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  #1  
Old 08/19/09, 11:06 AM
horsepoor21's Avatar
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Living in a 5th wheel camper with 5 children ..

We recently sold our house in South Dakota and have been living in a 5th wheel camper we bought . It's a really nice one , 42 feet long , a "toy hauler" but we use that part as a bedroom that we put bunk beds in along with all the kids' toys and dressers . There's also a loft which the two oldest boys sleep in, it has a queen size bed . Then we have our own room , and the baby sleeps with us .

We had originally planned to just live in this for the summer until our house sold , then find another place to buy but we are actually paying off bills ! We are saving so much money living in this that my husband is very tempted to keep us in it until spring time when we would be completely debt free .

He has to live in it anyway as his job is here and this is not an area we want to live in permamently. We're having some people come out to put skirting on it and get everything ready for winter . Many guys my husband works with live in campers and after having these folks out they claim they've never froze up .

Okay , on to my point ! I'm concerned about someone calling Social Services on us because we live in a camper . And because there are five children in here , even though this is a huge camper and very fancy to me .

Do you think we could get in trouble for raising children in a camper over a cold nasty North Dakota winter ? Have you heard of other's doing this ?

Thankyou in advance for your input !

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  #2  
Old 08/19/09, 12:03 PM
 
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Location: Northern Wisconsin
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I don't know about the social service laws but I think it is a great idea. What a better way to get debt free and spend time with each other. I am jealous!

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  #3  
Old 08/19/09, 12:12 PM
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Central Texas
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There's a family living in a 24' trailer on our land right now. Just the two parents and a little boy. But they keep saying it's the nicest place they've ever lived!

I don't think you will have a problem unless you have really nosy annoying neighbors/inlaws to report you.

One thing I will say. Those campers (at least the one we have) are meant to last, say 15 or 20 years with light usage. If you live in one full time for a year, expect a LOT of stuff to be worn out - trim knocked off, faucet knobs broken, etc. Even if you are extra careful, it's just not designed for long-term full time use. But that being said, if you can come out the other side being debt free, I say go for it!

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  #4  
Old 08/19/09, 12:15 PM
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We are living in a 66 foot mobile home and even w/o 5 kids we don't have enough room. I'd go nuts if we had to live in a camper.

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  #5  
Old 08/19/09, 12:19 PM
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Oh thankyou so much ! This is exactly what I needed to hear !

My side of the family thinks it's a horrible idea and really had me second guessing myself .

We don't have any neighbors really . We're just out on 6 acres that we rent from my husband's co-worker . He lives here as well in a mobile home .

It has been a fantastic summer , it's like camping every day ! Obviously this winter we'll be inside most of the time but I'm already trying to come up with things to do to occupy our time .

We have a propane furnace built into the camper but we're planning on buying an "Eden Pure" heater . I've heard good things about them . Then there won't be a fire hazard as they're cool to the touch .

We also have a generator built in in case we lose power so no worries of freezing to death .

Again , thankyou for helping me feel better !

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  #6  
Old 08/19/09, 12:24 PM
horsepoor21's Avatar
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Quote:
Originally Posted by watcher View Post
We are living in a 66 foot mobile home and even w/o 5 kids we don't have enough room. I'd go nuts if we had to live in a camper.

LOL Well , even in our house we just sold , the children were always underfoot anyhow , so things really haven't changed !

And , the best part ??? Cleaning takes us , literally , like 20 minutes . Then the place is spotless and I have TONS of time now to spend with my family , and do our homeschool , and tend to our animals !

I just miss being able to do laundry in my own home ( our landlord lets us use his washer and dryer , I also have a clothesline) and I miss having a normal sized oven . But we got my husband a big grill for fathers day so we can at least eat our chickens without having to cut them up first . hehe
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  #7  
Old 08/19/09, 12:27 PM
 
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Be sure to have plenty of carbon monoxide detectors and fire alarms. The carbon monoxide can be a big problem in campers when running furnaces.

As long as the kids are clean, fed, doctored as needed, schooled, etc. I can't see why DHS would care that you're living in a camper. As for me, I'd be ready for the rubber room sooner rather than later.

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  #8  
Old 08/19/09, 12:49 PM
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Thankyou , that is a good point . The camper has several CM detectors built in , and it also has several smoke detectors but I have to take them down every time I cook or they go off .... haha Doesn't speak well for my cooking , does it ?

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  #9  
Old 08/19/09, 12:54 PM
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Don't send the kids down the road to borrow cigarettes and remind them to stay away from your neighbor lady's electric fence, and I'm sure that you'll be fine.

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  #10  
Old 08/19/09, 12:55 PM
 
Join Date: May 2002
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I second that idea about the C-M detectors. Make sure your family is protected!!!!

As for CPS, I doubt they would say much. But of course, every locality is different. I really doubt they would have a leg to stand on about your living arrangement. When we went thru Indiana's adoption/foster program, the director told us that children must be safe, and have access to water. That doesn't mean hot water, or full plumbing, but a source of clean drinking water. It can be a spigot outside, according to her.

FWIW, in lots of areas, CPS is reluctant to remove kids. The system is often over-burdened and lots of states don't want to spend any more money than they have to.

In short, as long as they are happy, safe and have water, CPS isn't going to say a word, IMHO.

Clove

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  #11  
Old 08/19/09, 01:00 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by horsepoor21 View Post
Thankyou , that is a good point . The camper has several CM detectors built in , and it also has several smoke detectors but I have to take them down every time I cook or they go off .... haha Doesn't speak well for my cooking , does it ?
Most smoke detectors work off a quick change in tempatures, and not off smoke itself....but you probably already knew that. In a camper, I bet it would be easy to set off the detector every time you open the oven door or warm up a large pot of water.
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  #12  
Old 08/19/09, 01:00 PM
 
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Location: Whiskey Flats(Ft. Worth) , Tx
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..............You might want to consider adding some extra insulation too the walls of the storage area considering the below zero temps you will be experiencing by nov ! Maybe some of that 1 inch thick thermoply insulation board that comes in 4x8 sheets . The children sleeping in the storage area will need lots of very warm bedding and electric blankets . You didn't say if the toy hauler has thermoply windows . I think you'll also be surprised at how Cold the inside of your trailer will get without a significant anount heating capacity . , fordy

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  #13  
Old 08/19/09, 01:04 PM
 
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 5,332

Horsepoor, if you can swing the money now, contact the edenpure people and see if you can buy one of the returned, recondiioned models. We bought one at regular price, then kept getting letters from them saying in the off season they sell them for 199. If we had needed another one, that would be the way to go.

I think what you are doing is just fine. Lots of people live in smaller dwellings that than and aren't breaking any laws. I wouldn't worry. Do what is right and take care of your family. Good for you getting out of debt!

Jan in Co

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  #14  
Old 08/19/09, 01:12 PM
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My only concern is North Dakota winters. How will you keep it warm in the winter?

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  #15  
Old 08/19/09, 01:17 PM
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I dont know your state but in Wi that would be a big risk!
Here we are regulated to death and living in a camper with kids is a nono.

I know here, in Wi, I wouldnt risk it. Heck kids talk and say the wrong thing to the wrong person or have family that disagrees with your idea and CPS is at the door looking for a reason to make your life hell!!

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  #16  
Old 08/19/09, 01:24 PM
 
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Sounds like you are doing an excellent job with your debt and the family!

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  #17  
Old 08/19/09, 01:28 PM
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Amy, I'll bet the school system and CPS in your area have seen much worse conditions. You can't be the only family! Might be a good idea to have a backup plan though. Sounds like you are doing fine.

Peg

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  #18  
Old 08/19/09, 01:33 PM
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In some states depending on age girls and boys can't sleep in the same room. That would be the first thing I would look into. You could always grab some coins and call cps from a pay phone and ask about it.

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  #19  
Old 08/19/09, 01:35 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RiverPines View Post
I dont know your state but in Wi that would be a big risk!
Here we are regulated to death and living in a camper with kids is a nono.

I know here, in Wi, I wouldnt risk it. Heck kids talk and say the wrong thing to the wrong person or have family that disagrees with your idea and CPS is at the door looking for a reason to make your life hell!!
I find this very hard to believe. You don't have trailer parks in WI?
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  #20  
Old 08/19/09, 01:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by georgec View Post
I find this very hard to believe. You don't have trailer parks in WI?
A mobile home is different from a camper.
Campers are not meant for permanent living and our state is the master of regulating everything to death!
Heck mobile homes are not easy to place on private land. To many townships just wont allow them!!
Some only allow double wides. They want them to look like regular houses.
Some townships have banned then except for pre-existing units on private land and in trailer parks.
Wi is one state were you can by 100 acres of land but you may not get permission to put a mobile home on it if you want.

Much of Wi is anti-mobile homes and no living in campers with children.
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  #21  
Old 08/19/09, 01:53 PM
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I know nothing about insulating but my husband has been talking to all the guys that live in campers year round here , and has lots of ideas .

Our camper is a "4 seasons" so it's insulated more than other campers would be , but we have plans of adding LOTS more to be on the safe side .

My parents have invited us to live with them in MN for the winter if it just doesn't work out . Of course , my hubby will still be stuck here with 4 goats , a horse and tons of poultry so I really want to make this work !

Jan in CO > Thankyou for the advice! I will start searching for one now !

Fordy > We've lived here since March and while I know that is technically spring , we had some NASTY blizzards and we didn't have insulation yet and we stayed warm ! So I'm thinking with the insulation , the skirting to keep the wind from whipping thru underneath , and the Eden Pure heaters , we should be okay ?

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  #22  
Old 08/19/09, 02:00 PM
 
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Location: Whiskey Flats(Ft. Worth) , Tx
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................One more point of consideration , .......IF , this trailer has exposed pipes under the trailer they Need to be wraped with Heat tape AND Insulated , extremely , WELL ! Skirting , prevents the wind and snow from circulating around and UNder the trailer , it won't stop the pipes from freezing . IF , it's -50 outside it'll be -50 under the trailer as well , minus the wind chill . Also , have the skirt builder fabricate an Entry door , just in case you need access ! Having to crawl around under a trailer when it's below zero and completely , dark , is Miserable work at best . Might want to add some lights under there as well . The better prepared you are for extreme temps the better you can deal with problems , when DH can't come home ! , fordy

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  #23  
Old 08/19/09, 02:22 PM
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Could you make an anamous call to CPS and ask their standpoint? Police may not be able to say; our sherrif relies on the guidance of CPS to define child abuse/neglect etc. I would think that as long as basic needs are being met, and boys/girls have separate area; even if by a sheet hung. Plus having a back up plan of going to the parents place is good. Or you could even say the local motel is your back up if things get too rough. I know a lady in my county that used the motel as a home so they wouldn't take the kids because her house was really rough. If things look good; I'd definately go for it. Being debt free is a good environment for the kids!

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  #24  
Old 08/19/09, 02:25 PM
 
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I read somewhere that people living in them in cold climates have used hay bales for insulation around the bottom and up the sides for extra insulation. Naturally any vents, such as the one for the propane refrigerator must remain clear.

Agree, that if the land owner will permit to add some type shed to cover the front door and provide an air lock. Not only will it shelter the door, it'll give you more storage and a place for the kids to play when the weather permits.

Good luck with your choice. I applaud you for making the effort to become debt free.

Lee

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  #25  
Old 08/19/09, 02:28 PM
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sssssssshhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh don't tell.. no as long as it is clean and they are taken care of..at least you are not homeless..be cautious about the cold..really plan ahead on that..

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  #26  
Old 08/19/09, 02:39 PM
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I will have my husband write later, but we have live in a camper. We have since January. The one we started out with was a 24 ft. fifth wheel and we have 3 children. They are hard to keep warm but we moved with the weather (going to Texas and California in the winter). Knowing you were living in it for the winter, you may be able to keep it warm enough but I do not know if water pipes would freeze.
will write more later.

sara

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  #27  
Old 08/20/09, 02:30 AM
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Take a lessson from this experience and build a really small house with only bunkbeds and dresser for the kids. That way you'll continue to get the benefits of living in a small space

(I say go for it and who cares what others think! You're doing right by your kids)

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  #28  
Old 08/20/09, 02:56 AM
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Please Google "Edenpure+problems" before you buy one of these things! I've heard of too many people getting stung by this company. (My boss' dad has one in his basement that broke down after less than 1 winter.) Seems they're pricey and don't work very well or for very long.

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  #29  
Old 08/20/09, 08:15 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RiverPines View Post
I dont know your state but in Wi that would be a big risk!
Here we are regulated to death and living in a camper with kids is a nono.

I know here, in Wi, I wouldnt risk it. Heck kids talk and say the wrong thing to the wrong person or have family that disagrees with your idea and CPS is at the door looking for a reason to make your life hell!!
See that makes no sense to me. Why would it be a no no? they have a place to sleep, facilities for cooking, and bathing, and heat. So it is not conventional. BIG WOO.(I am NOT calling you a liar, just ranting). All this keeping up with the Joneses has gotten this nation into the mess it is in now. We don't need fancy or even pretty-we need functional. Pretty is nice, but is a want, not a need.

If a child has a roof over his head, a clean place to sleep, food to eat and is warm enough and not beat on (emotionally or physically) then CPS should go pound sand. I don't see what is wrong with living in a camper personally. We did it one summer with my folks and me. When we first moved into our little house we have now, we had 4 girls at home and 2 bedrooms and 1 bath. You have to go thru the bathroom to get to my room (yes, thru the bath to the bed) and a water heater is at the foot of my bed. I bet DFACS would have a cow over that!!! But my kids were fed and clothed and loved and not bruised unless they got dumped off a horse.

The mother of my youngest dd's bff was told by CPS last weekend that if they don't have carpet or some type of "normal" floor coverings, in their house, the kids will be taken away. Now granted, her house is nasty, but part of that is the carpet in the living room. She wanted to pull it up and just leave it bare until they could afford carpet. It is a concrete slab-not painted, but slick. CPS told her that unless it was covered or painted it was unacceptable. There are 5 homeless camps in our county, and unemployment in the double digits, and they want to gripe over floor coverings? My daddy was raised on a dirt floor!!! When they got a wood floor, you could see between the cracks and he thought they were uptown!!!

As far as I am concerned, if it was good enough for our forefathers, who raised good God Fearing patriotic self sacrificing children, why is it not good enough for us?
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  #30  
Old 08/20/09, 09:47 AM
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Willowgirl > Thankyou for the warning , I will do more research !

Does anyone have any suggestions for a different heater that is cool to the touch ? I can't bring anything hot to the touch in hear as baby Ethan will be crawling by winter time !


Ginger & Rose > I can't agree more ! My kids are thinking of this as the ultimate adventure ! I'm so happy we can do this for them ( and come out debt free on the other side ,God willing !) , I'm just scared some nosey stranger will call us in , when they haven't even met us or seen our camper in person .ugh

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