RV Camper & Motorhome Living Rules & Regulations in Montana

RV Camper & Motorhome Living Rules & Regulations in Montana
Back to the land and living free are precepts common in Montana. Land costs lower than most areas of the U.S. and a Western-style of living mean reduced regulations at the state and local levels when it comes to housing. Even so, living permanently in a camper or motor home can be a challenging dance around Montana's zoning and development regulations. Unlike many states, the road is open in Montana to live all year in your camper or motor home.


Keep it eight feet wide or less and 45 feet long or less, and you have a "mobile home" allowed for residency in Montana, according to Montana Code Annotated §15-1-101[1][m]. As long as it's used as a principal residence, requires another vehicle for power, and has a current license and registration, state law defines a camping trailer as acceptable for all-year residential use.

Motor Homes

Called a "recreation vehicle" in Montana law, the motor home is for temporary living quarters use for recreation, camping or travel, according to Montana Code Annotated §60-60-101[16]. This puts a crimp in 12-month living in a motor home. There is a way to do this by renting space in a licensed mobile home park. The agreement for rental between the motor home owner and mobile home park owner taps an exception in state law.

State Code

Local governments implement building codes created by the International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO). The International Building Code (IBC; formerly called "Uniform Building Code") applies consistent building requirements throughout Montana and most other states. States are allowed to modify the IBC, and Montana has taken that step. While the Code prohibits full-time occupancy in a camper or motor home, Montana allows it when the camper or motor home is located in a mobile home park. Campers, however, can also be placed on private land when locally designated for mobile homes.

Local Code

Dealing with local governments in Montana is another step in the process for year-round living. All local governments have zoning regulations. Some cities impose strict requirements on living in campers and motor homes. The major cities in the state allow residency only in licensed mobile home parks. To be placed on an individual parcel a permanent foundation is required, something that is impossible to accomplish with a camper or motor home. Montana counties and small towns are more flexible, and some allow the vehicles on individual parcels or open, private land.

Article Written By Eric Jay Toll

Eric Jay Toll has been writing since 1970, influenced by his active lifestyle. An outdoorsman, businessman, planner and travel writer, Toll's work appears in travel guides for the Navajo Nation, "TIME" and "Planning" magazines and on various websites. He studied broadcast marketing and management at Southern Illinois University.

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