Coach or 5th Wheel (what do I want for my new home)

The decision to travel full-time is not only a lifestyle change but a change in mindset as well. To be honest, I still struggle with the idea of selling it all, though I have started to downsize.  Don’t get me wrong; I’m not a materialistic person, but everything! I’ll be sharing more on that later.

Adding to this is the emotional decision of purchasing or upgrading an RV, which can be as emotional as purchasing a new home. I find myself struggling with the decision of what is the best way to travel coach or 5th wheel.

A few years back it would have been a no-brainer, a coach all the way. The thought of getting out and cranking jacks, manually leveling it and having to jump in and out to match the height when hooking up was more than I was willing to deal with. Not to mention that up to a year or so ago the interior design of a 5th wheel was stuck in the 80’s.

But nowadays it’s a whole new ballgame; auto levelers, one-touch memory, interior designs to match any coach or home. Not to mention the options of; front living rooms, front or rear kitchens, fireplaces, big screen TV’s and so on.

I have seen more than a few beautiful coaches that have made me drool, but many of them cost as much as a house or more. I love the look of them and all the storage, but I hate losing the cockpit space, and to me, coaches feel a little like living in a box.

As I have gotten older my priorities have changed. I am not all about living in the moment. I tend to spend more time thinking about the future and life after retirement. These days I am all about living debt free, and going into debt for an RV is out of the question. Part of traveling full-time is traveling affordably so you can maintain the lifestyle and see all there is to see. I’m not sure how long my journey will be, maybe 2-4 years on the road. I know several RVers who have started out like that and have been on the road between 8 and 15 years. So I am keeping that open with the knowledge at some point I will want to establish some roots or base for my older years. So again I budget for my traveling, my retirement savings, and a future home.

At this point, I am budgeting for a fifth wheel and a 2-3-year-old truck (350 or 3500 series) or used coach and toad. When I sell it all, I plan on cash flowing my purchases to ensure I am traveling and later retiring debt free. Beyond the initial purchase price; the other key factors in my evaluation are on-going maintenance cost, how long I will be keeping the unit and the potential resale value.

Factors I’m evaluating are:

  • Maintenance Cost
  • Fuel Costs
  • Potential resale value
  • Possibility of using the rig as a spare room once I settle down, thus allowing me to budget for a smaller home
  • Cost of a 5th wheel and truck vs. a coach and toad
  • Currently traveling alone with my dog vs. possibly an additional person in the future (hey never know where love lies)
  • Driving comfort
  • Turning and parking ability and ease
  • Living comfort
  • Ability to work full-time comfortably
  • Ability to set it up for boondocking

Today I am leaning towards the fifth wheel; I like the space, headroom, and division of areas. It feels more reminiscent of a small apartment vs. the boxy feeling of a coach. But everyone has their own preference.

The two I am leaning towards today are the Rushmore13_Washington_frontintCrossroads Rushmore/Washington RF39WA fifth wheel. It has a great full desk as a work area without taking away from the comfort of the unit. A work area is important to me as a Graphic Designer since I have a larger computer and dual monitors.



Elevation14_3840_frtintMy other option is a Crossroads Elevation Toyhauler, where I can set-up the rear area as an office.


More to come..



But, I welcome your feedback and input as to what has worked best for you and why.

2 Responses to Coach or 5th Wheel (what do I want for my new home)

  1. Rodger Schuester February 1, 2016 at 12:14 pm #

    Initially, based on the commonly available discussions on websites and in various RV forums, I had come to the same conclusion that I should buy a MH. But the last few months, after several years of research, I realized that the RV game has changed and is providing a much wider variety of workable options for buyers.

    Both my wife and I concluded that buying a premium used 5th and matching it to a truck suitable as a daily driver will be our personal solution. My wife’s key point is that if you don’t like something in a MH, you have to change the whole thing. As you mentioned, the technology changes reduce the setup and tear down time significantly. Also, the trucks have become even more capable and often are suitable as a daily driver.

    Many RV travelers have realized that traveling less and staying longer in one destination has tremendous advantages for this entertainment choice.

    Those that are focused on putting on lots of miles often find that much more mobile solutions like B class units are winners.

    • Tom Robertson February 1, 2016 at 1:21 pm #

      Boy, I tell you the towable (5th wheel) market has really taken a change for the better. I think this is attributed to the fact that some articles I read say that 42% of the new market is for 5th wheels and trailers. Since I will be going full time I really like the extra space and the separation of spaces (front living rooms, separated rear living rooms, front kitchens, front bed and bath) the options now days seem endless. The quality and decor choices have also made such improvements, and when you factor in Residential Refers, Induction Cooktops and Dishwashers it’s like having an apartment. I am a firm believer just because you are going full time doesn’t mean you have to give up the comforts of home, especially as I get older. I do get tempted sometimes to buy a coach when I see a great deal on a probate sale or something similar. But then I talk to friends with coaches and how much it was to have this repaired or that repaired the costs seem astronomical.

      So I look at the fact I can get a nice new 5th wheel and a good truck a couple years old for 1/2 or less than I would spend on a DP coach. Since I am selling everything, I also realize I can pay cash for the 5th wheel and truck and not have any payments. Thus maintaining my debt free lifestyle which is important to me.

      I will be working full time from the road so staying in a place for at least a week will allow me to work and sneak out and see the sites at the same time. I have to admit that one thing I struggle with is a good work/life balance so I am looking forward to traveling to give me more to do in terms of personal life and site seeing. As I travel more or at busy work times I can stretch that out to 2-4 weeks depending on where I am at what there is to see.

      You’re right setting up a new 5th wheel with auto leveling and everything is the same now as setting up a coach, it’s much easier now days.

      I wish you all the best with wonderful and safe travels!

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