Where to Park and Live in a RV– legally!

Where to park and live in a RV-- legally! | asmalllife.com

Most people think RVs and travel go hand-in-hand, but depending on your life situation, you may not be able to travel full-time. You might have a job that requires you to go to an office every day (I do!), you might have kids that go to a local school or you might simply love your home base, that’s cool too.

If you are staying put, I want to lay out some helpful tips and tricks for where to park and live in an RV– legally!

I’m about to say something scary, okay? Depending on the place you live, it may be illegal to live full-time in a RV. In the state where we live, it is illegal in many counties to live full-time in a RV. Different counties and different cities will have different rules. Sometimes it’s illegal to live in anything on wheels. Sometimes it’s illegal to live in something without a permanent foundation. Sometimes it’s a square foot thing and it’s illegal to live in something less than 1,200 square feet. You’ll want to check your county and cities requirements and decide if the risks are worth the rewards.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s move on to the places you might be able to park your RV.

Your own land
If you can afford it, buying a small piece of land can be ideal for a RV. If the land isn’t yet equipped for electric, water and sewer that could make your parking a bit more difficult. Some areas, even if you pay for it, won’t run power, sewer or water without building permits for a house and all the requirements that follow. If that’s the case, you could look for land that already has utilities or you could go off-grid completely!

Realtor.com is a great place to start looking for land to buy. You can search by land in your area and review the properties to determine if they’d be a good fit for your RV.

Zillow.com works similarly to Realtor.com, but has a more graphic interface with an interactive map of houses for sale and land.

RV Parks and Mobile Home Communities
If you can’t afford your own land, don’t fret, there’s options out there. I’d suggest looking into local RV parks and mobile home communities. Some RV parks will let you stay long-term if you periodically move your home and/or leave the park for a couple of days. That’s a small price to pay for the freedom of living in an RV.

RVparking.com is a website where you can search or browse for an RV park in your area. Each park will have different rules, so be sure to check with the management for long-term parking.

Campendium is a searchable RV parking website. Campendium is great for short-term parking as well. In addition to RV parks, Campendium shows National Park/Forest camping and free camping.

MH Village is a marketplace to buy, sell or rent manufactured homes and RVs. The website also includes a searchable mobile home community database.

Remember to also do a Google search for RV parks or mobile home villages in your area that might not show up on the sites previously mentioned.

Tiny House Options
If living in an RV park or a mobile home community isn’t your style, that’s ok. Tiny Housers have difficulty parking their homes too. Those crafty tiny housers have created the following websites can help you locate an alternative place to park your home.

TinyHouseCommunity.com is a resource that connects tiny house owners with builders, communities, and fellow tiny housers. The Places page on TinyHouseCommunity details counties that allow tiny houses, as well as communities that welcome tinyhouses or RVs.

TinyHouseMap.com is an interactive map that you can use to search for fellow tiny housers, tiny house builders and tiny house communities for parking.

TinyHouseParking.com is also an interactive map, which can be configured to display parking places available for rent or purchase. On TinyHouseParking you can even create a “parking wanted” ad.

Backyard Livin’
If all else fails, you can always ask if friends or relatives will let you stay in their backyard in exchange for chores or a small rental fee. Dee Williams, one of the tiny house pioneers, began her tiny living journey in a friend’s backyard. Again, according to those pesky zoning laws, living full-time in an RV in someone’s backyard might not be legal. I am not a lawyer and I can’t give legal advice. It’s up to you to decide if you are willing to skirt the law.

I hope this helps. I have more details about how to live in an Airstream in my e-book, available here.

Good luck, friends,

6 thoughts on “Where to Park and Live in a RV– legally!

  1. Jonathan D Saavedra

    Thank you so much for this! I love your blog! I may be on here a lot in the future being that I am planning on doing this. So please don’t get upset with all my questions 🙂

  2. Renee

    Hi Melanie, I came across your post and found it very helpful. Its funny to think about the legalities of what’s “allowed”…..If its all you have (roof over your head) geez… any hoo, I’m getting ready to shop for my first Conversation Van / Sportsmobile but one of my most “ify” question is : how do you know its safe? I’m solo … kicked the cheating husband to the curb and I’m hitting the open road with my Fur Baby! Any advice on places you’ve been that’s not full of crazies? I’m looking for just short term places and then off I go to next spot.

    P.S. If you ever go to Julian Calif. it’s pure Beautiful at the many places they have for us “small life people”



    1. melanie Post author

      Hi Renee, thanks for reaching out! I do have some advice about that in my book, available here but in short, I would say to read reviews, but don’t scare yourself either. Most people are generally good, but if you feel unsafe, just get out of there. Your instincts are usually right. Good luck! You can do this!

  3. K Bruce

    My husband and I lived from April to October in National Forests. There are no camping fees, but you must move your trailer to another National forest every 2 weeks. By that time we needed to empty and refill tanks anyway. We lived closer to his work than his co workers and loved the change of scenery and quiet.

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