Reasons People Invest in Static Caravan Holiday Homes

Every family or individual has their own reason for starting their holiday home search.

At Holiday Home Buyer we’ve heard some truly weird and wonderful reasons! However, there are some reasons that crop up again and again.

We thought we’d share some of these reasons and see if any strike a chord with you!

1. More Family Time

Do you remember a time when everyone would sit down on a Sunday to enjoy a family day? Or perhaps you remember going to your grandparents’ house to spend quality time with loved ones?

Try to imagine it happening now – it’s a distant memory for lots of families!

Lots of people are too busy to keep time free for the other generations and before you know it, the kids are grown up and ready to head into the world themselves.

A static caravan offers a place to shut off those distractions and spend precious quality time with the other generations in the family.

2. Time on your hands

Retirement looks like such a wonderful prospect! Finally, an end to the early mornings and the daily grind, but what is work replaced with?

After the initial novelty wears off there’s a lot of time to get bored – that sock drawer can only be rearranged so many times!

Having a holiday home opens the door to another area, with wonderful new places to see, interesting people to meet, exciting new hobbies to discover.

Fancy fishing? Photography? Walking? Or just some new places to explore? A holiday home gives you a perfect base.

3. Location, location, location

Lots of people have grumbles about how their community feels different in recent years, that familiar feel of streets, estates and areas across the UK can feel like a thing of the past.

This often makes people consider leaving areas they’ve grown up in – with the daunting prospect of relocation, new jobs and moving from family.

Choosing instead to escape to a holiday home with your free time means a return to friendly neighbours, not worrying about the kids playing out – and popping to a neighbour to borrow a pint of milk doesn’t have to be a thing of the past.

4. A Place to ‘Switch Off’

The modern world seems designed to ensure you don’t get a moments rest.

Whether it’s post landing on the mat, constant phone calls, text messages, favours being asked… time actually spent relaxing without worrying about distractions is becoming increasingly hard to find!

Having a holiday home can lift you up and take you away from those day-to-day distraction. Beeps, ringing and the sound of bills coming through the door can be replaced by birds singing or waves coming in on a holiday park!

5. An injection of life!

It’s often the same people sitting in the same seats at the local pub isn’t it? The same grumpy shop assistant who can’t seem to smile or the same frowns you see at work every day?

If you’ve ever felt that life needs a bit of a ‘pick me up’ then having a holiday home could be exactly the right thing.

In a recent study commissioned by a large holiday park provider, people were asked to recall a favourite memory – 82% of people recalled a recent holiday (that’s more than picked their wedding day!) – with a holiday home every weekend could become your favourite time!

6. The weekend goes so quickly.

Work’s done and it’s 10pm on Friday evening before you know it.

By the time the shopping’s done on Saturday it’s about time to get the TV on to catch Ant and Dec. Sunday dinner takes three hours to prepare then twenty minutes to eat – then it’s 4pm, just enough time to work through that pile of ironing before the dreaded Sunday blues set it!

Or, bundle the family in the car at 6pm Friday, get to your holiday home by 8pm and have the car unpacked and your feet up with a cool drink by 8.15pm – you’ve still got two whole days of relaxing before you even need to think about making a packed lunch…

7. Normal routine can cost so much!

A Friday night takeaway for four, £25. Family cinema trip with snacks, £50. A hour of soft play area for two kids, £10. Four carvery meals with drinks, £50.

Okay, we know you probably won’t do all of those things this weekend, but even the cinema and takeaway adds up to £75, which is £300 over the course of a month.

If life with those little treats feels good then great! But if you still find yourself thinking there’s something else you’re missing out on, consider diverting some of that money into a change of lifestyle – most holiday park operators can offer holiday homes at monthly payments of around £200 or less – and that still leaves some fish and chip allowance when you’re relaxing by the seaside!

If any of the above rings true with you then why not send us an email? Holiday Park Expert works hand in hand with some of the best holiday park operators in the country – providing cost effective holiday homes on every kind of park you can imagine. We’d be more than happy to point you in the right direction to start making your leisure time wishes into reality!

Remember, we’re here to help, there’s no such thing as a silly question! – for any enquiries complete our enquiry form at the bottom of the page. 

How to Calculate the Annual Costs of Owning a Static Caravan Holiday Home

One of the most common questions we’re asked about owning a holiday home is the one that’s the most difficult to find an answer to anywhere else on the internet: “How much does it cost to own a static caravan holiday home?”

It’s right that you want to know what kind of charges are to be expected and how much those charges will be.

The truth is, the running cost of your holiday home will vary hugely depending on the park you choose; however, the vast majority of parks will be billing you for the same things. Here we’ll delve into what those costs are and some rough guides of how much you would expect to pay.

Don’t forget, if there are any terms you’re not 100% certain of, you can always visit our holiday home jargon buster article for more info!

How much are holiday park site fees?

This is the cost for keeping your caravan at the park. It covers the rent of the small piece of ground it’s being kept on and the use of facilities and services on the park.

This is normally the largest charge for keeping a caravan – but will usually come with some payment options; direct debit, standing order, etc.

Site fees are normally charged toward the end of the year or holiday season and most park operators will expect those to be paid before the commencement of the following season, so your bill will usually come through around October, with payment expected around January. Some park operators will offer a small discount for prompt payment.

On parks which let your caravan on your behalf will often credit the money that has been made to your account around October or November too, meaning your outlay is reduced.

Different parks – different site fees

As the cost of site fees vary so much depending on what kind of park you choose we’ve given a few illustrations below.

£1000-£2000

This would normally be a very small park and site fees income will be invested in the upkeep of the park rather than being spent on facilities and staff members.

You could expect a manager or owner who lives at the park offering a personal feel to the caravan owning experience. The emphasis for a lot of owners choosing this kind of park would be the attraction of either the surrounding area or the peace and quiet!

£2000-£3500

A park with site fees around this cost would sometimes start to offer some facilities.

The lower end of the price range typically having a ‘club house’ or pub type facility and toward the higher end perhaps having an indoor heated swimming pool and slightly more in the way of entertainment facilities.

Depending on who the park caters for, you might expect to see more for children to be doing on a park like this – perhaps with an entertainment programme offering shows and acts.

On a park that’s aimed more toward adults you could expect to have some more adult orientated facilities – perhaps including a restaurant or gym facilities indoors – and fishing, sports courts and more well-tended-to grounds around the park.

£3500-£5000+

This would be either an ‘all-action’ park in a prime holiday location, or a top end ‘exclusive’ park – again in a desirable location.

Owners on an all-action park could expect one or more swimming pools, eating and drinking establishments, sports facilities and family entertainment venues – all offering activities through the day and into the evening.

If you’re looking at a park with more of a leaning toward ‘exclusive’ facilities – these will often cater more toward adults, perhaps offering spa and relaxation facilities. Sport facilities will have more of an adult feel, a well-equipped gym, tennis courts and even a golf course wouldn’t be out of the ordinary.

Of course, you don’t have to pick one or another – some parks will try to blend both of these approaches.

How much is caravan winter storage?

The vast majority of parks include their ‘winter storage’ fee as part of their site fee cost, however, it’s worth asking if there’s an additional charge.

This can sometimes be a sneaky way of being able to offer an impressively low site fee cost only to have it bumped up when it comes to discussing the exact costs of keeping the caravan on the park.

Although it’s not fair to say it’s always an underhand charge – some local authorities say parks cannot keep holiday homes on their bases all year, forcing parks to move caravans and charge accordingly.

Our suggestion is to always ask the employee of the park you’re dealing with to avoid any nasty surprises.

How much are local authority rates when you own a static?

‘Rates’ are the costs levied on the park by the local authority for services they provide to the park, normally, water and sewerage connections.

This is normally a large bill that the park receives – it’s then broken down into much smaller amounts to reflect what individual owners contribute to that cost. The actual amount varies park to park but will normally be somewhere between £200 and £400.

How much is gas and electric for my holiday home?

There are different ways of charging for both gas and electricity on a park.

Some parks will have meters for both fuels. They will read your meters throughout the year and a bill will be produced. Although we feel we’re coming up a little short by saying this, it’s difficult for us to estimate fuel costs – a lot of larger parks will suggest accounting around £500 for both fuels throughout a season.

A lot of parks use gas bottles, most often opting for the larger 47kg bottles.

Some parks will insist you buy these from the park, others will have no problem with you sourcing your bottles from elsewhere. The average bottle cost is between £65 – £75 delivered and fitted.

Usage will vary hugely based on the type of heating you have and the amount of time you spend in the holiday home.

Ask the person you’re speaking too on the park – if you’re not 100% sure their answer is legitimate – “Ahh! Owner’s here only really use one a year!!” – don’t be afraid to ask a caravan owner on the park.

Buying from a supplier off the park is often cheaper but can be less convenient – not many places other than the park team will deliver at 3am!

What is the cost of static caravan insurance?

As you would insure a car or a house, most parks will insist that you ensure your holiday home.

A park will sometimes have a supplier they can suggest and this supplier can often offer a reduced rate based on the amount of business they do with the park or operator. Costs will understandably vary, as there are many different kinds of caravans and associated values.

As a guide, insuring a 10-foot-wide ‘starter’ holiday home will cost somewhere between £150 – £200 per year. This will inflate as the value of the caravan does the same, recent quotes we have done for a 20-foot-wide lodge unit have come to around £600.

Incidental costs

There are some other small ‘incidental’ costs – such as draining your caravan down to protect against winter frosts, however, these will rarely come to more than £80 or so and might not actually be necessary. Ask your park operator.

Get ALL Costs in Writing

We can’t emphasise just how important it is to make sure both you and the park operator you’re dealing with agree on a list of charges that relate to your time on their park.

A signed ‘site charges list’ should be kept by both parties. There are very rarely any problems, however, it’s better to have something in black and white documenting what charges you have agreed to should a query ever come up.

If a park operator isn’t keen on doing this, we’d suggest your money might be better spent somewhere else!

The National Caravan Council have done a lot of work in the industry ensuring customers are dealt with in a way that is extremely clear – especially relating to costs – and we’re pleased to say that the overwhelming majority of parks do adhere to this good practice.

Can I sublet my van to cover costs?

Some parks allow you to let your holiday home to paying guests, some will do this on your behalf, others are happy for you to do it yourself.

If this is an option, it means a big chunk of the costs above can be negated.

There are things to consider of course – such as an increase in fuel bills, however, many caravan owners find doing some letting can go a long way toward off-setting their costs. Why not ask the park you’re enquiring with whether it’s possible? And remember, you can always chat with current owners on the park to double check what you’re told!

Coronavirus and holiday parks – what you need to know

We’re currently weathering the storm of truly remarkable times. When Coronavirus was first talked about before Christmas, no one could have anticipated the impact it would have on our way of life here in the UK.

While there’s plenty of information out there about how to self-isolate and keep as safe as possible, there’s very little information that relates directly to caravans, caravan holidays – and what you should do if you own a static caravan on a holiday park.

The team here at HolidayHomeBuyer have kept a close watch over every government announcement and put together a quick guide that’ll help you make some decisions around all things caravan related at this difficult time, including:

If you’d like any specific advice, you’re welcome to get in touch with the team here by using the contact form – we’ll do our very best to get back to you with clear information as quickly as we can.

Do you have a caravan holiday booked?

Clearly, COVID-19 has disrupted the holiday business in ways we have never seen before. Government guidelines around containment of the virus have become more and more strict, and non-essential travel (including travel to holiday destinations) is now strictly discouraged.

At the time of writing this, both Haven and Centre Parcs have announced they are closing all their UK sites from Friday 20th March until at least the 16th April – and Parkdean Resorts are going even further, closing their sites until 30th April.

Clearly, there are lots of people who have holidays booked well into the future – and if this is the case, many holiday parks and operators will be working on a case-by-case basis – so it’s a good idea to talk to them directly to see what their up-to-the-minute advice is for holidaymakers who have booked. 

If your caravan holiday is cancelled, you can expect to be fully reimbursed by your provider – or take a credit note if you’d rather. However, it’s worth checking your terms and conditions carefully – as you may not be entitled to a full refund if you cancel. Again, talk to your specific holiday park if you’re not 100% sure where you stand.

Are you a holiday homeowner?

Tens of thousands of families and individuals around the UK own static caravan holiday homes – most of them on the same type of park that takes holidaymaker guests.

The question is – what does the Coronavirus mean for people who have a holiday home or second home caravan on a resort?

At the moment, holiday parks are generally still accessible for holiday home owners – this does not mean you should visit your caravan or lodge. Ultimately, government advice around the containment of the COVID-19 virus must come before everything else, so unless you have an absolutely necessary journey to make to your holiday home, you must stay at home.

Clearly, there are still people who are travelling and accessing resorts and countryside areas in much the same way as before the virus outbreak. Government advice, until recently, was a little unclear on this – with advisors suggesting time outside as a positive. It’s important to remember that this advice has now changed. Unless absolutely necessary (or as part of exercise with people from your home), accessing outdoor areas is to be avoided.

Remember, NHS provisions in smaller, holiday towns and areas are likely to become overwhelmed more quickly than provisions in larger areas – so there’s no guarantee that you would receive the necessary medical attention if you were to travel then fall ill while at your caravan.

Can you self-isolate in a static caravan?

We’ve had holiday homeowners get in touch to ask if it’s a good idea and safe to self-isolate in a caravan or static holiday home. 

Although we’re not equipped to offer medical advice – we do know caravans and caravan parks well – and our answer is clear – self-isolating on a holiday park is not a good idea, and self-isolating at home is far more preferable. Quite simply, park operators do not have a responsibility relating to keeping you there – so if they are forced to close, or they can no longer provide vital infrastructure (gas, electric, or water), then you would be forced to leave – potentially putting yourself or other people in danger.

If you are at home, stay at home and do not travel to self-isolate in your caravan.

At home, local authorities will do everything possible to ensure the infrastructure you need is still around you – but as a business, park operators cannot promise the same – as they may be forced to close or adapt their business around government restrictions.

Should I keep my holiday home?

Again, as the biggest independent source of advice on holiday home ownership in the UK, we’ve had lots of people get in touch to ask if they should sell their holiday homes – especially if they’re going to be incurring running costs for a caravan they cannot use.

At this stage, it’s not clear what the park operators response will be to the Coronavirus outbreak – but we urge you not to make any rash decisions. If you’re going to struggle to keep up with payments that relate to your holiday home – you should get in touch with the companies that you’re dealing with as soon as possible. Some finance providers are already offering payment holidays if you have a finance agreement – and you may find park operators are gearing up to do the same thing with your park-specific running costs.

Our message is clear – do not panic. Panic often leads to ill-thought-through decisions that you may later regret – so try to have conversations with your park before you make any decisions.

A message from the Holiday Home Buyer team

Although we’re a website – we’re run by real people with families that include elderly people and people with underlying health conditions. We understand what a concerning time this is for everyone – and, if we can, we’ll provide advice where possible.

We urge you to closely follow the government and NHS guidelines relating to the COVID-19 Coronavirus and do everything you can to keep yourself and others safe. In the short term, that might mean that your holiday plans are disrupted – but if that means that just one person is protected from ill-health, it’s a sacrifice that’s worth making.

Some helpful numbers and resources:

Guidance from the BBC website:

People are being advised not to ring NHS 111 to report their symptoms unless they are worried. They should also not go to their GP, or A&E.

Details for Scotland are to check NHS inform, then ring your GP in office hours, or 111 out-of-hours. In Wales call NHS 111, and in Northern Ireland, call your GP.

Haven Holidays Customer Service: 0330 100 6633

Parkdean Resorts Customer Service: 0344 335 3507

Hoeseasons Customer Service: 0345 498 6589

Jargon and Terminology Used in the Static Caravan Industry

The holiday park industry is rife with jargon!

Teams of people who work on holiday parks have often done for a long while, so it becomes second nature for the lingo to come out of their mouths without second thought.

In this article, we translate and expand on some of those holiday park specific terms! But we do have one thing to say:

DON’T WORRY!

It’s not vital that you know all of this information before looking at buying a caravan, a good park will explain everything that impacts you. Consider this a dictionary you can refer back to if you ever hear a term used you’re not sure about!

Account

This will normally refer to the account that you have with the holiday park.

This is NOT a bank account or something with any credit or interest facility – more just an account on a park computer system in your name when you join. The park will bill items and services that you use to this account, such as gas bottles, site fees, repairs, etc.

This account can also be used to credit people who have earned money by subletting through the park.

Bookings

A ‘booking’ is a period of time when a person has rented a caravan to stay in.

Some parks will refer to people who use your holiday via a subletting service as bookings – for example; “Good news! There’s a booking in your caravan for the weekend you’re not here”.

British Holiday Home and Holiday Park Association (BH&HPA)

The British Holiday & Home Parks Association is an organisation and network set up to work alongside and represent holiday park operators.

They represent the holiday park industry when lobbying park operator’s interests at a government level.

Chassis

This is the metal frame upon which the caravan is constructed.

Usually made from ‘mild’ steel – you can expect them to last a long time even with minimal care. However, it is worth checking the chassis for any obvious signs of severe rust damage on pre-owned holiday homes as knocks and scrapes can speed up rusting.

Manufacturers sometimes use ‘galvanised’ steel on higher specification holiday homes, this is steel coated in zinc (which offers a robust rust-proof coating) which significantly prolongs the life of a chassis.

Connections

This is usually a one-off cost that relates to connecting the caravan to the pitch.

Strictly speaking the term ‘connections’ relates to the gas, electric and television connections made by qualified professionals between the static and the base, however, parks often use it in a more broad sense to also include the costs relating to moving the caravan onto the pitch and the hardware used to secure it – such as axel stands, blocks and chains.

Decking/Verandah

This is the wooden or UPVC plastic elevated deck that can be constructed to surround a part of the caravan.

A huge selection of designs are available along with accessories like lights, storage, gates and locks. Decking can be used to provide vital access for holiday home owners who use wheelchairs, walking aids or have reduced mobility.

Most parks will have some guidelines when it comes to decking as there are a number of important safety aspects to consider. Some operators will insist that you use an approved contractor to build the decking, again normally relating to their own health and safety considerations.

There is normally some element of ‘ground work’ to be done on the area a decking will be placed to ensure it stays safe, even and no damage is caused.

Drain Down

This is the process of removing water from the caravan to prevent frost damage in instances of cold weather.

In non-central heated caravans, it normally only applies to the toilets, water pipes and the hot water heater, in which it will be replaced with anti-freeze.

Centrally heated holiday homes will normally have sealed heating systems that already contain adequate levels of anti-freeze.

You can find step-by-step guides for how to drain-down on the internet, however, some insurance companies do require you to have it done professionally, so check your policy and don’t worry if they do, most parks can do it for you and will charge a fairly modest amount (we’ve never seen an amount more than £90) for doing so.

Fixed/Free Standing Furniture

This is the difference between traditional caravan furniture that is fastened to the inside of the caravan and often more expensive models where moveable furniture is added after manufacture.

Fleet

Caravan jargon at it’s finest!

Park employees with often refer to company owned holiday homes that are exclusively used to provide holiday makers with holiday accommodation as ‘fleet’, normally short for ‘holiday fleet’ or similar.

Fold-out Bed

This is a hidden bed!

Usually included as part of the base of one of the front room sofas, chances are it’ll be covered by a board and will fold out with a light pull on the handle. These come as a standard part of around 90% of caravans and means you can fit a couple of extra people in without compromising on comfort.

Funding/Finance

Most parks will have a relationship with a bank or other money lender that specialises in finance packages for static caravans.

Although it’s not something you’d see advertised in a local branch, a lot of high street lenders also have products specifically designed for buying holiday homes.

There are a lot of factors that are taken into consideration when applying for finance, including the applicant’s personal status, financial status, the age of the holiday home and the amount of money that is being applied for in relation to the value of the caravan. The person you talk to on the park about the different ways of funding your purchase will be able to go into a lot more detail – and will always have access to an account manager from the lender should they be unable to answer your question.

We receive a lot of questions about financing holiday homes so will be dedicating an article to the subject in the near future.

Guaranteed Letting

This is something offered by a handful of the bigger park operators.

Large parks who invest heavily in marketing can attract hundreds of thousands of holiday booking enquiries in a season – but they’re sometimes restricted by the amount of holiday homes they have available for people to book.

This means parks can sometimes offer to guarantee you an amount of money based on you picking out some periods of time that you’d be happy to allow them to let on your behalf.

This money can often be used to go toward the purchase cost of your chosen caravan, or can be deposited into your park account for a point further down the line when there are bills to be paid.

The park takes something of a risk offering you this money in advance of the booking actually being made, so you might not reap quite the same amount as you would with their standard subletting service, but can be very useful if you like to know that money is there for you.

We’d recommend talking to a park in more detail about guaranteed subletting and being very careful that everyone is 100% clear which dates are being allocated to the park before signing to confirm.

Holiday Makers

In caravan holiday park terms this would be someone who’s paid to stay at the park but does not own a holiday home there.

Insurance

As you would insure your home, most park operators will insist that you also insure your caravan.

This protects you and your holiday home from a huge number of potential issues (think about some of the weather that’s hit recently!).

Most parks will have a relationship with an insurance provider and will be able to do a lot of the leg work on your behalf, however, there’s nothing to stop you looking around and finding a different policy if you’re unhappy with the price or level of cover.

Lodge/Double Unit

These are often considered the ultimate in holiday park accommodation.

A lodge will be of such a size that is contracted in two separate parts which are then fitted together by the manufacturers staff or approved contractors when it gets to its location.

Lodges start at 16 feet wide and can go up to 20 feet plus. As lodges are at the very top end of the market you can expect to find them loaded with impressive features and decorated to a high standard.

National Caravan Council (NCC)

The National Caravan Council is a not-for-profit organisation established over 70 years ago. They’re a trade body who represent virtually all elements of the caravan and holiday park industry. The NCC offers accreditation to park operators who agree to deliver high quality products and services while working in way which treats customers fairly.

Owners

This is how caravan owners are usually referred to on a park.

For example, when speaking to a park they might say they have “four hundred owners”, meaning they have four hundred caravans that are owned by private individuals.

Pitch

A pitch is small piece of the park allocated for a caravan.

Pitches usually make up a large portion of the park area and will include an area that the caravan will be parked over and some surrounding space.

There are a variety of bases including grass, gravel, paving slabs and concrete. Some parks will keep all their pitches uniform, on others it will vary and could include a patio area, parking, hard standing for storage boxes, etc. The pitch is the part of the park you effectively rent by paying your site fees.

Ramtech

This is an alarm system favoured by some park operators.

Motion sensors cover access points in the caravan and send an alert to a dedicated pager that is held by park staff.

It can be easily turned off with a small key that is carried by the caravan owners, just a half turn in a discreet box on the wall of the caravan – the alarm normally allows an owner around 30 seconds to do this upon entering.

There is generally an installation charge and yearly maintenance cost associated with the alarm. Some insurance companies offer a discount if an alarm of this kind is fitted.

Rates

A holiday park often uses some provision from the local council.

Most commonly this is the use of their water or sewerage services but can extend to a variety of other things depending on the park and its location.

A park will be billed a large amount each year by the local authority and will often absorb a large part of this cost. Caravan owners will be billed a small fraction of the cost related to their use of the same services. It’s important to note that this is not ‘council tax’ and will be paid directly to the park, rather than the local authority.

Residential/Live-ons

Some parks have ‘residential status’ and allow people to live on the site.

These parks will make it clear that being a permanent resident on the park is allowed by both the park operator and the local authority.

The vast majority of holiday parks do not allow people to live on the site – although that is not to say that some people won’t try – especially seeing the caravan is a cheaper alternative to bricks and mortar accommodation.

This can be dangerous for both park and ‘live on’ guest, as parks can have their license to trade taken away by the local authority and the owner (who will often be in breach of a signed agreement with the park) can quickly find themselves with no place in which to live.

Season

This is the amount of time that the park is open during the year.

Traditionally holiday parks have opened around March and have stayed open until just before Christmas, however, local authorities have extended seasons for a number of parks, meaning now some can be open for 11 or even 12 months.

The season during which holiday makers can make bookings on the park still tends to be shorter – often from Easter until October, but many parks will offer longer seasons to the people who own caravans there. Be careful though, because a park is open 12 months of the year doesn’t automatically mean you can stay there for all of that time.

Local councils grant licences to the parks based on a number of conditions relating to the services they offer, therefore park operators often stipulate that you must leave the park for 24 hours during a period of time, for example, once every 60 days. They might also ask that you can prove you have permanent residency elsewhere – this is to make sure they differentiate themselves from true ‘residential’ parks, where pitch rental agreements and local authority permissions legally differ.

Site Fees/Ground Rent/Pitch Fees

This is the money paid to a park for the rental of the small piece of land on which your caravan is kept, along with access to the facilities and services the park provides.

This figure can vary hugely from park to park and is normally reflected in what is provided by the park.

For example, a large park with a swimming pool, security, entertainment facilities and bars will generally cost more than a smaller park without any facilities who offers just a warden and a grass cutting service. For more details you can view our article on calculating the costs of owning a static caravan.

Where in a rented home you would sign a tenancy agreement, on a holiday park you will normally be expected to sign a ‘pitch license agreement’ or similar. This is a document explaining both the parks and your own set of agreements that will be upheld by both parties and will normally be signed just once, at the start of your time on the park, with amendments confirmed in writing from park operators.

Static

Short for ‘static caravan’. They’re termed static as they rarely move, unlike a ‘tourer’ which can spend significant amounts of time being pulled by car up and down the country.

Other terms, such as ‘holiday home’, ‘caravan’ and ‘mobile home’ and ‘park home’ are frequently used.

A static caravan will spend most of its time on one holiday park and will be plumbed in to mains water and electric – with a gas supply either from bottles of piped from a supply on the park.

Most static caravans made in the last twenty five years have most of the comforts you’d expect from a home, including a good hot water supply, some form of heating and a properly plumbed toilet.

Static caravans tend to be more spacious than a touring caravan, sleeping either six or eight people (two of three bedrooms with a fold-out bed in the lounge) in most.

Caravans can widely range in size and the dimensions are usually indicated in a ‘length x width’ format, with feet as the preferred unit of measurement – starting at ten feet wide and around twenty-eight feet long and going up as large as fourteen feet wide and forty-two feet long.

The larger and more highly spec’d holiday homes have some impressive features and can often include central heating, double glazing, washing machines, dishwashers, French windows, spa baths and lots more.

Subletting

Subletting is the process of allowing other people to use your holiday home in return for some financial gain. Some parks allow this, others don’t.

It can be a useful way of off-setting some of the running costs of your holiday home.

Some parks have managed services that take the effort out of subletting for you, parks inevitably charge a fee for this service but this fee is normally taken as a deduction from the money the guest pays to use the holiday home. You might find your park operator offers simple account system, meaning the money earned is deposited throughout the year, with your running costs charged to the same account.

Tourer

Short for touring caravan.

These are the kind you tend to see on the backs of cars on bank holiday weekends! Usually significantly smaller than a static caravan although do still range in size to comfortably accommodate four or five people.

Do you have to pay council tax on a holiday park?

Having a static caravan on a holiday park might feel like a second home – but in actual fact, there are a lot of differences between the bills you can expect to pay at home and the costs associated with having a static caravan or lodge.

One of the biggest differences is council tax.

We’re often asked how much council tax you’ll be expected to pay for a caravan – so we thought it would be a good idea to cover the subject in a little more detail; so you’ve got all the information you need to decide if the running costs you can expect will suit your pocket.

Here we’ll explore:

Don’t forget – if you’re looking at the possibility of buying a holiday home, you’re always welcome to get in touch with the team here at Holiday Home Buyer. We’ve got decades of experience working on caravan parks in holiday home sales positions, so if there’s information you need to know, we can almost certainly help.

What is council tax?

Council tax is an amount of money that’s collected by the local council to pay for the services they provide for your community. Generally, your council tax will pay for things like local schools, police and fire services, services that relate to the upkeep of roads, refuse removals – and things like that.

Council tax is tied to your home – and the way it’s calculated is based on how much your property was worth when valuations for the current council tax system were made.

With these things in mind, you can probably see why council tax for static caravans is such a confusing subject – after all, most caravans weren’t made when the valuation system was decided – and if you’re paying council tax at home already, it doesn’t really seem fair to pay a second amount for a caravan – does it?

Do you have to pay council tax on a static caravan?

In short, the answer is no – generally, you do not have to pay a local authority council tax for a static caravan holiday home.

Now, those rules are slightly different if you’re buying a caravan on a park that’s got a residential licence (i.e. a site you can be registered to live on all year round) – but since most caravan parks are considered ‘holiday accommodation’ – we’ll focus on those for now.

Essentially, you’re already paying council tax at home – and since your static caravan is not a second home, you’re not expected to pay towards the upkeep of local roads, schools, emergency services, and so forth.

So, what are you expected to pay? To get an answer, it’s useful to look at how councils pay for most of the services they provide.

What will you pay to a local authority at a caravan park?

Council tax that’s paid by private residents makes up around 25% of the money that local authorities need to raise to pay for the services they provide. The rest of that money comes from business rates.

If you’re a business owner, you’ll already know about business rates and the headaches they often cause companies. They’re a property tax that’s charged on offices, pubs, shops, warehouses – and other non-domestic properties. Holiday parks are very much included in the types of business that are expected to pay business rates – and since holiday parks are usually set on a very large (and often valuable) piece of land, their ‘rateable value’ is often also very high.

Since a holiday park is a business that’s designed to make money, park operators must cover this cost as part of their ‘overheads’ – payments they need to make to keep their business running. To do so, they absorb a large chunk of the payment themselves – and divide the remaining amount between the owned holiday homes on the park

Generally, this ends up being a fairly small amount of money compared to your home council tax bill. Your ‘local authority rates’ will often be rolled in with your site fees (also known as ‘site rent’ or ‘pitch fees’) and usually come to somewhere between £200-£400 for the year. The rules and regulations around transparency of fees does mean that your park is obliged to tell you exactly how much you’re paying though – so don’t be afraid to ask and expect a clear answer.

How do you know you’re paying the right amount of local authority fees for your caravan?

At HolidayHomeBuyer, we always encourage our readers to take an objective and critical approach when it comes to dealing with static caravan parks. It’s usually not necessary – the industry is more tightly regulated than it was a couple of decades ago – and park operators are, 99.9% of the time, exceptionally clear about your costs.

However, if you’ve got any doubts about the amount of money you’re expected to pay in local authority rates, there’s some additional reading that might help.

The Non-Domestic Rating (Caravan Sites) Regulations (1990) legislation explains in detail how local rates can and should be charged by caravan site operators. We will warn you though – it’s not the most exciting reading!

Although a little technical and legally worded, the legislation outlines what we’ve explained here about how park operators apportion an appropriate charge to each caravan/lodge on the park – and it also references valuation officers – the people who ‘rate’ businesses for local authorities. After rating, a valuation officer provides a statement to the park that explains how much they can be expected to pay – and the amount that each occupied caravan will need to pay can be worked out from that.

Don’t worry though, as we’ve already mentioned – virtually every park in the UK operates in an extremely transparent manner and will be happy to discuss your local authority rates with you in more detail should you wish.

Please note: We cannot give advice on specific parks or individual situations. If you require further advice you should speak to your park and/or the local authority.

Factors to Consider When Buying a Holiday Home – Expert Buyers Guide

Until now there hasn’t been a comprehensive an impartial guide designed to help you find and buy the perfect static caravan holiday home for you. In our guide – we take all the mystery away and give you the solid facts!

When it comes to buying a house, a car or even a new toaster, there’s plenty of advice on the internet to help you find something that will exactly suit your needs.

The team at Holiday Home Buyer feel people who are interested in buying a static caravan are left somewhat in the dark, either taking their chances with the information a park operator gives them (newsflash – most just want you to buy a holiday from them, as soon as possible!) or relying on second hand stories from friends or family who might have looked for one in the past.

Some people write the idea off altogether based on the belief they ‘probably can’t afford it’ or aren’t sure about whether they’d get the credit they might need – you should definitely keep reading if you think either of these things!

Well, the answer is here! We’ve put together the most comprehensive guide that you’ll find that explains everything you’ll need to know, including:

Doing it right – first time!

Buying a holiday home is often one of the largest purchases a person will make in their lifetime – so making the right decisions about where you buy, what you buy and who you buy from will often be the difference between a great holiday home experience – or one that you wished you’d looked into a little bit more.

So, before you start arranging to look at caravans you’ve seen for sale on Facebook or Ebay, taking a few minutes to read through this guide will make sure you don’t make a decision you come to regret.

The really good news is; finding a nice caravan is surprisingly easy! We’ll cover the actual caravans in a bit further down the page – but to begin with, we’ll start with the trickiest bit; finding the right location for you:

1. Where should I start my search?

The question we’d ask everyone to consider before you’ve even looked at a caravan or a park would be “Why do I want a holiday home?”

The potential answers are endless!

Perhaps you want to be closer to family (or maybe further away!)

Perhaps you’d like an escape from your local area? Or like a chance to relive those childhood holidays by the seaside?

The right travel time

Whatever the reason there’s a possibility it’s going to steer you toward a geographical area. Unless there’s a very specific reason for choosing a far-flung location (i.e. being close to loved ones) our experience suggests aiming for an area within a 1-2 hour car journey from home.

This kind of distance means no huge journeys, no mad-panicking if you need to get home in an emergency and hopefully a minimum amount of stops to use the toilet on the way!

Caravans aren’t just for car owners!

Of course, that’s not to say only people with cars buy holiday homes, there are plenty of great locations that can be accessed easily by train and bus – and your own holiday home means you can plan those journeys in advance enabling you to book cheap seats with plenty of notice.

Have a look at a map and pick out areas you might be interested in that are a nice traveling distance from home, an hour and a half will normally get you around seventy-five miles by car (but give yourself plenty of extra time on a bank holiday!)

Have you got any specific interests?

After thinking about the journey, it’s worth considering what you’d like to do when you’re at your holiday home, do you have interests that require a specific kind of location?

There’s not much sea fishing to be had in the Cotswolds and you’ll struggle for mountaineering in Norfolk, so perhaps you can use your interests to rule out some areas – and highlight others as possibilities.

Quick Recap!

2. What should I look for on a park?

So you’ve managed to narrow down your search based on location and what that area could offer. Now it would be good to consider the kind of park you would like.

At this stage we’d recommend focusing on your exact ‘wants’ rather than cost – while it is important to consider the differing costs of parks, there are many ways to make sure the annual outlay of a particular park suits you, so we’ll cover that in more detail later.

What’s enjoyable for you?

Think about the things that will be factors in how much you enjoy your time there – again, these will be specific to you, but having supported hundreds of people to consider different parks we’ve found that there are some commonly occurring considerations:

You might want to speak to some parks to get the answers to these questions.

Talking to parks on the telephone

Don’t be afraid to give them a call, as well as getting answers to your questions, how a park deals with you on the phone also is an extremely useful gauge of how you will be treated if you decide to visit to get a better feel for a place

If you’re speaking to someone on a smaller park, you might find you’re talking to the sales manager who looks after everything to do with holiday home sales themselves. On a larger park you’re likely to be dealing with a salesperson whose sole role is dealing with people who are looking to buy a caravan.

Try not to worry about dealing with ‘salespeople’ – no one can force you to make a decision you’re not happy with – arming yourself with the right information means the decision is always yours and you’ll never feel ‘backed into a corner’.

You’re not wasting anyone’s time

It’s always important to remember that you’re never wasting a person’s time, even if you chat to them for an hour before deciding it’s not the right place for you, it’s their job to give you the information you need – and quite honestly, they really don’t expect their park to be right for everyone!

Quick Recap

3. How much does it cost to keep my caravan on the park?

It’s now safe to say that you’ve given some solid thought to the kind of place and the kind of park you’d like to spend some time on.

So, it won’t be long before you get to jump in the car and have a good look around – but before that, we’d like to explain a little bit about the running costs of having a caravan – and why you might be acting prematurely if you’re to rule a park out based on higher annual bills.

There are a number of costs associated with having a caravan. Here’s a quick run-down of what the different terms you’ll hear actually mean:

At the very lowest end of the market these costs will add up to less than £1,000. On the most luxurious parks in the country – they could up to £12,000!

The ‘average’ price for overall running costs you’d expect to pay is somewhere between £3,000 and £5,000 – but don’t worry if this sounds pricey – there are lots of ways of paying and offsetting these costs.

Site fees explained

The cost of keeping your caravan on a park is primarily driven by the cost of site fees. This cost most often relates to the level of facilities and service on the park.

It’s fair to say you should expect not a great deal more than having your grass cut on a park where the site fees are less than £1,000 – but for site fees approaching £10,000 you’re likely to have either private mooring for your boat or somewhere to land your helicopter (and we’re not joking!)

As we’ve said, more often than not, site fees on a park with some facilities (think swimming pool, bar, entertainment, etc) would start around £3,000 and would go up to around £5,000. However! The reason we’re suggesting not focusing on these figures until you visit the park is because there are often ways of offsetting these costs:

Letting your holiday home

Most parks will allow you to let your caravan out.

You can make a very healthy chunk of money renting your own holiday home out! The money you make doing this can either make a big dent in the cost of the yearly fees, or in some cases wipe them out altogether!

“Hang on – we’re not sure about letting the caravan out…”

Don’t worry –  people often have reservations about letting out their caravan or, as it’s commonly referred to; ‘subletting’.

“People won’t look after it” or “what if it gets damaged” are common concerns.

We’d like to make it very clear that in all our team’s time of working on holiday parks (including some of the biggest in the country with massive amounts subletting to holidaymakers) we can count the amount of wilful damage we have seen on one hand.

So, the chance of any damage occurring is hugely outweighed by the potential benefit of subletting. If you’re still not sure, at the very least we’d recommend you speak to a park about their subletting service – it could be the difference between ‘settling’ for a park you’re not 100% happy with, and getting your dream park where the costs are slightly more but offset by a few weeks letting.

If a park can help you sublet they’ll almost always have the facilities in place to help if there’s a glass of Ribena knocked over on the cream carpet – accidents do happen, but they’re much easier to swallow if your running costs are paid for!

Can’t or won’t sublet?

Even if you can’t or won’t let out, we’d still recommend looking at parks with an open mind relating to cost.

If you set yourself a solid ‘not a penny more’ limit of £3500 site fees – wouldn’t you be kicking yourself if your dream park was £3550? In our experience – it’s far better to decide on a cost you can justify when you’re stood at the park soaking in the atmosphere!

Quick Recap!

When you visit, remember to talk to the park about:

4. What should we expect when we visit a holiday park with a view to buying a caravan?

Now’s a good time to make some appointments!

Appointments might sound a bit formal – but in our experience it’s the best way to ensure there’s someone who can dedicate some time to showing you around the park, answering your questions and showing you some holiday homes.

Making an appointment does not mean you’re obliged to buy – no matter how much time you spend with a member of the park team!

You’re there to gather information!

You’re going to the park to gather all the information you need to decide whether or not the park is going to be the right place for you to spend your leisure time.

We’d recommend allowing yourself a couple of hours to look around each park and perhaps a little more time to look at the local area. Every park is different, some will let you wander yourself, and other will show you around.

Try to visit the park when you’d envisage using it, so, if you’re a weekend person, arrange to go along on Saturday or Sunday – going along on a quiet Tuesday won’t give a true glimpse of what your time there will be like.

What’s the local area like?

Get a feel for the local area! The park team might even be able to give you some pointers. If you’re the kind of people who like to venture out and explore – then do so on the day you visit. Check out local towns and attractions and see if it’s the kind of place you could imagine spending some time!

Working with a ‘caravan sales person’

Caravan sales people come in all guises – there’s the slick young guys and there’s middle aged ladies – and everything in-between.

Age does not equate to knowledge, so don’t be put off by someone younger showing you around, holiday park life often means 60+ hours a week at work and that’s often more suited to the young or energetic! Ultimately, as long as the person who’s supporting you can answer your questions, you’re in good hands!

The more organised parks will often have a pre-planned experience for people who are there to look at purchasing a caravan or lodge – that might sound a bit staged – but it’s often just a company’s way of ensuring that no matter who you talk to you leave with all the information you need.

Why a step-by-step approach is important

Ideally, the person who’s showing you around will break your visit down into bite-size chunks – one step at a time.

The team behind holiday home buyer has been involved with discussing over 10,000 people’s buying experiences – some of which bought, some who didn’t! That collective knowledge has come together to recommend some ‘caravan park tour’ steps that look like this:

Step 1: Have a good look around

Look at the layout, get a feel for size, atmosphere, facilities and the different areas – being an owner on a park is often different to holidaying there, so even if you’ve been before, see if you can talk to the staff or other owners about the place.

Maybe these are relevant to you – maybe they’re not! Whatever happens – don’t be afraid to ask the questions that matter to you.

Step 2: Understand the yearly costs

Be certain that you get a breakdown of all the yearly costs involved with keeping a caravan on the park. These are almost always available to look at as well as to talk through.

Parks will often include some or all of the set-up costs and season’s bills when a caravan is purchased – this can be really useful as it means you’ve got some time before you have to start organising paying any bills.

The following will normally be included in your purchase price:

Some will include insurance and local rates too – and some may even include things like duvets, kettle, toaster etc, saving you a trip to Ikea!

Including even some of these things means your initial cash outlay is kept to a minimum, you’re not paying for a caravan then having to spend money on site fees for the rest of the season before you can start enjoying it.

Step 3: Have a look at some suitable caravans (and ways to pay for them!)

Most parks will insist that if you want to be on their park you buy a caravan that they have in their stock, whether that’s pre-owned or brand new.

Talking money

Before actually climbing into some caravans, the person you’re dealing with is going to need to know an upper limit you’d like to spend on your new lifestyle.

This can be a bit of an awkward time, we Brits don’t really like discussing our money with all and sundry!

Though there’s no reason to let talking about money be uncomfortable, we guarantee you there’s no judgement passed – every customer should be treated exactly the same and if you get the feeling you’re not – then a trip to another park might be in order!

Different ways to pay

There are a few different ways of paying for a caravan. We’ll explain them all in some detail.

Paying with cash

Although it’s quite rare – you may have the money saved that allows you to pay for the holiday home completely, in which case looking at the overall cost of the caravans for sale would be the angle to work from.

The law stipulates that large cash transactions have to be noted and reported upon – therefore, some parks won’t take actual cash in notes for sums over £14,000. It’s often safer to use a debit card.

Third party finance

A lot of people look at using what is often referred to as ‘third party finance’ – i.e. taking a loan through the bank, borrowing from family, etc.

This would effectively be dealt with by the park as a ‘cash’ transaction, however, if this is your intention there’s a couple of reasons why considering the third option – ‘specialist holiday home funding’ – might be worth looking at.

Specialist holiday home funding packages

Most parks will have a relationship with at least one or two specialist lenders.

In the same way lenders have mortgage departments or car finance departments; many also have holiday home funding packages available.

Interest rates vary – though they’re often comparable to those truly offered by your high-street bank (it’s amazing how many banks advertise super-low interest rates which seem to creep upward when you actually apply!)

The park will be able to talk to you about these packages in more detail. Don’t be put off the idea of ‘finance’ if you’re not sure about your credit rating or are in receipt of incapacity benefits relating to work. Finance companies will generally consider all circumstances when purchasing a holiday home and consider all sources of income, not just a monthly salary.

Cash deposits

Most (but not all) funding companies will insist on a customer providing a cash deposit.

This could be done as actual cash or come from a debit or credit card.

Don’t be put off if you’re asked if this is ‘available today’ – the person isn’t trying to pry the money out of your hand, caravans on larger parks tend to sell quickly, it’s useful for a park to know how quickly you’d be able to provide your deposit if you fell in love and they were to offer to reserve a caravan for you.

Finance examples

Some parks will be able to give you some examples of what your finance ‘spending power’ will get you. This is effectively a selection of caravans that fit within your deposit and monthly payment budget.

When you have established this budget – whether that’s the overall cost or a monthly payment and a deposit, the person you’re dealing with should be able to show you some holiday homes (often pre-owned, sometimes new, depending on the park and their stock) that fall into the price bracket.

Choosing the right caravan

Finally! We’ve got to the part where you get to think about caravans!

To beging with we’d urge you to have a look at the most cost-effective ways of joining the park – the most expensive caravan isn’t always going to be the one you fall in love with!

Even though this is an exciting time – you’re going to have to balance looking with your heart and looking with your head – falling in love with a two bedroom holiday home when you plan on bringing six children most of the time is going to be a headache going forward!

Caravans come in an almost infinite number of styles and layouts.

Unlike cars, there’s no real ‘Rolls Royce’ manufacturer – virtually all makers provide models to suit most budgets and design tastes.

Ask yourself some of these questions to help narrow the caravan choice down a little:

Have some fun as you look around! Sit on the seating, lay on the beds, see if you can reach the cupboards, work out if getting in and out of the shower will be practical!

These are all really important things – so don’t be afraid to spend some time looking for something that’s perfect for you!

Step 4: Decide where on the park you’d like your caravan to be

When you’ve had your wander around the park, did you see an area you liked?

Would you prefer to be close to the dog walk spots? Or perhaps away from the road so the kids are safe?

Again, the pitch location is going to be personal to you – though that might be limited to what the park has.

Get a feel for who’s going to be around you – you want peace and quiet but the family next door has fourteen grandkids? Might be worth a look at another location!

Maybe the park only has one pitch available, so would they consider moving you at a later date?

If parks don’t have a wide selection of pitches available they’ll normally be able to work something out with you to ensure you’re happy going forward.

What if something’s not quite right?

If at any point during your visit something crops up you’re not happy with, tell the person you’re dealing with. This is important – as it could be as simple as them forgetting to tell you something, though, if it’s not and their clarification means there’s something you’re definitely not going to be happy with, then explain that to the sales person.

There’s truly no point wasting your own time if you know there’s something that you’ve discussed that means that the park is not going to be right for you.

5. What happens if everything is perfect?!

The big moment! – If all of the things you’ve seen and heard fit in with your idea of a perfect holiday home, then now could be the time you begin to formalise plans with the park!

A salesperson will be able to talk to you about the next steps – this will initially focus payment – a park won’t start incurring costs relating to setting the caravan up until they’ve either had an agreement from the finance company, or have the funds from yourself.

That’s not to say planning can’t begin though, they will know timescales around the money side of things and will be able to arrange with you getting the finer details tied up, i.e. siting dates, moving in dates, etc.

Normally if a caravan is bought on a finance agreement you will need to provide some proof of ID upon signing your agreement. Some kind of photo ID (driving license, passport, etc) and one or two proofs of your address (utility bills, bank statements, etc) will normally fit the bill.

Don’t misunderstand though – this isn’t just the time for you to be giving the park all of your details – they should also be giving you copies of official paperwork at this stage. You should definitely receive a copy of their site charges – this documents every cost you’ll incur on the park and is good backup should you get any charges you’re not expecting.

You’ll probably get a copy of the park rules too. Take all these things away and read through them – don’t be afraid to call back and check with your salesperson if there’s something you’re not certain about.

Back at home

While you’re at home planning your first weekend as holiday home owners – the park will now be busy getting your caravan in place! It should be in the process of being moved, connected to the mains, tested by electricians and gas fitters and cleaned ready for your arrival on your big day! Don’t be afraid to give the park a call and see how things are going!

6. Finally! – Getting the keys!

Congratulations! You’re now a holiday home owner!

Hopefully the park will show you around the caravan and explain how a few things work, the boiler, the fold out bed, etc.

They’ll explain how to order extra gas bottles and what happens if the electricity goes off, as well as talking to you about any jobs that you might need doing in the future.

There’s a possibility that you might find the odd window or door moves slightly out of line as the caravan settles and you wander around, don’t worry about this kind of thing at all, it’s perfectly normal and the park will be able to rectify it without any disruption.

Don’t be afraid to report any little jobs that need to be done after you move in. It also gives you a chance to have a walk up to the office and have a look at the other caravans parked on the show ground. These have got great part-exchange deals available on them – but that’s a story for another day!

Looking for a 12-Month Park? Here’s a Few Things to Think About

The team here at HolidayHomeBuyer have worked in sales roles on holiday parks for over 15 years. During that time, there are certain questions you frequently hear from prospective owners – and perhaps the most common of those questions is “How long is the park open for?”

It’s completely understandable, after all, you want the longest possible season for your money, right?

Well, that’s one way of looking at it – but there are a few things to think about when you’re looking at the length of the season on the park. Those things include:

Here, we’ll take a detailed look at those questions (and more!) – so you can decide whether a park with a 12-month season is going to be right for you.

8 months, 10 months, 12 months – why the difference?

It’s useful to start a guide like this with a bit of background information.

As you explore the possibility of owning a static caravan, you’re going to find plenty of different season lengths. Generally, parks ‘open’ for business around the start of March – but when they close varies.

Some parks close at the end of October, some at the end of December – and some don’t close at all. To be honest, you’ll even find variations of these dates too – but generally, the end of October is the earliest a park will usually close.

So, why the difference in length of the season?

The answer depends on a lot of different things. It could be that the local authority outlines when the park can open and close. It may be that the park operator wants a period of maintenance time when there are no members of the public on-site. Then again, it could also be that the park operator sees the appeal of a park that never closes.

However long your park is open for; you’ll find that holidaymakers can usually only make bookings between roughly March and October. Therefore, even if your park’s open on Christmas day, it’s probably only going to be holiday home owners (and perhaps a handful of private renters) that will be on site. 

You might not think the holiday season will make much of a difference to your experience on a holiday park – but in actual fact, it’s one of the first things we’re going to look at if you’re considering a park with a long season…

When do the park’s facilities open?

We now know that there are plenty of different season lengths for you to look at – but just because there’s a big sign that says “12 month season!” near the caravan sales office doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to be able to take a dip in the pool after your Christmas dinner.

The reason? Well, like most things; it comes down to money.

As a holidaymaker spending a couple of weeks on a holiday park, your purse strings tend to be quite loose. Kids or grandkids (or both!) are happy to keep asking for money to spend in the arcade – and eating great pub-grub and fish and chips in the facilities every night is well worth it to enjoy your short stay. 

The park experience for holiday home owners is often a bit different though. People who’ve opted to buy a caravan on the site tend to spend more time in their caravan than holidaymakers might – and they generally spend less money and time in the park’s facilities. What’s more, caravan owners tend to use the park at weekends more than through the mid-week – so most of the people enjoying the entertainment mid-week are likely to be holidaymakers.

Understandably therefore, the park’s bars, pools, and restaurants tend to make the most money during the holiday season. In fact, when you consider the costs involved with keeping entertainment and leisure facilities open and staffed, it often just can’t happen unless there’s a never-ending stream of holidaymakers through the door.

What does this mean for holiday home owners on 12-month parks? 

In truth, it generally means the park facilities won’t be open after October.

Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, you’ve bought a holiday home in a beautiful part of the country with lots to do locally – but it is worth knowing. If you’re buying a holiday home entirely for the social aspect, you might want to look at smaller ‘owners only’ parks with an on-site pub or leisure facilities that are open all year. Then again, if you’re happy with a few quiet months when the nights draw in, then a 12-month season with reduced facilities might suit you perfectly.

Either way – whether you’re looking at an 8-month or 12-month park (or anything in between), you’ll find that access to the park facilities is often the same across the board.

Is your caravan suitable for 12-month use?

As UK residents, you don’t need telling that it gets seriously cold after the clocks go back. Sure, there might be the odd sunny weekend in November, but generally, it’s never t-shirt weather between the end of October the end of February.

The thing is, most static caravans on the market are designed to be holiday homes. Sure, some have double-glazing and central heating – but they tend to be at the upper end of the price bracket. When you’re just starting out, a single-glazed caravan with a single fire/heater tends to be the most budget-friendly option.

The question is, do you fancy a weekend away in a cold caravan in early-January?

If your Ancestry DNA test confirms you’re related to a long line of Norwegian deep-sea fishermen then the idea of a frosty weekend away might sound like heaven – but for most people, it really takes the edge off a nice break. 

If you’re absolutely certain that you’ll visit your caravan all year round, then buying a double-glazed and central heated caravan on a 12-month park is a great plan – but a more basic holiday home might not be practical through the winter months. With this in mind, a park with a shorter season often works really well – stay snug at home when it’s frosty – and use your holiday home when the sun reappears around Easter.

What happens on a park during the winter?

We work with a number of holiday parks that close to holidaymakers and caravan owners during the winter months, even though the local authority has granted them permission to stay open.

Why?

Well, it’s often to do with what’s happening on the park after November. 

Take a wander around any holiday park and you’re likely to see beautifully cut grass, pretty flower beds, and neatly arranged caravans – as well as well-equipped and well-presented facilities. It doesn’t happen by magic though – in much the same way that retail staff are frantically preparing amazing Boxing Day sales over Christmas, holiday park teams are often hard at work getting the park looking great during the winter months. 

(We should know, we’ve been there – with our wellies and gloves on!)

Holiday parks go into winter-maintenance mode when the holidaymakers go away. Pools close to have works carried out on the huge amount of equipment that runs behind the scenes; underground infrastructure work is carried out on water, gas, and electric supplies, and caravans are moved, re-sited, and upgraded. For some holiday park teams, the winter months are their busiest time. 

On a 12-month season, you should expect a lot of this work to be carried out around you. Again, this is often absolutely fine – after all, if the facilities are closed, you’re likely to have your feet up with Netflix on – or be out and about doing things locally. On the other hand, don’t think you’re missing out if you opt for a site with a shorter season – those closed months give the park operators time to make sure the place is looking great when the season rolls around again. 

What’s right for you?

Now we’ve looked at a few pros and cons of various season lengths; it’s worth thinking about what it is you’re hoping to get from a static caravan holiday home. 

For some people, a 12-month season is an absolute must. 

For others, 8 or 9 months of possible holidays and breaks is perfectly adequate.

Generally, you’re going to have a more comfortable time in winter in a caravan that’s equipped for the colder parts of the year – so if you’re thinking about a budget-friendly first caravan that’s single glazed and only has a single heater, you’ll probably get the best use out of it through the spring, summer, and autumn periods anyway. 

It’s also worth keeping in mind that even the most well-insulated caravans generally need to be ‘winterised’ through the coldest months too (having the water and heating systems drained and filled with anti-freeze) – and some insurers will insist that this is done. It’s a lot of legwork to undo and redo this work if you just fancy a weekend away in December.

The message is this:

A 12-month season might look like an attractive prospect – but it’s not always practical. In most cases, an 8- or 9-month season is just as enjoyable. 

Don’t be put off a park if the season’s a little shorter than you think is ideal. With the right caravan and the right park, it can be nice having Christmas dinner in your little countryside retreat – but there’s also a lot to be said for snuggling up at home during the winter, then getting excited when the season begins again in March.