Make some room, fellow old people, the kids are coming over. Not your kids and not mine, but a whole generation trying to find relief from sky high rents and insane home prices. And, oh yeah, they also like to go camping.
Two trends are converging to make young people more mobile: The cost of housing and the advance of connected technology. Finances are the principle driver for most and RV living is a convenient middle ground between a house and living in your car or van. Vandwellers are increasingly getting swept up as cities rush to criminalize homelessness, which shifts the market toward campground living.
RV Manufacturers Paying Attention
They may be young but RV manufacturers know their money is good and they’re making campers to suit the tastes of a new generation. Campers for younger people are smaller, lighter, and fitted with amenities like better wifi antennas and smart TVs that can directly stream online content. The interiors and color schemes are meant to appeal to younger people.
While most of us might not be comfortable in an 8×10 camper, more people are making that choice. For younger couples, used to spending nearly forty percent of their combined income on a house payment, the sacrifice in space is entirely worth it.
Even smaller than teardrop campers, some individuals and couples are going even smaller in converted vans and SUVs. The van option is a better choice if you’re living in an urban area and stealth is your primary motivation. Cities are increasingly cracking down the practice but it’s not always clear why. It appears vandwellers are sometimes caught up in municipalities rushing to criminalize homelessness. Campers don’t have that problem but that leaves them farther from town.
As a younger generation flees to campgrounds and rural farm areas to escape the high cost of city living, that has pushed a demand for mobile careers. Computer programming, database management, app development are good choices for mobile careers, but many are also trying their hand at sideline businesses to help ends meet. When you don’t have a massive house payment you can scratch out a living however you can.
The most popular camper models are not only small but modular. Some can be converted to carrying cargo to help with moving. One model with built-in solar power even has a removable tongue that allows the unit to fit into a standard 10×10 flea market space. Modular systems mean more function for the dollar but, as with any compromise, some multi-function units do many things well but not anything spectacularly well.
A New Lifestyle Reality
RV sales are banging; up another 15% from last year’s record sales. The young are joining an older generation competing for campground spaces and that’s not all bad. My hope is it spurs more campground development. I also hope it spurs more development of alternative housing options that have a mobile component for RVs, campers and vans. Vandwellers need a safe place to park at night, with bathrooms and showers, that doesn’t cost a lot of money.