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Thread: 5th Wheel for temp living?

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    Member Snowy's Avatar
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    Default 5th Wheel for temp living?

    I don't know if this really goes here, but it seems to have some of the best information, so here goes...

    We're planning on moving up with a pretty huge 5th wheel (39') The plan would be to use it as temporary or possibly short/long term living until we've figured other living arrangements. (Rural home rental, possibly dry cabin type rental, or somethin like that, we'd like to go "off-grid" eventually, but not right when we get there!)

    I've seen it said where they're fairly well insulated and such, and to protect the underside from draft with straw bales and such. What other mods would be recommended? Is there anything specific for winter weather conditions that would need to be attended to?

    Are there any RV style parking/space renting places in AK that are in good locations?

    Are we delusional to think it'd be feasible this way? Any suggestions, warning, info, drivel or the like?

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    Member tjm's Avatar
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    your not crazy....I lived in a 26' motor home for 2.5 years...very doable and fun too....the only pain was dumping the waste and filling the propane every week...and any time we wanted to go anywhere we always had our house with us...
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    My inlaws did it for a couple years. It can be hugely expensive to heat with today's propane costs and you probably won't have any luck using the water and waste water systems in the winter without quite a bit of work insulating the underside. It'd doable, though.
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    A friend of mine lived inside his for a winter while he finished his home. He put his inside his 30X40 garage and kept the garage at 40 degrees with a wood stove. He hooked his trailer to the temp electric and had a large propane tank installed as there was no natural gas at the time. He also hooked his septic up. Worked well even though campers are not designed for long term use. Keeping his garage above freezing prevented many problems!

    His friend is still living in his 40X60 shop. He built a small apartment in the top and it is a fully functional home.

    You might search for COtoAK living in a hangar.......

    A garage can go up in less than a month if you know what you are doing and have the cash for property, utilities and materials.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AKDoug View Post
    you probably won't have any luck using the water and waste water systems in the winter without quite a bit of work insulating the underside. It'd doable, though.
    good point Doug...I've had several frozen blocks of turds that couldn't be dumped.......pull the handle and nothing comes out....just picture someone squirting water into the clean out, splashing off of a brick of frozen poo water....more than once my wife made me change my clothes before she'd let me back into the 'house'....

    for the most part, hay bales or skirting and keeping the heat cranked usually got us through all but the coldest weeks....
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    Frozen poo huh?

    I had wondered how the water and waste would be doable..if at all, considering temps. Possibly a smaller camper that would be easier to insulate the underside?

    I understand heating would be a bit pricey, but, to my thinking (correct me if I'm off base please!) it'd help offset some living expenses in order to start saving for buying land/place or something such down the road a bit.

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    i use blueboard to skirt the 5th wheel trailers and spray foam the seams then i lay plastic on the ground underneth so the heat loss isnt that much and rv antifreeze in the holding tank...one gentelman i know came with one of those montana trailers and he used straw bales it was ugly....good luck
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    Member AKDoug's Avatar
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    It also really depends on your 5th wheel. They are not all created equal. Some have better insulation and plumbing than others.

    The other part of the equation is where you are going to live. Homer, Seward and Juneau are quite a bit warmer than Wasilla, Anchorage or Fairbanks.
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  9. #9

    Wink

    Is it doable? Yes But you can actually save money and be more comfortable by simply renting a place/dive to stay in, as opposed to the energy costs today. Alaska is at an all time high for fuel, oil, propane and electric costs, and....at an all time low for rent fees. Put pen to paper before you decide which way you want to go. The only feasible reason for doing what you suggest, might be if you were building and wanted to live on site to prevent theft of your tools and building materials and save the travel time to and from the homesite. Living in your 5er will require a lot of extra time/expense, dealing with the 'issues' that come with it. Better off in my opinion to spend that same amount of time, building a habitable cabin, then build your dream house. You can always use the cabin for a junk house when you vacate it.
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    Good point, AKRes!


    We're still looking into areas where we'd like to be in AK. A lot of things in the planning stages, so its all pretty flexible, and will change as better options present themselves.


    We're also getting a better feel for things, especially me, as I browse and read threads on the board. I really appreciate the input yall have given me!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowy View Post
    Frozen poo huh?

    I had wondered how the water and waste would be doable..if at all, considering temps. Possibly a smaller camper that would be easier to insulate the underside?

    I understand heating would be a bit pricey, but, to my thinking (correct me if I'm off base please!) it'd help offset some living expenses in order to start saving for buying land/place or something such down the road a bit.
    Seems if you're going to 'save', now is the time to start! Moving to Alaska and downsizing by living in a 5th wheel to 'save' seems too late. Why not save up the dollars you need first to buy land or whatever?

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    Sell that thing and use the money to rent while you're looking at property. It's a good idea, and I've done it, but it's a PITA. As was mentioned, the cost to heat those things in the winter is astronomical, and they're just not made to be lived in full time. The condensation will build up until you're living in a mold tube. For weekends in the summer, they're great.
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    I agree with selling that thing as here they aren't worth much. Nobody really likes to drag them around here as then its hard to haul the toys.
    When I moved here almost 30 years ago I brought a small travel trailer with me and that worked out great that first summer,but come sept-oct it was like living in a clam shell. I think that just for the cost of sitting one of those up to rent a space in a park all winter cost as much as a land payment. I say come up and visit, see what part you might like to live and than buy raw land and start building a small cabin first then the house. Out of pocket is best. It takes a while to get it all together that way but I would rather wait 14 years for a toilet and have it paid for then 30+ years paying for it all. If you look at just a land payment every month thats a lot less then most rent. I know I have no regrets for building my own place.

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    Quote Originally Posted by R Walter View Post
    Seems if you're going to 'save', now is the time to start! Moving to Alaska and downsizing by living in a 5th wheel to 'save' seems too late. Why not save up the dollars you need first to buy land or whatever?
    We're saving now. Problem is, no way will we be able to save the $50k (general ballpark figure I've seen recommended) needed (between now and then) to buy land/supplies when we get there.
    Quote Originally Posted by cdubbin View Post
    Sell that thing and use the money to rent while you're looking at property. It's a good idea, and I've done it, but it's a PITA. As was mentioned, the cost to heat those things in the winter is astronomical, and they're just not made to be lived in full time. The condensation will build up until you're living in a mold tube. For weekends in the summer, they're great.
    That was actually part of the plan w/it being a back-up of sorts if finding a rental ended up being a problem. For every Plan A, there needs to be a Plan B, right?

    We have talked about the heating problem, since yall had mentioned it.

    Quote Originally Posted by power drifter View Post
    I agree with selling that thing as here they aren't worth much. Nobody really likes to drag them around here as then its hard to haul the toys.
    When I moved here almost 30 years ago I brought a small travel trailer with me and that worked out great that first summer,but come sept-oct it was like living in a clam shell. I think that just for the cost of sitting one of those up to rent a space in a park all winter cost as much as a land payment. I say come up and visit, see what part you might like to live and than buy raw land and start building a small cabin first then the house. Out of pocket is best. It takes a while to get it all together that way but I would rather wait 14 years for a toilet and have it paid for then 30+ years paying for it all. If you look at just a land payment every month thats a lot less then most rent. I know I have no regrets for building my own place.
    Well, we don't even have it yet. But we've decided to forego the 39' for a smaller version. As much for ease of travel as for size and vehicle wear and tear on the way up.

    Visiting and prescouting, unfortunatly, isn't an option for us. If we did that, we wouldn't make it to AK for another several years

    I do agree on the land and building. Thats a goal for us. To have it started in 5 years, if not sooner!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowy View Post
    We're saving now. Problem is, no way will we be able to save the $50k (general ballpark figure I've seen recommended) needed (between now and then) to buy land/supplies when we get there.

    That was actually part of the plan w/it being a back-up of sorts if finding a rental ended up being a problem. For every Plan A, there needs to be a Plan B, right?

    We have talked about the heating problem, since yall had mentioned it.


    Well, we don't even have it yet. But we've decided to forego the 39' for a smaller version. As much for ease of travel as for size and vehicle wear and tear on the way up.

    Visiting and prescouting, unfortunatly, isn't an option for us. If we did that, we wouldn't make it to AK for another several years

    I do agree on the land and building. Thats a goal for us. To have it started in 5 years, if not sooner!
    I recommend strongly that you have the financial resources in place before moving to Alaska to enable you to enact that part of your plan that encompasses shelter, food and heating. Buying a 5th wheel now, which apparently you do not yet own, to be able to live along the road during your journey to Alaska, and then, live in once you arrive, seems somewhat desperate or at least not very well thought out.

    Why not put the money from buying a 5th wheel/travel trailer/RV aside in savings and add to it until you meet your savings goal (remember the financial plan!) and then make the move. Trust me.... you will be able to save more now before moving to Alaska, than you will ever be able to save in Alaska assuming the same discipline towards saving. You will NOT be more discplined to save by moving to Alaska.

    Do you rent or own now? Probably rent, right? Well, now is the time to downsize to save for Alaska. Move NOW into a smaller rental. Cut back NOW on the extras you purchase every week. You're fooling yourself if you think you'll magically set aside a nice nest egg of savings after you're already up there through some plan of effectively "camping out!" Wasn't there a mention of children?

    I spend most of my time from late May through September in Alaska every year at a little place I have. I come down to the lower 48 for the winter. I have met and talked with more dreamers than you can imagine who find their way up north. Most don't make it long. No 1... they don't have a realistic plan; No 2... they don't have the necessary financial resources.

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    Quote Originally Posted by R Walter View Post
    I recommend strongly that you have the financial resources in place before moving to Alaska to enable you to enact that part of your plan that encompasses shelter, food and heating. Buying a 5th wheel now, which apparently you do not yet own, to be able to live along the road during your journey to Alaska, and then, live in once you arrive, seems somewhat desperate or at least not very well thought out.

    Why not put the money from buying a 5th wheel/travel trailer/RV aside in savings and add to it until you meet your savings goal (remember the financial plan!) and then make the move. Trust me.... you will be able to save more now before moving to Alaska, than you will ever be able to save in Alaska assuming the same discipline towards saving. You will NOT be more discplined to save by moving to Alaska.

    Do you rent or own now? Probably rent, right? Well, now is the time to downsize to save for Alaska. Move NOW into a smaller rental. Cut back NOW on the extras you purchase every week. You're fooling yourself if you think you'll magically set aside a nice nest egg of savings after you're already up there through some plan of effectively "camping out!" Wasn't there a mention of children?

    I spend most of my time from late May through September in Alaska every year at a little place I have. I come down to the lower 48 for the winter. I have met and talked with more dreamers than you can imagine who find their way up north. Most don't make it long. No 1... they don't have a realistic plan; No 2... they don't have the necessary financial resources.
    Actually, you've mentioned everything we've discussed and implemented already, especially the financial side of it, in a thread in the relocation forum!

    Aside from a smaller rental...we're pushing a whoppin 600sqft right now for the cheapest rent we could find 60 cents a sq ft, so we're stickin with what we got.

    All the advice is well heeded and much appreciated!

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    My brother and 2 young adult kids came up with next to nothing. They camped in a 2 room Colman tent on the way up and most of the summer after they got here. They bought a lot off the State over the counter and when the log cabin was not done before the winter they built a hay bale house. They just stacked bales like bricks to make walls, put logs over that and covered them with more bales covered with a tarp. Inside they put down plastic, old pallets over that, cheap 1/2 OSB as the floor. They heated it with a barrel stove and lived 2 Interior Alaska winters in that till the log cabin was reedy. It was not all that bad just very small for a long dark winter.

    My wife and I came up in a motor home and a 1 ton Ford truck dragging a goose neck in 2001. We put all the gas on one credit card and it was almost $5000 from Arizona when gas was $1.45 a gallon. We bought this place as a fixer upper and it was unlivable so we stayed in the motor home till November when condensation turned to inch thick ice freezing the doors shut ran us out. We had the $50K and then some and it was no picnic, but we own the place outright and I would do it all over for what we have now.

    It’s doable depending on where you go, what you know, what life style you want, and most of all what you will put up with when your dream turns to your nightmare.
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    Sponsor ADfields's Avatar
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    And by the way a fixer-upper in much of Alaska would be considered by most lower 48ers too ratty for a crack house. Not that Im complaining as here we are, for the most part, free to live in whatever way we see fit, just saying it can be shocking to outsiders at first.
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