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Linemen and other workers outnumbering snowbirds. RV parks are a-changin’

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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.”

Why campgrounds?

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.

Family matters

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!

Life choices

“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.”



Bonus!

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.

##RVT1071

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George Borman
2 months ago

I’m a retired lineman and support them staying in the rv parks. I’ve helped many a rv park owners troubleshoot problems in there park as well as rv owners, and have never ask for money or anything, ah maybe a beer. Supporting your family and others is a big plus in the lineman trade. Next time you turn on your lights remember to thank a lineman.

Glen
2 months ago

We have been doing this for years.
I’ve seen several other workers in the parks. There are some issues but they are usually rare.
There seem to be some people who are in a housing of last resort situation too.

Jim
2 months ago

Camping has changed and not for the better. As a campground host for the past 3 years ,State Parks in our state have turned into homeless shelters (along with drugs, alcohol,and mental problems that got them there in the first place) , halfway houses for felons just out of prison, and migrant construction worker villages. They are only supposed to be in a site for 15 days max but get a reservation under another name and stay longer and longer. We’ve seen fist fights, schizophrenic breakdowns, and have heard of people actually pulling guns on each other. Thank God we were off that night. Where people used to come and hike, boat and relax , now someone rents a space and invites all their friends over to party and get drunk. If problems arise we are supposed to call park managers or rangers but managers conveniently don’t pick up their phones and a lot of parks don’t even have rangers or a ranger has to cover 3 or 4 parks in a 50 mile radius. After being lifetime campers, we are done.

Jerrod Coddington
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

I have been a workamper the past four years. I see the same thing. Trying to stick it out. Waiting for home prices to come down a little more, before getting out. Once again this morning, 5am, big trucks starting, doors slamming, tools thrown into trailers. Didn’t retire, choose this great life, to wake up like this everyday.

Ron S
2 months ago

Ran out of room! I can be wordy. But anyway, stay in our house in Colorado in the summer, our house in Texas in the spring and our house Florida in the fall. It works for us.

Ron S
2 months ago

When my wife and I were in our mid 30’s we started planning our retirement around traveling the country in our RV. Luckily we used our youth to travel to different parts of the country in our RV and stayed in parks where we were usually the youngest people in the park. We loved it and never had problems finding a site ever. Now that we are retired we’ve found that our retirement dream is no longer possible without months if not years of prior planning. Who wants to do that when you’re retired and want to be footloose and fancy free. We were lucky to be able to spend our vacations living that vagabond lifestyle without the stress of will we find a place to stay for the night. Now with the massive expense of RV travel, we’ve solved our problem by leaving the lifestyle and buying property in the places we found and liked in our travels. Now we don’t have to worry about finding an RV park in Arizona, we just stay in our house in the Phoenix area during the winter, stay in our house in Colo

Vnye
2 months ago

Yes I noticed the full time employees living in the campgrounds as my husband and I traveled around the Midwest. The full timers out numbered the transient campers creating a shortage of camp sites available plus raises the costs of sites due to demand.

The other noted change is the heavy use of the facilities causing more breakdown and inoperable washer/ dryer machines and heavy usage in the bath houses.

Campgrounds are not actually designed for full time living unless they are a mobile home park by design.

The camping etiquette has also changed. People walk their dogs allowing them to do their business anywhere. Regardless if they opt to clean it up there is always residual feces in the grass/ stones that people walk. People walk thru other peoples sites. Children run around thru other peoples sites. While camping was a time to get away from the neighborhood noise and chaos it has now followed us to the campgrounds.

Jerrod Coddington
2 months ago
Reply to  Vnye

Totally agree. I see the same thing. We just left our summer workamping gig, because management would not enforce the rules on the long termers that they do on the nightly guests.

David Burge
2 months ago

As a perspective of RV Park Management, Most RV Parks that stay open year round rely on steady income from monthly site rentals and leave a certain number of sites open for overnight only I believe there has to be a minimum designated for overnight only but our RV Park keeps about 16% of the park for overnight only the rest for monthly it’s just sound business to have a steady income you can depend on. That being said we have noticed an uptick in demand for monthly sites in the last 3 years we have maintained a waiting list for monthly sites and it looks like it will not slow down, in the years before that we would see seasonal changes where monthlies would drop off to below 50% but not anymore, and yes the type of workers we get are nurses and energy workers.

Catrina
2 months ago

We travel full time in our Motorhome for work and have for a six years or so now. It is common for travling workers to choose RV travel for sure. The work assignments are temporary usually less than a year making getting a traditional rental nearly impossible in most places especially if you have pets. Also many of the locate at need travling workers have a housing shortage and are extremely expensive. Having your RV allows you the comfort and convenience of having all of your things with you, not having to pack up an apartment, lose security deposit’s etc. You can have your home on the road with your family.

Tommy Molnar
2 months ago

Besides all the hospital patients here in the RV park where we’re staying (we’re among that crowd) in Houston, we also have many “traveling nurses” here. Lots of room left over for folks to just drive in and get a spot. If you’re longing for RV’ing as it was in the “old days”, I think that’s long gone, just like the “old days” themselves. Sigh.

Jerrod Coddington
2 months ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

I believe, moving forward, hospitals, fire houses, law enforcement offices, schools, and business with temporary workers, need to be designed, for the back of their parking lots have RV hook ups for their staff. Become your own Harvest Host.

Sam
2 months ago

RV life. I’m a traveling worker and the cost of a campground is a lot cheaper than a hotel and rental property. But you do have some campgrounds that realize workers are coming in to stay they will up there pricing and some even make the workers pay there electric. Another good thing about rvers you can always have your pets travel with you and not have to worry about a hotel not taking you if you own a pet. There’s ups and downs of traveling workers. And yes it’s getting harder and harder to find camping spots cause there’s more and more workers going to rvs.

Neal Davis
2 months ago

Noticed an uptick? No, not really, but we did experience what you describe. The first campground we stayed at when visiting Alaska in the summer of 2019 was in Delta Junction and was called “Snowed In RV Park,” which sounded picturesque when planning and booking our trip. It was serviceable, had somewhat narrow sites, and was about half-full of workers laying fiber optic cable that summer. The workers were all sited on one end of the park and kept to themselves. They were a bit boisterous now and again, but never caused trouble or gave us any sleepless nights. We never knowingly saw workers at any of the other campgrounds we visited during our trip.

julie H
2 months ago

Don’t forget the healthcare workers! Love being able to travel and have my “home” with me. It’s been a game changer. I’m a travel respiratory therapist but there are nurses, doctors etc who do this. I think it’s a great way as long as people are quiet and tidy

Last edited 2 months ago by julie H
Tom
2 months ago

Unless they are trashing the place, shouldn’t be a p. If they are talk to manager of the park. If not resolved move on.

Suellen
2 months ago

Just before school started, I took the grandkids to the mountains. It was 90+ degrees our whole stay. It’s a very large park and probably half empty. The routine was games and puzzles during the day and at 4 pm hit the pool until dark. Our neighbors were a group of flaggers and road workers. They were the best neighbors ever. Up and off to work before we rolled out of bed. Home in the evening, showered ate dinner maybe visited a short while and went to bed. The workers were polite and offered to help this widow. I felt safe to have them nearby. The workers were delightful neighbors. I know this probably isn’t true for all groups and we need to keep an open mind.

JSC
2 months ago

My family is one of the working families traveling via rv. My husband had the opportunity to take a traveling management spot for a hotel company. He didn’t want to travel for months away from me and his dogs, so we sold our house and bought a motorhome. He could stay at the hotels if he was traveling solo but this way he has his own space to return to after work and the hotel front desk workers aren’t banging on his door all hours of the day for questions. We are loving the lifestyle! Biggest downside is I would like to find some sort of job but we move around every month right now. We keep our spot tidy and only put out a mat.

KellyR
2 months ago

RV Park. Sounds to me like a place to park an RV. Oh — A place to park MY RV, but not YOUR RV. Retirees come from the North Land, set out their outdoor rugs, dog kennels, whirly gigs, Dick & Jane signs with their home states, lawn chairs and grills, and then stay for 6 months. OK, that is fine – I get it. A working family comes in, and sets up the same outdoor stuff and stays for 6 months Well, of course, that is NOT fine, because it is MY RV park. All THOSE PEOPLE do is to take up space, form a community, and keep our roads and electrical grid working. Ahhh, now I get – no I really don’t get it. You park your RV, they park their RV, you pay rent, they pay rent, you have your stuff out, they have their stuff out …. OK, let me re-think this one more time……………

Snater
2 months ago
Reply to  KellyR

Very well written!

KellyR
2 months ago
Reply to  Snater

Thank you, but I just write what I read.

Tommy Molnar
2 months ago
Reply to  Snater

Totally agree, Snater.

Paula
2 months ago

I certainly don’t have a problem with “work” campers except for one thing. Why do they have to make their campsite look so junkie? There’s the clothesline, the small refrig/freezer outside, and just plain messy look to their area. Why is that?

Jack harper
2 months ago

I wanted to go camping this year when I went on vacation, all the parks I wanted to go too were packed….. So I just stayed home.

Richard Chabrajez
2 months ago

We started our full time adventure in 2019 from Nor Cal. We found no RV park openings in our area. Companies were buying out whole parks for their workers. In fact, these RV parks had company contracts stacked up back to back with no space for RVers at all. However, as we travel the country, we have found that to be an anomaly.

Snater
2 months ago

Lots of different crews in the area rebuilding after the wildfires. Tried to get accomodations in NoCal for a 3 month radiology assignment, and had to turn down the job, because the campgrounds were booked up.

Spike
2 months ago

We haven’t noticed a change, but then we like county or regional parks that normally have time limits on stays.

Did overnight in an “RV Park” (different than a campground) in Wyoming where about 1/2 the population was oil industry workers. No problems.

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