Is It Legal to Live in an RV with a Child in Michigan?


It’s not unusual to find families with kids living in their RV. And not just for fun and adventure, but sometimes for cost reasons, too. But laws can vary from state-to-state. If you’re in Michigan, you may have wondered is it legal to live in an RV with a child in Michigan?

Here’s what I know from looking into it:

Some townships in Michigan won’t allow you to live in an RV on private property, as zoning ordinances in the state vary widely. However, it is possible at RV and mobile home parks that allow permanent residents.

For CPS to get involved though it is a matter of whether or not the conditions inside the RV are considered unfit, such as a lack of water or power.

But unless the child is in danger, simply living in an RV is not considered unsuitable.

With that being said, there are some steps you’ll need to take to ensure the best living conditions for your child. In this article, we’ll look more closely at whether you can live in a camper in Michigan.

We’ll focus on Michigan in general and look at limitations and restrictions regarding living in an RV in Detroit and Ann Arbor.

So let’s dive in!

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Can you live in a camper in Michigan?

You can live in your camper in Michigan in some townships but not all However, it will always be legal to do so in an official RV or mobile home park. 

Aside from being registered, you should make sure you follow any zoning ordinances in place.

Michigan allows local governments and townships to create their regulations regarding the use of land. This means that if the township has an ordinance in place regarding living in your camper, you can be ticketed a hefty fine.

(source)

If you somehow manage to get permission to live in your camper, make sure you get it in writing. You don’t want to end up like this guy who was told he could live in his RV temporarily, just to get hit with a $500 fine.

For example, in Owosso Township, single-family dwellings vary from district to district within the township itself. In one township, it must be a minimum of 960 square feet and have a permanent foundation. (source)

But, you can live in your RV for 30 days with a permit as long as you are outside the city limits.  (source)

If you want to live in your camper in Michigan, your best bet will be to find an RV park that is open year-round. Or several, if you’re going to move around within the state.

Websites like Michigan RV & Campgrounds can help you locate campgrounds that are open year-round.

If you don’t want to live in a campground, you might want to consider dry camping. I wouldn’t recommend it for full-time living, especially with a child. But it could be a fun adventure temporarily.

You can dry camp for a maximum of 14 days before you need to dump your tanks, charge your batteries, or add fuel to your generator.

But, if you’re new to RV life, you might want to make your first dry camping trip a short one.

To read more about dry camping and how to do it successfully, check out this recent article. I get into how long tanks and batteries last, what runs off of batteries and what won’t, and everything you need to know.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Is it legal to live in an RV with a child in Detroit?

Living in an RV in the Detroit metro area is not allowed whether it’s in a park or on your own land. While there are a number of RV parks in the area, most have stay limits on them preventing someone from living there full-time.

That doesn’t mean you couldn’t change RV parks every 30 days though.

Depending on the township or district you want to live in, it may be possible to live in an RV in the Detroit area. However, as a general rule, living in an RV within the city limits is not allowed.

There are many campgrounds that are open year-round. But even the ones that are available year-round may have stay limits on them. You could move from campground to campground, as you exceed your stay limits.

But moving around all the time could be considered an unstable living situation for a child.

So, if you choose this route, be extra sure that you are not violating your custody agreement, that your kid is getting an education, and that they are generally happy and well.

If your kid isn’t school age yet, you probably have a lot of questions about whether you can live in a camper with a baby. It’s absolutely possible to live with a baby in a camper, but it comes with its own set of challenges.

I’ve addressed those challenges in this recent article. I get into all my best tips for kids of all ages, including the tips I use with my 3 kids.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Is an RV considered unfit living conditions for a child in Michigan?

Living in an RV is not, in and of itself, considered unfit living conditions unless the RV does not have water and power, or if nutritional or educational needs are unable to be met.

However, living in an RV could be a factor to consider in a custody case. The real issue is what is in the best interest of your child.

When it comes to child custody in Michigan, there are several factors the courts will take into consideration, including the living conditions. Ultimately, they want kids to live in a stable environment.

Kids need stability. But this doesn’t mean that living in an RV can’t be a stable environment.

Living in an RV would be considered unfit living conditions if it were dangerous or the kids didn’t have enough room to themselves.

If you are in a divorce situation or have a custody agreement in place, you need to make sure you do not violate a custody agreement.

While simply living in an RV isn’t a reason to remove a child from your custody, violating a custody agreement could be.

You need to make sure your children get an education, see a doctor regularly, and have all of their basic needs met.

CPS wants to keep families together. And they can only remove your child if they have a court order to do so. Those dangers include:

  • Physical violence
  • Sexual abuse
  • Drug abuse
  • Abandonment
  • Extreme neglect
  • Environmental danger
  • Inadequate care
  • Medical abuse

I wrote this recent article on whether CPS can take your kid for living in an RV. Unless you’re putting your child in danger of living in extreme filth, CPS is unlikely to take your children.

Just click the link to read more on my site.

Is it legal to live in an RV with a child in Ann Arbor?

No laws are prohibiting you from living in an RV with a child in the Ann Arbor area in an RV park. Outside of an RV park, make sure to check local zoning laws in the appropriate township, county, or district.

If you want to put your RV on land that falls under an HOA, they might have strict rules and regulations for merely placing an RV on your property.

As long as you follow the law and any custody agreements in place, you’re good to go.

Remember, stability isn’t just where you live or what you live in. Stability ensures that your kids are cared for and nurtured without parental conflict.

Living conditions are just one aspect of stability. As long as your kids are getting an education, have at least some space to themselves, and are generally happy, people won’t care where you live.

How do kids attend school in Michigan if they live in an RV?

Children in Michigan who live in an RV can receive an education through homeschooling, attending a private school, or attending a public school in Michigan in the appropriate zip code for where the RV is parked.

Compulsory school attendance laws require children between the ages of 6 and 18 to attend school full-time.

If your RV is parked permanently, the easiest way to meet attendance requirements is to send your kid to a local public school.

Sending your kid to a public school means that you have to live in that district and can only attend the assigned school. That means, if you aren’t happy with the school, it’s too bad so sad.

Alternately, you can send your kid to a private school. But with a private school comes private school tuition.

You can also homeschool your kids. Thanks to minimal oversight, Michigan homeschool requirements are some of the most lenient and straightforward in the country.

As long as you include core subjects such as:

  • English
  • Arts
  • Math
  • Science
  • History
  • Civics

Then you are set to homeschool your kids.

You don’t even have to report to a school official while teaching under your home education program. You just start teaching when you’re ready. (source)

If coming up with a curriculum on your own doesn’t sound appealing, your kids can still get an education at home through an online public school like Connections Academy.

You still have lessons and homework that needs to be turned in and teachers you’ll meet within a virtual setting. Just like a traditional public school, they are free to attend.

But if you go that route, you have to have a consistently stable internet connection. That’s not always possible while living in an RV.

If you’ve managed to find an RV park with a stable internet connection, many RV parks will let you stay as long as you like. They may offer discounted rates with weekly, monthly, and yearly rates.

But some may let you stay for a few weeks at most.

Read this recent article on my site to see how long you can stay at an RV park. It really depends on the park, but many parks will close for winter, which could be a problem if you are sending your kid to a local public school.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Did I answer everything you wanted to know about living in an RV in Michigan?

The ability to live in an RV in Michigan is going to vary not only from township to township but within each district of those townships, too.

Make sure you follow all the local zoning ordinances if you don’t want to be slapped with a fine.

CPS wants kids to stay with their parents. They won’t give you much trouble unless they are provoked to do so.

Just make sure your kids are educated and safe and enjoy life to the best of your ability.

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Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell travels on and off with his 3 daughters in a Newmar Baystar Class A Motorhome. He writes extensively on both RVs, campgrounds, parenting on the road tips, remote learning & schooling, and much more!

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