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Where can one buy property and live in an RV?

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"Does anyone here know of counties where it is legal to buy 1 - 5 acres and use it as a RV home base?"  

I don't have a list and don't think a national list exists, it would be too massive to evaluate every county in every state. 

I have done what you propose in 3 different western states, in rural remote areas of SD, CO and NM. 

Your chances of doing this legally improve greatly west of the Mississippi and far away from any developed area. 

It does vary widely from county to county. Many prohibit it completely. Some allow it only while building a permitted residence. Others allow it under certain circumstances & conditions. I've read county regulations that only allow it for 90 days a yr and others for up to 180 days a yr. Most counties that allow it, had regulations that required a permitted & approved septic sys as well as a permitted water well on site before allowing any occupied RV living. Some counties with updated building codes now require high tech, custom designed, very expensive septic sys, compared to the rather low cost basic system. I've also seen several counties that require a minimum lot size of several acres in order to permit a septic sys, since they don't want septic systems on every 1 acre lot in areas where there may be thousands of 1 acre lots plated. 

My suggestion is narrow your search, find some specific land parcels for sale, and then investigate the specific counties involved. I can almost guarantee you that any land within 10 miles of any size city, town or residential subdivision will not allow it. Beside the regulations & restrictions, those type areas usually include at least a few neighbors who will contact the county inspector to report you for every nickel & dime violation. Whereas in more remote areas the neighbors are more likely to be the live & let live type of folks.

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Great answer/advice JRP...that is exactly what we are doing (and have been doing) for a while. If we come across a particular area that we like while we are traveling during the summer we stop for a while and do some investigating as to land prices, restrictions, neighbors ect ect. Right now we have a short list of a couple of places in Colorado, and Montana that we are looking at to make our summer home. I'm sure we will find other places, the looking is part of the fun!! 

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We have a lot of people doing this in Tn. Most parts as long as your not in the city's. Could care less, as long as they get the property taxes. And our taxes are low compared to most others. Power cost is some of the lowest in the nation. Climate is ever changing. But not ad as long as you enjoy change. Because if you don't like it. Wait an hour it will for sure change. last week in the 90's this week in the 70's.

Most of West Tn, you can buy 1/2 Acre to what ever. The county will tell you if it will perk for sewer systems. And what has to be done. But we have a lot of people that have built a pole barn over there RV. Concrete slab for it to sit on. Full hookup's. And use it when here, and its waiting on them when they get back.

Lots of river lots along the Tn river. And thousands of RV's on those. But you have to watch for flooding. On most of those.

Pete

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I live in a county in SE Texas with a population of more then 500,000, no restrictions on land use in un-incorporated areas.

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One of the reasons I have a place in NE Arkansas was the freedom to do as I please with my land. Outside of the federal regulation regarding having land perked for septic if you have less than 10 acres, there were absolutely no other restrictions. I first bought the land to have a base for our converted coach. Loved it enough to build a house on the site. There are no permits, zoning, restrictions at all. For my 1600 sq. ft. house, 33 acres, and outbuildings, my property taxes run around 800 a year.  

 

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This question seems to come up every year or so. The short answer is to find several general areas where you might like to buy your property and then do some specific research. There are lots of places in the country where you can do this, and lots where you can't. Don't depend on a real estate agent to give you correct answers. Go to the county offices and ask yourself. Yes, you may be doing some driving, but so what?

We bought approximately 10 acres in SW MO in 1998. At that time we were able to put in our house with NO regulations. At that time we didn't have to do a percolation test to put in a lagoon. That may have changed. Our well was 500 feet, about twice as deep as most in the area, but we never had a problem. We didn't need to put in a road, just the driveway from the road up to the house. Electricity was already running past the property, so it was a small matter to put in three poles.

Another possible option is an Escapees Co-op. There are several from Florida to Washington. A lot at one of them might be a good answer for some.

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I have read a lot about this topic, and here is what I have been seeing. It's like people are asking "How tall are you" and the answers are "My eyes are brown". 

Buying acres where you build a house is not what we are asking for help with. For the most part the people asking about this are much like me, leaving home ownership behind, looking for a half an acre or less (my current house is in the city on only 1/10 acre!. 10-12 feet between houses) to put in a cement pad so I have a place come off the road every now and then to breathe, and live on that slab of concrete just like when boondocking. Living completely self contained. I don't want to be a slave to a house any more. I don't want to mow a lawn, shovel snow, have to pay plumbers to snake my drains because the roots grow into them... I just want a place to park an RV for 2-4 weeks at a time and not have to pay $250 to do it. I may as well keep my house and mortgage if I have to do that. I have been calling real estate agencies in southern NC and northern SC, because that is an area where the baseline weather is fine. However, those zoning laws are often county based. I have no idea about county names in SC. Sure, I have found some on the internet, but I also don't want to randomly pick a county that is infested with some kind of animal or insect that a northern city boy knows nothing about. That's why we reach out to the users here who know other areas of the country better than we do (in my case, northeast Ohio). I can tell anybody who asks that northeast Ohio will NOT allow you to live in your RV anywhere other than an RV park, which brings you back to almost mortgage level weekly fees. I thought I had found a nearby suburb that would allow it because I saw a trailer with people living in it parked in a driveway. Alas.... the rules there, and every city I checked, are that there has to be a house on the property, with electric, sewer (or septic), and water. So, no....

I really just want a spot big enough for my RV and a car to park on. I would happily have electric service put in and run to a 30 amp pedestal so I have shore power. No house, no trees, no lawn, no landscaping, no shrubs, no lake, no garage... just a place to park an RV for 2 to 4 weeks maybe once a year when I'd want to come back home to visit friends, handle any kind of paperwork I need to do (driver's license every other year, etc), and that has been absolutely IMPOSSIBLE to find. I must have called 75 to 100 cities in parts of Ohio that I thought were really rural, and everybody has zoning against RV parking. They all demand a structure and utilities. I have friends in real estate but they are not interested in anything that doesn't result in a huge commission for them. So it has been a challenge. Kind of bums me out that RVers are seemingly discriminated against.

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Folks, when you buy a piece of land ( outside of an organized RV community), you by definition are back to "square one". Zoning, real estate taxes, leaves and weeds, well and septic, monthly power bills even if the power is not used, neighbors, maintenance of the concrete slab etc. Put a shed on it, and you have to maintain and insure the theft prone shed.

Your best bet is to find good deals at campgrounds that suit your fancy ...this could include those that sell deeded lots or lease them. Another option is finding a friend or relative who will put a pad in for you on their property. No friends? Try boondockers welcome.

And then there is cost. You're looking at at least $50,000 to buy and develop a pad that stands on it's own. Might as well buy a shack that already has well and septic if you have to own your own pad. Full circle, you are a homeowner again.

As far as mowing grass, shoveling snow, and painting exteriors...haven't done any of that in 20 years. Live in a quiet townhome on a beautiful wooded lot. None of that, quiet neighbors (more private than any campground), maintenance is easier than an RV. And up North, no critters. 

Why do I own an RV? I like to wander and see new places. But the RV is maintenance intensive, less private than the townhome, and a PITA much of the time. Such is life!

Edited by ToddF

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Todd, good observation about "why not just build a house?"  The reason to NOT build a house would be to save money both on construction AND on the ongoing annual tax bill.   Perspectives on this approach are appreciated.

As to location, our current "possibilities short list" includes Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Texas. 

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The idea of buying into an Escapee co-op might be one to consider as they are secure and usually pretty easy to recover your investment when you wish to move on, but you can't build a house in one if you choose to stay where it is. Of the states on your list, only Florida and Texas have Escapee co-ops located in them. If you choose to develop your own raw land, I really think that could be done pretty easily in most of those states. I have actually seen that type of structure in the last four of the states that you have on your list. 

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As Kirk notes above, security, if you leave I would bet that someone will take of vandalize what you leave. A place like Escapee's parks would be my choice. Good Luck

 

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We have a couple of places that have hookups.  We prefer privacy and at least an acre.  On our places we found areas that allow us to disconnect the power to keep the bills from coming during off time.  We also have a shed on these lots and haven't had a problem.   We bought our first lot 17 years ago and the value has increased by 3 times our original investment. We also look for areas where the lots can be left natural and do not need lawn care or snow removal.  Finding the "right spot" can be challenging and yes RV's are discriminated in many areas.  One county may allow RV's, while the next may not.  We are not fulltimers but we often travel for months at a time and  tend to boondock when not at one of our properties. It works for us and the increase in property values has has more than made up for the expenses.  While not for everyone it may work for you.

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If you have not been robbed you have been lucky. If I were to leave for an extended period of time I would be robbed. Maybe by my neighbor's children. When I retired September 1st of 2016 I left for the UP of MI and buy the time I got to IL my house was robbed. They took six guns and wife's jewelry. Two of my children's families live on my small ranch.

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We have never had a problem in 17 years but we don't keep valuables in the sheds.  Just an old washer and dryer, a couple of chairs and an old barbecue.  Our neighbors also keep an eye out but it could happen.

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Folks, the OP asked about a patch of land where he could park his RV. Not a house, not an expensive retirement community where there are golf courses, no barns, no sheds....  He is trying to find exactly what I want to find. A small piece of land with absolutely nothing on it where I can pour a concrete slab, have a 30 amp pedestal put in, a septic tank for my black tank hose, and water, more likely a well if there is septic. The idea is not to buy a $400,000 house on a golf course, but to have a place to call home for a month here and there when I feel like coming off the road. An RV park with monthly fees is not really what I am looking for, though it would do other than having people close to me, as I don't want to live next door to neighbors any longer. I also have no worries about being robbed as I will have everything I own with me in my RV.  That sounds more in line with what the OP asked about.

So, back to topic, can you suggest counties in YOUR area, wherever that may be,  where land is not zoned to where it must have a structure on it to park and live there in an RV? It is much easier to have areas suggested to us where zoning permits RV living than to throw a dart at a map and hope to hit a county that allows it.  I can only vouch for northeast Ohio where it is not allowed ANYWHERE even if you DO have a house on your land. (Which I think is discrimination, but they didn't ask me when they made the rules.)  The SKP co-ops sound like an interesting option, but again, I really don't want a neighbor 12 feet to either side of me. 

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1 hour ago, eddie1261 said:

Folks, the OP asked about a patch of land where he could park his RV. Not a house, not an expensive retirement community where there are golf courses, no barns, no sheds....  He is trying to find exactly what I want to find. A small piece of land with absolutely nothing on it where I can pour a concrete slab, have a 30 amp pedestal put in, a septic tank for my black tank hose, and water, more likely a well if there is septic. The idea is not to buy a $400,000 house on a golf course, but to have a place to call home for a month here and there when I feel like coming off the road. An RV park with monthly fees is not really what I am looking for, though it would do other than having people close to me, as I don't want to live next door to neighbors any longer. I also have no worries about being robbed as I will have everything I own with me in my RV.  That sounds more in line with what the OP asked about.

So, back to topic, can you suggest counties in YOUR area, wherever that may be,  where land is not zoned to where it must have a structure on it to park and live there in an RV? It is much easier to have areas suggested to us where zoning permits RV living than to throw a dart at a map and hope to hit a county that allows it.  I can only vouch for northeast Ohio where it is not allowed ANYWHERE even if you DO have a house on your land. (Which I think is discrimination, but they didn't ask me when they made the rules.)  The SKP co-ops sound like an interesting option, but again, I really don't want a neighbor 12 feet to either side of me. 

Other than the septic tank and the taxes and other required permits and hassles , you're describing boondocking . Maybe adapting to that 'style' would be more sensible than tying yourself to a particular piece of cement ? 

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"Your best bet is to find good deals at campgrounds that suit your fancy ..."

To each his own, these questions & their answers always show that even a group of RV'ers is made up of folks with different priorities and preferences. Your "best bet" is my worst nightmare .... I would much rather put up with ..Zoning, real estate taxes, leaves and weeds, well and septic, monthly power bills , than having neighbors 10 ft on either side of me. Your best bet is why I only lasted 4 yrs as a fulltime RVer. But I'm now a happy RVer moving with the seasons to my own properties.

"You're looking at at least $50,000 to buy and develop a pad that stands on it's own."

That statement shows you have no idea what you're talking about, or you're trying to do it in all the wrong places.  Before I retired to fulltime RV'ing, one of my hobbies was buying & selling undeveloped rural land parcels. There were dozens of 5 acre parcels I bought for $500 at county tax auctions and then sold for $5000, or 40 acre parcels I bought for $4000 and sold for $40,000. It just takes a lot of research & days riding down dusty roads in the middle of no where. As I said above, I've done exactly what the OP asked about in 3 different locations and I barely spent $50,000 on all 3 combined for the initial development (graded drive, pad, water, septic, power). After I stopped fulltiming, I did invest much more in each property to build a home or Mfg home. But while I was living in my RV & traveling from one site to the next, all I had was a pad, a water well, a septic sys, and either grid power where it was close by or an expanded solar sys where not.

Finding the right site is the key, the more remote the better. Everyone needs to do their own search, since our needs & wants all vary. In place of snoopy neighbors, you should be willing to put up with mice, rats, coyotes, rattlesnakes, black bears, etc  

The counties that fit my needs 10 yrs ago when I built mine, are irrelevant today, since their rules have likely changed. 

Someone mentioned lawn mowing and other typical home maintenance. Most of the areas where this type of development is done, do not support a suburban home lawn. 2 of my 3 sites still have no lawn after living on them for 10 yrs. A lawn would require a sprinkler sys and I have no interest in spraying my limited water supply on the desert. I'm gone for 6 months at a time and no one does any maintenance while I'm gone. My 3rd property, in Colorado, does get more than enough natural rain to support native grasses. So on that one I do cut the grass twice a summer; in the winter I'm gone for 6 months and the grass is under 4 ft of snow. when I return in late spring, the snow is all gone, I don't own a snow shovel.

Someone mentioned security, vandalism & theft. Again those are very site specific issues. In 10 yrs at 3 locations I've never had one breakin nor any vandalism. I'm frequently gone for 6 months, before returning to one of my properties. In the early years when it was only my RV coming & going, I had no security other than a helpful neighbor 1/2 mile away. As I began to add structures, equipment and eventually homes on the properties, I added security systems & cameras. At my 40 acre winter place in the desert, I have a shooting range in my back yard and maybe my frequent days of shooting 30 rounds off my AR15 might discourage some of the local low life. In my 10 yrs of winters out there, I've shot 4 rattlesnakes that got too close, 2 coyotes that attacked my dog, and no burglars. I'm gone all summer and when I return in late fall its always in the same condition I left it. Some years when I owned 3 RV's and 3 trucks, I'd leave some of the spares parked out there all summer.

So my summary is, if you want to do it and you're willing to put in the research time & move to a different area of the country, its easy & economical to do.  But we're not all looking for the same thing, If you're looking for reasons not to do it, there are plenty of valid excuses to go down a different path.  

PS:  yes boondocking is a good option for folks who like a bit more space. However, its limited to 14 days in most locations, except Q. For those who want to spend 2-3 months in the same location its hard to find boondocking sites that fit (except Q in the winter).

Edited by JRP

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1 hour ago, Pat & Pete said:

Other than the septic tank and the taxes and other required permits and hassles , you're describing boondocking . Maybe adapting to that 'style' would be more sensible than tying yourself to a particular piece of cement ? 

Applying the whole thought of the thread to my situation, which is all I can do because I don't know how anybody else thinks, if I could find something here in Ohio I would come back here in June for my birthday month to see people for my birthday and do "annual" stuff, then head out and see stuff until late September, come back here for October, then start a slow path south, maybe southwest. For those 2 months home, I prefer to be on shore power with my toilet connected and on city water. But like you said, IF there is a county where I can do that, I then have to have electric service run, water, and sewer or septic, so depending on the startup costs like the permits and the cost of a slab and all the contractors, it may be a pipe dream anyway and I would do just as well to find an RV park for a month at a time. A lot would depend on where I can find a spot. We have 4 counties in Ohio that have something called e-check for our cars, and every other year we have to get an e-check to renew license plates. I happen to currently live in one of those counties. However, one county to the southeast of my county, they have no e-check. Then I get into "Well, if you don't ever need e-check again, you can renew your plates by mail." So many options and things to consider.....

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10 hours ago, eddie1261 said:

So, back to topic, can you suggest counties in YOUR area, wherever that may be,  where land is not zoned to where it must have a structure on it to park and live there in an RV?

I don't think that I would advice buying property anywhere as a fulltimer for at least a couple of years because it takes most of us that long to really establish a pattern of travel and to have traveled enough to know where we might want that property located. In my opinion, it is better to wait for some patterns to develop as most of us tend to discover new worlds out there and sometimes we change completely in where we might want such a home-base, or choose not to have one at all. 

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Many things factor into a decision like that, for sure. However, most of the variables are set in my situation. I would want a spot in either west Texas or eastern New Mexico. Options would be northern SC or southern NC. Possibly western NC closer to TN. I'd want to be at a home base from November through April full time, then leave for 4-6 weeks at a time, come home, breathe for maybe 2 weeks, then head back out. One swing ending up in Ohio every year to see people, likely June when the weather her is glorious, then start to mosey south with a little dogleg to the west, always slightly turning back to home base. But I DON'T want a house, with yard work, I don't golf, swim..... I live in a modest 1100 sq ft house now and I don't use 2 of the rooms or the basement other than laundry day. I rarely leave my house. All I need is solid internet and I am fine, because internet means communication, radio and television. And for 16 Sundays I need to know where the local Browns Backers club meets to watch the games. Very simple needs. A slab near nobody would suit me fine if I had internet. The allure of most of these places seems to be things relating to a social aspect, which is of no interest to me. In fact, if I bought into an SKP co-op, I would spend a lot of time coming up with polite ways to tell people who might knock on my door to leave me alone. I am very quiet, very private. To steal a line from Seinfeld when someone asked if he was happy go lucky, I'm not very happy, not at all lucky, and never go.  LOL!!

The truth is that I have a lively, wicked sense of humor. I am lucky in life (but not love) and i DO go, just not often.

The place you are at, Kirk, sounds like a nice place, but the buy-in is too high and I don't fit in as far as the Christian component. Not a Christian, not even really a believer much. Force fed Catholicism as a youth and lost my taste for it after Vietnam. Too many unanswered questions for someone who does not accept "You have to take in on faith". That only works for people who HAVE faith. So your place would be out. And like I said, the buy-in is too much. I wouldn't want to start a mortgage when I am 70 unless it's a VA loan with 0% down on a tiny shack somewhere with prime time weather.

Edited by eddie1261

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1 hour ago, Barbaraok said:

Why do you want to spend winter in the cold?

Huh? Nov thru April in New Mexico or Texas is cold? I get as low as -20 in Ohio in the winter, so any place that snow melts by noon is warm to me.

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"cold" is just another relative term that means something different to all of us. My southern NM ranch is like a heat wave in winter compared to my homes in the Black Hills of SD & 8000 ft in the Colorado Rockies. Southern NM is usually only "cold" overnight, when I'm inside & under a down comforter and could care  less how cold it is outside. Shortly after  breakfast it will be back to sunny & 60 something, perfect for my morning walk & chores. 

However the high winds that we occasionally experience in southern NM are a valid complaint. But after years of travel around the country I've found that mother nature has at least one type of annoyance to throw at every area of the country.

Edited by JRP

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6 hours ago, eddie1261 said:

The allure of most of these places seems to be things relating to a social aspect, which is of no interest to me. In fact, if I bought into an SKP co-op, I would spend a lot of time coming up with polite ways to tell people who might knock on my door to leave me alone. I am very quiet, very private.

We bought into a membership park across the river from Parker, AZ. Dave never participated in any of the social activities and I only did a few times when friends also visited the park for short stays. Other than that I did go to the bar for lunch sometimes and, even then, I mostly sat alone without talking to anyone. Just because there are social activities doesn't mean you have to participate in them. 

Our membership included two weeks free than you either had to leave for a week or pay for that week. Since I didn't have a toad I would leave for that week using that time to go to the grocery store and laundromat. Then I'd drive 30 minutes down to Quartzsite and spend the rest of the week on BLM land. I repeated that pattern all winter.

In the five years I did that, only one person knocked on my door. She was from Minnesota and saw my license plate was, too, so she thought I might be interested in state-oriented socials in town. No, thanks.

In all our visits to various SKP parks during those years, no one there ever knocked on our door. We did knock on someone's door once--to meet Jack Mayer as he'd posted they were leaving that day and we'd never caught him outside but didn't want to miss the opportunity altogether.

Linda Sand

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