Friday, June 2, 2023


Live in an RV on your own property? Readers tell us where—or not

Early in March, we explored the possibilities of living in your RV on your own property. We tried to straighten out a lot of misinformation that’s appeared on the internet. The bottom line at the time—it seems places where it’s legal to do so are few and far between. So we threw it open to our readers and asked, can you tell us where—or where not—it’s legal to live in an RV on private property?

A hearty “Thank you!” to those who responded. We got plenty of advice, and a few potential leads, which we’ll now share. But, of course, we have to start everything off with our usual disclaimer: “Your results may vary!”

More on getting your ducks in a row

Our original story advised those hunting for places to put down roots should always check with the local building department. We still stick with that advice, but Rick K. adds a bit more:

“Building departments may be good for information, but local Planning and Zoning Departments would be the best source. It’s zoning law that typically determines what can be done on property,” Rick writes. “It’s local zoning laws that are also stopping many Walmart locations from allowing overnight stays. If the zoning allows it, then the Building Department and Health Department would be the next stops.” Thanks, Rick.

Readers tell us where—in Nevada

So, where have our readers had success in developing their own “RV paradise”? Here’s one from Ali F.: “When our kids moved to Henderson, Nevada, we considered purchasing a private lot for our RV to escape the cold Reno/Tahoe winters. Thankfully, we found a deeded lot in an RV community in Boulder City, Nevada. We have all of the amenities with none of the headache of dealing with any government bureaucracy.”

Ali added a few more points you might like to hear. “We own the lot and pay taxes on it. Our HOA fee is $185/month, which includes water, trash, cable TV, the clubhouse, pool, spa, laundry room, bathrooms, showers, fitness center and pool/TV room. It’s like a five-star resort. No age restriction, but there are mostly retired folks like us. We are going to leave our Jayco here all summer even though we won’t use it during the Vegas heat.”

A long way farther east than Nevada, Nick W. says he’s found his perch. “I purchased land in Halifax County, Virginia, and it is totally legal here as long as you are not inside town limits. Most counties here in Virginia do allow RV living.” He added, “Most towns and cities you don’t need to be outside the limits.”

Readers tell us where—in Florida

Readers tell us whereCarl C. advises that if you like year-round sunshine, he has a pointer. “It varies by county, but Florida is generally RV-friendly. Here in Taylor County in the Big Bend area of the Panhandle, you can have up to four RV sites on a lot and no restrictions on living in it (them), and no requirement to build a house at some point. To rent spaces long-term (more than six months), no state or county license is required. Short-term rentals of less than six months get a bit more complicated, but still not bad.”

And maybe where (or how) not

Readers tell us where things are not always “smooth sailing,” and getting your ducks in a row is critical. That’s the bottom line in a story shared by Julie L. “We used to own property in Colorado and had planned to build a small cabin there until COVID changed the price and availability of building materials.

Readers tell us where“In the same area, a new landowner had a plan to put a travel trailer on his mountainside lot. He built a road, put in electric and a water tank, and started building the septic. Then he found out he had to submit plans for a house and could only live in the RV as a main dwelling until the house was built or he had to remove the RV.

“Being on the side of a mountain, it was too expensive for him to build and too difficult to remove the RV from its perch. The land was sold for a great price including the trailer. I don’t know what the new owners will do.”

Barbara’s lemonade story

And Barbara L. shares a story about lemonade. Well, that’s our take anyway. “We own two unrestricted, half-acre lots in Suwannee County, Florida; we had three. We had invested in a well and septic system, and cleared an area hoping to bring in a park model for my aging mother to live in.

“However, after checking with zoning, we were told that a park model is considered an RV because it would take an RV hookup. Our option would be to get an RV then acquire a ‘camping permit,’ which would allow someone to live in the RV for six months at a time, but then the RV would need to be moved. We ended up selling the one lot, but still own the two half-acres that are grandfathered in as unrestricted. Our thinking is they would be perfect for a full-time RVer who still likes to travel.”

Well, Florida may be “friendlier,” as was pointed out earlier. But “it varies by county.” Once again, do your homework before investing!

Take a waltz—in Tennessee

Finally, another Southern reader tells us about their experience. This is from John E.: “We have been full-timers in our 40-foot motorhome for the past four-and-a-half years. Due, in part, to ever-rising diesel fuel costs as well as wildly unpredictable political actions (or inactions), we, too, decided to get some acreage in Tennessee that we can call a home base.

“Successfully located just over 10 acres in Van Buren County, on the upper Cumberland Plateau. We primarily used online listings during our search but also used a realtor. We specified that the property had to be at least five unrestricted acres with no HOA.

“It took us over two months to finally locate a suitable property, so patience is a must. Actually, we lucked out as our property had a newly dug water well, as well as a new septic system rated for three bedrooms, which will be perfect for the ”barndominium” we plan to eventually build. We can live in our motorhome there until such time as we eventually build.”

We asked John if there might be some time constraints that the local laws might hang when it came to this “eventual build” he had planned. John responded, “There is NOT a time constraint by the government. However, the land covenant states that you have 12 months to complete your build once construction has started. That does not count from clearing and prepping the build site. This county does not have any building permits required for construction, but you do have to have your septic system inspected and approved by the state.”

Bottom line

No doubt there are a few “out of the way” places where it might be possible to buy a bit of land and set up your RV home base. Just do your homework so you’ll have no regrets.



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Dave Stephens
1 month ago

Works anywhere in the lower 48 if you just invoke Res Judicata and Basso v UP&L. Whomever is claiming you can’t has no standing due to an absolute lack of lawfully required Personam jurisdiction. So once you challenge that, the part of the Basso ruling that says “nothing may proceed” means you can’t be cited, nor arrested, nor summoned, nor subpoenaed, nor charged. If they do, they (1) illegally violated 18 USC 242 (2) illegally overstepped their scope of office (3) illegal violated their oaths of office (4) illegally deprived you of your lawful rights. They can have their Bond liened for each of these. By the time you finish explaining all this, they should be at least a mile away. Servants, even public servants, have no lawful power to tell we their lawful masters, what we can or cannot do. We can invoke Stand Your Ground laws if we feel it necessary. Remember, civilians have power that CITIZENS don’t, so choose wisely.

Dave Stephens
1 month ago
Reply to  Dave Stephens

Also, they illegally breach their fiduciary duty to you. Lien for that also.

Jim Johnson
1 month ago

Everyone has their own priorities. We are not full-timers but we winter in our RV at the same park year after year. Why not buy one of the RV condo lots? Because we are retired and I am trying to simplify our estate rather than make it more complex for our inheritors to deal with. When we are done RVing – most likely because travel has become too difficult – we cancel our reservation, turn our trailer over to a consignment dealer and we are done.

Bill Braniff
1 month ago

I’m as usual a bit late for a reply but here it is. I purchased 1 1/2 acre lot in Northern Penobscot County Maine five years ago. It had two so so trailers on it and a grandfathered septic with leach field. No water or electricity. There is 367 feet of water frontage on the big Penobscot River which empties into the Atlantic.. I purchased a near new 38 ft fifth wheel, and installed solar, with a generator back up. Water is carted in as necessary, but I will put in a pump and bring water from the river. Cost of land five years ago was $28,000. Try and find that in California, Florida or almost anywhere. No restrictions.
I try to tell you folks that Maine is the forgotten State, and we Mainers sort of like it that way.

Neal Davis
1 month ago

We lived in our DP for 8+ months (5/17 – the first week of 1/18) on my parents’ property in Hamilton County, Tennessee while our house was being built about 1/4 of a mile away. We naively thought that we could do so without constraints. Seeing this article today compelled me to call the county attorney’s office. I was surprised to learn that a special permit that entails a comment period is required to live in an RV even on one’s own property. The permit is issued by the county planning and zoning department and good for one year.

Last edited 1 month ago by Neal Davis
1 month ago

As I recall, DIXIE COUNTY (near Old Town, FL) allows full-time RV living.

Glenda M
2 months ago

After full-timing 8 yrs, when Covid hit, I had nowhere to go hide. Thhn a friend contacted me about property next to him for sale. There are 2.5 acre lots available about 20 miles east of Show Low AZ in Apache Co where you can boondock or homestead in an RV on your own property without restrictions, just unimproved land without water, sewer or electric service. No rmits until you put in a house. Neighboring Navajo Co (where Show Low is) doesn’t allow living full time in an RV on your own property so this county is full of off-grid living.

2 months ago

Sunset Ridge RV Resort located outside Franklin NC is nestled in the Smoky Mountains. Concrete pad plus casitas/pavilion

2 months ago

Forgot to attach this link with video.

Smith Lake RV Resort – LOTS FOR SALE

2 months ago

More Smith Lake RV Park information.

NO I do not own a lot or any property in this development.

Nice place IF you need a RV base to come home to.

I do own a lake home on Smith Lake.

The lake, the area and this area of Alabama is very nice.

My primary residence is in Tennessee.

2 months ago

Nice place in Alabama on Smith Lake to have a RV home. Use just your RV OR build a small home on your lot AND still have your RV.

This is a very nice development although a little pricey with nice amenities.

Bob p
2 months ago

Tennessee is not run by a bunch of “pink-o-commies”, it’s run by Americans!

Joe Allen
2 months ago
Reply to  Bob p


1 month ago
Reply to  Bob p

Exactly! That’s just one reason why we love it!

Neal Davis
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob p

True enough (my father’s family moved here from North Carolina in 1800), but Hamilton County/Chattanooga is exploding from a development perspective. Tens of farms that existed until 20, or so, years ago, have given way to hundreds of new homes via developers and requirements, restrictions are considerable here (as I learned earlier today). Perhaps surrounding counties — Bledsoe, Bradley, Marion, Meigs, Rhea, and Sequatchie in Tennessee, and Catoosa, Dade, Walker, and Whitfield in Georgia — are less restrictive. In our case, almost 6 years ago, we naively thought we needed no governmental permission so we asked no one and just did it. Thankfully, we were (and are) so isolated that no one complained.

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