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Domicile is very confusing to me

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We sold our home & have been full timing for the last four months. I know it can't be this hard but the more I read about It, the more confusing it becomes. First we were thinking about Texas but then read about inspections of vehicles & having to return there to do it, Florida is out. We have been thinking about South Dakota but driving in the snow scares me, we are fair weather people from California & the thought of driving in the snow & cold & the possibility that we might get snowed in is another scary thought. I know Livingston Texas is the main one so do we have to go there for any reason to find out if we need to do anything special or if we need help knowing what to do when we get to South Dakota & I guess the place is in Sioux Falls or is there other towns involved with escapees? This is all so new to us & I know we have to get this done before our registration is due on the MH & Jeep. Also we will need to find an insurance company to insure the Jeep. We already have insurance on the MH, we have Medicare with a supplement from Blue Cross/Blue shield of California federal so I just need to contact them & see if they have a Blue cross of South Dakota, maybe?? since California will no longer be our home state. Do we have to move our Banking too or can that stay in California, which I hope that would be ok. For now we are keeping our Doctors in California  until we find a place we might want to settle down, maybe find a place to hang out that is not too cold & summer a place not too hot if that is possible. What  do other full timers do with Medical issues where you have to see your Doctor something like 3 times a year. I hate to have to try to see 3 different doctors and have to explain why I am there to see him or her. I don't mind going back where our home was for such a long time & see my regular doctor who knows my medical history. How do FT RVERS handle this? So bottom  line I guess is what are the differences between Texas & South Dakota? Is one better over the other one, or do they both have the same to offer? I guess I just need to hear it in lets say "stupid Language" that I can really understand. I always tell my doctor give it to me In simple language, non of this medical terminology that I can't understand & that is what I guess I need about Domicile. Does any of this make sense? Thanks, I appreciate any advice you can give me.

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So many questions and all of them have been discussed numerous times in the forums. A little reading and the search box will also find answers.

But since research has not been done, some statements.

Texas vehicle inspection.  Yes it needs to be done after the initial check when you return to Texas, even if not on time.

South Dakota is where you go to get registered and residence, not when the weather is bad.  You not picking a place to live but a place for legal residence.

The are other mail services beside Escapees.  I use My Home Address in Emery SD.  They each have their features and all do the job.

The first consideration to selecting a residence state is medical coverage.  Idiosyncrasies van make SD or Texas better for individuals.  No set rule as we all are different in our medical needs.

Currently we re residents of SD and spend the winters in Texas.  We arrive in late October and have the first round to doctor visits.  The second round is schedules in March before we leave. We have gotten our doctors to deal with twice a year but maybe you have something special.  There was a time when the doctor wanted a liver check during the summer, a visit to a medical clinic did that.  Likewise, an eye pressure test was easily done at a local eye doctor.

In the beginning, we would return to Maryland to see the doctors.  After a couple of years, we got new doctors in Texas because we hated going back to Maryland and we could get our double visits in Texas.

You are going to determine your residence for vehicle registrations and that will affect vehicle insurance.  Rate and coverage vary by state.

Interstate banking has made it easy to have accounts anywhere.  We  have been using a credit union in Michigan since 1971 and have never been a resident of Michigan.  We find the credit union easier to deal with than a bank.

Residence while a full-timer is one thing.  Final destinations after leaving the road is another.  Address the one you are dealing with now.

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3 hours ago, needHelp2RV2 said:

First we were thinking about Texas but then read about inspections of vehicles & having to return there to do it,

You do not have to return to Texas each year just for the inspection.  There is a form to fill out that is available online that will tell the state you are out of state...someone here can give you the link.

3 hours ago, needHelp2RV2 said:

We have been thinking about South Dakota but driving in the snow scares me, we are fair weather people from California & the thought of driving in the snow & cold & the possibility that we might get snowed in is another scary thought.

You do not have to be in South Dakota during the winter!  Vehicle registration can be done by mail with the help of your mail forwarding service.  It used to be that you then had 90 days to make it to the state to get your driver's licenses, although this may have changed since we domiciled in SD.  Driver's license renewals can be done up to 180 days prior to the renewal date or you can request an extension.  That way, both of you can go to SD during the spring/summer/fall to renew licenses.

 

3 hours ago, needHelp2RV2 said:

I know Livingston Texas is the main one so do we have to go there for any reason to find out if we need to do anything special or if we need help knowing what to do when we get to South Dakota & I guess the place is in Sioux Falls or is there other towns involved with escapees?

 Download the Escapees brochure, "How To Become A Real Texan." https://www.escapees.com/images/pdfs/texan.pdf

While this is written specifically for Texas, the first part about what domicile is will be applicable to any state.

Here's the Escapees page about domiciling in TX using the Escapees mail service: https://escapees.com/support/mail-service/get-started?id=199

The Escapees mail service in South Dakota is not in Sioux Falls, it's in Box Elder (near Rapid City).  Here's the Escapees page about domiciling in SD using the Escapees mail service: https://escapees.com/support/mail-service/get-started?id=221

There are lots of other, non-Escapees related, mail services in SD, too

3 hours ago, needHelp2RV2 said:

Also we will need to find an insurance company to insure the Jeep. We already have insurance on the MH, we have Medicare with a supplement from Blue Cross/Blue shield of California federal so I just need to contact them & see if they have a Blue cross of South Dakota, maybe??

I'd start by contacting the insurance company that is insuring your motorhome.  You often can get a multiple-vehicle discount.  (I assume you have fulltimers insurance on the motorhome, right?)

As for medicare, you can go to the Medicare website and find out which Medicare Supplements are available for whatever state you choose as a domicile.  https://www.medicare.gov/

3 hours ago, needHelp2RV2 said:

Do we have to move our Banking too or can that stay in California, which I hope that would be ok.

It depends.  If you are currently banking with a local, California-only bank, I'd change to a national bank.  If you are already banking with a national bank, there's really no need to change banks...just change your address.

3 hours ago, needHelp2RV2 said:

For now we are keeping our Doctors in California  until we find a place we might want to settle down, maybe find a place to hang out that is not too cold & summer a place not too hot if that is possible. What  do other full timers do with Medical issues where you have to see your Doctor something like 3 times a year. I hate to have to try to see 3 different doctors and have to explain why I am there to see him or her. I don't mind going back where our home was for such a long time & see my regular doctor who knows my medical history. How do FT RVERS handle this?

Lots of people have doctors in the area where they spend the winter (or summer).  If you have to see your doctor 3 times a year, that will limit your traveling.  However, if the only reason you have to see him or her that often is to have lab tests run, perhaps you can arrange with your doctor to have lab tests done elsewhere and the results sent to him/her. 

I'll let others get into more detail about this issue since, at least presently, we only see our doctors once a year for our annual wellness exam.

3 hours ago, needHelp2RV2 said:

 So bottom  line I guess is what are the differences between Texas & South Dakota? Is one better over the other one, or do they both have the same to offer?

They are similar in some respects; neither has a state income tax; licensing fees are reasonable; you can use a mail forwarding service for establishing domicile.

There are some differences, however, as there is in any state.  You will need to do some of your own research to determine which better fits your needs.

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4 hours ago, needHelp2RV2 said:

we have Medicare with a supplement from Blue Cross/Blue shield of California federal so I just need to contact them & see if they have a Blue cross of South Dakota, maybe?? since California will no longer be our home state.

It sounds like you are a retired federal employee participating in the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program (FEHB). The state specific plans, such as the California one which appears to be an HMO, may not be very good while travelling depending on their in network and out of network policies. The fee for service plans offered by Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Mail Handlers and others are nationwide plans and may be a better fit depending on your needs and travel plans. Here is a link to charts that list the FEHB plans and costs. It does not appear that Blue Cross/Blue Shield offers a plan similar to those in California in South Dakota.

Edited by trailertraveler

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You should have done research and set up your domicile and mail forwarding service 6 months ago.
If you Jeep is insured using your old address and a renewal is sent out. It will go back to them and the Jeep insurance will be canceled.

Don't ask me how I know that. If the MH has Full time insurance. Hope your not using the sold house address for the garaging of it.

Why didn't you change the Jeep insurance to the same company as the MH?

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Is there a reason you are throwing out Florida as a possibility?  We are going to spend 3 to 4 winter months down here so it was a no-brainer for us, but there are other advantages also.  Registrations are cheap, no personal income tax, generally good medical available.  Probably the only negative is vehicle insurance runs a little more than some states, but probably not more than California.

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Other posters have given you good advice. My 2 cents is that you can call any of the mail forwarding services in SD and ask questions. They are all friendly and helpful. We have also used My Home Address in Emery, for 11 years. They are great. We registered our vehicles in SD by mail 11 years ago when we were in CA. We didn't go to get our driver's license for a year. Once you have your driver's license you don't have to return for 10 years, if you have no violations. I renewed both our driver's license by email this year. Also, once you have your license, if you don't want to renew online or by mail, you can call and get an extension until the weather is better. I got an extension for my hubby once, just by calling DPS in Pierre. 

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Welcome to the Escapee forums and RV Club!

8 hours ago, needHelp2RV2 said:

We sold our home & have been full timing for the last four months.

Welcome to the Escapee forums and RV Club!

 Does this mean that you are living in the RV while staying in the area of your former home? What are you doing for mail service and legal address now? I would assume that you wish to change your state of domicile as you begin to travel. Here are some thoughts which may be helpful. The first is that you need to have a better understanding of what domicile is and what determines it. I suggest that you start by reading this article on domicile from a previous Escapees Magazine. I would also suggest that you then read this article on those changes written by an attorney Escapee Member and a member of the Escapees management. .To help you in making sure that you take the proper steps, this is a list of what much be done to change your domicile

Edited by Kirk Wood

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I'm going to try not to worry about you but it will be hard. California is probably the hardest state to leave in terms of domicile--they want their taxes and fees. So, if you truly want to leave California you have to move as many things as possible and then you need to stay out of the state as much as possible. If they think you are moving just to avoid paying taxes and fees they might well come after you and you will not like the result of that.

If you want to continue having California as your domicile you can certainly do that. You just need to have an address you can use for all legal things.

Linda Sand

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Wow now you have me worried about making another state our Domicille state. We are not trying to get out of paying California taxes & fees. We have worked hard all of our lives and after retirement we just wanted to enjoy life by seeing this beautiful country. We don't like  what is happening in California  these days and the house was getting to much for us to handle so we decided to sell it and live in our motorhome while seeing everything we have wanted to see.  We sold almost everything but still have a few items we did not want to part with so my sister is letting us store some items & also when we do a short visit we pick up our mail from her, enjoy her company & then head on to the next adventure. We have never traveled before so it is our time to do it while we are able to. Until we find somewhere that we feel we are comfortable  & has the things we need  then maybe we will settle down if we really have to. I have to see my doctor about every 4-5 months so we will have to come back to California for a few days, other than that we don't want to live in California. Is it wrong that we want to enjoy what is left of our life & not have to be tied to one spot of the country? We never knew that it would be so hard to become a full timer RVer & have worry, be afraid that we are or will do something wrong that the government  thinks is illegal. All we want to do is  travel seeing the country & have a place to have our mail sent to where we will have access to it & when I read about escapee I thought I found the answer we were looking for but now maybe its not. This is  so confusing but it seems like there are thousands full timers on the road & none of them seem like they are nervous or worried that the government are thinking that they are trying to  get out of  paying what  they owe the government. Maybe we made the biggest mistake of our life thinking we could just travel & be happy  & enjoy life without having to worry about the upkeep & time consuming a house can be on a person. I never thought it would be this hard to live house-free & live with your home on wheels. Thank you for opening my eyes to  the problems I might be experiencing if we try to leave California. We are not trying to do anything illegal,  all we want to do is see this beautiful country  & enjoy all the beauty that is really out there before  we die..

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People move all the time from one state to another, no big deal. You are over worrying this change.

You can do what you want with no legal worries at all. You just need to do them and you are a little behind the 8 ball in the order you are doing things. I assume you use your sister's address on all  your legal documents(drivers license, registration etc). No one says you have to change domicile to another state. You can stay a Californian.

What is your reason for changing domicile? Most of us change for a reason. If you are happy in CA keep your domicile there.

If you want to change domicile then all you need to do is establish a mail address in whatever state you decide on, start moving your mail to the mail service. At some point, fairly soon you need to visit the state you want to be your domicile and get your DL, voters reg, vehicles registered etc. The goal is to cut your ties with your previous state. Going back for medical or a visit is fine just don't stay there for any length of time(months).

Most people concern themselves about domicile about 6 months before they become fulltimers and do all the research. You just are playing catch up.

When you change domicile you will need to get new policies on the MH and toad. Your current insurance company may or may not have policies in your domicile state or for whatever reason be high priced. You are better going through a broker to find the best pricing on a policy. We just changed our domicile to TX, took 1/2 a day, and our auto insurance company(with them since 1992) wanted a ridiculous price, we contacted another and they were 1/4 of the price. I guess our original did not want to write policies in TX so they jacked the price up.

 

 

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You don't have to worry about snow in south Dakota. They have very good road crews. Its the cold that will take some getting use to. You will be traveling anyway. Just go there in the summer. Nothing says you have to go to South Dakota in the winter.

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6 hours ago, needHelp2RV2 said:

Maybe we made the biggest mistake of our life thinking we could just travel & be happy  & enjoy life without having to worry about the upkeep & time consuming a house can be on a person.

I do not believe that you made any serious mistakes, but sent more information in my reply to your PM.

1 hour ago, SWharton said:

If you want to change domicile then all you need to do is establish a mail address in whatever state you decide on, start moving your mail to the mail service.

While it isn't extremely difficult, it is hardly this simple either. Should your domicile ever be challenged there are additional things which must be done, but for one with no plans to return to the previous state, none of that is particularly difficult either, just a little more involved. 

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6 hours ago, needHelp2RV2 said:

Wow now you have me worried about making another state our Domicille state..... CUT...... We don't like  what is happening in California  these days.......CUT..... my sister is letting us store some items & also when we do a short visit we pick up our mail from her.......CUT...... I have to see my doctor about every 4-5 months so we will have to come back to California for a few days, other than that we don't want to live in California. Is it wrong that we want to enjoy what is left of our life & not have to be tied to one spot of the country?

When we switched to full timing (first time) our situation was similar, just not in California.  You may be overthinking this whole thing.

Our oldest son lived within 10 miles of our sold residence.  We used his address for everything, registrations, driver's license, banking, filing income tax, the whole ball of wax, just like we were actually living there.  My DW had a couple Doctors that she didn't want to give up plus we knew we would return to our old "home" area for visits every summer anyway.  It worked out well because our son would monitor our mail and simply forward anything he thought was important.  Actually with on-line banking and paperless billing we rarely get important mail anyway.  

So by using your sister's address as your address (if she is agreeable) it certainly makes things simple.  

On the other hand if due to income tax purposes, or other strong reasons you absolutely feel you need to "move" to another state then just pick one of the several that are favorable to full time RVers and start the process.   You can still come back to California whenever you want for visits or to see doctors.  I'm pretty sure the authorities don't have folks running around with surveillance equipment trying to see how long you are staying in the State.  

It sounds to me that for right now you guys should just remain California residents and not worry about it.  Start enjoying this life style!

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Thank you for the advice. I think I am just a worry wart that does over think things especially when I don't understand it. We just want to travel, there is so much beauty to see & we just want to take it all in. Again thanks for the advice & we really do want to enjoy it. Safe travels.

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Your only issue is cutting ties with California.  You can't have a domicile in another state and still have things in California, such as your driver's license, registrations, etc. and an address.  Pick your state and change everything to it.  It really is easy to do. Yes, you are over-worrying. Thousands and thousands of full-timers have done this. You're not the first.

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Why don't you make an appointment with Loring and Associates(well versed in domicile issues) and talk to them. That should put your mind at rest. We did that just to cross the "t" when we were in Livingston but they do phone consults also.

Essentially all we did was what I mentioned previously. Change all our addresses to our PMB, got DL and registered vehicles, new insurance. We did not need to implement the intent to domicile document since we had history in TX. We would have signed the intent if needed.

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5 hours ago, 2gypsies said:

Your only issue is cutting ties with California.  You can't have a domicile in another state and still have things in California, such as your driver's license, registrations, etc. and an address.  Pick your state and change everything to it.  It really is easy to do. Yes, you are over-worrying. Thousands and thousands of full-timers have done this. You're not the first.

We moved everything except our doctors. We went back every summer to do annual physicals. You don't have to move everything--just all the legal stuff like licenses and taxes for which you do need an address in your new domicile state. It also helps to join organizations in your new state like a church, service club, etc. as additional proof that you moved although we didn't do any of that since our state was not as aggressive as California is about chasing down people who only sort of moved. It also helps to file a partial year income tax with the first part being in your old state and the second part being in your new state--moving at year end is not as clear.

Again, you don't have to change your domicile at all since you have a legitimate California address available to you. But, if you do change your domicile then park at your daughter's house for several months you increase the likelyhood of California questioning whether or not you actually left. Neighbors and patrolling cops tend to notice out-of-state license plates.

Linda Sand

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3 hours ago, sandsys said:

We moved everything except our doctors. We went back every summer to do annual physicals. You don't have to move everything--just all the legal stuff like licenses and taxes for which you do need an address in your new domicile state.

That’s good to know. 

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On 1/31/2018 at 3:05 AM, needHelp2RV2 said:

We sold our home & have been full timing for the last four months . . . We have been thinking about South Dakota but driving in the snow scares me, we are fair weather people from California & the thought of driving in the snow & cold & the possibility that we might get snowed in is another scary thought..

Your "driving in snow" comment made me think that you believe as a full timer you actually have to live in your new domicile state. You thought if you selected SD,  then you would have to hang around SD a lot -- like in Winter.

You don't.

I would guess that most full timers who choose SD, TX, or FL as domiciles have no real intention of living (in a conventional sense) in any of these states. In fact many may intend to spend as little time as possible.

This is the full timer's "dirty little secret". Sometimes it's easy to spot on these forums . . . as when someone says they are "moving" (their quotes) to another state to get better healthcare or something else. They have no intention of actually moving or living there. They'll just do the minimum to change domicile and get the particular advantages of that state. Be careful.

What makes SD, TX, and FL attractive domicile choices is that each has no state taxes, makes it relatively easy for full time RVers, and is supported by the Escapees Mail Forwarding service.

 

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When we first went fulltime 2-1/3 years ago, we kept California as our legal domicile.  The primary reason we did this was because of health insurance coverage.  At that time getting a PPO policy with national coverage was getting very difficult to find.  Barbara was not yet at Medicare age and was grandfathered into a BC of CA PPO that had served us well.  Having sold our CA house, we started using our son's address as a "residence" address for insurance, driver licenses, vehicle registrations, etc.  At the beginning, we started using the Escapees Livingston TX mail service for our primary mailing/billing address. This past October when Barbara became eligible for Medicare we headed to Rapid/City/Box Elder SD to change our domicile state.  Before we went to SD, we signed up with Escapees HOME SD service to obtain a street address in Box Elder.  After a few very easy days we had re-registered our vehicles, obtained driver licenses, and set up new insurance policies in SD.  Our legal domicile is now SD, but most all of our mail still goes to Livingston.   We have no need or desire to return to SD during the winter!   We may not be back for 2 or 3 years, depending on where we happen to travel.  We happen to currently be back in CA visiting our son and seeing our doctors and dentists.

Art

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On 1/31/2018 at 12:03 PM, missourijan said:

Once you have your driver's license you don't have to return for 10 years, if you have no violations. I renewed both our driver's license by email this year. Also, once you have your license, if you don't want to renew online or by mail,

As full-timers in SD who presumably are using residency affidavits, how did you avoid having to submit a CG/hotel stay in order to renew your licenses?   It's our understanding that a receipt for a night's lodging within 12 months of renewal is necessary.

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There is a Star on you renewal if you don't need a residence certificate for the 5 year license renewal.  So far in our 12 years, we have not had the Star so we schedule a return to SD for a night stay in a camp ground and renewal of our licenses.

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I'm pretty sure the authorities don't have folks running around with surveillance equipment trying to see how long you are staying in the State

 

sad but ca does do this, even has a hotline to the dmv for snitches.

as do "other" agency's of the state for "there" uses.

because so many were registering there autos, trucks, etc out off state, but still living in ca.

but all you need to do is have your mailing address, bank, insurance, voting, even a library card, in another state. no house or land needed.

all very legal.

sad for me i am still locked in to ca. but the day after i can i am out of here.

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9 hours ago, Mark and Dale Bruss said:

There is a Star on you renewal if you don't need a residence certificate for the 5 year license renewal.  So far in our 12 years, we have not had the Star so we schedule a return to SD for a night stay in a camp ground and renewal of our licenses.

I've also been told that some people skirt the requirement by obtaining hotel/CG receipts for reservations they "no showed" at.  In other words:

--Make a guaranteed reservation

--Fail to show and forfeit the cost of a one-night stay

--Ask the hotel/CG to provide a receipt for the night you paid for but weren't present for.

If any significant percentage of full-timers living in SD were to do this, we could all risk losing the privileges that State provides us.   I would hate to see that happen.

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