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You have taken the RV plunge and need to insure your camper before you can take it on vacation. Is a camper considered to be a mobile home?

Whether living out of your camper or needing to find insurance, you need to be clear about how your underwriter will assess the recreational vehicle before taking it out on the open road. The last thing you want to do is pay someone more for something you shouldn’t have had to. So to have an emergency and suddenly not have insurance come through for you because it wasn’t classified correctly.

A camper and a larger manufactured trailer can be considered mobile homes. However, mobile homes must meet certain restrictions to be lived in that campers and other RVs do not have to meet. Most campgrounds that offer slots to permanent residents will allow mobile homes on their premises.

Many Americans find that living on the road in an RV is an effective way to stay mobile and see many venues across the country. Are you better financially doing so? What restrictions are placed on a mobile home? How can you ensure your contents are adequately covered? Is it better to put down roots in a mobile home? What are the costs involved with recreational vehicles vs. modular homes?

This article will explore the difference between a camper and recreational vehicle and a full-sized mobile home regarding legal ramifications for living in both. The information can help you prepare for RV living so that you and your family are safe wherever you decide to call your piece of heaven home.



What Legal Difference Between a Camper and a Mobile Home?

Even though a manufactured home is technically considered a mobile housing unit, it cannot just be parked anywhere. Federal regulations regarding plumbing, HVAC, and safety must be met before a manufactured unit can be permanently placed and lived in. For a wonderful article on frequently asked questions regarding HUD codes, see

Modular or Manufactured Homes

While regulations vary from state to state, the legal description of a manufactured home is

  • A unit built after June 1976 must comply with building codes following the United States Housing and Urban Development (HUD) standard.
  • A unit is transported in sections or modules for construction at the permanent site.
  • Local code enforcement mandates that a unit home requires permanent fixtures, HVAC, and other utility connections.
  • Home at least 8 feet wide, 40 feet long for a minimum of 320 sq ft.

There are other differences as well.

  • A mobile home offers the advantages of more permanent housing, whereas an RV is more transitory.
  • A mobile home must have professional movers to relocate it from place to place, while a camper simply needs a licensed driver.
  • Modular homes must have permanent utility connections and meet inspection requirements for local housing codes before being occupied.
  • Mobile homes (single or double-wide units) must have the required slab foundation and be anchored to meet severe weather standards.
  • Insurance costs are less for a manufactured home. RVs have minimum coverages required by state regulations.
  • Rent for space is generally less for a mobile home than a recreational vehicle, as are maintenance costs.
  • Modular homes are eligible to qualify for a mortgage because they substitute for a permanent dwelling. RV loans resemble auto loans because they have to be purchased for shorter loan terms and at higher interest rates.

Recreational Vehicles - Campers

A camper is considered a recreational vehicle and, as such, does not have to meet the kinds of requirements because they can move from place to place more easily. Even so, campers do have to be insured under an auto policy because RVs are operated on the roadways. Many states have minimum insurance requirements that must be met before they can be driven or used anywhere.

There are some advantages to living in a camper or recreational vehicle.

  • It is easier and faster to relocate to a new location.
  • An RV can be parked in a campground or national or state park with appropriate facilities.
  • An RV is not required to have any kitchen or bathroom facilities or plumbing.
  • An RV can be parked almost anywhere a car or truck can.
  • An RV allows for more flexibility and options in terms of travel.

Some legal issues concerning recreational vehicles will vary from state to state. Some states will not allow overnight parking at a rest area, although some put time limits (four - eight hours). If you decide to opt for the RV lifestyle, you must be mindful of the state regulations. For a good summary of state regulations concerning overnight parking, please consult

In addition, should you park in a small town, be aware that city ordinances always supersede state regulations. Be sure you know the city’s ordinance about where and when you can park your recreational vehicle overnight.

Which is Cheaper to Live in - Modular Home or Recreational?

The costs for each of these housing units are substantial, but as a general rule, there are advantages and disadvantages to living in each one. Depending on your situation, living in an RV will have lower initial expenses, although the cost will not necessarily be less over the long haul.

What Are Some Modular Home Expenses?

Consider some of the expenses associated with a modular home.

  • Initial purchase - a modular home can usually be purchased for $50 - 150k, including the lot of land or slab on which it will be positional.
  • Initial Transport - Depending on the size, the transport will vary from $5 - 10k dollars.
  • Utilities - The homeowner pays monthly bills
  • Maintenance of Home - because the house does not move, it does not require as much maintenance expense as a rolling recreational vehicle.
  • Insurance - it is always advisable to have insurance on your property. Not many states require it as a condition for living in a modular home. (An RV is just the opposite, you must have insurance before you can operate a camper).

Recreational Vehicle Expenses

  • Initial purchase - Campers can range in price - from a few thousand dollars to over $200k for the fancy, dancy models. Celebrity motor homes can exceed over $500,000.
  • Maintenance Costs - other than keeping gasoline in your RV, there are maintenance costs to keep tires, engine, oil changes, etc. If you put any miles on your camper, you know firsthand the kinds of expensive repairs that a recreational vehicle can begin to incur. While there may
  • Utility costs are less - while utility costs might be pretty high for a mobile home, chances are they will be considerably less for a recreational vehicle.
  • Registration costs are paid to the state every year just for the privilege of being able to drive your RV with appropriate license tags. (This amount will vary state by state)
  • Insurance - Even if you are a safe driver, the insurance costs for a camper or RV will likely cost hundreds of dollars, mainly if there is more than one insured driver.
  • Camper Fees - every night, you will have to pay a nightly fee of $20 - over a hundred for a quality hotel-like setting. You don’t have to live on the road for very long to know how quickly these costs can add up.
  • As a general rule, unless your RV or camper is equipped with a shower, personal hygiene is more difficult in a camper than in a dedicated bathroom in a modular home, not to mention the availability of securing hot water.

Will a Modular Home Increase in Value vs. an RV?

The truth is that a recreational vehicle will never appreciate. When you drive this beautiful camper off the lot, it will depreciate and continue to lose value over its lifetime.

A modular home can appreciate over time because it acts like a homestead. Just as property values fluctuate (rise and fall) with the price of homes in the community, so do manufacture homes.