Living in a 5th Wheel Full Time
What You Need to Know before Living in a 5th Wheel RV
12 Tips from Seasoned Full-Timers
Full time 5th wheel living is full of beautiful scenery, warm friendships and unparalleled freedom. But it also comes with some challenges.
This guide explores what you should know before deciding to live in an RV or 5th wheel trailer full time. We’ll talk about what your first step should be, what kinds of challenges you might face, what kind of 5th wheel to buy, what supplies are absolutely essential for the road and more.
These tips are based on feedback from real, full-time RVers Dan and Lisa Brown.
Beginning a Full Time RV Adventure: The Dan and Lisa Story
Follow full-timers Dan and Lisa’s blog: Always On Liberty!
- Do your research.
- Don’t expect a perpetual vacation.
- Prepare to live on $10,000 to $36,000 per year.
- Buy a 5th wheel trailer less than 36 feet long.
- Know your healthcare coverage network.
- Expect to build some lasting friendships.
- Have a solid wifi hotspot on board.
- Don’t drive more than 300 miles per day.
- Follow local rules for parking.
- Do repairs yourself as much as possible.
- Don’t give up during your first year.
- Ask other RVers for help.
12 Full Time 5th Wheel Living Tips
1. What’s the first step a beginner should take toward full time 5th wheel living?
Do your research!
The first step to full time 5th wheel living is research. You need to know if it’s something you actually want to do.
Is it financially feasible? Are you ready to face the challenges of life on the road? What kind of trailer or motorhome will you need?
To answer some of these questions, you can follow YouTubers, join an RV forum or club, enroll in an RV life course and read articles (like this one!).
2. What is the biggest misconception about full time 5th wheel living?
Don’t expect a perpetual vacation.
Most people think living in a 5th wheel trailer full time is like a perpetual vacation. It’s not.
Yes, you get to see a lot of beautiful places and experience the freedom of a mobile home and an open road, but it’s a different lifestyle.
On the road, you still have responsibilities. You still need to plan things out and follow a budget. It’s a full-time job!
If you’re planning to work remotely while on the road, balancing work life can also be a big challenge.
3. How much does full time 5th wheel living cost per year?
Prepare to live on $10,000 to $36,000 per year.
Living in an RV or 5th wheel full time can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $36,000 per year. Just like a house, it’s different for everybody and depends on your standard of living.
Some of the costs associated with full time RVing are vehicle payments, insurance, food, phone / internet bills and maintenance.
5th wheel trailers tend to be more affordable than motorhomes. The bigger a motorhome is, the more it will cost to maintain, and servicing a pickup truck engine is easier than servicing a big RV engine.
Cheap RV living goes a long way. Living in an RV full time in a park can get expensive fast. To help you save money, one trick is to boondock in the desert for a period of time versus staying in an RV park. This allows you to save money for future expenses.
4. What kind of 5th wheel trailer is best for full time living?
Buy a 5th wheel trailer less than 36 feet long.
The best 5th wheel for full time living is a trailer that is less than 36 feet long. Longer trailers are harder to manage, and some regions have regulations about trailers over 36 feet. A 36-foot trailer is also easier to haul with a 3/4-ton truck.
For height, a trailer less than 13 feet, 6 inches is recommended.
When selecting the best 5th wheel or best RV to live in full time, a good first step is to rent. Whether you’re planning to live solo or with your family, you need to know what size will work for your needs. Will you be able to get along living together in this setting?
Learn more about how to select a 5th wheel hitch
5. What is the hardest thing about 5th wheel living?
Figuring out your healthcare coverage network.
One of the hardest parts about full time living in a 5th wheel or RV is medical coverage. As you drive through different regions of the country, getting medical care can be difficult. You may need a referral from your primary doctor, and you can expect extended waiting periods for appointments.
Also, many doctors might be outside of your healthcare network, which can increase costs or require paying out of pocket.
The RV community can be a huge help in this area, whether through forums, clubs, rallies or meetups. Share experiences and ask for help from seasoned RVers.
6. What is the best part about full time 5th wheel living?
Building lasting friendships!
The best part of living full time in a 5th wheel is the community. Full time RV living has its own vibrant community of people from all walks of life who share a passion for life on the road.
When you’re on the road, you become part of this community, building long-lasting friendships.
Another highlight is, of course, the scenery. There are countless natural wonders and attractions to visit when you live in a home on wheels -- not to mention miles of beautiful country between each one. One of the best parts of full time RV living is having the freedom to savor each mile.
7. What things are absolutely essential for full time 5th wheel living?
A solid wifi hotspot on board.
One of the most important things to have on board your full time 5th wheel living space is internet. Internet is very important for checking the weather on your route, accessing entertainment and maintaining communication with family and friends back home. It will also keep you in touch with new RV friends.
A solid wifi hotspot is a great way to get reliable internet on the road.
You can also use your phone, but make sure you have enough data and good cellphone coverage for frequent use.
8. How do you map out destinations?
Tip: Don’t drive more than 300 miles per day.
When deciding where to go in your full time 5th wheel or RV home, a pro tip is to follow the weather. In summer, head north, northeast or to the Midwest. During colder months, drive south or tour the southwest.
Most RVers usually don’t travel more than 300 miles per day. It’s easy to get burnt out. Each day, don’t start driving before 9:00am, and try not to drive past 3:00pm.
Use an app, such as Motor Carriers Atlas or Google Maps, to select routes that will accommodate your RV and supply needs.
Keep in mind, with a 5th wheel trailer, you may be restricted to truck routes, meaning no back roads.
Campendium.com is an excellent resource for RV locations. It’s run by an RVer and offers community-based reviews.
9. Where can I park my 5th wheel to live? Are there rules?
There are rules about where you can park your 5th wheel trailer or RV. The best way to observe the rules of a specific location is to do your research before going there. Don’t go in blindly.
Remember the community that surrounds this style of living! Talk to another full-timer who’s been there. Use their information and plan your destination accordingly.
A 5th wheel trailer will allow you to park at a campground or RV park, and then take your truck to see the local sights or run errands.
Learn more about how to hook up your 5th wheel
10. How important is automotive repair knowledge to 5th wheel living?
It helps if you can do repairs yourself!
It’s much more cost effective to repair your RV or truck yourself, instead of hiring a professional mechanic. Use resources like YouTube and other full-time RVers if you can.
Similar to overall cost, a truck and 5th wheel combination tend to be less expensive to repair than a motorhome. For RV repairs, it can be very difficult to find a dealer to service your vehicle. Truck service, however, can be done at almost any auto shop.
11. What should someone know before living in a 5th wheel full time?
Don't give up!
Something every aspiring full time RVer should know is that transitioning to life on the road is difficult in a logistical sense and emotional sense.
Picture yourself selling your home and possessions and moving into a small home with no fixed geographical location.
Feeling homeless for a time is perfectly normal!
Or picture this scenario: you need to fly out to visit family on the other side of the country. Are you willing to leave your home on wheels parked in an unfamiliar location for an extended period of time?
Just remember, the first year can be the hardest. Don’t give up!
12. What’s the most important thing to remember in full time 5th wheel living?
Ask other RVers for help.
The most important thing to remember living full time in an RV or 5th wheel is the community that surrounds you.
Get involved! Don’t go it alone. Your fellow RVers are your friends. Networking with them will produce a more successful experience for everyone. They can provide moral support, maintenance help, babysitting for your pets and belongings while you’re away and guidance when planning your routes.
Join a forum to get started, and don’t be afraid to keep an open mind!
Which is better, motorhome or 5th wheel?
For cost efficiency, a 5th wheel is better than a motorhome. A 5th wheel can be towed with a pickup truck, allowing for easier repairs and maintenance. For larger groups or more space, a motorhome may be preferred.
What size truck do you need to pull a 5th wheel?
To pull a 5th wheel, you need a 3/4-ton truck. Most 3/4-ton pickup trucks can tow 36-foot trailers. Larger trailers are harder to manage, and a heavier-duty truck may be better suited for the job.
Can you live full time in a fifth wheel?
Yes, you can live full time in a fifth wheel trailer. Full time fifth wheel living requires dedication, financial responsibility, smart planning, an internet hotspot and a supportive community of fellow RVers.