How to start an end-time community in Europe?

What might an end-times community look like? Is it something that would be desirable? How could it be appealing to both the residents and the planning authorities? We consider those questions in this article.

How to start an end-time community in Europe?
Photo by Alan Billyeald / Unsplash

The question here is really, how do I get planning permission to start an end-time community in Europe?

Pre-ramble

Are you a camper, or a caravanner? You know that feeling once everything is set up and the kids run off to play and you can sit and relax and drink a glass of wine.

You're surrounded by trees and fields and maybe have a lake nearby or some mountains. It's idyllic, the perfect place to relax and spend time together as a family finding peace and tranquillity.

That can easily be ruined when some rowdy neighbours turn up, or a family decides that packing up at 6am is a good idea, or when a baby starts crying in the night. But on the whole, it is enjoyable.

So I got thinking, can you keep the good and remove the bad?

For a start it would need to be year-round so unfortunately tents would be out, most of them cannot endure UV radiation longer than about 3 months and they would constantly need water-proofing. Not to mention the cold in winter and how miserable they are when it's raining.

Tepees and Yurts could however be a long term housing option alongside some caravans and chalets.

Camping Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Close to nature with great views
  • Comparatively cheap buildings (to purchase, not to rent weekly)
  • Shared facilities like playgrounds, restaurant, shop, swimming pool etc.
  • Other children that your children can play with
  • Very few cars
  • No road or construction noises (some villages also have this)
  • You can move if you don't like the pitch

Cons

  • Can be noisy with children or groups
  • Far from places of employment
  • Can be expensive in the short-term
  • Often cramped and small pitches
  • Shared facilities can be dirty or unpleasant
  • Washing facilities can be a bit of a walk

Maximise the Pros and Minimise the Cons

I think a single solution is obvious to address several of these issues

Make the pitches larger.

By making the pitches larger you address the cramped feeling and reduce the noise. It would push up the cost but we'll consider cost separately.

Make the caravans, chalets sturdier.

Actually, I've only stayed in a caravan a handful of times and in a chalet also only a couple of times. I think on larger pitches in a chalet or caravan, the noise would not be a problem. The weather would also not be a problem.

Offer more long term lets.

I've been to a few private caravan parks in England that only offer long term lets and they are very peaceful and usually well-kept. The downside is that they are also usually retirement villages. Many of them cannot offer 12-month accommodation because of their licenses and so retirees spend the winter in Portugal and the rest of the year at the village.

Consider this caravan park in the town where I grew up. I would regularly walk the dog past this caravan park beside the lake.

Cheshire Caravan Park | Lakeside Caravan Park & Holiday Site | Thornley Leisure Parks
Price the rent accordingly.

Finally, the pricing needs to be right. This will largely address the quality of the shared facilities and the quality of the residents. When the cash flow is sufficient then the facilities can be properly maintained. Together with long term residents who are more inclined to take care of the facilities.

What about a holiday village?

In the UK, holiday villages are a thing and these too can be very pleasant. They do not cater to caravaners or campers and so maintain a better stock of accommodation. The accommodation can and does still get rented out to short term guests through Airbnb and other sites and often the chalets are income earners for their owners.

The holiday village in Filey is a place where we stayed as a family of four (at the time) in one of the chalets or cabins. It was a great size for our family for the week we were there and a great location. We went in October though and being a holiday village, it was very quiet. I'd say too quiet.

The Bay Filey | Luxury Holiday Homes | Aria Resorts Homes
Discover the beauty of the Yorkshire coast at our peaceful holiday village in The Bay Filey. Venture onto sandy beaches and explore the countryside with Aria Resorts Homes.

These places could be a bit like living in Ibiza year-round. Super busy in the summer and deadly quiet in the Winter. The obvious solution to this is simply to define in the terms and conditions how the properties are to be used.

Near where we used to live, the Lake District in England is very popular for holidaymakers. They also have some great examples of peaceful holiday villages such as this one in Keswick.

Keswick Reach Lodge Retreat
“Enjoy a memorable break in the beautiful Lake District at Keswick Reach Lodge Retreat. From luxury lodges to contemporary holiday homes there are all kinds of amazing accommodation options available to enjoy during your stay. Relax and enjoy indulgent therapies at the on-site spa featuring a sauna…

What do I want?

I've been writing a series of articles about this subject recently. Really I'm gathering my thoughts and hoping you'll find some inspiration there also.

You may be asking yourself, how is this in keeping with some of the topics of this blog. It's simple, I want to live a life at peace with God, my neighbours and nature. And I anticipate a future where people will need to fend more for themselves.

I cannot afford to buy a plot of building land big enough for a house and farming land to support a family. Neither would I get permission in Europe to buy a field and build a house big enough to live in year-round. It seems like a catch-22, either have a house or have some growing land.

The second, subordinate thought, is that if I can live together with like-minded people then we can share the labour of running a farm and share the costs for many of the things that get used only occasionally.  Much like a campsite.

So with those two thoughts in mind, what I want to do is:

  • buy some land big enough to farm including some woodland
  • including some buildings because this would allow some further development of the land
  • invite like-minded people and families to join long-term

Either a farm with some buildings would suffice. Or a campsite that is being sold for a cheap price.

Such ventures with a particular end-time focus are already ongoing in other countries. One that I'm aware of is Ark Haven.

Intentional Christian Community| ArkHaven
ArkHaven is a Christian Community, offering an Intentional Christian Living Communityexperience. The top Intentional Christian Community for believers!

Planning Permission

What I've done is shown examples of communities that exist and in other articles, I've shown more cohousing projects. The take-away is that there is a variety of concepts that can and do work and it is provable.

The question is how to get the planning authorities to approve it. For that I will need to speak to an expert.

Cost Breakdown

Many community projects have a central purse and require everyone to forsake their savings and jobs in order to join. That's one way to raise funds but I wouldn't want to make it a condition of joining. A one-time refundable deposit may be appropriate. This would raise cash quickly to make improvements beneficial to the residents.

  • Chalets or other dwellings would need to be purchased by the owners.
  • Ground rent could feasibly be €200-400 per month.
  • Shared facilities and personal utilities would cost anywhere from €100-600 per month depending on the quality of the buildings and the number of facilities provided.

I would like to keep the total cost for a family below €1500 a month because once they purchase food then their monthly outgoings would be €2000.

They would need to cover these costs through their own means. Working remotely is possible in 2022, or commuting to the local town.

I'd imagined a community of 25 families, but looking at the Keswick retreat, they have close to 100 lodges. Sure they're a little cramped, but that can easily be fixed with some larger plots. The bigger the scale the better the community and the better the facilities can be. Economies of scale are real!

The conclusion here is that we'll just have to try it out and see what fits. There can also be a period of cost discovery if starting small and with a like-minded community.

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