Ok.. well, not technically.
First, we didn’t buy property. We purchased a lifetime lease.
Next, it’s not really a ‘house’ but an RV lot with a casita.
But still, we’re super excited to have finally reached this milestone that has been in the works for over two years and all part of our long term plans for splitting our time between RVing and boating.
We’re the Newest SKP Saguaro Park Leaseholders
So first, the big reveal – last weekend we purchase a lifetime lease to Lot #172 at the SKP Saguaro Co-Op in Benson, AZ.
And we’re a wee bit excited about it!
What is SKP Saguaro? What is a Co-Op?
The Co-Op isn’t owned or operated by the Escapees RV Club, but by members of the co-op. There are several similar co-ops in the Escapee’s park system around the country.
Founded in the early 80s to embody the Escapee’s spirit of ‘sharing and caring’ and to be non-profit place for members to live in their RVs affordably and in comfort.
Leases start at a one time purchase of $10,674 – which gets you a basic 75′ x 52′ RV site, as well as access to the community amenities like a clubhouse, woodworking shop, gardens and more. Some lots have casitas or sheds, for which the actual cost of building & improvements is added to the lease cost.
When you’re ready to give up your lease, it becomes available for someone to take over at the actual cost of what you paid for your lease plus capital improvements (no profiting, no selling/marketing, no passing it on to an heir).
On top of the one time lease purchase, you pay an annual maintenance & operating fee (this year it’s around $1400) for upkeep of all of the community amenities, and property tax. Cable, Wi-Fi, sewer and water are covered, and you just pay for your actual electric use.
Your self contained RV must be the primary residence on the lot, the casita however can be an extended living room, storage and/or private bath.
When the leaseholder isn’t in the park, the lots can go into a rental pool to become available to others passing through (they have really affordable daily, weekly and monthly rates). Those in the rental pool earn credits towards their maintenance fees.
SKP Saguaro is registered as a 55+ up park to meet FHA regulations for exemptions, but they are welcoming of those under 55 but over 18. As long as they don’t exceed the 20% quota of residents under 55 – they’ll continue this policy.
(For more on 55+ up rules: Can You Stay in 55+ RV Parks if You’re Under 55?)
To become a leaseholder, you put your name one their Hot List (for a deposit of $500 – which gets credited towards your lease purchase) – and as leases become available you call in to express interest. If you’re the lowest number on the list, you get first dibs on the available lot of your choice.
The wait time is generally around 2-3 years.
So Why Did We Become Leaseholders?
A lot folks ask us long term nomads if we’ll ever settle down, or what happens when we feel called to be more stationary. Co-Ops like these were established for precisely that time in an RVing journey – for folks not ready to give up RVing, but not ready (or able) to move back to a sticks-n-bricks.
While we feel no call for either anytime soon – we did want a safe place to leave our RV while we’re cruising and a desert southwest winter launching pad. And maybe a place that eventually becomes a winter home-base.
We love spending our winters in Arizona – roaming around boondocking and engaging in the vast social opportunity with our community. So the location is perfect for us and still easily reachable from the east.
We first visited the park in November 2015 to hang out with our friends Jil & Tom – we shared Thanksgiving with them there. We were quite intrigued by the concept of the park and community – and in particular their lot with a spectacular back porch with an open view of the Dragoon Mountains.
We went back for a second visit in February 2016 on our way east – and decided before leaving to put our names on the Hot List and start the countdown. We could always remove our names at any point and get our deposit back.
We started getting serious about securing a lot late last year – as we intend to spend this upcoming winter in the southwest.
We had actually briefly fantasized about having a lot by March, and just getting Zephyr there after our visit to Texas.
As every basic lot came up – we called in. We really weren’t interested in one with a casita, we just wanted to get our wheels in the door. Current leaseholders actually get first dibs at any new lots that become available before Hot List members, so we can always upgrade later.
But alas every time we called in, we were told someone much lower on the list beat us to it. Every week, our names dropped further down the list to a point we felt confident that we’d have no problem getting a lot by the time we wanted one this winter.
We kept our eye on the available lots anyway. And we also learned that our friends Jil & Tom decided to move to Oregon recently.
When I saw their lot come up last week – we decided ‘what the heck’ and called in. Even though we were realistically 10-15 spots ‘too high’ to snag a spot.
Imagine our surprise when we were told Lot #172 was ours!
Not only had we checked ‘Get lot at Co-Op’ off our to-do list, serendipity aligned to get us THE spot that initially introduced us to the park (and one we already knew we’d love!).
Jil was of course the first person we told.
For those curious, our lease purchase price with a little pink casita with a living room, storage, porch and plumbing for an eventual bath was $28,392.54 (including this year’s maintenance and property taxes).
The casita (with porch) is 12′ x 24′ with an interior living room of 11′ x 15′, and the RV parking pad 14′ x 62′.
Sometime this fall we’ll store our boat and make our way back to Texas to get Zephyr out of storage. And then we’ll enjoy a leisurely trip to Lot #172 to get settled in (and apply to change the exterior color of the casita pronto), and mix in enjoying some exploring around the southwest.
Zephyr will stay in Benson during the summers while we’re RVing. Yes, it gets hot there, but this is actually the EXACT area of Arizona that Zephyr served her entire service life as a commercial intercity passenger bus. There’s little humidity to worry about, the park is actually at about 4200′ elevation (so not as bad as other areas of AZ) and we’ll have access to power to run an AC.
When Zephyr isn’t there, we’ll be leaving the lot in the rental pool. If you stop in SKP Saguaro to check it out – you can actually request our lot. Be sure to send us a picture enjoying the sunset there.
We also not-so-secretely hope that other Xscapers might be tempted by the idea of SKP Saguaro and join us in Benson?? Yes, please – get on the hot list and become our neighbors!
We’re unfortunately still in Ft. Pierce. The new generator was installed nearly 2 weeks ago and is working like a champ. It’s the cabinetry work that is lingering on. I won’t go into the frustrating details here quite yet.. but it’s coming together and looking awesome.
Please keep your fingers crossed the carpenter finishes it up and we can move along any day now!
We’re well aware hurricane season officially started at the beginning of this month and we’re anxious to get some miles north.