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Opinion: Living in your RV on private property is not the government’s business

Full disclosure—I come from a pretty government-wary household, so my opinion here may be a little bit biased. I grew up on 36 secluded acres in a small rural town that had around 1,000 residents. In towns like this, most people simply mind their own business. There are no nosy neighbors preoccupied with what you’re doing on your private property, and local zoning is lax, to say the least.

After full-time RVing for a few years now, my partner and I have strongly considered the possibility of purchasing some property to use as a home base. It’d be great to use it as a temporary place to park our truck camper and live in it, while we build something more permanent.

However, doing so isn’t as easy as you’d think—legally. There’s so much red tape surrounding residing in an RV, even if it is on your own property. Personally, I think the restrictions surrounding it are preposterous. At the end of the day, people should be allowed to do what they want on their own land, so long as it’s not damaging the local environment or harming surrounding residents.

Benefits of RV life on your own land

Living in an RV on private land can come with a long list of advantages compared to the traveling or stick-and-brick life. Most RVs have all the amenities you need, so if you’re not dead-set on having a fixed structure, living in one stationarily can make a lot of sense. Some of the benefits include:

  • Affordability: Building or purchasing a home can easily add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Depending on where you settle, land can be more financially obtainable. If you’ve already got the RV or travel trailer, you can have your own piece of permanent property to live on for significantly less.
  • Flexibility: Residing in your RV on your property allows you to pack up and begin traveling again at any moment. You don’t have to worry about maintaining a hefty mortgage payment on top of your traveling expenses.
  • Convenient: If you are interested in building a home, living in your RV is a great accommodation in the meantime. You can be present or involved in the building process without needing to rent an apartment miles away.
  • Taxes: Without a structure built on the property, taxes will be significantly lower and only reflect the value of the land.

Bureaucratic red tape: Knowing the local laws

private property for sale

Unfortunately, buying a plot of land and posting up with your RV isn’t as cut and dry as it may seem. In many municipalities, zoning laws strictly forbid it. Why? The government thinks they’re “looking out for you.” Most states don’t recognize RVs as acceptable permanent dwellings, making it quite hard to reside in one if you have no intention to change that. This is especially the case in more populated areas, and particularly, more wealthy areas. In my view, being an “eye-sore” isn’t a reason to forbid someone’s lifestyle.

When looking to legally reside in your RV, your best option is to purchase property on unincorporated land. Zoning laws in undeveloped places often don’t contain verbiage pertaining to RV living, giving people the freedom to do as they wish. However, as the population grows this type of land is becoming increasingly uncommon.

There are loopholes. Some places allow you to reside in an RV if you have a plan to build a home. So long as you have a building permit, you’re free to live in your rig during the process. Other laws may allow it if you have the proper utilities installed. This can be frustrating, especially if you intend on having an off-grid setup.

Reasonable concerns

Even if RV residency was completely allowed and legal, there are still some serious requirements that must be met—particularly concerning waste. Individuals still need a proper way to dispose of their waste but meeting local laws can be difficult.

Many zoning laws require that a septic system or connection to the sewer must be implemented to reside on a property. Some even require that electrical hookups are installed. What happens if you have a composting toilet? What if you make a weekly trip to the dump station? Not everyone needs traditional hookups to live a healthy, environmentally friendly life in their RV. Quite frankly, if you aren’t polluting the earth or air around your property, I don’t see why the government needs to tell you what to do with your poop, or how you should power your home.

Comments encouraged: Should you have the freedom to RV on your own land?

Of course, there are places around the United States where residing in an RV isn’t a problem. But is it fair that people wishing to live the lifestyle must restrict themselves to these vastly remote locations? Personally, I don’t think so. So long as you’re living a safe life, not intruding on others, and respecting the land around you, you should be free to live as you wish on your own private property.

What do you think? I’d love to hear all your opinions in the comments below.

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Sven Yohnson
20 days ago

We are fortunate to live in a country where WE (YOU) ARE the Government. If you don’t like the way things are, get involved and change it. Laws are an agreed upon set of rules that have been developed over centuries that allow people to coexist civilly (for the most part). Regulations increase proportionately with population density (as they need to).
There will never be 100% agreement on what is and isn’t an infringement on personal liberties, as there are differing views on BOTH sides of the argument. The best you can hope for is to find a place with likeminded people (and laws). Just remember the old saying “If you want to live LIKE an animal, you have to live WITH the animals”.
If you would like an example of “true freedom”?, research The Slab (self billed as the last free place in America). This will give you a glimpse of life without regulations (laws). If YOU want to live like that, I hear they have some openings.

Jeffery H.
28 days ago

The government that makes these regulations is not the Federal Government, or the State Government, but the Local Government, as in County and City Government, your neighbors whom you elect. Go talk to them, tell them what you think, but also listen to why the particular zoning laws are in place. You might find that they are common sense regulations put in place because many people don’t have common sense.

Jon
1 month ago

But pitching a tent on the sidewalk is. Give me a break.

Glen Cowgill
1 month ago

I agree with your own RV on your own property but, the problem where I live is shortage of cheap housing. People are putting cheap TT’s on their property, behind the house, and renting for $1200 month. Who are renting, migrant and illegal workers. Some homes here have 2 or more TT’s on their property. Where do we draw the line?

Kenneth Barr
1 month ago

In my county in Texas you can’t get power without a septic system in the unincorporated areas.
For my property the septic system runs between 18 and $20,000.
And you can’t live on the property without a septic system. Even if you’re fully self-contained and mobile.
Go figure.

Last edited 1 month ago by Kenneth Barr
Megan L
1 month ago
Reply to  Kenneth Barr

Dear lord, do you live in Montgomery county? Because that is EXACTLY what they did to us. We bought ~12 acres in Cut and Shoot, TX and the county counted the 3 trailers we have as 3 family homes. We dropped a septic system three times larger than the one on our 3.6K sqft house had. THEN we were allowed to have electric hooked up. 😮‍💨

Ryan
1 month ago

I’ll start by saying I’m not the most educated person when it comes to government regulations etc, but when I read this article I was appalled. The fact that I might not be allowed to live in an rv on my own land is absurd. I can’t even believe something like this should be up for discussion. Who are they to say where I wanna lay my head to sleep? I’ll live in an rv on my own land if I bloody well feel like it. If they don’t like it, tough! It’s infuriating and appalling that the government would exercise a form of tyranny like this and not have outrage from people. This makes as much sense to me as someone saying you’re not allowed to walk to a supermarket because you didn’t buy a car to take you there. This whole thing is completely irrational!

Vanha Pieru
1 month ago
Reply to  Ryan

These Regs are generally designed to keep some old clunker camper, trailer house, etc from becoming a permanent eyesore. Granted, some are over regulated, but take a look at some of the areas where this stuff has gathered. And one clunker tends to attract others of the same ilk.
so-if you got a nice rig the rules are good. If you got a clunker, the rules are bad.

Sam
1 month ago
Reply to  Vanha Pieru

That is the problem, “RIGHT THERE”, minding someone elses BUSNIESS… Just because you were born with a silver spoon in your month and can afford the 300,000.00 dollar RV, Does not give you the right to berate or look down your nose at anyone. Grow a hedge or put up a fence FOR YOUR PRIVACY.

  • It is people with your mindset that is allowing our (yes, our) freedoms to be eroded away. You think you are doing the right thing by allowing government to make laws/ restrictions to stop these people from setting up their camper, because it is ten years old… BUT IT NEVER STOPS THERE! Eventully there will be a law or restriction that will “stop you” from doing the things you love.. sign tired of Politicians.
David
1 month ago
Reply to  Sam

I couldn’t say it better Sam

Mike
1 month ago

It’s about tax dollars. Plain and simple. A permanent structure can be taxed, it’s recurring, reliable income for the government. End of story. It’s always about more taxes.

William McBurney
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike

Yet you can buy a Tiny Home probably smaller than alot of R V s so to tax also. Rural small towns that have the new outsiders retiring from other states and getting on councils and such can screw it up for the locals with the same rules they complained about back from whence they came.

Denise flickinger
1 month ago

We just recently had to move our rv off private property as a dwelling because we refused to pay 10,000$ to hook up to city sewage when we were hooked to a septic system but since city sewage was available you had to connect no choice,what bs.this was in rural southwestern Pa 20min outside Pittsburgh.

Donn
1 month ago

Without the governmental controls, disaster is inevitable. For most of us, with the controls, there is also the possibility of governmental over-reach. So, you buy your ticket and hope for the best, I guess. Seattle, Los Angeles, the back streets there are filled with run down campers, tents, etc…small towns aren’t designed to cope with that sort of detrimental impact. Living right and in an otherwise acceptable fashion, we’re caught in=between.

Tammie
1 month ago
Reply to  Donn

This is my issue. In these cities people live in their campers on the street, but are prohibited from doing the same on a piece of property. Why? Wouldn’t it be safer and more sanitary for all involved if they were on a piece of property somewhere rather than on the street??

I just don’t get it.

I prefer the TX rules, your property, your choice!! The lack of zoning was odd to me when we first moved there(I am a Chicago girl, grew up with tons of regulation & often overreach), however after living there a decade, it’s hard to now live in LosAngeles where the government dictates everything you do!

Sld
1 month ago

Actually, it is the government’s business in anyplace that has zoning regulations. The same laws and ordinances that keep people from having a sawmill, a slaughterhouse or heavy industry making toxic chemicals from being allowed to move next to their houses can prohibit living in an RV on land not zoned for it. There are reasons for those rules, and they are designed to protect people from having something noxious move next to them.

In my home area we are allowed to store our RVs on the same property as our primary residence as long as we can meet setbacks that don’t encroach on our neighbors or block visibility from driveways to safely enter a road, but we can’t live in them. Unlike manufactured homes, RVs are not designed to be permanently connected to water/sewer or a septic tank, so part of that is concern for sanitation. It’s OK to have temporary guests sleep in them for a few days.

Really rural areas might be OK.

Cliff
1 month ago
Reply to  Sld

Yes….and I bristle at the IMHO word ” overreach ” but the opposite, never mentioned is Govt. UNDERREACH…where with no oversight, on a valley side in a rainstorm you would have sewage flows from top to bottom regularly….fun??

David
1 month ago
Reply to  Sld

Lol your definitely a Karen, that is our of touch. If it’s my land I should have the freedom to do as I wish as long I’m not harming nobody, this is America, not Russia

Danny
1 month ago

I feel if i own the land i should be able to do what ever i want on it.
Now where I live is the largest county in Texas, but there are more animals than people. They still make things hard. Now ive lived here 24 years, but i needed a house before i could get power, and had to have power before i could get propane.
BUT the only thing i need a permit for is the septic system.

Matt
1 month ago

The Government has definitely received more power over the people then it was ever intended. They are supposed to work for us not control us like they do.

Wayne Huggins
1 month ago

I tried to do the same thing but local zoning laws prohibited it. Was going to put in a septic tank and well but they said no. If I moved it on the property and was caught I faced major fines and possibly jail time. I love Lexington SC but their laws about something’s suck.

GloSarge
1 month ago
Reply to  Wayne Huggins

Are you in city limits? Because I also live in Lexington, SC and there are plenty of RVs on land around me.

Sld
1 month ago
Reply to  GloSarge

I don’t live in a city, but we can’t live in an RV here either. Manufactured homes are allowed, because they are designed to be permanently installed, but not RVs.

Lori Smithson
1 month ago

Way to much gov over reach. Need to stop it now. You haven’t seen seen anything of what they will end up doing. The gov is what has pushed people into campers to begin with. Homelessness is skyrocketing. When you pay for your land and have septic and keep it clean. Everyone should mine their own biz.

D Cherry
1 month ago

I used to work in Codes Enforcement for County Government. I received the ire of citizens who felt as many have written that it was not the Government’s business on their private property, but what about the rights of others and their property? Does anyone want to spend what a current home costs and live next to a dilapidated RV? Or have the smell of sewage as it runs on to the ground? What about grey water? Does anyone want that flowing in their yard? If 1 RV, why not 2 or more. Who’s going to occupy the RV? I’ve seen them rented to a number of University students, aside from noise, there was trash , lights etc. RVs also can not be subject to minimum housing standards , it’s a vehicle
So the condition of the RV can not be enforced, as long as it’s road worthy. Even in my past position, I didn’t like government intrusion, but I also have insight to the other side.

Wayne Huggins
1 month ago
Reply to  D Cherry

The reason is because they lose property tax money. An RV is no different than a mobile home that falls apart in time as well.

Sld
1 month ago
Reply to  Wayne Huggins

Actually, it isn’t tax money. We have an RV, and I have lived in a manufactured home. They are totally different. Manufactured homes have real toilets and plumbing designed to be permanently connected to a water and sanitary source. RVs do not.

Zoning regulations are there for a reason. Living in an RV on acreage might not bother anyone, but there must be reasonable restrictions when an RV is “close” to a neighbor who also has rights to enjoy his property. It is a fine line, and different people will have different ideas.

In my area, we have “bowling alley” lots that can be many acres but very narrow. People own lots that are a couple thousand feet front to back but are so narrow they can’t drive a car between houses to get to their backyards. It would be unfair to other homeowners to have an RV next to them.

David Dewitt
1 month ago
Reply to  D Cherry

We all share this planet. If some elitist a-hole doesn’t like the looks of his neighbor’s happy home. He can freaking move. He can buy enough land where he doesn’t have to see his neighbors. If he can’t afford to do that then he really can’t afford it b****

Sld
1 month ago
Reply to  David Dewitt

OK, David. So we shouldn’t regulate land use, and the subdivision near me that had one homeowner build a commercial sawmill in his backyard would be OK with you, too? All his neighbors were a-holes for wanting it shut down.

Neighbors have rights, too.

Freedom living
1 month ago

I live in northern California 100 miles north of Sacramento and it is against the law here to buy land and live in your rv. Unless you get a permit to camp on your land for 3 months while building your home. If you’re not building a residence they red flag you, fine you and kick you off your land until you pay and fix all their code issues. Including sometimes arrest you. What we do with land we buy should be ours to choose as long as the environment does not change and is clean and safe.

Eric Miller
1 month ago

I have until the 1st of the year to move my 5th wheel off the property I’m living on now my friend let me move my camper here. I’ve been running on a generator the parish said I have to be gone by the first of the year cause somebody stole the sewer tank pump an I can not pass the zoning now I don’t have anywhere to go is there something I can do until I can find somewhere to go I’m currently unemployed so I can not just haul my 5th wheel camper to a park not to mention all my belongings out in my shop it isn’t right that they can make you leave the property like they are making me do

Steve
1 month ago

It all comes down to money. Local, State, and Federal governments would prefer that we live as materialistic, narcissistic, and weighed down in debt as possible. They profit heavily from that…

David Dewitt
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve

I agree

Nancy S
1 month ago

We are fortunate to have bought land 10 yrs ago in middle TN that does not have many restrictions and most people around us keep their places up. But, I would say “some” people are not as conscientious about how they are living. Point being, someone was living in an rv on our land prior to our purchase. They felt running a pipe down the hill (towards the creek) was all they needed to do for their toilet instead of spending $3000 to have a septic put in. That’s one area I draw the line! And it was difficult to enforce because you could not see the rv from the road. Subsequently, it now has septic and a cute little cabin.

Theresa
1 month ago

To those who complain about living in an RV. Have you seen the homeless camping along side of the roads in places like Los Angeles?
The money that is thrown at the homeless trying to “fix” it?
In 2005 I bought a buildable lot in a park that went private for RVs and small homes. My lot could set up 2 RVs… but came with a large shop. There is water, trash, had a pool, bath house and laundry supplied by the park. Each lot paid 250 per every 6 months for dues. The kept the roads plowed in the winter and repaired. The park is located on a large lake too. There were rules. If you brought in an RV it had to be 15 years old or newer. But if you bought an RV from within the park… any age. I bought one from within the park… $1000. I bought the 10 by 30 decking… $500. Moving and hookup…$250. My total payment was $297 per month for the lot, 250 every 6 months for dues, my electric and propane. I paid off my lot in 5 years. It was a great way to live for me 😀

Matt
1 month ago
Reply to  Theresa

Where is this place? What’s the name of the park?

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