UK experiences motorhome shortage as staycationers flock to campsites, says finance expert Peter Sharkey.
From his very first broadcast we’ve been big fans of Craig Charles’s Funk & Soul Show, available on BBC 6 Music every Saturday night, which is how we heard of the Vintage music festival staged at Goodwood almost exactly a decade ago.
The effervescent Mr Charles, who completed his own set at the festival, plugged it at every opportunity by reminding listeners of the all-star line-up, including The Faces (without Rod, of course), Earth Wind & Fire, Martha and the Vandellas, Kid Creole & the Coconuts, Roy Wood, The Noisettes and dozens more. Who wouldn’t want to go?
Our enthusiasm for the music was tempered by my wife’s reluctance to camp in an open field and face a trek to the showers and WC facilities. In truth, I wasn’t over-keen myself so instead we hired a motorhome for four days.
We were living in Bristol at the time, from where we were scheduled to collect the motorhome, but at the last minute, the suppliers called and asked if we could collect it from Bournemouth instead. They covered the cost of our fuel for the journey to the south coast and then surprised us by supplying a brand-new, four-berth motorhome in place of the two-berth for which we had paid.
It didn’t take too long to get the hang of driving this beast of a vehicle; the windscreen was enormous, which made it feel like a bus, but it was very well-appointed, comfortable and, most importantly, had its own shower and loo.
Arriving at Goodwood, we were directed to the motorhome parking area; it was a tad on the tight side, but I managed to manoeuvre the beast into its allotted space, connected it to water and electricity and rewarded myself by opening my first beer of the festival.
And what a festival it was. With Mick Hucknall fronting the band, The Faces were simply outstanding. Earth, Wind and Fire played for almost two hours; Kid Creole, The Buzzcocks and the Wailers were brilliant; Craig Charles gave us a shout-out. Added to this, our neighbours were friendly and the whole festival was very well organised.
Staying in the comparative luxury of a motorhome instead of a tent supplemented our enjoyment, prompting me to idly suggest to my better half that “We should get one of these when we retire…”
You would have difficulty getting a motorhome at the moment as Britons favour renting them to travelling abroad.
Since English campsites were allowed to re-open at the beginning of July, caravan and campervan bookings have surged following an explosion in domestic tourism fuelled by fears that popular overseas holiday destinations could face a second wave of the pandemic.
It’s terrific to report that the majority of English campsites are believed to be close to capacity and although demand for motorhomes is equally buoyant, to the point that there are very few available, demand will ease once autumn arrives.
Our trip to Goodwood a decade ago proved pivotal, not least because we decided not to wait until we had finished work to buy a motorhome of our own. Okay, it took another three years before we did buy, but since then, we’ve made regular use of it on domestic and foreign roads and will do so again later this month when we’re off on staycation.
A good friend, who has borrowed our ‘van’ a few times over the years, mentioned recently that he would like to buy one of his own in order that he and his wife could go away more frequently – and for longer – now they’re both retired.
“I’m thinking of releasing equity from our house to buy this,” he declared, showing me a photograph of a six-berth Benimar Mileo 323 on his phone. This superb-looking vehicle could be financed at a cost £606 a month for ten years, meaning he would pay almost £25,000 in interest should he pay for it with a conventional bank loan. Using equity release, he would pay nothing – though interest on a lifetime mortgage, the most popular means of releasing equity, would continue to roll up.
“We have no mortgage, but we have our health and enthusiasm for travel,” said my pal, adding: “and if we don’t do this now, we never will.”
I suspect this is an attitude which has become much more pronounced over the past few months, especially among middle-aged folk wishing to fulfil their ambitions. Homeowners sitting on the ‘hidden savings’ of bricks-and-mortar wealth may feel that if they’re to satisfy long-standing ambitions of their own, equity release could provide them with the means of doing so.
If you’re considering equity release to fund the purchase of a motorhome or anything else, please get in touch. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org . Incidentally, you can get another angle on our motorhome purchase in the latest edition of More (see below)- available free to readers.
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