An RV site value isn't necessarily the posted rate. It might be to the IRS. But, there's more to deciding how many hours to work for a site than dividing the cost of the site by an hourly figure. Determining what the campsite is worth, and to whom, can be tricky. Here's help.
If you are bartering -- trading your labor for a campsite -- the site has a value for tax purposes. Sources tend to agree that the value of the site is the fair market value. That's often defined as the regular or posted rate the campground owner charges customers for a similar site. It's logical that if you are working by the week -- trading so many hours of work a week for your RV site -- that the site value is what the RV park owner posts as the regular weekly rates.
That may or may not be the site's true value to you.
The real RV site value to you may be what you would have paid for rent if you didn't have that site. You may have chosen to stay at a much less expensive park. Or, you might have boondocked in the dessert. Or, parked your RV in a friend's driveway. In those instances, the site may have had little or no value to you. You may figure the value of the RV site is the amount you have left in your pocket (or bank account) that you wouldn’t have if you hadn't stayed there. In other words, how much money did you save on RV parking costs by doing the work-for-site trade?
But other factors come into play.
Take for example a campground in the Florida Keys that charges $3200 per month. That is the actual rate I found posted on a campground's website, when I did a search for "florida keys campground." That is the discounted monthly rate. Many RVers can't afford to pay that much in monthly rate. But, they'd love to spend a few months in the Keys. Working in exchange for a site can be an incredible deal at these high-end parks.
You might not consider paying $1000 or $2000 per month for a campsite. But, if you'd like to stay at a particular resort with special amenities, you might be willing to do a work-for-your-site exchange. The trade could let you experience an RVing style that you otherwise wouldn't. That experience could be worth more than what you would have normally paid for a campground.
Perhaps working for your campsite allows you to stay in the area where your grandchildren live. RV parks may be in high demand there, with full occupancy. If the RV site is part of your compensation package, you know you have the site for the entire season. And, you may be able to entertain your grandchildren on your days off, having them stay with you at the park, at no extra cost.
Maybe you want to experience a state or national park for an extended time. Many of them restrict paying customers to a 10 to 14 day stay. One way to get around that limitation is to do volunteer work for your site. What is it worth to spend an entire season at Yellowstone?
The RV site value could be more to you than the posted rate. In situations where working for your site allows you to do something you otherwise couldn't do, there may be no way to assign an exact monetary figure.
On the other hand, the RV site value could be less.
If you have a self-contained recreational vehicle, you may not need electricity or other utility hook-ups. Paid electricity may be part of the site's stated value. But, if you have a good sized solar system, you may never use the park's shore power. Cable TV may be included. But, if you don't watch television, that doesn't add campsite value to you.
It's easy to look at simple formulas, but they don't take each person's needs into account. WiFi at no additional cost is highly valuable to some. If you have unlimited data with your cell phone, you may or may not use the park's WiFi. If you don't use the park's WiFi, that utility doesn't increase the RV site value to you.
Another aspect to consider is this: Who benefits when you stay at the campground -- you or the campground owner? Does the job require you to live on site? If you are required to live at the park, the IRS may determine there is no monetary value to you. That technicality may or may not affect your perceived value of the RV site.
Only you can determine what a campground site is worth to you. The RV site value may be the weekly, monthly, or seasonal rate the park charges. But, when deciding on how many -- if any -- hours of work you should trade for your site, consider other factors, as well.