Should I live in a caravan?

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: Should I live in a caravan? We will review the pros and cons of living in a caravan, and we will also discuss whether it is legal to live in a caravan in the US. 

Should I live in a caravan?

Living in a caravan full-time is not for everyone. To know if you can and should live in a caravan you have to ask yourself a few basic questions:

  1. How many people will live in the caravan and how much space do I actually need?
  2. Where will I park my caravan and what are the legal procedures to follow?
  3. What is my budget? Should I buy a new caravan or a second-hand caravan?
  4. Is living in a motorhome better than living in a caravan?

The answer to these questions is very personal. Whether you will like or not live in a caravan will highly depend on your lifestyle choices.

In the table below we review some pros and cons of caravan living. We hope this will help you make a decision. 

Why you should live in a caravanWhy you shouldn’t live in a caravan
The essential feature of the caravan consists in the absence of an engine and driver’s cabin. The implications of this aspect are many, especially regarding the large living space available.Towing a caravan is certainly not as simple and “comfortable” as driving and parking a camper. These problems will arise above all in small historic centres, or in the traffic of large urban centres.
The comfort and versatility of the caravan are on average higher than those of a camper. This results in great advantages for the overall habitability: in general, we will be able to take advantage of spacious wardrobes, sofas and large beds etc.Not all models (especially the older ones) have a greywater recovery tank (where the water from the kitchen sink, bathroom sink and shower ends up). You may need to pay extra to install one.
Even the kitchen area, especially in the latest models, has taken on dimensions and characteristics capable of satisfying even the most demanding: oven, extractor hood, large fridge, are no longer optional.The caravan can be unhooked from the car only at the campsites or in the equipped areas.  
Regarding the bathroom, however, we do not find substantial differences compared to the camper, but in some models, the separation of the sink corner is provided, in order to allow two people to use the bathroom at the same time. 
The wastewater recovery tank of the toilet is always with a removable cassette.
Often the caravans are used for longer camping stays and do not have the same self-sufficiency as a motorhome.
The other great advantage of the caravan lies in the price, which is much lower than that of a camper. With less than 10 thousand dollars it is possible to buy excellent caravans that are not too outdated.A caravan is more difficult to manoeuvre and park (some parking spaces may be too short for a car with a trailer).
A caravan is also safer for travellers onboard than a high-speed motorhome as regards the lower centre of gravity.Moving from one place to the next takes much more time  (it takes longer than a camper to restart, as you have to hook and unhook the caravan from the car);
In an emergency, a caravan allows you to have a car available at any time.The speeding limits are usually lower for caravans than for motorhomes (depending on the state).

Despite being very similar in appearance, the solution of the camper and that of the car + caravan are almost complementary, since one excels in the defects of the other.

Therefore, as always, we must carefully evaluate our needs and the use we would like to make of our “mobile home”!

Is it legal to live in a caravan?

Yes, it is legal to live in a caravan. No law prohibits living in a caravan but those who decide to make this choice as an alternative to a traditional home must know a few basic things:

  • You still need a place of residence, and a touring caravan cannot be one. And this is because it is not to be considered comparable to a traditionally understood house. In addition, no rest area or camping will ever give you the ok, as these are obviously accommodation facilities, just like hotels. A family member or friend can help you in this case.
  • Regardless of the nature of the accommodation, you will still have the right to residency. Although much smaller, you will still pay the bills. Precisely because the caravan will be fully considered as your home. However, to be truly compliant, your caravan must be connected to electricity, sewers and all other services.
  • If the caravan is placed on your property, then check the connection to the water and electricity networks. Alternatively, you will have to use the public ones. And then get the cadastral survey of the land and check that it is free from any slope.
  • The law prohibits the use of a caravan for permanent residential use if there is no building permit. The legislation applies to any type of land, whether agricultural or residential. In practice, if it is placed permanently, the caravan is considered to be a masonry construction and therefore subject to all tax obligations and legal obligations to authorize its permanence. 

Can I register my caravan at a campsite?

Living on a campsite is something that, in practice, quite a few people do. There are different categories and those of the highest category offer services classified as luxury: one more temptation to add to the list! 

At this point, the following questions are mandatory: can you stay at the campsite indefinitely? Could you, if necessary, get to register in it? The issue is not trivial: keep in mind that you will need the registry to access public health, educate your children, apply for aid or scholarships, among many other basic steps.

The legislation on campsites is an autonomous competence, therefore, it is different in each autonomous community. In any case, there is something that they all have in common and that is that it is considered (regardless of what sometimes happens in practice) that the campsites have only a tourist purpose and, consequently, the stay in them is limited to a certain number of days or months. 

If this period is exceeded, it is considered that your stay is residential and you will be committing an offence.

The conclusion is that it is not possible to establish a residence in a campsite and, therefore, to register there. This means that if you have a caravan, you will not be able to register in it.

Conclusions

Please make sure that you discuss with your local city council and HOA regarding full-time living in a caravan. While there will be no issues with renting a space in an RV park, living on your land in a motorhome may be prohibited in some places.

If we can be of any help, or if you want to share your own experience with living in an RV, please let us know.

FAQ on Should I live in a caravan?

Can you live in a caravan in winter?

It is possible to live in a caravan in winter, but you must insulate your vehicle well and make all the necessary preparations. Snow, heavy rain, cold or ice may be very present on the road. But you don’t have to worry, today’s caravan brands are prepared for all types of climates. 

Is living in a caravan cheap?

Living in a caravan can be cheaper than living in an apartment or a traditional house. The real answer is that it will depend on several factors. For example, if you install solar panels you will not need electricity or something similar. The same if you decide to have internet in the caravan itself or use your phone as a modem.

Can I live in a touring caravan?

Technically you can live in a touring caravan, but you need to prepare your route in advance. In most places, you are allowed to spend up to twenty-eight days on one caravan site before moving on to another. Make sure you have space during high seasons or winter when most of the sites close. 

Can you get housing benefits if you live in a caravan?

Yes, you can get housing benefits if you live in a caravan, in order to help you pay the rent and the caravan site fees. If you live in a universal credit area, you will have to claim housing costs under universal credit instead.

Can you live permanently in a caravan?

You can live permanently in a caravan as long as you have a type of static caravan known as a park home. If the caravan is on private property, you will also need the local council’s permission. In the US, Texas, Florida, or South Dakota are all friendly to RV living.

Can I live in a caravan on my land?

You can live in a caravan on your land, but there are a few rules to follow. Caravans and motorhomes can remain on the grounds of a primary residence, but only between uses. They must in no case lose their mobile nature, otherwise, they will be considered as a fixed installation by the municipality.

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