When transitioning to this mobile lifestyle, we discovered several issues pretty early on. Despite being on the move, we still needed to “belong” somewhere and have a home base for things like insurance, licenses, registration and mail. And a huge new expense for us was private paying our health insurance, which let me tell you is seriously painful in New York. We needed to look for a better option and wanted to situate ourselves in a state with lower income tax, if possible.
So, we researched what other fulltime RVers did and learned that a lot of RVers change their domicile to somewhere which is friendlier to full timers. The top 3 choices we discovered were: Florida, Texas and South Dakota as they have no income tax. But then the obvious question is how can you become a resident of a state without owning property or having an address?
Enter Escapees RV Club which solves that problem. Escapees is a huge network for RVers and offers so many great services like mail forwarding, discounted rates at hundreds of RV campgrounds across the country, and roadside assistance among others and a yearly membership is only $39.95 a year.
Their mail service is offered in Texas, Florida and South Dakota. By adding the Escapees mail service (different options available, more on that below), Escapees will provide you with a legal address in the state you choose and will handle receiving and forwarding all of your mail. If you choose Florida or South Dakota you will have two addresses, one for your legal domicile (license, insurance, taxes etc.) and a separate mailing address in Texas where Escapees processes all the mail. Your residential address in Florida will be Sumter Oaks RV Park and for South Dakota it will be an Escapees satellite center.
Now that we discovered it was possible, we began the following process and said goodbye to New York and became Floridians:
Step 1: Research which of the 3 States is best for you
The most important consideration for us was the ability to get a good nationwide health insurance plan. After researching on our own, talking to several health insurance agents and comparing the options to what we would have to pay to stay on COBRA in NY...the only option was Florida. Florida is the only state that really offers a plan with good nationwide coverage. It’s through Florida Blue Cross Blue Shield which has a bunch of different PPO plan options depending on your circumstances and budget. We are very happy with the plan and coverage that we found and the best news…..is that it is less than half of what we were paying on COBRA=Happy Dance!!
Step 3: Purchase Car/RV Insurance policies in new state
This was a little unexpected but when we switched the Jeep, RV and our Umbrella policy to Florida we actually ended up paying slightly more than what we were paying in NY. However, the savings for health insurance more than makes up for this.
*Print the insurance cards to bring with you to the tax collector/DMV
Step 4: Complete paperwork for transferring licenses, title, and registration and gather required documents, passports, IDs
For your license you will need:
For your Title/Registration you will need:
For more info on Sumter County requirements, click here.
Step 5: Go to the Tax Collector/DMV to transfer licenses, title and registration
This is going to take a while, so be prepared to spend a couple hours at the office. However, our only experience with DMVs is in New York, which anyone familiar with can attest is a unique form of cruel and unusual punishment, so we were delighted with the quiet and friendly experience in Sumter County.
Step 6: If you need to get health insurance, purchase a new policy
We got several proposals of different plan options and spoke to a few insurance agents before picking our new health insurance plan. I found the quotes and different plan options to be slightly overwhelming, so my advice is definitely speak to agents, don’t just research online and purchase through a website...health insurance is important, you don’t want to end up with a bad plan!
Step 7: Change your address and mailing address on bank accounts, credit cards and with the United States Postal Service
Most of this can be done online and is a fairly simple and quick process.
Before starting this process, I was honestly a little overwhelmed by it but breaking it down and just dealing with one step at a time made it much more manageable and it ended up being a relatively quick process with only one major hiccup.
It can be a frustrating and confusing process. Let us know if you have any questions.
By: Ashley Quaimbao
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