Skip to main content

The Truth About Year-Round RV Park Living

I am an RV enthusiast with more than 50 years of experience owning, driving, traveling and living in recreational vehicles.

There is a great deal to learn about living full time in an RV park, so it's important to do your homework before you decide to move into one with your camper, travel trailer or motorhome.

If you take the time to talk to full-time residents, visit a few parks and read informative articles, you will be well prepared to deal with situations you may face once you start your new life.

This article provides an overview of what you can expect. Use it as a starting point for your research, learn what you can, and then decide if campground living is really right for you.

Residing year round in a recreational vehicle has many benefits, but it also has some drawbacks.

Residing year round in a recreational vehicle has many benefits, but it also has some drawbacks.

What You Need to Know

There is a great deal to know about RV park living. This article will give you a general overview that highlights the pros and cons of living full time in an RV park. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • safety issues
  • differences in parks
  • activities
  • types of residents
  • connecting with neighbors
  • etiquette
  • children
  • pets
  • climate issues
  • space limitations
  • maintenance and repairs
  • sending, receiving and forwarding mail

The Realities of Living in an RV Park

If you are considering living in an RV park, there are a few things you need to know that will help you to understand some of the issues you might be facing. In truth, you will basically live in the same way that you would in any neighborhood.

The main differences are that you will have less interior living space, different types of daily chores and more social contact. You will also have some amenities that differ from what you had when living in a house or apartment.

There may or may not be planned recreational activities but you can pretty much do as you like, just as you would in other types of housing communities.

Living in an RV park has many benefits that you would not get with other types of housing. but it also has some caveats. If you understand this, you'll be able to make a better decision about whether this lifestyle will work for you.

Below are some details that may help you to decide.

Safety Issues

RV parks and campgrounds are just like other parts of the world. Some are safer than others. If you want to stay safe when living in a park, you should research its location, reputation, and policies before you arrive. This article from Kampgrounds of America has a lot of good tips for maintaining safety.

It is also a good idea to develop good habits to keep yourself, your family, and your coach safe. Some ways to stay safe include:

  • locking your vehicle whenever you leave it,
  • closing windows and curtains when you're out and about,
  • meeting your neighbors and making arrangements to look out for one another,
  • hiding valuables or expensive items and
  • using a safe to protect important documents and valuables.

If you are interested in residing in an RV to lower living costs, you may be tempted to think that RV use means you can camp or live anywhere. However, it is unsafe to set up camp in random spots. Doing so can expose you to dangerous environments or people.

Scroll to Continue

Read More from AxleAddict

You should try to find designated campgrounds or safe lots to park and camp. This article offers lots of suggestions for finding affordable or free spots to park temporarily.

RV Park Amenities and Facilities

The amenities offered by recreational vehicle parks can differ greatly. Depending on where you live and what a park offers, you may get access to the following:

  • cable TV
  • hookups for landline phone service
  • WIFI
  • a laundry room
  • a swimming pool
  • a clubhouse
  • sewer
  • water
  • electricity
  • concrete pads and patios
  • BBQ grills
  • Jacuzzis
  • exercise classes
  • water aerobics
  • live entertainment
  • tennis courts
  • beach access

Some of these options are included with your camping fees, and others require an extra payment or they may need to be directly ordered from vendors.

Activities

How you spend your days depends greatly on your personal desires as well as how a facility is set up. Some offer special luxuries such as workout rooms and personal trainers, while others offer a place to stay and nothing more.

This is one of the reasons why you should make sure that the park you choose to live in suits your needs financially, geographically and socially.

Types of Residents

Residents will often be a mix of travelers and full-timers. Some who stay in campgrounds do so because they have to, not because they want to. Their poor financial situations have placed them there, and a few of them may not be the types of individuals you would want as neighbors due to their personal habits and attitudes.

Most residents do not live in RV parks to vacation, even though they may utilize the amenities that are available to them and sometimes travel as well. To them, their coaches are their homes, and they treat them as such.

Many people choose to live in RVs, remodeled vans, and other vehicles because the costs of living elsewhere are too high.

Connecting With Neighbors

People of all ages, situations, and circumstances live in RV camping facilities. Many are senior citizens who have traveled for years prior to settling into one place permanently. Some can no longer travel due to health reasons and age limitations, but they still want to enjoy the RV life because they find it to be more interesting, stimulating, and easy.

There is usually a group of regulars at every RV park. They form homeowners associations which serve the purpose of sharing news and arranging for various types of activities. They will typically meet once a week at the clubhouse to decide about activities that may include parties, picnics, dances, dinners, cruises and bus trips to local areas of interest.

All park residents are welcome to take part in these activities. They have more time to participate because they don't have as many chores to do as homeowners.

For the most part, residents get along well, but if problems do arise between neighbors, it's very easy for one or the other to move to a different campsite!

Etiquette

No matter what type of park you choose, you must always practice good etiquette.

For example,

  • you should never walk across another person's site,
  • you must observe quiet hours,
  • you should not infringe on another camper's area with slides or awnings, and
  • if you have guests, you need to make sure that they do not disturb your neighbors.

Children

Young children are not a good fit for this lifestyle. Most adults do not want to deal with the noise and challenges of being around children in an RV park, and the truth is that there are very few facilities that welcome kids. It is one thing to travel and stay briefly at certain spots that are equipped for children, but it is quite another to try to mix their needs with those of older adult residents on a daily basis.

Children enjoy camping but they don't generally do well as long term park residents.

Children enjoy camping but they don't generally do well as long term park residents.

Pets

Many facilities do not allow pets or, if they do, they require pet owners to stay in segregated, pet-friendly areas. This is a common rule in many RV parks because most campsites are closely spaced, and pets can easily irritate other campers. Also, their waste can be a real problem, especially if people do not pick up after their animals.

Climate

For most people, living in a warm climate is usually more comfortable than living in a cold one. Doing this can also make it easier to connect with neighbors and keep you from feeling closed in and isolated. It can also help you to avoid many mechanical problems that are more likely to occur in colder environments.

Space Limitations in an RV

Even the biggest RVs will have some space limitations. For this reason, you must organize, plan well, and limit your possessions. Is Full-Time RV Living For You? and 9 Things You Need to Know About Living in an RV explain more about this issue.

You also need to make sure that the unit you own suits your needs.

  • If you plan to solely reside in your coach, you will want it to be as large and comfortable as possible.
  • If you plan to travel during the year, you might want an RV that weighs less and is easier to drive.

RV Maintenance and Repairs

In addition to basic chores, you will have to care for your vehicle, its parts, and its tanks. The Best Way to Dump and Clean Your RV Sewer Tank and How to Care for Your RV's Fresh Water Tank will guide you.

In addition to the maintenance mentioned in these two articles, there will be typical RV repairs that you'll have to do from time to time, but you won't be mowing lawns, planting gardens, painting, or doing other types of heavy housework.

How to Send and Receive Mail in an RV Park

When you live in an RV Park, your mail will go directly to the park office unless you arrange to have it sent elsewhere. Park residents and guests will have to pick up mail from the office on a daily basis because few facilities will deliver it to individual campsites.

In many cases, other people will have open access to your mail, but most are respectful of each other's privacy and will not bother it. Nonetheless, you need to be aware of the fact that in such situations, there is always a chance that someone can steal your identity by invading your mailbox.

If you find that this is a problem, you can always use a mail forwarding service as an added protection. My article, How to Set Up and Use a Mail Forwarding Service will give you all of the details you need. Two of the best services are those offered by Good Sam Club and Passport America. It costs a bit to use these services, and they can be inconvenient, but they will help you protect your privacy.

There are many types of RV parks from which to choose.  If you make a god choice, you'll have a better experience.

There are many types of RV parks from which to choose. If you make a god choice, you'll have a better experience.

Changes You Can Expect When You Move Into an RV

You will experience many changes when transitioning to life in an RV. Your basic routines will remain the same but the ways in which you do most of them will not.

For example:

  • You cannot keep an exercise machine in a travel unit. You can join a gym or use a park's exercise room if they have one.
  • You cannot entertain large numbers of people in your motor home or camper, but you can rent a park's clubhouse for fun activities.
  • You will not have a great deal of room for computer equipment, but you can carry a laptop and a small portable printer on board.

There are ways around just about every type of issue or inconvenience you might encounter. If you plan well and make smart decisions, living in an RV can be easier and cheaper than remaining in a house. Millions of people live this way, and you can too.

Insights Into Full-Time RV Living

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: I'm currently living in my 2016 Grand Design Solitude. The 5th wheel has been parked in the safe spot approximately 1.5 years. Is there any maintenance I should be doing since it's going to be parked in one spot for the foreseeable future?

Answer: Yes: Make sure to check and seal your roof, seams and any areas that attach to the RV regularly, cover the tires to protect them from the sun, also check screens and repair where needed. Before you try to drive it anywhere, make sure your tires have not rotted on the inside.

Question: I would like to relocate in an RV to Surfside, SC within a couple of years. It there a place that rents out full time? If so, what is the cost per month? Also, if I have my own camper, what would that cost per month?

Answer: Most parks that rent out RVs do not do so on a year-round basis, so you likely would have to buy one of your own. To find RV parks in any area of the country, you will need to buy a camping guide such as the one put out by the Good Sam Club. You can find one right on Amazon.com. Once you have it, you can search for the area where you want to be. The guide will give you current costs for each park along with contact info so that you can call them directly to find out their charges, etc. You pay less for a year-round spot than you do for shorter periods of time.

Question: This is my first year of full time living in my RV. I'm parking it at the ranch I work on so I have electrical, water and sewer available to me. I purchased a unit with heated enclosed underbelly but how can I best prepare for the Colorado cold winter months so my waste water doesn't freeze from the trailer to the connection or freshwater freezing in the line from the connection to my RV? Should I look at heated hoses or electrical wrap?

Answer: Buy a roll of insulated aluminum bubble wrap and wrap your exterior hoses with it. Keep the internal water at a slow, ongoing drip from the outside faucet as well as the interior faucets. You may also want to get some bales of hay and place them around the outside of your RV. This will keep the colder, blowing air from getting beneath your coach and will keep pipes from freezing. The heated, enclosed underbelly will help a lot with this. Also, you can cut the insulated foil to size and place it on all of your windows. This will really help to maintain a comfortable interior temperature. Make sure to cover ceiling vents with insulated covers as well. You can buy many of these products via my articles or go directly to Amazon for them. Your wastewater won't freeze in the tank but empty often as an added measure of protection. The pipes it travels through will be empty until you pull your tanks, so they shouldn't be a problem.

Question: How can the camp director say I can't try to visit my girlfriend who rents a permanent RV spot?

Answer: Visiting and living with are two different things. He must think you want to move in permanently. If so, you'll have to pay more to do.

Question: Will my insurance cover me if I'm illegally living in my RV within city limits on my sons property ?

Answer: RV insurance covers you in the same way that auto insurance covers you. However, companies do require certain conditions for RV owners who live in their units that may cause problems for you. For example, if a tree from your son's house falls on your unit and damages it, you might not get coverage because you weren't supposed to be living there in the first place. You need to check with your agents for clarification on this one.

Question: Is it safe to RV by yourself?

Answer: Yes, as long as you understand what you are doing and make sure to camp in safe, protected areas.

Question: I have decided I want a Class C RV. I still need to work part-time, so am looking for sites that allow full-time parking options for now. All the sites I have checked seem to be mobile home sites only. Where should I look?

Answer: You're looking in the wrong places. You need to check out RV parks and campgrounds, not mobile home parks. The first two generally will allow full-time, year-round parking if they do not resort or government parks.

Question: Where do you get your information?

Answer: From more than 50 years of RV living and travel!

Question: I don't see much about repairs. I am a small grandma wanting to move into full time RV living. Are there repair stations or handyman people I can call?

Answer: If you speak with other RV owners or campground managers they can direct you to RV repair shops. Most big dealerships also have their own repair facilities.

Question: Where can I find a year-round campground near me?

Answer: Look in your phone book under campgrounds, or buy a campground guide and check the area you want to stay in.

Question: Where do they offer RV living year-round in NJ or NY? I have searched and can't find any places. Is it legal in only some states?

Answer: You need to get a Good Sam RV Travel Guide. There you will find campgrounds that are located in those states. Cold weather states normally do not offer year-round RV living, but you can always call and ask once you get contact info from this guide.

Question: When living year-round in your RV, what should you do about an address for the DMV. They require a physical address to maintain a drivers license, not a P.O. Box?

Answer: This must be something new. However, there are two ways you can fix this: one is to have a trusted relative or friend handle your mail for you, and the other is to find a mail forwarding service that provides a real address rather than a PO box. Try Good Sam Club and Passport America because I believe at least one of them gives you a real address. Of course, you'll have to join their club to be able to sign up for this service, but there are benefits to doing this that will make it worth your while.

Question: We can afford a fairly large, fifth-wheel or a class A motorhome. In the near future, we plan on moving down to Florida. What do you recommend?

Answer: A class A motorhome would be best because they are more solidly built and durable.

Question: Can I live in my RV all year in Florida? I want to live permanently in my RV in Florida, but I have been told there is a law that prohibits that. Would you happen to have an answer concerning this?

Answer: Yes, you can definitely live all year in an RV in Florida but it depends where you put your RV. If it's in a standard RV Park or on a Deeded RV Lot no problem. If it's on your own land, you can live there if the land is zoned for RVs. Whoever told there was such a law apparently didn't know all of the details, but full time RV living is extremely popular in this state. Have done it myself!

Question: Do RV parks allow tiny houses on wheels to park there?

Answer: I don't believe so. They are zones specifically for RVs, but some will allow park models... but not all do. Tiny houses on wheels don't qualify in either of those categories.

Question: Is there a list of full-time RV parks in South East Florida; within Martin and St Lucie counties, specifically?

Answer: There is no "list" per se, but just about any privately owned RV park that is not a true RV resort usually allows full timing. If you buy a copy of the Good Sam Travel and Savings Guide, it will provide you with contact information for most of the parks in that area. You can then call the ones that you like and ask for details about year round living.

Question: Do RV parks rent spaces to cars?

Answer: No, they do not.

Question: Do RVs rust if on the coast?

Answer: Yes. Salt water and time will rust them.

Question: Is it possible to travel the country in an RV and park it on various friends and family property throughout the years?

Answer: In most cases, yes, as long as the zoning laws in their town allow RVs to park temporarily in those places. Living there for long periods of time would not work, especially since they wouldn't have hookups in most instances.

Question: Do the KOA sites rent out all year or at least long enough for a college semester?

Answer: I don't think so because KOA is a vacation based RV group. They don't want people living there full time as it changes the message they are trying to convey. Also, they are extremely expensive. It would not be a smart financial move for you to rent a spot in one of them for a long period of time. I don't know where you live, but usually there are a variety of RV spots available at reasonable prices in any given area.

Question: I am currently looking to purchase an RV because I want to travel the country before I decide where to lay down roots. During this time, I will be visiting people I know in various places, but might want to settle in a certain area for a month or two. What kind of cost would I be looking at if I wanted to rent a space with utility hookups for a month? I don’t care about fancy amenities, Just electrical and sewage.

Answer: That all depends on where you will be going, the time of year and similar issues. A Good Sam Travel Guide will provide basic info about costs nationwide and also will give you contact numbers that will allow you to directly contact various RV Parks. You'll find a link to it in the article entitled How to Plan the Best RV Road Trip Ever which you can find on my profile page https://hubpages.com/@timetraveler2 along with other articles that will provide information about how to save money on campgrounds and RV travel in general.

Question: Are the RV parks you are referring to about the pet owner segregation and children being unwelcome, age-qualified parks for persons 55 or older? That would then make sense. We have never come across either of this type of issue in the parks we have stayed at throughout the US.

Answer: No, not at all. Don't know where you've been camping, but unless the park is noted as "family friendly, these things apply in many places. Been RVing for more than 50 years and have seen this trend increasing in recent years all over the US.

© 2014 Sondra Rochelle

Related Articles