Question: I’m thinking about buying a used RV and renting it out to someone who will live in it in my driveway. I know nothing about RVs and how they work. I have a septic system and well, so how does one remove waste?
How does one heat the RV? What about showering and cooking? In the dead of winter, what would be the cost to run it?
Answer: This is certainly an unconventional question, but here are a few things to consider:
Have you checked the zoning regulations about someone living in an RV in your driveway?
If you do not know anything about RV’s, you should learn something about how to choose one and maintain it You will have to research and read to get familiar with different types of RV’s so you can choose wisely. See these links for information on choosing the right RV:
If you buy one, make sure you get instructions on where everything is and how it works, this includes sewage, electrical, propane, fresh water, refrigerator, a/c’s, slide outs, leveling, etc.
In researching the zoning regulations, you may want to consider a park model/more permanent trailer as an option. These units are more like a regular house; they typically do not have any holding tanks and are plumbed into your sewage and water systems. The zoning regulations probably differ from those for a regular RV.
If you buy an RV with holding tanks, do you have a sewage line that you can use for the RV or will you have to have one installed? Depending on the tank size the tenant may have to dump the contents frequently (daily, every few days, or weekly). We have large tanks (60 on black and 40 on grey) and usually have to dump the black once a week and the grey 2 or 3 times a week.
How will you provide the proper amperage for the RV. The RV may require one 30 amp line or 2 50 amp lines.
Did we mention maintenance? An RV requires maintenance. Who will do it, you or a service center? How will you get the RV to the service center or can you get mobile repairs? It probably does not make sense to buy a motorized RV (i.e., a motorhome), since it will be stationary most of the time. Motorhomes are meant to be driven and require maintenance of engines, transmission, etc. If you do decide to go with a towable RV, consider how you will get it to a repair facility in the event it needs service.
What do you do with the tenant if repairs require the RV to be moved to a repair center overnight or for an extended period of time?
The RV requires a dedicated water line fed by a potable water hose – not a garden hose.
Since it seems you might live in cold weather, how do you protect the water lines/tanks from freezing? You will have to do research on how to prepare the RV for winter operation. Some of these pages on our site might be helpful:
A few more comments regarding your specific questions:
Waste removal – See #5 above
Heating – It depends on the type of RV you get. Most will use propane and or electricity to heat the interior and for hot water, you can always supplement with electric heaters to produce heat for the interior of the RV.
Showers – Just like in a regular house, subject to limitations of the size of holding tank and how you plan to empty it.
Winter costs – we really cannot address. It all depends on what you pay for propane, water and electric in your area of the country, how well your RV is insulated and how energy efficient it happens to be.
I am sure that there are more many things to consider but this should get you started. Other comments welcome.