Since August, Katy and I have lived full-time in an RV Park in Texas and it often comes as a surprise to many when we say that we like it. Obviously, this is not a life of glamour. There are some challenges. But after years of renting apartments, living at an RV park is in many ways a step up.
First, it’s necessary to make a distinction; an rv park is not a trailer park. Trailer parks usually have few amenities and are populated by permanent residents. Additionally the trailers are often owned by the park itself, and residents rent them, much like you would rent an apartment. Conversely, rv parks are usually sport resort-like amenities. Swimming pools, weight rooms, and an in-house souvenir shop or convenience store are the typical amenities. Additionally, at an rv park everyone owns their home on wheels and what you are paying for is a parking spot, the hookups, and access to the amenities. Rv parks are also primarily populated by short term visitors. Twenty four hour stays are typical and I suspect the most common visitor spends no more than 3 days at an rv park. So if the trailer park is like an apartment complex, the rv park is more like a hotel.
We fit into the in-between category of “long-term resident.” This means that rather than paying for our stay on a daily basis, we pay a flat monthly fee plus electricity. The fee is usually stands as a substantial discount from the daily fare. Currently we pay $575/month for a spot that goes for about $45/day. Including electricity, which came to $59 last month, our monthly housing cost is about $634. That includes WiFi access, cable television, curb-side trash pickup, sewer, our own patio grill, and out own picnic table. Additionally, it includes access to the parks amenities, such as the swimming pool just 50 yards from our front door, the laundry room which is maybe 30 yards away, the club house with a full kitchen and two dog parks less than 20 yards away.
At a cost of $634.00 per month, there is no equivalent in the local rental market. With the average rental price running around $800, we are doing very well. Also, because living in an rv park is a lot like living at a hotel, you do not get a lease per say. Rather we simply have a booking for the entire month, and we have signed an agreement that automatically renews the booking on the same calendar day each month. That means that with very little notice we can simply pack up and go, without any concern whether we have fulfilled the lease or if there will be penalties for ending the lease early.
To top off the financial advantages, our booking is automatically charged to a credit card that earns 2 points for every dollar spent on travel expenses. Since rv parks appear as travel lodging, our “rent” and electricity charge now contribute a cash kickback into our monthly finances.
Because many if not most of the residents at an rv park are short-term stays, the neighborhood has a constant turn-over of neighbors that make the experience all that more interesting. Our current spot is surrounded by short-term spots, and daily we witness all sorts of people from all over the country come by to stay. Weekends are particularly busy as you might expect, and the WiFi’s reliability provides a perfect measure of how busy the park is at any time. In the past month we have had perhaps twenty different neighbors from ten different states.
Many of the short term visitors are retirees with large imposing Class A rvs that look like rock star tour buses. Meanwhile others are nomads like us, pushing along with a small tow trailer camper, or with their own DIY conversions. And since most people are either on vacation or simply exploring the roadways, there is a fair amount of “niceness” to go around. I don’t mean, fake niceness, the type encountered when walking through a neighborhood in the suburbs, I mean real friendliness, that perhaps comes from the acknowledgement that here we are all equally just parked on a tree-lined lot. And if you don’t feel like being friendly, then fine, live and let live seems to be the overriding motto for everyone.
There are a lot of hard-working people here too, long-term residents like us, who wake up early and file out the front gate in the morning before 7pm. Rv parks like the one we are in, in the middle of the city and therefore within close proximity to a variety of professional workplaces, means that many for many, like us, this is a transitional place and an opportunity to save money for future opportunities. If you’re going to grind for the future, it just makes sense to simplify and minimize in the present.
All in all, the experience is a positive one for us. We have enjoyed meeting all kinds of people in all stages of life and all manner of financial stability. The close intimate quarters of the bus provides a contrast to the openness of the space outside, and that means that the desired comfort is only steps away. And the thought that everyday we get to save money is extra comforting to us.