Best 5th Wheel for Full-Time Living
There’s something magical about a great fifth wheel. The living space and creature comforts that come with some models can bring a whole new level of freedom to your life. The thing is, there’s a whole lot of choice out there.
You don’t have to spend long online before you start to feel overwhelmed by the number of available options. How do you separate the wheat from the chaff? What makes a fifth wheel worth the money, and when should you steer clear of offerings that are just too good to be true?
If you’re interested in the RV lifestyle then you’ve come to the right place. We’ve put our researching hats on and found some of the best options out there. The fifth wheels recommended on this page are the options most frequently raved about online.
We’ve also written a brief buyer’s guide to help you start looking at fifth wheels with a more discerning eye. If we’ve done our job right, you’ll be one step closer to your new dream home from home.
Can You Live Full-Time in a Fifth Wheel?
Some people find it hard to believe that anyone seriously uses a fifth wheel for full-time living. The thing is, these people probably haven’t spent much time in a nice one. This is of course contingent on quite a hefty budget, but fifth wheel’s can be staggeringly comfortable if you can afford to pay top dollar for one.
To clear up any confusion, it’s absolutely possible to live in a fifth wheel full-time. However, you may want to keep a few things in mind.
Think About Your Area
Do you know about your local laws for living in a vehicle? Will you be allowed to park just anywhere, or will it be necessary to pay a monthly fee to do this full-time? This is something that many people learn more about as they explore, but it’s worth thinking about early on.
Depending on where you are in the world, you may have to play by more rules than you might have expected. Parking and licensing fees for fifth wheels may also apply.
Durability and Serviceability
If you’re considering full-time living, it’s vital that you get a vehicle that’s able to go the distance. If you’ve already totalled your RV after 2 years, that’s bound to leave a sour taste in the mouth. The materials, build and overall construction are important things to take into account.
Warranty coverage is also a big one. Check to see which aspects of your RV are actually covered and for how long. In addition, it’s definitely worth considering full-time RV insurance as well as how easy it will be to repair any given model.
Waste Storage and Disposal
It’s not a glamorous thought, but your bathroom waste is a big consideration with this kind of vehicle. Black water is the term used to describe the waste water from toilets. Choosing a fifth wheel with convenient black water disposal will be important if you want one for full-time living.
Depending on where you live, you may be able to use a local facility that’s built to deal with black water. Many camp sites offer “dumping spots” that can connect to your RV via an appropriate sewage hose.
If you’ll be frequently driving your RV back to a physical home, some cassette toilet storage units are even designed to easily pour down a traditional toilet.
Either way, you’ll have to adjust your expectations and choose a fifth wheel that will make this side of life less inconvenient.
Heating and Cooling
Again, this one depends on where you are in the world, but it’s important to consider the different types of weather you’re likely to be dealing with. The best 5th wheel for full-time living will come with sufficient insulation, heating systems and cooling units.
Cheaper models might be fine during summer and in more temperate climates, but won’t hold up well in harsher winter environments. Consider where you’re likely to be traveling with your fifth wheel. Part of the allure of the RV lifestyle is the freedom to travel wherever you’d like.
This might mean spending a bit more for a vehicle that can stand up to the elements.
Starting a new life on the road can mean taking a whole lot of stuff with you. Traveling light is a great way to enhance your overall feeling of freedom, but you’ll still be carrying a fair bit of kit around. Check for pass thru, exterior and interior storage options.
You might be surprised by how much you actually own once you start packing.
When buying a new full-time fifth wheel, it’s important to keep its gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) in mind. This rating describes the maximum weight a vehicle can take before you’re likely to encounter problems.
The difference between the dry weight and GVWR of your vehicle tells you how much water and equipment you can afford to load onto your fifth wheel.
We’ve tried to include at least some reasonably priced models on this page. The thing is, though, a full-time fifth wheel that’s comfortable is probably going to set you back tens of thousands of dollars at the very least. Often, a bigger initial investment can mean fewer repairs and disappointments later on.
By all means search for the best possible deal, but save up as much as you can to maximize your comfort long-term.
Sleeping in a budget fifth wheel for a night or two is probably fine. Sleep exclusively on a poor quality bed and your back will not thank you. Take the time to consider how much space and comfort you need to get a good night’s sleep long-term.
It’s worth it for your body’s health.
Consider Alternative Options
Depending on your budget and preferences, van conversion companies are another great way to enjoy full time living on the road. These fully custom builds can be tailored specifically to your requirements and can therefore take the experience one step further.
Read our write-up on van conversion companies.
Fifth Wheels for Full-Time Living – Our Top Picks
We’ve spent time researching fifth wheel listings and reviews online. The list below is designed to give you an excellent starting point for finding a new fifth wheel for full-time living.
While we believe the products on this page would be fantastic live-in vehicles, it’s worth using the information here to start your own research too. Buying a full-time vehicle is a big decision; it’s important to get it right.
1. Northwood Arctic Fox 29-5K
This option from Northwood is an excellent candidate for full-time living. It’s got more than enough sleeping space, a well-equipped bathroom and a decent kitchen to boot. There are plenty of floor plans to choose from.
We’ve opted for the 29-5K for this review. It’s worth checking out the full line to see if a different configuration might work better for your needs. This is especially worthwhile if you value a larger living area.
Tank Space for Days
Full-time RVing demands a vehicle with enough tank space. Fortunately, this model from Arctic Fox can hold 88 gallons of freshwater, 67 gallons of gray water and 65 gallons of black water. You’ll also have an LPG capacity of approximately 80 pounds.
Overall, this capacity should give you ample breathing room between refuel trips and disposal stops. The LPG capacity should be more than enough for your cooking requirements.
The high-density block foam insulation on the Northwood Arctic Fox gives the vehicle a reasonable amount of protection from the elements. To be clear, this kind of camper is still best suited for more temperate climates, but the insulation used here is a huge improvement compared to some other models.
A Bed Area Fit for Royalty
You have a choice between king or queen-size here which of course affects the final price. If you opt for the queen, you’ll also get two nightstands thrown in for good measure. The combi entertainment/dresser unit opposite the bed has enough room for a fair few clothes.
The optional 32″ TV is great for night time viewing too. Overall, the sleeping area seems reasonably spacious with some excellent quality-of-life considerations to boot.
For an optional extra, this fifth wheel model can include a washer/dryer combo. When considering RVs for full-time living, this kind of feature can be a godsend. Unless you’re right next to a reasonably priced laundrette, a setup like this is almost essential.
Living life on the road doesn’t have to mean compromising on hygiene!
- Has a kitchen, sleeping space, bathroom and living area that tick a lot of the right boxes
- Plenty of tank capacity for full-time living
- Decent insulation system
- Two TVs (optional)
- Great quality-of-life considerations
- At a dry weight of 12,954 lbs, you’ll need a strong enough car to tow it
2. Grand Design Solitude
This model from Grand Design is the most spacious the company has ever built. It offers a high level of luxury and convenience at a price point that is reasonably competitive. To be clear, this thing doesn’t come cheap. It is fairly priced when compared to similar options on the market, however.
A Pet Friendly Travel Trailer
If you’re interested in fifth wheels for full-time living that can accommodate your furry friends, the Grand Design Solitude might just be for you. The pull-out pet dish storage draws that come as an optional extra for this model do a great job of saving you space when not in use.
The elegant design seems well-built and should last you for many years to come.
This is another fifth wheel on our list with a great insulation system. The roof design, main floors and side walls are all built to maximize the heat and comfort of your vehicle. If you’re planning on camping anywhere other than a super-mild climate, systems like this are a must.
Trust us, those cold winter nights will convince you to ditch your travel trailer at the drop of a hat if you’re not prepared.
“Tire Linc” System
The tires on the Grand Design Solitude use an intelligent monitoring system that connects to your smartphone. It updates users on tire pressure and temperature, helping you to take a more proactive role in the maintenance of your vehicle.
With fifth wheels for full-time living, staying on top of your model’s durability is important. Features like the “Tire Linc” system make this much easier to accomplish.
- Super-luxury travel at a comparatively good price
- Comfortable insulation system
- Some great “smart” features
- The most spacious model Grand Design has ever built
- Great sleeping, bathroom, kitchen and bedroom options
- Not great for those on a budget
- The base Grand Design warranty of 12 months is disappointing
3. KZ Durango Gold
The KZ Durango Gold offers a comparable feature set to the Grand Design model above at a price point that’s around $10,000 lower. A combination of luxury features, intelligent comfort considerations and spacious slide-out spaces make this a great choice for a fifth wheel that works as a permanent home.
With 8 different floor plans to choose from, it’s worth checking out the product page listed above to find an option that works for you.
2-Year Standard Warranty
When considering a fifth wheel that can be lived in permanently, two years might seem relatively small. The thing is, the 2-year standard warranty offered by KZ here is double the industry standard. While obviously not enough for a life time, this will give you some peace of mind for the first couple of years.
Combine this with decent RV insurance and you’re looking at a very well covered package.
Spacious Bathroom Options
Living in an RV doesn’t always have to involve huge compromises. The bathroom options on this model from KZ are spacious, well-equipped and built to last.
Different floor plans have slightly different configurations, but most options come with a roomy shower, personal sink and sizeable toilet. The level of comfort here seems excellent considering the fifth wheel format.
If you want to take your permanent fifth wheel lifestyle to the next level, the off-grid package from KZ is probably for you. This powers all your electronic systems and conveniences using a modern solar panel. The ability to subsist without any local grid support can really dial your sense of freedom up a notch.
- Plenty of luxury and convenience extras
- More affordable than the Grand Design Solitude
- Great kitchen, entertainment, bathroom and sleeping space
- Optional off-grid package
- Longer than average warranty coverage
- The optional luxury features ramp the price up considerably
4. Airstream Classic
With a starting price of $161,900, the Airstream Classic is miles away from a budget option. However, if you take the time to consider what’s on offer here, it’s one of the best fifth wheels on the market as far as comfort and luxury are concerned.
If you’re serious about living full-time in a travel trailer, it’s hard to go wrong with this one. That is, if you have the money to pay for it.
Even the Small Details Pop
One relatively small feature of this RV is the inclusion of a classic doorbell at the entrance. While at first glance this might seem like a gimmick, it’s testament to the level of detail that has gone into this portable home.
Everything about this fifth wheel screams attention to detail, right down to the bell at the front door.
When living full-time on the road, even a fully spec’d-out vehicle can start to get you down if the interior is drab. The design inside the Airstream Classic is one of the nicest we’ve seen while researching.
It’s classy, bright and comfortable enough to begin justifying the high price tag. This is a fantastic living space that can travel with you.
The kitchen on this model comes pretty dang close to out performing some at-home kitchens. The burners, microwave and sink space all seem beautifully designed and will make preparing your favorite meals a breeze while exploring the world.
- Iconic aluminum design
- Gorgeous interior
- Top-of-the-line kitchen
- Incredible sound system
- Spacious living areas and amenities
- A high level of attention to detail
- No washer/dryer option
- Very expensive, even considering the luxury features
5. Coachmen Chaparral
The Chaparral models have been the flagship of Coachmen’s RV line for over a decade. A spacious living space, well-thought-out design and long list of features combine to make this a brilliant choice for an RV that can be lived in permanently.
It goes without saying that storage space is one of the most important things to consider when looking at RVs that can be lived in. Fortunately, the Coachmen Chaparral is brimming with storage space for all your worldly possessions.
10 Floorplans to Choose From
If you’re unsure what your ideal RV might look like, the 10 different layouts available for this model might help you narrow down your search. Your living area, bedroom, bathroom and kitchen can all be tweaked and adjusted to suit your requirements.
The 2021 models of the Coachmen Chaparral come with two new options for an updated interior design. These designs are made to create a comfortable, sleek living environment that makes travelers feel right at home. This kind of consideration can make RV life all the sweeter.
- Plenty of floorplans to choose from
- Tons of storage space
- The interior design is attractive
- Optional off-grid features
- Great entertainment center
- Covers most standard creature comforts
- Needs a substantial vehicle to be towed easily
We hope this article has given you a good place to start. Use the information we’ve provided on this page to start doing your own research. This way, you stand the best chance of finding a fifth wheel that’s perfect for you!