RV PARKS


The Decision
You have decided you would enjoy owning your own campground weekend retreat. Perhaps you have tired of paying seasonal rent to the RV parks? You started full time RVing and need a home base? Your best RV buddy just made money on an RV lot he bought three years ago? Whatever your motivation, more and more RVers are deciding in favor of owning rather than renting when they will be spending time in a particular area. Many are attracted because they can make their place the way they want it. They have visited private RV parks and have seen first hand the remarkable improvements made by some. For whatever reason, we assume from here on, you have decided to own your own RV real estate and now you must select a private park or other suitable property.


Lifestyle
This is a catchall word that we use to capsule many individual parameters which together help in choosing a park. We focus on the most important, or primary.
  • COST - From deluxe "motor home only" parks to out of the way locations with few restrictions, RV parks have lots you can buy from about $15,000 to well over $100,000. Consider not only your purchase budget but the cost of improvements and activities your neighbors are likely to pursue. Make sure you understand the monthly costs and quality of utilities, Internet, TV and maintenance fees you are required to pay. If you are financing the purchase, take a hard look at the total monthly cost to make sure this is a commitment you will be happy about during those times when you canít be there. Visit here for more information on costs related to ownership.
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  • PETS - Most of us have pets. After cost, your second question should be about pets, if you travel with one.
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  • ACTIVITIES - You may want a big park with lots of activities. You might have plenty to do on your own and find little value in extensive common facilities. Parks with limited facilities cost less to operate and the monthly fees are less too. If you are unsure, select the park with a lot going on. You can always avoid involvement but it is very nice to have the option to participate and the chance to make new friends. If you have children that will be camping with you, look carefully at what facilities exist for their use. No kids? You likely want a 55+ location.
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  • INTERESTS - In large parks since there are more people, you will find a greater variety of activities. Large parks also can afford the wood shop, pottery room, bus trips and more common facilities. In parks where you are allowed to build more extensive improvements, more than just a simple shed, individuals may have work shops, special hobby facilities and other too diverse to list. In such parks where individual investment is greater, activities are more likely to center around small social groups or those with common interests, rather than more organized events centered around a club house. Sometimes whole parks focus on one or two activities. A water front park in the Keys where fishing is good will probably be populated by those interested in fishing and boating. The owners in some parks are very active. In other parks relaxation and nature appreciation dominate, with a pot luck or two thrown in.
Decide what you would ideally like to experience. If you are a very social, active person, there are many parks that will frustrate you in a short time. Do you like to shop? Do you want access to major facilities where you can get a part for your computer or enjoy a play? Consider your interests and desires before you fall in love with a great looking spot that will have you wishing you were elsewhere after while. 


How far to get a loaf of bread ?
A question from a wise man who pointed out that if you were only going to camp for a week or two it did not matter. On the other hand, if you were planning a six week visit, it might become very important. Today, you can probably get bread almost anywhere, but we have moved beyond the basic things in life to satellite TV, Internet use and pizza delivery. Communing with nature is a wonderful thing, but be sure you really understand if this is what you will be forced to do during your residency. We all know the little mom and pop store has bread and milk, but if you require bagels every Sunday and your wife really loves to cook, you'd best find how far to a real supermarket or a WalMart. 


Cross pollinate !
If you are a person who travels with your RV; goes places and enjoys a diverse travel plan, take a very careful look at a campground populated with park models, if you find you are leaning in that direction. You might have nothing in common with most of these folks. I know, I know... they are all RVs. The truth though is that park models have more in common with mobile homes than RVs. If you enjoy spending time discussing your latest travels and learning about others similar activities, you may not find it there !  You will be well advised to focus on parks that have lots of RVs that really roll. Many do not allow park models.


Facilities Ownership & Tie-Ins...
Most deeded lot parks own all of their facilities, however in some cases recreational improvements, utilities, commercial improvements, etc, are retained (owned) by the developer. This means that buyers will be paying outside of their park entity for these services or the use of these facilities.  This is not necessarily bad, and may make possible a lower lot price offering. HOWEVER, endless court cases attest to the potential for conflict between the "park" and "facilities owner" where that condition exists.  Some parks continue to be managed and lot rents controlled by the developer after all lots have been sold, because of provisions written in the documents.  This is a BUYER BEWARE situation! You must investigate carefully and make sure you understand the longer term implications of what is structured. In general, conflict arises from the desire for profit, the lack of disclosure, and adverse interest conditions.  Make sure you understand who owns what and how future costs for you will be determined!!  Suffice to say... read carefully !  All other things being equal, avoid structured situations that involve for-profit entities mixed into long term park operations. These arrangements, of whatever structural nature, do not exist for your ( financial ) benefit.. .

What can you do with your lot ?
This topic is explored in more detail in improvements but it can be a determining factor depending on your situation. If you are full timing and want to own RV real estate for a home base, you could easily decide that the 75 square foot shed is just not enough. (It probably isnít) There are practical considerations too. Why pay a monthly storage bill when all could be stored right on your property? Those bills add up over time. You may want to consider getting off the beaten path a bit, to a location that will permit a little cabin or support building. Alternatively, there are upscale developments that encourage such projects. There are many locations where this is common. If yours is a weekend or seasonal use situation, you may be satisfied with a small shed for the BBQ and the fertilizer. A number of RVers have several lots in different locations and consider only one of them ďhomeĒ. Not having to "carry everything" is a fantastic help to full timers, as they move about!


Security
 A major advantage of owning in a secure RV park is your ability to drive away at any time knowing that whenever you return, your possessions will be just as you left them. The combination of nearby residents and restricted access gives real security against theft. If your RV property is in a remote location or in an area deserted for part of the year, it is difficult to maintain security. Even single family homes left for six or seven months, in typical neighborhoods, are likely to have difficulties from year to year. The piece of mind provided by a good secure RV park can be of great value to the owner.


Appreciation
A clean, well landscaped, well maintained RV park will appreciate in value, almost no matter where located. (The appreciation of early Outdoor Resorts parks is testament to this.) If you are buying RV real estate in an RV park with one eye on the bottom line here is what I would suggest as general guidelines.  Lot size is important. If you canít comfortably park at least a 35' fifth wheel with big slides, donít buy it.  50A power should be on site or available at little cost. Both water and sewer service should be first class. Cable TV does not matter; cell service matters. WIFI, DSL or some sort of fast Internet access is becoming a necessity. Drive and park on hard surface. Park rules and regulations should prevent low quality, tacky improvements. (Junky RV's or park models). Only high quality park models permitted, if at all. There are, of course, exceptions because of location, etc. Even with a park that really doesnít measure up, a waterfront lot or one with lots of beautiful trees can be a good buy. It is hard to ignore the fact though, that well designed RV parks that were good quality from day one, and had the governance to maintain, are still in demand and have seen significant appreciation over time. They continue to appreciate and are easily identified. Itís not that hard to pick a winner...... 

The style or type of RV park I point to in this section, may not meet your needs from many different perspectives. RV real estate in general has seen significant appreciation. There is no way I know of to generalize outside of what is stated above. ďI canít define it, but I know it when I see itĒ, might apply here, and it is beyond the scope of this writing since it encompasses all factors in real estate valuation.


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