Can you live year-round in a camper?

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: Can you live year-round in a camper? We will review the law, the costs and some other basic tips that you must know about if you decide to live year-round in a camper.

Can you live year-round in a camper?

Yes, it is possible to live year-round in a camper, but it is forbidden to make it your main residence and live there permanently. And if you are residing at a campsite, it is often difficult when they close in winter with the water and electricity cut off.

In the US, you can install a camper on private land and live in it year-round as long as you comply with the following rules forwarded by HOAs and City Councils: 

  • You owe/lease both the RV and the property/land it is parked on. 
  • If another person is parking their RV in your backyard, they are allowed to do it for a maximum of 14 days only.
  • The RV must be parked in the backyard behind a line established by the front building line farthest from the street.
  • The distance between the RV and the rear property line must be at least 10 feet. 

If you decide to live in your camper, this involves some administrative changes. Regarding the receipt of your mail, you must enter the address of the campsite where you have taken up residence or the address of a relative. Also, you must insure your camper and declare it to your insurance company as your main residence.

Once the administrative aspect is finished, you are free to go! Now you can break the routine, get closer to nature and be free to travel as you see fit!

Here’s what you need to know if you are thinking of living year-round in a camper

In recent years, RV sales have skyrocketed as more Americans decide to live nomadically while cruising the country. Here’s what you need to know about living year-round in a camper.

There are many ways to travel long term in the United States. People have lived in their cars, entered #vanlife, or even survived by switching from vacation rentals to vacation rentals. Why did those we interview decide to live in a camper?

In short, the answer was space. Partners need space to do their own things: Whether it’s a space to work creatively or to have simultaneous business meetings, having one room doesn’t work for many couples.

Here are a few more perks:

  • Friends and family can visit: Many RV enthusiasts entered the lifestyle thinking that they wanted their family and friends to be able to visit and travel with them. 
  • You get to keep all your traditional amenities: You get to travel more but without giving up the convenience of spaces like a kitchen, living room and bathroom. 
  • A place to call home (which actually looks like a house): One of the main reasons for RV life is to come back to something at the end of the day that feels like a house, rather than a simple suitcase or a small vehicle.

Where can I park and sleep in an RV?

Here are a few suggestions for parking your camper:

  •  Rest stops – The easiest places to stop if you are driving on the interstate are rest stops. These are generally areas away from the road, providing parking, restrooms, and other items you may need while travelling. 

Many travellers avoid rest stops because they are generally not well served. That’s because they are typically maintained by the state highway department and are rarely at the top of their “must do.” 

Since you are lucky enough to have your toilets on board, you don’t have to worry about the condition of the facilities. You also don’t have to waste your money on the snack and beverage machines, as your fridge and cabinets need to be well-stocked.

However, the only thing you need to worry about at rest stops is safety. Because they are unguarded and used primarily by out-of-state travellers, night breaks are an easy mark for criminals. So if you need to stop, stop early while the sun is still shining and get back on your way at dusk or earlier.

  • Walmart – Although some RVers report seeing signs to the contrary, Walmart’s across the country typically receive RVs in their parking lots for overnight visits.

Most stores allow RVs to park in designated areas of their parking lot for extended periods of time, requiring only that the owner notify store management. In fact, many of the stores also monitor the RV through their security systems so you can have extra peace of mind.

  • Truck stops – Another possibility on those long, lonely roads is a truck stop. Many of these handy tents are RV-friendly and will gladly allow you to park overnight, especially if you’re willing to fill up your tank and go inside to stock up. 

Many trucks also serve fresh food, and they can also be a good place to search for interesting souvenirs.  Truck stops are also relatively safe. There must be as many truckers also staying overnight and leaving their trucks in the parking area.

The reality is that over the years an indeterminate number of fines have accumulated that local authorities have imposed on motorhomes and campervans for parking, either regularly or irregularly, camping or staying overnight, or simply for being parked. 

What kind of camper is the best for a year-round living?

While choosing your camper is a very personal choice, there are a few things to consider.

  • Personal Safety Considerations: For people travelling the safety aspect must be considered. When you park somewhere for the night, you must feel safe no matter the place.
  • Ease of use while driving: The fifth wheels will be easier to tow than conventional caravans because they are less difficult to back up and generally move less in the wind. Keep in mind that the length corresponds to the difficulty of driving.
  • RV Age: A newer vehicle will likely require fewer interior renovations. However, older RV electronics may be easier to maintain for those who don’t have a lot of RV knowledge. Newer rigs are usually more complicated, often forcing you to go to the dealership when something breaks.

How much does it cost to live year-round in a camper?

The cost of living in a camper will depend heavily on how, where and when you prefer to travel.

  • Daily Cost: The daily cost of living for items such as food, camping, and gasoline varies wildly depending on the region you are in. If you are looking for great destinations (as many travellers like to do), you will be spending more money than elsewhere.
  • Travel Speed: No matter where you park your rig, slowing down can save you money. Often, campsites offer discounts for weekly or monthly stays, compared to nightly rates. You’ll also spend less on gas by travelling slower. 
  • Camper life can suit any budget: in general, however, you can spend as much or as little as you want. Some go into RVing to save money. Others find themselves breaking even from their previous lives. Others spend more. You can make the RV life work no matter what type of budget you’re comfortable with.

Some must-haves for living year-round in a camper

Here is a list of items that, in our opinion, are a must-have for living in a camper short or long-term:

  • Wasp Spray: The wasp spray can be used as a personal defence item. With a use case similar to that of pepper spray, this type of spray does not dissipate so easily in the air.
  • First Aid Kit: Do your best to prepare for minor medical emergencies by purchasing the classic safety essentials, a first aid kit.
  • Home Security Camera: See who (or what) is outside your camper without having to open the door. You can also use an indoor security camera to keep an eye on your belongings or pets while you are away.
  • Motion Sensing Security Lights: Like many homes, motion-sensing lights can be placed outside of your rig.
  • Alarm system: You can install the same alarm systems for your camper as for your fixed house. Receive alerts on your phone for suspicious activity.
  • Built-in GPS for the Internet: Having a GPS connected to your Internet allows you to see where your rig is located as well as how fast it is moving. This can be helpful when taking it for service. While using this tool, some campers have discovered that their mechanics have not treated their campers properly.
  • Bike lock: If you have a bike, make sure you have a good lock. Bike theft is one of the most common criminal acts encountered by RVs.
  • Fire extinguishers: Yes, plural extinguishers. Keep one in all areas where your way to the exit could be blocked. Remember to learn how to use one before you need it.
  • Automatic fire extinguishing systems: There are now fire extinguishing systems that will deploy automatically. These can be installed in places such as your refrigerator or the battery compartment.
  • Kingpin: A kingpin is a locking mechanism that prevents someone from simply coming in and picking up your camper.

The bottom line

If you want to live full time in a camper, take the time to do your research. I cannot stress this enough, especially if you are considering buying a used motorhome. Be more than vigilant, take your time. It would be a shame if after a few days or a week you did not feel well in your new amper.  

Please let us know if you have any comments or questions on the content. 

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