This Independence weekend, I was supposed to head further North in Wyoming to see fireworks by a lake. But, the people who initially invited us had a change of plans, so I headed south to Casper. While here, I have an amazing opportunity to post up in a friend’s driveway. This is what is called moochdocking. Some properties are better equipped for moochdockers than others, but it’s basically suburban camping with permission and without the need to be stealthy.
So, how exactly does moochdocking work? How do you ensure you get maximum function out of your RV, even without full amenities? And, how can you ensure you’re a good neighbour to the person letting you stay on their property and their neigbours, too.
Believe it or not, the lovely lady who invited me to stay on her property has only met me once before. She’s a now-mutual acquaintance of Kevin and me. Kevin is the RV neighbour from California who invited me up to Wyoming for the summer. When Erin and I met, it was also the first time I moochdocked in her yard. I followed all the house rules and ensured I was a good neighbour. So, when I told her my Independence weekend plans had been cancelled, she invited me down to spend time on her property. In fact, she invited me to stay for roughly two weeks.
If you don’t already have friends who will let you moochdock, try Boondocker’s Welcome, Craigslist, and even social media to find someone willing to host you. You will find that people are often a lot more open to having houseguests when those guests bring their own house to the property.
Checking the Property
Not everyone who wants to host you will be able to do so. If they live on a hill, for instance, and have no driveway, it will take miracles to level your RV. Some neighbourhoods also have strict ordinances against RVs parked on the side of the street, in a cul-de-sac or even in driveways. Know what the rules are before you arrive. The last thing you want is to wake up at midnight to a police officer or nosy neighbour knocking on your window or door.
Wyoming is a very RV-friendly state and most people seem to have an RV or access to one. Consequently, RVs are a common sight on the neighbourhood block I’m moochdocking on. I’m not the only one there mooching either. Note that, depending on the property, you may or may not have access to electricity, water or sewer. You also need to ensure your rig will fit, so give the owners a heads-up on the size, including your slides.
Parking the Rig
Most people don’t have perfectly level yards, even if they look that way. Roads aren’t perfectly level either. The sides of roads tend to slope toward drains. They could also have potholes or are on a slight incline. If you’re already accustomed to parking your RV outside of campgrounds, then you likely already know how to overcome the challenges of levelling it.
Levelling will take some extra time, so show up prepared. I brought almost all my woodblocks with me when I visited Erin. That made it easier to raise the front of the RV. I also brought my go-treads, so I could level the rig from side to side.
Getting Water Hookups
Before you arrive, always ensure you’ve figured out what your water situation will be. It’s easy to assume you’ll have access to water, but the one outdoor access could be used for sprinklers or to feed an accessory dwelling unit. It could also be on a completely different side of the property. Believe it or not, some houses may not have outdoor water at all. If you do have access to water on the property, be sure to conserve water out of respect for your hosts and to prevent your sewer tanks from filling up too quickly.
Where I’m moochdocking now, there’s no access to outdoor water. So, I filled up at another friend’s house nearby and then headed to Erin’s. If the home you’re headed to doesn’t have water either, check local campgrounds or RV parks. There are also some gas stations that have dump stations and potable water.
Powering Up the Rig
Most generators are way too noisy for suburban home use. Houses are close together and the noise is sure to get the neighbours complaining. The fumes could also pose risks if you park close to an open window of someone else’s home. In some cases, you might be able to plug into outdoor outlets, but you will only have access to 15 amps of power. This is the equivalent of about 1,800 watts of power, but you realistically don’t have access to all that.
Ideally, you have solar. You can build or buy a solar setup that meets your specific needs. Solar is quiet and as long as you have access to good sunlight, it works well. If you’re planning on moochdocking during snowfall or in any area that has limited sunlight, plugging into the city grid or using a generator might be your only options.
Emptying the Tanks
In some cases, you might be able to dump your grey tank on the property. At one of the places I’ve moochdocked, the owners were a lot less concerned about the grey water than I was. I ensured I used only earth-friendly products that were rated for outdoor or camping use. More often than not, unless you have a composting toilet, you’ll need to empty your black tank. Sometimes, you might be able to access the sewer on the property, but you’ll most likely need to dump.
The best way to keep your tanks empty is to switch to a composting toilet or use a luggable-loo, which is what I do. It’s also a good idea to do water-intensive activities outside, such as washing your hair, washing the dishes and cooking meals.
Moochdocking is one of the best ways to save money when RVing. However, to be sure you get a second invite and no complaints from the neighbours, respect quiet hours, respect existing house rules, and never overstay your welcome. It’s better to be present less often than they would like than stay longer than they’d like to have you. Finally, always offer something. Most people will refuse to charge you for moochdocking, but don’t ever take the mooching for granted. Remember that favours are usually more acceptable than funds. Happy travels!
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