Have you ever wished you had a home on wheels? A true home away from home? If so, then you’ve probably considered buying an RV. You may even own one already. Not all RVs are built to be a home, however. Each RV type has its purposes and limitations. Most are made for short camping stints—a great temporary home, but not so great for long-term use. Fifth wheel RVs are built for extended living. In fact, my neighbors sold their home last year and bought a fifth wheel. For them it’s not just a home away from home, it’s their literal home.
Houses aren’t cheap and while fifth wheels are not nearly as expensive as the cost of buying a home, their price tags can still be quite hefty. At Bish’s RV, we sell the whole gambit of fifth wheels, from entry-level mid-profiles to full-profile luxury models. We know people shopping for fifth wheels are most likely experienced RVers looking to find a large camper with all the amenities and comforts of home. Whether you’re an RV expert or buying your first camper, we’re happy to help with any of your fifth wheel cost questions.
How Much Does a Fifth Wheel Cost?
Many factors affect the cost of a fifth wheel RV, but in general, you can expect prices to range from $39,000 to $150,000. This article will dive into all the factors that determine the cost of fifth wheels, including:
- The price ranges of fifth wheels
- What drives the cost of a fifth wheel up/down
- Why are some manufacturers/brands more expensive
Does a Fifth Wheel Really have 5 Wheels?
A fifth wheel camper typically has 4 wheels and larger fifth wheels actually have 6. So why are they called “Fifth Wheels”? The name “Fifth Wheel” actually refers to the hitch that’s used to tow the RV. Back when fifth wheel hitches were invented (the mid-1800s) they were circular and added to horse-drawn carriages to haul trailers. Since the round shape of the hitch was the same shape as the carriage wheels, the hitch was jokingly referred to as a “fifth wheel”. Today, fifth wheel hitches are U-shaped, but they’re still called “Fifth Wheel Hitches”. Fifth wheel hitches are installed in the back of trucks and provide a safe and stable way to tow larger, heavier trailers.
Fifth Wheel Price Range
Many factors combine to determine the final cost of a fifth wheel, from manufacturer size and quality of building materials to model upgrades and add-on options. To give you a quick pricing reference, we’ve put fifth wheels into 3 categories:
Entry-Level Fifth Wheel
Price Range: $39,000 – $80,000
Although we’re calling the first tier of fifth wheels ”Entry-Level”, in Bish’s 30+ years of selling RVs we’ve learned most people buying fifth wheels are not first-time RVers. What we consider entry-level fifth wheels are primarily units that lack a bed in one of their slides.
Entry Level Fifth Wheel Examples
Mid-Tier Fifth Wheels
Price Range: $45,000 – $100,000
Mid-Tier fifth wheels are primarily fifth wheels that have a bedroom located in a slide. (Some bedrooms even have 2 slides.) When you look at mid-tier floor plans, you’ll also notice more amenities are included. Mid-tiers come in various sizes, but can be as large as 44’ long and 8.5’ wide.
Mid-Tier Fifth Wheel Examples
Luxury Fifth Wheels
Price Range: $74,000 – $150,000
What makes a luxury fifth wheel “luxurious”? There’s no real defining feature; it’s just one of those things where you know it when you see it. A combination of quality, options, and technology pushes an RV into the Luxury Tier of Fifth Wheels. In a luxury fifth wheel, you’ll find features like larger bathrooms and kitchens, expensive finishes, and bonus amenities that let you camp in style and comfort.
Luxury Fifth Wheel Examples
What Drives the Cost of a Fifth Wheel Up or Down?
1. Floor Plan: A fifth wheel’s floor plan is one of the greatest contributors to its cost
2. Materials: The materials used to construct an RV affect the final cost
3. Add-ons and Upgrades: Additional features will drive up the cost
4. Location and Time: Where and when you buy your Fifth wheel matters
5. Financing and Insurance: It’s important to factor these in when determining the total cost
How Does the Floor Plan Affect the Cost of a Fifth Wheel?
The floor plan of a fifth wheel refers to its layout and configuration, including the number and placement of rooms, slides, and other design features. Fifth wheels with more square footage, like those with multiple slides, typically cost more because of the added labor and materials needed to build them—plus they offer more living space, so they’re worth more money. Along with the number of slides a fifth wheel has, where those slides are located on the RV, such as a kitchen slide or a bedroom slide, can also greatly affect its price. Additional floor plan features, like a fireplace or an outdoor kitchen, will also impact the price of your fifth wheel.
How do Materials Affect the Cost of a Fifth Wheel?
The materials used to build your fifth wheel will greatly affect its cost—higher quality materials result in a higher-priced camper.
- Frame: A steel frame is typically less expensive than an aluminum frame because aluminum is a lighter weight, more corrosion-resistant metal.
- Siding: Fiberglass siding is more durable and offers better insulation. Fifth wheels with fiberglass siding will usually be more expensive than those with aluminum siding.
- Roofing: Higher priced RVs typically have a more durable, leak-resistant fiberglass or metal roof, while less expensive RVs usually have a rubber roof.
- Interior: RVs with solid wood cabinetry, granite countertops, and stainless-steel appliances are more expensive than those with laminate cabinetry, plastic countertops and basic appliances.
Add-ons and Upgrades
While add-ons and upgrades can greatly enhance your overall RV experience, they can also significantly increase the overall cost of your fifth wheel. Here is a quick list of some add-on options that can increase the cost of your camper:
- Extra sleeping space, such as added bunk beds or pull-out couch
- Residential refrigerator
- Entertainment center
- Automatic leveling system
- Solar Power System
- Custom Lighting options
Where and When You Buy Your Fifth Wheel Matters
Where you buy your RV can impact the final price you pay. RVs are shipped from the manufacturer’s factories to the dealership lots and the freight fees are usually added to the sales price of the unit. The farther a dealer is from a manufacturer, the higher the shipping fees included in the price. Additionally, in larger cities, there’s typically a higher demand for campers, and this drives prices up compared to more rural, less populated areas. RVs sold in popular vacation spots and tourist destinations can be priced higher, due to their increased demand in those perfect camping areas. registration fees and the cost of insurance are also affected by your location.
Time of year
Manufacturers offer dealers better value starting in the fall and through the winter Manufacturers often offer discounts to dealerships in the fall to increase demand as the camping season comes to an end. RV Dealers pass these savings on to customers.
Dealers offer end-of-year discounts. Dealers can be counted on to discount heavily in the fall and winter to make space for the next year’s models. There are little changes in a model from year to year, so you’re often able to buy the current year’s model at a discounted price.
Financing and Insurance
RV Financing: Most people who buy an RV don’t just pay for it outright with cash, they get help financing it through personal loans, credit unions, or dealership financing. The interest rate and terms of the loan will affect the overall amount of money you end up paying for your fifth wheel. A higher interest rate increases your RV’s overall cost, and a longer-term loan may decrease your monthly payment, but increases the overall cost of the loan. In 2023, you can expect to pay interest rates around 6.5%, but rates will vary, depending on who you finance with.
You can apply here to see what financing options are available for you through Bish’s RV. You may want to also check out our payment calculator to see your potential monthly payment with different price/financing options.
RV Insurance: Nobody’s happy about paying for insurance until they need it. RVs require a specific type of insurance that is different than automobile insurance. RV insurance offers higher liability thresholds than car insurance. Factors that will affect the RV insurance cost are the RV’s age, the location where it’s parked and the level of coverage desired. On average, you can expect to pay $250 to $1500 a year for RV insurance.
Why are Some Manufacturers More Expensive?
You may have noticed some manufacturers and brands of fifth wheels are more expensive than a similar fifth wheel made by a different manufacturer. Some factors that affect how much a manufacturer charges for their RVs are:
- Size of company: Smaller manufacturers tend to charge more since they are not able to buy in bulk or mass produce their campers as efficiently as the larger companies
- Location of company: Manufacturers closer to building materials can charge less due to lower shipping and freight costs
- Quality control” The more quality assurance inspections that are part of a manufacturer’s production process, the higher the costs to produce their RVs.
Learn more about why some manufacturers are more expensive.
Next Steps to Find Your Fifth Wheel
With such a wide range of fifth wheel prices, it’s important you don’t just understand what the price differences are, but why the price differences exist in the first place. Now that you know the factors affecting the cost of a fifth wheel, you’re ready for the next step—finding your fifth wheel. Nothing makes us happier at Bish’s RV than being able to match a family with the perfect camper. We know buying an RV is a big deal, and shouldn’t be rushed—so do your research, take lots of notes and when you find the perfect match for your family and budget—take the plunge. You won’t be sorry.
Start looking at fifth wheels to compare prices and features:
Watch detailed Fifth Wheel reviews from Bish’s RV expert, Josh the RV Nerd.
Ready to see some fifth wheels? Set up an appointment with a Bish’s RV outfitter.