The American dream was once defined by owning your own house.
However, that dream has evolved over the years, with many people choosing to downsize and live in an RV!
If you or your loved ones are planning on living permanently in a camper at a residence, there are a few things that you should know.
In this article, we’ll explore whether it’s even legal to live in a camper at a residence (such as a backyard, for example) and offer a few tips to make the transition to camper life go as smoothly as possible.
Is It Legal To Live In A Camper In Your Backyard?
Yes and no…
Although it’s legal to park your RV or camper on land that you own, like your backyard, in some cities, you will be breaking the law if you decide to live in it full-time.
You can’t live in a camper year-round unless it’s allowed by local zoning laws. If the land you own isn’t approved for RV residence, then you may be forced to move it to somewhere that is if you want to live in it.
If you live in a rural area, typically speaking, law enforcement is not that strict, and people are more tolerant. If you respect your neighbors, and keep things quiet and clean, they’ll most likely be OK with your camper living experience. You might even invite them to chill with you and your family.
So, why is it illegal to live in a camper in your backyard?
Mainly, the government doesn’t view your RV as a permanent dwelling. Even though your recreational vehicle may resemble a mobile home more than a car, it’s still classified as a vehicle.
Even if you have plumbing, electrical, and water hooked up, the Department of Housing and Urban Development will still treat your recreational vehicle as such – a vehicle only used for recreational purposes.
On the bright side, there is no federal law prohibiting you from living in a camper in your backyard. It will most likely be a local or HOA regulation, so you should check the law in your area first before setting up permanent residence.
How To Live In A Camper In Your Own Land?
If your heart is set on RV living, there are a few things you can do to make the dream a reality. Most people give up on their mobile home dreams because they haven’t done enough research before moving into a camper. Here are a few things you can do to live in your camper.
Check State And Local Laws
Knowledge is power. Before deciding to move into a camper, it’s crucial that you check the state and county laws to see if it’s allowed. If they permit you to live in a camper on your current property then you’re good to go!
However, this often isn’t the case, and you may need to move to a special place where you can park your RV and call it home.
Choose The Right Spot
If living in an RV on your current property isn’t an option, there are basically four options available if you choose to live in a camper.
- Neighborhoods with RV allowances so the residents are ok with having campers
- Rural land specified for homesteading
- RV Co-op parks
- Mobile home parks
1. Neighborhoods with RV Allowances
In these areas, all the utilities are already installed so RV dwellers can use them whenever they want to. Some of these neighborhoods are pretty fancy so you can have access to a pool, a gym, a fitness center, and a clubhouse. Moreover, you’re likely to meet experienced neighbors who have been roaming several states for years. Listening to them and learning from their experiences is a big plus.
Land lots are usually spacious and provide you with more privacy, but they’re quite expensive and might cost as much as $50,000 plus HOA fees.
2. Rural land specified for Homesteading
If you’re interested in the nomad lifestyle, then this is what you should think about. You can find lots where there are no neighbors visible within miles. Privacy is a big plus, but you should think about the safety of you and your property in such a rural setting.
3. RV Co-op Parks
RV parks are probably the easiest option out there, as you can simply purchase a land plot for your RV or camper. The good news is that there are always activities by other members of the community where you can get to know others who share the same lifestyle. There might be other facilities available, like a pool or a fitness center for the community members.
However, one potential downside t living in an RV park is that there might not be enough privacy. Campers are closely located to each other, so you might suffer if you’re looking for peace and quiet.
4. Mobile Home Parks
Check with local mobile home parks. In some cases, you’re allowed to buy a plot of land where you can park your RV all year long. In other cases, you may be required to move the camper occasionally to be able to stay.
The good thing about these parks is that most of the utilities are already available since the park was designed for mobile homes. So it’s a good choice for someone who’s going through the experience for the very first time.
Tip: See Where Can I Park My RV to Live Long-Term? for more information and tips to find the perfect spot to park your RV.
Keep An Eye On Utilities
When considering the right spot for your camper, you’ll want to keep your utilities in mind.
Unless you’re living off-grid (no main electrical supply), you’ll want to make sure that electricity can be run across your land so you can power your RV. And while you could technically run an RV generator for power, that could get pretty costly and isn’t ideal for an extended period of time.
Water and sewer are also amenities that you’ll want to consider. Water can come from the city supply or from a well. Depending on your location, only one of those options may be available.
And if it’s important to you, check that you have proper cell phone and internet coverage. Some people choose to live in a camper because they want to break free from technology. Nevertheless, technology is life-saving, and if you can’t reach anyone in case of an emergency, your life may be in danger.
Should I Live In A Camper?
Only you can answer this question.
Living in a camper isn’t about letting go of all the laws and regulations as you might have thought. As a matter of fact, there are a lot of rules that you must comply with.
It’s recommended that you don’t take your chances if you’re planning to live in an RV. Get yourself acquainted with the state and local laws to see if you’re breaking any. However, if this is the case, you can always take your camper and move to somewhere more suitable.
If you keep a low profile, respect others, and mind your own business, in most cases, the law will turn a blind eye. Most problems happen if you start to ask for permits for water and sewer or electricity that should be run through your land or other people’s lands. However, if you’re planning to live full-time in an RV, you should make sure that it’s legal so you can avoid unnecessary problems.
Why Do People Live In Campers?
There are currently 1 million Americans who made the choice to live in campers. These modern-day nomads decided to give up traditional housing options for a lot of reasons. Here are some reasons why you might want to make the same choice!
- Recreational vehicles provide a means to move between states. Traditional homes don’t have wheels, and if you want to visit a new state or even a nearby city, you have to think about the means of transport and proper accommodation. A camper combines both.
- You can enjoy breathtaking views whenever you like. If you want to live next to a lake or wake up to enjoy the fresh air of the ocean, go for it.
- Living in a camper is a self-discovery experience. It teaches you that you can’t take anything for granted. Not even the little things like having access to ample amounts of hot water or good Wi-Fi. This might be just what some people need to discover what they really want to do with their lives and what matters to them the most.
- If you’re tired of being in debt after college, this may be just what you need. You don’t need to pay a big mortgage for a house because an RV is much cheaper.
- You learn to work well with and experience new adventures with others. One person can be driving to your destination while someone is cooking dinner or finishing their work on a laptop. By the time everyone is done, it will be time to enjoy a new experience in a cool place that you haven’t explored before.
- While you’re traveling with your family or friends, you’re forced to share a small space and basic amenities. This is your chance to really get to know your travel partners or your spouse because you’re basically sharing your experiences to survive together wherever you go. All conflicts are resolved and talked about, as there aren’t a lot of doors to slam and lock.
- If you’re an outdoors person, then you shouldn’t spend your time behind a closed door binge-watching Netflix. It’s time to go out there and breathe the fresh air wherever your camper takes you.
- Compared to other accommodation options, the cost of running and maintaining the RV is insignificant.
- Living in your camper will teach you how to be a minimalist. You can’t keep clutter, and this will teach you about things that really matter to you. The small space is not limiting as it teaches you how to become more organized and productive.
- Redecorating your house or apartment might cost hundreds of dollars, but you can do that in your RV using minimal resources.
- If you’re planning to move, you’ll spend weeks and maybe months looking for another location. This can be done on the spot when you live in a camper.
- This is an excellent choice for someone who wants to travel full-time. You’ll be traveling for a living and could even make money by working online from your RV.
- Living in a camper doesn’t mean that you’re staying in the USA forever. Some people move their RVs to Europe by ferry, and they can experience the whole new European RVing lifestyle.
Can I Keep My RV In The Backyard?
Yes, you can keep your RV in your backyard (we are talking about storing, not living full-time). There’s no federal law against keeping your camper in the backyard. In some states, you might be required to keep it out of view by law.
With that said, you should check with the Home Owners Association or local authorities regarding the state’s law concerning parking an RV on your own land. In most cases, it’s allowed and you can even use it as a temporary guest house for out-of-town relatives, a friend who might be going through a crisis, or a teen who needs some privacy. However, this may only be allowed for a few months at the most.
The good news is that you can also use your camper on special occasions. You can hold an outdoor party in your backyard or any piece of land you own and use the RV as the main station where you can prepare food, clean utensils, or offer an accessible toilet. This is a great option if you’re hosting a party like a birthday event or a wedding so your guests can feel more comfortable without using the utilities in your home.
If you’re doing some renovations at home, your camper will be a lifesaver. Instead of moving the family to a hotel while the bathroom is being decorated or until you’ve changed all the flooring, everyone can chill in the camper until your home is ready for use.
Can Someone Live In A Camper On Your Property?
Yes, if you and your local laws allow it. You can’t legally charge people living in it rent because this will be a violation of the law (in some cases). However, people can stay there in exchange for services rendered, for example.
Can You Claim An RV As A Primary Residence?
Yes, as long as you have the basic facilities that qualify your RV as a home and you’ve parked it somewhere where it’s legal, you can claim it as a primary residence.
Can You Live In An RV Year-Round?
Yes, as long as you’re up for it. You should make sure that your RV is equipped with gas lines and other necessities so you can live in any condition. You might, however, have to move it in case of extreme weather conditions.
How Expensive Is It To Live In An RV?
The range of living in and running an RV can be anything between $1000 and $3000. This includes fees if you’re living in an RV park and other expenses.
The overall cost depends on how much you travel and the facilities that you want to enjoy. A lot of people can live comfortably without spending that much money so it’s all about the way you choose to set your priorities.