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Thinking of Selling Your Home and Downsizing to an RV? Read This First

Thinking of Selling Your Home and Downsizing to an RV? Read This First

Most counties in the US, and certainly most cities, will not allow you to live full time in an RV on your property (with the minor exception of an ~24-month period when you are actively constructing a home). The actual restrictions vary widely from county to county, and many counties do allow you to store or temporarily stay in an RV on your property, but most specifically prohibit using an RV as your permanent residence.

Generally speaking, if you are looking to live in an RV full time, your best bet is to rent space in an RV park or campground (some public lands also allow you to park for free for a limited number of days, but you likely won’t have any utility hookups). These options are ideal for those who have embraced the wandering lifestyle since they provide a range of amenities to offset the challenges of a non-traditional way of living, but are not permanent options.

If you are looking to spend a long period of time in one place, you can buy a deeded lot in an RV park. This “condo” option ensures you are purchasing a property that allows RV use and also comes with utility hookups. You can even claim the lot as your residence for mailing and tax purposes. The one drawback is that you won’t find these kinds of lots on Zillow, Trulia or other major real estate websites. You will need to search for special websites that market these properties, like RVProperty.com.

Having said all this, if you are still dead-set on buying a large parcel of land to park your RV on, there are a few counties that may allow you to live full time in an RV on your property. We’ve done our research, but as always, please contact the county yourself to confirm. Also, please keep in mind that incorporated areas of these counties may have more restrictive regulations regarding RV use.

Counties Without RV Restrictions

The following counties do not have zoning regulations around RV use and therefore do not restrict how long you can live in an RV in unincorporated portions of the county (please let us know if we either made a mistake or are missing a county, we are always updating this list):

  • Hudspeth County, Texas (no zoning or land use regulations restricting occupancy)
  • Delta County, Colorado (no zoning or land use regulations restricting occupancy)
  • Brown County, Wisconsin (no land use regulations restricting occupancy, although there are zoning ordinances around flood plains, private sewage systems and wetlands)
  • Eureka County, Nevada (if the RV is larger than 320 sq ft, there are no regulations restricting occupancy)
  • Custer County, Colorado (no regulations restricting RV use, but you must adhere to typical set back requirements)
  • Ravalli County, Montana (no land use regulations restricting occupancy, although there are zoning ordinances around subdivisions and citizen-initiated zoning districts)
  • Almost anywhere in rural Alaska lacks zoning or land use regulations, but you have to weather the winters

Other Things to Keep In Mind

A few other things to keep in mind if you are going to live full time in an RV outside of an RV park of campground:

  • Sewer: even without zoning restrictions, you will still need to apply and qualify for a septic permit. Most areas that allow you to live full time in an RV will not have sewer public sewer mains or other easy ways to dispose of RV grey and black water. Just like living in an off-grid home, you will need to make sure your lot can support a septic system (i.e. pass a percoluation test). Contact the county’s health department for rules and regulations regarding septic permits.
  • Water: most areas that allow you to live full time in an RV will not have public water mains and you will want to be sure that you can drill a well or obtain water through other means. Check out our article on how to get water without a well.
  • Access: in a rural county, roads are not always well maintained. Be sure that your RV can handle roads in the area at all times. Don’t assume that because the road is passable in the summer, it will remain so after heavy rain or snow.
  • Security and health: you are out on your own in a rural area and an RV may not offer the same level of protection as a traditional home. In addition, you will likely be far away from the nearest healthcare center. Be sure that you can access emergency services in the event of a crisis. We’ve also heard that the VA will not send medication to a property without an address. Most rural lots do not have addresses, so you will need to call the county to obtain one.

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