Have you heard about the fast-growing trend to own your own campsite? It's another result of the huge boom in RV and camper sales.
People fed up with crowded campgrounds and the increasing difficulty of getting a campsite reservation are plunking down lots of cash and are buying property so they can be sure of having a place to camp.
RV developments are being built all across the country to tap into what is becoming a pretty lucrative market.
Here's a video we just did of just one such own your campsite development that we toured in rural Tennessee.
UPDATE: Because there has been so much interest in this story, we asked a representative of the company marketing this property to come on our weekly RV Podcast and to provide more details… here's a blog post with that interview. And while you're there and listening to the podcast, please consider adding us to your favorite podcast app. Our RV Podcast comes out every Wednesday! https://rvlifestyle.com/owning-your-rv-campsite/
Own your campsite RV developments are booming
With millions of new RVers now competing for prime campsites, even established RV parks and resorts that have long rented seasonal lots are reporting massive new interest, with many booked for the next two to three years.
High end luxury parks in high demand tourist areas that also offer ownership packages say they have never seen such interest from from RVers interested in buying and owning their own lots.
The one we just toured, offered by a company called Tennessee Land and Lakes and called The Landings, isn't selling RV spots in typical lot-sized packages. They're selling prime lakefront property divided into 1/3 acre parcels – 60 ft. x 320 ft.
They start at $49,900. These are way bigger than the size of RV lots typically sold in the more traditional RV resorts and parks.
The river is right out your front door
The choicest parcels are right on the shoreline the Tennessee River.
One bit of confusion.
Many of the locals call it Kentucky Lake. But it's really the Tennessee River.
It is a major waterway that starts in Kentucky – hence its Kentucky Lake name – and winds 245 square miles through Kentucky and most of Middle Tennessee. It’s so big and so wide that it resembles a lake in many parts because it forms a reservoir made by the Tennessee Valley Authority in 1944 when they damned up the Tennessee River.
The development is in Perry County, near Linden, TN (population 900), a very rural area not far from the Natchez Trace. It's about midway between Nashville to the east and Memphis to the west via I-40, which is a 20 minute drive from the property.
What other costs are involved in an own your campsite property?
Once you buy your property, most owners still have more expenses.
A concrete pad, utilities (water, electricity, sewer) and the hookups starts at about $8,000.
If you want a floating dock, and a 40 foot bridge up and over the riverbank to the water, you can add about $18,000.
And if you want a big covered roof over the pad to park your RV under, figure another $10,000 minimum.
There is some good financial news. Property taxes for your land are only about $300 a year. And if you make Tennessee your permanant domicile – which many fulltime RVers do – there is no state income tax.
There is a maintenance fee for the roads and the gate at $500 a year. But there is no HOA. You can pretty much do whatever you want with your property.
Owners get fenced, secure parking for their boats, golf carts, trailers, or their RVs if they don't want to leave them unattended on the riverbank during the late winter months when the river sometimes floods.
Why own your campsite?
On the warm morning in early May thatI visited. I spotted recent retiree Henry DeKock and his wife, Pat, working on their property, getting ready to install a dock for his 22-foot pontoon boat.
The DeKocks are fulltime RVers and plan to spend winters in Florida or other warm Gulf coast states and summers and falls on their new lakefront RV property. The skeleton of the roof he's erecting was taking shape over the new concrete pad where they'll park their Class A motorhome.
“We came down a year ago just to look,” DeKock told me. “I fell in love with it and bought the same day. I'm a retired truck driver. I've got 50 years of trucking under my belt. I've seen this whole country. Now it's time to relax and enjoy life. We plan to spend a lot of time right here.”
The roof/pavillion he is building is 44 x 60 feet, way more than his motorhome needs,
“Thant's because I have three kids and they all have RVs and there's plenty of room for them to come visit and park their RVs right next to ours.”
Next door, I met another couple. John and Katherine Campbell from Owensboro, KY. They were relaxing in lawn chairs with their dog, Jasper, under the shade of their completed roof right next to the river and a half dozen steps away from their Forest River Sunseeker Class C motorhome.
“It's just beautiful here, simply beautiful,” said Katherine. “It's peaceful and so quiet. There's lots of wildlife.”
The Campbells plan to spend spring and fall at their site. They'll keep their sticks and bricks home in Kentucky. But because it's just a four hour drive from their riverfront property, they expect to make lots of weekend visits, too.
“We never have to worry about getting a reservation,” said John.
“When we want to come, we come,” said Katherine. “Its just so nice.”
Most of the work on the site is done, though they do plan to put in a patio before summer.
Some own your campsite owners are renting them out
Just down the street was a double lot site that had two hookups, one labeled Camp A, the other Camp B.
Neighbors told me it was owned by a California couple who purchased it as an investment.
“I'm not sure they even own an RV,” said one man. “But they rent both sites out as sort of an RV version of Air BnB. And they seem to do pretty well.”
Thats because it is getting increasingly hard to buy an RV, with some manufacturers taking as long as two years to build and deliver a new model. While there are a lot of RV rental companies out there, with campgrounds so full it becomes a major challenge trying to find a vacancy.
So a place that rents out full hookup spots in a beautiful location is finding a ready market.
The own your campsite trend keeps growing
The company behind the Landings says they have had such success with the own your campsite Landings development in Tennessee that they are looking at other such projects in Alabama and Nevada.
But there are other flavors of own your campsite properties being offered.
If you want to see what they are like, CLICK TO READ THIS STORY on a super deluxe Class A resort that offers own your own campsites. The basic lot at the Naples Motorcoach Resort starts at $99,000, but the best locations cost $150,000! They may be even more since the time we visited.
Below is a photo we took. That's the Class B van we were in at the time on the right. They let us stay two nights, even though B vans were not allowed. We were media so they made an exception.
That was pretty pricey for our taste but we wanted to experience another flavor of the own your own campsite develoment that something a little more egalitarian and didn't discriminate against Class B and C motorhomes.
So we headed to the Silver Sands RV Resort in the center of Florida just 1/4 of a mile from the shores of Lake Okeechobee. This resort caters to short-term renters, seasonal renters, and own your own campsite buyers.
Lot ownership starts at $55,000 and runs to $80,000, depending on size and location. We thought they were pretty close together.
Here's a photo.
Or, if you want to see the article we wrote about this park, CLICK HERE to learn what it's like at this sort of development.
Similar own your own RV resorts and developments are all across the country and, as we said, more are being opened every day because of the demand.
It's going to be a continuing trend as RV sales keep growing, campgrounds get more crowded and boondocking spots keep closing down because of overuse. (See my recent article “2021 Camping Crisis: They're Shutting Down Boondocking.”)