If you own recreational lands or are considering buying, you might be wondering if it were possible to indefinitely reside on a recreational property. The majority of communities in the US and Canada have limitations on utilizing property allocated for recreation for residential reasons, including limitations on erecting permanent buildings there. It’s crucial to do your research before purchasing recreational land to see whether you can live there all year long or just part of the time.

Understanding Zoning and Land-Use Regulations

Land use restrictions and zoning rules govern all real estate in the U.S. Similar laws govern land use in Canada, where provinces are in charge of it. Zoning rules and regulations govern how the land may be utilized in cities and towns. The land’s development and intended use are governed by zoning regulations.

Typically, you cannot erect a permanent structure on property that is zoned for recreation, but the definition of the phrase will vary depending on the region. Generally, it indicates that you can’t settle there permanently. In certain circumstances, it’s even prohibited to leave a camper or “mobile home” parked there for a lengthy period of time.

The Northern Region of Lower Michigan’s “forest recreational” designated region serves as an excellent illustration of such limitations. You are permitted to build a 500-square-foot hunting or fishing cottage on the land in this particular spot. Also prohibited is a stay of more than 120 days per year in the cabin. Additionally, a mobile home or recreational vehicle cannot stay on the land for more than 120 days. You are allowed to construct a permanent structure, but not one that you want to live in permanently.

Remember that the word “recreational zoning” will have various meanings in each region and municipality. Before purchasing land, be sure it will meet your needs by carefully reading the small print, getting advice from experts, and asking questions.

You can speak with the neighborhood zoning office and obtain a copy of the zoning board’s zoning ordinances to comprehend each zoning classification. The zoning board’s bylaws will specifically identify any limits on building and usage.

Don’t purchase land expecting to use it any way you choose; always check with the zoning department and inquire if it’s possible to reside on recreational land in the region to understand your options.

Can You Rezone Recreational Land?

Can you rezone property for recreation? In reality, it is feasible to do so. A zoning variance, special use permit, or modification in the zoning designation can be used to accomplish this:

  • Rezoning: The optimal use of the property for all local residents will be considered when determining how long and how much to spend on this procedure. Therefore, the appropriate regulating body will scrutinize any adjustments more closely.
  • Zoning variance: This gives you consent to utilize the property against local zoning regulations. Keep in mind that you will often need to demonstrate that some kind of hardship has been caused by unique circumstances.
  • Special use permit: This permits you to use the land in a way that is not often allowed and, in many situations, will expire upon the sale of the land.

Depending on the jurisdiction, different procedures must be followed to get a zoning exemption. However, be ready to present a formal application, pay a filing fee, and argue your position before the zoning board or planning commission in your community. Rezoning recreational property may be challenging due to the likely increased sensitivity surrounding its preservation.


There will be limitations on using recreational land for residential purposes if the property is classified as recreational. This can include limitations on the number of days you can live on the land each year as well as restrictions on the size and kind of buildings that are allowed (if any).

Rezoning recreational property is conceivable, but given the increased concern about conserving recreational areas, it will probably be challenging. You should consider the availability of water, power, and other necessities, as well as the tax consequences, before relocating to recreational land, after discussing with the appropriate zoning agency to better understand the restrictions.