As many of you know Chris and Cherie at Technomadia have been our gurus when it comes to everything
RVing. So it made sense that when it came time to setup our domicile they were the first place we turned. Their blog post at http://www.technomadia.com/2013/02/setting-up-domicile-in-florida-as-a-full-time-rver/ gave us nearly everything we needed to know to make ourselves legal in Florida.
The first thing we needed to learn was the difference between Domicile and Residency. Domicile is the place where you have a substantial connection and you treat as your permanent home; a place where a person has a fixed, permanent home for legal purposes. Where as, Residency is the place you are living for the time being. To fulfill the legal obligations you must have a domicile state where you pay taxes, vote, register your vehicles, etc. Government entities want you to show you have the intent to live in that state for most of the year at some time in the future.
Once we had the definitions right it was then time to research the best state for us to set up our domicile. There are three states that are considered the best for full-time RVers, Texas, South Dakota, and Florida.
An article in RV Life states, “All three states are [state] income tax-free, the government entities will accept mail-forwarding addresses and there are headquarters for mail-forwarding services. A full-timer’s final choice of domicile usually comes down to a few important factors that affect a person’s wallet:
- Health insurance options and premiums
- Vehicle licensing fees and annual inspection requirements
- Ease to get mail on the road
- If you’re an entrepreneur, ease of running a business from that state is also a major factor.”
Each person needs to choose the state that best fits their needs. There are hundreds of articles online and several books on Amazon that go into much more detail than we offer here. For Jonathan and I, Florida is the best choice since we were previous residents, we have family living in the state, and we can get good health insurance that is accepted across the country. We had previously set up our mail forwarding service with Good Sam when we started our full-time experiment over a year ago, so we already had a Florida address and had the required proof of residency pieces of mail, with that address, for getting our licenses.
Once the house in PA was sold we headed south to start the process of becoming domiciled in Florida. Since our mail service (which is our mailing address) is in Crestview, FL we headed to our old stomping grounds just down the road around Pensacola, FL. As we mentioned in our previous post we wanted to get our wills updated with our family’s Florida attorney as well as getting ourselves legal. While we were waiting between meetings with the lawyers we went to Crestview to get our licenses since that is the city of our mailing address. We stopped by our mail service to pick up our mail and they were great about telling us exactly how to go about setting up our domicile. With directions in hand we went to the Okaloosa County Tax Collector’s office (DMV) and after the required wait (it is a DMV after all) we sat down with an agent. Now we had already gotten mail with the address, we had our PA driver’s licenses and we had our passports, all in an effort to make this as easy as possible though we were expecting to have difficulties. When we told the agent our address she immediately knew that we were full-timers and said no problem! We had everything she
needed to process our FL licenses and she told us to just go across the hall to get our voter registration cards. Easy Peasy!!
However, when it came to getting our vehicle registrations transferred, that is where we hit a snag. As both vehicles still have loans on them we had to get the loan companies to send the titles to Okaloosa County. We got the letter from the DMV to send to the companies which we filled out and faxed right away. It was then several weeks of calling and nudging the companies to make sure the titles were sent to the right place. We had hoped to have everything completed before leaving the Pensacola area but neither of the titles arrived before our two weeks were up. We decided to go ahead to Tallahassee with the intent of coming back to Crestview once they were in. It took 21 days for both titles to arrive, so a warning to those in the same situation, plan extra time to get your titles if they are with loan companies! We continued calling the companies and the DMV until we were told everything had arrived then we took a day and drove back to Crestview. This time we were in and out of the DMV in record time! We had our tags!!
Now we have done just about everything possible to set ourselves up as domiciled in FL. We have a legal address, we have FL wills, driver’s licenses, tags and registration, and voter registrations. We’ve even voted in our first FL primary. We are waiting till the first of the year to transfer our health insurance which I am hoping goes as smoothly as this process. I guess the lesson here is that to make this as easy a possible you need to be prepared, research each state’s requirements, set up a mailing address several months in advance, have all required documentation, and be prepared to wait if you need to get your titles.
This was our last big hurtle to becoming full-times and we are happy to have this behind us. Now it is time to go find cooler weather …. it has been brutally hot in the SE this year! Next up we will talk about visiting family and our adventures in Tallahassee!