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  #1  
Old 03/09/10, 10:13 AM
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Upstate NY currently
Posts: 594
Has anyone lived on land in a motor home or travel trailer etc?

I'm sure some here have done this and would like to know if it worked for you (or not!) and for how long. As property prices are rather expensive, we are looking at the possibility of living on 5-10 acres in a motorhome or 5th wheel for a few years until we can build a cabin debt free. Of course, being in the North we plan to move South for the winters but were thinking this would be great way to afford a property we couldn't otherwise afford if it came with a house already. It's just the 2 of us, no kids, so we're thinking that would make it a ton easier. Anything we're not considering? Thanks for any advice and would love to hear your story!

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  #2  
Old 03/09/10, 10:49 AM
 
Join Date: May 2002
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I was single, but lived in a travel trailer at the ranch where I worked/leased in Montana for two years before I moved to Kentucky. Had electricity available ... that was it for modern conveniences, but I didn't find it a problem.

A younger couple who bought some acreage from us are living in a travel trailer while they are "reorganizing" and getting things to the point where they can live on their acreage. They do have access to electric, septic, water here.

Biggest issue for me in Montana in the trailer was insulation/heat ... I think their biggest issue may be actual space for two people.

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  #3  
Old 03/09/10, 11:07 AM
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Check with the county...anonymously of course. I know our county does not allow anyone to live in an RV or travel trailer for more than 30 consecutive days at a time.

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  #4  
Old 03/09/10, 11:11 AM
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: north central WA
Posts: 2,055

We are currently living in a 5th wheel on property. Winters are tricky, but there are things that can be done if you wanted to stay. Space is a challenge especially if you get one that doesn't have tip outs. We have lived in a travel trailer in an RV park before too and that was aweful. That trailer was bigger and more comfortable, but the surroundings made all the difference.
So, if it is legal, I say go for it.

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  #5  
Old 03/09/10, 11:17 AM
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Location: Finally!! TN
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A nearby thrown together shed/barn or storage trailer/shipping container would come in handy to store things and do things that can't be done in the trailer. Tools, furniture, ect will take up too much room and cause space issues most of the time.

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  #6  
Old 03/09/10, 11:19 AM
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Location: michigan
Posts: 18,278

We put a 5th on our property to live in it. It would be just fine,as it has whats called a Heated Basement.We also insulated arround the bottem, and built a cookhouse for our wood cookstove. The local building inspector, was the problem for the young couple we sold the land to. We kept the 5th. They had built a small cabin. Long proscess of Legal mess. Needless to say it depends on the law.

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  #7  
Old 03/09/10, 11:31 AM
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Upstate NY currently
Posts: 594

Thanks for letting me know that. Will definitely have to check on the legal issues when considering parcels of land. DH's idea is to build a barn/outbuilding large enough to house the trailer/MH in and also to give us room to spread out a little. Do you know would I check with village/town or county or state on that?

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  #8  
Old 03/09/10, 11:56 AM
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Location: Ocklawaha, Florida
Posts: 390

I personally have not but have a uncle that did.
He got himself a nice camper and lived it while building his home. After the home was dries in he was able to move it into the garage.
Now that the home is done he uses it as sort of a guest house. The wife and I stayed in it while there a couple of years ago. It was nice.

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  #9  
Old 03/09/10, 12:26 PM
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: north Alabama
Posts: 8,577

We did for about six months - didn't want to deal with the winter hassles, so moved out when the really cold weather hit. It was fun for us. We have an old house on the property that is not usable as a dwelling, so we stored a lot of stuff in it. That freed up the trailer for our use. I'm cleaning the trailer up to sell this spring. With luck, we'll get almost the amount we paid for it back, less the cost of some repairs and a little depreciation. When the recession hit and the RV industry stopped manufacturing, it started pulling up the resale value of older units.

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  #10  
Old 03/09/10, 03:35 PM
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Popular Science magazine had a wonderful article. About a couple who built a kind of "docking station" garage/extra room for an rv. It has a big living room' fireplace, comfy big picnic table for dining. YoU could back your rv alongside to sleep and cook in while being able to step from it into the big room. I never saw such a thing myself but am told there are whole "snowbird" developments which sell small parcels of land with these buildings and other amenities in Arizona.

I acquired wooded land where I "camped out" for years. Your idea worked for me. I posted some of this experience in an earlier thread.

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  #11  
Old 03/09/10, 03:41 PM
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Location: South Central Wisconsin
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Our county/village doesn't allow living in an RV, trailer, etc. on your own land unless you move it ever 30 days, so that they know it's not a permanent residence (which seems to be the thing they're worried about). SO....we just moved the thing a couple of feet ever month Made them happy.

Now..with a tailer with a holding tank, you'll want to do that anyway...take a mini trip to the local RV station for dumping and getting more water..maybe once a week?

If it's inside a shed, no one will see it and wno't worry about it.

BUT, check with your county's ordinances. hmm...our county has a website that lets me check stuff like that. OR you can at least find out who to call. Just call the clerk at the county building and ask your question. he/she will know who you need to talk to. The clerks know EVERYTHING. (like ours did. She told us how to word our question to the guy who runs the sanitary stuff (water and sewer) so that we could have our envirolet AND have running water..and yes, that's a problem for this guy. If you have runnign water, you HAVE to have a septic system for black water..even if you have no blackwater)

heh. almost forgot about living in one. Yes, it's fine...as long as you keep it tidy for each other, and decluttered. Easy in the summer when you can spread out into a tent, or on the picnic table. Winter it gets a bit...tight..for some folks.

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  #12  
Old 03/09/10, 03:47 PM
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We did it for two years in an 18' camp trailer in Oregon. And had a baby whilst there. We did build a 'shop' to put the trailer in for the winter and had a woodstove in the shop for heat. Long as you weren't further from the stove the 6" or so, it was warm enough. We also found an old 1950's propane cookstove and hooked that up to a 5 gal propane bottle for cooking. Then we found a 40 gal propane hot water heater for $40 when the local hardware store went out. Woohoo! Hot water! Refrigerator was a couple of ice chests buried in the ground outside. We had a generator hooked up to the well and we'd run it once a day or so for just long enough to fill up the pressure tank we installed in the shop. Before we got the shop up, I do remember a time or two of running out of water in the trailer in midshower and having to grab a towel and walk the full length of the property up the well and generator to turn it on, fill up the trailer and go back to finish rinsing. Thank goodness we had no neighbors!

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  #13  
Old 03/09/10, 05:22 PM
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 45

phone company may not hook up to it. wouldn't here.

shadowrider

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  #14  
Old 03/09/10, 06:08 PM
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: north central WA
Posts: 2,055

We hooked up our own phone...they just had to put in a jack on the pole like normal.

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  #15  
Old 03/09/10, 06:38 PM
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: north central wv
Posts: 2,314

I lived in a 36 ft. motor home for a year and it was nice. Best thing was if you wanted to go somewhere to visit just unhook the water and elect cord and go. I did under pen it in the winter and put heat tape on the water hose and put the insulation on and wrapped with plastic. Had no problems even at 0 degrees. we still have it and use for a guest room when we have a lot of company. Sam

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  #16  
Old 03/09/10, 07:02 PM
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Southern Alberta
Posts: 284

I had some friends that tried it here in Canada, and the local government shot it down real quick!
If you are going to try it, make sure you talk to neighbors first, talk to building officials second, and connect all utilities third.
I think a cheap mobile home would be a better choice with more space, or even an old construction trailer. With a larger home, you can put a woodstove in it, and maybe rig up some renewable energy
If you can spare 10k and you're decently handy, build a tiny cabin, and then convert it into a garage later. Prolly wouldn't take more than 3 weeks to build one.
Most travel trailers are designed for occassional use, and anything more permanent is going to wear it out fast. Things like doors, windows, slideouts, tires will probably break in time, and that will cut the value when you resell it.
Most counties hate these, unless you really sell it well to the planning commission.

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  #17  
Old 03/09/10, 07:18 PM
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All depends on location. I lived couple years in an old school bus back in early 80s in Michigan, but local govts keep tightening the screws and fewer places you can get away with it. Still some localities where there is no local zoning/codes and national codes arent enforced. But those places are fewer and fewer and usually in very rural areas where jobs are scarce and the yuppies havent taken over "to protect their investments". And even that is no guarentee. It probably wont be that many years until if you want to homestead without a couple million in the bank, you will have to move to a third world country. Kinda amazing that the most freedom would be in some backwater ruled by some crazy tinpot dictator stuffing his Swiss bank account with the international aide his country gets.

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  #18  
Old 03/09/10, 09:47 PM
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
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I was planning on doing this but have found most of the land I am looking at the elec company won't hook up without a permanent foundation and water already on the property. I need elec for my online business.

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  #19  
Old 03/10/10, 08:03 AM
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Location: Finally!! TN
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Solar,wind with a good battery/inverter setup will supply all the power you "NEED". You won't be able to run A/C or demand alot without spending a small fortune but its very doable.

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  #20  
Old 03/10/10, 08:04 AM
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There are many people who live in rv's or travel trailers year-round. They call themselves "full-timers." They have lots of cunning tricks for survival, some of which you can adopt for full-timing on your own land or other people's land while saving up enough money to buy your own, or researching the best place to settle down.

One thing is solar and other alternate energy forms which are not as regulated on travel trailers as on stationary dwellings. Another is mail service - don't set up a mail box or have delivery to your property. Get a P.O. Box or mail forwarding service or make a deal with a friend or family member.

Full timers set up a "legal residence" in a state with the most tax advantages such as Texas or Alabama and have mail forwarded.

If you are going to camp on your own land then you logically would not have permanent things such as electricity, running water, septic system or landline phones, all of which require permits, permissions, bureaucrats, inspectors, etc. Most of these things can be created variously in your travel vehicle. I have a blackberry, for example which I can use as a tethered or external modem or I surf the internet at free hotspots with my lap top.

In my area, there used to be laws about cisterns and water collection but, interestingly, they were struck off the books so it's easy to set up a rain water collection system in second-hand applejuice or other 50-gallon potable products barrels, buying your drinking water at Walmart.

For a composting toilet, I bought an invalid's chair bucket toilet at Goodwill for $15, put sawdust in it, and do the composting outside with coffee grounds, weeds, avocado pits, any compostable items my dogs and poultry don't eat, leaves, weeds and lotsa cardboard.

The Tiny House website and blogs is chockfull of wonderful ideas you can adopt or use as a springboard for your own travel trailer homesteading, so go for it and good luck!

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  #21  
Old 03/10/10, 08:08 AM
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Join Date: May 2008
Location: Panama, Oklahoma
Posts: 58

I do it over half the time. I have a 30' Travel Trailer set on my Ranch in a secluded area that no utilities are available. The Wife and I stay there from this time of year to after Thanksgiving. We have a House in Town that we spend the Winter months in. We have Solar and Wind Power, and with Propane we could spend the entire Winter there without a problem. It can be done.

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  #22  
Old 03/10/10, 08:44 AM
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Location: Northern Michigan (U.P.)
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When I was first married, we lived in a travel trailer. Stayed there for nearly two years. We had electricity, but the camperr just used 12v, so just kept a battery charger going. . Hand water pump outside. Didn't use the trailers toilet, made a temporary outhouse.
We were a 1/4 mile from the road. In the winter we would park the truck at the road and carry groceries and propane back to the trailer.
We both had full time off farm jobs and grew a 3 acre vegetable garden, rabbits and chickens.
I started 100 tomato plants in the trailer.
In the winter, I put hay bales around the trailer, so the wind wouldn't blow under. The furnace kept us somewhat warm. Up near the ceiling it was hot and on the floor the snow wouldn't melt off my boots, next to the door.

It has to be a place to sleep and prepare food. I doubt it would work for people that spend a lot of time inside.

Four years ago, I started a job in a resort area. I couldn't find cheap housing. So I lived in a pickup truck camper. I parked it in a campground, slid it off my truck, cranked it down low and supported it on concrete blocks. I stayed there from early May until well into October. I was able to use the Campground's toilet and showers. The Campground closed and I had to leave. By this time the tourist season was over and I was able to rent an apartment very cheap.

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  #23  
Old 03/10/10, 09:16 AM
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Posts: 5,241

I know that Andrew over on Barker Hill has done that for several years. Personally, travel trailers are a bit cramped for me, and not really suited for permanent living unless you have the proper hookups, and even then, unless you have something like a huge modern 5th wheel, the amenities and room are not exactly comfortable. Of course, some people won't mind.

If it were me, I'd rather put a used single wide mobile home on a property, since they are more suited for permanent living. You can find those pretty cheap, and maintaining them and fixing them up is fairly easy. When your house is built, simply sell it and move it out, or make it into a second living quarters for guests or in-laws.

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  #24  
Old 03/10/10, 09:20 AM
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My husband , 5 children and I lived in our 5th wheel since March of '09. We just recently bought a place but hubby still lives in the trailer 5 days a week while working .

We made it in -75 weather . If we can do it anyone can do it !

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  #25  
Old 03/10/10, 10:12 AM
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Location: michigan
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Our Township made the rules. It's possible that they will let you stay in a trailer/mobile while building- you must have a Building permit. We used a porta-potty-septic cleaner to pump out our blackwater tank.The bottem was all sealed in and insulated with wood lattuce covering. Built a 2 teared deck arround,so we couldn't move it easly to empty the black water. We had a big water tank (the kind that go in the back of a PU truck. The used the fresh water siphon to pump the water in. Generator for AC. and charging. Made an inclosure for the gen. to quiet the noise.Had a propane co. come in and put in a 300 pig tank.

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  #26  
Old 03/10/10, 05:34 PM
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
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I love RVs/travel trailers. The only problem is the lack of heat on cold nights.

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  #27  
Old 03/11/10, 05:51 PM
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: S.W. Oregon
Posts: 29

Deb, lots of real good suggestions here so far.
And lets remember that there are people that follow every single rule and regulation to the letter... even the insane and no good cause rules...
And then there are the people with common sense and a willingness to "Be flexible".
Read between the lines on that.

Last year here in S.Oregon there was an older couple living in a smaller travel trailer on their own property, and they had been for quite some time.
They were neat and clean, and kept a low profile, and pretty much acted like you would expect to stay off the radar.
So far so good.

Well, one day a more than just nosey neighbor decided, for whatever reason, to turn them in and wreck their lives the best he could, and it did.

This couple was retired and on a fixed income and apparently just keeping to themselves and living life peaceful on their own, the best they could with what very little money they had.

Of course this made the local paper, and the point I wanted to make here to you is this.

They (the reporter doing a follow up story) asked the couple why the neighbor got mad and turned them in as it was pretty clear that although they were not in county compliance, they were surely not harming anyone of anything.

They said they had no, as in zero idea what even triggered the tattletale neighbor. Said they hardly even saw or spoke, but were always polite and friendly when they did.

No comment of course from the tattletale.

Now glean from this what you will, but here is what I see.

You can never tell what or when a casual observer, or more likely a neighbor might decide to become an unpaid informant for the state/county.

Soooo.... whenever possible, just like with the always popular SSS technique: Out of sight, is out of mind.
Didn't that Sun Tzu fellow say something about that a few years back?

Was it the Scotts, or the Irish who have this great little saying...?
"Good fences, make for good neighbors"
I have always thought there was much good wisdom in that simple saying.

If you decide to go forward with this idea, might I suggest that you be extra careful to be sight-unseen, and let no-one-at-all see, hear, touch, taste, or smell anything that you do.

Now of course be courteous and polite to your neighbors.
If you see them while driving in or out wave and or say hello.
Even stop and lightly chat them up once in a blue moon about the weather or something of little or no real value.... But don't ever become too friendly, and for heavens sake never invite them over.
Friendly, courteous, but slightly aloof is what you are aiming for here.

Of course family and good friends do not fall into the same catagory, just be sure to let them know what the overall plan is, and to zip it.

And, and....if possible, have a "Plan-B" that you could implement in short order should the neighbors as Nazi's come a poking around stiring up the pot.

Loose lips sink more than just ships, they can and do ruin lives.

Plan well ahead and try to think like "The Enemy" and avoid all the obvious pit falls that you can.

Did I mention that it is always best that you keep your business to yourselves, and not out in the open for one and all to see and observe, and tell others about and did I mention loose lips... oh-yes I did.
But it is so important that I mentioned it again.

Have fun, be safe, be invisible if you can.

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  #28  
Old 03/11/10, 09:57 PM
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 1,781

It really bothers me that (if I wanted to) I couldn't
decide I wanted to live in a tent on my own property.

If I kept a locked gate on my property how would anyone know
how I was living. Could I just refuse to allow county inspectors
on the property??

It is amazing the settlers were allowed to come ashore without
permits.

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  #29  
Old 03/11/10, 10:12 PM
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Mountainview42 is absolutely correct! It is "illegal" to live without running water or electric - in other words, to camp out on your own land in this great free country. However, if you do not apply for any permits or otherwise invite inspectors or bureaucrats to your property, who is to know?

In my case, I had hunters and atvers making use of my land. When I objected (to their faces) they retaliated by complaining about me to the health department and building and zoning. I was swarmed by investigators from different departments who fortunately for me didn't compare notes and weren't enforcing the same laws or regulations. Hooray for bureaucratic miasma!

I pointed out the complainers would never have known I was camping out if they had not been trespassing, and that their basis of complaint was malice. The bureaucrats sent me some scare letters but, like another poster here, I just moved my trailer. Also I had several trailers. In my county one can camp out for 6 months, so it was easy to play musical chairs and the bureaucrats had lots worse complaints to worry about, so they left me alone until the next complaint!

This is something for you to keep in mind, a kind of occupational hazard of travel trailer homesteading!

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  #30  
Old 03/12/10, 03:02 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Alaska
Posts: 231

I've lived in my 18 ft camper trailer for the past two summers without electricity or running water. The first summer I was working on the road crew an hour from the house and gas was $5.15 a gallon so I bought the trailer and it paid for itself in two monthes. Up here it is light 24/7 in the summer. But I still got a battery op lantern for the twighlight past of the night. I filled up 5 gallon water jugs for drinking cleaning water. My stove heater and fridge ran on propane. I used a bucket for pee with that blue RV stuff in it to keep out the smell and used a double grocery bag in the toilet to poop and just threw it in the work dupster on the way to work. The biggest problem that I had was that the fridge would freeze every thing. Once a week I would drive all the way home to take shower and the rest of the time I would sponge bath it. twice I bought showers at neighboring lodges. last summer i cooked at a lodge 1 1/2 hours from the house and they let me keep my trailer on the river behind for free. I could have moved it closer and had electrical hookup but would have had to pay $300 a month for it . And as I said everything but water and lights ran on propane anyway. But at least they let me do laundry and take showers for free. plus the fishing was great. Salmon all summer. The biggest thing was storage but if you are on your own property you can throw up a shed or lean to no problem. At times it got a little old but at the same time it was saving me mad cash so I didn't really care. We are currently building a house and this spring we will stop renting and move into our camper , hopefully one last time so that we can save just that extra little bit of money to finish the house this summer. Well we better because if we give this place up and they rent it there will be no other place to rent within 60 miles. So once more back to the camper. Did I mention that it has the most comfortable bed. Well all is not lost.

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