Yes, yes, yes it has been a long time since my last post. We are winding down our stay in Yuma, AZ and have enjoyed our stay in three different parks. Last fall I found a special online deal for first timers at Encore parks here in Yuma, and the price was so great we couldn’t pass it up. Plus Yuma is one of the sunniest, warmest places during the winter.
After we were settled in the first park, we wanted to see our next two parks so plugged in the address of the 2nd park into the GPS and went a whopping 1.5 miles then plugged in the 3rd address. WHAT .1 miles? I thought our GPS was having issues ….nope user error again (most of the time) and the 2nd and 3rd parks were right next to each other!
Early on in our retirement travel, we decided we would choose a different state and different town to get a feel for winter warm-weather residency. So how has our learning progressed????
Well the biggest adjustment for us has been the small, tight spaces in these parks. We are used to being one of the smallest campers and appreciate a few extra inches of space our rig gives us. Our friend, Judy says campgrounds are perfect places for people watching and when there are hundreds of sites, there is no shortage of people.
The population of Yuma swells by 80,000 people in the winter, so there are lots of people everywhere — in the campground, at the grocery, in the gas lines, etc. This year, there are fewer Canadians since the $ exchange is not in their favor which means most parks had many RV openings. The majority of parks in Yuma are age qualified for 55+ so we’ve just made the cutoff and are definitely the ‘youngsters’ or kids as some folks tag us.
Besides the three parks we stayed in we drove through and talked to people in over 12 other parks ( there are no shortage of RV parks here) to get an idea of prices, ownership, amenities, etc. We also found miles and miles of areas in the city that are large lots with RV hookups on them – not in a park so you have more room but no pool, etc. Here are our ‘learnings’ from the last three months about choosing a park that could fit your needs for a seasonal stay.
Amenities. We knew we wanted a heated pool, hot tub, and fitness center. In hindsight I should have looked at pictures of the pools ahead – unusual configurations made it aesthetically pleasing but hard to do laps. Also, if you want it warm, ask what temp they keep it at for the season. People said there was a difference park to park. Also, I didn’t ask what type of fitness equipment was on site. One park had a variety of newer equipment and one had only an old treadmill. The new add-on is pickleball which we didn’t get to try because our parks didn’t have it but it is similar to tennis.
Location. We like to walk and bike so we had some challenges at two of the parks. They were located on a busy narrow 2 lane road that is not bike or walk friendly so we had to cut through different neighborhoods to avoid traffic. Also, unknowingly we chose one park right between a busy RR track and an expressway. You get used to the noise levels but it would not be my choice for the future.
Besides the park location, Yuma is a great place. Many outdoor markets, produce stands, tours, free jazz concerts, free air show, free car shows….on and on to keep winter visitors coming back.
Pricing. We had a special newcomer rate and most parks offer special incentive pricing to get you in the park. Many people we talked to started at a park many years ago, made friends and continued to return to the same park. Park operators are counting on this. The other way to get a discount is to book early (like the prior season) , prepay, and to do multiple months (3, 4, 5, or 6). You can stay for 6 months for just a few dollars more than 3 months.
Social Activities. Most parks say they have LOTS of activities. The activity calendar is full, however we are not interested in many of the listings. Bingo, potlucks, shuffleboard are ok but we’d rather have a variety of fitness classes, a hiking club, kayak outings, etc. We did the farm tour and it was one of the highlights for us – learned about the area farming industry and brought home two huge bags of veges.
People. Almost everyone is here from cold northern states and an overwhelming majority from Canada. Canadians are SUPER friendly people and will normally start up a conversation which often leads to a happy hour invitation:). We did notice the first question is “Where are you from” so you end up telling the same thing over and over to different people. It seems like the smaller parks are a little more friendly and welcoming than the larger parks. We think because they need more people to round out their pool tournaments, shuffleboard teams, etc. so those people are not shy to invite you to join in.
We were blessed to have four couples that we’ve met in other states since we’ve been traveling that stopped by in Yuma and joined us for a couple of days. You can meet and develop some long lasting relationships from people in campgrounds.