Campgrounds Turn 'Residential' in Germany

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December 4, 2013 by   - () Leave a Comment

Manfred Moser says he's found his paradise. Just a few steps from his front door, then down a small flight of stone steps, and he's there. When Moser sits on his bench and the watches the sun set over the lake, it's not hard to understand what he means. "I'm never going to find anything more beautiful than this," the 70-year-old says.

According to a report in, Moser's bench sits directly at the edge of Germany's Lake Starnberg, quite a classy address. For the last 15 years, he has lived at a campground. A 1975 motorhome on a 1,000-square-foot lot is his own personal castle. He gave up his apartment in the Schwabing district of Munich long ago.

Moser pays just $3,100 a year in rent, which includes gas and electric, for his paradise. Was it financial need, then, that brought him here? "Nonsense," Moser says. "I have a good pension." He moved to the campground because he wanted to, he emphasizes. "Look here, could I afford this otherwise?" Moser says, pointing to a sports car parked on his lot, a silver Mercedes SL 350 that is less than 10 years old.

Inside his motorhome, it's cramped and warm. The cozy sitting area around the table is piled with fluffy blankets and surrounded by dark wood paneling and green crocheted curtains. In the bedroom, a row of glasses for serving wheat beer lines a shelf above the bed. When Moser's girlfriend visits from Munich, she sleeps in the guest bed across the room.

There's a small bathroom next to the bedroom. "I can pee here," Moser explains. For anything else, he has to walk a couple meters up to the campground's service building, which also contains two washing machines and hot showers. "I have everything I need here," Moser says.

Campgrounds Turn Residential

Thousands of people like Moser have made the decision to move to a campground permanently. These campsites are transforming from holiday spots to residential communities that offer affordable living, something in increasingly short supply, especially in urban centers. Even those on a limited income can be their own masters here.

"Over the last 10 years, more and more campers have moved in full time," says Leo Ingenlath, chair of the Association of Recreational and Camping Enterprises in North Rhine-Westphalia. One reason for this is a relaxation of laws that require all German residents to register their address with the government. Tenants are now no longer required to present certification from their landlords when they do so, which means they can in principle choose to register themselves as living at a campground.

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