with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Hook Up to Stay – Short Term Stays

Our trailer parked on the Matanuska Glacier.Setting up your home away from home, or your home on the road, for longer than a couple weeks means establishing "temporary permanence." When you stand still for very long, especially for a job, people you work with expect to be able to find you, call you, and keep track of you.

Choosing a place to park your RV for longer than a few weeks can be a challenge. Is there a campground near the place of work? Or is it way out of town? How costly is transportation back and forth? More than the job earns? In order to make money, income must be more than expenses. In our excitement to get a job, we often overlook the cost of the job.

Setting up your temporary residence in a campground is little different from moving into a new house. You need to set up your utilities and make arrangements for telephones, cable, and getting your mail. It means finding a place close to work and services you need, but one that also makes you feel comfortable and safe. Here are some things to keep in mind when making arrangements.

Length of Stay
Camping among the trees to shade the trailer, photo by Lorelle VanFossenEach campground treats your length-of-stay differently. Just about all campgrounds offer different rates for stays of one day, a week, and a month. Campgrounds make the most money on day rates and few will permit stays longer than 3 weeks, while others limit stays to 3 months. Each one is different. Call ahead to determine the permitted length of stay and whether or not they have long-term sites available. Many campgrounds are set up on a first come, first serve basis and if no one has checked out of the long term areas for months, the odds are slim they will do so soon.
Most campgrounds are located outside the city limits, often miles from town and from where you will be working. Some mobile home parks allow RVs, but many don’t. Finding a location that is accessible to work and the transportation system can be a challenge, but keep looking. Many campgrounds aren’t listed in the national guides or even on websites, so check with the local tourist bureau or phone book for more information.
Staying in Touch
Some campgrounds offer phone hookups, but not many.Being available for work means being ready by the phone for the call from the recruiter or company hiring you. Some campgrounds offer day rates for phone hooks and at others you must pay for installation of a telephone. If you are staying for a while, this could be worth while. Most campgrounds are good about handling mail for their tenants, but not all. Check in advance on how to handle incoming mail. If the campground doesn’t allow mail service, some post offices still accept general delivery and many provide short term post office boxes. Mail service companies like Mail Boxes, Etc. and others rent temporary addresses.
Utilities and Connections
Most campgrounds offer the basic hookups like electricity, water and sewer, but not all. Be sure and check on which hookups are available. The cost of these utilities are included in daily and weekly rates, but most long term stays require paying for usage. For campgrounds which do not offer full hookups, consider how filling your water tanks and emptying sewers will fit into your busy working schedule.
Rules and Regulations
Each campground has its own rules for behavior, trailer and site upkeep, and other policies which may influence your decision to stay. Gated campgrounds require special keys for access or have restrictive access times. If you work in the evenings, you may work late and return to find the gate locked until morning. Many have limits on pets, vehicles, visitors, and trailer specifications. In general, campgrounds can put together whatever rules and regulations they want, as long as they are posted and you are informed of them upon arrival or change. These may be positive reasons for choosing a campground, or they might infringe upon your lifestyle. Read them carefully before committing to any long-term agreements.
Trailier camping at Monument Valley in Utah, photo by Lorelle VanFossenWhere is the campground in relation with the things you need like groceries and gas stations? Buy a good map of the area and have the campground manager or someone familiar with the area mark on the map where the nearest laundry, malls, WalMart, Kmart, and major grocery stores are. Note gas stations and ask them to recommend a vehicle repair shop they are happy with, just in case. Big name discount stores and grocery stores are often on or near major retail corridors. Near the local WalMart the odds are high you will find grocery stores, tire shops, hardware stores, and a wide variety of shops to get your basic supplies. Laundries are often near grocery stores, too. Small businesses gravitate towards big businesses, setting up shop next to each other. These make good starting points for exploring the community.

Campgrounds come in every shape, size, and design you can imagine. Some are crowded and noisy during the busy season, others are quiet and peaceful. Some allow children, some are for those over 50 or 60 years of age. Some are busy and active places. Some offer amenities while others just offer a place to park your RV. Whatever you choose, make sure you feel comfortable and safe.

We recommend you spend a little time walking around the campground and setting up temporarily before making your stay more permanent. Pay attention to the neighbors and comings and goings for a week or so. I’m allergic to cigarette smoke, and we were thrilled to choose a spot next to a trailer with two “no smoking” signs posted on it. Unfortunately, we found out that the owner sits outside his trailer with friends who smoke and the guy in the motor home across the way is a chain-smoking cigar abuser. After settling in, we had to pack it all up and move to another spot in the campground, far from the smokers. Your discomfort might not be from smokers, but there could be someone having their radio or television constantly too loud, arguing, or other activities not conducive to your lifestyle and enjoyment of the campground. Feel free to discuss this with the campground owner or manager and often they will recommend a better spot in the campground – or move to another one.

Remember, you will be there for a while, so make sure you are comfortable with your surroundings and the amenities. Not all locations have other choices, but many do, so keep your options open.

Finding a Residence – Solid Building

When heading away from your moving home, you will need to find a more "stable" residence, often in the form of a house, apartment, or cabin. If your business or job requires such, make sure that they help organize how you will find a place to stay. Many will provide access to apartment managers and locators, easing the process. Make sure that any damage deposits and initial costs are included in the contract with your employer so they don’t come out of your pocket. Also make sure that you are provided with adequate utensils for the kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom. Televisions and stereos are nice, but not always necessary, so if you really want one, make sure that it is on the list of your specific needs.

In choosing a residence, look for locations with convenient and available parking, as well as easy access to food and laundry services. If possible, make sure there is a washer/dryer in the accomodation, as no one wants to drag their dirty clothes out to do laundry late at night after a full day of work. If you are a church goer, check to see that one meeting your standards is nearby, too.

It is usually up to the company to help ease your transition and to make your life as comfortable as possible, without the company paying much money, so make sure that they do what they can to help you concentrate on your work on not on how miserable your accomodations are.


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