Many people, when they decide to go full-time in an RV, sell their sticks-and-bricks home and become "forever renters" in terms of where they park it - but they still have to deal with how to manage their domicile for purposes of vehicle registration, driver licensing, voting, etc.. Others opt to get a dedicated RV lot somewhere to use as their permanent home-base, one that they can return to when not on the road, and establish their domicile there. The issue of domicile is one that is dealt with on many other RV-related sites, and the Escapee's group has a lot of information on it.
We wanted to own a physical site, a home base that we could always return to. We felt was important for the family to know we always have a physical spot to come home to. One advantage of this is that it gives us a stake in things like local government and voting. It also offers a sense of "home" for the family, and it gives us a place to store the stuff we have that doesn't fit in the trailer, but that we don't want to get rid of. without paying for a rental storage locker or space.
At the time we made the decision to go full-time, my employer was promising that "work-from-home" or "working remotely" was coming. That's a must-have if you want to go full-time and aren't retired. They kept promising that it was coming over the last 4 years. I personally put voice communications systems in place to allow for that.
I finally got the CIO to admit that it was never going to happen at that company while he was there, and that he never intended to allow for it. He admitted that all of the "pilot programs" and "evaluations" they performed to decide if they would allow work-from-home were nothing but carrot and stick illusions to keep people hoping. I left the company about 4 months later (in 2019), as soon as I found another position, but in the meantime, we kept working on our goals as a family.
Ready-to-use and properly zoned full-time RV lots with water, sewer, and power connections can be found in many places, with prices ranging from about $300,000 at the high end to about $20,000 on the low end. Ours was not far above that lower end. We paid more for our truck than we did for our deeded RV lot.
Lots like this will usually be located in an RV park or resort with an HOA. There will be monthly HOA fees. These usually cover things like water, sewer, and garbage services. Sometimes they also cover landscape maintenance and other services. HOA fees range from around $75/month at the low end to over $500/month at the upper end - yes, I have personally seen HOA fees as high as $550/month, and I'm sure there are places where they are even higher. Someone that contacted us a while back reported that they saw an RV lot with $1000/month HOA fees at a resort out-of-state. That's astonishing!
The hard part is in finding a lot that fits your situation. This can take a long time. There are sites like RVPROPERTY.COM and RVPARKSTORE.COM that have paid listings for sites, and even entire resorts for sale in the case of the latter site.
Some are designated for only Class A-type units, while others permit 5th wheels and travel trailers, and a few others will even allow pop-ups. They can be found all over the place, it just depends on where you want to be when not on the road. Some will allow you to rent the lot out if you are not there.
We wanted something in the southern part of Utah. The weather is not as cold as the northern part of the state (meaning that propane use will be less in the winter), and it's a great jumping off point for a lot of adventures. We want to remain Utah residents for now, so that was a factor in our decision, although we looked at lots in other states too. We wanted to be surrounded by the beauty of red rocks and hills.
The vast majority of full-time deeded RV lots are located in "55+", "adult", or "retirement" communities. They prohibit anyone under 18, and at least one occupant must be 55 or older. If any occupant becomes pregnant, they are no longer eligible to live there. Such resorts are often insular and non-welcoming, with HOA boards that, being older, can be very difficult to deal with. I have spoken with quite a few people that bought lots in such places, and were already "empty nester's", but that didn't like the environment that sometimes comes with these geriatric parks. One couple in particular found that the HOA board would turn down changes they wanted to make to their lot, not because it was against the rules, but because "it's always been that way, and we don't want to see it change". These folks ended up re-selling their lots, opting instead for a younger environment. Not all of 55+ resorts are like that, but it seems to be more common than not.
There is also an issue with properly deeded lots in a 55+ park or resort that many people don't think about. If you pass on, and none of your children are yet 55+, they will be unable to use it. It may end up being just another problem to deal with when you die.
Being listed as a "55+" park or resort can also prevent owners from renting their lots out when they are not there, since they can't rent to anyone under 55. In some places, you can't legally put such restrictions in place if you are going to be open to renters. Another thing with parks like this is that they often start to "gentrify" or "mature", and end up encouraging permanently placed park models, small site-built homes, or even open to allow manufactured homes versus having people live in RVs .
Go on Google Earth and look at some of the "mobile home parks" in your area. You may be able to see from the layout that many of them started out as RV parks, and over time, converted into park-model and manufactured home parks. You may even find some with a handful of RV pads still present.
In general, the folks that buy into resorts like this usually have retirement savings, the proceeds from the sale of an existing primary residence, or an inheritance to use to buy such a lot. As for financing such a lot, keep reading.
For young families, be aware that you need to check before you get too excited when you find a listing available. Even if the resort/park is not formally "55+", there is another trick that they sometimes use in their CC&R's to keep families out - they will restrict RVs of any size to only two occupants - meaning that families with children are effectively kept out. It helps them avoid calling themselves "55+", and dealing with the associated stigma.
There aren't a lot of new RV parks/resorts allowing you to buy a deeded lot being built, so the supply isn't endless. This is becoming even more of an issue for folks getting into the new trend of "tiny homes".
So-called "tiny homes" are usually built on a bumper-pulled chassis. They usually have hookups for water, sewer, and power much like an RV, may have propane tank hookups for heat and cooking like an RV, and may even use RV appliances, toilets, and even furniture. They usually do not have holding tanks, have less living space than an RV, and are not RVIA certified.
We found it interesting that most parks and resorts, even including most that encourage more "permanent" structures, still prohibit "tiny homes". Tiny homes are becoming a popular option with a lot of younger people, but they are finding it very difficult to find places to legally put them. Most RV parks and resorts require that everything there must be RVIA certified - which is primarily intended to keep out home-built RVs, bus conversions, and converted U-Haul trucks. We also found that some expressly prohibit "tiny homes" by name. It's a conundrum faced by everyone in the tiny home movement - they buy them (or want to), but then can't find a place to legally put them. Just like with RVs, a lot of communities are NIMBY on tiny homes too.
There are also some caveats relating to deeds for lots in RV parks that offer them. Keep in mind that we were looking for a lot with a recorded, permanent, warranty deed - meaning that we own it, it is recorded with the county recorder, and it can be transferred to our daughter some day.
A number of resorts and parks that offer lots for sale don't offer a true, recorded deed. They instead offer something like a "lifetime lease" which expires on the death of the purchaser, or they offer things like "99-year" leases or a "20+20" 40-year lease. That means that you lose any effort and money you put into the lot, and you have nothing to pass on when you aren't around any more, unless someone in your family renews that lease and gives the resort owner more money.
I've also seen resorts where you could buy a permanently recorded deeded lot, but where the local zoning permits "long-term" stays but prohibits "permanent" living. Such places require you to move off of the lot for some period of time before returning. One example I found was that you have to be gone for at least 1 month out of every 6. I have also seen stays of 3 months permitted with a 2 week absence required before returning. If there is such a restriction in place, it is usually because it is a requirement of the local jurisdiction where the resort is, and is usually a NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) law to keep out "trailer trash".
There is also a wide scale of CC&R's and HOA's in RV resorts. Some are VERY restrictive, while others are almost invisible. There are even some that are to the point where they really show how much control people want over their fellow man.
We researched many, and found some that have restrictions on things like what color your RV can be, what colors of chairs you can have on your patio, stipulate that your garbage can may not be visible from the street or from any other lot, and even things down to the color of window shades that you can have inside your RV. Those were all extreme cases, but they really do exist.
Others are quite reasonable, allowing even things like permanent site-built storage sheds, ATVs, and even extra cargo or ATV trailers on lots. Some are in between. There is one local resort, not 55+, which only allows ATVs and ATV trailers to be on your lot for three days, before they must be removed from the resort. The resort we are in has no such restrictions, which is good as we have a street-legal ATV.
I have never seen an RV resort offering deeded lots that does NOT have an HOA. Do your research before you buy.
Another issue is that IF you find a deeded lot that fits your needs, you may find yourself competing against buyers that don't even plan to use the lot themselves, and have cash available. Many folks buy them to use as rental income - when parks/resorts even permit such uses in their CC&R's. Some prohibit renting of lots, or severely restrict it.
We also found one bulk-buyer of lots that was from China. They were re-selling RV lots to people in China under an "own a piece of the American West" sales program.
There was also a corporation that was buying up individual lots as fast as they came available, specifically in resorts that permit the renting of lots, to add to their rental portfolio. One even had agents visiting these RV resorts and parks on a daily basis to find newly listed lots with new signs out front. They would make an offer as soon as they found out about it. They are still active today.
We started looking to see if we could find a lot suitable for us, even before we had a trailer, as we were thinking this was what we wanted to do someday. We found a resort in 2014 that met our requirements, and the resort builder still had a number of lots for sale. They offered permanently-deeded lots (with a warranty deed recorded with the county) for $25,500, very reasonable CC&R's, a low monthly HOA fee ($75 at the time) that covered water, sewer, garbage services, etc, low property taxes (varying between about $250/year and $350/year depending on the local tax levy s for that year), and had no age or limit restrictions on residents. The HOA was also good to deal with. We bought our trailer in 2015, and soon decided that full-timing was what we wanted to do.
Because of some complications in the birth of our daughter, we had some medical bills that took an extended time to pay off, and could not afford to buy a lot at that time. The kicker was that when we could finally afford the payments for a loan on a lot a couple of years later, we found that the builder had finally sold all of the lots that they owned. A couple of bulk-buyers (including that corporation) had come in and bought many of them at once, a few months before we were were ready!
We finally managed to get a lot there in 2018. The process was not something I want to repeat.
In 2017. when we had cleared all of the medical bills, we started looking for potential sellers in the resort we liked, using county recorder records. I was looking for owners of multiple lots, as these were not likely individuals using their lots.
I contacted one owner of several lots, and they were living off of the rental income for them, and had no desire to sell any of them.
I then contacted a man who was the owner of 51 lots in the resort. He owned an oil company back east. It turned out that he got them in a legal settlement with their original owner - they had a financial deal of some sort that went bad, and he got the deed to 51 lots to settle the case. He didn't even want them in the first place, and wanted to get rid of them, but would not sell any individual lots until he had buyers lined up and ready for all 51. In the meantime, he had a local person renting them out for him.
His entire reason for not wanting to sell individual lots without buyers lined up for all of them, was because he was simply too lazy to go to a notary and sign paperwork more than one time. It wasn't about preparing closing documents or dealing with all of that, it was just that he didn't want to go to a notary and sign papers more than once.
We worked out a deal. I setup a web site for him in late 2017 to help find him buyers for 50 of his lots - in exchange for a deal on the lot we wanted. I promoted the website and got it out there in front of people ready to buy, so that they could work with him on the purchase.
In just over 4 months that website helped him find buyers (including a number of families buying 1 or 2 lots, and one bulk-buyer for the rest) for 50 sites at a profit over the value he accepted for them when he obtained them. He had agreed to the deal, and was getting more money than he expected. He had even hinted at making us a good deal on another lot that he would not sell to the bulk-buyer, a deal which we would have taken so that we could give it to our daughter when she turns 18.
In the end he went back on every promise he made to us and to the folks that contacted him via the website. He kept changing his terms (which I believe was a delaying tactic), and then he decided to sell everything listed on the website to another party that came in at the last minute, and directly offered him even more money for all 50 of them, They wanted the lot we wanted too for all 51.
He finally agreed to sell us the lot we wanted (since the other outfit never would have been interested until they saw the website I setup), but the final ripoff was in changing his terms yet again, charging us all of the closing costs, and charging us far more for only one lot than he said he would. He wouldn't sell us two, and at what he charged us, we would not have been able to afford it anyway.
We still got it, but it was a roller-coaster ride to get it with a lot of headache and heartache involved. Knowing how hard it is for families to get into places like this, I really wanted to see more families in the place.
The kicker is that the outfit that came in at the last minute that he sold to, had apparently bit off more than they could chew. About a year later they listed their sites for sale at an even higher price on their social media page. As soon as they showed up for sale, yet another outfit came in and bought all 50 of their sites before any individuals or families were able to get any. They now use them for rental income.
Most banks won't do a "mortgage" on a property unless there is a habitable structure (a house) fixed on the lot. With an RV lot, there's isn't one. A concrete pad with water/sewer/power doesn't meet that qualification.
There are very few banks, mostly in resort areas like Florida, for example, that do offer loans specifically for RV lots. They generally want at least 25% down, with a 3 year repayment term, for somewhere over 7% interest (which, again, has been going up this year). A few I've since checked on have upped their down payment terms to 30%. One of them is even up to 50% down required!
Getting a personal or signature loan is an option - but most RV lots far exceed what you can get on such a loan. Most banks won't do personal signature loans for more than $15,000 with interest rates above 6% (advertised rates at the time we were looking, advertised rates have since gone up). They also have 3 to 5 year repayment terms. I had no problem qualifying, but the lot would have required two such loans. The interest rates were also going up. We wanted to find another option.
First, setup a good relationship with a local or national credit union. They often treat you better than bigger banks. Keeping your credit score high is also very important if you are planning to do anything like this. Make sure you are never late on a payment, and keep the number of cards that report a balance to the minimum. Keep in mind that even if you pay your cards off in full each month, as we do, they still report a balance each month, even though it will be paid in full before any interest is due.
Our credit score was high enough that our local credit union offered us loans at a lower rate than they advertise. We end up paying less than their "rates as low as x %" advertisements. When I bought my truck, the dealer didn't believe me when I told him what rate I got through my credit union until I told him what my FICO Auto 8 score was. You can use resources like MyFICO.com to find out what your FICO scores are. Yes, scores, You have more than one, with each targeted at certain types of lending. Knowing what your credit scores are, and more importantly, what factors can impact each score, can put you in a much better position if you need a loan - helping you get better interest rates, saving you real money.
A couple of years back I was able to get a fixed-rate Personal Line-Of-Credit (PLOC) with a very high limit (higher than most banks will go on a personal loan) with a highly reputable credit union. The interest rate is a little higher on PLOC's than on lower-limit, secured personal loans, although they are still less than regular credit card rates. The benefit of a PLOC is that they can be accessed for anything at all, at any time, by simply writing a check. The one we got has a very long repayment term, allowing for a lower monthly payment. PLOC's aren't based on creating a lean on a specific item, and they are always available to you once you have them.
We didn't touch it after we got it because we knew it might come in handy for this goal, and we were playing the long game. You don't have any payments or interest until you use it, so setting one up in advance is a good idea. It was not a big hit to our credit score to get it, and after two years the inquiry on the credit score dropped off.
Having that high credit score also allowed me to get a couple of credit cards that offer high limits, great benefits, low interest rates, and no annual fees. Again, get but don't use.
One of these opened up the opportunity to buy this lot at an even better rate. It offered "convenience checks" that could be used for a balance transfer or any other purpose (including a cash advance), and had a fixed rate of 5.99% for the life of the balance - as long as it takes. Most banks that offer "convenience checks" like that on credit card accounts restrict them to only balance transfers, and they usually have an up front balance transfer fee, and may have a higher rate as well. The particular bank this card was on offered a great deal.
When this deal came to fruition, we were able to put almost all of the cost of the lot onto that card using that offer - but without maxing out the card. That was important because using a card to the maximum credit limit creates a bigger hit on your credit score. We put the rest onto the PLOC, again, without coming anywhere near maxing it out.
It did mean we had two loans on the lot, but the rates were not bad overall. Since it's our permanent home lot, it was worth it to us to do it this way. We looked at it as our mortgage. Given how hard it was to find the lot, it was not a bad trade-off.
The plan was to payoff the smaller amount on the PLOC within 1 year, then payoff what was on the 5.99% card balance at a faster pace. Once that was done, our only debt would be what remained on our trailer.
NOTE: I later transferred the balance from the PLOC to an unused credit card we had that offered 0 interest until mid-2020 and a flat fee of just over $300. That was less than the interest would have been by payoff time on the PLOC, so it saved us a bit of money. We budgeted to pay that off prior to the 0 interest expiration.
It ended up that we had our lot paid for in full, two days short of two years from the day we got it. We had to sacrifice a bit to get that done, but it was well worth it. Making big payments on two loans while also paying to rent a lot in another city in 2018 and 2019 was not easy, but in the long run, it paid off.
About 4 months after finding that my old company would never allow working remotely, I found a new job that embraced it. They wanted me to be close to the office for a while as we were testing different phone systems with agents in their call center, so they paid for the cost of an RV lot in the area. With that taken care of, we were able to accelerate the payments on the two loans, and had one paid off fast.
With Covid-19 having them send everyone to work from home, we were able to move to our lot and live on it full time starting in early 2020. With the savings on propane and other expenses, we had the other loan paid off less than 6 months later.
We are VERY glad that we got it when we did. I just wish we could have bought one of the adjacent lots at the same time so we could give it to our daughter when she turns 18. That is my only regret about how things worked out.
One major plus to how we financed this is that there was no bank lean against the property. That means that we got the deed up front, so if something happened and we needed to sell it, we were clear to do so with no bank involvement.
Since we bought it, prices for RV lots have gone insane. Lots that were selling for around $30,000 in the resort we are located in are now going for a minimum of $55,000, and are sold within 1 to 2 weeks. The last one that went up for sale was listed on a Sunday (7-February-2021). and was under contract by Thursday (11-February-2021).
There are three new RV resorts being built (that we know of) in Southern Utah at this time, but none of them will be selling deeded lots. There is a ton of demand for ownership lots, and no new ones coming available. I hear that it is this way all over the country, and that just like here, anything that comes available sells fast and for a lot more than even two years ago. Keep your eyes open and have your financing lined up well ahead of time, if you don't have the proceeds from the sale of a home or an inheritance.
For those asking - no, we aren't interested in selling our lot.
There is another option to consider as well. There is a lot of empty land for sale, and some of it can be found very cheap. The problem is making it ready to use full-time.
If you are looking at raw land, you need to know if you can even get to it. Are there any roads that touch it? If not, does the parcel have RECORDED EASEMENTS over another parcel(s) (described in both the deed for the parcel in question, and in the deed for the parcel(s) that the easement is over) that has roads touching it? That is the key element. If there are no recorded easements and no direct road access, that great deal you found on 100 acres isn't really worth anything, since you can't even get to the land.
Again - if you can't get there, it's not worth anything. There is a LOT of land listed for sale that you can't get to.
Then you need to see if you can get to it while towing a trailer. Even if you have recorded easements over other properties, if those properties have ravines or other issues, you may not even be able to get to your land with a 4WD vehicle, let alone while towing a trailer. We looked at one 40 acre parcel that was only $5000, and touched a county dirt road. We could reach it with our truck, and didn't really even need 4WD. The problem was that a trailer would have bottomed out on the transition from the nearest highway to the county dirt road that touched the parcel, and that dirt road had major dips in it that made it impossible to get there towing anything longer than a really short ATV trailer. We decided to pass on that one.
You also need water. If there are no utilities at the street, drilling a well requires a substantial process, permits, and approvals, and there are many places that are closed to the drilling of new water wells. Ditto for septic systems.
We have seen land that is so remote, that there are no utilities for 100 miles or more - no sewer, water, or power. We have seen land that was way beyond even ANY cellular phone signal range.
I can give you some great examples of this. Sites like LandWatch,com or LandAndFarm.com have listings for 20+ acres in places like Box Elder County, Utah, for example, for as low as $2000. That's not a bad price, but drive out there sometime. You will find that you can't even get to it with only a well-equipped 4WD, because there are no roads near it, no recorded easements allowing access, and the land in the area isn't flat. Much of it is covered in sagebrush and gopher holes, and you may find unexpected ravines. Forget towing a trailer to it. Forget any utilities as well, and you'd better have a Ham Radio license to be able to communicate.
So, why are plots of land like that for sale? It's because back in the 70's, some entrepreneurs bought the land REALLY cheap and put ad's out in Hawaii, Japan, and other places about owning land in Utah. Folks bought it up because they expected that developers would someday want it, but they had never actually seen it. Remember, there was no Google Earth back then.
Over time, many finally realized that no developers are going to be interested in the land - especially once Google Earth became a thing and they could see exactly where their 20+ acres were. Many stopped paying the annual property taxes on the land because they couldn't sell it, and the counties put the land up for auction after 5 years.
New entrepreneurs decided to buy it cheap at those tax auction sales, and list it for sale again for about 4 to 6 times what they paid for it. The cycle repeats.
Even if you can get to it, and can get a well or other utilities, local zoning is becoming a bigger problem even in places that are way off the beaten path. It seems that most jurisdictions are NIMBY on RVs, and even on much rural land out there, they don't want to let you live in an RV full-time. This became an issue, for example, with a lot of the land to the West of Cedar City, Utah in places like Beryl Junction or Beryl, which is about as sparsely populated as you can find, and none of your "neighbors" are going to care what you are doing. Most of your "neighbors" in areas like that live out of state, and have never even seen the land they own. Even so, county zoning rules there say that you can't live out there in an RV full-time, only for a few days at a time. It's insane, but that's government for you.
You really need to find a place that is either specifically zoned to allow it, or is located such that no one cares. Even then, depending on county zoning, you may end up needing to plan something like a tiny home or a modular on it to establish a "residential" foothold, before you can get a permit for a well and and septic system. Once that's approved, then you may find that you can live in your RV on it, but they will want to inspect the final setup to the tiny home or modular. You do have the option of "going rogue" and setting up your full-time site anyway, but if you do violate zoning, they may freak out on you if you are ever discovered. You also won't have an address for mail service, or utilities, without being permitted and approved. Yay, freedom!?
There are places like Golden Valley, Arizona where it IS possible to live full-time in an RV on land you own - provided that you get a permitted, approved septic system installed, and pay for the annual permit to live in an RV (Yay, freedom!?). Even out there, do not rely on Google Earth to see the real story. You really need to GO and LOOK yourself.
Be very careful. Most of the available lots either have NO utilities near them, or they have ravines/washes or major slopes that make them effectively unusable. There are some lots like that listed for over $16,000 today that were only $4000 a year ago. They were overpriced at $4000, since you can't do anything with them.
What you are looking for in Golden Valley is a "unicorn lot". There are some "unicorn lots" out there - they are perfectly level, no washes, no ravines, and even have utilities at the street. They are few and far between, and prices, as they have everywhere else, are going up rapidly. I will tell you now that most of the "unicorn lots" in Golden Valley are sold, and when they appear, you have to move fast. They are also priced much higher than they were even 1 year ago. There are also some scary looking places down there. Google Earth may not show you the current "neighborhood".
We took a day trip to Golden Valley on a weekend in mid 2020. It's about a 3.5 hour drive from St. George (2 hours to Las Vegas, and just under 90 minutes from Las Vegas to Golden Valley, just NW of Kingman, AZ). We had spoken to a couple that had a lot out there, and they liked it. We saw some 2 acre lots out there that had very little usable space on them, because of washes, ravines, and serious elevation changes/slopes. These were lots that looked promising on Google Earth. Again, GO and LOOK.
We found a unicorn lot that weekend that was just listed, priced REALLY nicely - about $7,000, It was level and had no washes on it. There were utilities just down the street. A septic system could have been installed on it. I know because I called Mohave County and learned about the entire process, and I also spoke with the company that put one on an adjacent lot where the owner was going to setup a winter RV site. Keep in mind these were 2 acre lots, so the "neighbor" was quite some distance away. The seller of the unicorn lot (out of state) wanted to get rid of it as they were focusing on another venture. We called them from the lot as soon as we had checked it out, prepared to take it at the asking price. It had just gone under contract the night before. We have pretty much given up looking out there for now as the prices are just getting too high. It would have been a fun "snowbird" location for us, but it's not worth any more than that to us. We later found something else. Keep reading.
Again - you need to GO and LOOK. Do your due diligence.
I mentioned some of the guys that buy land at tax sales and then resell it on LandWatch.com and LandAndFarm.com. If you want to cut out the middle-man, you can look at the tax sale lists for many of these rural counties, usually starting in February or March. Tax sales usually happen in April or May, and you will find land that has 5 years of back taxes due, so that's where the bidding starts, You need to be at the auction in person with cash or verified funds. The auctions are usually held at a county courthouse. Just be aware that you may be bidding against the guys planning on listing the plots of land on LandWatch and LandAndFarm. The good thing is that they want to re-sell it, so they have their limits on what they will pay. If you really want it, it may be worth it to you. If you are local, they tend to not bid against you.
One other thing on these tax sales - the parcel owner can "redeem" the land (remove it from the tax sale) at anytime up to the auction by bringing the property taxes current. We found a really nice 40 acre parcel once that was reachable with any trailer, out in the middle of no where. No utilities were available, but it was not TOO far from where we could have taken the trailer to dump the tanks and take on fresh water. It was up for a tax sale, for less than $2000.00. I kept checking the tax sale list each day, as each day, parcel owners would redeem their lots. The owner of this particular lot redeemed it the night before the auction. I had already made arrangements to take the next day off from work to drive out there and try to get it, and ended up having to work instead. It was another owner that was out of state, and I doubt they had even seen the lot. We kept looking.
Even if you find a good deal on land that you can get to with your trailer, that has utilities available or where you can get a permit for a well and opportunities for solar or wind power - after the expenses of getting the permit for that well, getting it drilled, getting a septic system installed, or sewer and other utilities to the land, you will find that you will put a LOT into making a place like that into something you can live on.
There ARE some good deals out there, but you need to do your research and actually visit the land - doing your "due diligence". Google Earth sometimes doesn't even give you a good idea of how difficult it may be to get there. Always GO and LOOK in person.
We managed to find a good deal on a small parcel, that had recorded easements over another parcel (described in both deeds), that touches a county road. It's WAY out in the middle of no-where, and has no utilities available, yet has fantastic cell service. It was also amazingly cheap when we got it, due to the owner being highly motivated to sell, after realizing that no developers would ever want it and after paying the property taxes for a number of years.
We saw it online, and went out on a Saturday and looked it over. It was perfect, and we decided that we wanted it. The owner, and the Realtor they were using, didn't realize the value of the recorded easements it had over the other parcel that had direct road access. It was listed cheap enough that the Realtor didn't really put any effort into it, and didn't even look at the deed themselves. I did my due diligence, and looked at what was recorded on the land on the previous warranty deed, as well as the warranty deeds for the adjoining parcels, and knew we found something ideal. We also checked out all of the roads in the area.
When we got home, we slept on it to make sure it was what we wanted to do, and the next day I made an offer for quite a bit less than the asking price. The owner countered with a price $100 higher than our offer, and we agreed to the deal. I cut a check from our Personal Line of Credit, and we had the warranty deed in a couple of weeks, after the title company did their thing. We had it surveyed and marked, and the resulting map pointed out another part of the easement that I had missed - it actually had two easements over the other parcel. That made the cost of the survey even more worthwhile, and made the land even more valuable to us. Our price, even after closing costs and the cost of the survey, was less than what other, unsurveyed parcels in the area were selling for.
Keep your eyes open, GO and LOOK, do your due diligence, and be prepared to act when you find what you want.
The whole thing was cheap enough that it was paid off VERY quickly. It was a great deal. This land has now become our focus.
We are using it to setup a small ranch, and may even work it as such at some time in the future. It's a great place to take our trailer and get away from everyone. It gives our daughter a lot of land to explore (under our supervision), and will be a place where she can learn and grow. It's not far from our deeded RV lot, so we can be out there frequently. I rented a skid loader and cut in an access road over the easement, and a firebreak perimeter around the inside edge of our land, over one weekday. I put in a fence line, and our next project will be getting a metal barn.
The only issue with that is that it's not a "working farm", so we either need to get the cash for it, or do some creative financing. We'd like to get the barn done sooner rather than later, so we can get a tractor and really go to town on the rest. We also got a 1000 gallon potable water trailer so we can get water out there, and there is a potable water hydrant available a few miles away to fill from. There is an RV dump site about 20 miles away for emptying the tanks now, and we could put in a septic system eventually to stay for an extended period, after putting a wind generator on the barn with batteries and a large inverter. It's a work in progress.
Some folks are content to just rent wherever they are, and there isn't anything wrong with that. For us, finding a permanent lot that we could always return to when not on the road made more sense. I know that a lot of other people feel the same way. If you are considering that course, I hope this has been helpful to you.
I am hearing that some credit cards have shifted away from the model of offering "convenience checks", such as we used for the bulk of the funds to obtain our RV lot. These are usually not a good deal, but in our case, it was. With ours, the check could be used for any purpose (even deposited in your checking account, effectively acting as a cash advance), and had a fixed-rate of 5.99% for the life of the balance, as long as it took to pay it off. That was a much better deal than you could obtain at pretty much any bank on a signature loan. In our case, the credit card had a limit of well over $20,000. It sounds like most credit cards are now offering a "loan" on the card, usually at a reduced rate, but with a very short repayment period of 1 to 3 years. This means that the minimum monthly payment is higher. In a situation like this, you'd need to carefully look at your finances and see if it fits your budget. In our case, we made way more than the minimum payment each month, but the minimum payment gave us a fall back in case our finances required lowering the payment for a month or two.
In general, these loans are not a great deal. Be very careful and look over the terms very carefully before doing this.
MyFICO.com is a great resource to use to learn about how FICO scores work. They even offer a subscription service where you can get updates whenever anything on your credit history or any of your credit scores, from any of the three major reporting agencies, changes. It's well worth it, really worth even more than the "identity theft" protection rackets, since it provides more useful, actionable information.
If you are considering raw land, you can find listings on-line, and Google Earth is a good place to start to see if it MIGHT be suitable, but you really need to GO and LOOK. If you can't, for some reason, then you have a lot of other work to do. You need to consult topographical maps of the area at the minimum. You also need to find the County Recorder site to look at the previous deeds and transfers and recordings on the parcel, and you need to consult the County Treasurer and/or County Assessor sites to look at the property tax records (including amounts due and amounts paid over the year) for the parcel. You should do all of those things anyway.
Go through a title company for the transfer. A Warranty Deed is worth it, not just a "Special Warranty Deed" either. There are differences you need to be aware of. Yes, there will be closing costs associated with a title company, but it's worth it.
Found out that there are three more RV resorts in the planning stages in this area. Two are affiliated and are technically in one resort area. They would have about 700 lots between them - rentals only. Another would also be rentals only, so no new deeded ownership opportunities coming up, but a lot of new rental lots may be coming.
I also had someone ask about the company I worked for that was lying to people about work-from-home. I won't name the company, but I will say that after I left, there was a major migration of IT and development people out of the company. I spoke with a headhunter about what was going on, he had been trying for years to get resumes and info from people there - no one wanted to leave. All of a sudden, he was flooded with resumes from employees there. Once I got the CIO to admit the truth, a lot of people jumped ship. It ended up being very good for me, as my new position treated me much better. Do not be afraid to look - the grass isn't always greener, but sometimes it is.
I've heard a lot of "thanks" for the updates to the article. It's my pleaasure to able to share a little experience. I have also received a number of questions:
Yes - If it were not for the Covid-19 situation, we would be on the road, but so much is closed right now, it's not been worth it. Even though my day job has had me very busy with a major project over the last two months, I can do it from anywhere as long as I have an internet connection. Speaking of that, we have two 4G modems on two different providers (one unlimited, and one with 22G before throttling) that feed our MikroTik router when we are on the road, and we have a Gigabit-Ethernet internet connection on our home base lot. Redundancy is great.
I was also asked if there are any local examples of a resort that is not 55+, but uses arbitrary rules to keep families out. There is a resort just south of Leeds, Utah that does this. I won't name them, but one of their rules states that maximum occupancy is two persons per bedroom. The next rule states that "all RV's are assumed to have one bedroom". It doesn't matter if it's a 43' toy hauler with a master bedroom, a separate garage that acts as a bedroom, and a loft sleeping area. That's how they keep families out, without being 55+. Considering that one complaint seen in their newsletter was that "children were HEARD playing in the street" (not seen, HEARD), apparently when they were vising grandma and grandpa, they clearly don't want families around. It was made very clear in the response to the complaint that IF children are visiting, there is a "park area" where they can be loud, but that should be discouraged otherwise.
They are also a great example of "gentrification" and an HOA board that is very insular. Over the last few years they have been strongly encouraging people to contract with a local builder to put a little "mini" site-built home on their lots. That removes them from the supply of available RV ownership lots. A while back a new RV park went in, adjacent to the North end of that resort. The HOA board, at the time, did everything they could to fight it. It seemed that most of them forgot where they started out, as a family in an RV, and were afraid that it would disturb their "little oasis" (as they are known to call their resort). They failed to stop the RV park from going in, but kept fuming about the "crime" and "disturbance" that it might bring. I was told that most of the curmudgeons on their board resigned, and were replaced by folks that decided to reach out to the owners of the new resort and be friendly. HOA boards can change, but you need to check things out before you decide to make a purchase.
I also found out about a resort in Fort McCoy, Florida that is selling deeded RV lots in a new resort. Lots start at $39,900 and go up - $49,900 seems to be the rate for the majority of sites. They offer financing, 30% down, 10 years at 7%. A 10x10 shed/coach house starts at $5800. HOA is $65.70/month. Property taxes are $385/year. Lot maintenance is $38 to $59/month (which would bring HOA/maint. to $103.70 to $124.70/month). That's not too bad given that sites are going so fast. If we weren't working on our farm, we might consider it as a snowbirtd location but we'd have to see it first. It seems fairly reasonable compared to many listings.
It looks like Iron County has finally made a change to their rules on allowing people to live in an RV on property they own.
Now, you can stay on your own property for a WHOLE 16 DAYS WITHOUT A PERMIT! 16 days! Without a permit! On your own land!
They also made a change to allow you to remain on your property for up to 180 days (6 months) in undeveloped and unincorporated areas. I believe that would include much of the land West of Cedar City that I discussed above.
In order to do so, however, there is a permit (which I am sure includes fees and surcharges - NOT A TAX!). From the article...
"To qualify for the exemption, owner-occupants must submit an affidavit to the county stating under penalty of perjury that they own the property and occupy the recreational vehicle in question, and they must assume responsibility for such things as water supply, sewage waste disposal and vehicle winterization and maintenance. They are also expected to sign up and pay for trash pickup service."
"The owner-occupant exemptions are not allowed in certain excluded areas, such as parcels zoned R-1/2, private subdivisions or planned unit developments that are subject to their own covenants and restrictions."
The specific ordinance can be read here
It's hard to say if this is really a good thing. It does not allow for real FREEDOM, but it seems to allow a little more freedom than they have had in the past. If they'd get over the 180 days, and make it year round, since the citizens that it deals with with OWN their land, it would certainly be a better thing. Having Government tell you that you can use your land for 16 days, or 180 days, isn't that great of a deal, especially since you pay taxes on it for 365 days each year.
A while back, I mentioned a new RV park being built just outside of St. George. It's done now, and we happened to have a reason to drive by there. It was full, already, and not on a weekend. The other parks in the area are also running close to 100%. "If you build it, they will come" seems to be holding true right now. With several other resorts in process - one just started construction - I don't expect this to change for a while. Every day we are even more happy that we got our site when we did.
I had someone ask about the potable water trailer we got to take water out to our remote land.
I looked long and hard at a number of manufacturers, and the one we decided to get was from Arizona Trailer Specialists. We got the Potable Water Pump version of their 1000 gallon Water Dog. They are in Tucson, AZ.
In addition to their standard features of being all lead-free, and having a gasoline powered water pump (hint: always use Ethanol-free fuel), ours also has a lead-free standard hose connection for filling, in addition to the connection for filling from a fire hydrant, and it has a lead-free hose bib connection on the low point drain, which will let us get every drop out and into the RV if needed by only gravity flow. It also has a second lockable toolbox on the other side, which allows us to separate the hydrant-type connection hoses (both the fill and the firefighting/high flow output hose) and the lead-free RV-type water hoses used for water supply or filling the trailer from a standard hose connection.
Of all of the manufacturers of trailers like this, their construction is far superior. The frames are the toughest I could find, and all of the welds look really good. They do a great job, and it was about 18 days from order to completion. They even sent me photos of the process as it was built. I would not hesitate to buy another from them if we ever need another.
I was also asked if I have seen any good deals lately. We keep an eye out, and I saw one unicorn lot in Golden Valley go in three days for a lot more money than I expected. Listed to sold in 3 days. Prices have simply gone insane, just like on regular homes and everything else.
We want to get a barn built on our land, and the price doubled from January to April, and it priced us out of doing it this year. We ended up getting two 40' storage containers so that we could store some of the tools we have for out there and get ready to build a quonset-hut type cover over them to act as a hay barn. We are hoping to do the barn next year if prices come down, and maybe a tractor.
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