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Old 10-02-2016, 08:39 PM
 
466 posts, read 290,214 times
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I've been wondering what I will do with myself once I retire. I mostly want to retire because I am sick of my job, but I realize I should be moving towards something, not just trying to get away.


Does anyone have any experience with buying/running a campground once you retire? It just hit me the other day as an option I might want to explore so I thought I'd reach out to this group and see if anyone else had done this, and if so, how it worked out for you. Make some extra money, ready route for socialization, a reason to get up in the morning, beautiful location, etc. Plus I have always loved camping. Most of them come with a "owner's house." Sounds like it might be a plan. Your thoughts are welcome! Thanks!
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Old 10-02-2016, 10:36 PM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
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There are a few 'campground for sale' sites and LOTS of intersting stories (search the camping forum, there was a discussion a few yrs back.

I had considered it (since I was age 25) and looked for several yrs and trareled to many places to evaluate. I never 'practiced' / lived the daily life as an owner, but I talked to many, and helped them for a few days. Became clear it was not the best choice for ke at this time. I still prefer to be GONE / on the road, than stuck at one spot.

Not to discourage you, but of the many owners / hosts I know... Most now need to carry a concealed weapon. Not for the campers, but for their visitors. It can be a daily burden to fix / fill your sites / work 16 hrs/ day, have people trash tiolets / runover pedistals, hydrants, and picnic tables. And complain about pricing.

If you are serious.... Head to NZ, AU, (summer coming soon there!) and Travel / camp Canada. (Especially NB, NS, PEI, Newfoundland) These will give you an idea of EXCELLENT camping and facilities / ideas way beyond USA norm. I found it very helpful for great ideas on facilities that are VERY useful and EZ to maintain (even 100% full every night).

The clincher for me was running cost / break even analysis. Takes a lot of full nights / yr to make a living above costs of Maint/ taxes/ utilities. Then... Find your ideal spot and watch it nightly for at least a yr.

I am now looking for the perfect MHP, but only have found one I like. (100% handicapped accessible homes because it is on a hillside). But.... Since I am a coop developer... I would convert it to a resident owned park (good for tenants / valuation of homes) ... Not a high profit for owner /seller of park.

Plan B. Retiree cottage rural community with OT/ PT / stroke / hospital recovery outpatient center to keep resident fees low.
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Old 10-02-2016, 11:00 PM
 
Location: Silicon Valley
18,081 posts, read 22,914,959 times
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Great post by Stealth Rabbit.

I just thought I'd throw out another idea. There is a retired woman in my town who advertises her spare room on AirBnB and she is booked up solid during the tourist season here at the coast - we're the giant redwood area on the coast of far north CA. We get tourists who come to the cool coast and to see the giant redwoods. Even then, the town is not slammed with tourists. We're still pretty isolated here.

Anyway, her claim to fame on AirBnB is that she makes pizza for her guests. I think it's sourdough pizza. And she's open to socializing with them, if that's what they want, or leaving them alone, if that's what they want. I haven't met her personally. But, if you look on AirBnB for rooms in Crescent City, CA, you'll find her - you'll see her ad about her homemade pizza.

At any rate, it gives her some extra money for part of the year, and something to do and some socializing. I thought if I had my own home, I'd do the same thing. Plus, you just block out dates on Air BnB that you aren't available - so you aren't required to stay open all year round, etc.

I had originally planned to open a campground on the acreage I bought in Wa many years ago. I planned on focusing on hunters during hunting season. It was just 2 acres, but I paid an engineer to draft a design for about 10 RV spaces, and I'd have a home on it and a tiny store/cafe. I wouldn't have needed to keep it open all year round, either. And there was a real lack of places for hunters to stay at the time, and the county wanted people to create more campgrounds and BNB's, so the zoning wasn't a problem. Anyway, I thought I'd cater to hunters as my niche, with a place to hang their deer/elk, etc. Life took me a different way, and I sold that property along with the engineering plans to the family that had a white water rafting business just 1 mile down the road. But, I had thought about doing basically, what you're talking about doing.

Anyway, maybe a smaller version of your campground idea, where you wouldn't have to keep it open all year round, or just catered to a certain niche, would alleviate some of the hassles described by Stealth Rabbit.

Before I retired, I worked as a resident apartment manager, managing 25 units. And living with your customers can get really old. And being on call 24/7 really gets old. So, a compromise where you're only open part of the year or something like that would maybe be the way to go.

Good luck whatever you end up doing!
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Old 10-03-2016, 01:07 AM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
22,524 posts, read 39,903,732 times
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BTW, there are many screaming deals on campgrounds. Last I looked at was in Northern TN. It had 2 nice homes, 90 spaces, pool, good facilities and high occupancy. Was under $500k iirc, as owners needed to return to PA for eldercare demands. Owners were willing to do a 'owner finance' loan with 30% down.

Be careful and do due diligence. You are buying a facility that may not be easy to liquidate. Some I toured had been FS for 10 yrs. I toured many in Hill Country Texas. The ones near / in town or with river frontage often are sold without going to market. (I only do my business props in Income Tax Free States, prefer those not subject to long freezes or hurricances (FL is OUT due to insurance, and I don't do humidity).

Be extra certain septic / sewer is adequate. Dept of health can shut you down in a heartbeat.

I travel using hospitality home, harvest host, farm stays. Camping is usually free to $10 max. I have RV sites on all my rural homes, so frequently host friends and travelers for free. Kinda rough on local campgrounds, but I have my homes in tourist destinations, so campgrouns do very well in spite of my generosity. I am setting up one site as a Menz Shed (NZ style) so RV / cottage folks can do crafts / garden, work on projects such as their MH. No swimming pool but I do have a pond (except during drought... Previous 7 yrs pond was seasonal.) Been full for 1.5 yrs.

Do consider WATER, folks paying $50/ night expect a lot of water and 50A sites burn a lot of Power. Not like they are interested in conserving YOUR power. Example.... We use <20 gal water / day as a couple. None of our renters uses less than 180 gal / day. ( all are rural well homes, so renters think water is free... $5,000 - $10,000 repair comes out of my pocket, not theirs. Septic is worse!

Consider run-off and storm drainage. Sites must be crowned and above surrounding run- off. Rivers can be a huge draw and huge liability / flooding risk. Rough on septic system requirements.
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Old 10-03-2016, 04:25 AM
 
Location: Vermont
1,017 posts, read 1,418,090 times
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My parents did the camping thing for years as seasonals. They had people that got a free site in exchange for helping manage the campground. I'd investigate that first before buying. I was friendly with the owners kids and it is A LOT of work and headaches. Dealing with drunks who stay up too late, fixing things, maintaining everything, and it never ends. It's 24/7 and usually seasonal. It may seem like fun, but you will quickly tire of "people" as you will always have ones who aren't happy about something.
Then you have the bored teenagers ( I was one) who think up a multitude of things to entertain themselves. The stories,I could tell.
Find one where you can be seasonal help and see what it's really like. Retirement shouldn't be stressful.

Cheers!
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Old 10-03-2016, 05:31 AM
 
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A retiree with enough cash to buy a decent campground business might want to just invest the money wisely and live off of the investment.
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Old 10-03-2016, 07:17 AM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
22,524 posts, read 39,903,732 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jrkliny View Post
A retiree with enough cash to buy a decent campground business might want to just invest the money wisely and live off of the investment.
Like a Subway franchise

Retirees comprise a lot of 'passive' franchise owners.

Then you can CAMP! (If you have the right location and managers),

I have not looked at the financial performance of KOA, but the right ones might be profitable. In thousands of nights camping, I have used 2 KOAs (near big cities)
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Old 10-03-2016, 09:30 AM
 
662 posts, read 476,598 times
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If you've never been a campground host, I suggest trying it to get a feel for what it might be like to be an owner:

https://www.google.com/search?q=camp...utf-8&oe=utf-8

Maybe use up saved vacation time before quitting your job to give it a shot? Do find reviews of the host job too...some can be really problematic.
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Old 10-03-2016, 03:34 PM
 
1,185 posts, read 661,897 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harpoonalt View Post
My parents did the camping thing for years as seasonals. They had people that got a free site in exchange for helping manage the campground. I'd investigate that first before buying. I was friendly with the owners kids and it is A LOT of work and headaches. Dealing with drunks who stay up too late, fixing things, maintaining everything, and it never ends. It's 24/7 and usually seasonal. It may seem like fun, but you will quickly tire of "people" as you will always have ones who aren't happy about something.
Then you have the bored teenagers ( I was one) who think up a multitude of things to entertain themselves. The stories,I could tell.
Find one where you can be seasonal help and see what it's really like. Retirement shouldn't be stressful.

Cheers!
Totally agree with this. We have friends whose parents decided to buy a campground during retirement in Florida. It was way more stressful and more work than they had anticipated, even though they were both handy and hard workers. Regulations got tougher and costs were more expensive than they had planned. Long story short, they were thrilled to unload it.

Maybe their customers were not as pleasant as we have found at campgrounds a number of years ago, but the constant demands and complaints were not the happy retirement they had in mind.
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Old 10-03-2016, 04:44 PM
 
Location: Forests of Maine
30,669 posts, read 49,416,421 times
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We have discussed doing that a few times.

While doing long distance trips, we have stopped at campgrounds and we have enjoyed our long talks with owners.

We own 150 acres of forest with some river frontage, we are not sure what to do with it. I have a good pension, we do not really need any more income.
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