A New Domicile State

map of united states from metal sheets

Where Are You Folks From? 

During our stay in Sisters, Oregon we began talking seriously about changing our State of Domicile. We are residents of California, well, we came to find out the actual term is ‘domiciled’ in California. 

We love the place, but as retirees living on Social Security, it’s a bit on the costly side for things like car insurance and registration, income tax, and, honestly, almost everything! Aside from that, we didn’t qualify as residents any longer as most of the time we’ve been “domiciling” somewhere else. Why hang onto the form when it no longer fits? All the costs but no benefit. That didn’t sound smart. What to do?   

Besides, we don’t have jobs or own property; those things can make moving much harder. Maybe it would be easy for us – we could just go somewhere else, plop down and start it up. 

California republic sign

How Do the RVers Do It?

Way back at the start of our new life, I learned that many people who live full-time in their RV domicile in either South Dakota, Texas or Florida. These three States have no income tax; they welcome people that don’t live in the State full time and don’t seem to care much if you don’t own property or have a job or even an actual abode.

There are, of course, other States that don’t have an income tax, but their other restrictions make getting residency much more complicated. For instance, we looked up what it takes to become residents of Oregon and just gave up – it was so time-consuming and restrictive! Besides, income tax isn’t so much of an issue if you don’t have much income.

Aside from all that, we were still taking steps to simplify life – that was a prime factor in our decision. Surely there must be options for us!

plaque of a house

You Want to Do What?

Florida, Texas, and South Dakota don’t have long wait times, you know, like live in the State for six months before you can start applying for residency. They also don’t have the requirements of owning property, having a street address, or signing up for utility accounts, etc.

Last, but not least, all three of them have mail-forwarding companies that give you a street address versus just a PO box. We discovered that this point was a critical aspect of the decision-making process. You must have a street address for banking, cell phone service, etc., and these States are set up to accommodate the nomadic traveler.

old-fashioned phone

It seems that most states are stuck with an old model of what people do and how they live: the laws encourage and in some ways, require jobs, property ownership, all the regular stuff. Even so, some states allow a lot more flexibility. With our lifestyle, flexibility was just what we needed.

Also, the cost for car registration is less expensive than California. Well, I guess most states would be cheaper than California! We had already started thinking about replacing the mighty (and mighty well used) Camry sedan, so registration was going to be a consideration for us. Getting a driver license in any state takes a bit of work, but in these States, the residency requirements are simpler. 

small statue of wise old man

Which is Best for Us?

Florida is way too far away, and we don’t have much interest in spending time there. Texas? No. Just no. That leaves South Dakota which was the closest: we have family next door in Colorado.

Also, you can get a driver’s license simply by proving you stayed in a local hotel or campground for one night. We like to think that every day – and night – is precious. But South Dakota is the only state willing to treat you like part of the family after a one-nighter. Are you kidding me? Let’s take the hint. We are moving to South Dakota!

Our next step was to get a few quotes on auto insurance. We learned we’d need to change providers. However, we got a couple of quotes that sounded unbelievably good – less than half our current bill. That was encouraging! I began researching the mail-forwarding services, how to register our car, and how to get a driver’s license. 

a beautiful window

Mail Forwarding Services

I found out there are three companies in South Dakota who offer this service. One of them stood out to me, MyDakotaaddress.com. In addition to giving you a street address, which they all do, this company will help you register your vehicles and more. They offer several options for forwarding your snail mail including once a month or just about every day – but you pay for what you get. 

For the once a month service, the cost is just over $100.00 a year. You also give a $50 deposit for the actual postage fees. Of course, there are forms to fill out proving identity, etc., but it looked like a painless process.

wooden feet

Registering Your Vehicle

I read a few articles about vehicle registration and found out that the biggest issue is getting all your ducks lined up in the same state: you know, like choosing one place to live. For us that was simple – just register the vehicle and get a driver license. For others, property ownership, part-year residency, and earned income can be big bugaboos come tax time. 

The great part about signing up with mydakotaadress.com is that you can fill out a Power of Attorney, and they will run your vehicle through the process. That means you don’t need to be in the state to get it done.

painting of buffalo

Obtaining a Driving License

Getting a driver license does require your presence in the state at a local DMV office. However, as we mentioned above the only residency requirement is handing over a one-night hotel or campground receipt.

Of course, there are quite a few additional documents you need to provide to prove your identity. After that, the only requirement is to visit the state for one night every five years to renew your license. Seems like a no-brainer, right! 

All that seemed doable. However, it would mean taking a trip to South Dakota! And after a few silent moments pondering that vision, we decided even that was a go. Now that we’ve shared our thinking, it’s time to end. We’ll let you know what happened soon. 

sign saying no regrets

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