When you give up your residence to travel full time, you need to declare a domicile state. For some it’s the state they’re from. You also need a mailing address. For some it’s the address of family members.
Since our grand adventure started with the notion that we wanted to move out of California, neither of those options worked for us. So we began a search. There are nine states that have no income taxes. Of those, the “big three” for full timers are Texas, Florida and South Dakota, in part because of their friendliness towards full timers. In other words, they make it easier than other states to establish domicile. Which is not the same legalese as residency, but that’s a whole other topic.
Knowing that we would have to visit our state of domicile from time to time, Florida was out. Texas was a consideration, but we went with South Dakota (SD).
The move started slowly. Getting our mailing address, getting our RV registered there, getting our bank accounts moved over. But we needed to complete the move and get our Jeep and RZR registration changed and get our Drivers Licenses. The law makes it clear that you only get ONE state of domicile. So in our first large window of time, we headed to South Dakota, which is where we are now and have been for the last ten days. We really like it here.
We arrived at our home address (Americas Mailbox) on the thirteenth. When you walk in to their offices you are greeted with “Welcome Home!” It was rather exciting.
We had scheduled some routine maintenance on our RV while at their campground, and set about exploring our new “home” of Rapid City and toasted our move over some beers at the famous Firehouse Brewing Co.
The next day was a little more somber as we gave up our California drivers licenses. Tom and I both spent all our adult lives in California. It was a little weird and we didn’t talk much during the ninety minute wait at the DMV office. However, the process was smooth as silk and we can’t get over how different the culture of helpfulness is verses CA DMV. In California, the DMV office handles both drivers licenses and vehicle registration. Here there are two separate offices to visit. So with shiny new SD Drivers Licenses in hand, we headed over to the Treasurer’s office to get our vehicles registered. That line was much (much) shorter and just as easy-breezy once we got to the counter. We left there feeling pretty happy with our choice of new state.
It felt a lot better to be driving around in the Jeep with South Dakota plates. Californians aren’t welcomed much outside their state borders. In fact, on the way here every time we told someone we were divorcing California they said “Good for you.” Not once did we hear “Why would you leave?”
In fact, I almost took offense when the guy handling our registrations called California “the land of the Fruits and Nuts” (an expression Tom had never heard before!). I mean, the state has a lot going for it. And most all of our relatives are there. And every state has its faults. But what could I say – because we left!
Overall, we are happy about our move. Everyone is SO friendly and helpful. The shop where we had the RV maintenance done was so awesome that we’re staying in the area a few more days than planned so they can do some body repair work for us as well.
So here we are, camped out in the Black Hills not far from TONS of touristy attractions. At $10 a night we can afford to stay put for four nights while taking the Jeep and exploring while waiting for our next shop appointment. Which is another matter all together.
We knew we would need servicing while on the road. But how do you get it done when you don’t know the area or the service places AND while it’s your full time residence? So Tom did his thorough online research and scheduled an appointment when we knew we could make it there. I think it was about a week in advance. We went day tripping in the Jeep while the RV was getting fluids checked and changed – not far from our campsite – AND finished right on schedule. It was MUCH less stressful than anticipated, and we now know Eddie’s Truck Service is our go-to place for any future maintenance or repair issues.
Spending the extra time in this area means we’ll have to make a fairly quick drive back to (ex)home for our next scheduled commitment, but having the extra time to really enjoy this area has been awesome. There is SO much to do in the Black Hills. More on that soon!
Peace & Love, Joy