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
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.
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.