Have you ever wondered about owning your RV campsite?
We had so much interest in our initial story and video on owning your RV campsite last week. So many people have asked for more info so on the RV Podcast Episode 347, we interview the developer of this unique Tennessee RV community.
His name is Tom Spychalski and the development he showed us is called The Landings. You can get more info on it at RVLakes.com
Click the player below to hear the entire episode. Tom's interview comes on about 35 minutes in. And keep scrolling down for an edited transcript of the interview with specific tips and resources. And listen in if you want to hear who WON the $500 Camping World gift certificate!
It is just one of many new own-your-own campsites opening across America as people seek alternate ways to camp because of the overcrowding in many of our National and State Parks and the challenges of getting a reservation at a regular campground.
Owning your RV campsite – The Interview
If you'd like to see the owning your RV campsite video we did on our tour of The Landings, click the player below:
Here's an edited transcript of my interview with Tom Spychalski, of Tennessee Land & Lakes, the developer of the Landings about owning your RV campsite.
Mike Wendland: Well Tom, it's great to have you with us and to talk about owning your RV campsite. Explain how fast this is growing and what the needs are for many of the customers that you guys are seeing here in Tennessee and how this works across the country.
Tom Spychalski: Well, first of all, thanks for having me, Mike. It's a pleasure to be here. It seems like a fairly new trend altogether. RV-ers are hitting the road in record numbers.
Owning your RV campsite is true freedom
Young people are getting into RV-ing with van life blogs and video vlogs. As a company, we have transitioned from doing building lots out in the countryside to changing into a RV centric business. And it's really hit the … It's hit a nerve. Everybody seems to be interested in what we have here because RV parks are filling up quickly. Boondocking is popular, but it's becoming more prohibitive to boondock in places.
And it doesn't feel as secure to a lot of people. So ownership versus renting is really becoming a trend. And we've tapped into that. We get lakefront properties, turn them into something that you can own, that's bigger than an RV lot typically.
How is this different than other similar places?
Mike Wendland: People are used to many different RV resorts and parks that sell ownership of a lot. It's just a traditional campground.
The trend that we're seeing with you guys, and it's not just here in Tennessee, is people buying property that isn't a traditional park. So for podcast purposes, describe this and tell us what's different about this than the traditional buy a lot in your park.
Tom Spychalski: Well, first of all, I own a little VW camper van. I love getting out in the wild. Boondocking is great, but it's challenging in many ways. My idea, when getting into camping in a van, was to get out in nature. And so many of these parks are, they're packed in and they're a little more sophisticated than I like.
Mike Wendland: I call it tinominiums.
This development sells acreage-size RV lots
Tom Spychalski: Yes, tinominiums is a great word for it. So it doesn't deliver on the nature part of it. And that's something that we've always been into is big tracks of land for people to get away from it all. And it just is a natural for this.
Mike Wendland: How big is this land compared to what you would find in a traditional RV park where you buy a lot?
Tom Spychalski: Oh yeah. Lots in RV parks, you're looking at a 14 by 60 dimensions typically. We're looking at acreage. So they start out at about a third of an acre, which is pretty big even for a lake house to put a house on that's fairly big lot. So they start at that size and then go up to several acres.
We try to make it so you can do gardening and you can landscape and have space around or invite friends over for RV-ing on your property as well.
RVs only – no houses allowed
Mike Wendland: Could you, if you wanted, after you RV for a while, build a small house there?
Tom Spychalski: Not in this case. In some cases … I mean, we work all over the place. Sometimes we do something of a hybrid where it's acceptable to leave your RV there for long periods of time. In those situations, you can also build, and they're more focused on building. The ratio is starting to change as we get into this trend.
Mike Wendland: Do you see people then at these places leaving their RV for a season? Or do they have to take it with them after each trip?
Tom Spychalski: Well, in this case, in the Tennessee property that we have on the lake, we've got RV storage. So if you want to leave it, it's a great situation. You can take your car and drive back home, drive back down, take it out of storage and put it on your property, if you want to do that. Or you can just leave it on your property.
How much does it cost for those interested in owning your RV campsite?
Mike Wendland: Now, we should talk about the price of this, because that's what everybody asks. How much does it cost to do something like this?
Tom Spychalski: This is fee simple ownership, meaning it's unrestricted. It's something that is yours. It's equity. It's permanent.
It's available when you want it. You're not sharing it in any way.
All the utilities and the sewer system, it's all yours. And the pricing is great. As a company, we try to beat the market prices in any area we are.
That's a big part of us. We travel around. We're not tethered to one particular area. If we can sell it for under market prices, we will do the project. And this one is certainly a great value.
The prices start at $59,900 for a dockable lakefront. You can put your own private dock on your lakefront property.
Development is limited on the lake
Mike Wendland: And you are right on the lake?
Tom Spychalski: In a sensational way. This lake, a lot of it is owned by the TVA, the Tennessee Valley Authority.
Mike Wendland: It's not developed?
Tom Spychalski: It can not be developed. So they're keeping it out of development. So you'll see these endless stretches of nature. You're looking at bluff, big rocky bluffs across the lake and a scattered number of houses and things like that. But it's really quite natural.
It is a gated community
Mike Wendland: You mentioned security. And that is a big concern that most of RV-ers have. And you mentioned about boondocking. In this case, how can you assure people about the security of the thing?
Tom Spychalski: Well, it's a gated community, first of all. So you've got an electric gate that opened by a code and ownership is required to get in.
Mike Wendland: And you can put your sewer in, your own electric?
Yeah. This is in Tennessee. What's happening around the rest of the country?
Tom Spychalski: We're seeing the same thing. We've got interests in Nevada, Texas, Alabama, Florida. There's a big demand out west for it as well. We are, as I said, going from housing to RV centric business, because there is a massive demand from both the millennials and the boomers, which are both the biggest populations we've ever had in American history coming together wanting the same thing.
Kentucky Lake / The Tennessee River is huge
Mike Wendland: Describe this lake for us, Kentucky Lake.
Tom Spychalski: Kentucky Lake is 250 square miles in size. It's the biggest man-made lake east of the Mississippi. So it's a reservoir and what we call a TVA lake. Tennessee Valley Authority built it for flood control and for hydro-power.
And it's a remarkable body of water.
It's also part of the great loop, which, if you're familiar with that are not familiar with it, it connects with the Mississippi, the Gulf of Mexico, the intercoastal waterway. You can take a boat all the way around, get into the New York Harbor and into the Great Lakes through it.
So it's all connected by locks and waterways. You'll see big barges go by your property.
Mike Wendland: Can you pass this on to your family, or you can sell it yourself?
Tom Spychalski: Yes. You can also rent it, which is a really nice thing. I mean, the rent is a pretty good.
There is no HOA when owning your RV campsite here
Mike Wendland: What do you have to do to … I would imagine you want to put in a pad, a level pad.
Tom Spychalski: Yes.
Mike Wendland What kind of things are you finding that people are doing?
Tom Spychalski: It's up to you. It has to be approved by the management. It's a professionally managed community. It's not an HOA.
So there's no dues, but there are fees to pay for the road maintenance and that sort of thing.
The fees are about $500 a year for maintenance and the taxes in this area are about $300 a year for a lake front property.
So all in your $800 of maintenance on these thing.
And Tennessee is a 0% state income tax. So people are using this as their primary residence. It's phenomenal.
Mike Wendland: So how do people find out more about this, Tom?
Tom Spychalski: Well, it's fairly simple. We've got a lot of good information, videos and so forth on RVLakes.com.
Mike Wendland: I think it's an interesting trend. Thank you for being our guest and getting us excited about another way to enjoy our RVs.
Tom Spychalski: It's my pleasure, Mike. Thanks for having me here.
More info on costs
I don't want to repeat all the info we shared on our first post about this in which we interviewed residents and toured the entire project. But if you are interested…
To save you from looking it up, there are some other expenses you would have.
Among other things, you'd want:
- 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.
Interested in RV travel and exploration?
If owning your own RV campsite is not for you and you are seeking more adventures through travel, may we suggest our collection of 7 Day RV Adventure Guides? We have over a dozen of them available for instant download. CLICK HERE for info.