Many people, like my family, choose to live in their RVs full-time. If you do it right, it can save money on your mortgage and utility bills. Most RVs are cheaper than houses and the rent at many campgrounds is very manageable.
There are a number of different places that you can choose to park your RV if you want to live in it full time.
Some people opt to find a spot in an affordable camping ground or caravan park with monthly rates, while others purchase land to park their RV on their own property.
Can You Live Permanently In An RV?
The answer to this question is a resounding yes! My family and I have been living in our RV full time for over 2 years now with six people, two rabbits, one dog, and three cats.
Sometimes it gets cramped and we get on each other’s nerves, but it has brought us closer as a family. It’s also taught us that material possessions aren’t what life is all about.
We’ve minimized, showed each other what’s important, and learned to enjoy life more.
Living in an RV can be a great experience if you downsize your belongings, are mindful of your water and power usage, and respect the rules and regulations of the places you choose to stay.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that you may run into some snags when first starting your journey.
Thankfully, we had someone tell us upfront to be careful what you tell your lienholder and insurance company about your RV usage.
Some banks won’t lend you the money to purchase your RV if they know you’ll be living in it full-time, and the same goes for getting it insured. Living in your RV full-time increases their risk, so some of them won’t do it.
We paid cash for our first RV to eliminate the need for a loan, and we chose not to tell our insurance company we were living in it full-time.
While this may seem unethical to some, it hasn’t been too much of a problem for us, because we park on our own property most of the year and rarely travel anymore.
We think of it like this: our home address is the place where our RV is “stored” most of the time, even though we’re in it.
Where Can I Park My RV To Live For Free?
If you’re looking for a place to park your RV for free, there are a few options. You can try boondocking on public land, camping in national forests, or even parking on someone’s private property.
Of course, you’ll need to be self-sufficient for some of these options since there won’t be hookups for water, sewer, or electricity. Besides, hookups are going to cost extra, so it defeats the purpose of it being free.
Boondocking is our favorite way to camp for free. We’ve boondocked on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land in Utah and Nevada, and we’ve also camped on National Forest land in Arizona.
The best part about boondocking is that it’s usually very remote, so you’ll have plenty of peace and quiet. We’ve stayed in some beautiful places this way, and we’ve never had any problems.
If you’re boondocking, you probably won’t have many neighbors, which means even if you run your generator 24/7, you won’t be bothering anyone with it.
The downside to boondocking is that it requires the conservation of water and electricity and can be difficult for larger families.
When we boondock, we can make our fresh water supply last about 2 weeks by taking shorter showers, doing laundry in a 5-gallon bucket, and not flushing the toilet as often.
We also conserve electricity by using LED lights, running the fridge on propane, and only using the air conditioner when it’s absolutely necessary.
2. National Forests
You can also try camping in national forests. This is a great option if you want to be close to civilization but still have plenty of space to yourself.
We’ve camped in the Coconino and Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests in Arizona, and we were able to find some great spots that weren’t too crowded.
Some national forests are free and some arent, so make sure to do your research before you go.
3. Rural Land
If you know someone who owns property in a rural area, you could always ask if you could park your RV on their land. This is a great option if you want to be near your friends or family, and it’s usually very affordable (or free).
Of course, you’ll need to make sure that the property owner is okay with you being there and that you have permission to park your RV on their land.
We park on our own 10 acres when we’re at home, but we also have an extra set of hookups installed next to ours, so our friends can bring their campers out and stay with us when they visit.
We are more than happy to oblige with a free stay in return for their company.
4. Your Friend’s Driveway
If you have a friend or family member who lives in the city, you could always ask to park your RV in their driveway. This is a great option if you want to be close to civilization but still have your own space.
However, it’s also important to clear this with your friend and any HOA or city regulations they might have. Some municipalities will only let you park for up to 72 hours before you have to move again.
This is a great option if you plan on moving around frequently, but can be a hassle if you would rather park and stay for longer periods of time.
5. A Parking Lot
If you’re on the road moving from place to place, you could always try parking your RV in a parking lot.
This is a great option if you’re just passing through an area and need a place to stay for the night, but it certainly isn’t a long-term solution.
It’s important to make sure that you’re not breaking any laws by doing this. Some cities have ordinances against overnight RV parking, so be sure to check before you park.
Businesses like Bass Pro Shops, Walmart, grocery stores, and some truck stops allow overnight RV parking, but it’s always best to check with the store manager first.
As a courtesy, make sure you also make a purchase in the store as a thank you for letting you stay. The benefit to parking at a place like this is that you have a place to go in and use the restroom if needed.
6. Your Own Property
If you happen to own your own property, like we do, you can park for “free” there. I put the word free in quotations only because our 10 acres wasn’t actually free.
But now that we own it free and clear, we’re not paying a monthly fee to a campground when we park here. All we owe are the annual property taxes.
We also had hookups installed so that when we’re at home, we don’t have to mess with boondocking. This is a great option if you want to be able to stay for long periods of time and not have to worry about moving around.
Of course, you’ll owe the bills on any utilities you use.
If you don’t own your own property, this obviously won’t work for you. But it’s something to think about for the future!
Where Can I Park My RV Long-Term (Paid Options)
If you can’t find any free options, there are plenty of ways you can find long-term parking, even if you have to pay for it.
One option for long-term RV parking is campgrounds. This is a great option if you want to be close to civilization and have access to hookups like water, sewer, and electricity.
Of course, this option isn’t free, but it’s usually very affordable. We’ve stayed at campgrounds that were as low as $20 per night. That’s not bad when you consider that even the cheapest motel room costs at least $50 per night.
Many campgrounds also offer monthly rates for long-term stays, which makes it cheaper than paying per night.
For example, we once stayed at a campground in Arizona for $350 per month. That’s less than $12 per night, which is a great deal.
You may not get the amenities here that you get at larger RV parks, but because they’re typically family-owned, you get a more personal experience and will get to know your neighbors better.
2. RV Resorts
An RV resort is like a campground on steroids. They usually have all the amenities you could ever want, like swimming pools, hot tubs, basketball courts, game rooms, and more.
These resorts are like communities with a full calendar of events so you can get involved and make friends with your neighbors.
Of course, all of these amenities come at a price. RV resorts typically cost $50-$100 per night, making them one of the most expensive options for long-term RV parking.
There have been months we’ve splurged on a resort because we wanted access to these amenities during the summer months.
3. Membership Parks
Another option for long-term RV parking is membership parks. These are usually private RV parks that you have to pay a yearly fee to join.
The benefit of these parks is that they’re usually very well-maintained and offer great amenities. They have full hookups, as well as laundry facilities, showers, and even swimming pools.
The downside is that they’re usually more expensive than campgrounds. The membership fee can range from a few hundred dollars to over $1,000 per year.
And then you also have to pay for your RV site on top of that, although as a member you get a discounted rate and priority booking.
Your membership fee may also include extra members-only benefits.
4. Mobile Home Parks
Another option for long-term RV parking is mobile home parks. These are usually communities of mobile homes that have a vacant lot you can rent to park your RV.
The benefit of this option is that it’s usually cheaper than campgrounds or membership parks. We once parked our RV at a mobile home park for $250 per month, which is a great deal.
The downside is that this isn’t available at all mobile home parks, so you’ll have to do some research to find it. And because some mobile home parks are in more run-down parts of town, you may not feel very safe.
5. With Friends or Family
Some of the free options could still be available to you as paid options. Even if your friends and family want you to pay a small fee to stay with them, it’s usually still cheaper than many other paid options.
I have an uncle in Missouri with RV hookups on his cattle ranch as well as a friend in Colorado who has hookups on her farm. Both of them only ask that we pay the utilities we use when we stay with them.
This option is great because we get to visit with family and friends and save money at the same time.
How Much Does It Cost To Live In An RV?
The cost of living in an RV varies greatly depending on your lifestyle.
If you’re the type of person who likes to go out to eat and drink often, then your costs will be higher than someone who prefers to cook at home.
Similarly, if you like to travel often and stay in fancy RV parks with all the amenities, then your costs will be higher than someone who prefers to boondock or stay in less expensive campgrounds.
It will also depend on if you own your RV or have a payment. The following factors will have an impact on much it costs you to live in your RV:
- RV payment
- Eating habits
- Where you stay
- Family size
For people who own their RV outright and choose to boondock most of the time, it will cost very little to live in an RV. You simply have to factor in the cost of groceries, propane, and gas for your generator.
There are many places you can fill up your fresh water holding tank for free or very little, which means you could spend less than $200 per month for your RV.
In this circumstance, your costs break down a lot like this:
- RV payment: $0
- Monthly rent: $0
- Water: $0-20
- Propane: $50
- Gasoline: $125
However, if you have an RV payment and you like to stay at RV resorts with all of the amenities, you could spend $2000 or more every month.
When our friends do this, their monthly cost breaks down like this:
- RV payment: $400
- Monthly campground payment: $1000
- Propane: $60
- Utilities: $200
In general, though, you can expect to spend about $1,000-1,500 per month to live in an RV. Of course, if you have a family or are traveling with other people, your costs will be higher.
We are a family of 6, and this is what we pay every month to park permanently on our property at home in our new RV:
- RV payment: $600
- Monthly rent: $0
- Propane: $60
- Utilities: $400
What’s The Cheapest Way To Park My RV Long-Term?
The cheapest way to park your RV long-term is to pay cash for the RV so you don’t have a payment and then boondock all of the time. However, boondocking can be a lot of work and not everyone likes it.
You can also find a piece of land to park it on. You’ll pay upfront for the cost of the land, but if you plan to live there permanently, the land will pay for itself after your lifetime of living there.
If you’re able to find a spot like this, your only costs will be utilities (if you’re hooked up to them) and any property taxes that might be due on the land.
You can also check with a friend or family member, or you could even look for vacant land that you can rent or lease. In these cases, the cost of your rent is likely less than at a campground.
Otherwise, your cheapest option is likely to be a campground or membership park. These will usually have full hookups and offer some amenities.
They’ll be more expensive than if you stay with someone or own your own land, but they’ll be cheaper than a resort.
If I were to rank my options in order of least expensive to most expensive on a monthly basis, it would look like this:
- Boondocking (like in a National Forest or on rural land)
- Purchasing your own land
- Staying with friends and family
- Renting a piece of land
- Mobile home park
- Campground or RV park
- RV resort
RVs are a great way to travel and see the country. But if you’re looking to live in an RV long-term, there are plenty of options.
Start by looking for long-term parking options at campgrounds and RV parks, as well as renting or purchasing a piece of land.