A few years ago, Allie and I were moving every 1-2 weeks in our fifth-wheel. We were utilizing our Thousand Trails Membership and seeing as many places as we could while still working part-time and running our small business. This was a fast-paced lifestyle and we were loving every minute of it. We had visited dozens of states, national parks, and campgrounds by the time we landed in Arizona for our second winter as full-time RVers.
Finding a Home Base
During our time in Camp Verde (just south of Sedona), COVID began to spread in the USA and all of our future campground reservations were canceled. We had been planning to travel for a full year through the state of California but found ourselves without plans or places to go. We were able to stay long-term in our site in Camp Verde, but it got us thinking that we wanted a more permanent home base. Maybe we wouldn’t be there full-time, but it would still be someplace we could always go or return to with our 42-foot home on wheels.
This was uncharted territory for us, so we began with researching campgrounds that offer long-term rental options. We struggled with researching online and found the best way to gather information was to call campgrounds directly and speak with the staff. Many RV parks don’t have updated or informative websites, especially when it comes to longer-term rental options. We found that some campgrounds allow a month-to-month rate (which often included utilities and amenities), while others offer annual leases (that had additional fees for utilities and amenities).
After finding such a wide array of options, we sat down to make a list of priorities for us as we moved forward to choose a location. Here are some of the things we considered:
- Location: We knew we wanted to be somewhere that is mostly temperate. We also knew we wanted easy access to nature (forest, rivers, lakes, ocean, mountain, etc). We also knew we didn’t want to be directly in or near a major city, but close enough to one to access healthcare, community, etc.
- Budget: We weren’t going to break the bank on a permanent site because we still wanted the freedom to travel, but also because we chose this life to simplify our finances and work less overall.
- Amenities: We didn’t have many needs in this area, but we knew it would be nice to be in a campground with some security and resort-features (such as a pool or clubhouse).
What to Look For in a Long-Term Campground
If you are considering long-term campground options, we suggest you think about what is or may be important to you in your day-to-day life.
- Do you need to be located within a specific school district?
- Do you need access to public transit or urban amenities?
- Do you need amenities such as a workout room, pool, playground?
Beyond our needs and wants list for our future home-base campground, we begin to think about what we would need in our individual site. Some of these requirements are dictated by the type of RV you have. For us, this meant a site that could accommodate our 42-foot fifth wheel with 5 slideouts (as well as our RAM 3500 long-bed, dual-wheeled truck). Other than considering size, we decided it was essential for us to have full-hook-ups. This meant 50AMP electric, water, and sewer. Our site also came with cable, broadband internet (for an additional charge), and the option to have a 100-gallon propane tank put on our site (that is filled up on a rotating basis by a local company). We also knew we wanted a more private site in a smaller campground loop at our resort. This meant that there was less vehicle traffic and that most of our neighbors were older and quieter than some of the larger loops with families that had several young children.
Try a Visit Before You Commit
We would strongly suggest trying out your future home-base campground before committing to an annual lease or longer-term stay. While you’re there, walk around and chat with the locals, grab a coffee nearby, or even scope out the local library and grocery store. Think about what you will want to have close to home when you settle in for a longer stay. We feel fortunate to have found a campground and a site that we feel comfortable in. After only a few months in the campground, we noticed an end-site, tucked more into the woods, became available so we quickly scooped it up! We have been here ever since.
Our Perfect Campground
We were lucky to find a site at Mt. Hood RV Village (https://mthoodvillagerv.com/) that fit most of our requirements and even had a few extras that we hadn’t thought of when we initially started looking. The resort is located about one hour outside of Portland, OR and offers several amenities as well as a close proximity to Mt. Hood National Forest. The resort itself is gated with a passcode to enter, offers a restaurant, pool, hot tub, sauna, modern bathhouses, a playground, river access, and trails that lead to a state recreation site next door! You can even rent out the clubhouse rooms for private events and parties at no extra charge. There is a small campground store on site, dumpsters in every loop, and several different types of sites to choose from. Mt. Hood RV Village is part of the Encore addition to Thousand Trails memberships, so we had stayed at the campground previously and knew we would find it to feel like home.
We haven’t traveled as much with the RV since getting our annual site, but we know we will in the future. For the past couple of years, we have gotten to know and love our mountain town. We have expanded our small business through our community connections. We frequently take weekends away at AirBnBs, do long day trips to the coast and have even driven across the country without our fifth-wheel in tow! We still see as many places as possible, but feel confident that we made the right choice to find a home-base that works for us. If you are thinking about finding a permanent parking spot for your home-on-wheels, know that there are a variety of options available and rest assured that you will find one that works for you!