How some people are avoiding the high cost of Penticton real estate

Wright's Beach Camp and RV Park owner Paul Lionello is encouraged by the number of winter guests staying at his park over the last two winter seasons.

PENTICTON - Wright’s Beach Camp RV Park owner Paul Lionello is exploring a new market for off season accommodation at his business, located on Highway 97 south of Penticton.

Lionello has been open for the past two winters and has seen an average 25 residents wait out winter in his RV park.

A reason behind the trend Lionello is trying to capitalize on could be the high cost of living in the Penticton area. Recent housing stats from the last quarter of 2016, listed on the City of Penticton website shows that of the city’s 10 newest housing developments, none start below $250,000, and range as high as $660,000. The average price of a home is up nearly 13 per cent in the last year and nearly 12 per cent just since the beginning of the year, according to the South Okanagan Real Estate Board.

When asked if he is seeing a trend towards more demand for year round trailer sites, Lionello says he decided to give it a try when he saw other campgrounds in Summerland and Oliver open year round.

“The parks outside of town seemed to be fairly busy. It’s been worthwhile for us to stay open,” he says of the last two winters.

The vacancy rate in Penticton during the last quarter of 2016 was 1.1 per cent, below the provincial average of 1.4 per cent and well below four per cent, which is considered healthy. Costs to rent an apartment ranged from $609 for a bachelor unit to $1,171 for a three-bedroom suite.

Lionello says the park provides a more affordable option for people, especially those who already have their own RVs and can easily relocate.

With an average rent in Penticton running $822 a month, Bruce Taylor and his wife have found a more affordable option at Wright's Beach.

The couple spent the past winter in their fifth wheel unit at south Penticton RV park. When asked how they survived living in their RV through one of the longest, coldest winters in recent memory in Penticton, Bruce says: “Not bad at all.”

Taylor’s wife’s parents live in Penticton and provide them with a mailing address. Beyond that, Taylor says they had a “couple of small issues” this winter.

“We are set up for four seasons. I have a heat gun for any problems, and I heat tape the water lines. If you know how to properly prepare for winter, you’re okay,” he says.

The couple have lived all over the province. Taylor spent 34 years working for CN Rail, mostly out of Prince George, but the two have also lived in Terrace, Cranbrook, Campbell River and Langley.

Today, the RV is their home.

“We pay around $600 a month, and when you consider that includes electricity, you’re not likely to do better than that,” he says.

The couple will head for more remote forestry campsites in another month or so. Taylor says he has enough solar energy capability to go just about anywhere. They’ll start in the forestry sites around Oliver before heading up to the Williams Lake area for summer.

Bruce Taylor and his wife have discovered a lifestyle that allows them to live in the Okanagan on pad rental payments of $20 a day through the winter.
Bruce Taylor and his wife have discovered a lifestyle that allows them to live in the Okanagan on pad rental payments of $20 a day through the winter.

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