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Philipp

Moving from Europe to US and RV Life - TX or SD domicile?

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Hi all,
We are a young couple from Europe and are currently planning to move to the US in January 2020 and want to start immediately a full time RV life to travel around in this beautiful country for at least the first 6 - 12 months. We already have SSNs and green cards, and I read a lot about the pros & cons of being domiciled in TX vs SD.

We would need to buy a truck and travel trailer first and I think this could be easier in the greater Houston area - and during this time of the year SD is probably freezing :-)
But here comes the issue: I found the blog post about the ten commandments of Texas domicile and now for me it's quite unsure if we even would have a chance in Texas to get the affidavit signed for the drivers licenses given that we are then just since a few days in the country and never had a residential address before in the US.

Might this become a problem?
Would it make more sense for us to start in SD?

Any advice appreciated!
Thank you!

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I would contact the Escapees domicile specialist(lawyers) Loring and Associates, info@loringlaw.com

They will be able t give you guidance, this isn't anything you want to get mus-information regarding domicile.

Welcome to the next adventure in your life.

 

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I don't know what affidavit you're talking about (or, for that matter, what the "ten commandments of Texas domicile" is), but if getting a driver's license in Livingston, TX (home of the Escapees) is going to be a problem for you, then I can't imagine that South Dakota would be any easier -- and, personally, I wouldn't want to be in South Dakota in January!

You can call the Livingston Driver's License office and ask questions of them:  (936) 327-6806

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First, when getting your drivers liscense, South Dakota also has you sign an affidavit of domicle, as I suppose any State would. Second, you can buy your truck and trailer in any State ( for example FL, TX, or AZ ) and still registure them in TX or SD. Its only the drivers liscense that requires a personal appearance.

SD only requires a one night stay and it can be in any hotel or campground anywhere in the State. Also SD sales tax which you will have to pay when you register your truck and trailer is only 4%.  I’m not sure but I think TX is 7%?  In addition, depending where in each State, you registure, SD generally has lower insurance premiums. In addition if you plan on renewing your registration in a year TX requires a physical inspection, SD does not, and you can reregisture by mail. If you get a larger RV, like a Class A Diesel, TX requires a special drivers liscense SD does not require anything but a regular drivers liscense. However for a truck and trailer I don’t think TX requires a special drivers liscense. 

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For a January arrival I would pick Texas just because of weather issues messing with both airline flights and driving in South Dakota. But, I would check with Loring Associates before I would do either since they have knowledge of European needs that most of us here don't have. I'm under the impression that what country you come from makes a difference as well.

Linda Sand, in Minnesota where we've already had snow this month.

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Concur on the January arrival. Not South Dakota.  Texas or Florida for driver's license etc. You can buy your truck and trailer anyplace. But. It would be easier in state. Do not but any vehicle from the snow belt states due to rust issues.  Maybe, just maybe with a thorough inspection if it was a great deal. 

Good luck in your travels,

Bill

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Welcome to the Escapee forums!

The weather will be much better in Texas in January that it is in South Dakota and also the choices of RV will also be much greater for many reasons. Texas has a population of nearly 30 million people while South Dakota has fewer than 1 million and Houston area is nearly 4 million people while Rapid City South Dakota has fewer than 75, 000 people. In addition, winter brings many seasonal travelers to Texas and inflates the RV market while winter causes the RV business to nearly stop in South Dakota. The typical high temperature in SD for January is 31°F(0° C) while in Houston it would be 60° F(15.5° C). As you can see the weather will be much better in Houston. As mentioned previously, you also need to consider what you will do about health insurance since there is none provided for you here. Florida would also have better weather and a good RV market place to shop so it may be a better choice for you.

If you would share a little more about your plans with us, we could probably give better advice. Since you mention having green cards, am I to assume that this is a permanent move to the US? Will you be seeking employment here? Let us know how we can help as we like to assist new folks to the RV lifestyle. 

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Hi,

Many thanks for the warm welcome and all the feedback! I'm really happy that I have posted my topic here, this community is impressive 🙂 

Here is a little more about our plans:
We both have German citizenship and want to move permanently to the US. 
We visited the US at least 10 times, many of our trips happened in a Class C rental RV, the first few with rental car and small tent. Traveling around in an RV is something we want to do for the first 6 - 12 months, maybe longer. That depends on few factors like finding employment that supports this lifestyle, and of course if this lifestyle fits to us long-term. We bring also our cat with us, and if we would realize she is suffering than we need to re-think if/how to continue.
I have a background in the software tech sector and worked for branches of US companies since several years and (hopefully) chances are  good to find a position where I can work remotely. 
Regarding health insurance, the idea is to go with one of the expat insurances available here in Germany. They would cover us also in the US and are almost similar priced as far as I know. Some would allow us to terminate the insurance monthly so we could switch to an US insurance once we find one.
Frankly, I wasn't aware that for us it would be impossible to find health insurance in Texas - thanks for the hint! What are the reasons for that?

So after the arguments above SD is definitely off the list, remaining TX and FL. Personally, we would prefer TX as we love the states in the west and south-west. We could also imagine to have our "real" domicile after the RV life in TX - if it will ever end 🙂 
Do you see problems or stoppers for us when choosing TX? (For the legal domicile thing I will definitely try to get consulting from Loring Associates).

For an RV we are currently thinking about finding a smaller new (entry level)  travel trailer within the 25' range and a used truck with appropriate towing capacities.

Thanks!
Philipp
 

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1 hour ago, Philipp said:

I have a background in the software tech sector

That could give Texas another plug as the Dallas area has become second only to San Jose, CA in the software industry. Two of our sons live in the Dallas area and both are employed in software, one writing code and the other is a financial analyst who tests accounting software. The industry is thriving all through TX.

1 hour ago, Philipp said:

I wasn't aware that for us it would be impossible to find health insurance in Texas

It isn't impossible as many do so, but the number of choices available varies from state to state and SD is one of the states with the least choices, FL one of those with the most, while TX falls in between. It is just that healthcare is important to consider Of course, if you should be employed by one of the TX IT related companies that will probably also supply you with healthcare coverage or at least help to provide it. Most employers in the US do have such plans.

1 hour ago, Philipp said:

Do you see problems or stoppers for us when choosing TX?

None at all, particularly if you choose to do so through the Escapees RV Club as they have a long history here in TX and have even withstood a challenge in the courts. You will need to have an address here to register and insure your vehicles.

Edited by Kirk W

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I would not eliminate SD just because of the weather. You can purchase your truck and trailer in TX but still have a SD domicle for all the reasons I listed above. You only need to go to SD for one night, stay in a hotel and get your drivers liscense. You don’t need a special drivers liscense to drive an RV,  no inspection to registure and renew, lower sales tax and lower insurance premiums. As far as employment and health insurance. Could you find a German company that needs an employee in the US?  

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You have to very careful with insurance. Most of them have what's called in network coverage and out of network coverage. When you travel far from the local you get insurance in you'll likely be out of network and they will cover less. You'll be out of pocket to cover the remainder and that can get expensive fast.  Some FL insurance plans will cover you nationwide.

Older retires who get coverage from our Social Security healthcare don't have to worry as that is nationwide.

 

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18 hours ago, Kirk W said:

It isn't impossible as many do so, but the number of choices available varies from state to state and SD is one of the states with the least choices, FL one of those with the most, while TX falls in between. It is just that healthcare is important to consider Of course, if you should be employed by one of the TX IT related companies that will probably also supply you with healthcare coverage or at least help to provide it. Most employers in the US do have such plans.

18 hours ago, filthy-beast said:

You have to very careful with insurance. Most of them have what's called in network coverage and out of network coverage. When you travel far from the local you get insurance in you'll likely be out of network and they will cover less. You'll be out of pocket to cover the remainder and that can get expensive fast.  Some FL insurance plans will cover you nationwide.

Older retires who get coverage from our Social Security healthcare don't have to worry as that is nationwide.

 

I totally agree, we do not want to be in the US without healthcare, especially with our German cover-any-risk mentality :) Most of the international health insurances available here do not have network restrictions. So I think we stick to our plan and go for the first few months with the expat/international care until we find insurance in the US and/or getting employed.

18 hours ago, Twotoes said:

I would not eliminate SD just because of the weather. You can purchase your truck and trailer in TX but still have a SD domicle for all the reasons I listed above. You only need to go to SD for one night, stay in a hotel and get your drivers liscense. You don’t need a special drivers liscense to drive an RV,  no inspection to registure and renew, lower sales tax and lower insurance premiums. As far as employment and health insurance. Could you find a German company that needs an employee in the US?  

I think there are several German companies which might need employees in the US, but personally I have no preferences and would just make a decision based on remote-work options and the position to apply for.

18 hours ago, filthy-beast said:

You might want to create Linked In account if don't already have one. they can be a great help in finding a job and building a network.

https://www.linkedin.com

Good point. I'm already on LinkedIn, this is really a great platform for building a professional network.

I think we will definitely plan now for TX becoming our domicile. SD sounds interesting because of the initial lower costs for our budget. But seems rental car costs are almost doubled with insurance (we need one until we find a truck) compared to TX, flight connections are better between TX and Germany, and the US bank I have a checking account with does not have finance centers in SD. Of course not a major stopper, but opening an account with a local bank might just add some delay till we can hit the road. 

Thank you all for your very helpful feedback. With this information we can now move forward and one step closer to our next adventure. Looking forward to becoming an Escapee 🙂 

 

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50 minutes ago, Philipp said:

I think we will definitely plan now for TX becoming our domicile.

I think that you will find TX a good place to start and there are some very good reasons for Escapees having chosen to locate their headquarters in TX. If you plan to buy a used RV, there is a consignment dealer in Houston that has worked with many overseas visitors to the USA, helping them to find a good RV to buy. I suggest that you at least visit the website of PPL RV soon to start getting a feeling for what your choices may be. There are many other RV dealers in the Houston area which you may want to visit in order to compare prices and available RVs, but this one is a good place to start and they have a strong reputation. 

Once you land in Houston, you will be only about 60 miles (95 Km) from Livingston where the Escapee offices are located. In order to purchase the truck and RV you will need to have an address so I suggest that you use this link to get things ready for your purchase.  You might be wise to get started on the preparations well before you leave Germany to come here. 

Edited by Kirk W

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