Where do people park RVs when they're not using the RV?
July 1, 2022 12:34 PM   Subscribe

We're exploring the idea of getting an RV or travel trailer at some point in the future. It's all new to us, and one of the first questions we are grappling with is, where do you park such a huge vehicle for long periods of time when you're not using it? Our Southern California city has an ordinance against parking large vehicles on the street, and our house doesn't have a big enough garage or yard. What do other people do?

Apart from the question of legal parking, another concern is safety and security: if it's not in our sight and not in a residential area, then it seems to us there would be a risk of theft or vandalism. Also, keeping it shaded from the relentless California sun would be desirable. And finally, cost is a consideration. Preliminary Googling led me to find that "rv storage" appears to be a thing, but the two potential places near us (they don't have great websites, so it's a bit hard to be sure) seem to charge $400+/month, which … seems like a lot?
posted by StrawberryPie to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (18 answers total)
do you know anyone who has a larger piece of property? I know lots of RV owners and they all pretty much have access to some major acreage (their own or a friends) to park the RV on.
posted by supermedusa at 12:46 PM on July 1, 2022 [3 favorites]

Storage places usually don't have abundant space or shade. If you're on facebook there are several groups of RVers and people who travel and camp in cars, SUVs, and minivans; I've learned a lot from such groups.

-RVs get terrrible gas mileage
-RVs that are stored have mold and rodent infestation problems
-Trailers require a vehicle strong enough to tow them (duh)
-Pop-up campers are lighter
-Since covid camping sites have become difficult to find

It may be cheaper to just rent one if you're just planning some short trips. Definitely rent one before you buy, you may end up not liking it. Or you may decide to use a tent, convert a minivan, or whatever.
posted by mareli at 12:49 PM on July 1, 2022 [13 favorites]

oh yes, mareli is so right about the mold and rodent issues. DO NOT leave food in a parked RV and try to accommodate some ventilation. they can get nasty :(
posted by supermedusa at 1:02 PM on July 1, 2022

Best answer: I live in MT, where RVs and trailers and boats are abundant. And there's non stop commercials right now since it's travel season. (I think 4+ houses on our street have had RVs at one point or another this year.) The secret (if they're not parked on the property) is RV storage lots. You pay a monthly or yearly or whatever term fee to park it on a big lot somewhere at the edge of town. That's really it. Either it's on your property somewhere, someone else's property, or you're paying a fee to park it. I'd go with renting one.
posted by Crystalinne at 1:02 PM on July 1, 2022 [10 favorites]

My Mom built a garage that is, by volume, 3-4x larger than her house for hers (and a bunch of other stuff and a guest space).
posted by rockindata at 1:05 PM on July 1, 2022

I'm hoping to do a school bus or shuttle bus conversion at some point, and I've got a gentlemen's agreement with a friend to park my future whip on his land when the thing is not in use. Without that option, I'm not sure I would do it at all. Even with that option, I'm probably waiting until I can get semi-retired and hit the road more than a couple weeks a year.

In the meantime, I've got a Toyota Sienna that I have used since COVID for solo camping trips. With the back row folded down and the second row seats removed, I've got enough room for a twin bed and a small kitchen at the very back. Lots of people do a double bed so they've got room for two; a regular full/double mattress fits perfectly. I really like performance driving, and my kids are grown up now, so #minivanlife is not my instinctive choice. But my family all agree that the Sienna is the best road trip vehicle going. Spacious, comfortable, reliable, and you can go just about anywhere (except off road) with it.

We've done a popup trailer in the past, and had a household garage where we could store it. Even that took up a lot of garage space for the limited amount of use we got from it. I see on preview that rockindata wrote about his Mom's garage. People also do the "barndominium" thing, but I'm guessing not in southern California.

All this to say, I love outdoor adventures too, and I'm just trying to keep my equipment choices lined up with the realities of my life as I go along. The "realities of my life" bit is always the sticking point.
posted by sockshaveholes at 1:10 PM on July 1, 2022 [3 favorites]

Definitely, definitely rent an RV for a few weeks before you commit to buying one. Seriously look into costs of ownership. If you’re only using it 2–3 times per year, renting may be cheaper in the long run once you add up all the maintenance costs - not just storage but tires, engine repairs, etc.
posted by gnutron at 1:16 PM on July 1, 2022 [7 favorites]

As a word of caution in some places it is not even legal to park RV's in your own driveway or yard.
posted by mrgoldenbrown at 1:18 PM on July 1, 2022 [6 favorites]

I'm in LA and the people I know who do this have their RVs parked at storage places quite a ways away from where they live -- one facility is in Sunland. Not sure how much they pay but I'm sure it's only feasible in industrial-type neighborhoods.
posted by BlahLaLa at 1:34 PM on July 1, 2022 [3 favorites]

Best answer: My parents have had a trailer (just to be clear about terms: an RV you pull with a car/truck/van w a big enough engine) since I was a baby. They have lived in an average middle class single fam home in west LA my entire 40-*"## years and kept each trailer in their driveway. My 76 year old Dad uses a motorized trailer dolley to back the RV into place. So that might be an option?
Otherwise, all their other friends in LA/LA county keep their trailers in storage where people keep boats in storage, etc.
My folks email and are chill. Memail if you like, and I'll figure out how to explain how I met you and I'll hook you up re all the trailer advice.
(Also, there are no trailers to buy, but that's an entirely separate issue)
posted by atomicstone at 1:34 PM on July 1, 2022 [1 favorite]

With respect to the shade question, around me (Bay Area) people use gigantic car cover fabrics that are designed to fit their model of RV. They appear to be a giant pain in the ass to install but they do work and they even have special thingies to cover the tires.
posted by aramaic at 1:46 PM on July 1, 2022 [2 favorites]

In the SoCal city I'm in, people turn like 2/3 of their front yards into driveways for various types of vehicles, so that's the most common way. Where backyards are bigger and accessible, they put a parking pad back there.

RV storage is also available - look slightly or much farther east and it'll be more like $200 a month.
posted by The_Vegetables at 1:51 PM on July 1, 2022 [1 favorite]

My cousin, who lived in an apartment in Sydney, hired her beast of an RV out when she wasn't using it herself. Besides the substantial hire money, the best thing about hiring it out was not paying for storage.
Eg. rvshare.com
posted by Thella at 4:16 PM on July 1, 2022

One place to look for storage is private campgrounds, like not a govt campsite. Many of them have cheaper outdoor storage areas on the outsides of their campgrounds.
posted by aetg at 7:35 PM on July 1, 2022

Best answer: We used a storage shed on my in-laws' property for our fifth-wheel. During the camping season we had room in our driveway to pack and inspect it before a trip.
Be cautious about reliance on another person's land, since that can change without warning.
Otherwise, this is what RV storage facilities are for.

Unfortunately, "lot rot" and vehicle maintenance issues are common over time, since many RVs are used most heavily during the first year. After that trailers and motor homes become havens for wasps, mice, squirrels and other critters.
Roofs and windows leak, tires crack (UV rays are damaging), and heat and humidity take their toll on the interior.
Plumbing systems must be maintained and sometimes winterized.
Be very careful about removing perishables from the kitchen and bathroom.
Batteries can leak, especially in hot locations.

Seconding using rented or borrowed units for a while until the post-lockdown travel climate has changed. Driving an RV is an expensive choice at this time.
Depending on your vacation goals, a fuel-efficient vehicle is an alternative.
posted by TrishaU at 8:18 PM on July 1, 2022 [1 favorite]

Anyplace covered is going to be expensive. You can get caps for them that will provide some protection.
posted by Candleman at 9:56 PM on July 1, 2022

Best answer: Before my dad became a permanent RV resident, he used to store it at a storage facility (like, your regular storage unit kinda place) that was fenced in with security code needed to access, and had space for uncovered vehicle storage in the back of the lot. So maybe look into your suburban storage units to see if they have parked storage.
posted by greta simone at 2:02 PM on July 2, 2022

My spouse bought the RV he did (a Winnebago Solis) in no small part because it fits in driveways and large parking spaces. He looked into RV parking near us and couldn't find a place with openings.
posted by potrzebie at 11:28 PM on July 2, 2022

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