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Is this the cheapest way to own a holiday home?

Should I buy a static caravan? It’s a question we were asking ourselves again and again before taking the plunge!

Is it a static caravan? Or is it the cheapest and easiest way to own a luxury holiday home? I’ll go for the latter. But yes, it’s still a caravan.

If you follow me on social media you’ll already know that Sam and I recently bought a static caravan in the gorgeous seaside town of Abersoch on the Llyn Peninsular in Wales.

Buying a static caravan was a big decision for us.

Static caravans are expensive and, if you’re looking at it from a purely financial perspective, they’re not a good way to invest your money as they deteriorate in value so quickly.

But, as a family who wouldn’t be able to afford a bricks and mortar holiday home, a static caravan was the best option for us.

Since sharing the news about buying a static caravan, I’ve had lots of questions about buying a static caravan and how we did it and why we did it etc, so I thought I’d answer all your questions here! If you have any more questions about buying a static caravan then please do leave them in the comments below or send me an email and I’ll do my very best to answer.

^ I gave up on trying to take photos without a child or a dog doing something weird!

What’s it like to own a static caravan?

Wouldn’t it be lovely to go on holiday every single weekend?

To go somewhere beautiful and somewhere that’s usually sunny – but still only two hours from home. Somewhere you can drive to so you don’t need to worry about the extra time and expense of flying (and you can take the dog!)

And when you arrive all your stuff is already there!

All your clothes and favourite things are ready and waiting.

Your favourite wine is already chilled in the fridge, the book you started last weekend is there, the kid’s toys are all there and their favourite blankets are on their beds and their best PJs and bedtime stories are there waiting. Even the dog has a little bed waiting by the fire with his ball and bone inside.

You know all your neighbours and they greet you with a friendly wave and a smile. They ask how your week was and you all agree you’re happy to be back on holiday.

There’s no stress, no hassle, no worries and you’re straight into holiday mode. You don’t need a day to settle in and find your feet. You are on holiday the second you arrive.

This is exactly what it’s like with our static caravan in Abersoch.

And THIS is what encouraged us to finally take the plunge and buy one!

Now I’m the first to admit that I was a static caravan skeptic. I didn’t understand it all.

Why would you pay THAT much money for one? (I’ll get on to how much money THAT MUCH is later!)

Why would you opt to stay in what is basically a posh shed? And why would you keep going on holiday to the same place when there’s a whole world to explore?

The simple answer for me is this: The kids.

Static caravans are an amazing way to holiday with kids and we definitely wouldn’t have bought one if we didn’t have children.

Sam grew up with a static caravan and spent most weekends with his family near the beach. It sounds like such a dreamy, idyllic childhood. His entire summer was one long holiday.

There are lots of kids on our caravan site and every single one of them just seems so flipping happy. They’re constantly outside so they’re all sporty and slim and tanned. They’re not indoors haunched over iPads; they’re on the beach, swimming in the sea, chasing their dogs, surfing and getting up to mischief like kids are meant to!

This is what I want my kids to do!

Sam and I work Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays (yes, we mostly work a 3 day week and we have a 4-day weekend!) so we usually drive up to our caravan on a Thursday evening and return on a Monday afternoon. We get to spend a 4 day weekend there and we love it and it genuinely feels like we’re on holiday every time we arrive.

We leave all our stresses at home and spend the weekend doing holiday stuff. We go to the beach, go for walks, go for picnics, go out for dinner, go shopping, go to the pub (it has a great play park so it’s not just for us!), we have BBQs with our friends, we cook, we play and have movie nights snuggled on the sofa with the boys. But mostly, we just spend time as a family in a way that we don’t at home.

I honestly and genuinely don’t know why it isn’t this simple and relaxing at home. We can do all of these things at home (except the beach bit because our nearest beach is hideous) but it just isn’t the same!

^ Views from our bedroom window

Buying a static caravan: Should I buy a static caravan?

For us, it was the cheapest and easiest way to have the closest thing to a holiday home as we could afford.

That’s basically it.

We did toy with the idea of buying an actual holiday home which, admittedly, is a much better investment. But there were a few reasons why we didn’t go down that route.

  1. We can’t afford one – that’s a biggy!
  2. Houses involve a lot of maintenance and we’d end up spending every weekend doing all the house jobs we’re trying to escape at home.
  3. We could rent it out but we actually want to be in it for the majority of the summer or spontaneously think, ‘It’s sunny this weekend, let’s go to the beach!’ You can’t do that if it’s rented out for most of the summer.

Buying a static caravan: Should I buy a static caravan or a touring caravan?

It really depends if you want to be in one place or tour around. We started off with a tourer and drove it around but we quickly realised this was actually quite hard work, especially with two little kids (our boys were aged 1 and 3 when we got it).

We’d imagined we’d drive somewhere pretty, find a campsite, park up the caravan and, hey presto, you’re all set and your home is ready and waiting. But the reality wasn’t like that at all.

Firstly, campsites get booked up quickly so you have to be really organised and book a long way in advance. Yep, no spontaneous weekend breaks here unless you don’t mind staying somewhere a bit shit.

Secondly, it was taking us hours to get set up. You have to level the caravan, set up the awning, hook up the water and gas and electrics and entertain a baby and a toddler at the same time! For two adults in a small van it wouldn’t take long but Sam basically had a large van and a large awning on his own because I always had my hands full with the boys – who were at an age where they couldn’t just entertain themselves for an hour (especially after a long drive).

If we left after work on a Friday it was 9pm before we were settled – by this time we had two overtired children and everyone was stressed and grumpy.

So the following year we decided to site the caravan for a whole summer and keep it in one place. We sited it in Abersoch and LOVED it. We loved ease and simplicity of having everything ready and waiting and absolutely adored Abersoch.

But the novelty of being squished into a caravan was wearing off. If we were doing it once a month it wouldn’t have been so bad but we were going almost every weekend. There wasn’t enough space and we all kept each other awake at night so we’d be tired and naggy the next day. This wasn’t feeling like a holiday.

The more we fell in love with Abersoch, the more we realised we’d want to be here the next year and the next, so we started looking at static caravans rather than tourers. It seemed silly to have a tourer we never toured and we realised that for an extra £10k, we could have something 5x the size.

Sam had been keeping his eye on second hand statics for sale in Abersoch. There really wasn’t a lot around so when one popped up that was within our budget we excitedly went to have a look and bought on instantly.

To put it simply, a touring caravan feels a lot like fancy glamping. A static caravan feels a lot like a slightly shitter holiday home.

^How we spend most weekends

Friends + Beach + Beers = Happiness

How much does a static caravan cost?

Prices can vary enormously.

A new static caravan can cost anywhere between about £30,000 and £250,000.

Our new caravan is near a place called The Warren where static caravan prices start from £219,000.

Of course, you’re not really just paying for the caravan, you’re paying for all the facilities you get to access – things like epic spas and swimming pools and lovely grounds and beaches.

How much does a second hand static caravan cost?

Anyway, we bought ours second hand for £25,000 and it’s 9 years old. When it came to choosing the actual caravan, we really didn’t have many options within our price range so we’ve ended up with a Pemberton Serena which is lovely so it worked out well!

Additional costs involved when buying a static caravan

Once you’ve bought your static caravan you need to pay site fees to keep it somewhere. Our site fees are a little over £3,000 a year but, again, site fees vary massively depending on the facilities available and the location of the site.

Our caravan site is in a stunning location but it doesn’t have any facilities other than a laundry room, a play park, a dog field and boat storage. Sites that offer pools and spas, cafes, restaurants, play areas, tennis courts etc will be considerably more (more like £6,000-£12,000 a year).

Most caravan sites close for the winter to avoid paying extra tax. Ours is open March until October but some of the more expensive ones are open for longer.

We also have to pay for our insurance, gas, electric and water at the end of the year.

How long can you keep a static caravan?

One thing to be aware of when you buy a static caravan is that you can’t keep it forever. They obviously don’t last forever because, at the end of the day, it’s not much more than a fancy shed, but some sites require you to upgrade every 10 years. Our site requires us to upgrade after 15 years – although we have been told that it could be longer if your van is kept in good condition (and I think if you’re liked on the site it can make a big difference too!)

So it’s not cheap!

Technically, we have 6 years left before we need to upgrade so it’s essentially costing us just over £4,000 per year for the van and £3,000 site fees. That’s £7,000 per year for the van and the site fees.

With bills, you’re talking about £8,000 per year.

You can only use it for 8 months per year, so that’s £1,000 per month!

Yikes, that’s the first time I’ve worked it out like that!

Is a static caravan worth the cost?

Essentially, the answer to that big old question – should I buy a static caravan?

It is expensive but I still think it’s worth it. We’re currently spending most of our time at our caravan and many of the families on our site spend all the school holidays there and every other weekend during term time.

Apparently, the average UK family of 4 will spend £4,792 on a two week holiday (source here) so it’s really only like having two family holidays a year. Most kids get 13 weeks off school and if you spend 8-10 of those at the caravan it’s really kind of cheap…sort of…kind of. Can you see I’m trying to justify it to myself here?

Other initial costs when buying a static caravan

Other initial costs to be aware of is the cost of kitting out a static caravan.

Static caravans come with all the furniture as well as little bits of decor like matching cushions and pictures on the wall.

You’ll need everything like bedding and towels, TVs, kitchen appliances like a kettle and toaster (most come with a proper oven and hob, dishwasher, microwave and a big fridge freezer and some have a washing machine).

If you want decking and a BBQ area that’s extra and most people have a garden shed too for all the beach stuff you’re going to accumulate!

When kitting out a static caravan you’ll need to buy:

  • Bedding
  • Towels
  • Second hair dryer?
  • Main TV
  • Bedroom TV(s)
  • Kettle
  • Toaster
  • Cups, classes, plates, bowls etc
  • Knives and forks
  • Kitchen utensils
  • Chopping boards
  • Pots and pans
  • Serving dishes
  • BBQ
  • Outdoor storage box or shed?
  • Outdoor furniture

For us, we had most of these things at home or were able to get them from family members. My parents had loads of old serving dishes and Sam’s parents downsized and gave us loads of glasses and mugs and pots and pans.

Our main expense was the outdoor furniture.

Where would you buy a static caravan?

This is going to be a personal one for everyone but here’s how we decided on Abersoch:

  • It’s a 2 hour drive from home
  • We have friends there already and know a few people who have caravans in the area
  • It’s beautiful
  • It has its own little microclimate and the weather is often better than other areas in Wales
  • There are plenty of bars and restaurants
  • There’s lots to do

When it came to finding a campsite our criteria was:

  • Close to the beach
  • Close to town
  • Affordable
  • Doesn’t allow rentals – we didn’t want somewhere where the neighbours could rent out their static caravan as a holiday let as you could end up next door to anyone

Abersoch and the site we’re on tick every box for us. A part of me would have liked a site with more facilities like swimming pools and private beaches but that would have been way out of our price range and Abersoch Beach is incredible anyway!

Do you have any more questions about buying a static caravan? If you do, please leave them in the comments below!

Read more: Owning a static caravan: The pros and cons

Source: thetravelhack.com

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