Buying a holiday home: your complete guide
Buying a holiday home opens up a vast number of benefits and allows you to enjoy time on a fantastic holiday park for days, weeks or even months at a time
- What is a holiday home?
- Things to consider before buying a holiday home
- The difference between a holiday home and lodge
- How much do holiday homes cost?
- Buying a holiday home to let
- The pros and cons of buying a holiday home
- Buying a holiday home abroad
- Buying a holiday home FAQs
- About our magazines
What is a holiday home?
(Photo courtesy of Wenningdale Escapes, near Lancaster)
A second home. A get-away-from-it-all retreat. A place where you can spend quality family time… that defines a holiday home. In the context of a holiday park, these homes are static caravan holiday homes, or lodges, that you purchase for your exclusive use for holidays, or you can buy for investment and rent the holiday home out.
Why buy a holiday home in the UK?
Buying a UK holiday home will change your lifestyle, giving you a leisure-time focus like never before. And buying a holiday home in the UK means you can avoid airport hassles, flight delays and all the aspects of going abroad that you can’t control.
The key to holiday home happiness is choosing the right location for you.
Things to consider before buying a holiday home
The right location
Most families and couples who buy holiday homes choose a park which is within two hours – or, in some cases, a lot less – of their home. That way, you can get there on a Friday evening after work and arrive in time for dinner to start your weekend.
Not having a long distance to travel means you can use your holiday home more often. And, if you’re considering fuel cost, it also means that each visit costs you less than if you were driving a long distance.
So, step one: draw a ‘two-hour circle’ around your home and explore what holiday home parks there are in that area.
Choosing the right park for you
Full-on family fun? Or quiet and remote? Each park has its own character, and its facilities play a big part in creating that.
Do you want a location in which you can escape from the realities of work life for a while? Somewhere quiet, where the only sound is birdsong and breeze rustling through leaves.
Much will depend on whether you’re a couple or whether you have a family. Or maybe you’re a couple with a ‘part-time’ family – grandchildren, perhaps, who may come and share your holiday home retreat occasionally. If that’s the case, you may prefer a park where the focus is firmly on family fun? A swimming pool, a restaurant, play areas, entertainment, perhaps; somewhere to which the kids will be really excited to go, for things they can’t do at home.
And that, is the essence of holiday home ownership – a home where life differs from that at your main home, however you define it.
Between the two extremes of tranquillity and family focus there is a large choice of types of park. What suits you is so individual – and, until you research, and then visit parks, you may not have a clear idea of what suits you. Sometimes, a park just feels ‘right’, indefinably.
Now it’s time to look at individual parks, and to draw up a shortlist of maybe three, or four. Then visit – more than once. One of those visits should ideally be on a rainy day – because, if a park still appeals to you in the inevitable reality of rain, then the chances are you will be happy there.
How long can I keep a new holiday home?
(Photo courtesy of Bay View Holiday Park, Lancashire)
When you're buying a holiday home or lodge, you will get what is called a ‘licence agreement’. This states the period of time that your holiday home can be kept on the park. On some parks, you have to replace your holiday home after only 10 years, others much longer; some 15, some 20, some longer. Very clearly, the idea of all holiday homes on a park being reasonably new is so that the park always looks pristine.
As a generalisation, you can keep lodges for longer than holiday homes; you can expect to find a 20-year licence agreement for a lodge, and some are 40 years and more.
The length of the licence agreement is one of the first things to look into when you are considering a particular park, because it hugely influences the way in which you will be calculating the amount of investment in your leisure home and your plans to save up for its eventual replacement.
What are the running costs of a holiday home or lodge?
That’s the annual pitch fee, electricity, gas and insurance.
Your pitch fee, sometimes called ground rent, is the largest of the running costs of a holiday home. That’s the amount you pay to occupy the piece of land on which your holiday home sits. The amount of the fee reflects the facilities and location of the park. For example, a small park with no facilities and no view is going to have lower pitch fees than a park in a beautiful location that has a restaurant, swimming pool, gym, golf course, entertainment and more.
You can expect to pay from around £1,500 to well over £5,000 a year in pitch fees. In most cases, your pitch fee will include water and sewerage charges.
What are the arrangements for electricity and gas on holiday parks?
Electricity is metered and you pay for it monthly, quarterly or annually, depending on the park.
Gas for holiday homes usually comes in 47kg cylinders. You buy the cylinders through the park, and, when they are empty, you can buy a replacement through the park. That’s called an exchange scheme – having paid for the first cylinder, thereafter you only pay for the gas contained in replacement cylinders. When you get your first cylinder – or cylinders (most buyers get two) – you can expect to pay £70-£100 per cylinder, plus the gas inside it; around £85. Thereafter, you can expect to pay around £85 for a full replacement cylinder. Prices vary from park to park.
On some parks, gas is piped to each holiday home from a central tank. In this case, each holiday home’s gas usage will be metered and paid for quarterly or annually.
Holiday home or lodge – what’s the difference?
Holiday home? Static caravan? Lodge? What do these terms mean?
A lodge is almost always what is termed a double-width unit – that’s usually 20 feet wide. It’s in the luxury category, with a price to match. This is something to consider if you plan to spend much of your time in your holiday home, so it’s worth buying a large unit with lots of luxury.
The distinction between the terms ‘holiday home’ and ‘static caravan’ is slightly obscure. At one time, all caravans not designed for towing were called ‘statics’. Then the marketeers decided the term ‘holiday home’ should replace ‘static’ to make them sound more appealing, so the industry switched its terminology. Then the internet arrived, and, with it, the concept of keywords. People search for ‘statics’, so the term remains alive and well online!
Holiday homes are usually 12-14ft wide and 28-40ft long, or more.
Both lodges and holiday homes have either two or three bedrooms and a few have four.
How much do holiday homes cost?
There are holiday homes for all budgets, including entry-level, mid-level and super-luxury holiday homes. The levels of specification and luxury range from those that are quite basic up to holiday homes and lodges that are magnificently luxurious and large – with prices to match.
You can buy a pre-owned holiday home for around £15,000 or less. That’s a good place to start. You can then, perhaps, upgrade to a new one after a few years.
New holiday homes start at around £30,000 and climb in price commensurate with a level of luxury and size. When buying new, whatever your budget, a key factor to look for is options; some have a list of options that you can go for – or not go for, so that you are not paying for features in the holiday home that you don’t need.
The park on which your caravan is sited influences the amount you pay for a new holiday home, too. A park in a prime location will charge more because demand is high, and people are prepared to pay more to get a holiday home in that location. Also, the more facilities, the higher the cost, as the park needs to recoup its costs in providing those facilities.
Finally, there’s transport and siting costs. Almost always, parks include these in the purchase price. So, too, will be a connection to mains and waste water services, and to the park’s electricity supply.
(Photo courtesy of Garreg Goch Holiday Park, Gwynedd)
Is buying a holiday home to let a good investment?
It can be! If you let out your holiday home during school holidays, when demand is high, it can prove to be an excellent investment, because fees reach their peak then. The more weeks in the year you make your holiday home available to let, the greater your return on investment.
Choosing the right layout for renting appeal
If you are looking to buy for investment, that will have a bearing on the layout of the home you choose. Those with three bedrooms are clearly more versatile and have wider appeal. There's something else to consider about bedrooms: the width of single beds. Some holiday homes have twin beds that are narrower than the standard domestic single bed size, and so are only ideal for children.
Lots of lounge seating is key. So is a sizeable kitchen with plenty of work surface. And, in general, the higher the level of equipment, the more you can charge for the rent; we're talking about dishwashers and washing machines, in particular.
A centre-lounge layout can be ideal for rental; these homes have bedrooms at each end.
You can also consider going for the super-luxury hot tub holiday market. If you decide to go for a hot tub, it's wise that you choose a park that offers the service to empty and refill it between renting, and also has the expertise to check and maintain water additive levels as part of the rental scheme service. There will be a cost attached to this, of course, as with all park rental services, so the costs will have a bearing on what you charge for rent.
How much rent to charge
The amount you can charge for rent depends not just on the unit you buy, but on the park, its location and its facilities. It stands to reason that you can charge a higher fee on a park stacked with family facilities close to a coast than on a park in a remote location with minimal facilities. Parks with rental systems in place will guide you on suitable figures.
Remember to add on the cost of the park's rental system services, if applicable. Or, if you decide to take on that responsibility yourself, you need to cost in an amount for fuel to get you to and from the park on a regular basis and cleaning materials, for example.
What are the pros and cons of buying a holiday home?
(Photo courtesy of Richard Chapman)
Pros? So many it’s impossible to count. In a nutshell, though, buying a holiday home will add a new dimension to your life; a venue for relaxation, for quality family time.
Cons? There is only one. That’s the possibility that you may get bored with the region that your chosen park is in. But it’s a con that you can guard against, by doing careful research before you buy, to make sure there is enough to sustain your leisure-time interest for a very long time.
Buying a holiday home abroad
Most of the major British holiday home manufacturers export holiday homes and lodges – because there is a growing market in the obvious popular destinations, including Spain, France, Portugal and Greece. And prices are surprisingly affordable, with new holiday homes being advertised at around £40,000 and pre-owned ones for under £11,000.
It is usual to find that prices of new holiday homes include transportation and siting.
There are companies that specialise in selling holiday homes abroad. They act as agents, and this is surely the easiest route, although there will be a fee for the service. You can alternatively buy direct from a park, or from an individual.
When choosing a park, factors to bear in mind include proximity to an airport, and driving distance from home if you want to have the choice of flying or driving. Also consider where the nearest supermarkets are. And, of course, whether to go for a park close to the coast or inland. There is so much choice, you’ll find it daunting – unless, of course, you already have a favourite location!
If you are planning to rent out your holiday home, consider the appeal of the facilities on the park – swimming pools and restaurants are obvious examples.
Buying a holiday home FAQs
Are my family and friends allowed to stay at my holiday home?
Some parks that do not permit letting do allow your family and friends to stay at your holiday home when you are not there – provided that you are not charging them any money to be there. Others, though, allow friends and family to visit only while you are there.
Can a holiday home be my main residence?
Your holiday home, on a holiday park, can’t be your main residence. There are rules in place: you must have a permanent, main residence address somewhere else, because holiday home parks are licensed for holiday use, not for residential occupation. You will be asked to provide proof, to the holiday park, of your permanent address.
How long is a holiday park season?
That varies. Some close from the end of October to the start of March. Some close for two weeks in the early part of the year; some four, some six. Some holiday home parks have a 12-month season; that is to say, you can use your holiday home at any time of the year – but you can’t live there, even though the park doesn’t close.
Can I visit my holiday home on a day basis during the closed months?
That depends on the park and its rules. Some allow you to visit your holiday home when the park is closed but not stay overnight; other parks close completely.
Do I need insurance for a holiday home?
While not a legal requirement, it’s essential to have your holiday home insured because parks require you to produce proof of cover each year. There are a number of specialist companies that tailor packages specifically for holiday homes.
To cover this extremely important topic we have produced a park home and holiday home insurance guide to go into things in more detail. As with any other form of insurance, shop around for the policy that best suits your needs.
Do you pay Stamp Duty on a holiday home?
The simple answer is ‘no’.
Is Council Tax payable on a holiday home?
You don’t have to pay Council Tax for a holiday home because it is not a main residence. Some parks, though, include an amount in the pitch fee, which is a contribution to the local authority business rates that the holiday park pays.
Discover the best places to buy a holiday home in the UK
Whatever your holiday home lifestyle dream thoughts, follow them and you are well on the way to deriving maximum benefit from buying a holiday home. Whatever you enjoy doing, as a couple, or as a family, buying a holiday home will provide a new location for those pursuits, in a different area from your home. You can join two golf clubs, see more heritage railways, cycle further, on different terrain, find new photo opportunities if you’re a keen photographer, explore different historic houses and antique shops… The list is endless.
Maybe you fancy a holiday home in Cornwall, or somewhere to enjoy regular holidays in Norfolk. Whatever your favourite location for a UK holiday home, take a look at the holiday homes for sale from some of our favourite holiday parks below.
Kelling Heath Holiday Park,
(Photo courtesy of Kelling Heath)
Relax in your own fully furnished holiday home, set in woodland or heathland within a 300-acre holiday park, close to the sea in north Norfolk.
Enjoy miles of walks, fantastic facilities, complementary Health & Fitness Club membership, and special bar and restaurant rates.
Meadow Lakes Holiday Park,
(Photo courtesy of Meadow Lakes)
Set within 56 acres of picturesque meadows, woodlands and lakes, offering beautiful brand-new and pre-owned holiday homes.
Discover the best of Cornwall with a long 10-month season.Find out more
Hurley Riverside Park,
(Photo courtesy of Hurley Riverside)
Perfect for lovers of the river and walkers alike, with direct access to the River Thames and the Thames Path.
With the lush green countryside of the Thames Valley all around, and the river traffic gliding past, it is hard to believe you are only an hour outside London.Find out more
Whitehill Country Park,
(Photo courtesy of Whitehill Country Park)
Nestled in the rolling south Devon hills, a short drive to bustling towns and the beaches of the English Riviera.
The park boasts a great range of facilities, including an indoor swimming pool, fitness suite, heated outdoor pool, bar, restaurant, shop and private woodland trails.Find out more
About Park & Holiday Home Inspiration magazine
Park & Holiday Home Inspiration magazine is the best guide to finding, buying and living in your perfect park or holiday home. The magazine is ideal for both the budding buyers to be, or for those who have been living the life of luxury for years.
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Buying Your First Holiday Home - 2023 special edition
Find out everything you need to know about buying your first holiday home, or choosing your next one, with the new edition of Buying Your First Holiday Home.
Buying Your First Holiday Home
The guide is packed with expert advice and information to help readers buy the right holiday home for them. It provides details on the latest holiday homes and lodges from leading manufacturers including Willerby, Omar, Regal, Tingdene, Pemberton and Victory. It also includes a section on parks, to guide holiday home buyers on the best choice of park to suit them.
Instant access is available through our digital partner, Pocketmags.Find out more
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