Can You Live in an RV on Your Own Private Property?

Living in an RV sounds like a great adventure. However, there are a lot of federal, state, city, and county laws that can affect where you live. So today, we’ll explore: can you live in an RV on your own private property?

Living in an RV on private property for an extended period is frequently not allowed due to zoning laws. However, some states like Colorado, Florida, Texas, Oregon, Washington State, South Dakota, and Nevada tend to have more lenient regulations.

Compliance with local ordinances and regulations is still necessary, so it’s advised to consult local authorities for specific information.

But in my experience, residential areas that have the Homeowners Association can be even trickier to navigate.

Sometimes there are rules against a property owner living in a recreational vehicle on their own land, but then again, it depends on the area and your state. Generally speaking, using the RV as a private residence might be frowned upon depending on the state laws and local government.

Small towns and rural areas typically have relaxed ordinances.

And they only act upon them if someone in your neighborhood complains about it. Larger cities have codes and ordinances that mandate your RV to meet some standard requirements.

Of course, if you have a lot of land and the RV isn’t visible from anyone else’s property, it may not be worth worrying about.

live in RV private prop lg

What States Allow You to Live in an RV on Your Property?

A lot of states allow you to live in an RV on your own property, but some are friendlier than others. Here are a couple of states that are the best choice if you want to live in the RV full-time:

Colorado – Colorado is going towards more RV friendliness. They are trying to actively reduce restrictions on RVs and tiny homes. This also includes easy-to-obtain opportunities for special permits.

Florida – Florida has relaxed rules regarding RV living. The weather is better, and you can even get utilities hooked to your RV without trouble.

Oregon – Oregon is pretty and has multiple places for you to enjoy nature. The city of Portland supports the construction of tiny homes and communities, which also includes RV parks and RV living.

I also recommend Washington State, South Dakota, Nevada, and Texas.

All of these states have wide-open spaces, and the more the space, the more relaxed the rules are regarding RV living. Less restrictive zoning and usage laws mean that you’ll be able to live in your RV without getting into any legal trouble. More space means more affordable land options as well.

There are many wonderful things about full-time RV living, but there are some downsides as well.

Here’s a recent article discussing the pros and cons of living in an RV in detail. If you can’t move states, and you happen to be in a state that’s practically hostile to RV living, you’ll be better off making a new cabin in the backyard instead of tackling the city laws.

Lastly, the weather also has a big impact on whether you enjoy your RV stay or not.

Pleasant weather makes for a pleasant stay. I recommend states that have mild weather for a permanent residence, so you don’t have to spend time and money getting ready for scorching heat or chilly winters.

You also have to do upkeep, and if the weather is arid or humid, the RV equipment will have a shorter life.

Check out my recent article that discusses how long RV equipment lasts. I get into all the main things in an RV and what the average lifespan is. But I also share some crucial tips for extending the life of your RV’s equipment.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Can I Live in an RV Next to My House?

Many people park an RV next to permanent dwellings such as their homes. But whether someone can live in that (legally) depends on where you live and the local laws, and if you have an HOA.

Live in a big city urban development?

Unfortunately, in most cases, it is not possible to legally live in an RV full-time in a city. That doesn’t mean that there are no states that allow you to live next to your house in an RV or travel trailer.

Of course, there are some established guidelines for property owners you need to follow before you can start living.

However, many major cities in the United States don’t allow you to live full-time in the RV within the city limits. Here are a few things you need to check before parking your RV next to your house:

  • County zoning law from 
  • City Building and Planning departments
  • City Beautification and Nuisance laws
  • Miscellaneous laws of local governments
  • Local HOA laws

The laws regarding living in an RV as a permanent home vary wildly from state to state and are highly specific.

Usually, you won’t need a building permit as you would for tiny homes, but if you want to hook utilities, you may require some. So you’ll need to check whether your state, city, and town is okay with you living in an RV or not.

Some cities are very friendly to mobile living arrangements, while others are practically hostile.

How Do Zoning Laws Work for Living in an RV on Your Own Land?

Living in an RV on private land requires an understanding of the specific laws and local ordinances governed by local authorities. Here’s the bottom line on zoning regulations:

  1. Full-Time Residence: Determine if your intention is to live in the RV as a full-time residence. Some areas may have restrictions on long-term occupancy in RVs.
  2. Zoning Laws and Ordinances: Familiarize yourself with the zoning laws applicable to your location. These regulations outline permitted land uses and may have specific provisions for RVs.
  3. Building Codes: Ensure that your RV complies with building codes relevant to permanent residences. This may include requirements for utilities like sewer access or a septic system, availability of fresh water, and electrical connections.
  4. Legal Issues: Understand any legal issues related to living in an RV on private land. These may include property tax implications, permits, and compliance with health and safety standards.
  5. Local Authorities and Zoning Employees: Seek guidance from local authorities or zoning employees who can provide detailed information about the regulations and requirements specific to your area.

Navigating the zoning process for living in an RV on private land involves adhering to building codes, understanding local ordinances, and consulting with the appropriate authorities to ensure compliance with the legal framework in place.

Do You Need a Sewer Drain to Live on Your Property Full-time in an RV?

When it comes to living full-time in an RV on your property, sewer drain requirements often vary from one location to another. However, there are some commonalities and general practices:

  1. Municipal Sewer Connection: In urban or suburban areas with an existing municipal sewer system, most places will require you to connect your RV to the local sewer line. This ensures proper and safe wastewater disposal.
  2. Septic System: In rural or less urbanized areas without access to a municipal sewer system, many places will allow the use of a septic system for RV wastewater disposal. Installing a septic tank and drain field is a common approach.
  3. Composting Toilets: Some places may permit the use of composting toilets as an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional sewer systems. These systems process waste into compost, eliminating the need for a sewer connection.
  4. Greywater Management: Many locations have specific regulations for managing greywater, which include water from sinks and showers. Common practices may involve using a greywater tank, directing it to landscaping, or employing eco-friendly disposal methods.
  5. Local Permits and Codes: Regardless of the method chosen, most areas will have building codes and health regulations that must be followed. Obtaining the necessary permits from local authorities is usually a prerequisite.

It’s important to recognize that while some general trends exist, specific laws and requirements will vary significantly depending on your locality. To ensure compliance and avoid potential legal issues, consult with local zoning offices or relevant authorities to understand the precise sewer drain regulations for living in your RV on private property.

Do Most HOAs Allow RVs as Permanent Residences?

When it comes to allowing RVs as permanent residences within Homeowners Associations (HOAs), it’s important to note that most HOAs have strict regulations that do not permit this arrangement. While there may be exceptions or variations depending on the specific HOA, here are some common observations:

  1. Prohibitions on Permanent Residences: Many HOAs explicitly prohibit using RVs as permanent residences within the community. This restriction is often in place to maintain a uniform appearance and uphold property value standards.
  2. Restrictions on Extended Parking: HOAs typically have rules regarding the length of time an RV can be parked in driveways or on properties. Extended parking of RVs is often restricted or limited to prevent visual clutter and maintain the overall aesthetic of the neighborhood.
  3. Temporary Use Only: Some HOAs may allow temporary use of RVs, such as for short-term visits or vacations, but not as a permanent dwelling. These allowances are usually subject to time limits and specified circumstances.
  4. Storage Facilities: In cases where residents own RVs, many HOAs require them to store the vehicles in designated storage facilities rather than keeping them on their property. This requirement helps maintain the community’s appearance and prevent overcrowding.

While it’s important to understand that each HOA has its own specific rules and regulations, it is generally observed that most HOAs do not permit RVs as permanent residences within their communities.

It’s advisable to review the HOA’s governing documents, consult with the HOA board or management, and adhere to the established guidelines to avoid potential conflicts and ensure compliance with the HOA rules.

Where Do You Go to Find Out if You Can Live Full-Time in Your RV on Your Land?

If you’re considering living full-time in your RV on your land, there are several steps you can take to find out if it’s allowed and what requirements or restrictions may apply. Here are some common sources of information:

  1. Local Zoning Authorities: Start by reaching out to your local zoning or planning department. They are responsible for enforcing land-use regulations and can provide guidance on whether living in an RV on your land is allowed. They can inform you about specific zoning designations and any applicable restrictions.
  2. County or City Offices: Contact your county or city offices to inquire about local ordinances and regulations related to RV living on private land. They can provide information on any specific laws or permits required and guide you through the process.
  3. Building and Code Enforcement Departments: Check with your local building and code enforcement departments to learn about any building codes or health and safety regulations that may impact your ability to live in an RV on your land. They can provide details on requirements for utilities, sanitation, and other essential aspects.
  4. Homeowners Association (HOA) or Neighborhood Associations: If you reside in a community governed by an HOA or neighborhood association, review the association’s bylaws and regulations. These organizations often have specific rules regarding RV living on private property, and it’s important to comply with their guidelines.
  5. Online Resources: Explore relevant websites, forums, or blogs where RV enthusiasts or property owners share information and experiences. These resources can provide insights into the legal aspects of living in an RV on private land, as well as tips on navigating local regulations.
  6. Consult Professionals: If you’re unsure about the legalities or complexities involved, consider consulting with a local attorney specializing in land-use or real estate law. They can provide tailored advice based on your specific location and circumstances.

Remember, the rules and regulations regarding living in an RV on your land can vary significantly depending on your location. It’s crucial to gather accurate information from the appropriate local authorities to ensure compliance with local laws and regulations.

Do the Same Laws For Mobile Homes Apply to RVs?

While mobile homes and RVs share some similarities, they are subject to different laws and regulations in many jurisdictions. It’s important to understand the distinctions between the two when considering the legal aspects of living in an RV. Here are some key points to consider:

  1. Zoning and Land Use: In most areas, mobile homes are subject to specific zoning laws and regulations that determine where they can be located. These laws may not directly apply to RVs, as they are designed for temporary occupancy and travel. However, local ordinances and zoning regulations may address the use of RVs for extended stays or as permanent residences.
  2. Building Codes: Mobile homes are typically subject to specific building codes that govern their construction, safety, and installation. These codes are designed to ensure the structural integrity and safety of mobile homes. RVs, on the other hand, are subject to different regulations, often related to their use on the road and compliance with safety standards for vehicles.
  3. Utility Connections: Mobile homes are usually required to have permanent utility connections, such as electricity, water, and sewer. RVs, on the other hand, are designed to be self-contained and may not require permanent utility connections. However, if an RV is used as a permanent residence, local regulations may require utility connections to comply with health and safety standards.
  4. Permits and Licenses: Depending on your location, you may need permits or licenses to install a mobile home or use an RV as a permanent residence. These requirements can vary, so it’s essential to check with local authorities to determine the specific permits or licenses needed for your situation.
  5. Homeowner Associations (HOAs): If you plan to live in an RV within an HOA community, review the association’s bylaws and regulations. Some HOAs may have restrictions on the use of RVs as permanent residences, while others may have specific guidelines or designated areas for RV living.

It’s important to research and understand the specific laws and regulations in your jurisdiction regarding mobile homes and RVs. Local authorities, building departments, and zoning offices can provide guidance and information about how these laws apply to your situation. Consulting with professionals, such as attorneys or real estate experts, can also help ensure compliance with the relevant legal requirements.

How Do You Get a Mailing Address for a Permanently Parked RV?

If you live in a permanently parked RV and need a mailing address, there are several options to consider. Here are some common ways to obtain a mailing address for your RV:

1. Rent a Mailbox: One straightforward option is to rent a mailbox from a local post office, a private mailbox service, or a shipping center. This provides you with a physical address where you can receive mail and packages. Be sure to check the rental terms and any restrictions they may have for using the address as your primary residence.

2. Virtual Mailbox: A virtual mailbox service allows you to receive mail and packages digitally. You are assigned a physical address where your mail is received, and you can access and manage it online. Virtual mailbox services often provide additional features such as mail forwarding, scanning, and even depositing checks remotely.

3. RV Parks and Campgrounds: Many RV parks and campgrounds offer mail services for their long-term residents. They assign a mailing address or a space for you to receive mail and packages. However, it’s important to inquire about their policies, fees, and restrictions regarding using their address as your official mailing address.

4. Family or Friend’s Address: If you have a trusted family member or friend who is willing to receive your mail, you can use their address as your mailing address. However, ensure that they are comfortable with this arrangement and that they can forward your mail to you as needed.

5. Mail Forwarding Service: There are specialized mail forwarding services that cater to full-time RVers. These services receive your mail at a central location and forward it to you wherever you are. They often offer options for scanning, online management, and package consolidation.

6. General Delivery: In certain situations, you can use the general delivery service provided by the U.S. Postal Service. You can have your mail addressed to the local post office, indicating “General Delivery” and the post office’s ZIP code. You will need to present identification when picking up your mail.

7. Personal Mailbox on Private Property: If you have access to private property, you may be able to install a personal mailbox. Check with your local post office for the specific requirements and regulations for installing a mailbox on private land.

Remember, it’s important to inform correspondents and update your mailing address with relevant institutions, such as banks, government agencies, and subscriptions, to ensure a smooth transition and uninterrupted mail delivery.

Where Do Most Full-Time RVers Live?

The RV Industry Association notes that most RV owners are living in Indiana, then in California, and after that in Texas.

These aren’t full-time RVers though, it’s just the number of RVs owned in a state. So, according to the statistics, I’d argue that most full-time RVers also live in these states.

But you don’t have to live there. There are generally better options.

Texas, Florida, and South Dakota are all income tax-free. This makes them an ideal location to move to when you want to live full-time in an RV. All of these states will accept mail forwarding addresses as well, so you’ll continue getting mail and parcels delivered without any fuss.

Full-time RVers usually seek a few important factors that also depend on their income:

  • Vehicle licensing fees
  • Mail on the road
  • Health insurance options
  • Annual inspection requirements
  • Owning a business

You’ll have to ask these questions to yourself, so you can settle in a state that supports your lifestyle and income.

Of course, if you already own a house and don’t want to move, you’ll need to check your state laws to see whether you can live full-time in an RV on private property or not.

Conclusion

You can live in an RV on private property.

All you need to do is check out the local and state laws. Also, having permits is a good idea. Now all you need is proper sewage, access to electricity and water, and also some entertainment.

Speaking of which, here’s a recent article that talks about Dish vs. DirecTV for RVs, and you’re all set. Do both also offer internet too? Just click that link to read it on my site.

Having extra square feet of shelter next to your house is amazing.

You can even treat the RV as a separate guest house where your friends and family can crash for a couple of weeks or use it as a place of solitude. Either way, full-time RV living is a blast.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Safe to Live in an RV full-time?

Living in an RV full-time as a primary residence is safe.

Of course, it also depends on the area you live in and how extreme the weather is there. All you need to do is simply prepare for the worst, and you’ll be fine living full-time in an RV.

It also depends on where your property is located. If you live in a remote area, you’ll still be isolated even if you live in a house. Being further away from emergency services means it will take you longer to reach them or for them to reach you. RV parking location matters as well.

Some choose to live in their RV in mobile home parks.

And if you’ve seen these, you know that the conditions can vary wildly. Some will be far safer than others. But if you observe the condition of the mobile homes, yards, and vehicles, you can get an idea of how much people care about their living conditions.

Generally speaking, having a couple of self-defense weapons in your RV wouldn’t hurt.

But it also depends on your state laws if you can keep them or not but having pepper spray or even a Taser can help you feel safe. Make sure your doors and windows are properly locked and secured before going to bed as well.

Always remember to air the RV when using propane-based utilities. Simply open the windows and turn on all the exhausts a couple of times each day, and you’ll be safe from any mishaps.

Airing the RV out also helps reduce the possibility of carbon monoxide building up inside the cabin.

Also, make sure that you are not drinking while the RV is parked in a public place.

Here’s a recent article that talks about avoiding DUI/DWI while living in an RV. As crazy as it sounds, even if the RV is not about to drive away, there are circumstances where you could be arrested if caught drinking.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Overall, living in an RV is just as safe as living in a house, with the added benefit of you being able to drive away from any danger. You just need to prepare better for utilities and sanitation.

How Can I Make Money Living in an RV?

In the last few years, a lot of jobs have moved towards being remote. So, making money while living in an RV is easier these days. You can do all sorts of jobs right from your home/RV, which include being an accountant, a writer, a blogger or YouTuber, an online teacher or tutor, and even a full-time marketer.

I obviously lean towards the blogging and writing side, simply because I enjoy doing it, earn 5-figures a month, and have been doing it for quite some time.

Want to see how I do it?

Check out this recent article with links to my income reports, where I explain my every step in being a full-time blogger. Just click that link to read it on my site.

Helping others avoid the same RV living mistakes I made while starting out brings me true joy. Also, putting my thoughts out and seeing them help others is a wonderful way to start the day.

A friend of mine has an advertisement agency, and he’s been working overtime while living in an RV. I’ve met several young people who are into digital illustration and 3D animation. They work entirely from their parent’s RV.

Some people can run a small business out of the RV.

What I’m trying to say is that there are multiple options and avenues for you to make money while living in an RV. You also have the benefit of driving the whole place around.

How Do Taxes Work If You Live in an RV?

Full-time RV owners who live year-round in an RV must have an address that they note as their permanent address. That could be a PO Box in the town you call home. All tax-related correspondence would be sent to that address and taxes would be paid according to both Federal laws, but as well as the laws in that state.

So obviously it would be best to have your home base be in a state without a state income tax.

And if you’re running a remote business from your RV, it can get a bit tricky, but not overly so. Just make sure you keep track of your expenses all year round, and that alone will make your life easier when tax time arrives.

Keep in mind that you cannot take a home office deduction when the RV is a hundred percent dedicated to the business. An RV already has a limited amount of space, and dedicating all of it to a business might not be the right move. That is unless you have 2 RVs.

Also, if you are renting your RV, that becomes a whole other case.


Photo which requires attribution:
CampingCampBlanding_2-4-18-5540 by Rob Bixby is licensed under CC2.0 and was cropped, edited, and had a text overlay added.

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