Although work is plentiful in oil boom towns with available jobs sometimes outnumbering the job seekers looking for them, the sudden influx of large numbers of people into small cities and towns has very often resulted in severe housing shortages (workers_needed, worker_camps).
In boom towns, rents have become exceedingly expensive with prices going up as high as $500 for a bedspace, around $2000 for a rented RV, and almost $4000 a month for a two-bedroom house (high_rents, no_vacancy). According to the degree of desirability and/or convenience, accommodations for oilfield personnel can be ranked as follows: (1) local motels, hotels, apartments, rented rooms and houses, (2) custom-built hotels with long-term leases, (3) university dormitories, (4) personal or rented trailers or RVs, (5) “man camps,” (6) homeless shelters, and (7) cars or tents in parking lots, public parks, and vacant lots.
Custom-built hotels and motels are identical with regular motels and hotels, except that their construction is typically financed by the oil companies or manpower providers and that their potential occupants have to wait for months before they become available. School dormitories are of course available only to oilfield personnel who also happen to be at least part-timed enrolled students (student_dorms). Personal or rented RVs are very desirable as long as parking places with adequate sewer, power, and gas connections are plentiful, and that the rents for the rented RVs are not too steep.
“Man camps” do not provide as much privacy as rented rooms, houses, and RVs, and their quality can vary widely according to the generosity of the company that had them built, but they do provide just about the same level of comfort as regular rented accommodations. Their only real drawback could be overcrowding, with some personnel having to get used to military-style-barracks living conditions. What's nice about man camps though is that canteens or catering, laundry services, etc. are usually included. Although many man camps are directly owned by the oil, drilling, or well-service companies and the rooms are provided free for their workers, some are not free (man_camp).
Homeless shelters are sometimes available (at least for a limited time); and these are usually sought after by people looking for a temporary upgrade from living in a tent or a car. Camping out in tents and cars in parking lots, parks, and vacant spaces is the least desirable and most dangerous option for all the obvious reasons, with lack of adequate heating, restroom/shower, and laundry facilities being the most prevalent problems. If you ever find yourself in this situation, it is of course usually safer to stay at a place where other campers are staying; and the closer you are to public restrooms and 24-hour convenience stores, the better and safer it gets (typically). Vacant spaces near law enforcement offices, fire stations, or state or county hospitals are also preferable if staying in these places is tolerated.
As already mentioned, man camps provide the basic necessities but quality and privacy can vary widely, with some providing bedrooms with bunk beds for four or more people. Other man camps do provide a room for every individual and some even have single-occupancy rooms with included toilet/shower facilities, which is just about the best deal one could have in these places. There could be segregation by rank though, with the more experienced and “valuable” workers being housed in better accommodations than those who are at the lowest rungs.
Here is a short list of man-camp construction companies taken from a random online search. They typically provide very similar if not identical qualities of accommodations and services, with some companies giving greater emphasis on some aspects of camp service (such as security or food quality, for example). But all these companies do usually provide whatever extra/s the client asks for. The brief descriptions provided here were taken directly from each company's website.
1. Ameri-Tech Industries (www.ameritechbuildings.com) provides modular buildings with these standard features: “central HVAC system (heat and A/C), top quality furnishings and appliances, heavy-duty, all-steel skid frames and units, one piece, heavy-duty all-steel doors, standard or custom kitchens, comfortable bedrooms, spacious living rooms, standard or custom bathrooms, and laundry rooms.”
2. Caterig/Dingo (http://caterig.com, http://dingorss.com) provide rapidly deployable, standardized, modular resident buildings with included: “communications, voice & IT [connections], wastewater treatment solutions, single or shared bedrooms, dormitories/barracks-style [trailers], private or group showers/toilets, kitchenette and/or catered dining room, fitness facility and a [recreational] games room, laundry facilities, and parking spaces [with heater or electrical] plug-ins. Each room has a satellite television, lockable storage and dresser, a desk, and wireless Internet access [in addition to the bed].”
3. DRC Group (http://drcusa.com) offers: “multi unit buildings for single or dual person occupancy and large air-conditioned individual bedrooms [with] individual baths. The camp includes individual modular housing units, workout facilities/gymnasium, a communal area, a cafeteria serving three meals daily, additional outdoor recreation and barbecue areas, 100 & 250-man kitchens and large indoor dining facilities with walk-in freezers and coolers, multiple MWR facilities, power generation and grid with generators, laundry facilities, sewer, waste water services, and water facilities.” Supplied services include: “drilling of water wells and provision of clean treated water, provision, maintenance, cleaning and servicing of portable toilets, catering, pest control, travel and banking facilities, telecommunication, VOIP and Internet facilities, mechanical and service shops for trucks and equipment, security, [optional] helicopter hilltop standby rescue and medical services, construction of barriers, roads, traffic intersections, and refueling areas.”
4. Oak Creek Factory Built (http://oakcreekfactorybuilt.com) provides heavy-duty, transportable constructions units that feature: “12-inch-wide steel I-beams for maximum strength and durability, extra-length reinforced tow bar hitches, 19/32-inch tongue and groove OSB flooring, additional outriggers, oversized steel exterior doors, fluorescent light fixtures, steel mesh wire 'underbelly', 2x4-square-inch sidewall studs, R-11 floors, R-11 sidewalls, R-22 ceilings, mini blinds on all windows, and brushed-nickel hardware.”
5. Oil Shale Hotels (http://oilshalehotels.com) offers custom-designed hotels as well as man camps that can have 100 to 1000 individual units. The company builds the hotels at their expense and operate them for the employees of the respective clients. Meals, maid service, laundry, etc. are also included.
6. PTI Group (www.ptigroup.com) offers a range of: “shared rooms to private suites, [plus] hot meals, recreation rooms, and...a complete range of accommodation options to house your staff for any length of time.” A specialized company division (Chimo Water & Wastewater) provides on-site or off-site, regulatory-standards-compliant water and wastewater storage, treatment, and transport solutions, including the provision of “complete support services [for] securing permits, site construction, set-up, maintenance and system operation, sample testing, monitoring and relocation.”
7. Snoozebox (www.snoozebox.com) is a UK-based company that offers self-contained, transportable housing units in “flexible configurations from 40 to 400 rooms [and that] can be fully operational and ready to welcome guests within 48 hours of arriving at almost any event or location around the world.”
8. Stallion (www.stallionoilfield.com) provides customized semi-permanent camp complexes suitable for 400 or more personnel. The camps are designed to provide “the ultimate in privacy and comfort in an innovative, modular design...[with a] versatile three-part, skid-mounted system [providing] optimum space efficiency.”
9. Target Logistics (www.targetlogistics.net) offers a “fully enclosed semi-permanent camp with 'dorm-style' bedrooms and central corridor...which provides an environmentally controlled link to all the rooms in the facility.” Their multiple-room personnel lodges include “24-hour dining service, a game/recreation room, fitness center/sauna, free self-service laundry, Internet café/free Wi-Fi access.” Each room has “pillow-top mattresses, oversized towels, 250-thread-count sheets, overstuffed pillows, poly-filled comforters, flat-screen TV/DVD, [and] ample storage [racks/compartments/spaces].” The company also provides an upgradeable, three-tiered, 24-hour security.
10. Taylors International Services and JFP Services (www.taylors-international.com) feature “wotels” (working man's hotels) that offer: “single or double rooms, executive suites, private or semi-private baths, Sealy posturepedic beds and mattresses, satellite TV and wireless Internet [access] in each room, catered-dining, daily maid service, laundry service, recreation & fitness center, meeting rooms, business center, security cameras, and 24-hour gated security [service].”