Time was winding down for Lindsey Pope, an Auburn junior in pre-veterinarian animal sciences, and her boyfriend, Nick McCauley, to find a home before starting school in August. The house they were hoping to buy had just gone off the market because of a hefty offer from another buyer.
“He bid way over the price they were asking for, and we bid just at the price,” McCauley said while laughing.
The unfortunate sale came in late July, a time when most dorms are full, almost all apartments are occupied and any houses left on the market are bought out by high bidders.
Pope and McCauley scrambled to find a home near campus but quickly realized they would need to look at more unusual options with August just around the corner. A veterinarian training Pope told her of her own peculiar living conditions when she was a student at Auburn.
The lightbulb went off, and after convincing McCauley of the benefits, they found themselves searching for lots in University Station RV Resort. A place where recreational vehicles are also called home. Only a home set on gravel.
“She had to go to school,” McCauley said, recalling the stressful days with a smile now. “What were we going to do, live under a bridge? Apartment costs are so high, you might as well be paying the mortgage on a house.”
Once they realized an RV would be a suitable place to live, they abandoned the apartment option. At the resort were other students, other campers and the RV management team, all waiting to greet the new neighbors.
“The students back here are a community,” said Kayla Ceman, the manager at University Station. “In apartment buildings, you don’t really have that. Here, they look after each other like a family.”
After McCauley and Pope decided on University Station as their location, they only needed one final thing: an RV.
“It’s a different experience,” McCauley said about what it was like to go RV shopping. “It’s like looking for a house.”
They searched online, then went in person to inspect the vehicles up close. Some fit the stereotype of a cramped living space, but others were more spacious. The prospective RV residents settled on a one bedroom camper, with a bathroom, full kitchen and a sizeable living room area. They gutted the furniture that came with the RV, allowing plenty of runway for their puppy Doberman to roll around.
On one end of the large area is a neatly made bed, on the opposite is the kitchen with a stove, microwave and a television, snuggled in between drawers.
“Lindsey’s talked about putting a little fence up, some rustic wood accents inside, it’s just about making it your own,” McCauley said.
Useful amenities like free laundry and the outdoor scene as a whole has made living in an RV attractive for them and the other students alike.
The tiny living space movement has become en vogue recently. HGTV’s “Tiny Homes Hunters” is nearing four years on the network.
“My buddies – they come in and say, ‘Man, it’s a lot more spacious than you’d think it was,’ and they actually really enjoy it,” McCauley said.
The lot is just over 3 miles away from Jordan-Hare Stadium, and when the football festivities are going on, the RV becomes one of the many campers to partake in the game-day traditions at the tailgating resort.
During football season, University Station welcomes hundreds of vehicles transporting even more faithful tiger fans to its beloved town. The RV resort becomes bustling with tailgaters, and the graveled streets are covered with football fans eating chips and waving orange pompoms.
But after the final whistle of the game, most RVs are left desolate in these resorts, and the touchdown dances and celebrations transform into tranquility. The area then becomes home to a handful of permanent residents, most of which are current Auburn students, and of those, two were in a race against the first day of class to get situated only months prior.
After graduating and moving out, the two of them see their current home as the gift that will keep on giving.
“On weekends we can say, ‘Hey, let’s take the camper out to the lake, camp by the water, then come back home,” McCauley said. “That’s the plan.”
The home is already presenting them with gifts, however, like a relaxing place to enjoy the woods, which serves as their backyard.
Deer are a common sight, and a stroll with their dog is accompanied by the chirps of birds constant throughout the woods. When the thumping of a hammer is heard far away, McCauley pointed out the oddity of it. The same cannot be said for apartments closer to downtown, where construction noises are a more common tune.
“I really do enjoy it out here,” McCauley said while gazing the surroundings of his RV. “I’m more of a country person anyway.”
When asked what made the RV home for McCauley, he said it was about his friends and family.
“Without Lindsey here, it would be boring – also pets,” he said while looking at his barking Doberman.
“One negative to RVs is they’re not too soundproof,” he said as he acknowledged his puppy’s plea for playtime. Once freed, the Doberman sniffed the gravel beneath his paws and enjoyed the crisp afternoon air.
Six months ago, the clock was ticking for this Auburn family of three. Now, they couldn’t be more comfortable inside their home on wheels.