Best States for Full-Time RV Living (2021)
The best states for full-time RV living include options for every season and a variety of things to see and do. While you will need to choose a state to set up your domicile address while living in an RV full-time, that doesn't have to be the place you spend all of your time. The best part of living in an RV is the ability to move around and see the country, and our top 10 states should be on your list.
UPDATED: Mar 25, 2021
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- The best states for full-time RV living vary depending on the time of year, allowing you to follow the weather
- If you’re looking for a state to set up a domicile while on the road, Florida and Texas are good choices
- Each of the best states to visit in your RV offer a wide variety of federal parks and privately-run RV parks
Whether you are just starting out on a lifelong dream of full-time RV living or have been on the road for a while, there’s always something new to see in this vast country. Finding the best states for full-time RV living is part of the adventure for many, but if you’re looking for a short list to get you started, we’ve done the research.
The best thing about living in your RV full time is that you can follow the weather, so our list includes states best for visiting at every time of year. We ranked the states based on weather, access to federal parks, and RV insurance options so you can be sure you’re in compliance with auto insurance laws.
We’ve also gathered each state’s must-see national park so you can start that bucket list.
Whether you’re looking for a state to spend a month or a year, there’s something here for everyone that calls their RV home.
Top 10 States for Living in an RV Full Time
Living in an RV full time means you’re not always living in the same place. While many full-timers spend months at a time in one place or another, most have chosen their lifestyle to allow a lot of variety in the places they call home throughout the year.
The best places to live in an RV year-round will be those with the warmest average temperatures, but we based our picks on choices for those that prefer to move around throughout the year.
Every state is well worth visiting at some point in your life on the road, but these top 10 choices offer some of the best selection of parks, and each has a particular time of year when it’s a great time to roll into the area.
To pick them we took average temperatures, the number of federal parks, and, of course, the number of companies that offer RV insurance in each state.
While you may only visit these places, if you choose one as your domicile (your full-time RV permanent address), you’ll want to know how to find cheap RV auto insurance there. We’ve noted below which of these states are particularly good picks for domicile setup.
Ready to hit the road for a look at the best states to call home — at least for a little while? Let’s get rolling.
#10 – Texas
Must-See National Park: Big Bend National Park
Number of Federal Parks: 65
Best Time to Visit: Spring
It’s a big state with a lot to see, and good weather for most of the year. That makes Texas a top pick for full-time RVers. And if you’re looking for a state to establish your domicile, Texas’ lack of income tax and easy access to mail-forwarding services make it one of the best choices. However, you should be aware that Texas auto insurance rates are on the higher side.
While you can take your pick of full-service RV parks in Texas, be sure to take the time to visit its beautiful parks. Our must-visit pick is Big Bend, where desert visits and canyons carved by the Rio Grande offer a wide range of natural beauty. Because it gets incredibly hot in the summer and can be cold in the winter, spring is the best time to check it out.
#9 – Oregon
Must-See National Park: Crater Lake National Park
Number of Federal Parks: 48
Best Time to Visit: Late summer
From the rugged coastline to the high desert to the snow-capped mountains, Oregon has a wide range of natural beauty to experience. It’s also a great place for those big purchases to upgrade your RV since there’s no sales tax, and a strong camping culture ensures a warm welcome to those that live on the road.
It’s hard to choose just one of Oregon’s natural wonders to make our must-see list, but the clear blue water of Crater Lake National Park edges out the competition. Oregon is known for rainy weather, but the late summer and early fall are the driest and warmest parts of the year.
#8 – Arizona
Must-See National Park: Grand Canyon National Park
Number of Federal Parks: 37
Best Time to Visit: Spring
It’s hard to have a bucket list for your RV lifestyle that doesn’t include some time spent visiting the Grand Canyon. It’s Arizona’s top attraction and one of the most visited national parks in the country.
That’s not all Arizona has to offer full-time RVers. It’s a great place to spend the winter months that are too cold up north, but if the heat is too much for you in the summer, spend the spring here. The weather in the northern part of the state is cooler, and the Grand Canyon can see snow.
Spring will give you the best combination of weather across the state.
#7 – North Dakota
Must-See National Park: Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Number of Federal Parks: 39
Best Time to Visit: Summer
North Dakota isn’t the most pleasant place to live in an RV in the winter months, but it’s a great spot to spend the summer. With temperatures that aren’t nearly as hot as the Southern states and expanses of wide, open land, it’s a place to step off the grid for a while and breathe.
You may not think of North Dakota when you imagine inspiring scenery, but Theodore Roosevelt National Park might change your mind.
The park’s Painted Canyon and awe-inspiring sunsets are worth the trip, as is the chance to spot bison roaming the countryside. It’s a taste of what the land looked like hundreds of years ago.
#6 – Montana
Must-See National Park: Glacier National Park
Number of Federal Parks: 40
Best Time to Visit: Summer
From wide-open ranch land in the east to snow-capped peaks in the west, Montana has something to offer everyone. Like North Dakota, the winters are cold, but the summers offer long days of warm temperatures, making it a great place for full-time RVers who prefer to split their time between the northern and southern parts of the country.
For sheer beauty and incredible mountain vistas, Glacier National Park is hard to beat. Some of the mountain roads aren’t too RV-friendly, however, so a “toad” (a vehicle towed behind your RV) is a good option for exploring the furthest reaches of the park. It’s also a great jumping-off point for a visit to Canada’s section of the Rockies.
#5 – Florida
Must-See National Park: Everglades National Park
Number of Federal Parks: 41
Best Time to Visit: Late winter
Florida’s sunshine makes it a top pick for full-time RV living, but even in the Sunshine State, there’s a better time to visit. Avoid the spring break crowds by planning your time in Florida in the late winter, when the temperatures and humidity aren’t yet uncomfortable and hurricane season is yet to come.
Everglades National Park is the must-visit park in Florida, found at the very southern end of the state. It’s home to wildlife you won’t see anywhere else and consistently ranks among the most-visited parks in the nation. Like Texas, Florida is a good pick to set up your domicile thanks to tax and mail-forwarding laws.
Bear in mind, though, that Florida auto insurance is on the expensive side.
#4 – New York
Must-See National Park: Niagara Falls National Heritage Area
Number of National Parks: 43
Best Time to Visit: Early fall
While some will say springtime is the time to be in New York, and others will insist it’s the holiday season in New York City, for a full-time RVer, the time to see this state in the fall. Winter is a bit too cold for RV life, and spring tends to bring a lot of rain. Fall, on the other hand, brings foliage that is renowned throughout the nation.
Especially if your plans bring you to upstate New York to visit Niagara Falls, fall will help you avoid the honeymoon crowd. If you do want to visit the Big Apple, you’ll find a surprising number of RV parks with easy access.
Stay a bit farther out and use public transportation if you don’t want to sit in traffic.
#3 – Washington State
Must-See National Park: Olympic National Park
Number of Federal Parks: 46
Best Time to Visit: Summer and early fall
Like Oregon, Washington State is known for a lot of rain, particularly along the coast. Also like Oregon, however, it has glorious summers that last into the fall. Home to Mt. Rainer and the famous Mt. St. Helens, it’s one of the few places on the mainland where you can hike on an active volcano.
The coastline is famous, and Olympic National Park gives visitors everything from mountains to tide pools.
Washington State has no income tax, which makes it an option for those seeking a domicile state.
Washington auto insurance rates are also on the low side if you’re using a domicile address here for your RV. For full-time RVers, it’s a great place to spend the shoulder season before seeking warmer climates for the winter.
#2 – Virginia
Must-See National Park: Shenandoah National Park
Number of Federal Parks: 48
Best Time to Visit: Spring through fall
Summers can be hot in Virginia, but not nearly as hot as states farther to the south. And even though winter isn’t the best time to visit, you won’t suffer frostbite if you do. Temperatures tend to be livable in an RV most of the year here.
There’s also no lack of places to see. Ranging from expansive beaches to lakes surrounded by green peaks, Virginia has a lot of variety in the landscape that makes it a good place to call home for a few months and take a break from the road.
#1 – California
Must-See National Park: Yosemite National Park
Number of Federal Parks: 91
Best Time to Visit: All year
Because California is so vast and varied, you could spend an entire year here in your RV and not run out of places to visit. From the peaks of the Sierra Nevadas to the storied beaches of Los Angeles County, California has a seemingly endless array of options.
And since you’re bringing your home on the road, you can live here for a while without worrying about the sky-high cost of housing in the state.
Yosemite National Park is the most visited in the country, and you’ll even need reservations just to see some parts of the park. If you’re planning to pull up the RV here, reservations at one of the many area parks — made well in advance — are an absolute must. While you’re waiting, though, California has no shortage of other things to see.
Full Study Results: All States Ranked for Full-Time RV Living
If you’ve decided to make your RV a full-time home, you likely want to visit as many places as possible. We ranked all of the states for average temperature, number of federal parks, and the number of available RV insurance carriers. The map below shows the rankings for each state.
You’ll note that after the top 10, Alaska lands in the 11th spot. While it’s an amazing place to see and visit, it’s worth noting that getting there in an RV is no easy feat. Our ranking metric doesn’t take into account the somewhat precarious Alaska Highway (also called the Alcan Highway), best navigated in the summer months.
Frequently Asked Questions: Best States for Full-Time RV Living
Living in an RV full-time can be a great experience, but it can also be complicated. We’ve answered some of the common questions about RV life below.
#1 – What states allow full-time RV living?
In what states can you live in an RV full-time? You can live in an RV full-time in any state as long as you park the RV in a location where it’s permitted to be. That’s where it can get complicated.
The question of what states allow you to live in an RV on your property is a different one altogether. You will need to comply with city and county ordinances, some of which don’t allow RVs to be permanent residences.
So is it illegal to live in an RV full-time? There are laws that affect where and for how long you can park your RV as well as how many people can live in a certain amount of space. Of course, there’s a difference between taking your RV on the road all year and living out of it vs. living in an RV on land owned by you or someone else for the entire year.
#2 – What is the best RV to live in full time?
Most people who live in an RV full time prefer larger models, but really it’s a matter of personal taste and budget. RVs with slide-outs make for more living space, and larger tanks mean less need for dumping stations.
#3 – If you live in an RV, what is your address?
People who live in an RV need to set up what is known as a domicile address. That’s the permanent legal address where you get your mail and use it for things like your full-time RV driver’s license, your taxes, and registration for your RV.
And, of course, you need to remember that you can’t have auto insurance from a different state than the one you live in. That means your domicile state is where you are insured, too.
There are a few states that make this process easier than others. What is the best state to register an RV?
The best state to register an RV and set up a domicile can vary based on your preferences, but Texas, South Dakota, and Florida are all popular choices thanks to easy mail-forwarding and the lack of income tax.
Bear in mind that the law technically requires you to live in the state of your domicile at least a good portion of the year. So when you’re considering Texas vs. South Dakota domicile options, decide in which one you’d rather spend time.
Methodology: How We Ranked the Top 10 States for Full-Time RV Living
We approached our ranking specifically for those that live in an RV full-time while traveling the country, rather than those that plan to stay in one place. To that end, we looked for states good for every time of year rather than just states that are best all year through.
We took average temperature data from the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA), which averages temperatures over a 100-year period from 1901-2000. We also drew information on the number of federal parks in each state from the National Parks Service, the U.S. Forest Service, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Finally, we looked to the top insurance companies to see which offered RV insurance in each state for a full count of the available options.