Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
My wife and I are entering the intersection of agreement and disagreement. We are both moving at full speed ahead and I fear a catastrophic collision is imminent. She wants to agree to a host position in Arizona this winter that works out to a full-time position at a volunteers wage. I agree we need to reduce our living expenses, but to work full-time for half the cost of full hookups works out to about a dollar an hour. I think the owners are taking advantage of the supply of retired RV owners willing to work for rent. My wife says she gets bored and needs to work. The problem is the job offer is for a couple. That involves me working the same amount of hours. My wife refuses to comprehend that we are actually bartering 320 hours of work for a $300 savings in rent. How do I explain to her my unwillingness to work for slave wages without the conversation turning into a shouting match.
--Labor Dispute in Douglas
I think you are wise to look for a compromise before you both reach the intersection at the same moment. It is pretty simple math. It is also supply and demand, an economic model of price determination in the market. You can’t blame the park owner for making the best business decision for himself. If he can find people willing to work those hours for that compensation, he is going to take advantage of that. One of the elements that has evolved from the thousands of boomers retiring and traveling has been “volunteerism.” That has evolved into “work camping.” Both the public and private sector have embraced the idea of part-time workers who live full or part-time in an RV. The number of people looking for these types of positions continues to grow as more and more people take to the RV lifestyle.
The two of you will have to work out a compromise. That usually involves both parties getting some of what it demands. Have you discussed looking for a park that offers better bartering terms? Have you considered one or both of you looking for a better paying position nearby this park? You could then stay busy, pay full price for your rent, and come out ahead financially. A great part of the RV lifestyle is portability. Take your skills and desires and transfer them to another geographic location that may offer better compensation and still give you the climate you are seeking for the winter. Along with the fact that supply is beginning to erode away demand in this labor market, new opportunities are being created constantly. Corporate America is beginning to appreciate the possibilities of utilizing seniors enjoying the RV lifestyle in filling gaps in the workforce. Amazon is the perfect example with a seasonal need for holiday workers. The Oil and Gas industry has found a great fit using RV owners to monitor production site gates. You can find great natural camping, bartering with state and federal parks and wildlife refuges for various part-time hours, in trade for full-hookups.
Like any other position in the workforce, sometimes it takes time and patience to end up with what you ultimately desire. Try a few jobs, build a network of friends, gather information, discover the little nuances of how the system works and focus on the positions you want.
It is often easier for a couple to find a work camper job than a single applicant, but there are thousands of singles doing exactly the same thing. If you can afford to be choosy, take your time, start early, apply for multiple positions and take the one that appeals to both of you. Closing your eyes to the conflict, with your feet in the carburetor, moving headlong into the intersection, will only result in casualties. Don’t be crash dummies. Practice “safe service” when scouting for a work camping billet.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink