What You Need to Know about Buying Park Model RVs

Buying a park model RV is a bit more like buying a house than buying an RV. Classified as recreational vehicles because they have a wheeled base and can be moved, park models are not designed for frequent traveling like other RV types. Originally developed to serve as seasonal or temporary housing, their wheeled base allows park model RVs to be towed to a location where they generally remain for months, often years.

These mini homes – park models are legally limited in size to 400 square feet – have become increasingly popular over the last few years. Typically used to provide affordable low cost, low maintenance vacation housing, like a cottage on the beach or a cabin in the woods, park model RVs come in one-, two- or three-bedroom models that also feature a full-size bathroom, living and dining areas, kitchen with full-size appliances, and often a laundry room. Many new park models also feature lofts, crown moldings and other upscale architectural details popular in residential homes. Because outdoor add-ons are only limited by the space of the lot on which the park model sits, many owners dramatically increase usable space by adding covered porches, large patios or decks with outdoor grills and fire pits, and storage sheds.

While vacation homes continue to comprise the majority of park model sales, the difficult economy and cost of real estate has enticed more people to use these unique RVs as a primary residence. Park model RV resort villages are becoming more common. Quite a few retirees maintain two park model RVs, dividing their year between winters on the Florida coast and summers with friends and family in their home state. Some maintain a traditional RV for general travel in addition to their park model “home.” A renewed interest in camping and the outdoors has led many enterprising RV resort and campground owners to install park model RVs on their campgrounds. Used as camping cabins, roomy, free-standing, park model RVs are popular with family vacationers tired of crowded, noisy hotel rooms.

Recently, use of park model RVs has begun moving beyond the leisure market. Far less expensive than constructing traditional buildings and requiring less land, people are buying park models to serve as business offices, art studios, carpentry workshops and in-law apartments. They can be easily customized to accommodate people with disabilities or special needs.

Park model RVs come in two sizes:

  • 8-foot park models can be hitched to the back of a truck and towed to their site without special permits, just like an RV travel trailer. Snowbirds often purchase 8-footers, towing them from north to south every 6 months as the seasons change.
  • 12 foot park models must be moved by a professional transportation service which requires special highway permits. The cost of transportation leads cost-conscious RVs to purchase 12-footers from individuals or RV dealers located near the vehicle’s destination site.

Before purchasing a park model RV, check with the RV resort or campground where you plan to locate it – or if locating it on leased or purchased land, with the local zoning authority – regarding any installation, size or hook-up restrictions. Park models can be designed to operate independently or be tied into onsite electric, water and sewer connection.

Park model RV manufacturers usually offer several standard models with varying floor plans and amenities and range in price from $20,000 to $200,000. Standard models can be heavily customized, although major redesigns may incur an engineering fee. To minimize upgrade costs, park model RV sales experts recommend choosing the standard model that most closely matches the floor plan and amenities you desire. You’ll find a wealth of well-priced new and used park model RVs on RVT.com.

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