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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Going Mobile

Finding perfect RV parking can be elusive

“You can’t park that RV here!” the next-door neighbor screamed from the driveway.

Wow, OK, and good morning to you, sir. Could you please turn down the anger while we try to figure this out?

It turns out you can’t park the RV in a lot of places, including the driveway of the condo where we’re house-sitting, and now we’re frantically looking for a spot to keep the 23-foot Thor Gemini when we’re not on the road.

Yeah — good luck with that!

We’ve been blissfully unaware that securing a spot in a RV storage lot is more challenging than you’d think. For the past couple of years, we kept our tiny home on wheels in a special lot reserved for RVs and boats at the condo we owned in the Seattle area. Pretty sweet amenity for sure, especially because there was shore power.

When we recently sold the place and decided to start a new chapter — subtitled Bellingham is now home base — we didn’t give much thought to where we were going to park. Surely, a solution would present itself, we thought.

For many RV owners, the issue of parking is a matter of backing into an open driveway or patch of unused lawn. We’ve seen that situation so often, it seemed like no big deal. But if you don’t have that option, what’s the plan?

Street parking

Not ideal, by any stretch, but we see lots of folks doing just that in Bellingham. Some of those vehicles look as if they’re being used as homes — no judgment — making for extreme urban boondocking.

During our travels over the last two years, we learned it’s essential to check with cities on parking restrictions. In Pasadena, Calif., for instance, RVs were allowed on city streets with an overnight parking permit in 2018, but when we returned in 2019, they were not.

Our solution: We cut a deal to park at the Fraternal Order of the Eagles in exchange for a donation to the club. It opened our eyes to the possibilities, and even inspired conversations about joining such an organization if it meant RV parking. We spotted an Elks club in Sedona, Ariz., which offered actual hookups. Good to know, right?

RV Condos?

Whoa, pump the brakes, is this mash-up style of housing plus garage a possible trend on the uptick?

It would seem so when checking into a facility being built near Ferndale shows most of the units in phase one have already been sold.

The unique floor plans include a mezzanine level above the lofty garage designed to accommodate even big rigs. Can’t imagine how appealing that view would be, but maybe if it were just a space to be used occasionally for a night or two.

The price? It’s not cheap at around $200,000. But that does include a mailing address, which is an issue that vexes many full-time RVers.

Traditional RV storage

So far, we’ve struck out even finding a spot at the highest-rated lots because there’s no space. And if there were a spot, it’s pretty darned expensive at more than $100 a month.

We might have to look a bit farther afield, possibly in Spokane, where there are a number of options. Some of those even include access to a dump station and car wash area.

Long-term parking

We’ve had good experiences parking in long-term lots near airports while visiting cities. We parked at the airport in Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

So, while on a walk in the Fairhaven neighborhood, the answer to our quandary appeared right in front of our eyes. The long-term lot that serves the Amtrak station was large and nearly empty. Its gates are locked overnight, so it’s secure.

At $30 a week, it’s about the most affordable option we’ve found. And you’re not locked into a long commitment. Fingers crossed it goes well. We’ll let you know.

Leslie Kelly
Leslie Kelly is a freelance writer.