Full-time RV living is becoming more and more popular. But if it’s a new concept for you, you probably have a lot of questions. Like what is full-time RVing, anyway? And how can you do it while following all the rules? That’s where this article comes in!
We’re going to tell you everything you need to know if you have ever thought about living in an RV.
What Is Full-Time RV Living?
Full-Time RV living means that you and your family live in an RV year round. Most folks that do this are called Fulltimers, and do not own a home or live anywhere else. There are typically two types of full-time RVers.
Stationary Full-Time RV Living
Stationary RV living is similar to living in a mobile home. You have a small space in one place, but you aren’t traveling. Sometimes people park their RV on their land versus an RV park. In which case you don’t have to worry about neighbors, and you have a lot more open space.
For many people, stationary full-time RV living simplifies their lives. Living in a tiny space can free up time. You won’t have as much maintenance or cleaning to do. It can also save money, which is especially true in places with high housing prices.
Full-Time RV Living and Traveling
Full-time RVers who travel move to new RV parks, cities, and even states every few weeks to months. This lets them see the country and as they aren’t stuck living in one geographic area.
With the rise of remote work, more people are embracing full-time RV living. It’s no longer just something to aspire to as a retiree. Many young people have the opportunity to live their best life now!
Is Full Time RVing Illegal?
Full-time RVing is not illegal. Thank goodness, or we would be breaking all kinds of laws. There are some restrictions regarding where you can and can’t stay legally. There are also some rules regarding how long you can stay in a particular location if boondocking.
We’ll cover all this in the next sections, so don’t stop reading now!
Can An RV Be Used as a Primary Residence?
You can use an RV as a primary residence if it meets several criteria. To claim deductions like interest paid, you have to follow IRS guidelines for a “home.” Your place needs to have a designated area for sleeping, cooking and using the bathroom.
If your RV has those things (which most do), then you can legally claim it as your primary residence for tax purposes. Even if it doesn’t, you can still live in it full time without issue.
Some states have different rules, though. In some states, you aren’t able to claim an RV as a primary residence. If you plan to sell your home and live out of your RV, there’s an easy way to get around this. Change your domicile!
Establish Domicile To Be Legal as a Full-Time RVer
What is domicile? Domicile, in the most basic sense, means the state where you live permanently. You use this home for residency, taxes, voting, and more. It is also where you intend to return after traveling. (If you ever decide to stop!)
For RVers, this can be more complicated. After all, they are frequently on the move! If you sell your home and move into an RV, your domicile will continue to be where you previously lived. That means you need to pay income taxes to this state, register your vehicles there, and so-on.
Many people opt to change their domicile to a more nomad-friendly state when transitioning to full-time RV living. Luckily, several states are friendly to RVers. They make establishing your domicile easy!
One such state is South Dakota. All you need to do is spend 24 hours there, and you can re-establish your residency there. They even have a specific nomad affidavit that declares South Dakota as your legal state of residence. Bonus points for no income taxes and low vehicle insurance costs offered by this state!
South Dakota is just one RV-friendly state. There are others out there, like Texas and Florida. You’ll need to pick a state, the one you lived in previously or another one you plan to return to. Then keep on top of all legal requirements of that state while you travel.
Chances are you’ll need to set up a mail forwarding service. You could also opt to establish domicile and use a relative’s address if they let you. Then they can manage your mail while you’re out traveling.
Can You Live In an RV Park Permanently?
Another thing to consider for full-time RV living is where to stay. Some RV parks allow you to stay there permanently. If you choose stationary RVing, you’ll usually have to sign a lease at these places.
You can also live permanently at various RV parks. Nothing is stopping you from moving from park to park all across the country. How cool is that?!
Is It Legal To Live In Your RV On City Streets?
Usually, it isn’t legal to live in your RV on city streets. There are some exceptions to this. But unless you have done your research and know for sure they allow it, it’s best to avoid it. There’s another way to live in your RV for free, though!
How To Live In an RV and Camp For Free, Legally
You can’t legally camp for free on most city streets. However, there are many places you can legally stay without paying a dime! When you camp somewhere for free, it is called boondocking. And there are thousands of sites you can boondock.
You can boondock in your RV on most public lands. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands are a popular way to go. You can also camp for free in many state and national forests, among other places.
Boondocking involves living off-grid. Off-grid means you won’t have water, electricity, or sewer connections. Most RVs are already equipped for some level of off-grid living. If you have a generator, water tanks, and a water pump, you’re good to go.
If you are considering long-term boondocking, though, you might need to make some upgrades. Adding solar panels, upgrading to a composting toilet, and getting larger water tanks are all helpful. Once you do that, you can camp for free with only occasional stops needed to empty and refill tanks as required.