Libbys on the Loose:2 Humans. 2 Great Danes. 1 RV.: Which should I buy?! 5th Wheel or Class A Motorhome?

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Which should I buy?! 5th Wheel or Class A Motorhome?

That's the million dollar question - which kind should I buy. When we first started out on our journey, I was hellbent on getting a class A motorhome.  What better way to travel the country than perched up high above the road with a panoramic view of everything around you.  Never having to stop (except for fuel) and the ease of setup and breakdown, it seemed like it had everything we could possibly want - until we started really breaking down what was important to us in an RV.

When we first started looking, the only thing I had on my mind was jumping from place to place never spending more than a day or two in each locale.  Much to my surprise, this was not the case. The majority of our stays have started with a one-night planned stay and quickly turned into 4 or 5 or more nights.  We have both come to terms with the fact that travelling without a schedule keeps our plans open to enjoy places longer that we enjoy.  This was the case with Sky Island Retreat.  When we booked our stay there, we had only intended on staying a few nights.  But after spending some time there, meeting the staff, and interacting with some of the other campers, we ended up staying a full 12 days!
How cool is this?!
"So what", you say?  It's just as easy to move a Class A (easier) than it is to move a 5th wheel. A class A is pretty much self-contained.  You can park it, put the jacks down and crank up the generator without ever having to step foot outside.  This is absolutely the most convenient when you've been driving all day and arrive on site after dark, or in the rain, snow, etc.  With the 5th wheel, you should get out, unhitch, etc, but it's not absolutely necessary.  Providing you are relatively level (Steps for setting up your 5th wheel), you can leave the 5er attached to the truck (make sure you disconnect the 7 pin electric plug from your tow vehicle), drop the landing gear and rear stabilizers and put the slides out.  If you have a generator, you can also start it up without having to plug in.  So, from a convenience standpoint, there isn't a huge difference.

That's a full patio on the back of the 5th wheel!
Interior space was a big concern for us.  If you've taken a look at any of the pics or posts about our kids, you know that interior space is a major deal.  Since Class A motorhomes serve two purposes, one being housing and the other being propulsion, it's difficult to get both in the same package size as a 5er.  From our research and shopping, we've found that we would have to go to a 40-44' Class A to gain the same interior space as we get with our 36' 5th wheel.   Not to mention, if you have a vehicle that you want to tow, this is going to add extra weight and length to the motorhome resulting in even poorer fuel economy than they already get.  In addition to the size limitations, there are, of course, the additional costs to consider.

With a motorhome, the costs can be quite a bit higher than a truck/5th wheel combination.  Of course, this is all relative to what you're looking for.  For instance, for us to get a Class A with the same features, space, etc, we would have had to look at something 8-10 years old and $125k - $150k and still would have 50-75k miles on the clock.  In comparison, if you have the same amount to spend, a brand new 5th wheel can be had for about $100k (often less depending on the size/features and assuming you don't find a deal at an Rv show or a leftover) with a brand new truck for about $50-55k - both with full bumper-to-bumper warranties.  For the same investment, to have something brand new (with the latest technologies i.e. LED lighting, wired for solar, etc) and full warranty as opposed to purchasing a Class A that's 8-10 years old, it makes the most sense to us.

There are other considerations, too.  Let's say that you have an issue with the engine, transmission, etc, on a Class A.  If you have to take it to a shop to have repaired, guess what's going with it - your home!  With a 5th wheel, if you have a problem with your tow vehicle, it doesn't force you into finding a place to stay!  We can tell you from experience that it's not always easy finding a reasonably-priced hotel when you're travelling with two small-pony-sized doggies!

So, if you haven't figured it out by now, we've swayed more towards the fifth wheel option.  That's not to say that it's the end-all be-all decision and that we will never want to move on to a class A motorhome, but for the amount of travel we've covered thus far and what we've figured out about the ways that we travel, the 5er will continue to be our choice.  From a cost, space, and travel pattern standpoint, it fits best into the way that we live.

Hopefully, we've been able to shed some light on how to best make the decision on our method of travel.  If you have any questions about our thinking and/or our methodology, we would love to hear from you!  Good luck!

Did we get it right? Do you have experience or knowledge about this post?  Please make yourself heard!  Comment below and we will respond as soon as possible. As always, thanks for following us!
Disclaimer: We are not paid writers. We write for enjoyment and to share information about our travels with our families, friends, and our followers. The information that we provide is based on our experiences with the products, services, etc, that we write about.  We write 100% non-biased!

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