One of the easiest and quickest ways to move on our plot is to live in an RV or a motorhome. Yet, one of the worries you might have is identifying and ending up in places where you can live in an RV for free, especially if on a tight budget. Living in an RV surely would require legal documents, but you can live in your RV more cheaply by being in places you will not be obliged to pay any rent.
Some of the spots you can live in an RV for free include parking lots, truck stops, rest areas, and visitor centers. You may also try boondocking or dry camping in public lands, camping parks, or crashing in with your friends or family RV space.
For a new RVer, knowing free-living spots near you may be daunting. For seasoned RVers, being updated on these new spots will be a challenge. If you already found the spot, RVers may get confused as there will be many papers and permits you need to be dealing with to enjoy free-living to the fullest. Worry no more! Here, I have listed spots for free-living that will save you from your worry and some information on what you need to park your RV freely.
Parking Lots and Stops For Overnight Stay
If you are looking for an instant stopover that will not shed some cash, there are overnight stops that will allow you to do so. There will be instances that staying for free would mean temporary since staying for a longer period is not ideal, especially in busy and accessible places.
Some of the go-to places for RVers for free RV spaces are parking lots, truck or rest stops, and visitor centers. These are simply the best choice since they readily allow RVers to do so.
Walmart parking lots are number one on the list when it comes to a free spot. If you are lucky, you can have the luxury to stock up on your supplies while having a free stay. However, not all Walmart may allow this, so do not assume and be sure to check if that Walmart branch allows overnight parking.
What makes them a top option is the built-in security they have. Parking lots are usually monitored 24/7 by security cameras, which will be beneficial to you for a sound sleep.
You may also consider hotel and motel parking lots aside from Walmart. However, it can be very risky, especially if parking lots are full of customers. So, be ready to vacate anytime you need to.
Truck stops or rest areas can also be your next spot. Take note, though, that these types of stopovers offer limited to no supervision. To avoid possible security problems, always make sure to lock your doors and windows and let someone know you are in the area.
One concern you might probably face in truck stops is the traffic noise, which can be very distracting if you want to get a decent sleep. However, you might still find it convenient since most stops have comfort rooms you can use if your RV does not have one.
Most visitor centers can allow you to stay overnight since these places tend to go empty at night. Like rest areas, you can also have good access to comfort rooms which will be a good thing.
You can also try to stay on school grounds with permission, of course, these places can allow you to stay for free, you can stay there during the night or on weekends.
Other grocery stores, especially stores that are no longer near the city, also will permit you to park your RV for free. However, it will not be for a long time. It’s allowed and legal to do it; some of them may no longer require your permits or any proof. They would not charge you any fee.
These common stops are usually intended only for one night or two. If you plan on staying longer, then these stops may not be the answer.
Boondocking In Public Lands
Boondocking is a familiar term to RVers. It is living independently without amenities and is typically offered in campgrounds. There are approximately 262 million acres of public lands in the western part, which would offer you a free boondocking opportunity.
In the United States, the National Forest Service or the state’s Fish and Wildlife Services manages these lands because of their pristine or good condition.
Boondocking is also referred to as dry camping, wherein you do not have the luxury of being in a campground such as hook-ups that includes electricity and water. However, you will expect it to be more private and less restricted since you are not on typical camping grounds.
This means you are lowering your monthly expenses because living in this kind of way can be a lot cheaper or free than you think. However, the trade-off for this type of living is you will have to find an area with water reservoirs and generators or solar panels for your electricity.
At first, it might be hard to look for boondocks or available areas near you, but you can get through by downloading a useful app or asking RVers club of boondocking spots. Heads up though that these spots may not be free but will for sure come at a low price.
Parks and rest areas are also included in these boondocking opportunities, but if you want to live for free and get off the grid, camping in remote public lands will be the best idea for you. It will be like hitting two birds in one stone.
Public lands are sometimes developed into camping grounds which usually need fees to maintain the facilities. Do not worry, though, because you can still enjoy these public lands without the fee through dispersed camping.
Dispersed camping is where you camp away from developed campgrounds or facilities for leisure as long as it does not conflict with the authorities and owners. It is allowed not to exceed 14 days within 28 days, in continuous or separate visits.
Once you have already reached this 14-day limit, it’s time to move to the next boondocking spot. This public land for dispersed camping may not be as popular as campgrounds, but you can still get the experience you want minus other amenities in developed ones.
Most of them are located along most secondary roads and may not be marked. In doing this, be a responsible camper, especially that these areas could have natural resources that might be sensitive to disturbances.
Please remember that dry camping or boondocking in public lands may not be for everybody, even if it brings adventure. Remember that you will not have all the safety and amenities a typical campground offers, which might be risky. Dry camping is not for the faint of heart.
Camping in Local, State, or National Parks
Most National Parks offer low-cost camping. However, you have to book ahead of time, like months ahead, and you may need advanced reservations. However, there would be restrictions to follow, such as how long you’ll be able to stay there, typically around two weeks.
Most of these parks would ask you to pay at least $13, which already includes utilities; however, they can offer it for free depending on the laws or rules and regulations that the park has.
You can ask permission from care-takers or whoever is assigned to monitor the park if you could at least stay there for a while rent-free. On rare occasions, they would allow you to do that.
Here are some national parks that will allow you an inexpensive or free stay within the United States. However, you might find yourself trying to secure a spot.
- Glacier National Park, Montana
- Elk City Lake in Oklahoma
- San Juan National Forest, Colorado
- Zion National Park in Utah
- Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming
Camping in national or forest parks may be enjoyable, but there will be instances that many campers will be around, which will mean that your camping will get less private. Camping here also has restrictions that you have to follow.
If you like to live in an RV badly for free, getting work related to camping will be great. Work camping combines your work and camping at the same time. Couples or individuals who work camp at some campgrounds can receive free perks or compensation in exchange for their time for helping out at a campground.
For example, a volunteer who helps in landscaping or registration works may receive a free campsite, free electricity, and water in exchange for their help. Free perks will be free of rent and utilities.
Crashing With Friends and Family
Undoubtedly, no man is an island. You will surely have a friend or two which you can run to. If you have friends or family willing enough to allow you to live there or park your RV there, that would be awesome.
Not only can you live there for free but also enjoy more of your time because you’re with your family and friends. However, there can be possible issues and perks like dealing with their problems or personal issues.
They may eventually have a problem with you staying on their property, so keep in mind that it is not always the case that you get to have a happy stay.
Free Living Beyond the United States of America & North America
If you want to save mega money on living expenses, living with your mortgage for free, rent, and debt-free while traveling in your RV, then North America is not the only place in the world where you can live in your recreational vehicle or RV.
In Europe, RV living is inexpensive and super popular. Many villages and towns, such as mountain towns in the Alps, are RV rent-free or free. Many would choose this kind of lifestyle because you get your living for free. You can also travel and move from one place to another with every expense nearly free.
There are a lot of apps that can help you with this one. You can easily find locations that are very accessible and easy to travel and live on. Just make sure that you carry most of your papers, IDs, and permits when you travel because you might need them.
As I said, it would depend on what country or state you will be dealing with. These places or areas are the most popular ones where you can live for free, enjoy your stay and travels, and indulge in living as a nomad with the utmost freedom and carefree lifestyle and form of living.
If you have many bills to pay, then think twice, for this might be the best option for you to choose. Like I have said, many areas would cater to this type of living, and many of you may have numerous options; however, there would be pros and cons. It would be free for as long as you have all these permits required by the state government.
Getting all the permits to live in your RV can be a minefield. It can surely be a lot more conflicting out there. However, most places in North America will most likely welcome you to live there with your RV for free.
You can live and enjoy your travels all at the same time if you’re the type of person who likes fun and adventure.
Other Things You Should Remember When Staying For Free
Now that you know the common spots you can live in your RV for free, here are other things you should keep in mind when you go the next time.
Always Get Ready With Permits
Permits would vary from locality to locality. They are usually handled at a county level, although some city ordinances or HOA covenants may affect the full ability to live full-time on your RV.
It will depend on the country, city, or county you would like to live in. Just make sure you have all the requirements because they might be necessary due to legalizations. However, some places are RV-friendly, where you can enjoy staying with your RV.
You have to secure them because not all places you go to are that accommodating, friendly, or as entertaining as you expect them to be. You might encounter problems along the way and might cause long-term ones, so you might as well be safe, and to travel safely guarantees a more convenient and non-toxic way of living.
Practice Pack-In and Pack-Out
Most of these free spots mean that there will be limited to no maintenance management in the area. You should not expect someone to clean up your mess, so be sure to clean up and do not leave any traces of your off-grid camping.
Many parks, at the local, state, and even national levels, have adopted this policy. Its mission is to protect the land so that everyone can enjoy it. It is a highly successful approach that means we take our litter with us when we go out on the trails. Keep this by heart, and you can never go wrong.
Always Put Safety First
There are also trade-offs in living an enjoyable life in an RV, and one of these is safety. Wherever you are camping, be it remote public lands, camping grounds, parking lots, and the likes, always spit safety first.
Safe-proof your RVs or motorhomes, add locks and security alarms on your RV for better surveillance. Know your camping grounds and the settings and have the nearest police hotline that you can call. It will also help if you let a close friend or family member update you and your whereabouts.
Enjoy the Moment to The Fullest
Living on Recreational Vehicles is a total dream. To be able to travel to America beyond your imagination like never before. The freedom you have driving on an open road and the chance to travel to national parks and the nation’s wealth while you are enjoying the scenic view of every single place you would be passing by.
It would be a captivating and life-changing experience with much lesser expense, such a big advantage for you. Aside from a cheaper expense, living in an RV would be more flexible, and you can carry what you need on the go.
It is a unique way to connect with nature and keep you closer to your family, friends, or pets. Regardless of the pandemic, it can also be a great way to distance yourself and live in a very minimalist way socially.
These would be a great option for you to live a free life filled with amusement, surprises, and wonders along the way while meeting new and great people. Hence, embrace it and enjoy every spot you park, be it free or not, because again, the best things in life are free, especially a free RV spot!