Although it is a huge trend these days, there are many pros and cons of owning RV Land that need to be considered before jumping in and deciding to develop your own property.
We're no experts, but after spending the last nine months buying and then developing five acres of forested land for our own private RV retreat in Middle Tennessee, we have learned a few things that may save you time and money if owning RV land is high on your bucket list.
We share the pros and cons of owning RV land in Episode 409 of the RV Podcast, as well as answering your RV Lifestyle questions and reporting the RV News of the week.
You can watch the podcast in full n our RV Lifestyle YouTube Channel in the player below.
If you prefer an audio-only version of the RV Podcast, it's available on all the major podcast apps or by clicking the audio player below.
The Pros and Cons of Owning RV Land: What to consider
As noted above, buying RV property is becoming a major trend these days.
I'm not talking about standard-size camping spots in existing RV resorts or campgrounds. Those basic RV lots have been a part of RVing for decades.
I'm talking about larger properties, typically multi-acre in size and usually consisting of undeveloped land. Once you buy, it's up to you to improve the property, usually clearing trees, bulldozing out campsites, and installing utilities such as water, septic, and electricity.
This is the kind of RV campsite ownership I am most familiar with.
We just finished doing all this with our property. Click below to see:
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The Pros of owning RV Land
There are a lot of obvious reasons someone would want to do this. Here are six that shaped our decision.
- You are not jammed in – There’s breathing room. Room for your slideouts, your tow vehicles, toads, firepit, and chairs. You have trees and space around you. Your neighbors aren’t touching distance away, and you don’t have to breathe the smoke from their campfires all night. You can really get away by yourself. For us, that’s priceless.
- You own it – It's our land. Your way. It belongs to you. You don't rent it. That means you always have a place to camp. There’s no need to call ahead for reservations. You are not limited in the time you can stay. It's for as long as you want. You can leave your RV there if you want, saving you on storage fees. Often times you can build permanent structures, like a cabin or vacation home on the land. Bardominiums are all the rage these days on such properties and are something we're actually considering on ours.
- No one is looking over your shoulder – Assuming HOA’s and local zoning regulations allow, you can do what you want with your land. You can plant bushes and trees and landscape the property, plant a garden, and maybe put up a shed to hold chairs and basic tools. If you have enough land, you can hunt it. Or carve out your own ATV trails.
- You can invite others to stay with you – If it’s your campsite, so you don't need permission to camp with family and friends. You can make room for their RVs or tents wherever you think best. On our land in Tennessee, I have made three camping sites. One for us, two for guests.
- You can rent out campsites – Again, assuming you are not in an HOA development or restricted by local laws or rules, you can list your RV campsite for rent, like a VRBO or Airbnb, but for RVers.
- It will appreciate in value – It's an investment. Real estate reliably appreciates. Like the old saying goes, land is the only thing God isn’t making more of these days.
Mike and Jennifer's RV Lifestyle hat collection
Who needs a hat? You do! Dad hats aren't just for dads. This comfy one's got a low profile with an adjustable strap and curved visor. Just the thing to wear on your next RV Lifestyle adventure.
The Cons of owning RV Land
That said, there are also some cons to RV land ownership. Here's a half dozen.
- RV Land is expensive – Attractive land in nice areas costs a lot of money. Depending on the desirability of the area where you are buying and the size of the parcel, prices can easily be tens of thousands of dollars. Depending on the state and municipality, you will have property taxes due every year.
- Developing is complicated – You will usually need to build a road or driveway. That means clearing trees, excavating, and applying a surface of some sort. Cement or asphalt may be needed as a pad to park your RV on. Fill dirt and drainage control must be addressed. In most cases, you will need to find a local contractor. A good rule of thumb is you may need to spend about a third of what you bought the property for on developing it. Sometimes even more, like half again as much as you paid for just the land.
- Utilities have to be installed – Unless you plan to strictly boondock, you will want hookups for electricity, water, and sewer. In our case, our property is alongside a paved country road where we could tap into city and county services. Electricity, water, and high-speed internet is available at the road. You may not be so fortunate. That means you will need to dig a well. That can easily be $10,000-$15,000. Most places require the pipes and electric lines be buried, so there will be conduit and trenching expenses.
- Sewer and septic fields are very costly – Most raw acreage parcels require septic tanks and fields. You will need an excavator to bury a septic tank and install an engineered septic field.
- Permits must be acquired – Even in most rural areas, governmental agencies require permits and inspections. There’s a lot of coordination needed, and if you are not a permanent local resident and live in another part of the country, dealing with them long distance can be challenging.
- The property must be secured – At the minimum, you will want a gate to keep unwanted or uninvited guests out. Maybe it’s a simple wire across the access road with a padlock. Maybe a more substantial gate is in order. And you’ll want locks on the gates, electrical panel, water spigot, and septic drains.
Other considerations in owning RV land
As we noted in the podcast, buying RV land should not be a spur of the moment thing. Before buying, you need to know the answer to a lot of important questions.
By no means is this an exclusive list, but here are some of those questions you should have answered before buying,
- Will you have a warranty deed to the property?
- Are there HOA or developer dues or annual fees for maintaining roads, gates, and other common facilities?
- What are the annual taxes?
- Is the area subject to flooding?
- What do local ordinances and regulations allow you to do and not do, such as building a permanent residence, renting it out, or subdividing the property you buy?
- What is the reputation of the developer if part of a project or land development?
- Do you have full access to the property from public roads? Make sure you are not landlocked and have to drive across someone else’s land to get to yours.
- Will you need insurance for the land?
- Does your purchase come with an official, certified survey that specifies the exact boundaries of the parcel?
- What about mineral rights? Will I own them, too?
- Are there local contractors nearby who can do the development for me?
- Will I need a well? If so, how deep will I likely have to go for good water?
- Is the area safe? What are the local crime rates?
- Will I have fire protection from a local jurisdiction?
As noted, these are not exhaustive. There are lots more you want to know about the property. And the best way to do that is by making scouting trips to the area, taking with locals, visiting government offices, meeting neighbors, and thoroughly walking the boundary lines of the property.
Every property is different. But hopefully, these pros and cons will help you make the right decision.
For Jennifer and me, the property we have just developed in Tennessee has been a dream come true.
We wish you a similar experience…wherever you buy.
New ebook from Mike and Jennifer Wendland – the Natchez Trace
The Natchez Trace Parkway will capture your imagination, soothe your jangled travel nerves, open your mind and inspire you with the history that unfolded along its 444 miles.
Each of the 7 Days of the ebook has:
- Suggested Mileposts to explore
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- Campground descriptions and links
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Whether you want to follow the footsteps of explorers, discover natural beauty, or visit historic sites, the Trace has something to grab your attention and leave you eager to see what’s at the next milepost.
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