Long-term camping or long-term parking is a common RV situation where you rent, lease, or occupy a single space for your RV over an extended period of time. Depending on the location and type of RV park these can also be known as “seasonal”, “monthly”, “permanent”, or “full time” sites. Long-term sites provide a stable location to park and use your RV in a single location.
This can offer some great benefits to the RV’er including discounted rates and stable access to the resources the location offers. While sites of these types are popular with retirees and full-time RVers, you don’t have to fall into either of those groups to enjoy a long-term RV location. Let’s take a look at long-term RV parking and see if it would work for you.
What Exactly Is Long-Term RV Parking?
The exact definition of long-term parking varies depending on location. Generally speaking, it’s any amount of time greater than the specific park’s “standard” length of stay. Most parks consider a standard length of stay to be what an average RVer may need while on vacation. This can range from 1 day to around 2 weeks.
Long-term parking is typically booked for at least a month at a time. Monthly site rentals are common in most areas and they provide a great way for traveling workers or retirees to enjoy the benefits of an area without making a permanent commitment to a space. Seasonal long-term parking is common in the northern areas where winter shuts down most RV parks.
A typical “season” in these areas may range from around May 1st (or the last average frost date in the area) to September 15th (or the first average frost date in the area). A seasonal site will usually be leased at a specific rate covering the entire season. These can be great options for those who want to enjoy specific areas like lakes, beaches, rivers, or parks near their permanent home.
Why Might You Choose Long-Term RV Parking?
There are several reasons you may choose long-term RV parking. Here are a few examples:
1.) A seasonal site by the lake. If you’re into fishing or watersports but live a little too far from your favorite lake you may want to consider parking an RV on a seasonal site closer to (or right on) the water. The RV will provide a great base camp on the weekends or during your time off for you to enjoy the area.
2.) Retirees. RVs offer retirees a great way to travel and stay where the weather is nice year-round. Those who RV full time can travel south and overwinter in long-term sites in some great areas. During the summer they can travel north for cooler weather. Part-timers may do the same during the winter and return to their permanent homes in the summer.
3.) Traveling workers. There are many industries that employ traveling workers. Healthcare, the oil industry, utility workers, etc. can all find great paying jobs that allow them to travel from location to location. Traveling workers enjoy significant tax benefits as long as you maintain another fixed home. Long-term RV parking provides a great economical way to stay in an area for the duration of your job assignment.
4.) Full-time RVers. These can be fixed places or traveling full-time RVers. Whether your job requires travel, you’re on permanent vacation, or have decided the minimalist lifestyle suits you, RV living can be a great way to go. Long-term RV parking will provide a stable place to set up your RV basecamp.
How To Choosing A Location That Works For You?
There are several things to consider when choosing a location. Why you need a long-term site, how long you’re planning to stay, what amenities you want, who makes up your group and your long-term plan for the space will all play important roles in the decision.
Most areas will have a number of options to choose from, but the area and your specific circumstances can quickly limit those choices. Let’s take a look at some of these specific factors.
1.) Why do you need a long-term site. Your reason for needing the site will be an important factor in what’s available to you. If you want a site to live permanently then you will need to find spaces that specifically allow that. Most traditional RV parks do not. If you have a job that requires you to keep odd hours or use loud company vehicles from your site then you may be incompatible with the rules at many RV parks.
2.) Length of stay. Most long-term RV sites will fall under a month-to-month rental. Seasonal sites are usually sold for the duration of the season (typically 3 – 6 months). Permanent sites are typically leased or sold for longer terms. Most parks offer at least one of these types of long-term stay, but very few will offer all of them so your choices may be limited by your specific needs.
3.) Amenities. If you want access to specific amenities in an area, that may significantly limit your options for a long-term stay. If you want ramp access to the lake, a private beach, a social club, tennis courts, etc. then there may only be one or two places that offer those specific things in the area you are considering.
4.) Your RV group. Who is in your RV group can make a huge difference in your long-term camping options. Many parks offering long-term stays will be self-proclaimed “retiree” parks. If you or anyone that is staying with you is under 65 then you’re out of luck there. These parks are usually easy to spot and those rules are typically clearly spelled out on their websites. Harder to weed out are those parks that don’t allow long-term parking if you have children. This rule is questionable in its legality so most parks with this policy will attempt to hide it until you specifically ask in person or on the phone. Many won’t outright say it, instead, they’ll implement policies that force you to look elsewhere like tripling the security deposit, doubling the rent, stating the monthly rates cover 2 people in the RV with all others incurring a significant additional per person charge or informing you of extra “rules” that apply only to you and your children.
5.) Your long-term plan. If your long-term plan is to commit to a specific location then you may want to consider an area that allows you to buy or long-term lease the space. This isn’t always required as most places will allow current guests priority for reserving return visits. So if you stay in a specific park for a season and want to return the next year then make sure you make those arrangements before you leave. The benefits of owning the site include not having to repeatedly make those arrangements and your spot is guaranteed. If it turns out you don’t use it, you may be able to lease it to someone who will. If you think you may need that option make sure you confirm it’s ok before buying or entering into a long-term lease agreement for the site.
How To Find The Ideal Long-Term RV Parking?
Finding the ideal long-term parking can be tricky, but there are several things you can do to maximize your chances of success. The best option will be to do a short-term visit to the park. Book a regular stay for a couple of days.
While you’re there make note of the good and the bad. If you can identify any long-term visitors then ask them what their experiences have been there, most will be pretty honest with you about the good and the bad. If visiting the park is not an option for you then try some of these options.
1.) Read reviews. Look the park up on Google, Campendium.com and GoodSam.com Read the reviews and use them as a general gauge. Don’t look at any specific review as an overall gauge, nearly every park will have that outrageous negative review. Instead, look for trends both good and bad. If a lot of people complain about poor wi-fi and you need that then look elsewhere or expect to make other arrangements. If you have children and you see lots of complaints about management’s attitude toward them then take that into consideration. Also, do a general internet search of the park. There may be some reviews available from other sources that can add weight to your decision.
2.) Check the location. Look at satellite photos of the park on Google maps, does it look clean and well laid out? These photos can be old, but they didn’t know they were being taken so it provides a good candid shot of the environment. If you see something off-putting you can call them and ask if them if it’s still there. Also, expand out the area a little and look at what’s nearby. If there’s a college campus a mile away then you may end up being neighbors with some wild party animals. If the park is in or very near a rough urban area then you may need to reconsider or make additional security provisions to protect your rig.
3.) Talk to the people in charge. Ask a lot of questions and gauge the answers. The more people talk, the better you’ll understand what to expect from them should you choose to stay there.
4.) Check out their websites. Websites are great for getting information on a park. From them, you can usually get the obvious must-have decision-making information like location, rates, dates of operation, rules, etc. Furthermore, as a key marketing tool, they can let you see how they view themselves and in many cases what types of people they are targeting as visitors. If you don’t fit into that mold then you may not be happy there for a longer stay.
Long-Term Rental RV Parks
Long-term sites can be found at many different types of RV parks. Here are a few options you can explore.
Mom And Pop Private RV Parks
Private RV parks are the most common long-term option for your typical RVer. While not all parks offer longer stay options, the majority of them do. Pricing is usually set up to allow for discounts for longer stays so it is often cheaper to book for a week and leave 2 days early than it is to book for 5 days. This is also the case for long-term stays. Booking for a month is often cheaper than booking for 2 weeks. If you know you’ll need three months then see what kind of deals or discounts they offer.
Every park prices long-term stay differently. In addition to the monthly rate, you’ll want to check with them what, if any security deposits are required, what utilities are included and which are charged as extras (electricity is often separate), if electricity is separate what the rate is and if there are any additional fees like fees for extra people over 2.
RV Clubs With Long-Term Stays
There are several RV clubs that help their members get access to long-term parking. For a general interest club, Escapees is probably the largest and most popular option. They provide access to a network of parks with long-term and short-term parking options as well as a broad range of information on RVing in general.
There are also camping membership clubs where you pay a set fee to gain access to their network of affiliated parks. The most popular option in this category is Thousand Trails which has hundreds of parks across North America. The other major player is Coast to Coast (which is owned by Good Sam). For more information on check out our articles on the downsides of RV clubs and whether they are worth joining.
Luxury RV parks
Luxury RV parks are a great option if you can afford them, can meet their often stringent rules, and like the environment they provide. Luxury RV parks offer great amenities and provide an exceptional living experience. When considering this type of park be very careful to look at the rules and requirements, the people using these parks choose them expecting those rules to be adhered to and enforced.
Some of them can be very restrictive like Class A RVs under 5 years old only. Purchased lots are also very common in these types of parks so not all of them will allow you in without a significant financial commitment.
Rent Land Or Buy Land For Long-Term Stay
Renting or buying land is another option for a long-term RV stay. There are many people who set up RV pads on their property and then rent them out for extended stays. Look on craigslist.com or Facebook marketplace for ads in the area you are interested in.
Vetting these can be tricky so be careful and make sure any lease you sign has some way for you to get out of it if things turn south. Facebook also has a number of full-time and long-term RV groups. Try joining some of those, search through them, or ask the other members to see if you can find some options.
If you choose to buy land remember that you may need to bring some utilities depending on how long you plan to stay there at a time. Adding a septic system or sewer tie-in and a freshwater source will be most critical. Electricity is nice too, but most RVs can operate on a modest solar system provided AC is not required.
Trade Or Barter Lease Land For Long-Term RV Stay
Like renting or buying land, trade or barter opportunities due exist. I have seen camping sites listed on craigslist available on work for rent basis. Most of them are located on farms. The site is free provided you do a set number of hours of farm work per week.
Most of them I have to seem were fairly modest, in the area of 5 – 10 hours per week. There are other opportunities out there. Like buying, or renting land you can search for them on craigslist, Facebook marketplace, or through Facebook groups.