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The Best Used Travel Trailers Under $5,000

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It’s usually considered that brand-new RVs are a waste of money and that RVers should only buy used RVs, which we generally agree with. If you are also aware of the money-saving benefits of used RVs, then this material may interest you.

Today, we are going to talk about travel trailers priced under $5,000. In particular, we have 8 models to showcase. $5,000 may seem insane for any kind of an RV, but there indeed are such cheap travel trailers available out there.

Aside from overviewing those 8 RVs, we are going to discuss the reasonability of buying an under $5,000 RV.

Let’s begin without further ado!

How we picked RVs for our top?

Before we move on to our top 8 of the best travel trailers under $5,000, we think it is important that you know how we picked them.

We chose RVs based on their pricing information provided by NADA Guides. Another option would be to research used RV marketplaces and base our top on their listings, but since offers come and go quickly, we decided to go for the NADA Guides that offer ready data based on market prices.

NADA provides info on:

  • The suggested list price of RVs, which is the approximate value of the unit when it was brand-new. 
  • A low retail value for units with extensive wear and tear. 
  • An average retail value for an RV in a good condition.

Selecting RVs for the overview, we aimed at picking not too old models. The oldest RV on our top was produced in 2011, which is reasonably old. These RVs are decently equipped and should allow you to relatively easily upgrade them so that they meet modern standards. 

Since under $5,000 is very cheap for RVs, we chose to overview specifically cheap floorplans rather than the entire RV line which that floorplan is a part of. That’s because prices can vary significantly within an RV line from floorplan to floorplan.

The average retail price of the RVs picked for overview was $5,350-5,360, with the low retail being $4,450. The prices are base for RVs with no options.

You will notice that the RVs on our list are priced very closely, which may mean that they all were at their scrap values – which basically is the value of their components with no markup – as of June 2019.

Given NADA’s price listing rules, if you go for an RV that costs less than its average value, expect to spend additional money on repairs and upgrades.

We decided not to go cheaper and 100% under $5,000 since it would force us to go further back in time. There are RVs that today cost around $4,000 on average, but these were mostly made in the past decade, which we think is too old.

The figures and amenity info you will see below were taken from the NADA guides, so there may be some variations in actual RVs sold. Besides, keep in mind that the availability of these RVs may vary, and you may not be able to find one or another model.

Lastly, keep in mind that the images provided on the RVs NADA pages may not correspond to the specific floorplan overviewed. In some cases, NADA posts the image of not the specific model but of the top model in that RV line.

What used travel trailers are best for under $5,000

2011 Jayco Jay Feather Sport M-165

2011 Jayco Jay Feather Sport M-165

Suggested list price: $15,929

Low retail: $4,450

Average retail: $5,350

Specs:

  • Length: 18 feet.
  • Interior height: 78 inches.
  • Base weight: 2,835 pounds.
  • Carrying capacity: 665 pounds.

Features:

  • 13,500BTU AC.
  • Standard bathroom with a shower and toilet.
  • 5 sleeping spots.

At the moment of its introduction, the 2011 Jayco Jay Feather Sport M-165 was quite a nice travel trailer floorplan. Quite decently sized, this travel trailer now offers more comfort than many other similarly priced travel trailers.

Measuring 18 feet in length, this RV is quite compact and lightweight, but it nonetheless has a layout similar to that of much larger travel trailers. Most notably, the M-165 travel trailer boasts a bathroom with a shower and toilet, as well as ample sleeping space for up to 5 individuals.

Aside from that, the Jay Feather Sport M-165 travel trailer has a compact dinette, as well as a decently-equipped kitchen area with a three-burner cooktop, a microwave, and a refrigerator. This travel trailer also has a TV shelf, but it doesn’t come with a TV.

If you are looking for a decent amount of comfort in a travel trailer and aren’t too worried about size and weight, then the Jay Feather Sport M-165 travel trailer may be a good option for you.

2013 Jayco Jay Flight Swift SLX M-145 RB

2013 Jayco Jay Flight Swift SLX M-145 RB

Suggested list price: $10,266

Low retail: $4,450

Average retail: $5,360

Specs:

  • Length: 16 feet 6 inches.
  • Interior height: 73 inches.
  • Base weight: 2,285 pounds.
  • Carrying capacity: 665 pounds.

Features:

  • 5,000BTU AC.
  • Standard bathroom with a shower and toilet.
  • 4 sleeping spots.

The 2013 Jayco Jay Flight Swift SLX M-145 RB is two years newer than the Jay Feather Sport M-165. However, it seems to have been a cheaper model, so it doesn’t offer as much comfort.

Quite a bit smaller than the Jay Feather Sport M-165 travel trailer, the M-145 RB has less interior room. However, when it comes to the general layout of the RVs, we wouldn’t say that there are huge differences between the two.

Despite its compact size, the M-145 RB travel trailer still comes with an interior shower and toilet. It has fewer sleeping spots than the Jay Feather Sport travel trailer – 4 versus 5 – but it still offers a decent amount of sleeping space for its size.

This travel trailer appears to have come with a 5,000BTU air conditioner, which isn’t too powerful, but it should be enough for such a small trailer. The refrigerator in this travel trailer seems to be a small countertop unit as well, and the cooktop has two burners rather than three. But other than that, the layout seems to be very similar in the two Jayco travel trailers.

2014 Starcraft AR-One M-14RB

2013 Jayco Jay Flight Swift SLX M-145 RB

Suggested list price: $11,285

Low retail: $4,450

Average retail: $5,360

Specs:

  • Length: 16 feet 6 inches.
  • Interior height: 73 inches.
  • Base weight: 2,380 pounds.
  • Carrying capacity: 820 pounds.

Features:

  • 5,000BTU AC.
  • 18,000BTU heater.
  • Standard bathroom with a shower and toilet.
  • 3 sleeping spots.

The 2014 Starcraft AR-One M-14RB has a nearly identical layout to that of the Jay Flight Swift SLX travel trailer we’ve just overviewed, but there are a few crucial differences between the RVs to be noted.

While sized roughly the same, this RV is beefier. It weighs about 100 pounds heavier than the Jayco trailer and can carry about 160 pounds more. These are seemingly small numbers, but they are actually quite significant given this RV’s size.

Unlike the Jayco travel trailers, the Starcraft travel trailer comes with an 18,000BTU heater, so you could use it in colder seasons. The air conditioner is the same though with its 5,000BTU cooling capacity. Aside from that, this RV has only 3 sleeping spots.

2013 Sportsmen Classic M-13FK

2013 Jayco Jay Flight Swift SLX M-145 RB

Suggested list price: $11,145

Low retail: $4,450

Average retail: $5,360

Specs:

  • Length: 13 feet 9 inches.
  • Interior height: 75 inches.
  • Base weight: 1,993 pounds.
  • Carrying capacity: 655 pounds.

Features:

  • 6,000BTU AC.
  • 16,000BTU heater.
  • Bathroom with a toilet.
  • 2 sleeping spots.

The 2013 Sportsmen Classic M-13FK is a very compact travel trailer model. Weighing up to around 2,600 pounds and measuring 13 feet 9 inches in length, it is quite a suitable option for people who don’t have too much space and towing capacity.

However, this travel trailer is quite well-equipped for its size. For example, it comes with a 6,000BTU AC unit and a 16,000BTU heater, so it is going to be good at both cooling or heating. Plus, it has quite a nice layout with most of the amenities you can see in larger travel trailers.

One thing that lacks from this travel trailer is a shower, but an outside shower may come included with this model. Aside from that, this thing has a comparably little amount of comfort and just 2 sleeping spots.

2011 Forest River Cherokee Wolf Pup M-16P

2013 Jayco Jay Flight Swift SLX M-145 RB

Suggested list price: $16,087

Low retail: $4,450

Average retail: $5,360

Specs:

  • Length: 17 feet 9 inches.
  • Base weight: 2,654 pounds.
  • Carrying capacity: 1,152 pounds.

Features:

  • 13,500BTU AC.
  • 20,000BTU heater.
  • Wet bath system.
  • 7 sleeping spots.

The 2011 Forest River Cherokee Wolf Pup M-16P travel trailer is a decently sized RV that delivers a surprising amount of comfort for its dimensions. Perhaps the most notable thing in this travel trailer is its 7 sleeping spots.

Temperature control is also great in this travel trailer thanks to its 13,500 AC and 20,000BTU heater. The bathroom in this RV is interesting as well – it is a compact wet bath system that combines a shower and toilet. While wet baths aren’t as comfy as standard bathrooms, they are better in terms of space efficiency.

The Wolf Pup M-16P travel trailer also has a remarkable carrying capacity of 1,152 pounds, which is more than a third of its base weight. Due to this, this travel trailer should be a nice option for people who wish to carry a lot of extra stuff with them.

2011 Forest River Cherokee Grey Wolf M-17BH

2013 Jayco Jay Flight Swift SLX M-145 RB

Suggested list price: $16,444

Low retail: $4,500

Average retail: $5,450

Specs:

  • Length: 22 feet 2 inches.
  • Interior height: 78 inches.
  • Base weight: 3,700 pounds.
  • Carrying capacity: 3,822 pounds.

Features:

  • 13,500BTU AC.
  • 20,000BTU heater.
  • Standard bathroom with a shower and toilet.
  • 7 sleeping spots.

The 2011 Forest River Cherokee Grey Wolf M-17BH travel trailer offers a remarkable level of comfort for its price. Sized at 22 feet 2 inches, this travel trailer delivers the best comfort on the list, albeit it also weighs 3,700 pounds. 

It also has listed carrying capacity of 3,822 pounds, which, to be fair, is suspiciously high for an RV of this size. If this number is correct, then the M-17BH travel trailer also has an excellent carrying capacity.

Thanks to its roomy interior, this travel trailer accommodates noticeably more amenities than other RVs. Namely, it has 7 sleeping spots, a nicely sized dinette, a well-equipped kitchen with a three-burner cooktop, two sinks, and a refrigerator, as well as a bathroom with a shower and toilet.

If you do manage to find this RV for around or under $5,000, then it is really a bargain given the amount of comfort it delivers.

2013 Forest River Palomino Canyon Cat M-12RBC

2013 Jayco Jay Flight Swift SLX M-145 RB

Suggested list price: $11,861

Low retail: $4,450

Average retail: $5,360

Specs:

  • Length: 16 feet 3 inches.
  • Base weight: 2,812 pounds.
  • Carrying capacity: 1000 pounds.

Features:

  • 13,500BTU AC.
  • Standard bathroom with a shower and toilet.
  • 2 sleeping spots.

The 2013 Forest River Palomino travel trailer is quite a compact yet nicely equipped unit. Overall, it seems to be a good option for people looking for a compact travel trailer with not too many sleeping spots – this travel trailer has just 2.

This travel trailer is very similar to the Jayco Jay Flight Swift SLX M-145 RB we overviewed earlier, but there are a few big differences between them. Namely, the Jay Flight trailer has 4 sleeping spots, as well as weighs nearly 500 pounds lighter than this RV. On the other hand, this travel trailer has an additional 335 pounds of carrying capacity.

The kitchen in the Jayco travel trailer seems to be a little better as well since it has more countertop area. Otherwise, the kitchen setup is very similar, including the two-burner stovetop and the below-counter refrigerator.

2013 Forest River Palomino Palomini M-131RL

Suggested list price: $10,913

Low retail: $4,450

Average retail: $5,360

Specs:

  • Length: 16 feet 10 inches.
  • Base weight: 1,930 pounds.
  • Carrying capacity: 1,766 pounds.

Features:

  • 5,000BTU AC.
  • Two dinettes. 
  • 4 sleeping spots.

Lastly, we have the 2013 Forest River Palomino Palomini M-131RL travel trailer. This trailer is sized very close to trailers like the Jayco Jay Flight Swift SLX M-145 RB and Forest River Palomino Canyon Cat M-12RBC, but it is quite a bit different.

Namely, Forest River has decided to put two dinettes in this travel trailer – one sized at 56 x 82 inches and the other at 36 x 82 inches. While the increased dining area will certainly be nice for some people, its tradeoff is that this travel trailer doesn’t have an indoor bathroom.

This travel trailer also has sleeping room for 4 people, which is decent for the size. Aside from that, NADA lists a 1,766-pound carrying capacity for this RV which, if true, is excellent for its weight and size.

Probably a few people will need the increased dining area offered by this travel trailer, but if you are one of them, then the Palomini M-131RL RV may be an excellent option for you.

Should you even buy a used RV?

Acquiring a used RV may really seem like a bargain, but you are probably wondering whether it is worth it. After all, they may be some hidden costs associated with buying a used RV, right?

Well, it depends. Some used RVs should be avoided, while a few will allow you to save a lot of money and won’t incur significant repair costs.

With that being said, let’s overview the major advantages and disadvantages associated with used RVs.

Pros of buying a used RV

Huge amount of money saved

The number one benefit of buying a used RV is the huge amount of money you save. 

RVs are vehicles, which means that they are depreciating assets. At the very moment you drive a brand-new RV off the lot, it loses 10-30% of the purchase value. If someone buys a new RV and decides to sell it immediately, then you’ll basically buy a brand-new RV with a 10-30% discount.

Many people – us included – think that buying a brand-new RV is just not worth it. You are paying at least 10-30% more money but aren’t getting equivalent benefits! And the very fact that RVs lose 10-30% of their value by just driving off the lot shows what a waste of money buying a new RV can be.

This 10-30% of depreciation occurs at the moment of purchase, and the older the RV gets, the higher its depreciation is. This means that you could buy a couple of years old RV for half its original price and maybe even cheaper! And this older RV can still remain a modern piece of machinery for the time being. 

Cheaper insurance

Insurance premiums are usually cheaper for used RVs, which further increases the money savings achieved by buying a used travel trailer or motorhome.

Price transparency

When buying a new RV, the price can be a headache. You can’t know how far off the real value the RV is priced. You don’t know to what extent you should negotiate the price and whether you should negotiate the price in the first place. This lack of transparency is a big issue for people who want to get the most value for their money.

With used RVs, things are completely different. There are a variety of online platforms for buying used RVs where you can look around and assess the pricing of the desired RV model. You can roughly estimate the true value of an RV by calculating the average price asked by sellers.

The NADA guides can also provide you with very valuable information. Here, you can find price info on pretty much any RV that has been manufactured in past decades. People often take the NADA figures as guidelines when picking a reasonable RV price.

So all in all, you can easily gather data on the pricing of used RVs. Thanks to this, this market is much more transparent than the brand-new RV market.

Fixed off-the-lot mechanical issues

It’s no secret that RVs often suffer from mechanical issues within the first months of use. Thus, as a buyer of a brand-new RV, you should expect to spend quite the money on fixing all the mechanical issues that occur.

While money-saving is the biggest benefit of buying a used RV, a no less important benefit is that you actually don’t have to deal with all those issues that would have probably occurred in a new RV. The old owner has probably already taken care of those issues and eliminated the early weak links.

Human touch added to the RV

RVs do come very well-equipped off the lot, but many people actually prefer to do some modifications to their RVs in order to make them more convenient for their needs. While the default stuff like refrigerators and air conditioners are important, small additions like towel hangers or closet organizers can make a big difference. Not to mention that previous owners may have installed more serious things like solar panels or a satellite receiver!

The stuff that the old owner may have installed won’t necessarily correspond to your own needs. However, the very basic things that the RV lacked will have likely been added by the previous owner.

Aside from making the RV a bit more convenient, small modifications to it may actually make it more valuable. Maybe not by a huge amount, but still significant enough to be noticed. And given that used RVs cost much less than new RVs, the value for the money can be just insane.

Cons of buying a used RV

The RV doesn’t feel new

The number one downside of buying a used RV that first comes to mind is that it no longer feels fresh and new.

A brand-new RV is going to be completely clean and free of odors. A used RV could also be in a near-new condition when it comes to cleanness, but this will really depend on how well the previous user has taken care of their RV.

If the previous RV owner was a smoker, then the RV interior will probably have a noticeable cigarette smoke odor. Pets can also be a source of all kinds of odors. And while this is perfectly okay – the owner of the RV may do whatever they want, after all – you probably won’t like it if the RV isn’t perfectly clean.

No manufacturer’s warranty coverage

Used RVs are often no longer covered by the manufacturer’s warranty, though this depends on the warranty term and how old the RV itself is. 

A manufacturer’s warranty is a very welcome bonus in RVs since it safeguards you from the costs associated with the breakdown of the covered parts of the RV. Needless to say, you’d really want to have a manufacturer’s warranty to cover your back.

There is, of course, the option of an extended RV warranty, but you will have to pay extra for it. In addition, extended warranty providers put forward certain requirements for RV age and mileage, and an old RV may not be eligible for an extended warranty.

Hidden damage

The thing that probably worries the majority of used RV buyers is hidden damage. While a skilled eye can rather easily detect any hidden issues, probably only a few buyers have the expertise to do an inspection themselves.

Detecting hidden damage is important so that you are able to make a more informed decision about your purchase. In addition, if you do buy an RV with some damage, knowing about all of its issues will allow you to avoid any unpleasant surprises in the future and plan your budget efficiently.

Nonetheless, it is imperative that you perform an in-depth inspection of an RV before signing any contracts. If you don’t have the expertise to do it yourself, have someone else do it for you. Even if you have to hire a professional for an inspection, it is better to pay a little money now to safeguard you from big surprise costs in the future.

Repair & upgrade costs may outweigh the benefits

Perhaps not the first downside that comes to mind, a potentially costly repair is the biggest disadvantage associated with buying a used RV. While you won’t necessarily need to spend any money on repairs, some RVs will require you to spend more than you would like.

Furthermore, these repair costs may be so high that they simply outweigh the financial benefits of buying a used RV. While you probably won’t need to spend as much money as on a new RV, the costs could be significant enough to make your purchase completely unreasonable.

Due to this, you should not go for a used RV that is priced too cheaply. Such an RV is either very old or is beat up quite significantly. Instead, it would be more reasonable to pay a little more money for an RV that is newer and in a better condition. The repair costs that may be incurred by an old RV can actually make it a pricier buy than a newer and more expensive RV that is in a better condition.

Keep in mind that the repair costs may include not only the mechanical parts of the RV. For example, if the interior of the RV smells of cigarette smoke, you may need to do some more or less significant remodeling to completely eliminate the odor since cleaning may not be able to help.

So if possible, you need to consider all the costs that may occur with a specific RV before making a purchase.

The RV may quickly become obsolete.

A used RV may be a couple of years old, which isn’t that big of a deal. However, the RV is already somewhat obsolete, and it will get even more obsolete in the future.

Tech advances very quickly nowadays, and what seems new today may become outdated in just a couple of years, let alone an RV that is already old. And since you are probably going to buy and use an RV for a long time, you may want to ensure that it is as new as possible.

Minor tech stuff like USB ports – which are very common in modern RVs – can easily be added to an older RV with a simple wall plate add-on. These small additions are okay since they are cheap, but the RV shouldn’t be so old to require you to do a significant remodeling.

Aside from that, many developed campgrounds have age restrictions on the RVs they allow. Usually, anything older than 10 years isn’t allowed at RV campgrounds. 

Thus, you need to be wary of the age of the RV. First of all, don’t go for a more than 10 years old RV just in case. Plus, for example, when buying a 5 years old RV, keep in mind that it may not be allowed in campgrounds in 5 years. This will be okay if you are planning to get a newer RV within those 5 years, but otherwise, you may want to look for something newer.

Poorer selection of used RVs

The last downside of buying a used RV is that you don’t really have a wide selection to choose from. Used RVs mostly come as-is, and you don’t have control over what you are getting. You are limited to whatever is available on the market at the moment.

With new RVs, you are provided with a wider selection of RV models than on the used market. In addition, you are free to buy whatever options you deem necessary for your RV.

Should you buy a used RV?

Cost-wise, if you aren’t crazy about how fresh your RV will look and feel, a used RV is a much more reasonable and efficient choice. It makes very little sense to buy a new RV unless you have very specific needs that can’t be satisfied with a used RV. 

However, more specifically, should you buy an RV for under $5,000?

To be fair, we think that you should save up and go for a $7,500-10,000 travel trailer. $5,000 tends to be close to travel trailers’ scrap value, which RVs reach usually in about 10 years. However, an RV that hasn’t been too costly originally may reach its scrap value much faster.

In other words, you may want to avoid $5,000 RVs since they may be too old for safe use, for parking at campgrounds, and for getting an extended warranty. In addition, RVs that now cost $5,000 usually are low-end RVs that don’t offer too much comfort.

On the other hand, for $7,500-10,000, you will have a wider selection of better RVs. So if possible, we think that you should save up for a pricier RV. If not and if you need an RV right now, then it may be reasonable for you to buy an around $5,000 RV.

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