Comparing Park Model RVs to Traditional Cottages

Have you ever considered a recreational vehicle as an alternative to a small cottage? If not, it's probably because the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of RVs are motorhomes or small trailers. These vehicles are great for short stays and moving often from place to place, but they are less well suited to the kind of long term living that most people associate with vacation cottages. At the same time, cottages can be pricey and may be too permanent if your goal is outdoor adventuring in many unique and exciting locales. Park models offer an alternative that may be a perfectly suited compromise.

Just What is a Park Model RV?

In short, these are trailer-based recreational vehicles that sit somewhere between permanent small cottages and very large recreational vehicle. In the US, these models are limited to 400 square feet in order to fit the federal definition of a travel trailer. Some states place lower limits on the maximum size of a travel trailer, but in general, 400 square feet is the standard size for a park model. This sizing places them at the upper end of the recreational vehicle spectrum. Since these are trailer-based RVs, their entire interior space is available for use as living area and they are often incredibly spacious and comfortable.

Why Should You Choose One Over a Cottage?

The number one advantage to purchasing a park model over a small cottage or cabin is that your trailer home is fully mobile. Although these trailers are intended for long-term occupation, they are still designed to be relatively easy to move. This makes them an incredible vacation home purchase as they can serve as a comfortable base of operations to explore new places every few years. Some people even use them as their primary residence, which certainly makes moving more convenient.

Cost is another potential advantage, although this is a more complex issue that does not always work out in the park model's favor. If you are a handy do-it-yourselfer, then ready to build cottage and cabin kits are available for a fraction of a trailer's cost. Even when factoring in furnishing and utility hook-ups, this can often be a cheaper option. On the other hand, purchasing a cottage that is the equivalent of a ready-to-go park model will usually be significantly more expensive.

Things to Keep in Mind

If you've decided that a park model is right for you, then there are just a few things to keep in mind before making your purchase.

Most importantly, remember that while these trailers are intended to be mobile, they are not well suited to regular travel. They are great options if you want the ability to move to a new lot every few years, but a smaller trailer or class C motorhome is a better option if you only want to stay in one place for a few months or less. In terms of mobility, think of them as one step up from a single wide mobile home and one step down from a fifth-wheel.

There may also be some special restrictions when moving a park model. In some cases, you may be required to install the trailer onto a foundation once it arrives at its destination. Permits are also often required to move your home from place to place, especially if it is 8 feet wide or larger. Because of this, there is usually still some amount of monetary cost associated with moving.

With these advantages and concerns in mind, park models are a great option if you want a living space that feels like a permanent home while still offering you the opportunity to relocate cheaply and relatively easily. 

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