(By the golf
course ... at Roadhaven)
About the RV Resort Parks
Resident-Owned vs Privately Owned Parks
Before doing any park shopping make
sure you understand the differences, advantages, and disadvantages
of choosing a park that is resident-owned or one that is privately
owned. (see the section on private vs resident-owned parks)
RV Resort Parks for the 55+
The whole focus of this site is the experience
of living in a 55+ RV Resort Park in a
warmer climate through the winter months.
There are literally hundreds of these parks in
the state of Arizona offering a wide array of amenities and
lifestyle experiences. But there are also some important
The size of
the park is a primary
factor. The parks range
considerably in size from the very smallest
of maybe 25 lots to parks with 2,000
It doesn't mean there
wrong with a smaller park
but naturally the
larger parks can
afford more activities,
The medium and larger sized parks are pretty
standard in terms of layout, security, and central facilities.
Some smaller parks are more for the very budget conscious and
those who are not interested in paying for a lot of things they
don't use. It is all about individual choice.
Most of the parks are about 70-90%
model' homes. (With the rest being mostly
motor homes and travel trailers.)
These park model trailers are all about the
same size. The lots they sit on are about the
Most parks separate the 'pets allowed' area
from the 'no pet' area.
That 'Small Town America'
We all know that model small town doesn't
really exist outside of Hollywood. But these parks have come about
as close to that imaginary feeling as I have seen.
The clean paved streets with mostly bicycle and
pedestrian activity combined with the friendly greetings present a
very comfortable atmosphere.
Nearly all the parks are designed with a
similar layout. Streets of park models surrounding
And they are truly 'communities' onto
themselves. There is a strong community feeling in most
of the parks as people live together in a type of small town
atmosphere. Everyone is very friendly and quick to help a
"We knew about these parks
and had considered trying it out to see if we liked that
experience. I was quite reluctant because I didn't feel quite
ready for 'what I perceived to be' the lifestyle. To my surprise I
felt quite at home and very comfortable. And my privacy was very
well in hand. Sure everyone is friendly and says 'hello' but no
pressure to join or participate. Or, lots to participate in if
that is what you want. And I was shocked that I actually enjoyed
living in a "trailer". Never thought that would happen."
It's interesting how all these people from all
these different places and backgrounds come together with the
common bond of just wanting to live life as enjoyable as
possible. There is not a lot of discussion about who you
'used to be'. Really not that many actually care. Whether you were
successful in your career or just survived it doesn't really
Status seeking is not very evident. It's like
there no longer is any value in trying to impress the neighbors.
Choosing a Park
"It may be
hard to change later"
A major consideration when deciding to 'try
out' a park is that you may be choosing a new 'home town'.
It is noticeable how many park residents would
find it unthinkable (well almost) to move to a different park.
It becomes a home and it is sometimes hard to
leave because you have become part of a community.
Of course those with bad experiences will be
happy to leave. But once you develop a bit of a community social
life it can be difficult to start over again in another
'community'. You make friends and develop relationships with
neighbors. You get involved in group and club activity and that
can be hard to leave.
While some people have spent their lives moving
to different communities and don't worry about making new friends
and such, many of us get attached to our location and find a move
more difficult. And, to some, the older you are the less you
search for the new adventure associated with moving from your
the Park Facilities, Services, Amenities, and Activities
You should make sure you are moving to a park
that has the facilities, services, and the things to do
that meet your needs and interests.
Most of the
larger parks have websites and we have listed them in the parks
listing and links sections. The parks do a good job of listing
their facilities and usually show pictures so you can get an idea
of what is available.
The park facilities include both the functional
(laundry, office, security, etc) and those related to park
activities such as swimming pools, hot tubs, workshops, and the
like. And of course basic services such as mail service, access to
the internet and cable TV, as well as maintenance and support.
There are a huge assortment of facilities in
some of the parks; Recreation Centers, Exercise Rooms,
Laundry, Swimming pools, Hot Tubs, Libraries, Workshops, Card
Rooms, Tennis Courts, Pickleball Courts, Computer Rooms, and on
and on. Very large parks will even have Grocery
Stores, Restaurants, Driving Ranges/Putting Greens, and maybe a
You want to know that the facilities are in
good condition and things work as they are intended. You also want
to know that the park is clean and well maintained.
The Activities - "What is there to
That old clich� ... 'You can be as busy
as you want to be' ... certainly fits the concept of
the RV Resort trailer parks.
Tennis, Dancing, Golf,
Billiards, Pickle ball, Concerts, Shuffleboard, Horseshoes,
Lapidary, Silversmithing, Wood Working, Quilting, Card Games, Ping
Pong, Ceramics and Pottery, Book Clubs, Service Clubs, Church
Services, Movies, Water Aerobics, Yoga, Pilates, Painting,
Computer Club, Choirs, Musical Groups, and more.
The last thing you need to worry about is
having enough to do.
When choosing a park location the activities
are critical if you want to match your particular interests and
lifestyle. If playing horseshoes is your thing then look for
horseshoe pits. If tennis is your game then make sure there are
adequate tennis courts. If you are a 'lap swimmer' then make sure
the pool(s) can accommodate that.
"We blew it on this one. We
like playing tennis and bought a park model in a park
without tennis courts. But thought it was such a good deal and we
can drive to tennis courts. Now we are sorry. But love
the old park model and love the neighbors. Now what?"
While you may feel you can travel outside the
park to participate in activities (and certainly you can) you may
not be so inclined once you take up residence. It seems that park
residents develop a lifestyle that becomes more 'small town'. It
becomes habit to walk to things and/or ride your bike. You
may strongly regret that you chose a park where you needed to fire
up the family vehicle and head off into the city traffic to
participate in your favorite activity.
course some activities, like golfing,
normally require outside travel. But even
golf, there are some parks with
golf courses. Generally the larger the
the more there is to choose
from. But it may
always be 'the more the better' for
It doesn't make much sense to contribute
you usually will either
directly or indirectly) to
an expensive recreation facility in a park if
have absolutely no interest in
about Park Activities
Most park sites will list at least the most
common activities and you should check out the list.
If information is not shown or your interests don't
appear but other park attributes are appealing then you may want
to take the trouble to contact the park.
The parks have someone in charge of activities.
This is often a volunteer resident but could also be a park
employee. Contact them to discuss your interests.
If their name and contact information is not shown on the site
then contact the park office. They are usually more than anxious
to accommodate and promote all they have to offer.
In some cases the parks are hungry to have
residents that like to organize and spend their time getting
people together for new activities. If you are that type of person
then you may be able to start your own 'unique'
activity. Ask if that is allowed and supported.
Location - Location -
There are a
lot of considerations regarding the location of the park. Most of
them are personal and depends on what appeals to
you and how you like to spend your time outside of the
parks are really quite self-sufficient and you will probably
be surprised how little you travel out. But
of course you will want to shop, eat out, golf, and take in
the whole array of adventures and entertainment in the
The best way to get a sense of the park's
location is, of course, on a map. But you can also get that lovely
satellite view of the actual park and see what the
layout looks like, from above of
the parks chart you can click on the location city name and
go to the google map view. There you can see the general
proximity to major locations and roadworks. You can then click on
the satellite view and go down for a good look of the park.
Keep in mind that you are actually having
to consider TWO community locations. (1) The location of
your park model within the park
'community' and (2) the location of your park within the
Check out the park security.
We all care about the safety and security of
our homes. And of course your winter home is just as important.
This is even more important to those of us who come from smaller
or rural communities into a strange place and maybe even find big
cities a little scary.
huge advantage of
a winter residence in
parks is the 24 hour security.
These parks are gated and most have
a security person
at the gate checking
who comes into the park.
also important because you
don't live here year-
round. The comfort
of knowing there is an emphasis on
security helps you to relax and enjoy
Many parks have regular (usually weekly)
publications describing park news, events and activities. Usually
done by resident volunteers. They are a good source of resident
information but also provide a bit of the 'flavor' of park
Getting a copy(s) of these journals can
contribute to your information package when deciding on a park
location. Some parks place the copies of the park paper on their
websites. Worth checking.
for the Rules!
committing to residence (especially if buying a park model) make
sure you get a copy of the park rules and even take the trouble to
(at least) phone the park office to discuss arrangements and
clarify rules of residence.
Rules are important and you should want the
park to have them. But within reason.
You should look for a park that has
rules that you appreciate if you are making it
your (part-time) home. You will want to feel some comfort in
knowing that security and other aspects are important to the park
management. But you will also want to make sure you do not lose
your lifestyle independence with over-zealous park management.
It is common for parks to have rules governing
security, cleanliness, quiet, and general good conduct.
And most parks do an excellent job of maintaining these
If you are not moving into a 'resident owned'
park then you will be at the mercy of the park owners and
management. They get to make the rules and of course rules are
important. But, some are more reasonable than others.
"Our bad experience had to do
with renting out our park model. We felt we could rent it out for
a month or two when we were not using it. After considerable
roadblocks put up by the park management (i.e. need the
renters credit report with a high rating even though the
renters were paying us) we had to tell our renters that they could
not come. (The owners actually walked out on me as I was making my
Our sense was that the park
management really didn't want to encourage residents renting out
their units. Whether that was an overzealous attempt in trying to
maintain more control over who was staying in the park or an
attempt to limit competition for the park owned rentals I am not
invested in a resident-owned park ... Remember that you are
Parking Your Park Model on a Rented Lot
There is a tendency to think you have bought a
residence just like buying a house back home. But you need to
remember that you only bought the park model. And you
parked that unit in an RV park. It may have already
been parked there when you bought it but it is really no different
than when you rent a spot at a campground ... just a much, much
When you pay for the annual rent of the lot
that is the only timeframe you have agreement for. The park owner
can refuse to rent it to you the next year and then you have a
problem. That may be rare but it is legally possible.
Importance of Rules about Park Model Age
A park model is not a house. A park
model trailer is legally a vehicle and is
likely to depreciate rather than appreciate.
Many parks have a rule on the
age (and condition) of trailers being moved into their
parks. And some requirements regarding the upkeep of the park
models. It is very common that parks will not allow a park model
older than (say) ten years to move into the park. They of course
want to maintain high standards. This is understandable but also
is an important issue to consider when you buy a unit.
While you are just parking on a rented lot
(with generally a one-year term agreement) you also can't just
move it to another park. If you buy an older unit you are
taking some added risk that you need to consider. You are
probably stuck with that unit in 'that' park. You are quite
limited in the choice of parks you can move to. (Not to mention
that the cost to move can be as high as the value of an old unit.)
It is certainly rare that park
operators refuse to renew rental agreements because
of park model age. But it has happened.
This doesn't mean to suggest that an
older budget-priced park model is a bad
buy. In fact, it can be quite the
opposite. But you do need to view your purchase similar to
buying an old car compared to a new car. It will
depreciate and it will require some more work and maintenance. And
when you are done with it you may not recover your original price.
An old car may have to be sent to the wrecker when you are done
with it. An old trailer could have the same fate.
regarding 'First Right of Refusal'
Some parks will require that you do not sell
your unit (while parked on their lot) without offering the
park owner a first right of refusal. You come up with a buyer at a
price and then are required to inform the park operator of the
deal. The park operator may decide they want to buy it at
that price ... and have the right to do so as long as it
is being parked in their park.
Limiting Park Model Ownership
Another rule that is worth knowing about.
Some parks will limit you to renting
only one lot. What that can mean is that you cannot buy
that nice, newer, place next door and then decide to rent out your
It can even mean that when you buy a
different unit in the park you need to immediately have yours
sold or you could end up breaking the rule of limitation to one
Of course park operators will generally be
reasonable but it can also be a rule that hits you by surprise.
Buy a 'Fixer-Upper' and Rebuild that Old Park
Many parks will have rules that do not
allow you to do any major renovation work yourself. If
the work involves anything that requires a municipal permit they
may insist that you hire a licensed contractor.
Of course most owners will do smaller jobs
themselves and that is not a problem, in fact it is probably
encouraged. But it is worth checking for these
rules if you have any plans to redo that older unit. It can
be a real unhappy surprise later on.