Not a day goes by where we don’t see a news story lamenting the rising cost of housing, especially in London where house prices have risen at an alarming rate despite the property market waning over the last few years. London is one of the most popular places in the country to live, and during the recession a number of people headed to the capital in search of work.
This has led to a rise in ‘motorhome commuting’ – where people stay in motorhomes, caravans, or even tents in campsites near London during the week and then return to their homes for the weekend. Here, Comfort Insurance looks at the phenomenon in more detail:
The Benefits of Motorhome Commuting
A few years ago, The Guardian reported on the increasing amount of people who were staying in campsites near Central London in order to save money on travel and accommodation. They noted that many of these people travelled hundreds of miles at the beginning of the week to London, then stay at a campsite for the remainder of the working week before driving back home at the weekend. Many of these people stated that they couldn’t afford to buy a second property in London, and that renting was too inflexible.
Talking to The Guardian, IT contractor Keith Davidson said: “My family lives up in Aberdeen, but I often get contracts down here. The main reason I stay here is because of the flexibility – if you rent a flat you often have to commit to six months or a year, whereas here you can come and go as you like.” However it’s not just your average office worker that is staying in these sites, in fact Olympic heptathlon hopeful Lucy Boggis stayed at a campsite when taking part in the 2012 games. She said: “Some of my fellow athletes take the mickey, but most of them actually think it’s a good idea. If you don’t have funding, you don’t have much spare money, and it’s much cheaper to stay in a caravan than rent a one-bedroom flat.”
Even though staying in a motorhome during the week is economical and reduces travelling time, there are some downsides. In fact, one council worker who stayed in a campsite in Epping Forest and commuted to his job in Barking and Dagenham every day was forced out of his job once he spoke out about his living arrangements. In the midst of the MP’s second home scandal, Philip Hanman talked to Radio 4 about his ‘second home’, but was later reprimanded by his employers.
He said: “It all started with a broadcast I heard on Radio 4’s PM programme. It was about the expenses scandal and second homes. I sent them an email saying ‘My second home is a tent’, and they sent someone out to the forest to interview me and then broadcast it. That very evening when I got home to Cornwall there was an email on my computer from the council saying: ‘Be very careful, you are looking at disciplinary action.’ It was quite amazing. They were as nasty as they could possibly be over it. Councils are full of self-important people who don’t like people speaking out of turn, but what I was saying was nothing to do with the council. It was about travelling to work.”
Could you become a Motorhome Commuter?
Even though what happened to Philip Hanman is rare, there are still other reasons why you should think twice before heading to a campsite near London. Firstly, during the winter months they are often closed, and when they are open you will need to pay for a pitch each night, with electricity costing extra. In the Lee Valley Camping and Caravan Park based in Edmonton, a pitch costs twenty two pounds per night plus four pounds for electricity hook up in the high season, meaning that staying for five days costs around one hundred and thirty pounds.
However, if you think about the cost of fuel or other means of accommodation, this price is extremely reasonable. Furthermore, many campsites have buses that run into Central London on a regular basis, meaning that commuting from a campsite to work could take you much less time than by car. Newer motorhome models also come with almost the same amenities as brick and mortar properties, and even though this means they may cost more to cover with motorhome insurance, cooking, cleaning, or even going on the internet can be easily achieved.