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Author Topic: RV vs 5th Wheel, 3 Kids, Military  (Read 3199 times)


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RV vs 5th Wheel, 3 Kids, Military
« on: September 05, 2014, 01:21:11 AM »
I've spent the past three to four weeks reading posts all over the internet and forums like this on RVs. I am currently in the military for a minimum of the next 6 years. As it stands, I pay $2000/mo in rent towards a house that I will never own. After 4years and two moves doing this, I got tired of "wasting" that money. The wife and I got into the discussion of buying an RV to live in fulltime, so that my rent payments go to something I will eventually own. As it stands, we have a 3yr old and an 18mo old (boys) with a girl due in February. None of the posts asking about that seemed to be from younger people with kids, but mainly retirees. Our minivan obviously can't tow a trailer, so we're struggling to decide between a used diesel/5th wheel or a Class A, preferably diesel pusher.

Is a 250/2500 large enough to pull a 5th Wheel comfortably?
We move every 3-4years. Set up/Take down won't be an issue.
Vacations are monthly in various national parks, usually in places only a truck will fit (we all love tent camping).
I've driven tactical vehicles, some with trailer, bigger than any RV made, so size/maneuverability isn't an issue.
I use my '08 Ninja as a daily driver, rain shine or snow, and my wife is a homemaker, so the truck/toad would be used less than 1k/mi year other than moves.
I know nothing about mechanics other than my motorcycle, so any maintenance would be cost out of pocket.
The big thing I can find almost no positives on is loan. I've seen the rumors that MH qualify for a 15year mortgage, since they are a "house", but does anyone have experience with rolling a truck/5th wheel into a single long-term loan?

We go to our first three lots this weekend, one each Fri Sat and Sun. Hopefully we can be in the fulltime life by January.
Thanks y'all.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2014, 01:48:16 AM by Jarchen »

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: RV vs 5th Wheel, 3 Kids, Military
« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2014, 08:57:25 AM »
Hi and welcome to the RVForum. And thanks for your service to the country!

You need to go look at some trailers that will be big enough to house your family. The largest 5W or TT will be no greater than 400 sq ft (by law), so undoubtedly much smaller than your current quarters. Kids are more underfoot is such a small space, so the layout is extremely important. I'm thinking you will want a very large trailer, around 35 feet, so a 3/4 ton truck may be marginal for that size/weight. A one ton (3500) or even a F450/4500 is even better. That's a lot of money just for the truck!  Consider foregoing the truck and just pay to have a commercial transport service move the RV when needed. Even if you move twice a year, that is still cheaper than owning a big truck that is seldom used.

Large RV loans are typically for 15 years, or sometimes even 20. Rates are usually fairly low too. Dealers can arrange financing, but you should shop around on your own too and get rate quotes. Google 'RV loan' for find sources. Normally the truck is financed separately from the RV, using standard vehicle loans.
Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL


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Re: RV vs 5th Wheel, 3 Kids, Military
« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2014, 10:40:44 AM »
+1 Thank you for your service to our county!

A question I would ask myself.... where are you going to be parking it long term while living in it?
Maybe places on base?  My dad was career Coast Guard so I have been on bases a lot years ago, but I don't recall ever seeing RV lots except for an occasional rec area.
There are a lot of RV parks here in florida with folks that put down roots, but I'm not sure that they are great places for kids.... but I could be wrong.

I can't tell from your post for sure, but it seems like you don't intend to use it double purpose for camping/vacation trips.... so maybe a "Destiation Park Trailer"???  I don't know much about them, but they look to be a cross between an RV Travel Trailer and a more permenant mobile home.
IF you are talking about parking it between transfers, i would be a bit concerned about the motorhome and the lack of running it.... tires, engines, etc....  In that case, i think I would go with the biggest 5th wheel I could find.

Also, i'll add this.... I have three young kids too (3YO, 6YO, and 9YO).  My 32Ft class c motorhome is fun for weekend trips, and i am looking forward to some week long jaunts, but I can't imagine living full time in anything even twice as big.... granted mine is not at all set-up for full timing, but the square footage issue that Gary mentioned is a real thing to consider.

I'll throw out another idea, you have most likely already considered...... We have some Navy folks in my neighborhood that bough a house to live in.  They transfered away eventually of course, but they rent the house out.  I have no idea what their balance sheet looks like, but it's certainly possible for the rent income to offset the payments, so that the renter is paying for the mortgage.  If you are buying a house near a big military base, you'll have lots of folks just like you to rent to, ad if it's in a place where you might ultimately want to settle you could always move back in down the road.  In my example, i think she has family in the area so they will very likely move back some day.

Looking back at this post, i feel that there is too much negative against your idea.  Don't get me wrong..... I can understand your desire to do this.  I have been thinking lately that even though my wife and I are far from reteriment, there is a part of me that would really like to get rid of all the stuff and hit the road to "road school" the kids.  If you are full timing in a big rig in such a way that you would also be pulling it out for long weekends and vacations to hit the road, it could be an interesting adventure!
« Last Edit: September 05, 2014, 10:42:49 AM by blw2 »
Brad (DW + 3 kids)
13 Thor Chateau 31L Class C on Ford E-450
'06 Silverado
'05 Rockwood Freedom 1910 (5-1/2 years)
former tent campers


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Re: RV vs 5th Wheel, 3 Kids, Military
« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2014, 11:38:55 AM »
When I was on active duty, with a wife, 3 kids, dog, hamsters and bird, we had an RV and used it for temporary housing when we arrived at a new base while waiting/looking for a home. After those experiences, the DW will NEVER fulltime in an RV. Consider your spouse before you make the jump andf also consider where you will stay. Almost all military famcamps do not allow fulltimers.
Bruce A.
2004 Alpenlite Valhalla 29RK 5W
2005 Ford F-350 SRW 6.0L


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Re: RV vs 5th Wheel, 3 Kids, Military
« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2014, 12:29:20 PM »
Hi! We are in the military with 3 girls (8,4,1) and we are making the move to fulltime. We are new to this as well, but this is what we are doing and how it's going: We had a travel trailer (26 ft) and we had planned to stay in it for 1 month before PCS'ing, but the money we will save on our BAH at our local RV park vs our current rent as been a motivator for us to go fulltime sooner and get a 5th wheel. It's a process and one I suggest that you research thoroughly before buying your truck if you go the 5th wheel route, which I personally suggest if you plan to stay put for a bit. I would suggest a 3500 or even a dually - because that allows you to go bigger and not stress about weights, towing, etc.... We have a 3500 but I think my husband wishes we would have went with a dually just so there wasn't any worry about how much we could tow/haul. We bought our truck first and then found our 5th wheel. We maybe should have done it the other way around - but we didn't want to be in a rush or pressured to find our truck if we found our 5th wheel. We are also a one car family and I have 3 car seats in the back row but we are done with babies, so this is it for us.
Another consideration is your future assignments - do you want to winter in a 5th wheel? We will get a list and we plan to put only warmer southern areas on the top. Fingers cross it works out like that. But our 5th wheel is a 4 seasons or whatever they classify it as. We also have a bunkhouse with triple bunks and this week for our vacay, it went well. I think it will have plenty of storage space for minimal toys and seasonal clothes. But it's not filled up yet! We do have a second bath for our girls and I think that will be a good thing as they get older.
We have been having yard sales and selling things on Craigslist but we will still need to pay for storage of our personal possessions that we don't want to sell. But this will allow us to keep our 5th wheel in a minimalist state and still own a few personal treasures and memories plus we need storage for my DH's military kit/pro gear. And having 3 girls, we always have handmedowns. But we plan to pare down what we own to not a lot and we can put the earnings towards our payments on our 5th wheel. USAA financed us 100% but their RV loans have not so great rates. But if you finance through a dealer bank, they will want 10-20% down - so that's something to keep in mind depending on your cash flow.
I was worried about the transition from "being normal to living in an RV" but I met some other military mommas that are doing it locally and love it! So at least where we will be for the next 7-8 months will have children my daughters ages. One of them actually helped convince me and understood my worries and fears.
My husband might chime in with some things that I haven't thought of. This is a new adventure for us and I am nervous and excited.



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Re: RV vs 5th Wheel, 3 Kids, Military
« Reply #5 on: September 28, 2014, 07:45:01 PM »
As others have mentioned, decide on the RV first then buy the tow vehicle. But as Gary said, if you're not going to move the RV except for PCS moves then you'll be way ahead, money wise, just to have a commercial mover move the RV for you to your next assignment.

As for financing, be sure to check out the military credit unions. Pentagon Federal Credit Union  will work with you over the phone or online. I financed a truck through them.
Don & Peg
Currently located here.
Weather at Camp Verde, AZ.


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Re: RV vs 5th Wheel, 3 Kids, Military
« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2014, 10:48:43 PM »
I should have also mentioned that we do plan to take ours on camping trips and vacations unless we have to tent camp at smaller places. I am in Monterey, CA, so a lot of state parks in our area have a 24 ft cut off. But there are also a lot of RV parks. I am finding a lot of post have MWR RV campgrounds, but you have to book in advance and you have to have orders for "extended stay". Oh and in addition to PenFed, Navy Fed also has good rates. I can't wait to get ours refinanced - the interest my DH sees adding up everyday makes him twitchy!