Is it legal to live in an RV with a child in California?

In this article, we will answer the following question: Is it legal to live in an RV with a child in California? We will give you five essential tips to ensure that your children live a happy life in the motor home.

Is it legal to live in an RV with a child in California?

Yes, it is legal to live in an RV with a child in California, and as long as the motorhome is a safe environment for the child, the CPS cannot take your children away. You must ensure your children’s wellbeing whilst living in the RV. This means taking care of the following:

  • That each child has a separate place of sleep;
  • Each child has a seatbelt;
  • The children have access to the toilet facilities and other essential amenities;
  • The children are either attending a local school or registered as being homeschooled;
  • You must ensure doctor visits and the safety of your children at all times. 

Is it legal to live in an RV in California?

Yes, it is legal to live in an RV in California, but it doesn’t mean that it is also legal to park anywhere you want. 

If you plan on living full time in an RV, you must make parking arrangements. Most HOA does not allow stationing the vehicle in your backyard or driveway for more than two days. More similar rules apply in campsites also, that only allow you to park the RV for 10 or 11 consecutive months. 

5 tips to prepare your children for life in an RV

First, let me tell you that it is okay to be afraid. We are often brought up in a very closed sedentary model of life: to live happily you have to go to school, find work to earn money, get married, buy a house and start a family. Then it will be the turn of the children to go to school and so on.

Thinking of living a nomadic life in a converted van or truck is to call this whole model into question. These are years of life, of education that we decide to forget to embark on another model of life still too little known. Living differently is not a common practice, but it is quite possible because the lifestyle imposed by society is not the only one that exists and it does not necessarily suit our ideals.

To live happily, you have to live in harmony with yourself. And children are not a hindrance, quite the contrary. Many parents give up a life on the road out of fear. Yet children adapt perfectly, and what could be better than growing up with fulfilled parents?

Prepare your children to live differently. If the children are used to living in a house, introduce the idea to them gradually, explaining to them in particular that a house does not have to be an enclosed space between four walls. Talk to them about it. If they are old enough to express themselves, feel free to build the project with them so that they feel included and concerned.

Face judgments and reassure those around you. The gaze of the other is sometimes difficult to overcome, whether it is for you or for your children. Your approach will always be judged by people who know nothing about this alternative way of life, and who will nevertheless give their opinion and will try to dissuade you from it. Children are sensitive to judgments. 

Reassure them, and reassure those around you by showing them that this is a new life project that holds up by showing them testimonials from people who also live differently. Take a tour of the interior of your house on wheels, show pictures. The looks will change little by little.

Arrange the interior well and get organized. Ensure a minimum of comfort for your children. The interior design of the house on wheels is an important step. No, a child does not require a lot of space. But yes a child requires organization.

Make a slow transition. Living in a small space is not easy for everyone, it takes time to adapt. Thus, the change of life does not have to happen overnight. Smaller space means less stuff, fewer toys too. Our advice: set up a transition. 

Go for example on vacation or/and weekend with your house on wheels. Then carry out the move gradually. This will give your children time to get used to their new life. And it will also allow you to sort through your belongings, to realize what is important every day, and what is not really.

The joy of freedom with the family. Once you feel the time is right, trust yourself. Living this new life with your children is daily happiness because, finally, you will be able to live your life and not that imposed by society.

Homeschooling as an option

Compulsory education can be fulfilled by homeschooling. However, the student’s parents must follow certain rules.

It is necessary to notify the Home Education Service by means of a specific form, no later than the beginning of the school year, that the student is attending home education.

Provide, at request, the documents on which home education is based. These include the textbooks and teaching materials used, folders and notebooks, the student’s written work, an individual training plan.

Parents are obliged to provide education at least equivalent to that delivered in full practice. The CPS will monitor the student’s level and check whether this condition is met. The Inspection can carry out a check at any time. Parents will be notified at least one month in advance by the CPS.

  • States requiring no notice to the school district about homeschooling include Alaska, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Texas.
  • States with low regulation include California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Arkansas, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Delaware.
  • States with moderate regulation (parental notification, plus test scores and/or professional student progress evaluations must be sent to the district) include Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Louisiana, Florida, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Maine, Maryland and Washington, D.C.
  • States with high regulation (all the above regulations, plus other requirements — e.g., curriculum approval by the state, teacher qualification of parents or home visits by state officials) include Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Homeschooling is usually the first choice for many campers. As long as you follow the guidelines, there is nothing to worry about.

Final thoughts

Some people are drawn to the idea of ​​living in an RV full time, even if they have kids. The decision to pack and live in an RV should be made carefully. You will need to consider the financial changes that come with making such a lifestyle decision, but mostly, you will have to make a plan for your children.

Please let us know if we can be of any further help.

FAQ on Is it legal to live in an RV with a child in California?

Can CPS take your kid for living in an RV?

No, CPS cannot take your kid for living in an RV. As long as there are no grounds for neglect or abuse, your child is safe continuing living with you. 

Can you buy land and live in RV?

Yes, you can buy land and live in an RV, but the legality of this will depend on the state you reside in. Most places do not allow one to live in an RV parked in their backyard, for example. 

Is it legal to live in an RV full time?

It is both legal and illegal to live in an RV full time. It all will depend on where you keep your RV parked and if you managed to make it your full address. You must speak with the HOA or/and the local council and ask whether you need a permit for it. 

Can you claim an RV as a primary residence?

In most states, you can claim an RV as a primary residence for tax purposes. As long as your RV has a bathroom/toilet, kitchen, bedroom – it is considered a home. 


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