Letter to editor: New type of RVer putting squeeze on RV park spaces

EDITOR’S NOTE: We received this Tuesday, July 30, from reader Brian R. He also sent along a link to a CBS News article about how more Americans are living in RVs.

Dear Chuck:
In addition to those who live in RVs on the streets we have also seen a most notable increase in those living fulltime in RV parks which is filling the RV parks and occupying all the spaces those who travel once used. 

Long term resident in a KOA in Little Rock, Arkansas

This is another line of thought to all the recent articles you have written about RV parks filling up. Our experience has been that more and more people – not just retired but all ages and areas of the country – are finding RV living acceptable. The spaces are going away more and more quickly. As cities ban parking the RV parks fill.

We are currently in a very small Colorado park. When new owners took it over it was mostly occupied by full-time residents; each space even has its own mailbox by the road.

The new owners installed five new spaces for travelers and kicked out the junkiest of the full-timers. But this place is off the more traveled path so travelers probably don’t need a lot of spaces. There are currently only two of us in the five new spaces. Other travelers come through in dribs and drabs.

One place we stayed in Texas last winter had about 100 spaces but only saved three for travelers. Most spaces were occupied by oil pipeline workers. Almost everywhere we’ve gone in the last couple years we have to make more than a few phone calls to find a place with room for us. We do not like planning ahead and we do not like making reservations with non-refundable deposits.

It once was that traveling in an RV was easy and relaxed – now even when we go to Mexico every winter we have to call ahead to get the space we want – though Mexico is a lot easier to find a space than in the US or Canada. —Brian R

Dear Brian R:
We’ve encountered the same thing in our travels. It’s a problem that will only get worse. We’ll keep writing about this and see if we can help find ways to find room for travelers, not people living in RVs as their primary residences in modern-day versions of the “trailer park.” —Chuck, editor

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13 Thoughts to “Letter to editor: New type of RVer putting squeeze on RV park spaces”

  1. Patrick Granahan (Waynesville, NC)

    Read an article about a week ago about the state of North Carolina taxing travel trailers, 5th wheels etc the same as regular homes with real eatate taxes…big surprise! …seems they visit Campgrounds and RV resorts and check the records for long term site rentals……guess they must be reading RVTravel.com and observing the current trend……gotta love the government…want all the money they can collect.

  2. Vanessa

    RVgrandma…not enough green crossed the palms probably.

    I agree I thought that if they have full timers they are a different zoning category.

  3. Sandy Frankus

    Right now I’m sitting in an RV park in Waldport Oregon. It’s Sunday morning ,yesterday my hubby and I tried all the way down the coast line to find a park or RV park with vacancies. Nothing. Pulling in and out of RV parks we did notice that most RV parks have become trailer parks. The one we finally found with 1 site left, is mostly full of permanent RV. If they don’t live in them then they’re vacation homes and are left here fully set up.

  4. Peggy Coffey

    We’ve never seen an RV park that didn’t have long term residents. They don’t bother us and a lot of them know the best places to go in the area. We were recently parked next to a rather old travel trailer. Both my husband and I were concerned but when we went walking the dogs, they stopped us. They loved our Class A and wanted to know all about it. They had rescued the trailer from her father’s field and were renovating it. We gave them some ideas and husband helped with some electrical issues. They were going to live in it and save some money for a new one. You just never know.

  5. Bruce Lefebvre

    In my opinion there is a difference in a RVer and people who live in a RV because of financial circumstances. There are plenty of RV parks/resorts that limit the spaces for long term due to money and problems. We are workampers so I know first hand this is true. If a site rents for only $30 per day, then that brings in roughly $900 per month. The same site on a monthly rate may go for half of that, so do the math. As someone else has said, there is a trailer park and there are RV resorts.

  6. JBC

    RVGrandma and others hit the nail on the head as to why so many of the RV ‘Campgrounds’ are now becoming ‘RV Parks’. In our 6 weeks of travel we found ourselves in more than a couple RV Parks that had become long-term rental properties with only a few sites set aside for travelers. This is becoming common in private properties and city campgrounds that want to generate income. In some cases it was obviously a solution for those who could not afford a home (own or rental) or apartment rental. The campground/RV parks offer affordable housing. However, it is not always those with economic issues, employment opportunities have changed in conjunction with the need to be highly mobile. We met traveling nurses, contract transportation workers (highway construction), etc. and it became clear that the use of motorhomes and trailers effectively support their needs. To generate dollars by offering monthly rates, especially during lean months, for the RV parks and to serve a ‘new market’ this is appears to be a win/win situation. However, it creates a losing situation for the RV traveler. There are so many issues associated with the subject of ‘long-term’ sites that campground and park owners are going to have to be very careful how they approach this option. As with most every thing, just ‘follow the money’, and you will find the answer as to why this or anything is happening. Now when making reservations at private campgrounds it may be necessary to call ahead and determine how many ‘permanent’ residents are on site. However, at city campgrounds and some private campgrounds finding a person to talk with can be difficult. Things change and each traveler will have to determine how best to address this situation.

  7. David S

    I think there is a big difference between those looking for “RV” spots for big rigs and those looking for “campgrounds”.

    We just completed a 2 month cross country trip and always looked for campgrounds rather than RV parks/resorts. We had no issues finding sites the day of our visit or one day ahead at most. All our experiences were positive including biker week in Gettysburg, PA. We were even able to get into Cherry Hill Park in MD on the days we wanted.

    1. F. Gisler

      I agree with you, David. We almost always look for sites in State and National Parks which usually have a 14-day limit per stay. We try to avoid RV Parks where folks live full-time.
      Just doesn’t appeal to us.

  8. Mary McKenzie

    My husband and I travel in our RV several months each year – west and southwest in the winter primarily; Canada and Alaska this summer. We have little trouble finding spaces because we are flexible in our needs. We can boondock, state, county, city, national parks, whatever. If you must stay in a private park with FHU’s, I can see a possible problem, but if you are flexible and have a sense of adventure, you will do fine. We do not reserve ahead of time but have never had to spend the night driving around because we could not find a site!

  9. Mike Haider

    It might be solved more by a zoning change. I thought that in the past, RV parks were taxed differently than trailer parks. They also had to maintain more sites as not permanent to be taxed at a lower rate. It now appears that the zoning people are looking the other way. RV Parks are now becoming nothing but mobile home parks.

  10. Bob p

    We stayed a month at a “Camping Resort” in St. Augustine, FL last April that advertises over 100 spaces but only had 7 RV spaces because the rest were occupied by single wide and double wide mobile homes and permanent park model trailers. It was a decent park but far from Camping Resort, required a non-refundable deposit due to fact we called about it less than 60 days before we needed it.

  11. Astrid

    We know a number of people who live in RV parks full time, most because it is the cheapest way to live and they cannot afford anything else. They live in the north in the summer and in the south in the winter. We are not among them, we travel with our rig.

    It’s a sad reflection of people who could not or chose not to plan adequately for retirement. It is also the bread and butter for a lot of campgrounds.

    The best compromise we saw was at Northpark Campground in Dickinson, ND. They have an area with full size mobiles, and area of seasonal campers, and an area for transient campers.

  12. rvgrandma

    There is more money in full-timers than overnighters, so the owners will keep increasing the number of spots for full-time. Cities allow them to do this by calling them long term and charging on a 30 day cycle. If they charged ‘monthly’ then they would be considered a trailer/mobile home park.

    I agree though that rv parks, especially those on major tourist routes (not only interstates) need to allow more especially during the summer.

    On the other hand, many of us can’t afford to rent or buy a house. Living in an RV, especially paid for, is much cheaper. But, as more and more RV parks restrict the years of the RVs something will have to be done. All the parks around here have put the limit of 2000 or newer for long term. Some are kicking out the older ones or require them to buy newer, others like the park I am in ‘grandfathered’ them in as long as they kept in good shape.

    Another problem: many long term people in my park do not even have a vehicle to pull their trailer or 5th wheel with – probably at least 1/2 of them. Some RV parks require owners to keep their RV license current which weeds out some.

    If I had the money (aka win the lottery) I would go outside the city limits, build an RV park just for long term set up more like mobile/manufactured home parks. About a year ago a guy was going to build one like that but the city would not approve his permits. (not sure why)

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