When you become a full-timer you will have to choose your state of residency. If you are keeping a home or condo somewhere that will probably be "home." But if you are cutting ties the world is your oyster.

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When we were on the road, one of the toughest questions we would get was, "Where are you from?" Should we say the last place we lived before full-timing? Should we say the last place we stayed for more than a month? Should we say where we were born?

Usually we would give a rambling answer about being full-time RVers and traveling all over the country. The other answer was a little embarrassing because officially we were from South Dakota, but in our first 5 years on the road we had only spent three days in the entire state. You see South Dakota is where we got our mail. It was also where we had our driver's licenses and registered our vehicles.

When you become a full-timer you will have to choose your state of residency. If you are keeping a home or condo somewhere that will probably be "home." But if you are cutting ties the world is your oyster. But there are pros and cons that you need to way before choosing one including but not limited to: amount of time you have to live in a state to qualify for residency, voting rules, state sales tax, property tax, the state's stand on the Real ID Act, and ease of use.

There are seven states with no state income tax: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming. New Hampshire and Tennessee don't tax most income, but they do tax dividends and income from investments. This lack of taxes makes these nine states popular with full-timers.

In 2008 full-time RVers who had residency in Tennessee were disenfranchised when the state removed them from the voter rolls. Three full-timers brought suit against the state because they were being treated differently than homeless people. The judge who heard the lawsuit said "homeless people are residents of the place they live, even if that place is a park bench, while plaintiffs have not clearly pointed to any place they live."

The Real ID Act dictates that you have to have a physical address to qualify for residency. Fortunately many states have opted out of this for now.

When we first hit the road I was tempted to set up residency in Texas because I am a native son. Texas is also home of the Escapees Club, one of the biggest RVing clubs geared towards full-timers. But Texas makes you get vehicle inspections each year you are in state and has a hefty property tax.

We choose South Dakota because it was easy to qualify for residency, the cost of registering your vehicles, property taxes are a one time deal, and there are several mail forwarding services in the state. We went with the now defunct Alternative Resources because they had the most comprehensive web site (I know, real scientific). The state was a little slow on getting voter registration and vehicle registration online, but it is pretty good now and what you can't do online it is not too difficult through snail mail. To get your driver's license you must list a physical address, but they allow you to use the hotel or RV park you are staying at. And SD has decided not to implement the Real ID Act, probably because they would loose thousands of "residents" if we were all to leave.

As with other decisions you make when becoming a full-timer, take your time and do your research. There is a good book called "Selecting an RV Home Base" from the editors of Trailer Life magazine that gives you the details on each state in one place. Before making your final choice, be sure to discuss it with potential mail forwarding services and review the state's official websites for up to date information.


Wherever you choose to “live” know that you will probably have lots of “neighbors” that you will may even bump into on the road.