Tuesday, June 6, 2023


Building an RV park from scratch: We sold our house!

By Machelle James
(Click on any image to enlarge.)
The past two weeks have been a blur of emotions. We had families come in and love our home, but no offers were made. Then one couple came in and were there for 20 minutes and left. We thought there was no way they were interested and then BOOM, they made an offer. We accepted their offer and celebrated with our Realtors! We close on the house June 7th. It’s about to get real here!

I am not going to lie. We have been going through some pretty tough times with my husband, AJ’s, job. We had a bomb drop on him that changed our financial future. We were scared we couldn’t even afford our current home, let alone build the campground. We sold our home just in time before we started selling our blood. (Just kidding … well, kind of.)

Then the reality of HOW are we going to build this campground really kicked in. Even though we did as much financial planning as possible beforehand, we still have blanks in many areas. How much is electricity for each RV spot per month? How much is our commercial insurance going to be? How much can we get for a loan now that his income has changed? All the companies want our campground layout and specs and we just don’t have them yet. June 7th is when we will hire the engineers!

This is where the transition comes from working for someone else to being your own boss. Being an entrepreneur isn’t for the faint of heart. The constant worry of how are we going to afford this always is in the back of our heads. The fees/permits for all the municipalities are adding up. What goes on behind the scenes is truly eye-opening. Every step needs to be paid for, approved and permitted.

This is why I am so honored and humbled to share our experiences with you. It’s honest and real. Not many people understand why campgrounds cost so much nowadays. It’s not just plowing some trees and there you go. The town had to approve everything, every step of the way, as in: water, electricity, septic, fencing, ADOT (the roads), drainage inspections, fire department approvals, an arborist for bark beetles. And that’s just the approvals off the top of my head.

We have been fortunate to have a really good support system and have been offered good advice, such as contact the local church as the teens have to serve so many community service hours. They can help mow the grass, trim trees, pick up trash. So I am reaching out to them to see if we are a candidate.

Also the hardest thing is actually asking for help. How many times do we do projects alone so as not to bother anyone. Always, for us. Now I will get out of my own way and ask for help. This is something we cannot do alone. This is a new venture for us, asking for help!

On another note, our cabin is coming along nicely. We have water now and there are no leaks in the plumbing! Way to go AJ! for your mad plumbing skills. He also had to jack up underneath the house as it was not level! The electric wiring is almost done and so far it all works. He is so handy, that I feel so blessed he had been taught these skills. (Thank you, Pops, for passing on your construction skills!) I also am so thankful our families continue to support us and offer advice from afar.

While we have been getting the well wishes and good luck on our adventures, we hope we don’t lose our friends and family in the process. We will be alone up there working hard for the next few months. If we don’t reach out, it doesn’t mean we don’t care. It means we are working hard to make this happen. Just pop on up the hill and come visit. We welcome your company!

These next two weeks are going to be very interesting. Our middle son and his wife are having their first baby next week. Wish AJ luck moving and taking care of Jenna while I’m gone to Florida for 10 days! AJ is the hardest working man. I am a lucky lady and I am so thankful to have him with me on this next adventure in our book of life! As the saying goes, “What matters is not where you go in life; What matters is who you have beside you.”

Thank you for following our journey and as always, see you in the trees. And please leave a comment!

Read the last post, “We had a wedding! … plus park updates,” here. Or find previous articles here.

Machelle James and her husband, AJ, are building, from the ground up, a 15-acre RV park in Heber-Overgaard, Arizona, in the beautiful White Mountains 140 miles from Phoenix. Follow them on Facebook @ AJ’s Getaway RV Park or on Instagram at ajsgetawayrvpark.



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Ed McClelland
3 years ago

Please include detailed tech items.

4 years ago

Make sure your engineer has experience with RV campgrounds. There’s a lot of factors that aren’t obvious until too late. Go look at previous campgrounds the engineer has designed, and critique them. There are a couple of good on-line continuing education courses for campground design, but nothing beats experience. There’s also an Army Corps of Engineers design manual. Best – find an engineer who knows all that, has done a campground that works well, and is also an RVer.

Machelle James
4 years ago
Reply to  Bill

Hi Bill! Yes our Engineering Company is very familiar with RV Parks. They have designed most of them up in the Heber-Overgaard area. I went to the closest park nearby and reviewed it. The work was good, it was super clean and it was built 20 years ago. A little too closely spaced together, as ours will be way spaced apart. And more dedicated family areas to have get-togethers in. BBQ pits and whatnot. Thanks for commenting. I really appreciate it!

Thomas Becher
4 years ago

Better yet, make everything pull thru. Everyone will be so appreciative. The size of the lot basically remains the same but I guess you would add a road. Make it gravel to keep costs down for now. Looking forward to reading future episodes.

Machelle James
4 years ago
Reply to  Thomas Becher

Hi Thomas! Pull throughs are what we want the most, for sure! Due to the strange shape of the property, the Engineers will tell us if we can indeed do all pull throughs. Some areas around the back end may need to be back ins. Or a group camping area. I can’t wait to see what their vision is after we talk. Thank you for your feedback!!

4 years ago

Good luck, glad you are not letting fears hold you back from your plans!

When you get the engineer to start drawing your layout, do us all a favor and remind him/her that drivers have a complete blind spot on the passenger side, though we can see what’s going on if the back-in angles off along the driver’s side.

So, as easy and slick as it seems to design a loop with all right-handed back-ins, guess what? It makes it extremely hard for a solo to back in and difficult for a couple. You’ll have less scraped trees and posts, and we’ll have less scrapes and bent stabilizers, if you use pull-thrus and left-handed back-ins!

Machelle James
4 years ago
Reply to  wanderer

I will let him know! We are going to utilize pull throughs as much as we possible can. Left hand back ins , I have not heard of. I will pass that along as that is a win win for us all!
Thank you for your feedback Wanderer!

Nancy Michaels
4 years ago

Machelle, I really enjoy reading about your progress on the proposed campground!! I’ve missed a couple of episodes and am glad to have you back! Best of luck with your home vacating and continued readying of the cabin. Looking forward to your next installation.

Machelle James
4 years ago
Reply to  Nancy Michaels

Thank you Nancy! The timing could not be more perfect than it is now! We are getting much happier with each visit we go up there. Soon it will be full time and I’ll have to write our adventures going to the valley!!

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