how do RV parks work? why don't they grow as a form of long term cheap accommodations?

from what little I can gather online, the trend in mobile homes has been towards bigger, fancier, more expensive to buy, more expensive to move. The expensive to move bit translated into greater ability of trailer park management to raise rents.

Hence, question - why do people keep going on with this trend instead of reverting to maximally cheap, small movable trailers that could be parked in RV parks and moved easily, ensuring stronger competition and lower rent prices? Are there legal restrictions affecting growth of RV parks? Or do the vast majority of potential customers (including the young who generally have no trouble living in dorms or with roommates) just strongly dislike the whole RV living idea?

When i was travelling through North Dakota we stayed at an RV park (although in a tent) The couple next to us came over to say hi, they had been living at the RV park for 5 months and in the winter were going to live somewhere in the south for a few months.

I think a monthly rate at the park was under $100. So people do it, but obviously you have to have an RV. You cant just park anything there.

Another thing, a nice RV can run over $100G, a nice mobile home under $20G

If I understand your question, you’re wondering why more people don’t take advantage of the cheap housing options available by living in an RV.

My RV manual has a lot of warnings against continuous occupation. Apparently the ventilation and ability to handle human-generated moisture is not designed into the vehicles. They are only designed for intermittent occupation. The manual claims that living in the vehicle will cause a long term moisture build up (in the walls, IIRC) that will ultimately damage the RV.

Just a WAG, but maybe this is one of the reasons RVs are rarely used as a permanent habitat? (I assume mobile homes take this into account)

FTR: Mobile Home = Large, portable building, without onboard water or generating systems. Only movable by professionals with big trucks. RV = Smaller, self contained vehicle that can be driven or towed by an average homeowner.

What brand? It seems like something I’ll want to avoid when I retire. Really, with so many retirees that live full time in their RV’s, you can’t habitat it continuously? With all of the fancy appliances, they couldn’t throw in a dehumidifier? Or an air conditioner (which inherently has dehumidification)? Is the warranty different for Death Valley versus the Florida coast? It sounds like BS to me (not your BS, pullin, but rather the manufacturer’s).

It’s a Prowler (by Fleetwood). This my third Prowler and would be my last, even if Fleetwood were still in business. I bought it assuming roughly the same quality as its two predecessors, but apparently something changed in the decade between my purchases. I want to avoid derailing the thread, but suffice it to say I’ve needed to become fairly adept at plumbing, wiring, and welding to upgrade it to a minimally usable state. (I bought it new, btw).

Back to the OP (sorry); We have looked into using the RV as a summer residence for our son, while he attended a 3-month out-of-state school session. The going monthly rate at the RV parks was about 300-350 per month. Combining that amount with electricity (billed separately) and the gasoline expense of moving it (and him driving the truck all that summer), we concluded that a dorm was less expensive overall.

I know (via message board) several full-timers who have retired to their RVs. In these cases, they are mostly traveling around in $200,000+ diesel pushers. I assume for most folks a house just makes more sense. Especially since RVs depreciate significantly more than a house. Just a guess, though.

Pretty much all of them come with that warning, other than large Class A motorhomes (the ones that look like buses), which are designed for long-term living. Class C rigs and tow-trailers normally are only designed for short-term use, although I’ve seen some very large 5th wheel trailers that are pretty lavish. A 40-foot Class A may have two or more heating/AC units, and a fairly sophisticated ventilation system.

We had our Class C Bigfoot on the road for about five months without any noticeable problems, but I can see where the moisture from living in one would eventually cause trouble. We kept vents or windows open most of the time, and ran the AC to dehumidify, but using the shower every day, cooking, breathing, etc. is going to add up. Also, the less expensive rigs are not put together all that well. Materials are often cheap, and quality of installation is hit or miss. Bigfoot was one of the better-rated RVs, but even so we had trim pieces fall off, and the AC motor crapped out. When you start talking about products like Four Winds or Keystone, you’re really taking a chance on the quality.

It has been said that a mobile home is basically a house that depreciates like a car. Because of this, most of them are not worth very much unless they come with the land they’re parked on. Since moving even a single-wide mobile home is very expensive, and they’re usually not worth much, it rarely makes financial sense to move one. Usually lot rentals are only a couple hundred bucks a month on the high end, whereas it can cost many thousands to move a mobile home. Usually you only move it if you’re being evicted and even then sometimes it makes more sense to just scrap the thing in place.

The trouble with living in something more mobile like an actual travel trailer or RV is, like mentioned, that to get an RV or travel trailer that approaches the comfort level of even a cheap mobile home, you end up paying more than you would for a nice house in many places.

There seems to be some confusion in this thread between trailer parks (in which people live relatively permenantly) and RV parks (which are like campgrounds for people who travel in/with RVs).

I had never heard of the humidity problem before, and like you, I find it disappointing. But it doesn’t seem too far out of the question. Many news stories sprung up about people left homeless by Katrina being put up in discount RV’s by the government. They began to show the signs of exposure to formaldehyde for the vehicle’s plastic parts. So maybe RV’s really aren’t meant for permanent occupation.

For example:

And IIRC RVs can be (or at least used to be) sold with absurdly long loans. Like 20 or more years. Yeah, see how much money you can get for a 20 year old RV compared to a 20 year old house. Its more like a lease where if your lucky the lease is a bit shorter than the life of the RV.

As for the humidity thing, I’d buy that long term living in one aint so hot for it, unless maybe your in a climate where the AC is usually running.

The Katrina trailers were made by Jayco, which has had this off-gassing problem for a very long time. They use very good materials for the interior finishes, but for some reason went with a high VOC carpet/tile/glue. It’s strong enough to make your eyes water when you first walk in. It was so bad, I couldn’t stand to be in them with a customer for more than about ten minutes.

Many RV parks allow long-term parking, and a lot of people use them as a permanent campsite in lieu of buying land with a cabin on it. Whole bunches cheaper. We also ran into people who had lost their homes in the crunch and opted for living in a trailer parked on a slab. The parks generally don’t care where their income comes from, as long as you’re obeying the park rules and keeping your rig in good order. Most of them allot a percentage of their spaces for permanents, and the rest for short-term.

High end RVs have mortgages that go easily up to 30 years. Motorhomes meet the requirement for a residence and the interest can be itemized on your tax returns. That said, $250K for a depreciating asset is not a great idea unless one is absolutely sure that it’s the lifestyle for them. Or they’re already stupidly rich, which many of them are. There are a lot of $500K-$1M motorhomes on the road.

As for room, there are all manor of slide options. Some rigs have nearly coach-length slides on opposing sides. When fully extended, it’s a very large living space. Combined with large-screen TVs, more than ample under-coach storage, fully functional kitchens, king-sized beds, full bathrooms (some even have tubs), satellite dish, etc., it’s not difficult to imagine living in one full-time.

One other thing. Some of the newer Class C motorhomes are diesel pullers and can be up to 32’ long. They’re monsters and very well appointed and roomy. They may be approved for long-term living, but I don’t know for sure.

This place is located on the same lake that I live on, and it is truly luxurious. We pulled our boat into one of their slips, and while talking to the manager he mentioned that most of the RV’s property owners drive rigs that cost over $500K. Is that possible?

forgot the link

ok, so I guess my OP sounded a bit too specific. What I am asking about is not specifically “RV” but rather any easily movable trailer type livable box. So that could be RV or a mini trailer towable with UHaul or any other such movable habitation. Since the question focuses on low costs, probably RV itself is a low priority topic since they seem to have been marketed for high end market, suggesting a bad utility to cost ratio.

So, to restate, why don’t we see a whole lot of people living in RV parks specifically in these as cheap as possible small movable trailers?

The moisture issue, does that suggest poor design of the stuff on the market, i.e. something that calls for new superior products from new market entrants?

I don’t understand the depreciation issue. Does that apply only to the actual RVs? Or does a small trailer on wheels (having no engine, minimal electrical wiring, two water pipes and nothing else conceivably to break down) manage to depreciate too, somehow?

Have you ever gone camping in a (relatively) inexpensive camping trailer? They aren’t terribly sturdy, are poorly insulated and waterproofed, and, in general, simply aren’t built for extended occupancy. Not to mention the fact that they’re tiny.

I think (as you have in other threads) you’re looking for a market which may not actually be there. “Superior products”, in this case, would have to be defined as a small trailer which is sufficiently durable for extended (i.e., permanent) habitation, and yet is “as cheap as possible”. I think you wind up with a Venn diagram in which there’s no overlap.

Current low-end RVs aren’t built for extended occupancy because no one uses them that way. If you’re going to upgrade them to the quality of materials and systems for permanent habitation, they’re going to become much too expensive for the market you seem to believe exists.

BTW, take a look at what “inexpensive” trailer-style RVs cost:

They currently cost more than what many people spend on their cars. Small “pop-up” trailers cost less, but they’re even less durable.

One other thing: with the recession, and the cost of gas, the RV industry is in a horrible slump right now. I rather suspect that it’s not an attractive industry to enter these days.

All vehicles depreciate. Hell, almost all goods depreciate. Real estate is a notable exception to this rule, and an RV, no matter how well-made, isn’t likely to become another exception.

Did you not read my previous post? Many RV parks do allow long-term living, and many people take advantage of it. City codes are going to come into play, of course, and many won’t allow it, particularly if there aren’t full hookups or the vehicle is not capable of same.

It reflects market demand, like anything else. The vast majority of people who buy tow trailers or smaller motorhomes only buy them for camping trips that don’t exceed about two weeks in duration. If they were built to the standards you’re suggesting, nobody could afford them (per kenobi65.

As noted, almost everything depreciates. Otherwise, you would never see a used car or used furniture or used anything else for sale, since you could have new at the same price. A luxury 5th-wheel trailer that costs $80-90K is going to be worth about $70K the minute you drive it off the lot.

RE standards and cost, you claim boils down to belief that existing technology and prices are set in stone from henceforth and forever. Cars used to be expensive, then came Ford Motors. Restaurants were expensive, then came McDonald’s. Now, it may well be that in this particular case the hypothetical moisture resistant trailer can be made only of unobtainium using orbital welding, but so far there is no expert testimony to such in this thread. Maybe we are looking at a regular market failure here.

RE depreciation, what you say is red herring. When I buy ice cream on a hot summer day, yeah, it does depreciate pretty fast. When I buy firewood and put it in dry storage, it doesn’t depreciate all that much. All that has about as much to do with the depreciation of small trailers without an engine as the “luxury trailer” you cite. If luxury depreciates, don’t buy luxury. Buy something that has no moving parts and cannot break down short of a tornado ripping it into pieces.

A $5 ice-cream cone, or a $50 load of firewood is very different from a $5000 or $10,000 camper. If you don’t believe us, go ahead and buy one, then try to sell it used. Or, failing that, go ahead and look at the prices of used campers versus new campers.

Do you realize that you make no sense whatsoever? I’m done here.

Ford made it cheaper because he brought efficiencies into the production process. I suspect that, over the decades of building campers and RVs, the current manufacturers have done most of the obvious steps in that process.

McDonald’s isn’t a great example of what you’re talking about, because there were certainly counter-service hamburger stands before them, and they didn’t really succeed because their prices were lower than table-service restaurants.

Yes, I suppose it’s possible that there’s some unknown manner in which one could make a camper which is both (a) more durable than current campers, and (b) less expensive than current campers. Do you have any evidence that there is such a thing, other than your belief that, because no one has proven that there isn’t, then there must be?

I don’t think you’re going to get the “expert testimony” that would change your mind here, but I’ve come to expect that in your threads.

I don’t see this as a “market failure” because I’m not at all convinced that there’s a significant amount of demand for such a camper. You’re not owning real estate, you’re owning a camper, which will depreciate (whether you believe us or not). Unless you’re retired or independently wealthy, the ability to move it from site to site is of limited usefulness (most people are going to want to live and stay in one place). Anything that’s small enough to be affordable will also be tiny, far smaller than a studio apartment. You talk about “no moving parts” – sorry, but if you’re going to have plumbing or cooking equipment in your theoretical camper, you’ve added moving parts (and I can’t see anyone willing to buy a “camper-house” which doesn’t have these things).

Some of the earliest real “mobile homes” were sort of like what you describe. The first trailer park denizens were in fact living in travel trailers that were originally designed as RV’s. As more and more people started living like that, the trailer companies started catering to them, building trailers that were more comfortable, but less roadworthy. Somewhere around here the schism between RV’s and mobile homes occurred-- the RV trailers kept being aerodynamic with roadworthy suspensions and tires whereas the mobile homes basically turned into aluminum cubes with chintzy wheels and no suspension which could be moved easily enough in a pinch but were not convenient road going vehicles.

Into the 70’s and 80’s, though, it became clear that the vast majority of mobile homes never moved at all after they were initially placed, so mobile homes became even less mobile, to the point that you had to hire specialized movers and add a lot of equipment to actually move them. Eventually they morphed into what we now call “modular homes”, which are basically cheap pre-fab structures which are, at the lower end, similar in size and function to the old mobile home trailers. Part of it is also societal, though-- there is now a stigma to living in something that is identifiably mobile, so another part of the change to “modular” houses was extensively disguising that they are semi-mobile structures.

So to tie this all to your question, the reason why they don’t have cheap RV’s designed for long-term living is that in the real world, it is extremely rare that you would ever need to actually move your trailer after it was initially placed (and I could come up with another long post about the real estate dynamics that keep lot rentals cheap, but I’ll spare you for now). Modular homes serve the function as cheap houses that can be moved to a site and don’t have all the drawbacks of true mobile homes.