When preparing to live and travel full time in our RV (Recreational Vehicle), one of the most important decisions is your rig. For us, the choice was between a 5th wheel trailer and a motorhome. Others may also consider a towable trailer or a truck camper. When researching this lifestyle, we looked seriously at 5th Wheels for a couple years. 5th wheels are much more like a regular home and have more livable space than a motorhome. To us, the disadvantages with a 5th wheel include harder to setup, lack of storage space, usually no generator, and a hefty tow vehicle is required. I know someone can argue these points, but this is "my" opinion. Many, many people use a pickup truck that isn't rated high enough to tow the large 5th wheels. I consider many 5th wheel/pickup combinations extremely unsafe on the road. Many experience premature transmission failure. Most importantly, their insurance could deny a claim if there's a serious accident. For us, the proper tow vehicle would be a large pickup truck (Ford 450 or F550), or a Medium Duty Truck (smaller semi). A 5th wheel is ideal for someone who only moves a couple times a year.

A motorhome is more convenient to setup and can have better storage. For us, we also wanted to tow our Jeep, so a motorhome was the only choice. At first, we wanted a diesel motorhome, but couldn't afford the models we were interested in. So we settled for a high-end gas motorhome. After 2 years on the road, we've decided we don't need the diesel. We can't justify the higher cost of maintaining a diesel. We only drive the motorhome about 12,000 miles a year, so durability isn't a factor. Besides, we haven't seen many motorhomes we're happy with, even diesel models. Once you've lived in a rig (trailer or motorhome), you look at them differently. A new rig may look pretty, but not always practical. We're very happy with our 2002 Dolphin motorhome and haven't seen any other motorhomes we would rather have.

When shopping for our motorhome, the cargo carrying capacity (CCC) was our largest priority, followed by the kitchen layout. We wanted (needed) a motorhome that could carry a minimum of 3000 lbs of cargo. When evaluating the CCC, be careful to compare apples to apples. Some companies will rate their motorhome considering 2 passengers, others will consider 4 passengers. We saw a new 2005 Pace Arrow diesel motorhome, very fancy looking but not practical, that only had a 600 lb carrying capacity. Useless! Our research has shown the average fulltimer carries about 2500 lbs of "stuff" with them. Our Dolphin is rated at a 3300 lb CCC. Since this is our home, Connie wanted a workable kitchen. Our kitchen has plenty of counter space, plenty and large cabinets, and room to move around. Something we didn't consider, but got lucky with, is having 2 large sinks. Many rigs have 1½ sinks. Imagine doing dishes in that small sink! Our motorhome came with an electric microwave/convection oven, but no propane oven. At first we wanted the gas oven for when we dry-camped. We decided to see how it would go  without the oven, and have now changed our minds. We'd rather have the 3 large drawers of storage than install a propane oven. The oven wouldn't be used too often, and our convection oven works great (now that we've learned how to use it). Many RV'ers hardly use their propane ovens, and they don't seem to bake evenly. Another issue to consider in the kitchen area is the dining setup. We wanted a booth dinette, mainly because of the 2 large storage drawers underneath the seats. We don't regret that decision.

Another factor we looked at was the floor plan. We wanted a split bathroom. This places the toilet in a small, separate room and leaves the shower and sink in the open. This seems to make the bathroom more spacious. Since it's just the two of us, we're not concerned with privacy. Storage was also a big concern when looking for our home on wheels. We wanted plenty of large cabinets inside and a full basement storage outside. Although we only carry about 2200 lbs of stuff, we're using all of our storage space. We also wondered if a washer/dryer would be useful and decided to wait and see. We've decided a washer and dryer isn't practical for us. They only do small loads and require water and sewer hookups. Since we dry-camp half the time, a washer/dryer would be wasted space for us. As with the oven, we prefer to have the 3 large storage drawers instead of a washer and dryer.

Okay, although we enjoy our motorhome and are not ready to replace it any time soon, there are a few things we would like to have different with it. The couch and recliner are not very comfortable. There's also no real space to work on the computer. Connie doesn't care for our carpeting and would prefer a wood or vinyl flooring throughout the home. We've talked about remodeling the living area and may do it someday.

Bottom line, we've been very satisfied with our choice of a home. Sure, we had some mechanical problems when she was new, but she's behaved well lately and she is comfortable.


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