For the past few years, I’ve been living in my RV for about 6 months each year. Over half of that time is spent on the road exploring the country. The remaining time is spent parked in an RV park in Florida during the winter months. RV park living is a different type of RVing – not really camping, not traveling, and not for everyone.
RV parks are places where you tend to park side-be-side next to other RV’s. These parks are more about the general location, amenities, and activities. They are less about a natural surroundings, scenery, and solitude. For those who prefer plenty of space or who tend to be socially introverted, staying put in a densely populated RV park can be a challenge.
I tend to be a bit of an introvert and it took me some time to adjust to RV park living. But now I’ve done it for a few years and have come to enjoy this type of RVing. So, in this post I’ll share some wisdom on how I survive living in an RV park.
Have an RV to Call Home
I’ve noticed that many snowbirds in RV parks tend to have big honkin RV’s – either large travel trailers, fifth wheels, or Class A motorhomes. I see few Class C’s and a stay-put snowbird in a Class B is a rare sight.
For stay put RV living, I need a place I can be comfortable in. First in that category is having a comfortable bed. There’s no way I could sleep for months on a fold out sofa bed or climb up to an overhead bunk. I also want a comfortable sitting space where I can spend time working or waiting out some rainy days.
Also, when I’m parked for 3-4 months, I need an RV that can support my normal lifestyle. I don’t want to have to put it on hold. I need space for my hobbies, adequate space to cook meals, and a place to work. My 26 ft Winnebago is a great traveling RV, but it’s just barely adequate for stay put living. The next RV I buy will probably be slightly larger to better support stay put RV living.
Choose the Right Location
When you choose someplace to live, the adage – location, location, location is often used. For this snowbird, the most important requirement is a warm climate. For me, that means summer like weather just about every day. I want a place where I can spend most of my time outside versus spending time in the RV. It’s the whole reason I head south for the winter.
Next to a warm climate, an RV park where I’m going to stay parked for months needs to have services and attractions nearby. Things like food shopping, movies, restaurants, a beach, a lake, a nature preserve, bike paths, etc. I don’t want to have to get in the car and drive every time I want to do something.
Where we stay there’s a beach, restaurants, bars, shopping, banks, libraries, and parks all within 1-2 miles of the RV park. I can bike, walk, or take a trolley to most of these places.
Further inland, there are nicer (and less expensive) RV park’s with bigger sites and nicer facilities. But these places are miles away from anything. I could stay at these places, pay $600 / month, have a nice site, and be miserable. I’d rather pay more and be happy. For me, there’s got to be stuff to do that’s near where I’m staying.
Adjust My Space Expectations
Living in an RV park means being closer to people than I may be used to. I’ve had to adjust my space expectations. My neighbor’s rig is just 10 feet away. And it’s going to be that way for a few months (not just a couple of nights as you pass through the area). I may hear the neighbors TV or dog. The neighbor’s AC unit may wake me up when it kicks on at night. Ear plug are a solution that many use to block out night-time noises.
Living in a RV park is communal type living. You share the space and the common areas. It helps if you can embrace it versus trying to just tolerate it.
I take a pretty laid back attitude when it comes to space. My neighbors are all snowbirds parked next to me for months. I know them well enough so that I can chat with them if something becomes a problem. I don’t mind if they walk through my site on their way to the bathroom. I welcome them stopping by to visit. I’m retired and just don’t worry about the trivial stuff anymore. I’m just glad to be parked in a warm place with some other good-natured folks for the winter.
Choose the Right RV Park
Second to location, the RV park needs to have good amenities and be well maintained. Things like reliable power, clean and up to date bathrooms and laundry facilities, good TV reception, and available internet (either wi-fi or mobile internet from a cellular carrier). RV park review web sites are good places to check these things out.
When I’m selecting a place to stay put for a while, I use Google Maps to zoom onto an RV park to check out the surrounding area. I want to find out ahead of time if the park is next to a sewer treatment facility, auto recycling, or a cement plant.
I also believe it’s good that a RV park has a published set of rules and enforces their rules. A few years ago, a visiting snowbird at our RV park was quietly asked to leave for late night partying and making a tad too much noise past the quiet time. No warnings were given. They were given a refund on the spot and asked to leave the next day. Word spread quickly through the park and it was a good lesson for all. The owners want to have a good place for the residents and will enforce the rules.
Also, I like a park where the owners cater to returning customers and don’t use their open spots for transient housing. A good RV park, with good rules and amenities will help to establish a good base of returning customers.
Get Involved and Meet People
Location and amenities of the RV park are important, but so are the people who stay in the park. One of the most rewarding aspects of RV park living is the people you meet. I’m somewhat of an introvert, but I like meeting new people and getting to know who I’m living next to.
For me, meeting people is an opportunity not an encumbrance. Everyone has a unique story. They all have unique knowledge and they’re the ones who will help me out if need something. If you get involved, walk around, and just stop by to chat, you can’t help but make new friends.
I’ve found that most snowbirds are happy people. They’re happy they made it to retirement. They’re happy with their lifestyle. And, they’re happy not to be back home sitting in a freezing tundra.
Get Outside and Find Things to Do
When the RV is parked, I’m not traveling and not seeing new scenic eye candy. I’m also not at home with my family, friends, and routines. I’m parked in a small space. I’m the type who needs to keep busy doing things. My hobbies are reading, writing, making video’s, photography, and bike riding. I enjoy doing these things when I’m traveling or parked for the winter. Almost every day, I’m out on my bike going to an activity or searching out new things to photograph or to write about.
Many RV parks have weekly activities that are easy to sign up for. Things like corn hole, pickle ball, yoga, or shuffle board are popular RV park activities. If you don’t know the game or rules, just confess to being a newbie and ask someone to show you. No matter what the sport or activity, everyone was a newbie at some point.
And that’s my list of how I survive living in a RV park living. Living in an RV park isn’t about your site. It’s about everything else. All the things, people, and experiences that are around your site – in the RV park, nearby attractions, and in the general area.
I enjoy RV park living and the snowbird lifestyle. I’ve made lots of new friends, learned new activities, and have experienced living in a different part of the country.
If you have other thoughts or questions, please share them in a comment.
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