Saguaro SKP Coop Park in Benson Arizona

Thursday 2/12 after saying our “see ya down the roads” to our friends Roger & Lynn we lifted our jacks and drove an easy 115 miles to Benson Arizona. As mentioned in our last update its someplace we wanted to check out a little more thoroughly with the thought of making it our go to place during the winter months sometime in the future.

The entry to the park and office

The entry to the park and office

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This is our site during our stay. And an example of a bare lot.

This is our site during our stay. And an example of a bare lot.

What do we mean by sometime in the future, heck we don’t know LOL. Maybe 2, 3, 5, 10 years into the future. And because none of us really know what the future holds we figure it might be wise to cover our bases in multiple ways for when it comes time to slow down our travels or maybe even get off the road all together.

For the fun of it let’s talk about what “could” happen in the future.

If you would have asked us about our exit strategy (plan for after we finish RVing) when we first started full-timing our answer would have been to buy another 2 to 5 acre piece of land and build a small home or maybe even buy something already built. But things change with time. Maybe when that time comes we won’t want to deal with what comes with owning land and a home, maybe we will want a house boat and live on a lake someplace and fish all day, or maybe we won’t have the money we have now in order to buy anything at all and may need a cheap way to live, who knows what can happen.

The clubhouse

The clubhouse

The weight room

The weight room

Card and game room

Card and game room

Even if it comes down to wanting or needing a cheaper way to live I know we will still want to be as active as we want to be and that’s where the Escapee Coop parks start looking very attractive and a viable solution. So let’s say you like what you see at the Saguaro SKP Park in Benson.

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A place to sit and do puzzles read

A place to sit and do puzzles read

For a small fee ($500 refundable deposit and a $20 non-refundable administrative fee) you can get on what is called a waiting list.

While on the waiting list if you are ready to actually lease a lot you simply pay close attention to the parks website and if you see a lot comes available that strikes your fancy you call in and put your name on the list for that lot (on Saturdays only). Instead of typing out the game rules that go along with the process I will provide a link that you can click and read it straight from the horse’s mouth, here it is http://skpsaguaro.org/be-a-leaseholder.html

A nice pool room

A nice pool room

The stage in the club house.

The stage in the Club House

What we like about this formula of getting a lot is that if you are not ready for a lot and you work your way to the top of the list you are not forced to take the lot or fear being slid to the bottom of the list again like at some SKP parks if you choose not to take one at that time. So like us not really being ready for maybe 2 or 3 or more years we can feel pretty sure that when we ARE ready we will be close to the top of the list and be poised to get a lot fairly quickly when and IF the time does come. And if we change our mind at any time we simply ask for our $500 deposit back. Not much risk and it’s only $500 tied up.

This is the woodworking shop.

This is the woodworking shop.

A barn full of tools that lease holders can use. Except the tractors,,,, darn

A barn full of tools that lease holders can use. Except the tractors,,,, darn

The library

The library

What this also means is that if you work your way up the list to say #60 and see a lot come available that you like you can call and put your name on it. And if none of the 59 people ahead of you on the list call in, you get it!!

Once you are ready to become a lease holder you are pretty much at the mercy of what comes available at the start. But once you are a lease holder you have a better chance of obtaining a lot that might suit your tastes better than what you might end up with from the start and are able to trade lots. You see, lease holders get first chance at any lots that come available before they are available to people on the waiting list. And most, not all, people that have been in the park for any time are pretty settled into the lots they have. It seems the key is getting in and then making adjustments from there.

They sell propane at the park

They sell propane at the park

I like the barn doors on this casita. You could actually put a motorcycle in it.

I like the barn doors on this casita. You could actually put a motorcycle in it.

a bare lot other than a patch of concrete

a bare lot other than a patch of concrete

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Lots range in price from around $10,000 for a bare lot to close to $40,000 for a lot that has a nice casita and landscaping. And there are not many bare lots sitting around so I think a person would need to be prepared to fork out around 20 o 30K to get your foot in the door. But remember, you get that all back if you decide to leave the park in the future. Sort of a no hassle, non interest baring savings account.

A few more boondocking spots

A few more boondocking spots

A few of the boondocking spots. You can stay for 3 nights for $5 per night.

A few of the boondocking spots. You can stay for 3 nights for $5 per night.

Now for the attractive part. All lots have 30 & 50 amp service, water and sewer, cable and garbage is provided. All you pay is the electric bill. The only cost on top of the electric is the annual maintenance and operations (M&O) fee. Last year that fee was $790 I’m told, so yes, for $65 per month plus electric and living expenses you could live here year around. Now how the heck can you beat that if all you think about is the cost alone? And then you take into consideration the amenities available at your disposal like weight room, card room, pool hall, a wood working shop, a free storage slip for things like a second RV or trailer, the events put on by the park that include dinners and live entertainment, the many many many social activities that range from Happy Hours, exercise and dance classes, yoga classes, poker games, crafts, guided hikes, Jeep run’s, and on and on and on.

Another nice casita

Another nice casita

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Now keep in mind that even as large as this park is almost everything is taken care of by volunteers who are lease holders in the park. If I remember correctly there are only 5 paid employees. Without volunteers the cost would certainly go up and this would hold true in any coop type park like this so you should be prepared to help with something. It could be as simple as helping move table & chairs around the event hall for events, helping in the kitchen, being on the landscape community or help guide visitors to their site. Just something.

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With that said I don’t think Diane and I can see ourselves living here year around but even if we stayed 4 months during the winter if the yearly R&O’s remained at or near the current cost we would only be paying about $197 per month plus electricity for those 4 months. Still one heck of a deal.

And if a person put there lot in the rental pool for at least 16 days of any month you can earn money towards your next year’s R&O’s. Yep, the park gives back 75% of what they take in for rent from the sites that are in the rental pool for that month. And that %75 is divided equally among those that have their lots in the pool. So it is absolutely possible that you might have NO cost at all. Or at least a reduced cost which makes it even more appealing. Crazy isn’t it?

There are a few nice tree's in the park

There are a few nice tree’s in the park

This is a cool railroad set up in the landscaping of this site

This is a cool railroad set up in the landscaping of this site

You might remember our update of Jojoba Hills a couple months back, another Escapee’s Coop Park that has a very similar leasing system in place just outside of Temecula Ca.. The two biggest differences between the two is that the yearly R&O fees are $250 per month at Jojoba compared to here at Suguaro being under $100 and Jojoba does not give any of the rental moneys back to the lessor’s where Saguaro does. Oh, and you can have a casita in Saguaro where only an 8×10 shed is allowed at Jojoba.

There is absolutely NO DOUBT that Jojoba offers much more and is a bit more “resort like” and we both agree that the views are a little better at Jojoba plus the town of Temecula has a lot more to offer than Benson (even though Tucson is only a short 50 mile drive up the freeway). But if we are only talking cost Saguaro win’s hands down.

This lot is set up with a park model and a Casita with a deck on the roof.

This lot is set up with a park model and a Casita with a deck on the roof.

Of course there is always the flip side of the coin, why lease at all when you can rent a lot by the month for $330 plus electricity? Hmmm, that’s a darn good question especially if you only plan to stay 2, 3 or 4 months a year. It would take a long time at $330 per month to reach even the lowest cost possible lot you might find at Saguaro. It would take 33 months at $330 per month to spend $11,000 (about the cost of the least expensive lot), or roughly 8 years if you were to only stay 4 months per year. If you look at it that way is it really worth it? If you look at it that way it sure would be a good argument in favor of hanging onto your money.

And then there is the possibility that you might feel you have to spend every winter in the same spot, taking away the freedom of the nomadic RV lifestyle if you are a full-timer like us.

There is a lot of space behind each unit

There is a lot of space behind each unit

Those are all things you would need to figure out for yourself. And the answers are not the same for everyone.

Like we mentioned before, for us, we figure that after spending a few winters in the southern states we might feel we have seen what we really need to see and will want a place to sit still for a few months. Someplace we know what we have waiting for us, someplace we can tinker on without feeling the entire burden of home ownership yet take pride in it, someplace that if we want to pick up and get out of we can without the hassle of listing property before getting our money back if ever, someplace we know we can stay without wondering if there is an opening while so many snowbirds are filling the parks down south while soaking up the good weather, someplace we can hunker down and live cheaply for a while if need be, someplace that we know we can go if for some reason we need to get off the road for a period of time to heal if something where to happen to us physically that would hamper our ability to travel for a while.

With all of that said we figured that we like Saguaro well enough to get on the waiting list. Yep, we were #266 on the list when we signed up. It will be a couple years before we get high enough on the list to acquire a lease and that’s ok, we are not ready anyway. We are just preparing for the future.

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3 Responses to Saguaro SKP Coop Park in Benson Arizona

  1. explorvistas says:

    Great post, Dave. Definitely something to consider when pondering an exit plan. Do the castila plans need to be approved before they are constructed?

    • Dave & Diane says:

      Yes approval by City of Benson and Co-op Architectural Committee are needed. Zoning regulations are in force and building permits are required. Size regulations limit the building to a maximum of 288 square feet with a maximum height of 12 feet. The building may include a full bathroom and laundry but no 220.
      But more than likely a person would end up with a lot that already has a structure on it because very few lots are left that are bare. So if anything some remodeling might be desired.

  2. Very nice analysis Dave. We went thru much of the same “thinking” process when we stayed at the Benson Co-Op two years ago. We, too, put our names on the waiting list there as a sort of “back up” plan for future options. I’m not really sure where we are on the waiting list at this time.

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