Tuesday, December 5, 2023


Campground charges RVers based on square footage of their RV. Is this common?

Earlier this week we received this email from longtime RVtravel.com reader Einar Hansen:

“We have gotten our next year’s Seasonal Campsite Contract for 2022. They now have added a new clause to it. The campground now wants the total square footage of our camper (including with the slide-out rooms open). If you are over a certain square footage you will have to be paying more for your seasonal campsite besides the normal cost that goes up every year.

“I have two questions: Are other campgrounds doing this? And is this something new because of COVID-19 and trying to make up for lost revenue the past two seasons?

“The previous four seasons the only need for them to know the square footage was for our winter storage fees when we stored our camper on our seasonal site that included the footage of our small storage shed (which we do understand the extra charge for).

“Can you find out if this is going on more and more with RV parks and campgrounds?”

What do you think? Our staff has never heard of anything like this, but perhaps you have. Please tell us if you’ve heard of this before, and what you think about it in the comments below. Thank you!


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RV Travel
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Charlie (@guest_145342)
2 years ago

I think large corporations are taking over private campgrounds and charging exorbitant prices in various ways. As this happens, I think the family owned campgrounds will be forced to follow suit in order to stay in business as corporate owners pay to have standards and laws changed to make it harder and harder for family owned campgrounds.

Paul S Goldberg (@guest_143313)
2 years ago

Although I have not run into charging by square footage, it would not bother me so long as the rate seemed reasonable to me. Another concept that is advancing is demand-pricing. We already see it in higher rates for season/holiday/special events in many parks. I stayed in a hotel recently that had different prices for Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The only reason parks aren’t doing this yet is that it requires more sophisticated software in the office and staff training to let campers know what to expect. Some places have different designations like “Premium” for different sites and charge appropriately. As a business person I would always look to maximize the revenue from any resource I was selling, why should a campground owner be any different. Your choice is to go elsewhere. I go to Boondockerswelcome.com or daysenddirectory.com when I don’t feel like paying $75/night.

Mike A Schwab (@guest_142765)
2 years ago

I can see charging extra for slide outs, and by length, and if 20/30/50A connector. Many campgrounds have various length sites, set a different rate for each length campsite. I.E. Bicycle $10 15A, car / pickup with tent $15 15A, class B up to 25ft with 15A $20, class C up to 30ft 30A $25, Class A up to 40 ft 50 A $35, Class A up to 50 ft 50A $40.

Mitzi Agnew Giles and Ed Giles (@guest_145812)
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike A Schwab

Good idea, but I think you are optimistic on the price limitations.

Bob Weinfurt (@guest_142367)
2 years ago

That actually sounds like a fair way to levy campsite charges. I’ve been asked what size my MH is (22′), hut have never been charged anything extra.

Jolene (@guest_141981)
2 years ago

I own a small very busy RV Park. I’m going to be increasing my rates and this was one of my thoughts on how to appropriately do so. We are services by: Wells, Septic and have electric without meters.
Over the years the rigs coming in are over 40ft long. They have 3 air, washer/dryer, 3 TV, dishwasher and full size computer some have heated floors. “If its more like a house, you will use more and most people will use the max of anything available and do not conservatives as their minds have paid for it.
Space & weight, simply put… these rigs need more space including roads for entrance to park and turn. These rigs get a bigger pad and yard over the smaller, really not fair. They cause more pad/road damage and the use draw on the electrical, water and septic system are high, lots of maintenance to keep up. I also get less space/ sites, thus losing money to accommodate Big Rigs.

Mojo (@guest_143923)
2 years ago
Reply to  Jolene

Operated a small campground for more than 50 years. Your observations about camping becoming second homes without while retaining the expectation of a carefree low costs mindset of times gone by is accurate. We began with metered sites, electricity and (water to address sewerage demand). Individual site sizes varied from about 15,000 sq. ft to almost 30,000 sq. ft. with natural buffers between sites. All will comfortably accommodate today’s larger units. In essence, zoned those sites according to size and distance from lakefront, pricing them accordingly. Campers with large or small units select the site of their choice regardless of the size of their units. No gripes until recently – from a few mostly large, well electrified motor homes that object to the metering/pricing model. Can’t imagine the electrical load requirements electrifying all vehicles will place on camping in the future.

Mitzi Agnew Giles and Ed Giles (@guest_145819)
2 years ago
Reply to  Mojo

Excellent plan!

Scott (@guest_144820)
2 years ago
Reply to  Jolene

They dont use use more electric then bigger the trailer there all equipped
with converters that wo the more waste isn’t true the same black water tanks that are installed in 19 ft keystone is the same as a 40 ft models I install them. and the electric rate is highly debatable as well you don’t use electric for much so once the power hits the converter no trailer uses that much more then any other trailer

Mitzi Agnew Giles and Ed Giles (@guest_145821)
2 years ago
Reply to  Scott

A/C. for 17 ft tongue to rear bumper molded fiberglass trailer. 12 V fridge. Water heater not plugged in. Electric kettle or frypan cooking 2 of 3 meals. My “black tank” is 4 gallons on a Thetford cassete. I currently get 26 mpg on my Durango/Citadel SUV while towing. I don’t think I’m the only one out there running cheaply.

Mitzi Agnew Giles and Ed Giles (@guest_145818)
2 years ago
Reply to  Jolene

Excellent points. The probable way out is sweep all Big Rigs together with metered electric and sewer. Sweeten the pot with things aimed specifically at bigger rigs. Bracelet for open bar on Fri and Sat nights, cash bar for rest. “Boondocks University” for addresses by local trail groups, Audobon society, and/or local Fish n Game wardens. Ice cream bar if bar licensure too excessive. You have family/kid activities on weekends, Bridge competitions on weekdays.

Carson Axtell (@guest_141943)
2 years ago

This sounds like a great idea to me! It puts a challenge to the idea that “nothing succeeds like excess”…

Dwayne Nelson (@guest_141516)
2 years ago

I see this from a different perspective than water and electric usage. As RVs have become larger many campgrounds have had to expand sites or add larger ones to accommodate the larger rigs. It makes some sense from that perspective. Have you ever tried to get into an older park with small sites? Can you build a 5,000 sq ft house for the same cost as a 1,500 sq ft house? As costs go up someone has to pay and size doesn’t seem like too bad of an idea.

John Koenig (@guest_141480)
2 years ago

I’ve been in numerous sites where there is an electric meter. I make sure to snap a picture of the meter BEFORE I plug into said meter and again when I disconnect. That way the campground is fairly compensated for the electric power I use and, I am NOT billed because the campground makes a WAG (Wild A$$ Guess) about how much electricity was used. I stop at the office on my way out, show them the picture of the meter and have them record said reading. This usually applies ONLY when I stay for a week or longer. To me, paying for a measured amount of how much electricity I used seems to be fair for me and the campground. The Escapees parks I’ve stayed at had a very modest rate for Escapees members and, each site was metered. Even for short stays, you paid ONLY for the electricity you used.

Don N (@guest_141460)
2 years ago

What’s next? The brand and size of tires on your RV? The wider the tire the more space you are using! Gotta pay for the dirt pad somehow!

Tom Horn (@guest_141763)
2 years ago
Reply to  Don N

Whats next? Covid card please when checking in.

Goldie (@guest_141433)
2 years ago

Haven’t heard of this but it would make sense IF the rent included electricity. Some campgrounds charge different prices for different size sites, more for pull thrus than backins, etc. Then there’s the extra wear and tear on roads and campsites from the +/- 50,000 lbs. of the big Class A’s. We are 45’ with 4 slides and 3 A/C units. Doesn’t seem fair that we would be charged the same as a 25’ B without any slides and one little A/C.

Neal Davis (@guest_141426)
2 years ago

None of the campgrounds we have visited in the last two years (or earlier, for that matter) have asked how large the square footage of our RV is. Have been asked if we have slide rooms, but that seemed only to determine what sites fit our RV. Do recall seeing long-term rates that depended on type of electric service required, which seems positively correlated with square footage with all slides extended. We have never stayed at any campground longer than 12 days, so never paid a long-term camping fee; only daily fees.

James Goodnight (@guest_141410)
2 years ago

We paid a “per foot” slip fee when we owned a boat. I’m OK with something similar for RV’s. Regards, JG

Tom Horn (@guest_141765)
2 years ago

Conditioned to be OK with it.

gs9219 (@guest_141402)
2 years ago

What park/business is the one in question? It saves a lot of speculation to have details.

Phil Atterbery (@guest_141364)
2 years ago

An RV park can be characterized as a motel without rooms. Does a motel set its rates by the sqft or by the number of folks in the room? Most rates are advertised as double occupancy.
I feel the sqft pricing model is a case of creative pricing to justify a raise in rates. I do not agree with this model and would avoid a park with this policy.

Ernie Powell (@guest_141957)
2 years ago
Reply to  Phil Atterbery

Phil I agree with you on that . It is called secrets stealing without people thinking twice about.

Vanessa Simmons (@guest_142114)
2 years ago
Reply to  Phil Atterbery

Hotels charge more if you put more people in the room than two unless they are children. They don’t discount if you are single. I have seen campgrounds that charge for more if more than two people including kids in a site. I’ve even heard of them charging for pets. Square footage seems reasonable. Better maybe putting a scale at the gate and charging by the lb which would help support the cost of reinforced concrete pads and road maintenance PLUS help Rvers keep their weight down!

Thomas D (@guest_141330)
2 years ago

My present rv is a pick-up camper. It’s slightly about 10 sq feet bigger than the truck. Is the truck part free? With a charge for that hangs over.
I pay taxes for my home. When I added a sunroom, my taxes went up. When I added a large workshop my taxes went up. Only my wife and I. I cant use more water or sewer. Maybe more electric but thats metered.
Sounds to me that is a way to extract coin from customers. Portable rv’s should not be subject to extra charges like that. Your lot,you should be able to use it as you see fit. You are not using extra services, or ARE you?

LEE W (@guest_141321)
2 years ago

I have no problem providing the campground can/will do it accurately and fairly and explained in their terms and conditions.

Skip (@guest_141292)
2 years ago

No I haven’t but surely sounds like if this is happening it is only to squeeze more out of the RVers. This could be a tipping point for those that are full timing and their financial situation is at the limit. For those I hope that the 6.5 % social security gets passed to hopefully off set such cost. Sounds like landlords with the license to steal on rent increases during the pandemic. Maybe it’s time to advocate through state legislation to cap increases if only for retires on “because I can” charges. It’s a shame some people can be that slimy.

Ron Lane (@guest_141379)
2 years ago
Reply to  Skip

6.5% social security??? Are you talking about the 2022 ss cola? If yes, it doesn’t get “passed”…it’s solely based upon the CPI and I don’t think it’s anywhere close to 6.5%.

James Goodnight (@guest_141407)
2 years ago
Reply to  Ron Lane

The latest independent estimate for the 2022 SSA COLA is 6.2% based on October 2020 through July 2021 data. We should know the actual 2022 COLA adjustment on October 13, 2021. HTH.

Richard (@guest_141388)
2 years ago
Reply to  Skip

Most SS increases are offset by an increase in Medicare deductions.

James Goodnight (@guest_141409)
2 years ago
Reply to  Richard

Historically valid. The 2021 monthly Medicare premium increase was supposed to be $16 but was temporarily limited to $4 (25%) by Congress due to COVID economic impact. The missing $12 is scheduled to resume in 2022 along with the 2022 increase, which is TBD. I’m planning on the 2022 premium rising to $170/month. HTH.

N. Mock (@guest_146568)
2 years ago
Reply to  Richard

No kidding. I receive 90.00 per month on SS. My Medicare per month is around 130.00. You do the math.

Tom Horn (@guest_141766)
2 years ago
Reply to  Skip

It’s just another way to raise the rates and keep our minds off of the what the real purpose is,
More $$$ to the camp ground.

TIM MCRAE (@guest_141289)
2 years ago

I am surprised that so many are willing to accept this (and rationalize it).

More water gets used by the number of people, not the square footage and more electricity is already handled by the 30/50 amp choice.

If you want to charge by usage put in water & electric meters & charge per person. THEN charge a much lower minimum to start so the little guys get a break!

I run 1200 sq’ Airbnb’s that sleep 8. The average utilities a month are paid by 1 or 2 nights, trying to arbitrarily charge more without just cause is just greed & morally weak.

Last edited 2 years ago by TIM MCRAE
Duane R (@guest_141894)
2 years ago
Reply to  TIM MCRAE

See the response below, which raises the question of a Park not being a Utility, so they can’t meter use. And the response below, where larger units may have washer/dryer and/or dishwasher. Makes sense to charge by the foot or square foot, if you can’t meter a utility. And, my response that posits that water use may be more by units that have larger water tanks, as they are used to not having to conserve as much as those with smaller tanks when hookups are not available.

Accepting something that is rational, but new, should not be a surprise.

Bob S (@guest_141275)
2 years ago

We have not run into this. But, if I could still get a monthly site for $600/mo, I would not object.

Tom Smith (@guest_141269)
2 years ago

We attended a FMCA chapter rally in Southern Maryland at a campsite that charged for their sites by the footage of the rig…..the chapter rally master was not aware of that policy. Everyone was incensed and made sure that we notified all local and regional RV chapters to boycott that park (which, by the way, had no special activities or diversions)

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