Tuesday

Is the Full Time Life for Me PART 2

After considering all the factors in PART 1 of this article and any particulars to your situation here's a few MUSTS to think about in advance of your heading out to the world of FULL TIME RV'ing.
One of the most important considerations is selecting a mail forwarding service. This is a vitally important decision, because it determines where you're going to have to be "domiciled." Legally, it is much more than just where your vehicle must be registered and what state you'll get a drivers license in. It impacts everything that involves an address. This is a very serious legal issue, that if not properly addressed, could get you into legal trouble, as violating domicile law is a felony in most states! And it happens more often than you might think! To help prevent running afoul of the domicile laws, make sure that you use the same address for everything - mail, bill-paying, driver's licenses, insurance, income tax returns, voting, etc. In most states, use of multiple addresses for various purposes, either official or private, is specifically prohibited by domicile law. In many states, the use of a mail forwarding agency address does not constitute legal domicile. This is why it is important to take care in selecting a good mail forwarding service in a state whose laws you can live with. Many choose a state after learning about their low taxing policies or their absence of vehicle restrictions or low vehicle registration or insurance costs.
Here are some examples of state laws and regs that make certain states more attractive than others:
  • Oregon, easy to register a vehicle, it is cheap, and fairly easy to get a driver's license, and it is full-timer friendly. Oregon once required you to spend at least 30 days a year at the address where your vehicle is registered, although I'm not sure whether that requirement is still in force. That's not so bad, as Oregon isn't a bad place to spend time, and there are forwarding services that actually are associated with RV parks where you can stay the 30 days.
  • Idaho is friendly, and not hard to get a license from, and registration is cheap, but there are no mail forwarding services there that I know of, and it does have a state income tax. It does have the advantage of rarely calling you up for jury duty.
  • Nevada: I don't know about it's domicile laws, though Nevada is popular, as there are lots of forwarding services in the Las Vegas area (AND there is no emissions test requirement), and it has no income tax, but the state is really hard-line about driver's license tests, and it may take some doing to get licensed there if you don't qualify to have the tests waived.
  • Texas is a good state except that you may be called to jury duty, and if called, you have to go, regardless of where you are if you're in the U.S. You'll also face a vehicle safety inspection in Texas if you ever take your motor home there. Use of a forwarding agent for domicile is allowed in Texas.
  • California is ridiculously expensive both for registration and for insurance and has its famous pollution laws which require you to have at least semiannual pollution tests before you can renew your registration. That can be a problem, especially if your out of state when registration is due or if you don't pass the test. If you register in California, expect to be called to jury duty about every six months to a year. You can claim distance hardship only a few times. Also, domicile is an issue.
  • Arizona allows you to register in certain counties (La Paz, where Quartzite is located, is one) using a P.O. box rather than the usually required street address. Emissions testing is waived in all counties except where Phoenix and Tucson are located, and driver's licenses are issued for life! Arizona does have a state income tax, however, and I don't know about its domicile requirements. I don't know of any forwarding services in Arizona, except in the counties where emission inspections are required.
Once you've settled on a state, you'll need a mail forwarding service, which of course will become your residence for domicile purposes. Some have had family or friends do it but it's a lot of work when you're not set up to do it, and it's a big commitment to ask of someone. And family or friends may not be as reliable as you'd like — they have busy lives of their own and like to go on vacations too. So a forwarding service is usually the best bet. They can be as cheap as $100 a year.
Watch for PARTS 3 & 4 where you can learn about other important facets of the full time life like insurance, vehicle registration, RV features to think about and some final parting tips.
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