Buying a caravan .... a novices guide

Myself and my family ( me, hubby and our 2 boys - age 4 and 7 ) had spent many a precious year holidaying in my Mother-in-Laws' caravan .... until .... the dreaded day came that she decided to sell it. Looking for positives, we decided that now would be the time to try holidays abroad ... new experiences and seeing new places. We went on 2 foreign holidays last year and it just didn't feel for us like our much enjoyed caravan holidays were. The boys were hot, they needed constantly watching around the pool and after these holidays we felt like we needed another to recover !

So fast forward to this year (May) we decided to return to our trusty caravan site and rent a lodge for a week in the half term. As parents of school children will know, this didn't come cheap, but we didn't mind as this was (supposed to be) our main holiday. Ahhh ... we were back in our most favourite place ! But, and this was a big but, the lodge was dirty, full of old things that needed moving, didn't smell to nice and just wasn't what we had hoped for. One night whilst looking out over the coast to Harlech and Black Rock Sands, I started thinking that ' we could do this ourselves ' ...... and from there grew the start of an idea.

After some easy persuasion on the hubbys part - the minute we got home from the holiday we began doing our research. Here came the shock ... the dreaded site fees. We had to make sure that this was going to be affordable for us else it was a no go. We spent 2 weeks looking for sites in the area we wanted - our beloved North Wales. Initially the plan was to stay closer to home, however the pull of all the places that we have had so many lovely memories took us further away. Oh, and reasonable site fees helped sway us a little too. We varied our search from the very top of North Wales to Porthmadog, we really loved the initial searching - we were all very excited - this soon turned to annoyance as there were so many sites who advertised caravans for sale at very low prices, yet they would be nothing like the pictures advertised with small plots and no garden area. We were starting to lose hope and think that with our small allotted 'pot of money' that we wouldn't get our holiday home after all. I had started to lose interest when the hubby came upstairs one night " Look at this, look at this ! ". I could tell by his excitement that this was worth being disturbed from the start of my sleep for. And so at this point I was introduced to a place called 'Aberdunant Hall' just outside Porthmadog and on the way to Bedgellert. At first I said to the hubby that it was too far, yet after the obligatory internet and you tube searches - I was transfixed. The place looked amazing and we could not wait to visit.

Cue the next weekend - a very, very rainy Saturday we set off from home at 8am to go and look at this amazing place. One of the things I haven't mentioned is that the offer at the time included no site fees until 2020, if this place was right for us, we had a deal maker!

We viewed the first caravan ... it was just not for us. We both felt disheartened and asked was there any more with the site fees deal? The minute we pulled up outside ' the one ' we both knew. Admittedly, it was slightly smaller than we had hoped, however it was only 3 years old. A beautiful stream ran right outside our front window, there was a small enclosed grassed area and a picnic bench for eating. The plot and location was amazing !!!!! This was it !!!!!

Two weeks later we were back, getting our keys and signing on the dotted line. Our sales rep who was amazing, not pushy or anything like that (who has since helped us loads with little things and is more than a sales rep to us now) told us that buying a caravan is easier than buying a car. He was right. Once we had the finance in place we were sorted, and on that day we got our keys to our own holiday home. Don't get me wrong that weekend was hard graft, we painted, we cleaned, we made up flat pack furniture, made beds, etc etc. We are still now adding the little touches that make it our home, but we have loved every minute of it.

Our little 'piece of heaven' as Iike to call it is small, yet practical and it fits our needs perfectly. The Delta Santana 2014 model is perfect for us as a family of 4. The boys have their own room and our bedroom is so light and airy. There is only one bathroom yet it is spacious and will accommodate storage and the shower is powerful. We have found that as a family we have eaten around the table at meal times because there is a table in the corner of the lounge. We have also played many games on the table too - for some reason not what we would have done at home. This has made us enjoy precious family time too.

The beautiful Aberdunant Hall Holiday Park and Hotel is such an awe-inspiring place. It is nestled on the edge of the Snowdonia National Park, and it is home to at least 3 waterfalls (we have found 2 so far). The park is so peaceful and quiet, the walks and trails are amazing and we haven't even done them all yet ! The Hall itself and it's grounds is out of this world. The food and drink there is delicious and reasonably priced with special offers on the weekend. The views alone make for an amazing dining/socialising experience, and all the staff are extremely lovely and helpful. But the best bit of Aberdunant is how the park is kept so well maintained and clean. The rangers there deserve a pat on the back because it really is kept so lovely.

I can honestly say that buying this caravan has been the best thing we have ever done as a family. Although we haven't yet done a full year here, already we have had some amazing times out of our second home and made some new friends. As the start of the summer holidays approach, we are planning to spend the majority of our summer there, all other holidays have been cancelled and we cannot wait to get back there ! We tend to spend our days out on the beach or around the local towns, and evenings are spent having BBQs together with food from the local butchers. We have found that the first few months have been quite costly as you are setting up of what is your ' other home '. So the little things like irons, microwaves, kettles, etc, and all the other things do in fact soon mount up, but this is the price to pay for what will be years of use and fun.

What tips could I give to novices like us? Do your research. Make sure you are not tied into any deals and that site fees are not going to raise and raise every year to the point where it then becomes unaffordable. Save as much money before as you can because you will need it when you first set up your holiday home. Most of all make sure your second home is in a place where you can envisage yourself living and having fun and making some unforgettable memories ... at the end of the day, that's what it's all about.



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