Choosing Our New "House"

Yesterday, we went and looked at RVs. We've also been googling and Craigslist-searching.

We are thinking through sleeping arrangements, cooking, towing, storage, reliability, and more.

Here are the three RV possibilities that are at the top of our list:

Choosing Our New "House" 7Class C motorhome 30+ feet long.

This option is leading in our minds right now, but we see advantages to all three. It sports two good-sized beds - one up front and one in the back. Class C's tend to be more affordable than Class A's.

Choosing Our New "House" 8 Class A motorhome 30+ feet long.

We would lose the overhead bed, but would gain more storage underneath the living space. These tend to have greater towing capacity and are often designed with "full-time" RVing in mind.

Choosing Our New "House" 9Truck and 5th wheel trailer.

The greatest advantage here is the ability to unhook the trailer and have a vehicle to drive around. If we end up getting a motorhome, we will need to pull a car. I expect better fuel economy as an advantage if we go this route.

Do you have experience RV'ing? I would appreciate any wisdom you might share in regards to layout, cost, considerations with small children, or anything else on the topic you think would be helpful.

16 comments on “Choosing Our New "House"”

  1. Hi Tim,

    My husband who has done lots of research on motor homes, says that if you plan on driving around the country with it, your best option is the Class A. If you were going to just park it somewhere, then the 5th Wheel is your best option. However, the 5th Wheel would limit you in that you would have to make more stops for potty, putting together meals, using carseats (although many use those in the motorhome as well), etc. He says a big disadvantage to the Class C is less space, yet they are a lot cheaper and much easier to drive for someone not used to driving a large vehicle. He also told me to tell you that if you are considering a Class A, a diesel pusher is a much better choice than a gasoline engine. Especially when driving thru the mountains or towing. However, he also says that is WAY more expensive!

    Not really sure if that helped or not, but when I read it, I thought I'd ask him just so you have more information available to you. Looking forward to seeing what you choose!

  2. My first thoughts when reading this are about safety. And having a father-in-law who works in accident reconstruction I can tell you that the Class A's are the least safe. Obviously the 5th wheel would be safest driving because you'd all be in the truck in car seats, etc.
    But then again it depends on how much you plan to be driving. If you plan to stay in one place for a week or more at a time, I would definitely go with the 5th wheel, if you plan to drive every day, consider that in the motorhomes you will have easier access to the kitchen/bath facilities on the go.
    And as a kid, I know I loved sleeping up in that bed above the cab of the Class C! ;)
    Just my thoughts!

  3. I wonder if it is really even possible to go potty or cook while the vehicle is moving, so thinking about that might help you chose. Then again, the roads in America are generally pretty good, so maybe you can do those things while in motion! :)

  4. I'm no expert on RV's, although I have very fond memories of a motorhome trip in a class C from Toronto to PEI and back again when I was a child. The whole extended family! Three motorhomes all linked by CB radio (pre-cellphone era). The best part was sitting around the table and playing cards while driving. I don't know that I'd be comfortable with my own kids doing that though; I'm a fan of seatbelts. My parents slept in the bed above the cab - us three kids shared the bed at the back which was fun. We weren't allowed to get up and wander around while driving though. In general we didn't use the bathroom on board except at night - it can be a bit smelly iirc, and my parents wanted to limit the number of times that it had to be pumped out.

    Once when we were driving the door blew open and my then two (or three?) year old sister went to try and close it. Very scary moment! Make sure you check the doors are locked before driving away is the lesson we learned!

    Okay - so the real reason I'm commenting: instead of towing a car with you everywhere, what about getting a subscription to zip car or something? They don't have cars everywhere but they do have them in a lot of cities. Just a thought.

  5. Don't go with a class C. You lose a lot of storage space there. We read a stat somewhere that for full-timers, it was something like 50% class As, 49% 5th wheels, and 1% something else. Especially with kids, you're going to want to have the large basement storage areas that a 5th wheel or class A would give you.

    My vote is for the 5th wheel because of the kids-car seats can't be safely installed in a motorhome. Motorhomes are designed to be comfortable and functional, but not to protect their occupants. You could still drive a car in addition to the truck pulling the trailer if you want better fuel economy and convenience when you get to a location. It depends on how much you'll be driving and how much you'll be parked for whether that comes out ahead.

    Good luck on your search!

  6. I agree with the truck and fifth wheel idea. Our family of two adults and two kids traveled across the country, about 3 years ago, with a 6 cylinder and a small pop-up tent trailer. It was GREAT to be able to leave the trailer parked at a campground (or anywhere) and to have the ability to drive around normally without it. It might be faster to just pack up a single unit, but I think the flexibility of having the removable trailer will come in handy for you.
    Plus having a larger trailer, so you can hold more comforts from home, will be helpful as well.
    In my opinion, the hardest aspect of the whole thing is having a roving mentality. It's difficult, on your mind, to not have a permanent place to call home. After a while you really miss that, and you long for it. Especially if you are in a location you don't enjoy. Your mind really screams to be 'home'. The better you can be at staying in one location for several days, and moving out from there, I think the more normal your life will feel. After crossing the western U.S., and hitting the smoldering, humid heat in Missouri, we were desperate to finish our trip and get back to a settled life and some comfortable air-conditioning.
    Best wishes to you guys! I hope you succeed!

    1. Al - We will definitely need some sort of vehicle detached from the RV at each destination. The 5th wheel option does seem inviting. If I was writing this post today I would lean towards the 5th wheel. Although, I am still yet to see one with enough storage.

  7. Hi Tim and Stephanie,

    My friend is selling her RV. It is a class A I guess. I'll send you what I know about it in an email. You can come by and see it if you want - they live right down the street from me.

  8. I grew up in motorhomes (well, not full-time - we had a home base), and now our family owns a trailer. I really like the fact that kids are safer in the truck, as well as the fact that you are living in a small space.. it might be nice to have two spaces so it is not so mundane. The trailer to sleep in and the truck to travel in - just separates things out a bit, so you are not constantly in the same vehicle. We personally would never let our kids get up and walk around the vehicle while it was going down the road, so the bathroom and such isn't really an issue. We can stop, get out for a stretch, and use the bathroom in the trailer, but even if we were in a motorhome, we would stop before we used the bathroom, so only difference is we have to walk back to the trailer to use it - which isn't a bit deal at all - unless I suppose it is really storming out or something.

  9. Dear Tim and Steph,
    We applaud you for your adventure.

    Our last big trip was from Anchorage Alaska to Key West Florida !

    One VERY important and often overlooked issue with Motorhomes / 5th wheels etc. is the concentrated Formaldehydes & Benzenes and off-gassing of the products used inside. While it all may look very pretty and appears fitting and functional, that "new smell" is VERY VERY toxic as carpet, leather, glues, fabrics, sealants, plastics, caulking, wall-paper, cabinet board (MDF) and ther products make for a Toxic Soup in a motor home. We are both well versed in these issues and know the ill health that can come from this very thing.

    Please feel free to contact us via email.

    We have nothing sell. We live a part time motorhome lifestyle and have experience with these issues and would not want to see anyone suffer and learn the hard way.

  10. Hi! I'm looking forward to following your family's adventures! We camp regularly with our longest trip this year from Chicago to Atlanta. We use a diesel crew-cab truck and a toy-hauler fifth- wheel camper with my husband, me, 4 yr old, baby and 2 lab dogs. I'm not sure what kind of storage you're needing but a toy hauler can give you more options than a regular camper. Our camper's garage has roughly king size bunk beds that come down from the ceiling which is great for our older child. When you're settled in a campsite, you can use the garage as living space too. We've only had pull behind trailers not motorhomes so I can't speak to that but I really enjoy our setup for our family!

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