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What to Know Before Owning a Campground

Updated on December 14, 2010

A Small Business Opportunity

Are you tired of the city life and looking for a better way to make a living or to even semi-retire? If you are considering buying leisure property, why not consider purchasing a campground? Though they are not for sale as frequently as business building or a home, purchasing a campground is possible with a little research and planning.


Talk to campground owners of all sizes of campgrounds. If you are considering the life of a campground owner, start your research by talking to other campground owners. Ask them about day to day activities as well as unexpected problems they have ran into as campground owners. Match your expectations of campground ownership with the insights of other campground owners.


Attend a convention for campground owners. Information is the best defense against a poor decision. Check the internet for the location and dates of campground owner conventions, associations that offer memberships, RV and Campground owner shows, and camping product shows. Attend as many shows and conventions as possible so that you can get a real feel for what campground owners do and how they live. Living the quite life in the woods while taking care of a few camper and cabins sounds fun and relaxing, but there is so much more to consider. Do you homework before you write a down payment on that cute campground you stayed at last summer.


Determine what location of campground you would be most comfortable with. Do you want to run a winter campground in the southwest or a lake and forest hiking campground in the mountains? What climate are you most comfortable in? Consider if that is where you want to live year long or is the climate such that you can only live there a few months of the year.


Gather information about the campground. After you have selected a region, found a campground you are interested in purchasing, you need to determine the true cost of living and owning the campground you have chosen. Talk to the current owners and ask hundreds of questions. Obtain income and expense information for the previous three years. Speak to the current owner and ask to see his monthly budget and if possible his projections of future expenses. Bring a friend or partner with you so you can compare notes after the meeting and consider what additional information you need.


Estimate the costs, fees, maintenance, and other expenses of owning a campground. Each campground owner will have monthly fees, such as mortgage or land payment, land use fees, permits, electricity, road maintenance fee, restroom maintenance fees, water usage, roof repairs, etc. Also check into the cost of hiring grounds keepers, plumbers, or other employees you need to keep the campground running. This should give you a better understanding of what the campground actually costs per month to run.


Determine the profitability of the campground. How many guests do you have to have in order to cover your expenses as well as make a comfortable living for yourself? Can you increase your profit margin by adding more guests or will additional guest simple increase your monthly expenses? Determine if any improvements to the campground are needed and if so, will the improvements bring in more money? Create a business plan and be prepared to show it to your accountant and banker. They can help you determine if the venture is a wise one.


Compare similar campgrounds. To make sure your expenses and selling price are set appropriately, check other campgrounds for their annual expenses and costs. Consider the location and the cost of the land, any state or county policy differences and requirements, including any law enforcement or park and recreation guidelines. No two campgrounds have the same features, locations, number of guests, etc, and this should be reflected in the operating costs of the campgrounds.


Make sure you have enough capital to purchase and maintain the campground. The number one reason campgrounds struggle is lack of capital and paying too much for the purchase. If the campground purchases are not well thought out, the purchaser may under-budget the cost of the purchase. If you do your homework, gather all your expense information and compare similar campgrounds, you will most likely avoid this problem.


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      Harvey 8 years ago

      Great tips on preparing to by a campground!