless you destroy the thing. If you need to bail out you wont loose much money.

The one thing I would add to your plan is to have a raised concrete pad to park it on and have a snow load rated carport to park it under. I would also put in some form of septic system if possible or your going to have to periodically tow it off to dump holding tanks.

It will make your parents and proud that you are able to make a path towards independence and relieve some mental pressure on them.
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Old 06-29-2018, 12:04 PM   #14
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'renovating' a trailer like an Escape pretty much consists of repairing/replacing the RV appliances as needed... if they need significantly more than that, such as replacing damaged interior woodwork, you need to use very lightweight materials, or your trailer will quickly go over the safe weight the frame is designed for. This isn't something you can do with random scrap wood.

Escape in particular has only been around about 15 years, and I don't think they make more than a couple 1000 trailers per year, so there simply aren't that many of them around.
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Old 06-29-2018, 01:09 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GwenH View Post
Hi everyone,
My name is Gwen and I'm 21. I got into all this because of an initial interest in tiny houses. Then I realized I could save a ton of money by buying an old RV and renovating it, and then I came across fiberglass RVs and I love the look of them, the small size, and the light weight. I'm thinking an Escape would be the best option for my needs, though I'm not completely decided. I'm looking forward to reading peoples' stories and interacting with and learning more about the community!
Gwen,

Welcome to the forum. You have posed an interesting question, I think you have already received some very good information.

Travel trailers are intended for for limited use, generally in relatively mild weather. Their insulation, even in the best "4-season" trailers, is not very efficient as compared to conventional construction. This means that the ongoing costs of heating and cooling could be quite high. Their plumbing is vulnerable to freezing.

Their wastewater holding tanks are very small, so a sewer hookup would be very desirable. Connecting a trailer to a septic system would likely violate the codes by exceeding the septic system's designed capacity; it might work, but it would likely be an enforcement issue if discovered. Likewise, just living in a trailer could entail some land-use code or other code violations.

In broad terms, the appliances don't seem to hold up very well. Again speaking very generally, "something" often needs fixing. They are not intended for full-time use which can potentially bring up issues with their insurance. And, these molded fiberglass trailers are generally smaller than even the smallest tiny house.

Here's a thread where someone asked a similar question on the Airstream forum. I think a lot of the advice and considerations in this thread are applicable to your question too.

Difficulty Financing as a Student - Airstream Forums

That said, some people do live in them full-time. Everyone is different. I encourage you to keep reading different forums and asking questions and to really think carefully and critically as you evidently have been doing about whether this might really be a good choice for you. I wish you every success in finding a solution that will work well for you.

On edit, you said: "I wouldn't mind using the bathroom, shower, and laundry in my parents' house".

Yes, this approach would be very desirable both for the reasons mentioned above, and due to the limitations of the facilites inside these trailers too!
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Old 06-29-2018, 01:18 PM   #16
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Gwen,

The ONLY thing anyone of us can guaranty you with total certainty that will happen in your life is CHANGE!

Change in your life, change in your health, change in your circumstances, change in employment, change in relationships, change in living accommodations and on and on!

What's important to you at 21 years of age will not be that important and will be certainly be different at age 30. Your life and what's important will also be different again at age 40, age 50 and beyond should you be fortunate as we all hope to be to experience a long life!

Having said all that "I" believe you should always live life to "Embrace" change rather be a "Victim" of change.

How does this relate to your original question posed in your original Post?

Your desire to look for "Tiny" living accommodations brought your to this site about Fiberglass trailers. You have received a lot of great insight above from some very knowledgeable people. Take a little bit from everyone and make a plan. Just remember that whatever you do YOUR "Plan" will CHANGE most likely sooner than later!

An RV trailer of any configuration or a "Tiny House" are NOT and should NOT be considered investment's! They are Expenditure's that Depreciate in value just like most anything else that you use and is transportable. As such you buy em, use em and sell em when your done. The biggest mistake most people make with RV's and tiny homes is on the "buy em" part of this equation as they "Buy" the wrong item for use in the near future and therefore usually get murdered when they finally decide to sell that mistake. Think long and hard about this!

One long-term investment that has over time shown to be a great investment is REAL property and that means Real Estate! Single family home, commercial building or other dirt related property in which you can live, work, play has done very well value wise OVER TIME. Yes that includes the economic downturn we experienced in 2008 that is all but a distant memory!

3 years ago the "Tiny House" movement was huge with TV shows presenting an unrealistic lifestyle for that tiny house as noted by several poster's above. I have personally been to numerous tiny home shows and rally's and find the concept very interesting HOWEVER not very practical in reality with the problems these structures present. Yes "I" think smaller living in a smaller dwelling is a great idea at almost 60 years of age that I am now. That was NOT the case in my 20's, 30's and 40's!

The Tiny Home TV shows also failed to address the problems associated with tiny homes and the tiny home movement from complicated issues such as where to park em, what about utilities and ultimately who is going to want to buy an old USED tiny house on an old rusty trailer? Look at the resale value of Mobile Homes for that answer. NOBODY!

These same TV shows again also brought the "Tiny Home" movement to the attention of municipalities, home owner's associations and neighbors who DO NOT want that trash on MY street and in MY neighborhood. Like it or not that is the current reality as those hater's are afraid of the "Change" they perceive will happen in THEIR property value! Pretty Selfish Huh? Remember "It's All About Me"!

Where are those Tiny Home TV shows NOW?

OFF THE AIR!

Having said all that 20 years ago at age 40 years old I had to have, built and still have that BIG HOUSE on 11 acres to live in and maintain. What was so important at age 40 is now a big Can't wait for that last daughter to go to College next year so I can sell this damn place while it's still worth something BEFORE all the other Baby Boomer's put their BIG HOUSES up for sale and value of "Big House's" goes into the toilet when nobody want's to buy em!

My My There's that "Change" Thing again!

Why am I concerned NOW?

Because I keep askin myself this question:

WHO is going to buy all this crap that the Baby Boomer's (The wealthiest Generation To Have EVER Walked This Planet) thought was so important to buy and and NOW no longer want?

My kids and all their friends do not want any of that CRAP that was so important to me over my lifetime. I expect you will have the same experiences.

Therefore "My" suggestion for you to consider is that in your 20's Long Term Planning for anything in your life is 5 years or less as EVERYTHING in your life will change in the next 5 years and certainly change AGAIN by age 30. Therefore be flexible and financially responsible so you can BENEFIT from the "Change To Come" rather than becoming a VICTIM of that change like many of your friends and relatives will become!
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Old 06-29-2018, 03:21 PM   #17
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Welcome Gwen,
Let's think outside the trailer. All those answers were excellent.

Tuff Sheds are premium quality stand alone buildings. You benefit from engineering, desgn, minimal scrap, & reasonably high quality materials. Some are factory built, others site built. They are used as storage sheds, garages, cabins, and sort of tiny houses. I'm not here to debate the differences, but to put them forth as a cost effective option, depending on your situation. They aren't built to tow.

This link might get you dreaming. I think that's half the fun.
https://www.tuffshed.com/gallery/
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Old 06-30-2018, 01:33 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GwenH View Post
Hi everyone,
My name is Gwen and I'm 21. I got into all this because of an initial interest in tiny houses. Then I realized I could save a ton of money by buying an old RV and renovating it, and then I came across fiberglass RVs and I love the look of them, the small size, and the light weight. I'm thinking an Escape would be the best option for my needs, though I'm not completely decided. I'm looking forward to reading peoples' stories and interacting with and learning more about the community!
The main thing in your choice of tiny house, fiberglass trailer or other RV is how will it be used. Tiny houses are not made to be pulled all over like a trailer or RV. RV's of all types are not made to be lived in full time. The black water tank for solid waste won't empty when it doesn't get towed around. The solids build up. Some trailers and RV's don't have much insulation and they can be very cold or very hot depending on where you are. You are very wise to ask a lot of questions. Keep doing your homework and be very patient until you know what is best for you.
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Old 06-30-2018, 01:45 PM   #19
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Here's a thread where someone asked a similar question on the Airstream forum. I think a lot of the advice and considerations in this thread are applicable to your question too.

Difficulty Financing as a Student - Airstream Forums
Wow; I just read the entirety of the thread I had linked above and it went considerably wide of the basic points I was trying to make about RV purchases.

My intent had only been to emphasize the idea that RV's can be expensive and have inherent limitations, but the thread really devolved into some other issues. While I think it still has some good information about some of the basic drawbacks of living in a trailer, you'll have to sift through a lot of posts concerning the original poster's very different circumstances and plans.
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Old 07-04-2018, 02:02 PM   #20
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Gwen, Sounds like you did a lot of research on Tiny Houses but perhaps not enough on travel trailers.
Suggest you sign on for a free email subscription to: rvtravel.com....their weekly newsletter is loaded with information from experts. You will learn a lot reading this publication.
Then visit a few big RV dealerships and ask a lot of questions....pick there brains ! Some RV salespeople know a lot...some donít...you will find someone who knows the product and willing to help in your quest for knowledge.

You are correct in the observation that any RV is easy to resell when you move on to some other form of living....a tiny house might be impossible to resell.
IMHO the tiny house movement is a trendy fad and will pass while the RV lifestyle will live on.
I started RV travel in 1983 in a nifty ďSunLineĒ travel trailer. I have been to almost all the National Parks and camped in most states.....it is a great lifestyle.
I still own a home but enjoy the traveling freedom of RV travel.

Good Luck !
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