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With how expensive it is to buy a house these days, many people are asking the question: can I live in an RV on my own property?
The answer: it really depends on your location, your property, local laws, and more.
I enjoyed legally having an RV parked on a piece of property that our family owned for years. It was an excellent place for fishing and hiking, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. And, it didn’t cost anything for our RV to be parked there year round.
But what exactly are the zoning laws and logistics about living in an RV on your own property?
Sure, it’s your property and you ought to have the freedom to do what you want with it.
But is it legal to live in an RV on your property? There are many things to consider to make sure you are allowed to live in an RV on your property.
First, you need to be sure that your land is locally zoned for an RV. And, you also need to make sure you have access to the right utility hookups. It’s also essential to be sure you maintain positive relationships with your neighbors, the Homeowners Association, and everyone else who may be impacted by your RV.
But how do you achieve all of this? We’ll answer these questions and more for you below. That way, you can decide for yourself whether RV living on your property is right for you.
Can I Live in an RV on my Own Property?
Yes, you can live in an RV on your own property–as long as your local government codes and HOA allow it.
Living in an RV on your own land or property is a great way to downsize and save money, but unfortunately, it’s not allowed everywhere.
Before deciding to live in an RV on your own property, you’ll need to do some research.
Is it Legal to Live in an RV On Your Own Property?
In some places it’s perfectly legal to live in an RV on your own property. However, in certain towns, cities, and counties, there are laws or ordinances that ban RV living. Some areas have minimum-square-foot requirements, and some HOAs don’t allow RV parking.
Even though you own the property, the fact of the matter is that you must adhere to specific zoning rules and regulations when it comes to how you use your own land. This includes whether or not you can stay in an RV or camper on your property.
If you’re within certain city limits, it’s pretty likely you won’t be able to do so. Rural areas are much more likely to allow you to live in an RV on your property. If you want to be confident you’re complying with your local laws, take these steps:
How to Find Out if You Can Live in an RV On Your Own Land
Here’s how to find out if you can live in an RV on your own land.
1. Check State, County, and City and Ordinances
First, check the state laws where you live. Is there anything saying you can’t live in your RV on your property?
If all is clear on the state level, then check the county and local ordinances. Does your county have any laws against it? What about your town? If you live within a city limit, it may be illegal to live on your deeded lot, but it’s always worth a shot to check.
2. Check for Permitting and Zoning Requirements (If Applicable)
Should your land pass all these steps, you’ll need to determine if your property is zoned for recreational use RV living. If it is, find out if you need to get a permit, because that’s one step you won’t want to forget.
Zoning requirements for RV living control everything from neighborly issues to sanitation. Sometimes it’s difficult to understand the county regulations regarding housing.
Very often, the rules regarding housing are clumped together, so it might be hard to figure out which rules apply specifically to RVs.
If you need help, ask for help from one of the zoning employees at your county government office. I have found them to be very helpful with all sorts of zoning and permitting questions.
3. Find Out if You Need Septic, City Sewer, And/Or a Well
While you are checking your local ordinances, contact your local public health department to find out what kind of sanitation you need for your RV.
If your property already has water and sewer, you should be okay here. Otherwise, find out if you need to install a septic tank and a well or hook up to city sewer.
Figuring out whether or not you can live in your RV on your property might be a bit more complicated than you imagined. But it doesn’t mean “game over” for you and your RV lifestyle. As a responsible recreation enthusiast, it’s up to you to do your due diligence. That way, if someone tries to shut you down, you’ve got the law on your side!
One final step you can take is to hire a real estate attorney to help you sort everything out.
Can I Use my RV As a Guest House, AirBnb, or VRBO on my Own Property?
In some circumstances, you might want to use your RV as a guest house or vacation rental while parked on your own property.
For the most part, there are no permits required to do this on your own property. You will need to check with your local laws and ordinances, as well as with your HOA.
If you are renting out your RV on a site like AirBnb or VRBO, you may need to adhere to additional rules to keep your guests safe.
For more information, see our article on Renting Out an RV on Your Own Property here.
Hooking Your RV Up to Your Utilities
Whether or not you can live on your property in your RV is more than just a legal matter. It’s a matter of logistics health and safety, too. Local or state safety and health regulations may require you to hook up to utilities on your land. After all, you can’t live in an RV without water, sewer, or power, because then you’d just be camping!
So, the next step in the process is to determine whether your property has the utilities you and your RV will need should you decide to live in it. Here’s a list of questions you can use to determine if the property has the proper utilities to support an RV. Whether you already own your land or are on the hunt for a property that’s right for your prospective lifestyle, you’ll need the answers to these questions.
Considerations For Your Property
- Is there access to potable water on the land?
- Does the ground support a septic system?
- Are public water and sewer connections available on the property?
- If need be, can the ground be cleared and leveled for proper parking and utility hookup?
- Is there road frontage?
- Will you need a permit for a driveway apron to access the property?
- What about access to electricity?
- Will you have access to phone and or internet service?
It may take some time to find an affordable, accessible, and enjoyable piece of RV-friendly property. However, if you’re determined to live in your RV, we’d say it’s worth it in the end.
Keep in mind that just because you have access to hooking utilities doesn’t mean it’s ok to live in your RV. Sometimes, zoning and permit regulations are in place to make sure you are living in a safe, clean, and neat manner. After all, RV living ought to be suitable for you as well as for the folks who live around you.
Can I Use a Regular Extension Cord For Electricity When Living In My RV?
No. You should never rely on an extension cord for electricity to your RV. RVs need a lot more power than a regular extension cord can handle–this would be a major fire hazard.
Not only is it a fire hazard, it’s very likely that your area has specific rules and regulations for safe electricity.
Living in an RV On Your Own Property and Homeowners Associations
Homeowners Associations, also known as HOAs, have many rules in place that are intended to preserve the value of a community. Therefore, some HOA’s have restrictions against RVs parked on private property within the community. Of course, your own HOAs decision of whether or not you can live in your RV on your front, side or back of your property depends on the community itself.
One of the primary considerations includes the class of RV. There are three main classes as well as a travel trailers and fifth wheels.
Types of RVs
Class A recreational vehicles loosely match the measurements of a charter bus. They are often 35 feet in length or more. These RVs are the largest, and quite frankly, the most likely to be denied. Some reasons may be because they obstruct views or fail to fit snug in a single driveway.
Class B recreational vehicles look more like a van. Depending on height, these may not fit in a garage, but a driveway is a safe bet.
Class C recreational vehicles can range in size from 18 to 35 feet. Fitting one of these on your property depends on the size of your driveway or lawn.
Travel trailers tow behind a vehicle or truck. The size of these can vary significantly, from 20 feet long to over 40 feet long. If you’re looking to live in your RV in an HOA-managed community, it’s best to pick a vehicle that fits (quite literally) on your land nicely. In places such as these, the opinions of your neighbors matter more than you may realize.
Fifth wheel RVs are the largest type of towable camper. They also feel the most residential and are very popular for people who want to try full-time RV living. However, since fifth wheels are very large, they might not be allowed in certain places because of their size.
Being Neighborly While Living in an RV On Your Own Property
Some people choose a lifestyle that keeps them in contact with others; it feeds their need for socialization. Other people strategically elect a manner of living that puts them out of touch with others. They like the piece of quiet that accompanies a remote environment. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, there’s one thing that’s important to remember. Other people are living in this world can’t always appreciate our way of life. That’s why, if you wish to maintain your recreational vehicle existence, it’s crucial to remain neighborly.
If you plan on living in an RV, it’s always best to let your next door neighbors know ahead of time. This way you can discuss any of their concerns before you spend money to clear or level a spot only to find out you’re blocking your neighbor’s view. Any issues that arise regarding your RV living are best when dealt with firsthand.
It’s always best, in my opinion, to be friendly and talk to your neighbor about your plans ahead of time. If there’s one thing we’ve learned, what’s most important is going after the life we love to lead. For the RVer in you, this means keeping the neighbors pleased, too. In our book, whatever it takes to wake up in an RV every day is well worth the effort.
Other Considerations if You Are Looking for Land to Live in Your RV Full-Time
If you are looking to purchase land to live in your RV, there are quite a few things to consider first.
1. Zoning and Permitting Requirements – as we discussed start here and see if the land even allows RVs.
2. Power, Water, and Sewer – it can be very costly to add a well, septic field and electricity to your property. Instead of a septic field, you might be able to install a septic tank that will need to be pumped out every so often. And instead of electricity, you may be able to install solar power. But all of these options cost serious money.
3. Phone and Cable – You may or may not want phone and cable but if you do are they accessible? If not, can you at least get a cell signal?
4. Location, Location, Location – Is the land convenient to grocery stores, shopping, or work? Is it safe? Is it quiet? What other development could be in the planning stage in the area around the property? Every piece of property has it’s pros and cons but it would be terrible to find the perfect property only to discover that a shopping center or shooting range is going to be built in the future near the property where you want to live.
5. Clearing and Grading – how much will it cost to clear and level the land where you want to park your RV?
6. Access – Will you be required to (or have to) build an access road to your parking location? Some counties even require a permit to install a driveway apron which is the concrete the slopes up from the road to the beginning of your driveway.
7. Prepare for Changing Seasons – Not all RVs are 4-season friendly. And even the ones that are may need a little extra insulation in the cold months!
RV skirting can help keep your RV warm and pest-free in the winter. And if you know you’ll be living in an RV in very cold or hot temps, you can just get a four season camper from the beginning to be better prepared.
Living in your RV on your own property can be a very inexpensive and practical lifestyle for you and your family. We hope this article can give you a starting point to helping you make the best decision regarding living in an RV on your own property.
For some really great info about how to live in an RV on your property check out our other helpful articles:
- Can I Park an RV in My Driveway?.
- How to Install RV Hookups at Home
- Harvest Hosts – A Great Way to Camp for Free!
- How To Find Free RV Camping
- 25 Essential Tips for Storing an RV in Hot Weather
Do you have any advice to share about living in an RV on your own property? Please leave your comments below!