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Escalating housing costs have spawned a growing nationwide trend – folks choosing to park it long-term in a recreational vehicle rather than buy or rent a traditional home.
According to Florida Today, the lifestyle choice is becoming more prevalent in the state, as the lack of affordable housing makes RVing an attractive option.
“Those on a tight budget, or those who don’t want to buy in troubled economic times, find RV living affordable,” said Betty Gould, who owns Mango Manor RV Park in Cape Canaveral with her husband.
It’s a phenomenon she sees coming full circle at the 51-site park.
“Forty years ago, when we came here, this is what people did. It’s come completely back around,” Gould said. “We bought one when we had two little kids and people didn’t want to rent to us.
“It was 36 by eight feet and it was considered a mobile home. Today, that’s nothing more than a small RV . . . we lived in that for two or three years, and saved enough money to buy a house.”
She meets single women who don’t want to shoulder the upkeep on a house. And the couple’s park has been home to construction workers who are “pretty well doing it full-time because they’re following the work,” Gould said.
They also meet long-termers, young and old, who simply don’t want the expense or labor attached to home ownership.
Rental-lot rates in Florida’s Brevard County can run from $275 to $400 per month, a price that includes water, sewer and garbage fees. If you own an RV, “you can’t live any cheaper,” Gould said.
Great Florida weather aside, there’s one often-overlooked bonus to living in an RV over a house – no waiting around for someone to show up and make repairs.
“When something’s wrong with it, you can drive it to the shop, get it fixed and drive it back home,” she said.
Industry experts say because no organizations track people residing in RVs, it’s hard to estimate how widespread the practice has become.
One RV networking group, though, says work and high home prices have spurred RV-living nationwide.
It happened in the Silicon Valley in the 1990s. Now, it has hit sticker-shocked parts of Virginia and the Washington, D.C., metro area, said R.B. Brinton, marketing director for Escapees RV Club of Livingston, Texas. “When the dot-coms were going hot and heavy, there wasn’t enough housing available,” he said.
“Some of the companies were letting their workers who lived out of the area park RVs on their lots and then they’d go home to what we call ‘stick houses’ on the weekends.”
As local costs soar, “it wouldn’t surprise me at all if that happened here,” said Ryan Rusnak, assistant zoning manager for Brevard County Planning and Zoning, which oversees restrictions at local RV parks.