Can I Live in an RV on My Property?
The land is yours. You want to live there in your RV, but can you, is doing so legal and/or is this really something you should even be considering?
The answers to these questions, in order, are possibly, maybe and maybe, and the reason is that taking this step will only work under the right circumstances and in appropriate locations.
Read the details here, and then decide for yourself whether this is a plan that can work for you.
Placing an RV on Your Own Land Can Be Complicated
These days it is difficult to navigate your way through the housing market, and many people simply do not want to do so. For some, the way out is to buy a recreational vehicle and place it on some land they already own or may want to purchase.
It is important to take great care when taking this step because most cities do not allow full time motor home or travel trailer living on property located within city limits. In fact, many do not even allow people to park their vacant rigs beside their homes!
I know of one area in Nevada that does not allow people to live this way anywhere within its limits; no exceptions!
If you are bound and determined to fulfill this plan, you will most likely will have to consider moving to an area that is outside of town. Doing this requires quite a few sacrifices such as
- having to clear the land and place utilities on it
- doing without the best level of medical care and facilities
- having to drive long distances to shop and handle business affairs
- and worrying about security, especially when you must be away for any length of time.
Speaking as someone who followed this route, I can tell you that it has many caveats. In my case, the price was right and the spot was pristine, but the beautiful rustic mountain acreage my husband and I purchased resulted in the death of two of my dogs, damage to my travel trailer and the theft of major land clearing equipment.
To find what we wanted, we had to locate 20 miles from the nearest town, which left our property and belongings vulnerable. The local thieves had a field day, and their hard work caused us to sell our land and move back home. When one of our friends saw that we had returned, he actually cried because this move had been our retirement dream, and now it was ruined.
We had put a lot of hard work and money into the property, and it sickened us to have to walk away, but we really had no choice because staying would not have been safe.
Based on that experience I advise people to find a nice deeded lot in a campground and live there, instead so that they can avoid the risk. The Pros and Cons of Owning a Deeded RV Lot gives more information about this option.
However, if you are dead set on buying acreage and placing your coach on it, try to locate as close to neighbors and a town as you can so that you can lower your security risks and increase your level of convenience.
Property Zoning and Development Potential Are Important
If you are starting from scratch with this idea, the first thing you must do is find a piece of property that is properly zoned for what you plan to do.
Usually it will be located in the country and is vacant, undeveloped and may even be off the main road or lack legal road access.
If this is the case, you want to make sure that you have good access to the land and that it can be developed.
Installing and Accessing Services
Even if the land is good for development, before you purchase it, you must make sure
- the water is potable and on your land and that you have the rights to it
- the entry roads are on your own property
- electricity can be run across your land, or if necessary, you can get a neighbor's written permission to run some or all of it across his
- your land will be suitable for putting a septic system in place
- and you will be able to access telephone, cell and internet service.
Never assume that any of these things are "givens" because each depends greatly on location, zoning and the willingness of others to assist you. Furthermore, if you are too far away from the closest city, it may cost more than you are willing to pay to gain access to some of the items on this list.
The closer you locate to town, the easier it will be for you to make arrangements for different things.
If your land is within city limits, you will not have to dig a well or install a septic tank or worry about accessing electricity, phone or internet services. This will save you a great deal of time, effort and money, but if your original goal was to be able to be more self contained, using standard facilities will undo that dream because you still will have those monthly bills to contend with for your utilities and other services.
Once you are certain you can access the services you need, you probably will have to clear at least some of your land. If you plan to do this yourself, you will need to purchase or rent equipment that can handle the job.
You should purchase the small items, like chain saws , that you will have need of in the future, but rent the large ones, like ditch witches, that you will only be use once.
Before you do any of this, make sure you have the skills that you will need to tackle this job so that you don't wind up in the hospital!
If you hire professionals to do some or all of the work, make sure they are licensed, insured, bonded and know what they are doing. Ask around town for references before you employ anybody. Doing this will keep you from having problems and will save you some money, too.
Property Development Options
Once you have been assured that all systems on your property are a "go", you can make your purchase and have your utilities installed.
You may want to build a cement pad and patio for your RV because they make for cleaner living.
However, no matter how you set things up, you must make sure that the spot you choose for your living unit will be close to your utilities outlets. Also, you may want to install more than one sewer, water and electrical hookup so that friends with motor homes and campers can stay on your property with you when they come for visits.
This is an especially good idea if you will be living a good distance from the closest town or campground.
You Pay Less Living On Your Own Land, But You May Get Less
Once the utilities are in place, you can move your unit to your property and start enjoying it.
You will not have to pay taxes for your RV, but you still will have to pay them for the property.
You also will have to pay for electric, telephone and internet services, but there will be no water or sewer bills unless you were able to tie into the closest town's water and sewer systems.
If you are used to city living, you will find that moving a recreational vehicle onto your own property may not be what you originally thought it would be.
Living on your own land is not the same as being in a campground, and generally will not have the same level of safety and convenience.
So while the monthly bills will be less, and you will have more flexibility and freedom, you may find you also are getting less in many ways.
This is why you should really think things through prior to making this type of move.
One word of caution for those of you who are seriously considering this venture.
When you live in the country on your own land, you need to be very careful about protecting yourself and your belongings. As my story showed, you do not have the same safety levels that you may be used to if you lived in a city or town. Thus, you need to be more vigilant about what you do and how you do it.
Despite all of the issues mentioned in this article, many people are able to successfully live in their recreational vehicles on their own properties. However, these are the folks who are willing to do the work and make the sacrifices that are necessary to do so.
If you want to give it a try, remember what I've said here, and tread carefully.
Inexpensive Land Clearing
Do you think moving your RV to your own land to live there is a good idea?
Questions & Answers
I live way out in the country; on my own land in a camper. How can the government come on to my land and tell me I can not live in my camper?
If your land is not zoned for recreational vehicle living, then you are living in your camper there illegally. You have to follow the zoning laws of the town your land is located in.
Can I legally have someone living in a trailer on my property in Anne Arundel county in Maryland?
You'll have to check your local zoning laws to find out the answer to that question. Each city or county has its own rules about that.
My sister lives in a house on her property. Can I live in my RV in the yard?
Possibly. You need to check with your county's zoning office as well as the subdivision where the house is located to see if it is legal for you to do so.
Is there a way to change these RV related property laws? I think they are unfair and the government has too much control over where people can live in their RVs.
If enough people complain to their local legislators, there's always the chance that these laws can change, but usually, there are good reasons for their existence. It isn't a matter of how nice and RV is, but rather how the zoning is set up.
© 2013 Sondra Rochelle