Everything You Need To Know About Living In A Fifth-Wheel Full-Time

The most important decision you can make when choosing an RV to live in full-time is finding the right fit for your lifestyle.

We spent many hours researching and weighing the pros and cons of all different types of RVs before embarking on our full-time RV adventure. When it came down to it, we found that living in a fifth wheel full-time was the best balance of safety, cost, maneuverability, and a residential feel.

We break down everything you need to know about living in a fifth wheel full time, including what makes them great AND what drawbacks to keep in mind to help you decide what RV would be best for your full-time RVing journey!

Let’s get you out on the road in your dream home on wheels 🙌

Why Fifth Wheels Make A Great Choice To Live In Full Time

A couple of full time RVers sitting on the roof of their fifth wheel looking out over a river at the mountains in the distance

After countless tours, conversations with RVers, hours of YouTube videos, and scouring RV manufacturers’ websites these are the exact reasons we found that helped us make our decision to live full-time in a fifth wheel rather than any other RV:


One of the biggest considerations for us when embarking on our current chapter as full-time RVers was finding a way to freedom that didn’t come with an outlandish price tag.

We wanted to remain debt-free.

Whether you are looking to be debt-free or simply want stay within a specific budget, fifth-wheel RVs can be the perfect balance of size, quality, and price.

Buying a used RV can be a great way to save money and get into a well-cared-for, higher-end unit for less. With fifth wheels specifically, you will find the highest build quality, space, and features without the high-cost tag of equivalent driveable RVs (such as motorhomes or vans).

For example:

  • We bought our 6-year-old used fifth wheel in 2021 for $48,000 complete with a dishwasher, washer and dryer, full bathroom, full body paint, residential insulation, automotive disc brakes, and independent suspension
  • A similar level of features in a comparatively aged used motorhome would easily be well over $150,000 and potentially come with an increase in maintenance and service costs (keep in mind that if you are looking for more of a luxury feel, you can find the very best top-of-the-line features in motorhomes that you can’t get in traditional fifth wheels, as they have a much higher weight capacity or GVWR)

When you are looking to live in an RV full-time cost is often one of the biggest considerations. Fifth wheels are both cost-effective and high quality, offering a great way to get into the full-time RV lifestyle in a way that is extremely comfortable and budget-friendly.

READ MORE: How Much It Costs To Full-Time RV

It feels like a home

Berkey water filter sitting on the kitchen island of an RV with beautiful sunset views of Lone Rock Beach in Utah

When deciding to travel in an RV full time we wanted something that felt more like a home than like we were living in a vehicle.

The fifth wheel accomplishes this by being separate from our tow vehicle (we are not staring at our steering wheel while hanging out in our living room) and by having the capability to carry more residential-like features than lighter-weight travel trailers.

Residential Features

A washer and dryer inside of a fifth wheel RV
We love having onboard laundry in our fifth wheel

Residential features in our fifth wheel we love include our washer and dryer, our king-size bed, our large cedar-lined closet, our kitchen island, our dishwasher, and our full-size bathroom with a large shower.

In addition, we have hardwood cabinetry with soft close features, and high ceilings that make our space inside the fifth wheel feel sturdy, homey, and open, even though we live in roughly 400 square feet.

READ MORE: Best Luxury Fifth Wheels For Full-Time Living

Separate Vehicle

Figuring out the optimal driving situation for your perfect version of RV life can be tricky.

We knew we wanted the ability to leave our home behind while heading out to explore, which meant that van life was definitely out for us.

This brought our options down to a driveable RV (Class A motorhome or a Class C towing a small vehicle behind) OR a tow behind such as a travel trailer or fifth wheel.

We love that our fifth wheel allows us to drop our house wherever we want and head out with just our truck.

In addition, we have 4WD capabilities to more easily and safely travel on any road we might want to go down.

This being said, due to the size and weight of our DRV Mobile Suites fifth wheel, our around-town vehicle is a diesel dually Ram 3500. And she’s BIG!

We were willing to sacrifice having a larger vehicle for more size and residential features in our fifth wheel due to the fact that we knew we would be living in it long term.

It’s all about the trade-offs.

For a higher price tag, you can get a diesel motorhome and tow any vehicle you like as your daily driver.

Or if you are okay with a smaller space, and fewer luxury features a Class C might be a great choice if you want your daily driver to be a smaller car.

Fifth wheel RV and Ram 3500 dually in a sunset glow while boondocking in South Dakota

If our truck breaks down, we still have our house

Along the same lines, it was really important to us that we limited the chances that we would be stranded without our home.

Living in a fifth wheel full time means that our home travels with us wherever we go. And without an engine to worry about, it also means that most repairs will not be critical and even if our truck breaks down (which it has) we can simply have our RV towed somewhere safe and still be right at home.

No matter what kind of RV you get, we highly recommend having insurance for full-time use (we have had great experience with Progressive) as well as roadside assistance that covers both your vehicle and your RV (we use Coachnet).


Easier to find service and repairs

The other great thing about choosing a fifth wheel to live in full-time is that it is much easier to find a service department to do much-needed maintenance or repairs.

Most RV shops or mobile RV technicians will be able to help you solve most issues with your fifth wheel (or other non-motorized RVs).

You can save a lot of money by learning to fix and upkeep your RV yourself. Use this year-long RV maintenance checklist to help you stay on track and avoid costly repairs down the line!

A white Ram dually towing a large fifth wheel through the mountains of Colorado
Towing on the way to Telluride Colorado

Safer towing

Fifth wheels are a great choice if you are looking for a safer tow behind RV.

While travel trailers are often lighter, with the trailer attached behind your tow vehicle they are much more susceptible to sway – even with the addition of safety tools like sway bars.

Fifth wheels on the other hand sit on top of the truck bed, adding additional stabilization when being towed down the road. This safety and stabilization is even greater when towing with the wide base of a dually.

Especially with our dually truck and the heavier weight of our fifth wheel at around 20,000 pounds, our towing experience feels safe and sturdy even if higher winds or when passing tractor-trailers on the highway.

READ MORE: Best Tires For Towing Fifth Wheels

Ample storage

Another great perk of choosing a fifth wheel to live in full-time is that they have ample storage.

Because let’s be honest, downsizing to live in an RV can be tough, and need a lot more than you would if you were only using the RV part-time or for short trips or vacations.

We love that our RV has large pass-through storage in the “basement” as well as cabinets all over the interior space. We can easily fit everything we want to have with us, and even have completely empty cabinets that do not get used.

Keep in mind that just because you have the space, doesn’t mean you can fill it. All RV’s will have a specific amount of cargo carrying capacity and you will want to make sure you are not overweight as this can lead to problems and potential accidents.

In addition, our fifth wheel offers larger tanks for off-grid capabilities. We have 100 gallons of fresh water, 75 gallons of gray water, and a 50-gallon black tank which allows us to easily boondock and stay off grid for weeks at a time comfortably.

Just note that you do lose most of the bed of your truck with a fifth wheel, but this is a great trade-off for the additional storage you get in the RV itself compared to what you would expect in a travel trailer.

RV pantry in DRV Mobile Suites fifth wheel with storage containers as a camper organization hack
One of our RV pantry storage areas!


Despite their large size, fifth wheels can be easier to back up and maneuver into tight spaces compared to travel trailers due to the nature of being towed in the bed of your truck.

They won’t be as easy to maneuver as a driveable RV, but you won’t find the fifth wheel jackknifing or get offline as much as you might expect when backing up a travel trailer.

Potential Drawbacks Of Full-Time Fifth Wheel Living To Keep In Mind

We are so glad we ultimately chose a fifth wheel to live and travel in full time. It works great for us and has many benefits. As with anything, there are of course some trade-offs and drawbacks and it is important to share those as well.

It is very unlikely that you will find the “one” perfect setup, as each type of RV has both its pros and cons. The biggest thing to remember when going full-time RV is that you want to choose something that you feel you can stay in comfortably for a long time, despite any drawbacks it might have.

Keep in mind your daily driver

If we are being honest, there are some definite drawbacks to having a dually as our daily driver.

While it is great for safely towing our larger fifth wheel, it is not the easiest when we want to explore small coastal towns or find parking at popular National Park trailheads.

Choosing a fifth wheel to live in full time means your daily driver will be a truck.

For some lighter fifth wheels (which will likely have fewer luxury features, composite rather than hardwood, and less insulation) you can get away with a single rear-wheel truck.

There are also sliding hitches if you want to have a short-bed truck, but a long bed will give you more flexibility and less worry when it comes to getting your fifth wheel into tight spaces or making sharper turns.

Choose your full-time RV and your daily driver wisely to fit your needs and wants.


No matter what RV you choose, you will want to pay special attention to the insulation it has if you plan to live in it full time.

Even if you do your best to follow the weather, you are likely to run into warmer AND colder temperatures than you expect throughout your travels.

Better insulation with features like double pane windows and heated and enclosed tanks or underbellies means staying warmer in the colder temperatures (without frozen tanks or water lines) as well as staying more comfortable in warmer weather as well.

Poor insulation can mean condensation on the inside of your RV, cold floors in the mornings, frozen tanks, and having a tough time keeping things cool in warm weather.

Typically the best RVs for extreme cold weather are going to be true four-season fiberglass campers, but there are 4 season fifth wheels as well.

Just be sure to do your research as “four-season” is often overused and oversold. We break down what exactly to look for in a four-season fifth wheel in our article below.

READ MORE: True 4 Season Fifth Wheels

Size limitations

Fayette Station Road Bridge marking the original crossing point for people living in near the New River Gorge
Many areas in and around national parks (like this bridge in New River Gorge) are not the most big rig friendly

While there are some smaller fifth wheels, many fifth wheels you come across are likely to be 35 feet and longer.

So if you are looking to do large amounts of “stealth” camping or last-minute campground stops, you may want to consider a smaller RV that will be more nimble and fit into more campgrounds and the smaller spots of National and State parks.

While our 38-foot fifth wheel has not limited us much (check out some of the great State Parks and boondocking spots we have stayed at over the years), we do find it easier to plan our itineraries at least 6 months in advance to make sure we can reserve sites that will comfortably fit us.

This said, we are likely going to purchase a truck camper for our trip to Alaska to give us more flexibility in our travel plans and where we stay.

Knowing the kind of camping you want to do will help you decide if living in a fifth wheel full time is right for you.

Power concerns

Four men hoisting a solar array on to the top of a DRV Mobile Suites fifth wheel RV.
We ended up doubling our solar after realizing what we initially installed was not enough

If you want to live in a fifth wheel full time and plan to do any sort of off-grid camping, it is important to note that you will likely require more power (either in the form of a generator or solar panels and battery bank) in order to meet your boondocking needs.

These power needs increase if you have appliances such as a residential refrigerator or if you want to use things like your convection oven or air fryer while dry camping without any electric hookups.

Typical “Jobs” When Living In A Fifth-Wheel Full-Time

An article about the realities of living in a fifth wheel full-time would not be complete without talking about some of the typical day-to-day and routine tasks associated with not only fifth wheels, but any type of RV.

Now that we have covered things to keep in mind when deciding on an RV to live in full-time, here is what to expect when actually living in your fifth wheel day in and day out:

  • Being in charge of our own waste and dumping and flushing your black tank
  • Regular maintenance (including caulking, fixing things that break after travel day, wheel and axle maintenance, etc.)
  • Cleaning and sanitizing your water lines
  • Dealing with additional dust and dirt (it’s easier for the outside to be inside in an RV)
  • Planning trips and booking campgrounds. You will always need to know where you are going and ensure you have a place to stay if you do not have a long-term RV site
  • Living with your partner or family in a small space. The layout and length of your RV can drastically impact how close you are to your spouse and family while working, hanging out, etc. – choose wisely!
  • Always paying attention to the weather
  • Needing to plan ahead and have backups to ensure you have internet connection wherever you go to stay connected
  • Catching a real case of wanderlust that makes it hard to go back to a “normal” stationary way of living

RV life is wonderful and we are so glad we took the leap! Living in our fifth wheel has been the best choice and it serves as the perfect home on wheels that takes us to all the places we want to go, while always feeling like we have every comfort of home we could ever need.

There are tradeoffs in anything, but we have found that a fifth wheel is a great balance for those excited about pursuing an RV lifestyle.

Some of the links on Fulfilling Travel are affiliate links. We may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you if you make a purchase, contributing to the site's upkeep while ensuring our travel recommendations remain freely accessible. Read our disclosure policy to learn more.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *