Higher interest rates may be cooling off the housing market but there’s a growing appetite for RV lots outside larger urban centres.

Shane Styles is the president of Okanagan-based Epic Real Estate Solutions who specializes in new multi-unit housing projects in towers and wood-frame buildings. He recently discovered the RV strata lot world.

“I started to get these calls – I actually got two calls in two days from two totally separate development companies that were doing exactly the same thing,” he told iNFonews.ca. “One of them is expanding across three or four locations in Western Canada and one is starting with a big location up in Sicamous on the Shuswap.”

People have been buying RV lots for years but Styles foresees a big movement towards that recreational option in the coming years.

He visited the Shuswap site and, driving back to Kelowna, noted the number of RVs parked in driveways or stored in farmers' fields.

He also thought about friends he’s known who went crazy for RVing in the first year after buying a rig.

“In the first year, on April 1, they’re booking every campsite they can,” he said. “In the second year, they use it about one-third as much. By year four, they maybe take it out once and it sits in their driveway the rest of the time. It totally makes sense to me. I get it. Instead of me storing this thing in my driveway or storing it for $150 per month.”

He’s now involved with the development of the Shuswap project so, obviously, has a vested interest in people choosing to buy there. But he’s been surprised by the enthusiastic response the project is getting.

Pre-sales are expected to start in the fall with the goal of opening by next summer. That also gives buyers time to order a new RV for delivery by the time it opens.

Styles did not have price points for that project but a quick online search shows that these lots are not exactly cheap.

A couple of lots beside the Moyie River in the East Kootenays can be bought for $29,000.

One currently for sale in the Shuswap Lake RV Resort is $180,000. That’s in the upper level of the development so it just has an “amazing” lake view from the RV pad.

At the higher end, is a $364,500 lot on Shuswap Lake in Blind Bay. It’s 4,000 square feet and comes with a 14 foot by 58 foot concrete pad, a bunkhouse and landscaping, along with water, sewer, gas and electricity.

The project Styles is working on, like others, is expecting to operate year-round. It will come with water, sewer, electricity, swimming pool, hot tub, pickleball courts and a community amphitheatre.

While some people see these as permanent camping spots where they build a community, he also sees the option for people to trade off for different locations.

“The demographics are just getting more and more in our favour,” Styles said. “Those baby boomers are getting older and older. They want to have their life and lifestyle. I think there’s less inclination, as a result of the last couple of years, to travel down south to the U.S. so they’re paying more attention locally.”

The booming real estate market means people have built up equity in their homes so they can afford to finance such a project or families can share an RV and site to offset the cost.

It may even be an option for those on a lower income but it’s not quite as simple as buying a home.

For the land portion, they will probably need 50% down, Styles said.

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The RVs themselves may be easier to finance since loans can be amortized for as long as 20 years and some dealers will do it without requiring down payments, according to GoRVing.

This is also about the only recreational property selling in the region.

Those wanting a single-family waterfront home for recreational purposes are looking at $2.5 to $3 million, Styles estimated. For that price, many are simply moving to the Okanagan to live full-time. Others will rent out for the winter or simply absorb the speculation tax if they buy in Kelowna or West Kelowna.

He pointed to The Cottages on Osoyoos Lake as an example.

Styles was involved in the early design of that project when it was expected that it would be purely recreational. Now, he said, it’s probably 75% permanent residents.

Those who want the true recreational experience are more likely to be buying lots in RV parks in the future.

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