Permanently living in an RV has become a way of life, whether seasonally, long or short term. For some, the need to embrace simplicity, and life experiences over material things, is the driving force behind such a lifestyle switch. For others, it’s about saving money.
You can park your RV and live at the following places; the duration of the stay is determined by the lease agreement and payment arrangements, or in some cases, the law:
- RV Parks And Public Campgrounds
- Purchase Your Own RV Plot
- State Park Campgrounds
- National Park Campgrounds
- BLM Land
- Privately Owned Land
There are many long-term parking options when it comes to living in your RV. When you need to park your RV for one night only and often need to do so, you will be thrilled that there are just as many one-night stands available to you. Let’s discuss long-term and short-term RV parking options.
Private RV Parks And Public Campgrounds
RV Parks and campgrounds are everywhere, ask Alexia or Siri, and they will route you to one in a matter of seconds. Typically, most of them offer long-term parking at discounted rates, compared to what they charge for staying one night, as these longer-structured deals are more beneficial to both parties.
The campground generates a steady income, and the RV owner secures a place to park his mobile home and live there uninterrupted for the agreed term. It’s a win-win situation all-around.
Some RV parks and campgrounds will offer a month-by-month deal, others a half-year deal, whereas others will offer yearly leases – some parks even let you stay for an unlimited time as long as the payment method agreed upon is paid on time.
RV Park And Campground Amenities To Look Out For
As prices and lease options will differ from park to park, so does the amenities on offer. When committing your foreseeable future to a specific campground, you must confirm what amenities are on offer.
Think about it. You’re about to make an RV Park your home. It should come with some nice extras, that can include the following:
- On-site Bathroom (Hot Showers)
- Laundry Room
- Free Wi-Fi
- Free Cable
- Kids Playground
- Dog Park
- Swimming Pool
- Hot Tub
- Entertainment Area (Game Room)
If you locate a park with all the amenities listed above, you have found the holy grail of RV Parks, and you should seek out the longest lease available.
In truth, some parks will have a mixture of the above, some almost none, and it’s up to you to find the most attractive option in the area you want to live in.
Purchase Your Own RV Plot
Some Private RV Parks will allow you to purchase a plot from them, ensuring you always have a space to call home. Look for a deal that includes amenities for free after paying for your RV spot. Otherwise, you will be liable for the cost of utilities every month.
Living in a park or campground in your RV will always be a cheaper option than:
- Buying Property
Park Your RV In State Park Campgrounds
State or National Park campgrounds vary in price and amenities on offer; however, all of them offer some form of outdoor recreation like fishing, boating, hiking, and picnic facilities to the camper.
Most of these parks will offer an electrical hookup as a minimum, whereas others will also have full water hookup and dump facilities. The State Parks that are free for RVs are normally the ones without hookups, and the ones with full hookups come at a cost.
State Parks found in Arizona have no problem with long-term camping, while others have a definite time frame that they will enforce. Do in-depth research before you commit to a specific RV park. There are State Parks that provide full hookups and the following recreational activities to boot:
- Swimming Pools
- Horse Hire
- Tennis Courts
- Rock Climbing
Park Your RV in National Park Campgrounds
The NPS – The National Park Service – includes over 400 monuments and parks. You will get to experience the natural beauty that most of these National Parks offer, and as expected, millions of visitors travel to these Parks each year, so making a reservation beforehand is crucial.
Camping reservations can be made by viewing each park’s camping section in their respective “Fees and Reservations” section. Here is a link to all the National Parks websites.
Become A Workamper And Park For Free
Workamping, in a nutshell, works on the premise that you exchange work for a free spot to park your RV with added utilities covered while making some extra dough.
The founders of the idea at workamper.com explain a workamper as the following:
“Workampers are adventuresome individuals, couples and families who have chosen a wonderful lifestyle that combines ANY kind of part-time or full-time work with RV camping. If you work as an employee, operate a business, or donate your time as a volunteer, AND you sleep in an RV, you are a Workamper!”
Workampers will typically work at an outdoor event or an institution situated in the outdoors, sharing their talents and experience with various employers that needs seasonal employees, for example:
- RV Parks/Campgrounds
- State Parks
- National Parks
- Regional Parks
- Theme Parks
- Guest Ranches
- Wildlife Preserves
- Circus Crew Members
- Carnival Crew Members
Typically, some of the following positions would be available to you, should you decide to go the route of a workamper:
- Camp Host
- Off-Season Caretaker
- Maintenance Supervisor
- Contract Gate Attendant
- Ride Operator
- Ticket Office
- River Guide
- Livestock Tender
- Souvenirs Sales
- RV Snack Bar
- Utility Inspector
- Campground Inspector
- Golf Course Attendant
- Airport Attendant
- Craft Vendors
- Mobile RV Repairs
- Mobile RV Service
Workamping is a great way to experience a new way of living, and there are many workamping opportunities available across the United States. Join workamper.com and use the member tools to find the perfect work-stay-for-free opportunity.
Try Amazon Camperforce
Amazon Camperforce offers potential employees with RVs full-time or part-time contracts to work in an Amazon warehouse.
You get to reserve a spot for your RV in a nearby campground of your choice, and Amazon will pay you an extra $120 “CampPay” on top of your regular earnings to pay the RV Park or campground for the week.
Find a reasonable camp regarding amenities that charge less than $120 per week, and you create a little passive income for yourself.
Boondocking On Public Land (BLM)
“Boondocking” refers to “free-camping”. It refers to taking your RV and parking it off-grid on a free boondocking site – most are situated on public lands managed by the federal government – commonly referred to as BLM land.
These large chunks of land are open to free camping if managed by the Bureau of Land Management, and you can find such land by visiting their website www.blm.gov, ensuring to enquire about fees due.
Some campgrounds do charge a small fee to maintain the camp facilities that you will find at some, for example:
- Potable Water
- Electrical Hookups
- Picnic Areas
- Tent Pads
- Group Shelters
- Garbage Cans
Limits of stay may vary from area to area and camp to camp, but it’s typically two weeks within a month. After 14 days, you need to leave the camp and move outside a 25-mile radius.
You can also make a reservation via recreation.gov, as these BLM campsites work on a first-come, first-serve basis.
As you can only park and live for two weeks at a time, you are not truly stationary for long periods. With the abundance of BLM and National Forest areas, bouncing between two or more will give you the sense of living in a reasonably settled environment.
Dispersed camping – camping on public lands away from developed recreation facilities – are mostly free of charge. Dispersed BLM land does not have any hookups, and you will have to supply your own water and electricity. Where to dump your sewerage also needs some consideration.
You can try the following government-controlled institutes and enquire to park your RV on their respective land areas:
- US Forest Service Campgrounds: The USFS camp facilities typically have a wide range of facilities catering specifically for RV camping. There are over 4,300 USFS campgrounds scattered all over the country, and most allow you to camp for 14-days.
- US Fish & Wildlife Service: Many of the 567 National Wildlife Refuges offer camping to people with RVs. Each refuge may have a different set of camping rules, so make sure to contact them beforehand.
Boondocking On Private Land
Many people with RVs do this by staying on friends’ or family members’ private land. You can either pay these personal landowners rent or do some maintenance on their property for free parking space.
Where Can I Park My RV For One Night Only?
The next lists are the places or institutions that allow you to park your RV on their property for one night only. Ideal for when you are in a pinch, between places, or don’t have the cash to spare for an RV Park.
Note that these options offer overnight parking only.
Casinos Offer Overnight Parking
Casinos generally have large parking lots for the masses addicted to the thrill of putting money into glimmering machines, expecting it to return a little more.
The good idea is to give the casino a call beforehand and confirm if they will give permission to park your RV for the night.
Some will allow you free of charge, some will charge a small fee, and others will decline the request of the bat.
Wal-Mart And Bass Pro Shop Allows For Overnight Parking
Certain stores like Wal-Mart and Bass Pro Shop have large parking lots that they make available to people who need to stop somewhere for one night, typically to get shut-eye before moving on to their next destination.
Overnight At A Truck Stop
Gone are the days that truck stops only catered for trucks and trailers. You can also park your RV at a truck stop, be sure to be friendly and courteous, and try not to hinder any truck’s movement by parking straight.
Follow the truckers’ rules, as they are the original alpha dogs of this kind of stop, and the night will pass without incident. Try to be on your way before noon the next day.
Make it your mission to secure all valuables by locking your RV at all times, as there’s normally lots of foot traffic at such stops.
“Harvest Hosts” Network Of Venues
When you purchase a Harvest Hosts membership, $99 per year, a world of one-night opportunities is open to you.
Harvest Hosts is a broad network of over 2,699+ locations that you as a member may visit for free when you need to stay overnight at a safe venue, for whatever reason.
As a common courtesy, members are expected to buy a product from the host.
The network of hosts consists of the following type of members:
- Fruit & Vegetable Farms
- Cider Mills
- Goat/Cow Dairies
- Organic Farms
- Farm Markets
- Open-Air Museums
- Art & Science Museums
- Wildlife Rescue Facilities
- Alligator Ranch
“BoonDockers Welcome” Network Of Private Land Owners
BoonDockers Welcome forms part of Harvest Hosts; the only difference is that you will get to stay on a host’s private property.
With over2,900 hosts across the United States and Canada, members get to stay a night on beautiful properties, away from the commotion of an expensive campsite, our RV Park.
With over 70% of BoonDockers Welcome hosts offering hookups, it’s some of the more pleasant one-night experiences in an RV.
Similar services where you can host a site or make use of a host site are:
Join A RV Club
Many RV owners join relevant RV clubs to be part of a support system that can help when anything RV-related comes up, and here’s a list of RV clubs that you might find to your liking.
Long-term parking and living in your RV can be done at various locations and through many different avenues. The benefits of RV living are numerous and beneficial financially and spiritually. Living in nature is what we were born to do.
Should you plan to stay in one area for a long period, buying a plot in an RV park or campground could be your best bet, or signing a long-term lease at the facility second-best.
Good luck, and happy camping!
Check out our article on: Can You Park Your RV Overnight At Cabela’s Or Bass Pro Shop?