Things To Think About When Buying A Fifth Wheel

Posted on Dec 9 2016 - 8:00am by Markell


When we decided to move into a fifth wheel, the shopping process was a little overwhelming at first. There are SO many options. Do we go new? Used? Do we even need a fifth wheel or will a travel trailer work better? What features do we HAVE to have? How much money should we spend? Are we crazy??? 

Seriously, so many things went through our heads at the same time. 

Now that we’re six months away from that buying process, I have to say that I think I have a little more clarity about how I would do things if we were going to do it again. 

Here are a few tips I have for anyone looking to buy a fifth wheel, especially for full time living. 

  1. Go look around. If you can go to an RV show, do it. Don’t go with ANY expectations. Just go and start looking at what’s available. You’ll get a feel for what dealers you want to work with as well. Some will make sure you know that if you’re not ready to buy, you’re not important to them. STAY AWAY FROM THOSE GUYS. 
  2. Decided what your nonnegotiables are. What things do you KNOW you can’t live without. What things are you hoping to have? For us, it was dedicated sleeping spaces for each kid. I did NOT want to be making up a table every night. It was also really important that it was well insulated, so we only looked at models with an Arctic package. 
  3. Decide what you absolutely don’t want. What things aren’t important to you? For instance, I did NOT want a fifth wheel with a bathroom right IN the bedroom. I don’t know why but that was something I was not okay with. My husband wanted as few slides as possible, because slides can fail and he wanted less points of weakness. 
  4. Decide what your budget is. One thing I would probably do differently here is look at models that were under budget as much as possible, and not at the top end of our budget. We weren’t really 100% sure on what our budget should be, and we were pushed into looking at some that were way out of our range. Thankfully the rig we ended up with was in our price range. 
  5. We decided to buy new. I’m not 100% sure that I would do this again, but we wanted the peace of mind that comes with the manufactures warranty. 
  6. Do research on the manufacture. Look up forums and find out what kinds of problems people have had with that manufacture. Do they pay out on their warranty work (some companies are known for not paying for work that should be covered). Do they have tons of recalls? We actually called up the manufacture of our rig before hand and asked them a few questions. They were very helpful. 
  7. Once you find the model you want, shop around. We found ours at a local place, for a decent deal. But when I did some searching, we found that exact same model at another dealer just an hour away from us. That dealer happened to be discontinuing this particular model, so we got it quite a bit cheaper AND the sales tax was less in that area. 
  8. Be prepared to say NO. The dealer tried to upsell us on quite a few different things. Just keeping singing that no key. We didn’t want slide covers or little vent things to go over the top. We didn’t want any of that. 
  9. Be prepared to walk away. I PROMISE there are other rigs that will work if the dealer isn’t giving you the dealer you want. Remember that THEY want to sell the trailer more than you want to buy it. So if it’s not working out, be patient, and walk away. On one that we walked away from, the dealer called us three or four times trying to get us to buy it at a better deal, but we had moved on at that point. Don’t forget that you’re in control. You’re the one who chooses if you buy it or not. 
  10. Don’t tell them you’re going to live in it full time. Some places won’t finance or even sell you a fifth wheel if they know that. So keep that information to yourself. 

Enjoy the buying process! And if you’re wondering, we ended up with a Dutchman Denali 280 LBS and we are so in love. It’s been perfect for my husband and I and our three kids. 

This is the floor plan: 2016_dutchmen_denali_280lbs_ric1256048_20

It has a loft where my son sleeps, and a bunk house with two beds for my girls. So everyone has their own sleeping space. It has just two slide outs (the kitchen and the closet in the bedroom) so my husband got what he wanted with the minimal slide outs. We honestly could do without the outside kitchen, but it is fun to use once in awhile. We’re thinking about converting it into some kind of storage, but for now, we’ll leave the kitchen as is. 

I’d love to hear about your experience shopping for a fifth wheel or travel trailer! Leave me a comment and let me know how it went! 


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