Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Caravan Economics

I'm trying to figure out if I've missed something here but I'm struggling to work out how owning a caravan adds up.

This isn't to say that going and staying in a caravan isn't a good idea, as in going to a site and staying in a van that's already there, but I can't figure out the math of owning one.

Here's where I think people go wrong: if you look at the price of a holiday in a nice resort, you see that it costs maybe £1200/WK for a static and you're like... spend £20k, get it back over a few years. But the kicker is that half the price of that £1200 is site fees. So, you save maybe £600/WK. How many weeks do you have to now go away to cover the cost?

Right, and now you've got to tow it, which reduces your speed and mpg. You've got to pay more for your crossing, more for your insurance. And storage.

The rent-a-van model seems to make much more sense. Someone buys a van, pays for it to sit on a site and then splits it across many users, taking a profit from each. If the van costs even £50k, they can split it across 8 families each summer, charge each a grand (plus some off-peak rentals) and make a


Mark In Mayenne said...

Agree. Same with camper vans. You could buy a nice Jag and stay in hotels with the money left over.

Mark Wadsworth said...

... and make a what?

The Stigler said...


Realised the second sentence was redundant.

They're even worse. They're like TV/VCR combos. The engine packs up youve not just lost your transport but also your accommodation.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Yes, agreed.

All that schlepping of caravans is a real cost in terms of time, fuel, storage on driveway etc.

If the caravan stays in place and people move, then costs have been saved and they can be split between site owner and holiday maker for mutual benefit.

The Thought Gang said...

I guess there's some capital value to be returned at some point.. but not enough to tip any scales.

What's the UEL/depreciation rate on a caravan? Better than car.. but not hugely so I'd guess.. so maybe 20% p/a reducing balance? That means you only get £6.5k back if you sell after five years.

If you want your economic case, you need to put a value on familiarity. There must be an inherent conservatism in people who choose that path.. they may like to roam free.. but they appreciate having their own little box with them at the end of the day, and being less reliant on others to provide them the comforts they desire. For that, they pay a premium.

Bayard said...

MiM, I have a friend who went onto eBay to buy a camper van and ended up buying a house in France for the same money. OK it wasn't in very good nick, but still...

Mark Wadsworth said...

And of course, 12 families each spending one week in the same van instead of 12 families having one caravan which they use for a week means a huge reduction in the number of caravans. I missed that of my first list.

TTG, yes, familiarity is nice, but they could just have standard caravans with standard interiod design and utensils, so if you like the "Oxford" layout, you take a holiday in one of those and you know exactly where everything is, where the knives and forks and lightswitches are, how the brackets for the table work etc.

Bruce said...

Agree. Am no fan of caravans, but a couple of reasons in their favour:

Some people take quite a few holidays and long weekends in them each year. The ability to do so fits in the the (semi-)retired age profile of the typical touring caravan owner. And decisions to do so can be left very late on, maybe dependent on the weather forecast.

Pets (dogs)and "personalisation".

The Stigler said...


Familiarity isnt a problem with the big statics anyway. Light switches, plugs, showers and toilets are like the ones in a house.

That's when it works. When you're using a van a lot, like 5 or 6 times a year. Even then, you can rent cottages for a weekend off-season for £200.