Full timing in your camper used to be a lot easier. People who lived in campers were a tiny fringe and the rest of the world paid little attention to them. Today, though, it’s a lot tougher out there. More campgrounds have increasingly tougher standards and they’re all more crowded.
Our survey of campgrounds this season in Florida showed record numbers of campers. Most parks were beyond capacity, some holding the overflow in parking lots and fields with no power or water. Thousand Trails properties were booked almost as soon as the reservations opened. If you didn’t book three months in advance, you were out of luck. For those of you moving north in the summer, all you have to do is look around.
So what happened? Sever factors have converged to make full timing and camping less of a good time.
The upward spiral of home prices, fueled primarily by cheap government loans, has pushed home prices to levels that trap families in near poverty just keeping a roof over their head. RV living, even at its most expensive, is still significantly less expensive than an owner-occupied home. More people are doing the math and deciding that the house can wait.
Better Wireless Technology
I’m going to date myself by remembering camping when you had to walk to the camp store and use a payphone. Spiders used to hang their web around the light and sometimes wasps would build their nest in the device. If you don’t know what a payphone is, Google it. You can do that from anywhere these days mainly thanks to advances in wireless technology. It’s now possible to get wireless broadband almost anywhere.
That technological advancement has allowed more people to pursue careers remotely. Medical coders, customer support staff, and all manner of remote workers can now work almost anywhere. Why spend the money on a big house with no view when you can set up next to the park pool and work? I wrote many articles and books in the shade and took a dip in the pool when it got hot. That’s living large there.
More RVs On The Road
The economy is booming and RV manufacturers are booking record profits. The reason campgrounds are so crowded is there are more campers on the road. Record sales of new campers and motorhomes pushes down the prices on used units. While the RV boom will certainly drive demand for new campgrounds, it takes a lot of lead time to build one. It may be years before campsite supply equalizes with demand, especially in popular locations.
This may seem like a problem far removed from RV living and, for most people, it is. But for those at the tough end of economic spectrum, RV living on a limited budget can be a challenge. Even boondocking on government land is becoming more difficult. With more competition for space, poor campers are being pushed into Walmart parking lots and city streets. Businesses, including Walmart, and cities are pushing back. It only takes a few trashy campers to spoil it for everyone. A few Walmarts still allow overnight stays, but the number is diminishing.