After sharing the story of our home away from home, I have received a lot of questions from readers about seasonal campsites for their own family. Although we are new owners ourselves, I am a second generation seasonal camper with a wealth of knowledge to draw from my own family members–I also work in a seasonal campground during the summer (not our own campground! Don’t poop where you eat, folks…)
Today I am addressing frequently asked questions about a seasonal campsite.
How much does a seasonal campsite cost?
If you already own a trailer–awesome! Don’t worry about it! We purchased ours with a personal loan. I had to factor in the monthly payment. Well…if you read the story–I went ahead and bought it without checking first…
Seasonal Site Fee
This varies from campground to campground, but I know many of the local campgrounds in this area require a deposit on October 1, then the rest of the fee paid in full by April 1. I know this is a surprise to people that may not realize this. Some start planning their budget around putting money aside for 12 months not realizing they need it all ready for April 1. Our campground in Old Orchard Beach, Maine is open mid April to Mid October (Columbus Day weekend is usually closing weekend).
Your trailer/park model/camper needs to be insured. It’s not too expensive–but you can’t forget to factor this in when planning ahead.
We have to pay a state tax to the great state of Maine
I think this one is obvious…
Heat (if needed); hot water; stove…
Possible Additional Costs:
- Guest Fees/Unlimited Guest Pass — if you want visitors, many campgrounds charge for overnight guests. I do know of some campgrounds that offer unlimited guest passes for a one time fee.
- Part time User Agreement — Some campgrounds offer a list of people who can come up and stay in your place without you there. For example, if my parents or Mr. Geek’s parents want to stay without us, we can put them on the list and cover the fee right of front at the beginning of the season. Also, if you have an adult dependent/child staying there without you, the owner, being there…
- Additional Parking/Key Cards — Got a lot of cars? You’re going to need a lot of key cards to get in…
- Pet Fees — ours doesn’t charge for pets at all, but I have heard of some that do–or charge if you have more than two pets. But be prepared to have their rabies paperwork on file at the office.
- Golf Cart Fees — there is usually an additional fee to have a golf cart for your campsite or some campgrounds rent them out daily.
Do you own the campsite?
No, you do not own the campsite itself. You’re not buying a piece of land. You own the dwelling that sits upon it. This means if you do not pay your seasonal fees–they can remove your trailer and bill you for the removal cost–and if it is a park model it could get pretty pricey. I don’t say this to scare people away, but I also would hate for people to jump into the seasonal campsite life without knowing this.
What should I look for in a campground?
When Mr. Geek and I were putting serious thought into our future seasonal campsite, we made a spreadsheet–because he goes ga-ga for spreadsheets. This was before I said, “SCREW THE SPREADSHEET!” and went ahead and bought our place without telling him…again, I am so sorry.
Of course you are looking for a place that fits within your budget, but you should really get a feel for the culture of the campground and consider your own lifestyle. This is your getaway! You need to make sure it meets your needs.
Here questions you might want to ask yourself when searching and comparing:
- Is it close enough for us to spend a lot of time here? (Seriously, you are spending thousands of dollars–make sure you’re getting your time at the beach/lake/woods to get your money’s worth!)
- Are there activities for kids? Adults? Whole community events?
- What is curfew (and how strict are they with that curfew)?
- Is there a convenience store on the grounds?
- Are there only seasonal campers in the campground or are there transit guests that stay short term?
- Do you already know people in the campground? (And if you choose that campground, make sure you put them as a reference! A lot of times they get referral discounts on their seasonal fee!)
For example, I am a second generation camper in our campground but if I were shopping with my husband as a brand new customer ready to bring in our young family–I probably wouldn’t pick our place again. The appeal of our place was it is right around the corner from my father, now brother’s campsite(s) and the price was right.
When we looked into another campground in the area, I hated the idea of a park ranger telling me to keep it down every time I laughed a little too loud by the campfire with friends. A different campground was from walking distance to the beach, but the seasonal fee was way out of budget. Although it was an impulsive decision, I think we made the right choice for us.
Stay there ahead of time
If you have the opportunity, stay at the campground ahead of time. Get a feel for the culture and the noise at night–even different sections of the parks have different vibes. Your best spot to get a feel? Hang out in the pool with everyone! You’ll get all the dirt on the campground when you hang out with a few beers by the pool (if they allow them, some don’t). But also take that with a large grain of salt–we know it’s easier for some people to complain then say, “I LOVE THIS PLACE!”
If you can’t stay there ahead of time, get a copy of their seasonal handbook/contract ahead of time. You can make the best decision for your family when you have all the information right in front of you.
I hope this answered some of the basic questions about seasonal campsite life! If you have any additional questions, feel free to ask in the comments. If you’re a seasonal camper yourself–I would be honored if you share your tips on selecting the best “home away from home!”