By Gail Marsh
What do you picture in your mind when you hear the words “RV park”? The RV park in your mind’s eye may not match today’s reality. That’s because RV parks are changing. Really changing!
One change? Workers
More than ever before, RV campgrounds are seeing an increase in the number of workers who need a place to live. More and more, these workers are choosing campgrounds as “home.”
Individual workers have different reasons why they see RV campgrounds as viable housing choices. For many, it’s simply a matter of money. Linemen (electrical lineworkers) in Florida outnumbered “Snowbirds” in our campground about two to one. One worker said, “My company will be working in this area for at least a year. I’m given a housing allowance in addition to my salary. That allowance goes a lot farther in paying RV campground rent than what it would cost me to stay in a hotel. Plus, I can cook real meals and sleep in a decent bed.”
Another worker added, “Rental places cost too much! The monthly payments on my RV are much less than the typical $1,200+ per month that I’d be paying for a rental apartment. Finding a furnished rental can cost even more and it’s not nearly as nice as my RV.”
Inflation is fueling some workers’ decisions to live in RV parks. One worker commented, “I used to think it made sense to purchase a home even if I would only be in the area for a couple of years. But now the housing market is slowing, and interest rates are rising. I doubt I’d come out ahead as I have in the past several years. Getting an RV just made the most sense.”
Still, other workers choose to rent RV park models or cabins within the park, citing cost savings as the main reason. Staying within the RV park also means that workers can commute together to their work site, saving fuel costs.
For other workers, bringing their RV to an RV park means they can live together as a family. A traveling nurse I spoke with said, “I couldn’t ever be away from my family for months at a time. Living in our RV means we can still be together as a family unit. That’s really important to me.”
The linemen workers’ wives seemed happy because of the “community” they formed by living near one another in the RV park. “We know each other,” one gal commented. “We help each other out, too: babysitting, sharing common challenges, dog-watching, and more.” Friendships are important no matter where you live and having someone who can empathize with you can mean a lot!
“We bought our RV specifically because we wanted to travel and see the country. We pick up work as we can and so far, we enjoy the choice we’ve made.” This comment came from a 40-something couple who quit their jobs, sold their home, and purchased an RV. The guy works as a day laborer while the gal is a hairdresser in whatever location they happen to park. “So far, the nomadic work life has been great for us. We’ve always been able to find work.”
I’m happy that this couple’s life choice is working out. They plan to stay on the road for another ten years and then settle in a place they love. In the meantime, they’re on the search for that “perfect place.”
As an extra perk to RV workers, on days off they can explore the area, do touristy things, and learn about different parts of the country. It’s the reason we all enjoy the RV life, isn’t it?
Effects of changing campgrounds
How does the increase of workers living full-time in campgrounds impact other, traditional RVers? For one thing, the workers contribute to the campground crowding that we hear so much about. But, really, don’t workers deserve a place to stay just like everyone else?
Campground owners are happy to see their cabins, park models, and RV sites occupied. It means a steady income for owners and enables them to perform more timely maintenance or even make upgrades to their RV park property. (We’ll take a closer look at how RV park owners are changing to meet the demands of workers living in RV parks in an upcoming article.)
What do you think?
Have you noticed an uptick in the number of workers who live in the campgrounds you visit? How does this phenomenon affect you and your camping experience? Tell us what you think in the comments below, please.