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Altonymous

What order should we do things in?

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First post here and looking for advice.. what a way to introduce myself... :(

 

I'm looking for a bit of advice on how I should proceed moving into this lifestyle. My wife and I have been doing a lot of research, and we're in that stage where we feel like we're getting down to the wire and have so many directions we could go but aren't sure which order to tackle them in.

 

So let me give you a bit of history and we'll go from there.

 

My wife and I are in our mid 30s. We have 4 children; Boy-11, Boy-9, Boy-6, Girl-4. We will have been married for 15 years this October. I am a Software Architect for a small startup based out of San Francisco, CA making us a single-income family. Fortunately, this position allows me to work remotely full-time, so we decided to sell our house in North Carolina, all our vehicles, and start fresh. Our house should close on June 17th. That's as far as we've gotten. We are currently listing our vehicles on craigslist and considering trading some in to avoid the craigslist hassle. However, once we have our vehicles sold we are unsure what steps to take next.

 

The list of major items we have to sort out the order for are:

 

  • Decide Domicile Location
  • ​Establish Domicile
  • Purchase RV
  • Purchase Trailer & Toad

 

We have narrowed our domicile down to the common 3. FL, TX, SD. However, as we research and read forums there is a lot of comments that pertain to pros/cons for each state. We are aware of the most common ones, but some we aren't sure how they might apply to us? So I'll list out some questions in bullet points to hopefully help with clarity.

 

  • My company provides health insurance (I have to pay for family but it's subsidized by them for me at 100%). I'm not sure if this means that we shouldn't be concerned about health coverage or if we should be extremely concerned?
  • Is NC is a tax aggressive state?
    • Will cause issues for us if we try and establish domicile somewhere else after living there for so long?
    • Will the order in which we do things make a difference in how aggressive they behave?
    • If we wait to purchase an RV & Toad until after we established domicile will that cause more issues?
    • If I change domicile midway through the year will NC try and collect state taxes on me for the entire year instead of just the time I was registered as a resident there?
  • We are currently staying at my dad's old home in Palmetto, FL, but setup a PO Box instead of using his home address. Will that be an issue when trying to establish domicile?

 

These are just some of the major questions we consider road blocks on moving forward with our plan to start the full-time lifestyle. I would greatly appreciate any advice on how to order tackling these items and why you would suggest that order.

 

Thanks in advance!

Edited by Altonymous

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First of all, welcome to the Escapee forums! We are thrilled to have you join us here and we will do all that we can to help out. I'll try to offer some thoughts on your questions, but I'm thinking that you probably could gain a lot by selecting a book or two either from Amazon or possibly your public library and doing some reading of books on the fulltime lifestyle. I think that doing so would help you a lot and answer some of the questions you have now, as well as bringing up some points that you may not have thought of.

 

My company provides health insurance (I have to pay for family but it's subsidized by them for me at 100%). I'm not sure if this means that we shouldn't be concerned about health coverage or if we should be extremely concerned?

The first thing to consider in making a choice of state for domicile is your health insurance. Before you do anything else, verify that changing your state of domicile will not impact your coverages as there are companies that are not licensed to sell insurance in all states and technically, you will be buying insurance in your state of domicile.

 

Is NC is a tax aggressive state?

The first question you need to ask on this is whether or not NC will accept your mail service as a legal address for use in getting a driver's license, and for registering and insuring your vehicles. If they do not, it will be very difficult for you to use it as a domicile state, unless you buy or rent property there to gain an address. Most states do not accept mail service addresses an many require you to produce a utility or tax bill that uses the address you claim as your home address.

 

There is a very good reason that TX, SD, and FL are the most popular states for fulltimer RVing domiciles. None of them require you to be physically present in the state for a period in order to qualify as a resident, none of them have any state income tax, and all have reasonable costs for registering vehicles and all 3 accept an address from a mail forwarding service in their state as your legal address for all purposes. There are many things that need to be considered in selecting a state of domicile and I strongly suggest that you read this article which has been published by Escapee's Magazine on the subject of selecting a domicile as I think that it may help you to understand what is involved.

 

Will cause issues for us if we try and establish domicile somewhere else after living there for so long?

No matter where you use for your domicile, you will be required to meet the legal issues of each state where you spend time. In general, you will not have problems from states asking you to move vehicle registrations to their state as long as you spend no more than a few months in each one at a visit. Most states will allow you to be considers as visiting and not a resident for between 3 and 6 months, so long as you do not accept permanent employment in that state.

 

  • Will the order in which we do things make a difference in how aggressive they behave?
  • If we wait to purchase an RV & Toad until after we established domicile will that cause more issues?

In general, it is better to arrange your state of domicile before you purchase because you must have an address somewhere in order to register, insure and license the vehicles and most of us choose a state with relatively lot costs of doing that. But you can't do any of those things until you have an address in that state to use. You can't just pick any state and declare that to be your domicile. You must have an address to claim as your "home." If you do not establish an address in the state you wish to use as domicile, you won't be able to register your vehicles there and will need to "move" to that state once you have your address.

 

We are currently staying at my dad's old home in Palmetto, FL, but setup a PO Box instead of using his home address. Will that be an issue when trying to establish domicile?

There is no reason why that would be any problem as states generally don't care where you move to them from. If you dad is currently in FL, I wonder why you wish to use NC as your state of domicile? Have you considered joining the Escapees RV Club for the support they give to full-time RV folks? By doing so you can establish mail forwarding via their service and you have the option of establishing your domicile address in any of the three most popular states with your mail staying with the same service.

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For you domicile may be a bit harder to change than for most of us since you will continue to work at the same company meaning you'll still have to pay state income tax. I would ask the DMV if there is some way to return driver's licenses/vehicle plates to document having left. You will need to file a change of address with the state and federal tax people which will help.

 

As to company provided health insurance, make sure you can get care anywhere. Most HMOs don't allow that. Many PPOs do.

 

You did not ask about RVs but, with four kids, I highly recommend a bunkhouse version. Giving each kid his/her own bed, with privacy curtain, and allowing them to decorate the walls in their space goes a long way to making the transition to a small space easier for them. And yours are at the ages when a fort/tree house/play house will appeal to them.

 

Linda Sand

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If you dad is currently in FL, I wonder why you wish to use NC as your state of domicile?

 

I don't think he is...at least, that wasn't my impression from what I read. His current domicile is NC and he has questions about leaving the state to establish domicile in another state.

 

I would agree with Kirk that one of the first things to do would be to contact your employer to check on the health insurance and see if you'll be covered in SD, TX, or FL.

 

When you say you've set up a PO box in FL, do you mean an actual PO box with the USPS? Or are you using a mail forwarding service? If the former, then, yes, that will be a problem. While the USPS does have a premium forwarding service, it is only good to one address, not multiple as you travel around the U.S., and is good for only 1 year. Plus it's very expensive (last time I looked, it was around $15 per mailing, and they mail once a week).

 

Instead, use the services of a mail forwarding company. There are several in FL, including that offered by the Escapees (they also have mail forwarding in SD and, of course, TX).

 

As for filing income tax forms in NC, once you make the switch in domiciles, you'll file a "partial" year final income tax form in NC. Check with NC...they may have a special form you'll need to use to accomplish this.

Edited by LindaH

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Kirk,

 

I think you misunderstood me a bit. We don't want to domicile in NC. Currently we are residents of NC... We are worried by changing out of the state they will hassle us...

 

 

sandsys,

 

The company I work for is based out of CA. I have been living in NC and paying NC state income tax. I don't have to pay CA taxes. It is my understanding that state income tax is based on where you live not where your company is based. So what I'm trying to determine is if NC will hassle me about it when I setup FL, TX, or SD as my domicile and try to continue taxing me even though I've left the state. I've heard some states can be aggressive and won't acknowledge RVs setting up domicile in another state and continue to collect tax until you setup full residence.

 

 

LindaH,

 

We setup the PO Box to avoid any confusion of having an actual mailing address... We don't want to setup a mail service until we have our domicile chosen. So the PO Box was setup as a temporary forwarding place from our NC home. This way the mail wouldn't get mixed up with my dad's and there wouldn't be people asking if we had moved to FL.

 

 

 

All,

 

Hope this clarifies some things! Thanks so much for your responses! We are hoping to determine our domicile state soon so we can get the ball rolling. The big question of setting domicile before RV purchase was answered by Kirk so now we know setting up domicile is the first step. Hopefully we can get some of these other questions answered and figure out which state would be best for us.

Edited by Altonymous

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sandsys,

 

Also in regards to the RV... We already have plans around that and are pretty confident with where we want to start. We've been researching that aspect for months. Thanks for the feedback though!

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Thought of another question...

 

Do we need to wait for our house to sell to establish domicile in another state? If we decide TX is the state for us but still have the house do we need to wait for closing?

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Thought of another question...

 

Do we need to wait for our house to sell to establish domicile in another state? If we decide TX is the state for us but still have the house do we need to wait for closing?

 

Owning a home is not, all by itself, indicative of domicile. Think about all the snowbirds who own homes in two states...they have two residents, but only one domicile.

 

So, no, you would not have to wait until your house sold to establish domicile in another state. One caveat to this, though: If you were to remain living in your house (or if you continued to remain in NC), then trying to establish a domicile in another state would be problematic. However, that doesn't seem to be your case since, as I understand it, you are currently in Florida and don't plan on going back to NC to live in your house.

 

A story of our working years: We were living in Spokane, WA and moved to Birmingham, AL because of a job transfer. We still owned the house in Spokane, although it was up for sale, yet we established domicile in AL...got driver's licenses, registered our vehicles, registered to vote, changed our auto insurance to AL, etc. The same story when we moved from AL to IL...we still owned the home in AL, but did everything we needed to do to establish domicile in IL.

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LindaH,

 

Thanks a bunch for your response.

 

 

All,

 

We have started a spreadsheet to rank the Top 3 states on the different categories. They are coming out pretty even so far. Assuming things continue to be even we'll add weight to each of the categories. (Can you tell I'm an engineer?)

 

One thing that is confusing for us right now is how we go about getting the proper driver license endorsement in TX. We don't have an RV and are pretty sure we want a the Class A endorsement. How do I go about getting endorsed without a vehicle to take the test with?

Edited by Altonymous

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I would suggest that you get your address in whatever state you choose to make your domicile and that way you will have a place to move to as you leave NC. Domicile is not necessarily the place where you own real estate but it is the place that you have your permanent home. If you continue to live in NC then you could have problems from keeping an RV or vehicle which had license plates from another state, if you stay too long with them but if you are already on your way to moving it should not be any problem at all and it will simplify the process. You can start to move your address for mail purposes as soon as you are established with a mail service. I think that most of us plan to get the address about 3 months ahead so that you know everything is going there before you actually leave. That may also provide the needed time for the house to sell.

 

Getting the driver's license is not difficult in TX or most any other state. If you are thinking of the endorsement for an RV that is more than 26,000# that won't need to be done until after you own the RV and it is not connected to getting that RV registered in TX. Most folks just get the RV and drive it enough to get used to it, then go in and see about testing for the larger vehicle. You don't even need to be in TX yet when you buy the RV to register it there. If you choose to move to Livingston, the folks at Polk County are very helpful and calling them will get you all of the information that you may need.

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From everything we've read TX makes it VERY hard to get a driver license. We are in FL right now and we have 3 vehicles. One we plan to put in storage, the other two we plan to sell. Then we planned to buy a new one to be our toad. From what we've read we have to take both vehicles to TX to get inspected and registered just to get a driver license. I was planning on flying in to take the driver license test, however, because we have to get both vehicles inspected and registered to get a driver license I would have to...

 

Drive one vehicle in get it inspected and registered. Store it and fly back or drive it back. Then drive the other vehicle to TX get it inspected and registered then I could get my regular license. Then drive back to FL... Then get and RV, drive it to TX get it inspected and registered then go back to get my endorsement.

 

That really doesn't sound easy...

Edited by Altonymous

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From everything we've read TX makes it VERY hard to get a driver license. We are in FL right now and we have 3 vehicles. One we plan to put in storage, the other two we plan to sell. Then we planned to buy a new one to be our toad. From what we've read we have to take both vehicles to TX to get inspected and registered just to get a driver license. I was planning on flying in to take the driver license test, however, because we have to get both vehicles inspected and registered to get a driver license I would have to...

May I ask where you are getting this information? I have held a TX driver's license for a long time and never in that time have I been asked about my motor vehicles or where they happen to be registered. I got my first TX license well before I move any of my vehicle registrations to TX. There is no such requirement. I might point out to you that the driving license people have no way to know what vehicles you own, or even if you have one. That is a completely different issue. If you don't want to use TX as your domicile, then there are other options but it looks as though you are making a very simple thing much more difficult than is needed. You will be required to have a TX address for your license but that is the only thing that I have ever been asked for.

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Kirk,

 

Sure! Here's a couple links that have the details. There are plenty more that state the same thing, but I figured these were pretty valid sources.

 

 

I don't feel I'm making a simple thing more complicated. I feel like I'm reading the law as it's written. It very clearly states on the government web site that you are required to present vehicle registration or proof you don't own vehicles before obtaining a driver license. In fact I called this morning and talked to a very nice lady at the DMV for Livingston and she confirmed that you must have the vehicle inspected and registered before you can obtain a TX driver license.

 

It's in black and white.

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One thing that is confusing for us right now is how we go about getting the proper driver license endorsement in TX. We don't have an RV and are pretty sure we want a the Class A endorsement.

 

You're planning on getting a Class A, right?

 

If that's the case, the Texas driver's license you will need...assuming the GVWR of your motorhome is 26,001# or greater and your toad weighs less than 10,000#...would be a non-CDL Class B, not an A. The only time you'd need a non-CDL Class A driver's license with a motorhome is if what you were towing weighed more than 10,000#.

 

I'm wondering, though, why you don't just go ahead and make Florida your domicile since you are already there and it sounds like you're likely to be there for awhile...??? It would certainly avoid the logistical problem of trying to get your vehicles inspected and get driver's licenses in Texas.

Edited by LindaH

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You're planning on getting a Class A, right?

 

If that's the case, the Texas driver's license you will need...assuming the GVWR of your motorhome is 26,001# or greater and your toad weighs less than 10,000#...would be a non-CDL Class B, not an A. The only time you'd need a non-CDL Class A driver's license with a motorhome is if what you were towing weighed more than 10,000#.

 

I'm wondering, though, why you don't just go ahead and make Florida your domicile since you are already there and it sounds like you're likely to be there for awhile...??? It would certainly avoid the logistical problem of trying to get your vehicles inspected and get driver's licenses in Texas.

 

As for our endorsement we will be towing near the 10k lb capacity, I'd rather have the Class A and be safe. We are also looking at vehicles that tow 10k lbs From talking with the lady at the DMV it sounds like it's really no issue which one we get. Test is pretty much the same.

 

As for why we didn't pick FL there are multiple reasons.. home schooling, property taxes, vehicle inspections and renewals after the initial fiasco. We have settled on TX now and the lady I mentioned we talked to yesterday helped us out with how to go about it legally without as much of a hassle. In essence she said buy the RV with our TX address, continue to use our NC license and when we are ready head to TX. The big factor being that the timeline in which we do things is more of a gray area so as long as we don't take a year to get there we should be fine. That's A'OK with us. So we sent our mail service paperwork off yesterday! One step closer

 

P.S. - In case you are curious how we did it here's the basic spreadsheet where we gave states points in each category...

 

https://www.dropbox.com/s/5srjydny0vi0qlw/Screenshot%202015-05-29%2010.51.14.png?dl=0

Edited by Altonymous

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