In this blog post, we will answer the following question: Can I live in a campervan on the street? We will explain what are the places where you can park and live in a campervan and where it is prohibited by law to sleep in a campervan. We will also give you a few suggestions on where to camp and how to choose the best campervan to live in.
Can I live in a campervan on the street?
Technically yes, you can live in a campervan on the street. The two main issues that arise, however, is that the US law requires its citizens to have an actual physical address (RVs are not accepted), and the second issue is that not all states allow people to sleep in their vehicle overnight just anywhere on a street.
The states that prevent people from sleeping in their campervans on the city streets are:
|State||Legal to sleep in a campervan on the street|
|District of Columbia||YES|
Places where you cannot sleep in a campervan in the US
It is illegal to sleep in a campervan in the following spots in the US:
- Busy streets;
- Rivers & under bridges;
- In front of a business;
- In government parking lots.
Places where you can sleep in a campervan in the US
You can, however, legally park and live (temporarily) in a campervan in the following spots:
- BLM lands;
- National parks and forests with organised campsites;
- Rest stops;
- Truck stops.
Where can I legally camp and live in my campervan in the US?
There are many authorised and free camping areas if you need to sleep in your campervan. If you are travelling with your converted vehicle or you have decided to go through a rental company for your first experience in a campervan, here are some ideas when you are wondering where to sleep in a campervan:
- In the middle of nature – We start with our favourite spot on this list since for us the campervan is synonymous with nature and freedom! Wild camping is not only the perfect spot with a view of the desert or the sea, it can also be a space between two trees, in the bushes or near a river or in the forest.
- At camping sites – It is true that the camping site remains the simplest and most widespread solution. But certainly not the cheapest, yes, you can’t have it all. Camping on a well-defined site has many advantages but also some disadvantages …
- First of all, it gives you access to unlimited showers and toilets;
- A site where you can leave your campervan but also your belongings when you go wandering around;
- Often nice neighbours with whom to exchange good advice and drinks (yeah that’s important);
- And sometimes infrastructures such as a swimming pool and entertainment for crazy, frenzied nights on the dance floor (well, that’s according to your aspirations …)
On the other hand, there are also some drawbacks:
- Starting with the price. Admittedly, sleeping in a campsite often has a cost because you benefit from special services and infrastructures that have to be paid for;
- Proximity, then, is the second element that generally avoids being in campsites: neighbours are often very close.
However, campsites are often a good solution for roaming in areas where wild camping is limited or even impossible! (and we admit, campsites were often our shower areas during our travels ….)
- With local people – This solution is less known but tends to spread gradually. A few sites have also developed recently on this theme: going to sleep with locals. What is it about? Often it is Gamping, ie “camping in the garden”.
The advantages are numerous:
- It’s not expensive (cheaper than a camping pitch),
- This is often synonymous with great encounters with individuals who have the time to discuss and share their knowledge of the surroundings (tips and advice on the appointment),
- It’s quite intimate, we don’t find ourselves surrounded by camper campervans and other converted campervans.
The downsides, sometimes you have to reserve a little upstream, there are not 300 places in the gardens so sometimes the place is full or closed; if you are travelling with animals, make sure they are accepted.
Either way, with this sleeping solution, you are bound to find something that suits you, whether in terms of the environment or the budget!
- At a farm – Stop at a farm, often spend the night for free, in exchange for which you can buy some products and learn more about local specialities.
- In the street or in a parking lot – It depends a lot on the purposes of each one and it is often possible to park and spend the night in a simple parking space, showing a minimum of civic-mindedness and discretion (legally nothing forbids it unless prohibited by signs, we will talk about it again below).
- At Walmart – In the US it is often possible to sleep in supermarket car parks, especially Walmart, and yes, we admit this is a great option especially when the toilets are accessible until very late, or even all night!
Choosing a good campervan for full-time living
Choosing a campervan to live there year-round is not that easy. To navigate it, you have to rely on the “needs-requirements-budget” trio. The needs, it is important to list them by asking yourself questions about:
- the number of people on board,
- energy management,
- places where you want to travel, for example.
For long-distance campervan travel, the “preparation-sacrifice-challenges” combo comes back every day. Yes, to live this adventure as well as possible, you must already be well prepared. Clearly, taking a test to find out if the campervan life is made for either is a good way to gauge yourself (a 2-month trip in total immersion, for example).
At the same time, if the experience turns out to be successful, sound financial planning is advisable to smoothly transition into life in a campervan. Then, once you’ve finally settled into the campervan, this is where the hard part begins!
Every day, elements related to nomadic life remind us that there are many areas to
take into account such as energy management (water, gas, electricity), where to sleep
for the night, the weather, his personal hygiene etc. In addition, this is why it is important to have equipment adapted to your needs so as not to regret this choice of life.
A house on wheels ready is a full vehicle. However, it must be done efficiently so you have everything on hand quickly. First, all the equipment must be sectored by poles. For our part, the equipment is divided into 4 distinct areas:
Living in a campervan on the street, advantages and disadvantages
The disadvantages of living in a campervan often are:
- Smells that seem amplified in a small space.
- The tiny showers. They are so small that just turning around is an exercise in balance, control and awareness of the space.
- Internal traffic jams, because if we move in the campervan at the same time, we are certainly on the same path. And sometimes it can be annoying.
- Clutter and mess can happen quickly.
- Maintaining the budget: despite fluctuating costs, it is very difficult to maintain a regular budget, although we are trying.
- Lack of a regular community: We miss being part of a regular community. Having lived in the city in a particularly social district, we sometimes miss interactions.
The advantages of living in a campervan are:
- Travel, see and discover new, exciting places every day.
- Meeting new people, an integral part of the travel experience is meeting new people and learning from them.
- Easy cleaning of the living place, it only takes 10-15 minutes to fully clean
- inside the vehicle.
- Simplicity, the lifestyle demands simplicity which results in less stress and lack of desire.
- With the lack of routine, we discover that breaking away from the routine and the comfort of familiarity, opens the way for us to think about a lot of things.
- A general sense of well-being, responsibly breaking away from convention to truly experience life and develop awareness leads to a feeling of peace.
The bottom line
If sleeping in a campervan on the street is absolutely forbidden in your state, make sure you camp where parking is allowed. It is necessary to respect the HOA rules if you park in a neighbourhood, and make sure you are staying in one place for too long.
Please let us know if you have any questions or comments on the content!
Other FAQs about Camper Vans that you may be interested in.
FAQ on Can I live in a campervan on the street?
Can I sleep in my campervan?
Currently, it is completely legal to sleep in a campervan or motorhome in the designated places. There is nothing in the law that prohibits it. In theory, you can therefore spend the night wherever you want.
How to sleep 4 in a campervan?
IF four people need to sleep comfortably in a campervan, consider equipping yourself with mattress toppers. These are thin mattresses that are placed on the bed, in order to reduce its rigidity, or even to hide the shapes of the bench.
Where to park with a campervan?
You can park a campervan just like a car. By parking is meant to park your vehicle on its 4 tires, for one day or one night. And you have the right to stay inside the vehicle. But be careful not to show signs of camping!
Where to stop with a motorhome?
A motorhome can stop in town in a parking space and spend the night there. It does not matter whether the motorhome operators are on board or not, as long as they comply with the regulations.
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