Aerial view of Buttonwood Beach RV Resort along Maryland's Eastern Shore.

Like many Pennsylvanians, Jude and Rich Hoar dreamed of owning a vacation house on Chesapeake Bay that they could escape to with their two children, Delaney, 3, and Sydney, 6.

But even though real estate prices have come down with the recession, they searched all over Maryland’s northern Eastern Shore and couldn’t find the kind of property that met their needs. “The homes in our price range were either not taken care of or the access to the beach was not desirable,” Jude Hoar said.

Then they discovered Buttonwood Beach RV Resort, a gated beachfront resort where families can purchase “park models,” 400-square-foot, cottage-like RVs that can be used as weekend retreats or summer vacation cottages, according to a news release.

The Hoars bought their Chesapeake Bay getaway cottage for about $125,000, which includes $65,000 for their fully furnished park model and $60,000 for a 99-year-lease on their RV site.

“We never had an RV product before,” Hoar said. “But the unit we have is very nice and it came with a wonderful view of the bay and all of the amenities of the park, including a playground and pavilion, a pool with a lifeguard and boat storage with private ramps. If we had bought a home, we wouldn’t have all these things.”

Growing numbers of consumers across the country are realizing the park models make sense, not only because of their affordability, but because of the added amenities that campgrounds, RV parks and resorts provide.

“People are cutting back on their expenses as a result of the economic downturn, but they haven’t given up on the idea of owning a vacation cottage, and that creates an marketing opportunity for campgrounds that sell park models,” said Bill Garpow, executive director of the Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA) in Newnan, Ga., which represents the park model industry.

About a third of the nation’s privately owned and operated campgrounds will sell or lease campsites for park model use, Garpow said.

Buttonwood Beach RV Resort, for its part, is home to more than 500 park model owners, many of whom have their own boats, which they use on the Chesapeake Bay.

The Hoars have their own pontoon boat, which they often use when they go to dinner at restaurants along the bay. They also enjoy the beach and the view from their park model.

“The property is on a slant, so we have a view of the bay as well as the Elk River. We watched the sailboats this morning from our porch,” Hoar said.

For more information on Buttonwood Beach RV Resort, please contact Deb Carter at (410) 275-2108 and visit http://buttonwoodbeach.com. For more information on park models and the growth of the park model industry, please contact Bill Garpow at (770) 251-2672 and visit www.rptia.com.