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How to Safely Live in an RV on Your Own Land

I am an RV enthusiast with more than 50 years of experience owning, driving, traveling and living in recreational vehicles.

Many people dream of living in an RV on their own property because they are looking for ways to simplify their lives, pay less to live, and find some peace.

Unfortunately, most of these folks are city people who literally know nothing about country living and have little experience with the pros and cons they will have to face when transitioning to this type of lifestyle.

For this reason, one of the most important issues they forget to consider is safety.

This is not to say that people will be unable to follow their dreams, but it is to say that what will make them come true in the long haul is to make sure that they include safety precautions when buying their land.

These include but are not limited to doing such things as

  • Clearly understanding the zoning laws of the area where they wish to live.
  • Researching the local population and their culture.
  • Learning about local medical facilities and their ratings.
  • Developing a plan for self-protection.
Those who plan carefully can live safely in their recreational vehicles on their own land.

Those who plan carefully can live safely in their recreational vehicles on their own land.

Finding Properly Zoned Land

Before people can do any of these things, they need to decide where they want to live.

Unfortunately, however, where they want to live and where they may be able to legally live in their camper, trailer, or motor home often are two different things.

This is because the safest and most conveniently located properties often exist in areas that are not zoned for recreational vehicles.

This is not to say that there aren’t beautiful spots that will work for RV living, just that finding them may take time. It will also take money because the most desirable properties are usually the most expensive.

For these reasons, it pays to find spots that meet the criteria of being well located, properly zoned, as reasonably priced as possible, and also safe.

Once these criteria are met, potential owners must also find out if the land is suitable for development. For example, it's ideal to have

  • Potable water.
  • Ground that can support a septic system.
  • Areas that can be leveled.
  • Road frontage.
  • Availability of electricity.
  • The potential for phone and WIFI service.

If any one of these items is missing from the mix, the land will not be worth owning because access and utilities are vital for comfortable living.

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Where to Look for RV Property

Since it is highly unlikely that one will find land for RV living close to or in big cities, the best places to consider are small towns that are located a fair number of miles from a city that offers basic services.

However, this is where the search becomes tricky because although an area may seem to lend itself to people who want to full time on their own land, some do not.

For example, the state of Nevada owns huge amounts of vacant land, but it is against the law anywhere in that state to live in a recreational vehicle on your own land. Apparently, this state treasures its natural resources, so it wants to maintain control of population growth!

Also, it will be more difficult to find land in areas that have temperate climates despite the fact that those would be the most desirable ones for RVers to own.

The bottom line is that if you are dead set on full timing on your own property, you had better start searching and researching well in advance of deciding where you’ll be able to live and where you’ll want to live.

This may seem an ideal spot for full time RV living, but is it?

This may seem an ideal spot for full time RV living, but is it?

Know the Local Culture

If you do find your ideal spot, you need to spend some time learning about the people who live in the general area where it is located and their customs. To do otherwise could be asking for big problems.

Small town living differs significantly from big city living. If you don’t find a way to fit in with the locals, you’ll be miserable.

Many who have lived in these areas for years are related or have known one another for years. Their close relationships make them protective and clannish, so if you even make one comment about someone that is poorly accepted, you could make enemies quickly.

There is often a good deal of corruption in these places, so you may not be able to count on the authorities to help you if trouble arrives at your doorstep.

On the other hand, if the locals decide that they like and can trust you, there isn’t anything they won’t do to help you if the need arises.

Their support can be extremely important when it comes to your safety, so don’t underestimate it.

My husband and I moved to such an area only to learn that every resident of the town belonged to a strict religion. They did not believe in divorce and felt it was a sin. Since this was the second marriage for both of us, we had to keep our mouths shut about our situation because to do otherwise could have cost us our jobs!

Had we known about their attitudes ahead of time, we would never have moved there. As it was, we didn’t stay long!

Do the same, and you’ll be OK.

Make sure that there is good medical care available near the property where you plan to live in your RV.

Make sure that there is good medical care available near the property where you plan to live in your RV.

Protect Your Health

Many small towns have hospitals that are poorly equipped due to limited funds and employ doctors who may be working there because they have been unable to find jobs in better medical facilities.

Research will help you to find out what is available and what your chances are if you should have a health crisis in one of these towns.

Many people have to go long distances to get care for serious issues, and sometimes the distances can cost them their lives.

Certain conditions require immediate and expert care that can only be provided by highly trained specialists who work in hospitals that have the latest and most cutting-edge equipment.

Therefore it’s extremely important to make sure that your land is located close enough to good care to protect you against any type of medical problem that may arise.

Make Safety a Priority

When you live in an RV or even a house in an isolated area, you are not nearly as safe as you are as when you live in a well-populated area because when trouble of any kind strikes, you are mostly on your own.

When you go to town for the day or drive off to spend the weekend with friends, you are leaving everything that sits on your land open to thieves and vandals.

When you are present, you are open to those situations as well.

I used to live in a small town that published a weekly paper that shared gossip about various residents. People who lived alone and had to go to the hospital for a day or two would often return home to find that everything in their homes, including appliances and cabinets, had been stolen.

It’s much easier to remove an entire RV than a house, and that has also happened!

If you irritate the wrong person, you might even find your entire house burned to the ground or, worse yet, burned to the ground with you in it!

You may think these are exaggerations, but I have seen these and similar things firsthand.

This does not mean they happen all the time or in every situation, but they should serve as red flags that make you very careful when it comes to choosing property and protecting yourself and your belongings when living on it.

What You Can Do

Things you can do to protect yourself, your family, and your belongings include but are not limited to:

  • Keeping trained dogs on the premises.
  • Buying and learning how to shoot pistols, rifles, and shotguns.
  • Becoming known and liked in the community.
  • Joining the local church or volunteer fire department.
  • Befriending your closest neighbors.
  • Securing your RV to the ground.
  • Not posting “No Trespassing” signs.
  • Never saying a bad word to anyone about anyone . . . ever!

Some of these things may seem odd, but to avoid doing them is to invite trouble.

For example, the property you bought may be land that locals have used for hunting for generations. Posting “No Trespassing” signs can and will breed resentments, even though you have every legal right to put them up.

On the other hand, hearing shots fired close to your living quarters in the early hours is not the greatest feeling. Therefore, you need to find a way to let people know your concerns and ask them nicely to please make sure to aim their guns away from your RV! A sign is not going to achieve this goal.

Better yet, find out before you buy the land if it is normally used by the locals for hunting and if so, don’t buy it!

Isolated RV Living Has Many Caveats

Many people long to live less expensively and more simply and wish to be able to enjoy the solitude that nature can provide.

Those who succeed in achieving this goal are those who do a good deal of research before buying property where they can live in their recreational vehicles safely.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2019 Sondra Rochelle


Sondra Rochelle (author) from USA on January 09, 2019:

LizWestwood: They certainly are worth considering given today's economic issues.

Liz Westwood from UK on January 09, 2019:

I have come across people using RVs on their own land as a temporary solution while they were building a house, but had not considered the permanent option. This article has some good tips.

Sondra Rochelle (author) from USA on January 08, 2019:

Thanks. Sorry you're still take it slow so the flu doesn't come back!

Theresa Ast from Atlanta, Georgia on January 07, 2019:

Excellent! And interesting. Quite a few things I would never have thought of, but then that is why you are the expert. Just getting over the flu and today was the first day of class. Wasn't easy, but I kept it together - going to bed soon. It was nice to see all the students. :)

Sondra Rochelle (author) from USA on January 07, 2019:

It's becoming increasingly common but always remember that your first priority should be safety.

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on January 07, 2019:

I've tossed around a few ideas about the years ahead. This is looking more viable all the time. I've been traveling for my work for six years, and need to finish off some debts before taking the next step. Thanks for all the information. I think we talked about this a few years ago, but I'm almost ready now.

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