How Much Does It Cost To Build & Start An RV Park?Anthony Day
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Owning an RV park is a fantastic business opportunity and it can be highly profitable, but how much does it cost to build and start one?
Across the United States, there are hundreds of RV parks that are run by small business owners and franchises. However, if you want to establish your own RV park, you are going to want to be aware of all the costs associated with this kind of business venture - to ensure that you are not biting off more than you can chew.
If you want to build and start an RV park from the ground up, then it can cost you anywhere from $20,000 to $100,000 - depending on the location that you choose and the services that you offer. Although adding services does cost more, they will also bring in more business to your park.
When it comes to traveling across the country, there is really no better way to do it than in an RV. Given that America has such vast and beautiful landscapes, getting inside of your home on wheels to experience it all only comes naturally to a lot of folks, which is why RV travel is still so popular to this day. While an RV does essentially have all of the essentials of home, people still need to pull off from the road to park their vehicles and generally utilize some extra utilities, which is where RV parks come in. Many business-minded individuals take it upon themselves to provide a service to RV travelers by establishing these parks, which works out as a win-win for both parties. If you play your cards right, owning an RV park can be an opportunistic business to earn a great income. However, just like with any business, owning an RV park comes with a considerable amount of responsibility, which is why you want to make sure that you have covered all of your bases before you commit. To help you understand this further, we are going to take a closer look at how much it costs to build and start an RV park.
After extensively researching RV park operations and financing, I have been able to gather enough information to determine how much it costs to build and start this kind of business. My research has taught me that the costs associated with starting an RV park can greatly vary depending on the location of the park and the kind of investment that you are willing to put into facilities and amenities.
Cost to Build & Start an RV Park
If you have always dreamed of having a job that enables you to spend most of your time in the outdoors and away from the hustle and bustle of the city, you really can’t go wrong with starting an RV park. This kind of business will give you the chance to enjoy your line of work by assisting RV travelers on their journeys across the country, which certainly beats waking up every morning to go to the office. However, you should know that although owning an RV park does have a lot of perks, there is still quite a lot that goes into running this business successfully.
If you want to build and start your own RV park, you are going to need to consider that you are essentially creating a business from scratch. Establishing an RV park takes more time, money, and energy than just simply making a parking lot on the side of the road. Much like with any business, RV parks require creative planning, permits, and essential services. You have to consider that you are going to offer travelers and place and space to unwind on their long journeys, which means that your customers are going to have a certain amount of expectations from your business. These services can become quite expensive to keep up with and maintain - especially if you want to create a well-established RV park, which is why some RV parks can cost 100s of thousands of dollars to set up.
With that being said, not every RV park needs to be a luxurious 5-Star glamping site with expensive facilities and amenities. Some folks simply want a nice quiet place that has the basics of what you would expect a standard RV park to have - with minimal and essential services being a must. Depending on a number of different factors such as the location that you choose, building and starting an RV park that is basic and minimal can actually be quite affordable. If that is the route that you want to take, you may be able to pull off your operation for as little as $20,000.
Before you begin buying up land for your RV park, you are going to want to carefully consider all aspects of establishing your business, as there are a lot of details that are easy to overlook. Just like with any business, RV parks require permits and paperwork that need to abide by all regulations of the area you are considering. These are details that you do not want to overlook, as they can lead to some serious legal complications down the line, which could potentially put your entire business and investment at risk. Keep reading to learn more about how much it costs to build and start an RV park.
When it comes to business planning, you are going to want to have a well-established and definitive budget so that you can make calculated decisions. This is a critical aspect of starting an RV park, as this is often a part of the process that many aspiring business owners tend to overlook.
The reason for this is that you can make miscalculations based on the number of details that are involved in starting an RV park. It is all too easy to simply look at the site that you want to build on and base all of your finances on the initial cost of the land.
Before you begin location scouting and doing any kind of formal planning, be sure to sit down and get all of your finances in order. If you feel like you are not capable of determining your budget on your own, we would highly encourage you to seek the assistance of a financial advisor, as this will greatly help you mitigate the financial risk involved in setting up your business.
When establishing your budget, you should calculate the total amount that you have and what you are willing to spend on the RV park. There should ideally be a strict financial cap that you cannot breach under any circumstance. Instead of using your financial cap as your budget, try to pick a dollar figure that you would prefer to spend on establishing the business so that you can have better judgment when making decisions. At the end of the day, additional costs are something that is to be expected with virtually every business operation, which is why it is always nice to have a little room to breathe when they occur.
On the other hand, if you do not want to carry all of the financial weight of creating the business from scratch on your own, it may be wise the seek the help of investors to get your project on the way. You can do this by presenting your business opportunity to investment groups or even within your personal network.
There is no factor more fundamental to the success of your RV park than its location. However, this is also the characteristic of your RV park that can considerably drive up the costs of your business. These days, land costs in the United States can vary greatly and you can expect the price to range from $1,000 to $1000,000 per acre.
The cost of buying land is primarily determined by where it is located. The bottom line is that the more attractive the location of your RV park is, the more you can expect to pay to set up your business. While this can be frustrating for some, you also have to consider that the more attractive your location, the more business your park is likely to have - which means, more money for you!
To properly location scout for your RV park site, you should reflect on the kind of environment that RV travelers are going to want to relax in. The great outdoors is the constant theme when you are on the road, which is why it only makes sense to establish your park in a location that has beautiful scenery and nice landscapes.
If you are set on a general location such as in a specific state or county, you can begin your search by browsing the real estate market for an attractive site. However, if you are flexible on the location and are open-minded to starting your RV park anywhere in the country - you are going to find that you have a lot more options available to you, which will come with a lot of benefits. Here are some examples of some great location qualities to look for:
One of the best ways to seal the deal on a prime location is to find a great spot for your RV park that is situated near a National Park (or State Park). Our nation’s National Parks can prove to be a gold mine for RV park businesses, as they are known for having some of the most beautiful scenery in the entire country and they are crowd favorites among RV travelers.
With that being said, having your RV park within the vicinity of an urban area or small town also comes with its benefits. It is often the case that RV travelers have to pass through cities and towns on their trips but trying to find a decent RV park within a city can be quite tedious and unappealing. By placing your RV park outside of city limits, you offer RV travelers a prime spot to avoid the chaos of urban areas.
Licensing & Permits
If you have found a prime location that suits your budget, you are going to want to confirm the kind of licensing and permits that are required to set up your business.
Determining the costs for these can vary depending on the location that you chose for your park. You will find that each state and county will have their own regulations for how they approach licensing and permits for RV parks.
Before you commit to the property, be sure to investigate this thoroughly to confirm that the regulations attached to your land parcel are not going to compromise your business. You will find that some locations are much less likely to give you a hard time in this regard, as some states have very loose regulations for RV parks.
If you are building and starting your RV parks somewhere that is quite desolate, then you can expect a minimal amount of legal obstacles standing in your way. On the other hand, if you are looking to establish your park in an urban area or even near a national park, do not be surprised to see more licensing and permit regulations.
A failure to abide by the regulations of your building site can result in serious complications, which can cost you a lot and potentially jeopardize your entire RV park.
Planning & Development
With your land costs out of the way and your paperwork in order, you can finally start building your RV park. This is a stage in your business operations that you can approach with quite a bit of flexibility and creativity.
The key thing is to keep your budget in mind as you approach the planning and development of your business - you don’t want to commit to building something that is not going to be financially feasible in the long run.
To start, you are going to want to consider how big your site is and how you want to utilize your space. Here is what you should keep in mind:
Some parts of your development are going to be essential in order for your RV park to function - with infrastructure being a vital component.
You need to create an infrastructure layout for your RV park, which will include a lot of essential components of your business such as:
- Car parking
- RV parking
- Campsites (optional)
- Registration Office
At the end of the day, every visitor that comes to your RV park is going to need to have access to it, which is why you need to create an organized system of roadways and walkways, which enables your customers to conveniently come in and out of your park.
As you do this, you want to consider the dimensions and layout of your RV park. Keep things organized and logical so that there is a clear system in place to avoid confusion for your guests - and you! You can then begin establishing parts of your park for parking and overnight stays.
Creating a cohesive design for your park goes a long way. A lot of people prefer to have a place that not only has nice surroundings but also feels good based on how the park was made.
A great way to approach the design of your RV park is to think of a theme that you want your business to have. This can be based on your own personal tastes or you can play off of your surroundings.
For example, if you are situated near a National Park, you can utilize this landmark as a stylistic theme for your business. Incorporate similar features into your park, which will give visitors a warm welcome to the area. If you do not live near a National Park or notable landmark, you can always choose a traditional design.
Facilities & Amenities
The facilities and amenities that you offer at your park can vary greatly. Ultimately, you will want to carefully consider how far you want to take this side of your business, as the more facilities and amenities that you have - the more responsibility and costs you can expect.
With that being said, your facilities and amenities are going to be huge selling points for your guests. Next to the location of your RV park, the kind of services that you offer are what are going to bring people in. You have to consider that a lot of people are traveling on the road for days, weeks, even months!
When people travel via RV, they are often looking for a break from the road to enjoy some comfort and perhaps even luxury. There are some facilities and amenities that are going to be simply unavoidable such as toilets. Whereas others can be avoided and skipped, as this will lower the amount of money you need to put down on your initial business development. The great thing about facilities and amenities is that you can always add them later on to your business once you have got your basic operations on the way. The costs associated with adding services to your park can vary from several thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.
If adding facilities and amenities at a later point is something that appeals to you, try to consider which kinds you would like to incorporate into your RV park. The reason that this is so important is that you want to evaluate the free space that you have in your park at your disposal. If you have a lot of extra space, then you have more freedom to add services as you please. However, you may be tight on space, which is why it would be wise to establish certain areas of your park for facilities and amenities early on. Let’s take a look at some facilities and amenities that you can add to your RV park.
Toilets & Showers
This is a part of your RV park that is going to be essential. Travelers that visit your park are going to expect there to be toilets and showers, as this is a standard.
You can certainly cut some costs on how much you put down on establishing these facilities, but you are probably looking at at least $2,000 to $8,000 - depending on how large the facility is and how presentable you want it to look.
This should be enough to build the facility that houses your toilets, showers, and sinks. You should then factor in that you will likely need to provide additional services such as toilet paper, soap, and towels. These may technically be considered optional, but you will find that your business may receive better rapport from visitors if these are provided.
Another standard within an RV park business is offering visitors access to basic utilities. RV travelers tend to seek refuge in parks like these to enjoy some of the luxuries of home, which is what they are going to be relying on your business for.
You can be flexible with what kind of utilities you offer, as these can sometimes vary depending on the style of a park that you have and its location. This can particularly be the case if your RV park is located somewhere that is within or near a National Park, as these are generally intended to be set up with sustainable guidelines.
If you decide to set up all of the standard utilities that are commonly associated with RV parks, you are looking at costs that are upwards of $12,000 (or more). Here are some examples:
Power & Water
A lot of folks want to pull into an RV park that can give them power and electricity. You will find that most RV travelers expect this to be the case, which is why you will want to set up electricity on your site for RVs to hook up to.
In addition, you will also want to offer travelers the opportunity to hook up to water so that they can shower and use their own sinks. Naturally, these will all be costs that you incorporate into your fee.
Sewage & Garbage
It is quite common for many RV travelers to rely on RV parks to dispose of their sewage and greywater.
This is a service that you should highly consider adding to your park, as it will certainly attract a lot of visitors. In addition, you should also offer a garbage disposal service. You can add all of this into your fee or give visitors the option to pay for it independently.
You can take the amenities of your RV park as far as you want to go. Some business owners prefer to keep it minimal - whereas some like to go all out.
Let’s take a look at some additional amenities you can offer:
- Movie area
- Cafe/Coffee house
- Communal kitchen area
- Swimming pool
- Live Music
These are certainly not always amenities that are expected from an RV park, but they are not uncommon. At the end of the day, the more that you can offer your visitors as far as comfort and entertainment go, the more you can charge per stay. This will attract more visitors to your park and it will also encourage them to stay longer. The costs for added amenities can range from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands.