I live in an RV park, which is really a mobile home park

By Chuck Woodbury
It’s 2 p.m. A motorhome just pulled in my RV park and stopped literally inches away from our car. Gail was afraid they would hit it, so she ran outside to steer them clear.

We were lucky to get a space here. It’s almost impossible to find a decent place to stay in the Seattle metro area. 

This motorhome pulled into our super crowded RV park and nearly hit our car. This is the view out our front window as Gail consults with the lady of the RV about the perilous situation.

Our particular park, which I won’t name because the owners are very nice people and chances are excellent you’ll never get a space here anyway, is uncomfortably crowded. I’m a sardine in a very large, well-equipped can. At least it’s quiet. It’s an okay place if you want or need to be in or near the city, or you work in the area and can’t afford a house or even an apartment.

Gail and I have been here a month. The way our site is situated, it’s hard to see the residents of the RV next door. They can see us easily from several windows. The windows are shaded so we can’t see in. I think there are two people. Gail said she saw a woman once. 

They have never bothered to walk around their RV to introduce themselves. We’d introduce ourselves, but they literally spend all day, every day, inside their trailer, mostly watching TV. I won’t knock on their door: I don’t think they want to be bothered. 

You read all the time about how friendly RVers are, and how great it is to meet your neighbors where you travel. And, yes, that’s true a lot of time, but not as often as the RV industry cheerleaders want you to believe. In a recent poll, we asked RVtravel.com readers: How important to you is socializing with other RVers at campgrounds or RV parks? Check out the chart to see the results from the more than 2,300 readers who responded. More than half said it was not important.

At some parks, the residents are very social. A couple of years ago Gail and I lucked into a place for a month in a 55-plus park in nearly booked-up Tucson. It was the kind of park where residents stand in swimming pools instead of swimming in them, in other words my peers. The people were very nice. Our site was apparently in a highly coveted area.

“Welcome to Row E,” our neighbor said, his hand extended, only minutes after we arrived. “This is the party street,” he explained, a wide smile across his face. I think he was proud to bear the news that we had landed in the RV park’s version of Shangri La. He and most others in Row E return year after year and have developed friendships. We were the newbies, a curiosity. We attended one party. We formed a circle in lawn chairs and discussed RVs, ailments, recent surgeries, and who was bringing what to the upcoming potluck. 

Our neighbors. Little space to do anything outside your RV.

You know, some people are extroverts and some are introverts. At my current Seattle park, people pretty much keep to themselves. They live here. No way are they “camping.” Half of them have dogs, and walk by every few hours on their way to and from the doggie pooping area. They say hi, sometimes clutching a disposable bag of dog poop swinging at their side. Those with big dogs have the most swag to the bag.

Sometimes I wonder (I am not kidding) how much dog poop is produced every day in all the RV parks in America. I know that’s a totally stupid thought, but I think it anyway. My mind never stops in part because it is generally heavily fueled by strong coffee. Now bear with me, and if you think I am losing my mind due to such a display of silliness, that’s okay: I understand. But I’m fine except for chronic short-term memory loss, which in my case gives me about 48 seconds to get a thought out before I forget it.

So here is what I have been thinking: Suppose there are 6,000 RV parks in America where people stay (in other words we’re not counting RV ghettos) and in each one there are 50 dogs that on average produce a pound of waste a day. That’s 300,000 pounds each 24 hours or a whopping 109 million pounds a year. That’s equivalent to the weight of about 36,000 Honda Civics or 9,100 Asian Elephants. Imagine that! As Cousin Eddy might say, “Dat der’s a lot of dog poop!”

But getting back to discussing my RV park: From what I can tell, most people live here. They go to work early each morning and return at dinnertime. I don’t see many retired full timers, but there are some.

To me, this is not an RV park, even though it will be listed in every RV directory as such. It’s a mobile home park. I think if you called it a trailer park that would work, too, and people would get the idea.

Every year, the number of spaces in American RV parks occupied by full-time or seasonal residents increases. Available sites for transient RVers decreases. The RV industry expects to sell more than 500,000 RVs again this year, maybe as many as 550,000. A man named Richard Curtain who conducts surveys for the RV industry said recently that the sale of 700,000 RVs a year could happen in the very near future, which begs the question: Where will they stay?

I don’t know, but I’m trying to figure it out. Your advice requested.

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20 Thoughts to “I live in an RV park, which is really a mobile home park”

  1. Donald N Wright

    I guess I am lucky to have an Aliner popup, I do not need a quarter acre of the space ya’ll do. I usually do not stay longer than a week, but I like the idea of a “one night campground”, but I would prefer bathroom and shower, rather than water & electric. Also a campground just for small single axle trailers. Also, the doggie owners like to have two or more dogs, more pee, more poo, more noise.

  2. John Crawford

    Here is the problem with 500,000 to 700,000 new RVers on the road. 90% of them are not full-timers and will be looking for a place to stay on the weekends and occasional short vacations. They are the ones that will end up getting rid of their rig because of nowhere to stay. Us full-timers will just get in on Thursday and stay until Sunday or boondock for a couple of days.

  3. Tommy B

    After traveling 14 years with a fifth wheel and seeing most of the country,East coast excepted, I sold it and now have a truck camper. I find such a relief drive ing that as compared to the trailer. It’s of course smaller but it has everything we need except room. We get out more and in 35 years of camping have never. Been turned away because they were too full. Now I find, there is always a place for a truck camper.

  4. ken Buck

    Suppose for a moment you did some research and found the average dog produces 3/4 pounds of excrement per day. And then you found that the average RV’r has a small dog, not a large one. Then you’d revise your estimates down to a believable number. But then we expect some exaggeration and drama from your posts.

    http://envirowagg.com/where-are-treatment-plants-for-pet-waste/

    1. Chuck Woodbury

      Ken, my estimate was totally pulled out of thin air. Do you really think this subject is worth me wasting my time doing research? I was just having a little fun. You might want to lighten up a bit.

  5. Peterson143

    Here is my thought to ponder. If folks are living in their RV full time and go to work each day are they really considered RVers? I think that they are something else entirely but get lumped into the catch all phrase of “RVer”. If folks live in their RV rather then a stick and mortar home are they really “homeless”? I believe that they are also in fact something else but are again lumped into the catch all “RVer” nameplate. My thought is that all these folks have different types of situations but are all called “RVers” because they share the one defining attribute “an RV”. I think that there needs to be a distinction between the groups and maybe this might allow different approaches to shared use of limited resources (RV parks). I don’t know but my full time RV lifestyle is not the same as the full time RVer that is static and goes to work each day or the homeless folks that have no where else to live except in derelict RV’s. This has become a political issue and there are no right solutions that are going to solve the many issues that are both unique to each of these groups as well as the common object holding them all together, “RV’s”.

  6. Linda B

    I, apparently, have become quite spoiled by the amount of space we have at our “Winter Site” outside Ocala, Florida. We are currently traveling around until we return there mid-October. When I make comments about how tight/short some of the spaces have been in other parks my husband always reminds me, “honey, we ain’t at TTC any more!” Yup, he’s right; but I really do resent trying to eat at my picnic table while perusing the wonders of my neighbors sewer system.

  7. Roy Ellithorpe

    Too often I think of walking in Paris and the amazing amount of dog poop on their sidewalks. Shortly after we got home I read an article that claimed that every morning the city picked up 7 tons of it. That was 25ish years ago and I’m sure the situation has improved.

  8. livingboondockingmexico

    What a hilarious story! The more swag in the bag got me laughing so hard.

    When we started rving we were in our 40s. Living in Mexico we would sometimes (still do) visit the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. On several occasions, people would charge the gate as we pulled up waving their arms and yelling, “55 and over, 55 and over”. Having Mexican plates on our travel trailer and SUV always make it an adventure in the U.S. Another time we were at a park in Mission, Tx and stayed for a few weeks. No one would talk to us. Then one day the neighbor asked in a nervous voice, “Can I ask you what you guys do?” I told her we were teachers and she gave a huge sigh of relief saying that people in the park thought we were cartel members. Funny how people are. Even though I am a U.S. citizen of European ancestry, you would be surprised how often we are mislabled and have even received racial slurs and lectures. In general though, we find our trips across the border to north to be fun experiences.

  9. Gary W.

    Thank goodness for the common housefly. If not for them, we would be up to our a** in dog poop!

  10. F Deffinbaugh

    In our area, RV parks must collect a hotel tax unless something like 40 percent are permanent residents. They give big discounts for longer stays or storage that greatly reduces the transient sites.

  11. Booneyrat

    High rents everywhere,coupled with over priced real estate,is a big cause of more and more folks living in RV’s full time.Not everyone can afford to pay greedy landlords their high prices,or want to.We have been full timing off and on since the early 1990’s and have seen a huge change in the RV lifestyle going from unheard of slide outs,some trailers we had,had tip outs..which required a large gorilla to tip out. Thank god they did away with those tip outs.Today’s RV’s are not built with the quality we had in those years…think Holiday Rambler..or Newmar,but since the RV industry thinks they need to make a fast buck for their shareholders,it is we the little people who have to deal with poor quality.One day this will bite them in the derriere. What new RV parks we have seen are corporate owned and part of a bigger menu of sister RV parks…some are good..some not. Think about all the recycled RV’s in the future..the ones being shoved at consumers now. I don’t see the RV lifestyle getting better anytime soon,we’ll just have to deal with it until it is our time to pass on.

  12. Tommy Molnar

    I still think most of the ‘new buys’ will end up languishing in storage lots because the impulse buyers (seeing the wonderful lifestyle on Going RV and similar shows) run into the problem we’ve been discussing for that past couple years. No place to go. They haven’t learned about making reservations months and months, even years, in advance. Especially east of the Rockies. A couple storage lots in my area have way more RV’s than the local dealers!

  13. Brian Lair

    Hi Chuck…..I’m laughing so hard, because I thought i was the only guy in the world who thought about things like the amount of dog poop produced per day in RV parks and campgrounds. But, all laughing aside, it truly is a hygiene issue needing to be considered. I’m glad my wife agrees with me that we need to take our shoes off before coming inside our rig! And the well-being of the poor dogs stuck inside a 300 square foot rig most of the day!….they should be outside running and playing…..

  14. Walt & Mary Jean

    My wife & I retired in May of 2013. Living in Florida, we made plans to travel every year beginning in June for 3 months. This year marked our 6th year of touring our Great Country. We have visited 45 of the States, and except for maybe a dozen or so times, have been able to find a RV Park to stay in. We usually stay 2-5 days at each stop, then visit the attractions w/I a 100 mile radius of the Park. Occasionally, the park that we selected was rough on the edges, but we never felt threatened or unsafe by the surroundings or possible unsavory neighbors. Just try to be friendly, then go about our day. Our Six years of touring have been the Best years of our lives. Next summer we will probably re-visit some of our favorite places and just stay a while. Life is good, and we are both blessed with good health. Happy Trails.

    1. RV Staff

      What a happy story, Walt and Mary Jean! Thank you! And we wish you many more happy and healthy RVing years. 😀 –Diane at RVtravel.com

  15. r

    I have seen (and belong to one) that many campgrounds are going to “owner based” sites. These are still listed as regular campgrounds and they do rent out sites regularly but they are owned by individuals. (the sites themselves). They are actually condo associations but are listed and rated/taxed as rv parks or campgrounds because the actual sites, although they are privately owned, are not large enough to qualify as a residence and there are restrictions on the size of what can be put on them. Many use them as their winter getaway or favorite place to stay in a particular local and rent it out otherwise.

  16. Jeff

    My Wife and I stayed in a 55 plus RV park in Tucson for a little over a year. I was finishing up my career with the FAA and we didn’t want to buy a house, so we full timed for that year. The name of the park was VOYAGER RV.

    It was a nice place and at the time we were the youngest residents staying there. We made some good friends while there, but unfortunately they have mostly passed on. Still have contact with another couple, who no longer live in Tucson.

    Anyway, back to the park. Voyager was setup basically as a retirement community. Not only Motorhomes and RV’s, but upgraded sites with Double Wide mobile homes on them. The park was eventually sold and I cannot say what it looks like today, 10 years later.

  17. Charles French

    If RV Parks get more permanents the owners probably make more money on them vs us transients that pay more by the day or week. Off season vacancies earn them zero.
    We are learning to look out further to make reservations sooner. Also work camp parks are usually not kept up, so now we are having to spend more at better parks. Not all bad.

  18. Bill T.

    I don’t know Chuck, but of the 500,000 new rigs sold, I think maybe 100,000, at most, would be used by serious travelers. The remainder used by weekenders or those who try the lifestyle and don’t like it. If campgrounds that advertise themselves as campgrounds or RV parks, would keep 40% of their spaces available for transient campers/RV’ers, lets say for, a 2 week stay maximum, this would go a long way in providing spaces for “tourists”. Maybe RV park owners could work in conjunction with their local tourism bureaus or chambers of commerce, to improve tourism in their areas. After all, if your touring, your spending money. Why not get folks to spend it in their areas.

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