Are you interested in buying or starting your own campground? Then it’s important to learn how to run and maintain a campground, as well as the pros and cons of owning a campground. Yes, owning a campground is not an easy feat, it’s a lot of work.
Recently, I sat down and had a chat with one of my close friends who used to run her own campground a few years back. In this article, I wanted to share with you some of the things she loved about owning a campground, as well as some of the things she hated.
You can never be ready enough, as challenges are bound to happen. But it is nice to run your own business and set your own schedule. If you’re considering owning a campground, there are many factors that you need to consider.
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Owning A Campground Pros and Cons
There are many advantages and disadvantages to owning a campground. Let’s go through them one by one so that you can make the best decision.
Pros of owning a campground
Great investment with high returns
Owning a campground can be extremely lucrative, as the maintenance is fairly low and the demand is increasing every year. The fact that it offers RV owners a low-cost housing alternative normally protects them from financial downturns.
Lately, a lot of people have sold their homes in pursuit of a minimalist living, moving into their RVs and trailers. That means more business for you as a campground owner.
As a matter of fact, with the current housing issue, the need for quality campgrounds keeps on growing. RVs are increasingly popular for both old and young people, and RV owners will always require a safe, clean, and dependable place to park their mobile homes.
If you have a campground, not only will it keep generating income, it is also rewarding work with social interactions and great flexibility. However, you must have all the necessary amenities for your business to be lucrative.
The amenities must be in good condition and accessible. Also, you want to be innovative about the concept of your background, and most considerably, you must have experience managing or operating a campground.
Be your own boss
A campground not only gives freedom to visitors, but it also gives you some freedom as the owner as well. Being able to manage your days and not having to take orders from someone higher up is a great feeling.
It also means you can live on the campground rent-free, at least for part of the year if you like. You could even hire a manager to take care of everything for you, while you focus on whatever it is you are passionate about.
Get Time Off
Many campgrounds, especially private ones, are seasonal businesses, which means they are not open during the winter season. If you decide on running a seasonal campground, this could be the best time to refuel. You could travel to warmer regions during the cold winter season, or spend the time upgrading the campgrounds for the next season.
Even if you choose to run a four-season campsite, it’s important to take time off to not get yourself burned out. As most year-round campgrounds have fewer visitors, and less maintenance, during the winter months, you could easily hire a manager to take care of things while you go relax and recharge.
Meeting New Friends
Campgrounds are like a small community for RVers; this allows you to meet new friends from different parts of life, both female and male, young and old. This makes having your campground an excellent and thrilling business to try.
Gives You the Chance to Discover Nature
Immersing yourself in nature is one of the most uplifting things you can do in life, you wake up in the morning to the sounds of live birds chirping, breathe fresh air, and lower your stress levels overall. All of this will make sure you get higher-quality sleep at night.
If your campground has a beautiful view and is situated near a river or sea, you can discover the beauty of nature while also making money.
Cons of owning a campground
Most things in life are not just about pros, but also cons, and owning a campground is no exception. Let’s take a look at some of the disadvantages of owning your own campground.
Living on the campground
When you first start your campground business you will most probably spend a lot of time on-site, working hard to succeed. While this may be a pro for some people, it can also become a con in some specific cases. Missing out on memorable events such as funerals, weddings, birthday parties, graduations, etc., can easily be avoided by hiring someone to help you out.
It is highly recommended to get someone to help with the campground, be it a full-time, or stand-in manager. Offering a visitor a reduced cost the first year if they help out around the campsite might also be a good alternative.
High investment to start
In order for you to be able to charge a higher rate for your campground, you need to get all the basic amenities, and more. Basic amenities such as showers, water, electricity, as well as recreational facilities are required at every campground. If you want to be able to charge more you will need either a highly attractive location, or additional state-of-the-art amenities to offer your visitors.
You could also consider adding some sense of security to the campground, be it a gated community, or on-site security personnel. Building a campsite is a high investment, but will pay back nicely in the long run.
Profit takes time
Depending on the location of the campground, as well as the amenities you are offering, you will have to work hard before you start making a profit. Usually, it takes a couple of years to start seeing profits.
Getting visitors to your new campground will take time and be a lot of work, advertising and giving discounts are some of the most common ways to attract business. When visitors come you also have to provide quality service, in order to make them feel welcome and wanting to come back.
A backup fund during the first couple of years is crucial when starting your own campground, emergency funds for disasters are also important. If you will be hiring people to help you out, you will also have to pay their salaries, as well as insurance, mortgages, construction workers, and utilities.
Owning a campground is stressful
Managing a campground requires time and hard work, mostly during the summer season when you will attract the most business. Owning the campground adds to that stress, that’s why we recommend you get someone to help you with the management part of the business. The most important thing you can do is to manage and reduce the stress you surely will have to endure the first couple of years.
As the owner, you should focus most of your time on running the business. Aside from attracting guests and visitors, there’s a lot of paperwork required for a campsite, bookkeeping, meetings with officials, permits, etc.
Luckily, camping activities normally reach their peak during the summer season and slowly drop off during the winter months, so you are able to rest and go on a holiday during that time.
If you are dreaming about owning and operating your own campground business, there’s a lot of responsibility and stress involved. The pros don’t necessarily outweigh the cons in this case, it’s up to you to decide if you are up for the hard work required.
The pros of owning a campground are flexibility, being your own boss, socializing, and managing your own schedule. But there are a lot of cons as well, it’s a stressful business, both economical and psychological stress. You should make sure your campsite is situated on an attractive bit of land, you have sufficient funds to keep you in business for several years before you start seeing profits.
Consider starting your own campground only if you have one of the two following:
- Friends and family who can help you out in the first couple of seasons, to minimize the cost of employees. Of course, you should not make them your personal slaves, let them stay at the campgrounds and offer something in return, either monetary or services.
- Large start-up funds that will cover all expenses the first couple of years, including salaries, contractors, utilities, and advertising costs.
These are the main advantages and disadvantages of owning and running a campground. Owning and operating a campground may look like a lot of time, commitment, dedication as well as work at first, but with proper management, you will be able to enjoy running a profitable business.
Hi I’m Tom! I have been a camper enthusiast ever since I went camping with my family as a kid, love everything that brings me closer to nature. Photographer, RV owner, husband and father, trying to help others interested in camping on this blog.