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Have you been full-time RVing for a while and want a patch of land to call your own? Maybe you’re thinking of building a sticks-and-bricks home and want to live in your RV in the meantime. If you find yourself in either of these situations, you’re probably wondering: How do I live in an RV on my own land? Is it even legal?
Well, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s examine how to live in an RV on your own land, whether or not it’s legal, the zoning requirements, and where you can find all this information.
Can You Legally Live in an RV on Your Own Land?
Let’s get right into it: Is it legal to live in an RV on land you own? The short answer is: Yes, as long as you live in the right place.
The primary factor to consider is your jurisdiction’s zoning codes. Most cities have rules that require all places of residence (RVs included) to follow the same ordinances. These can include the size of the dwelling, whether it has a heating system, access to water, and appropriate means for disposing of sewage and gray water.
Therefore, living in your RV doesn’t exempt you from housing codes and zoning requirements. You must still follow the rules and regulations of your city or county. However, a general rule of thumb is the more rural the area, the more relaxed the rules will be.
For example, you’ll probably have the best luck buying land in an unincorporated area or a community that’s governed by a county or parish instead of its own municipality. While you can find these communities in cities, you’re more likely to find them out in the country.
What Kind of Zoning Requirements Does Your Land Need to Meet?
The zoning requirements differ depending on where your land is. The type of zoning requirements your land must meet depends on your intentions.
For example, are you planning to live in your RV while you build a house? If so, it might be easier to find land that will accommodate this. It’s common to find zoning rules that allow landowners to live in their RV for up to six months while building a permanent residence.
Another common example is the one-month rule. Many towns and cities only allow RVs to be occupied for up to one month in a 12-month period. If you plan on living in your RV long-term, make sure this isn’t the case.
More lenient zoning requirements allow RVs to be permanent residences if they meet the same housing codes as traditional homes. This includes having sewer access or a septic system, access to fresh water, and possibly even electrical. Moreover, some lots are simply too small.
For example, most places require a half-acre of land to install a septic system, and the septic needs to be at least 50ft away (sometimes 100ft) from any water source.
So the two main questions you need to ask are: What do my local zone requirements say about living in an RV? And can my land (or the land I want) accommodate those requirements?
Pro Tip: Read The Worst Things About Full-Time RV Living before you commit to RV life. It’s not always the easiest lifestyle!
Do You Need Sewer Access to Live in Your RV?
Like everything else, your local zoning requirements will dictate whether or not you need sewer access. If your land doesn’t provide that, however, a septic system will fulfill the same requirements.
Are you planning on using a traditional RV toilet and thus creating “sewage?” If so, you’ll most likely need an approved place to dump your black tank (such as sewage access or a septic system).
In some rural communities, however, you can apply to get approval for an alternative toilet. These include compost toilets, outhouses, incinerating toilets, and privies. Nevertheless, you’ll need a way to dispose of your greywater, and that may mean needing a septic system regardless of how you choose to do your business.
In some areas, there are ways around this. For example, you might be able to use a gray water disposal system. Ultimately, it really depends on the local regulations governing your land.
Do HOAs Allow RV Living?
Whether or not a Home Owner’s Association (HOA) allows RV living completely depends on the organization in question. HOAs exist to create and enforce rules that protect the value of a community.
To put it plainly, they don’t want to see massive, unsightly rigs parked throughout the neighborhood. Therefore, if you have a small, newer class C parked in the back of your lot, you’ll probably have an easier time getting approval from your HOA if you want to live in it. On the other hand, if you have a 30-year-old class A that’s annoying your neighbors, you won’t be quite as lucky.
If you want to purchase a lot within an established community, you might look for a private RV community designed for full-time RVing. You’ll have fewer hoops to jump through (and less convincing to do) than in a traditional HOA situation. After all, they’ll be expecting that you’ll live in an RV in the first place! This is probably one of the simplest ways to live in an RV on your own land.
How Can You Check to See If RV Living Is Legal Near You?
Now that you’ve read all about how to live in an RV on your own land, it’s time to find out if it’s actually possible in your area.
The best place to find your local zoning and ordinance laws is at your town office or city hall. You may also find this information at your local Department of Housing or city attorney. If you have a local library, they might have the information as well.
And like everything nowadays, you could find it on the good ol’ internet. If your land is part of an HOA or a gated community, you might be able to find the information you’re looking for right on their website.
Would You Live in an RV?
There are many reasons someone would choose to live in an RV on their own land. Maybe they want a home base for half the year. Maybe they want to live in their RV while they build a house. Or maybe they want to live in their RV because housing is insanely expensive where they live!
Whatever the reason, it’s possible to live in your RV legally. It just depends on your intentions and the jurisdiction in which your land is located.
Now we want to hear from you. Are you planning on living in your RV on your own land? Let us know in the comments below!
I am a retired person and I would like to live in my land, It will not be a full time, it will be only for a place to stay when I am in town.
Living full time will require that you install a septic/drainfield system or connect to city sewer. Alternative sewage disposal like composting, outhouse, vault toilets just wont get it if you want warm showers and a bathroom without flies.
Not if done correctly.
How do I do it correctly?
I want to buy a land and put my RV there and can I do renting out
I have a homeless friend who I allow to use my motorhome..the motorhome is outfitted to operate to -20°. It has been tested for the last 5 years..2 years a friend allowed the person to park on his land..Now the code enforcer says for safety reasons (not my motorhome) you can not operate it during Dec 1 and March 31.. How do they think this tiny woman will be safer outside in -20° weather. most of the residence are seasonal and no one is around during these months. There should be laws against this.
Ran ad looking for space for 40 ft travel trailer guy answered said if was fine to live the he is the owner it’s a rural community of 200 no problem signed lease so parked my trailer there have lived here 1.5 years now I get this note I have 72 hours to vacate or be towed from new owners guy I pay rent to is not the owner he is the nephew of theowner that died with no will in place so half lot is still in probate the other I live on sold don’t have the money to move it I had to rent a trailer service to move it here and there no opens at any trailer place close by and now I have code enforcement cause since I can’t move it the owner called them so not I’m going to loose my home and be homeless cause I lost my job to cause I work from home I’m a dog sitter I sit for one dog at a time so I lost everything do to someone lying about owning the land please do homework on the land
I was wondering if I would be able to have my A24yr old Autistic grandaughter live in a camper in my backyard so she can have some kinda space and independence she only works pastime and goes to college pastime. I have to drive her places and this would be great for her.
I am living in Hillsboro Texas I am homeless I have a travel trailer on my land I have water and sewer and been trying to get electric but the city inspector says he will not inspect it because I have a travel trailer their I’ve wrote them letters never heard anything back I finally spot to city administrater and she told me she gave my letter to the mayor or whoever else is in charge of the zoning they told me no!!!we got more important things to be focused on I need help with this matter it’s a small town with a lot of old raggedy houses my trailer is nice
I’m wanting to live in my 5th wheel on my Parents property as My Dad has Alzheimer’s & my Mom feel & fractured both sides of her pelvic bone & can’t walk.
I have my 5th wheel on a cement slab & carport over it. I have an Rv plug installed & transport my black water via a black water wagon & put in the the sewer dump at the front of house.
Ive lived in my travel trailer for over a year ive had a septic service come every week to clean my tank now that someone called the zoning board im being forced to stop living on private property they said what im doing is illegal so if anyone has any options let me know
My son and I have a small camper that we put on our property in port charlotte his rental was destroyed in
Hurricane Ian. We thought we could put camper on our lot for a little while so he would have somewhere to live It’s a major hard ship. He has water and a generator and a company pumps tank. He already has code violations and county says it’s gotta go. There are still people live in campers in parking but he can’t keep his home on our own property.
I bought 3.7 acres and a 35 foot motor home closest neighbor is a quarter mile away have to go solar septic and well as no utilities close by ..best move iv made is getting it ready for full time livein
Great article. Thank you!
I plan to use the RV maybe 6 months out the year on my own land in the city limits.