In this day and age it can be difficult making a choice like buying a house, a car and even a new mobile phone, there’s so much choice and information out there on the market it can be hard to narrow it down.
When you’re looking for the perfect holiday home you can be faced with a lot of information, and find yourself speaking to lots of different sales people, or relying on knowledge from family, friends or even strangers. As a result you can be somewhat in the dark about the whole thing and lack the real knowledge needed to make a good decision.
You might come to the conclusion that you can’t afford it or you’re not sure about the credit you might need. If this is what you’re currently thinking, then read on.
This guide will explain everything you need to know:
One of the largest purchases you will make in your lifetime can be a holiday home, whether it is a static caravan or lodge so you want to make sure that you are making all the right decisions. You want to know where to look, where to buy, what to buy and who to buy from in order to ensure you have made the right decision because it can mean the difference between your dream holiday home experience and a disaster.
So before diving headlong into a rash decision you should take some time to read through this guide first. The good news is finding a nice caravan is actually really easy! First the trickiest part, location.
Location is very important and should be one of the first things you look in to. Where do you want your holiday home to be? By the seaside, in the depths of the countryside, close to family? Do you want an escape from your local area? Click here to see our Map of holiday parks throughout the UK
Depending on where you want your holiday home to be it, we suggest you aim for an area within a one to two hour car journey from your home. It means you don’t have an extended and tiring journey to make and you can easily return home should an emergency arise.
You don’t need a car to enjoy the holiday home lifestyle! There are plenty of great locations that can be accessed by train or bus – and if you plan in advance you can snag some really great travel deals!
Take out your map and pick out some areas that you might be interested in that are within your planned travel distance from your home.
What do you like to do when you’re on holiday? Do you have specific interests that might require a certain type of location? This could sway you when you’re making your decision on location.
There isn’t a lot of sailing in the Yorkshire Dales and you might struggle with mountaineering in Norfolk, this will help you shorten your list of locations and possibly highlight others.
If you have a location in mind then next step is to consider the kind of park you would like your holiday home to be on.
Here you need to think about what you enjoy doing with your time and what each park offers you in respect to that. We have supported hundreds of people who are considering different parks and this is what we’ve found to be the most common considerations:
The best way to get these questions answered would be to talk to check out websites for parks and you can call them directly.
Telephoning a park is a quick and easy way to get the answers you need and it’s also useful to see how the park deals with you as a potential customer so it can give you a good feel for the place. Alternatively, just contact Sell My Group who will contact them on your behalf.
If you are contacting the park directly, these are things to look out for:
With smaller parks you may end up speaking to the owner, larger parks tend to have sales teams. While sales people are obviously there to ‘make the sale’ don’t worry and take your time. At the end of the day any decision will be your decision.
You are not wasting anyone’s time by taking your time. You are there to seek out information in order to make an informed decision so make sure you take enough time. No need to rush. Remember, it’s OK to say that a park is not right for you and your needs.
Before you run off to take a look around a park in person you need to be aware of the running costs and understand that you need to look at the total annual costs not just compare each element.
Here’s a list of the different terms you will come across and what they mean:
The total of these items can cost from £1,000 to over £10,000 for the top of the line parks.
On average your overall annual costs can be somewhere between £3,000 and £6,000.
The cost your site fees relate to the level of service and facilities on the park.
For £1,000 per year then it’s likely you will be getting a very basic service in return. For those at the high end you could get a comprehensive leisure club or lakeside mooring. It’s important to know that there are usually ways of offsetting these costs: (See our more information on site fees here)
The majority of parks will allow you to let your caravan and some will even manage the rentals for you. So you can make a small secondary income by renting out your holiday home when you’re not using it. You can then use this money to offset some the yearly fees, or sometimes they even pay it off completely!
“Letting out my holiday home makes me uncomfortable…”
This is a common reservation. You might be thinking “it will not be looked after” or “it might get damaged”.
We talk with lots of holiday parks and in their experience accidental damage rare and wilful damage is extremely rare.
Damage occurring is an extremely unlikely outcome and it’s also massively outweighed by the potential benefit of renting out. Speak to a few parks about their experience as this could mean the difference between settling for a park you’re not 100% happy with and getting your dream park where your costs are offset by letting.
If a park has a subletting service then they usually have the right facilities in place to help you if a wine stain appears on a carpet! Remember, accidents do happen, and they are much easier to swallow if your running costs are paid for! (See our more information on static caravan rental here).
If you have a limit that you’re fixed on don’t be too put off if the park you’ve set your heart on is ever so slightly higher than that. In our experience it is much better to decide on a cost you can justify when you’re stood soaking in the atmosphere.
Making appointments are the best way to ensure that there is someone who can dedicate time to showing you around the park, answer all your questions and show you some holiday homes. Making an appointment does not mean you are obliged to buy, no matter how much time you spend there.
You’re visiting the park to obtain as much relevant information you require and to see whether or not this park is for you.
Allow plenty of time to look around each park and extra time to look at the local area. Every park will be different – some will want to escort you around and other will be more than happy letting you loose on your own.
Make sure you investigate the local area whilst you’re there too. The park team have first-hand information that your personal exploration can only add to.
A great question to ask yourself is “Can I see myself spending time here”.
They are just like all other sales people, with varied approaches, varied sales pitches etc.
Knowledge doesn’t necessarily come from years of experience. There lots of young sales people out there with a vast amount of holiday park information. As long as the person showing you around is answering your questions, you’re in perfectly good hands.
Large holiday sites tend to have a set plan for introducing potential new customers to their parks and it’s usually very comprehensive and well worth going with it.
Being an owner on a park can be different to just holidaying there, so even if you have been to the park before, see if you can talk to other owners. Find out about:
Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you can!
Ask for a breakdown of the annual costs to keep a static caravan on their park.
Some parks use incentives to tempt potential buyers, one of which is to roll in the first year’s fees with the purchase price. This is a great help when budgeting your first year’s costs.
Some of the things that may be included in your purchase price are:
Sometimes insurance and local rates may be included, as well as things like bedding, kitchen essentials etc. By including these kinds of things your initial cash outlay is reduced. Don’t forget to ask if they can be included to close the deal.
Most parks will insist that you buy a caravan from them in order to be on their park. That’s normal practise and you will find that they are probably tied to one or two caravan manufacturers.
The person you are dealing with will want to know your price limit so that they can try provide you with the best advice. Don’t let talking about money deter you, be straight forward whether you’re buying a top of the range with chandeliers or a cute chintz log cabin.
There are different ways you can pay for a caravan:
It doesn’t need to be pricey in order for you to fall in love with it!
You need to make sure you are choosing a static caravan or lodge with a balance of head and heart!
Both static caravans and lodges can come in many varied styles and layouts, and a variety of budgets and designs.
Ask yourself these questions in order to narrow your choice down:
Test “drive” all potential caravans to make sure you take the opportunity to try the seating out, lay on the beds, check out the size of the storage areas, how easy is it to get in and out of the shower. Take your time, this is your chance to walk the walk.
Look around the park and determine which area you would most like your caravan to be located at.
Is being close to the kids play area important, or dog park, or leisure centre, or in a quiet area. Whatever the reasons it’s going to be personal to you and you should figure out the best place for you and your needs within the limits of the park itself.
If you find that the park has a limited amount of pitches available and none are quite the right one for you just ask the park whether they would be willing to move you at a later date.
Don’t ignore it, just ask. You’ll never get an answer if you don’t. Remember the park want to sell you a caravan. If there’s something that isn’t to your liking and it can’t be changed don’t waste any more time and move on to the next park.
If you have considered everything and they fit in with your idea of a perfect holiday home then you can begin making plans with the park.
A dedicated salesperson at the park will walk you through the key stages to take including the all important payment stage. Until the park has received an agreement from a finance company or the funds from you they will not start the next stages such as ordering the new caravan or arranging the transfer of a pre-loved one to you.
They will also work with you on the timing of various aspects such as siting dates and moving in dates etc. Note that new caravans are quite often built to order so it can take months before yours is ready to be sited on the park. Some park do order a few in advance in anticipation of future sales so it maybe be a matter of weeks or they may have one ready for you to walk into.
Be ready with photo ID such as a driving licence or passport, and two proofs of your address, such as a utility bill or bank statement. These are always required for financing and more often than not for the park records.
Make sure that the park provides you with everything you need, for example:
Not much for you except planning for you first trip to your new holiday home whilst the park will be getting your new caravan ready. You can check up on your caravan’s progress by giving the park a quick ring.
Congratulations! You are now the owner of a holiday home!
The park will arrange an appointment with you to introduce you to your caravan and explain how things work; how to use the fitted equipment, the boiler, how to order extra gas bottles if required, what happens if the electricity supply cuts out, etc.
Again, if in doubt just ask! You might notice that a window or a door is slightly out of line as the caravan settles and you’re walking around for the first time. Don’t worry, it is perfectly normal and the park will rectify this for you. Don’t be afraid to report any little jobs that need to be addressed after moving in.
That’s it. A guide to making the best choices for your new static caravan or lodge. Enjoy the memories!