Texas Workamping Update: Final Edition
Disclaimer: We are in no way affiliated with or representing Texas Lakeside RV Resort. We are simply detailing our experience for those interested in our Workamping Job in Port Lavaca, Texas.
NOVEMBER 15, 2018: Our third official workamping job has come to an end. Just like our previous ones, it was a positive experience. We had more stinky laundry (it was hot, y’all) and a longer stay than our Amazon Camperforce experience in Campbellsville, Kentucky and definitely warmer waters, but less scenic views than our gig in Bar Harbor, Maine. We have always enjoyed and appreciated reading about others’ experiences working on the road. So to those who have shared their stories with us - thank you! As a way to pay it forward, we hope this recap of our workamping experience in Texas will provide similar information for others. Remember that your job experience is what you make of it. Below you will find some information about the job and area as well as some numbers that detail our experience.
The owners of Texas Lakeside RV Resort (Doug and Dana) have owned and operated campgrounds for about six years and have utilized a mix of workampers and local employees. In addition to Texas Lakeside RV Resort which was well-designed from the ground-up by the owner Doug, they also own a nearby campground, Serendipity Bay RV Resort in Palacios, Texas. Being located in a state where campgrounds are able to be up and running year around, they are looking for longer-term commitments than in comparison to other workamping opportunities. Being that lots of the tasks are hands-on, the owners provided some on-the-job training to learn the ropes, but not every detail is able to be covered. Most tasks were able to be completed in the manner that worked best for each individual, but there were things that they wanted to be done exactly in a certain manner. The majority of the time, they supported the decisions made by the employees when an “on the spot” decision needed to be made. Usually they were only a phone call away if need be for advice on how to handle something. During the course of our time there, there were times we had to deal with a situation in a different manner than we would have done which was difficult. However, it was also one of the things we enjoy about being workampers. We don’t have to call the shots or make the big decisions, we get to show up to work and do our best to complete the tasks we are given. The owners were very accommodating for scheduling requests that were given with plenty of notice. They would fill in when necessary or help in shuffling schedules to make it work for everyone.
After officially signing our work contract with Texas Lakeside RV Resort in late September, we made our way to Port Lavaca to commence our year-long work assignment on November 15th. Our initial work hours, according to our contract, were to work three days a week, eight hours a day, for a total of 24 hours per week. The days off would allow us to explore cities and areas in Texas, which was one of our primary reasons for working in this locale. We were also aware that during our projected 12 month period of time at Texas Lakeside our schedule would most likely change, and we were ok with that also.
We settled into our initial schedule pretty easily, working Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, from 9 AM to 6 PM, while also locking up the pool and clubhouse at 10 PM on the days we worked. Our commute to work was reasonable (approximately 30 steps!), so lunch was a relaxing hour inside Charlie with our feet kicked up eating and relaxing a little bit. A couple of weeks after our arrival, due to a medical emergency, the other workamping couple had to leave on short notice and return to Florida. While we wished them the best, we also knew that our schedule would change to cover the needs at the Resort. We began working the other couple’s four days a week, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, while now locking up the pool and club house seven days a week, since we were now the only employees actually living on site. The other three days in the office were now being covered by an employee who lived locally.
Over the next several months, as some workamping couples came and went at Texas Lakeside, as well as at their sister resort, Serendipity Bay, we tried to go with the flow and work when we were asked to work, or adjust job duties or hours as needed. While we were always good employees that did not stop us from complaining to each other about our true feelings regarding these changes. The change we probably complained about the most was the times we had to stop working the schedule we came to enjoy the most. That schedule was a two week work cycle that went like this, 2 - 2 - 5 - 5. That’s two days off, two days working, five days off, and five days working.
We enjoyed the consistency of this schedule because it allowed us to plan trips, outings, or people visiting us, without impacting our ability to work. We complained to each other the most when we would plan a flight for a trip, like a visit to Florida for doctor appointments, and then our schedule would change. This would require the owners to work, or other workampers to change their schedule for us. Not our preference to cause others inconvenience, but it always seemed to work out.
At the end of the day, we made the schedule work despite some changes and minor venting to each other. Our daily work hours were always consistent and easy to accomplish when you factored in the commute! As we try to do at all of our workamping jobs, we remained flexible while accommodating the needs of the business.
Although we’ve obviously stayed at many, having never worked at an RV park before, we really weren’t sure what to expect. And having said that, the work environment most likely changes from RV park to RV park, mostly dependent on the owners / managers of each park. We would consider the work environment at Texas Lakeside RV Resort similar to some companies dress codes, business casual. After some initial training, and learning the routine at the Resort, we had a pretty good idea what needed to be accomplished and what the owners expected to be done at their park. Things always come up over the course of 12 months, but in general we both had a pretty good idea what was expected of us while we worked. Betsy’s work running and maintaining the office may have been a little more structured than my work outside, but both jobs had expectations. Initial visual impressions are very important, so just the simple task of picking up trash or debris around the Resort was something I took on as a daily routine. We both took the cleaning portion of our jobs quite seriously, as many people judge their entire impression of an RV park on the cleanliness of the restrooms. With all of this being what we considered the “business” part of our job, the rest we both considered casual.
Once you got outside of the owner’s general guidelines, the atmosphere was pretty casual. For the most part the owners remained “hands-off” on a day to day basis, stepping in or offering input only when necessary. We were left free to be the “face of the park” daily, helping guests with their needs or requests. Betsy and I don’t mind consistency and routine at a job, so we didn’t mind doing things the owner’s wanted, while maintaining a casual attitude. The casualness of the job definitely bled over into our daily work attire. With the mild winter and hot summer on the Gulf Coast of Texas, Betsy certainly enjoyed dressing for work on most days in flip-flops, shorts and a top. Being outside in the elements a little more, hiding from the sun in the summer and the cold in the winter, I also settled into a work “uniform” that included some type of hat (always!), a long sleeve shirt, lightweight long pants and work/hiking shoes. Betsy always noticed the milder weather on laundry days when she didn’t have any socks in the clothes basket. She always says, “You know it’s a good weather week when you got no socks in the laundry!”
So money isn’t everything, but everything needs money. So let’s get down to it… Being that we had the same schedule, our hours worked were very similar. On average, I worked an average of 29.5 hours a week, while Russ averaged 29 hours a week. The difference was almost always at the end of the shift, when I was doing the final financial closeout from the day. The shifts each day were from 9 AM - 6 PM, making each work day equate to 8 working hours once taking at an hour for lunch or what we would call “Salad Hour”! We were paid $10.00/hour for all hours worked.
As you can see, we are not getting rich with our day jobs, but have found a sense of freedom in this lifestyle. Port Lavaca is a town we would have never ever visited (I know you should never say, never), but I’m 99.9% certain we would have never ended up there in our previous life. The town doesn’t have much to offer, but we also wouldn’t have gotten the chance to meet the people we did there. Some that we will remember and reminisce about for ages and hope to cross paths with again someday.
One of the biggest known perks of Workamping jobs is a free campsite. Whether it equates to paying a mortgage, renting an apartment, staying in a hotel or parking our “home” Charlie at a campground, money is always involved in where you lay your head at night. So we consider it part of our compensation when a job includes a free place to park our home! This eliminates a big line item on our budget sheet which means earning less is okay. When less is going out, less can be coming in without as much worry. In addition to site rent, we were also comped our electric. Our electric bills ranged, along with the weather running higher in the very cold months and very hot months. Our bill averaged $87.47/month, with our highest month being $132.37 (thank you air conditioning) in July and lowest bill coming in the month of April at $47.19 (thank you beautiful, windows-open weather). Despite not paying for our own electric, we did conserve when possible to 1) not waste electricity 2) to maintain the longevity of our air conditioners and 3) to not be an added burden on the campground’s electric bill each month! We kept our thermostat at the temperature we would have if we had been paying the electric bill. Our electric for the year totaled $1,049.74 which we consider additions to our total compensation for the year.
Cable and WiFi was included with the monthly site rent, so that was another added “free” bonus. The cable was sketchy at best when we first arrived, so we opted to use our Dish satellite which added a bill of $80/month, the price we pay for good TV and the luxury of DVR. However, in May, the campground cable was upgraded to a HD picture with nearly 100 channels. A combination of this upgrade and a few issues with our Dish service, we decided to discontinue our Dish for the remainder of our stay which eliminated their monthly email to pay the bill! That change required us to sacrifice the channel guide and DVR, but we quickly adapted to the TV guide app and watching some of our favorites via recorded episodes on the network’s websites. See, you can teach an old dog new tricks. (Sorry, Russ! But if it helps, you are my favorite Fido!) My most dreaded conversation while working in the office at Texas Lakeside RV Resort was the WiFi question/complaint. To be honest, during most of our stay, we were impressed by the WiFi. It is important to remember, campground WiFi is not known to be great - you’re camping, people! So when a campground has decent WiFi that allows you to do the basics quickly and with ease, we are impressed. However, when Texas Lakeside RV Resort added 40 more sites without any improvements to the WiFi system, the quality of the connection tanked. This in addition to likely some nearby neighbors using the WiFi for streaming purposes, required us to rely more on our own cellular hotspots.
Our job duties at Texas Lakeside RV Resort were pretty much in line with what most others experience while workamping at campgrounds / RV resorts across the country. We’re certain that everyplace has its own unique requirements, but in general the duties are similar. The work contract we signed for Texas Lakeside had a list of bullet points for each of our jobs, but I think we can break it down to something much simpler than that.
Betsy was essentially responsible for running the front office of the Resort. This involved checking guests in / out when needed, answering questions / requests, cleaning the restrooms / clubhouse / office and receiving / processing rent and electric payments from the Resort guests. On the days we were scheduled to work, Betsy was the voice on the phone when you called the Resort, the face you saw when you walked in the door and the name on any financial transactions for the day. And even though it didn’t appear on her original list of job duties, it was her job to summon me any time a customer needed something checked, fixed or cleaned up, and most importantly, any time someone needed PROPANE!
Russ pretty much covered anything outside of the main building / clubhouse. Most days outside were dedicated to maintaining / cleaning the pool and spa, mowing grass, power washing empty sites, picking up trash and trimming palm trees. Ok, that last one might surprise some people, but palm trees require maintenance to keep them looking good. Oh yea, how could I forget, when the temps cooled off, no matter what Russ was doing at the time, when his phone rang it was most likely Betsy calling to fill someone’s propane tank. Spending my days out and about the resort, I may not have been able to tell you every guests name like Betsy could, but I could tell you what kind of truck they drove, what kind of sewer hose they used and how neat they kept their site. It was also nice to assist guests who may have been new to the world of RV’s or just had something that wasn’t quite working right on their trailer. My RV repair tech training may not have made me any extra money, but it nice to know it may have helped a guest out of a jam, or saved them a dollar or two.
The location of our last workamping job in Maine was pretty incredible as far as scenery, so we certainly weren’t expecting to top that. What did intrigue us about the location was that it would serve as a good “home base.” From where we were parked at Texas Lakeside in Port Lavaca, Texas we could be enjoying the beach and waves of the Gulf of Mexico in about an hour, we could be in San Antonio in time for brunch, get more than our fair share of retail therapy in Houston or take photos of all the quirky murals in Austin in less than three hours. While in most states, 3 hours is quite the drive, in Texas it is considered a short commute!
We arrived in November just in time to soak in the sunshine and warm weather. But before long, chilly days and cold nights and even some snow arrived. This wasn’t supposed to happen in hot and humid Texas! It was short-lived and before long we were experiencing the true Texas - hot days and warm nights! With temperatures in the high 90s during the day and still in the low 80s at night, we spent many of our days off pool-side. Did we mention Texas Lakeside had a beautiful pool & hot tub area - BONUS?! As October rolled around, we welcomed back the cooler temperatures.
We were thankful for our coastal location in comparison to the more inland parts of Texas which saw temperatures that exceeded 100. While being located near the Lavaca Bay and the Gulf of Mexico benefited us weather-wise, it was still quite the drive unless we sprouted wings and followed the birds on the more direct route to the Gulf.
In comparison to our other workamping jobs, we loved the short or should we say almost non-existent commute of about 30 steps which also meant lunch at home. Russ always says I’m the best snack-packer, but I certainly did not miss having to pack lunches every day before heading to work. I could even get dinner started during our lunch break. However, when you live where you work, there is always the chance of getting calls or having to attend to a situation after hours. Whereas workamping jobs not located at an RV Park / Campground, once you are home you are definitely off the clock. So obviously there is advantages and disadvantages to being parked where you work and vice versa.
OUR EXPERIENCE IN NUMBERS:
The number one question people ask is “WOULD YOU DO IT AGAIN”?
As we have said at the end of all of our work commitments, there are too many places to see and experience to return to the same place over and over. What we will do again, is work at another RV Park / Campground, maybe even again in Texas. After all, it’s a big state and even though we traveled several hours from Port Lavaca in every direction but East, as that would have required some sort of boat, we still only saw a small portion of the state. What we likely won’t do again, is commit to a year in one location upfront. As you have heard us say, we contracted a case of “Hitch Itch” and were ready to hitch-up the trailer and move on to other adventures before the year ended. So while we may find ourselves stopping in for a night or two at Texas Lakeside RV Resort on our way to other parts of Texas, you likely won’t see my smiling face in the office or Russ sporting his big straw hat and dusk mask on the mower of the grounds. As we have in all our jobs, we enjoyed learning new things, meeting new people and exploring places nearby which is what we always hope our nomadic career is all about.
For anyone interested in this workamping job in the future, please send us a message. We would be happy to provide you with more details about our experience and try to answer any questions you may have.
If you are curious about the world of Workamping, checkout Workamper® News the company that coined the term Workamper® back in 1987. They offer a free membership that allows you to search for jobs and receive the digital version of their magazine. If you do opt for the gold membership which includes additional features like a resume builder & printed magaizine, we would love if you would mention that you were referred by Russ & Betsy simply by using the code AMB103.
RUSS & BETSY'S WORKAMPING REVIEWS / UPDATES:
- - - Texas Lakeside RV Resort in Port Lavaca, Texas (November 2017 - November 2018):
- - - Acadia Bike & Coastal Kayaking in Bar Harbor, Maine (June - October 2017):
- - - Amazon Camperforce in Campbellsville, Kentucky (October - December 2016):