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Business venture idea - storage/parking for campers/caravans


Fiona

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Hi, Not sure if this is the right place to post this but will give it a go anway.  We (family of 4) are shortly relocating to Ariege.  Initially renting until we see how the land lies in terms of earning a living etc.  One thing that we are considering doing is buying a property that has a hanger/open barn which could be used for long term parking for camper vans and caravans. We personally have used ours the last couple of summers - heading off from the UK after the schools break up for about 4/5 weeks.  However as we prefer the sunnier climes of "down south" we head on down that way.  We just thought there may be a market out there for offering a service whereby you leave your camper/caravan in our undercover parking area for as long as you want (and we charge a reasonably monthly storage fee).  We could also offer services like a pre-pick up clean and valet and we could collect and drop off owners at the nearest airport.  That way - if you only had 2 weeks holidays and wanted to head down in to Spain - this service would save you the time and expense of having to drive the first 700 miles.  Would be very interested to hear what anyone thinks of this idea..

many thanks

Fi

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Hi Fiona

There are already people who do this kind of thing. Not sure how successful it is though.

The only drawback that I can see is that if one lives in the UK & the caravan is down in France, then it limits the use of that van. For instance, if I had a caravan in the UK, I would want to take it away for weekends, bank hols, that kind of thing & not just for 2 weeks during the summer. This may limit your client base somewhat.

I wish you well though, & it will be good to hear from you if you do it & it works out well for you.

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[quote user="Fiona"]

Hi, Not sure if this is the right place to post this but will give it a go anway.  We (family of 4) are shortly relocating to Ariege.  Initially renting until we see how the land lies in terms of earning a living etc.  One thing that we are considering doing is buying a property that has a hanger/open barn which could be used for long term parking for camper vans and caravans. We personally have used ours the last couple of summers - heading off from the UK after the schools break up for about 4/5 weeks.  However as we prefer the sunnier climes of "down south" we head on down that way.  We just thought there may be a market out there for offering a service whereby you leave your camper/caravan in our undercover parking area for as long as you want (and we charge a reasonably monthly storage fee).  We could also offer services like a pre-pick up clean and valet and we could collect and drop off owners at the nearest airport.  That way - if you only had 2 weeks holidays and wanted to head down in to Spain - this service would save you the time and expense of having to drive the first 700 miles.  Would be very interested to hear what anyone thinks of this idea..

many thanks

Fi

[/quote]

Firstly ,there are already several caravan sites offering this service, they charge around 200€ per year, so not much of an income, but they generally do it in conjunction with their caravan site. .

You are also too far south to attract UK caravaners,who will want to pick up their caravan on their first day ,not have the additional expense of a night in a hotel

As far as pick up from the airport this would only work for a motorcaravaner, a caravan requires a car to tow it with so they would not be flying.

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An awful lot of Dutch and French do this sort of thing (store their vans, I mean) so don't discount them. As you arrive in Spain (near to Girona) there are lots of sites with hundreds of French and dutch vans stored for exactly the reasons you suggest.

Abi

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Brilliant!  That's really helpful, thank you so much.  And thanks Big Mac for that link - interesting stuff, and from what I can see no-one is offering storage as far south as we will be.  I can understand that it may be a bit too far south for UK caravanners - but some may wish to head south and would want to get cheap flights to Toulouse to start their holiday that way.  And yes, the German and Dutch market for caravanning/camper vans is huge - and they love Spain so hopefully there could well be a market out there.  I think it would be more popular with caravans than camper vans.  I can see it wouldn't be a gold mine but the whole point of it is that would be putting a an empty hangar on land/property that we own to good use.  So it is not as if there would be a huge outlay - other than marketing the site. 

Thanks again folks - I feel much more inspired now.  I posted this on a UK based motorhome forum and it basically got a unanimous thumbs down.  But that was because they were all UK based motorhomers who said they use their vans a lot during the year at weekends etc.  I am getting much more of a French based opinion here which is good.

 

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I was involved in this in UK before I moved here, and it proved quite a head-ache. Security was a big issue - its very easy to steal a caravan, and even easier to break into one and steal the contents. We invested a LOT in security - foodlights, fencing, angry dogs, and eventually electronically controlled gate access, but then we were a big site, storing 450 caravans and motorhomes. Even then, break-ins were fairly regular. Secondly, one or two are ok, but as numbers increase, they become more and more of an eye-sore. How will this affect your property and your enjoyment of it? and how will it affect your neighbours? I would be surprised if you didnt need permission to do this on your land, and if you have neighbours, they might not appreciate you changing the scenery.

It was profitable for us - £180 per year, 450 spaces....thats a lot of income. We also had a waiting list of nearly 6 months for available spaces, so no risk of things drying up...but from what I gather, you are looking at the smaller end of the scale? 5 vans? 10? thats only £2k per year - is it worth it? do you have space for 20 vans? thats starting to generate a more usefull income, but how much of that will you have to invest to get the site up to scratch? what about taxes? public liability? You need to do your sums carefully and find out what is likely to work for you, but in my opinion, this is a non-starter unless you are going to do much larger numbers - but that means yet more land, more investment an more likely to have problems getting planning permission.

 

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Hi Dave - thanks for your very helpful response, lots to think about and consider.  Not wishing to be too hard on my home country but I'm not surprised that crime was an issue - I wonder (am I being naive?) if it would be less of an issue in rural France?

We don't have premises yet - the idea came about when we were really interested in a property for sale.  It was a huge place, which could eventually be turned into a hotel/b&b with a part of it sectioned off to live in, it also had a few outbuildings and a couple of open hangars.  We thought the caravan storage would be a good (albeit small) income that could be generated straight away whilst the rest of the property was being done - an ongoing project.  However, we lost out on it so it's back to the drawing board.  We are moving over to Ariege in March and will be in rented for at least 6 months - we will then have the time to really look at places/schools/options for business ideas.  I think this is a potentially good idea and there is clearly a market out there - we just need to make sure we find the right premises and dot all the i's and cross all the t's

thanks again

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If you can get somewhere with some "spare" storage that wouldnt be used for anything else, and can get it to work from a legal point, then go for it, even if its only a few vans. It will give you a steady-ish income thats not going to have you running to the nearest Aston Martin dealership to place your order, but it will help towards your bills.

I say "steady-ish" as I was surprised by the number of people willing to spend £50k+ on a fancy motorhome, but were surprisingly reluctant to part with £180 a year to store it!

 

I would suspect you are right about the security here. Our large site in Scotland was visible from miles away, so attracted a certain type of people very easily, but on a smaller scale in a domestic environment, I would imagine your troubles would be much smaller.

Best of luck!

 

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Hi Fiona,where in Ariege are you moving too?We move out in April to Le Trien d'Ustou.On your idea,if you will have the space and incur relatively small costs why the hell not.If it doesn't work out,stop doing it,no harm done.What's the worst that can happen,you lose a few Euro
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Hi there - we are moving to Aigues Vives, which is near Mirepoix, at the end of March. Renting initially so location could change.  And thanks - you are so right, it sounds like it could be useful side venture - perhaps not a main income, but it all helps!  What are you going to be doing?  PM me if you want - am always happy to meet other newbies in the area!

Incidentally Dave - where in Scotland were you based?

 

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