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Choosing a Domicile


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We're new to Escapees and are glad we found our about it, great website..

 

We've been RV-ing for 8 years now and have decided this is what we want to do full-time. We've rented out our house and are now in our Motorhome full-time. Have been reading different posts on domicile and have decided that our choices are Texas, Florida, South Dakota, or becoming a Montana LLC. Have pretty much written off Texas because of the yearly inspections and the need for a commercial DL.

 

Interested in what others have to say about this, and in what license plates cost for the various states and if anyone else has done the LLC in Montana..

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First of all, welcome to the Escapee forums! It is great to have you join us here.

 

The second thing that I'll point out is that Texas has a lot to offer and you do not need a commercial license for driving your motorhome, only an endorsement which many here will tell you is very easy to get, assuming that you are competent to drive the coach. I have yet to hear of anyone failing or having any difficulty in getting that endorsement. The other part is that the annual inspection is only when/if you are in Texas with the motorhome and if out of state when due, you simply get one within three days of your return. No big deal really. We have been out of state with our RV for as long as 17 continuous months and also been out when the inspection came due at least 5 or 6 times with no problems whatever. Don't jump to any premature conclusions.There are problems with any state and there are good things about each of them.

 

I do suggest that before you make your choice, you might benefit by reading this article on our site about the selection of a domicile.

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We ruled out FL because of the initial fee charged when you register you vehicles the first time. It would cost us about $880.00 and the license and tax fees . Their insurance costs are also higher. Our research pointed to S Dakota for us, but others have eliminated S Dakota because of problems with obtaining health insurance that can be used outside the state.

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There's a major problem with medical insurance in South Dakota if you're not eligible for Medicare just so you're aware. As Kirk stated, the commercial license and vehicle inspections are not an issue for Texas. Pete and Pat gave their reasons for not choosing Florida. So you see, each state has some things to think about. No one state is perfect.

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There are several recent posts about Domicile. Do a search for Domicile to see them.

 

We chose Florida for our Domicile. Yes the initial cost of vehicle registrations is higher, but there is no special DL test or annual inspections on your RV. Over time this will defer the initial tag fee ($225) per license plate.

 

We like the weather better. We are in our first cold spell and here in central Florida it got down to 30 last night. I hear though that the entire US was below freezing. It has also been COLD in Texas, and don't even talk about SD. Yes, all 3 states have good points and bad points. The key is to look at all your needs and choose what you think will be best for you.

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Yes the initial cost of vehicle registrations is higher, but there is no special DL test or annual inspections on your RV. Over time this will defer the initial tag fee ($225) per license plate.

 

Let's see, no extra charge for the drivers license to get the Class B, just a little time, which we have plenty of since we are retired. So unless one is so sure that their driving habits would negate them getting a license that one is a non-starter.

 

So we are left with inspection. Last time we had the vehicles inspected, it was $14.50. That means it would take about 15 years to break even IF you did the inspection each year. It has been 2 years since we had our rig inspected, don't expect to be back in Tx this year, so it will be at least another year or two before it is inspected. So this is not a valid reason to cross Texas off of anyone's list.

 

Barb

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Let's see, no extra charge for the drivers license to get the Class B, just a little time, which we have plenty of since we are retired. So unless one is so sure that their driving habits would negate them getting a license that one is a non-starter.

 

So we are left with inspection. Last time we had the vehicles inspected, it was $14.50. That means it would take about 15 years to break even IF you did the inspection each year. It has been 2 years since we had our rig inspected, don't expect to be back in Tx this year, so it will be at least another year or two before it is inspected. So this is not a valid reason to cross Texas off of anyone's list.

 

Barb

 

Last but not least, the folks in TEXAS are the friendliest I`ve ever seen. :rolleyes:

 

Art

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Have pretty much written off Texas because of the yearly inspections and the need for a commercial DL.

 

As others have said, there is no need to return to Texas every year just to have your vehicle(s) inspected. It does need to be done ASAP (3 days I guess) when you do return to the state.

 

As for the special driver's license, it is NOT a CDL, but it is a bit more than just an "endorsement." What you will need for a motorhome if its GVWR is 26,001# or greater is a NON-CDL Class B driver's license (unless you're pulling something with your motorhome that weighs more than 10,000#, in which case you would need a Class A driver's license...again, non-CDL). It requires a written test and a driving test. And it's no big deal...as others have said, if you are a competent driver, you should have absolutely no problems passing.

 

That doesn't mean, of course, that Texas is the right state for you...there is a lot more that goes into selecting a domicile state than just vehicle inspections and special driver's licenses. However, if the only reasons you have crossed off Texas is due to these two issues, let me assure you they are non-issues.

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Steve n Jan, you've already narrowed it down to the 3 most common domicile states. choosing between those 3 is based on some fine point differences and personal preferences. we all use different logic, reasoning and preferences.

I agree that the Tx special license & inspections are not major enough to justify blanket elimination of Tx up front. But I also agree that once you have it narrowed down to SD vs TX, or Fl vs Tx, based on other more significant reasons, that then using the special license & inspection requirements are a valid reason to base your final choice. Otherwise you had some other reason or predetermined favor toward Tx from the beginning. If you're truly impartial from the beginning and just as willing to be based in either SD, FL or TX; then if all other criteria important to you come up equal, its certainly valid to say the extra hoops of getting a special license and occasional inspection tilt me to the other state, regardless of how minor those hoops may be, they are extra hoops. It has nothing to do with whether I or my RV could easily pass the test/inspection.

I'm domiciled in SD, but if I was starting over today again at age 60, I'd probably be based in TX solely because of the recent elimination of access to nationwide private healthcare insurance in SD for those under Medicare age. Now that I'm over 65 its not an issue in SD for Medicare & Medicare Supplements.

Whether its taxes, laws, licenses, registration, health insurance, vehicle insurance or other state requirements, we all evaluate them slightly differently. My choice is not always your best choice.

Likewise the Montana LLC thing is used by some and dreaded by some. I would never use it personally, but there are plenty who do and its no concern to me whether they do or don't. I wouldn't encourage or discourage it, like any other decision, its a personal individual choice whether to go down that path. I would only clarify that its usually only used for vehicle registration, not for domicile; you'd still need to choose a FL, SD or TX domicile.

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Our thanks to all who have replied, sure is a lot to think about..We're planning on going over to Livingston, Tx in February and will talk to the folks over there. After reading lots of different stuff on here, I think we're going to eliminate South Dakota because of the health insurance..We'll just have to see if Texas or Florida suits us best..

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There was a discussion awhile back about west coast states as domiciles. I remember Washington as one with no state income tax that some liked. I would think it depends on what part of the country you spend a lot of time or something central if there is no one place.

 

Heath insurance is an issue I am finding out for under 65.

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Our thanks to all who have replied, sure is a lot to think about..We're planning on going over to Livingston, Tx in February and will talk to the folks over there.

One thing that we have always liked about Livingston over anywhere else that we have considered is that it is the only place that I know of where no business person, professional person, or elected official will ever ask you what a fulltimer is or how we live. Escapees account for about 20% of the registered voters in the county and more than that of the people who actually vote. They are also a major economic impact upon the community and the are one of the top employers in the community. Because of that you will find that you are instantly accepted as a part of the community and are pretty universally welcomed.

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I am going to put my helmet back on here:

 

IMO, the biggest reason there are more in favor of Texas rather than Florida is that Escapees is a Texas club and hence has more Texas members that post regularly. I actually have seen a bias toward Texas on more than one occasion, IMO

 

To state that "the folks in TEXAS are the friendliest I`ve ever seen." is short sighted, again IMO. I have found that RV people in general, whether in Texas or any other state, are the friendliest people I have ever met. I have found many instances of friendly people in many different states, including my chosen state of Domicile, Florida.

 

The weather in Florida has been better both last winter and so far this winter than Texas, and this is from a neighbor that was in Texas half of last winter, then in Florida for the remainder. They state the weather has been worse this winter than last winter. They spent a couple of months near Houston last year.

 

OK, rant over, let the bashing over the head begin. My helmet is firmly attached.

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To state that "the folks in TEXAS are the friendliest I`ve ever seen." is short sighted, again IMO. I have found that RV people in general, whether in Texas or any other state, are the friendliest people I have ever met. I have found many instances of friendly people in many different states, including my chosen state of Domicile, Florida.

I can't speak for all Texans, but I can tell you that the author of post #13 didn't have RV people in mind in the statement. I'd expect that RV people are generally very friendly anywhere you meet them, partly because they are probably the same people in one state as in the next since RV folks could be met anywhere.There have been very few places that we have stayed in our RV that we didn't feel welcome, even out in the local community. There are people who do not welcome the RV traveler pretty much everywhere one can go and there are some who welcome you more if they believe that you are about to spend money in their business. The "friendly" comment is usually more a feeling than any objective measurement and each person has their own opinion of that. It is also subject to the places that any one RVer has spent time since no state that I know if is uniformly friendly or unfriendly across all locations. I do not consider Houston or Dallas to be particularly friendly places, but at least some of their suburbs are.

 

When we wintered at Everglades NP we found the community nearest to us for major shopping(a Miami suburb) to be very unfriendly with assistance in stores very difficult to get. We did like the Naples area, or at least the part that we experienced. Our farther north winter, we were in a rural area with a relatively small town nearest to us and we found it to be quite friendly, as we have found to be true in most small communities in any state. Orlando area we felt was mostly a very large tourist trap and it worked as we did spend a lot of money there.

 

To me the friendly issue should have little to do with choice of a domicile for most fulltimers. We picked TX for many reasons but had circumstances been different, I might well have chosen Florida which is also true for several other states. There was recently a thread that discussed WA and listed any number of valid reasons that some may prefer it. I highly suspect that you are correct about Escapee's RV Club being significant part of the reason TX is so popular and also a factor in popularity on this forum, but while I have not counted its my guess that of late there have been as many vote for SD as for TX. Escapees is not the only mail service in TX and they are not the only place used by RV people as a domicile address, although I suspect they are the largest by far in TX. It is probably a pretty safe bet that a majority of Escapee members use TX, but I'd point out that you can use Escapees with a FL domicile as well. I suspect that over time the numbers will begin to even out and I understand that SD will be next for Escapees. Until recently the Good Sam club had a mail service which was located in Pensacola, FL and might have caused a preference in numbers for FL on their forum. As you know, there is no requirement that Escapee members use their mail service and many members do not, but it remains their

 

One thing that I have always liked in TX is the use of "winter Texan" where other places call RV folks snowbirds. :) I don't consider that to be a significant reason to domicile in TX.

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Great news for all of you under 65! The health insurance issue has been solved in South Dakota!

 

It has been determined that ALL SD insurance companies HAVE to offer insurance to full time RVers! The only caveat (and ONLY if you are getting a very large subsidy in the marketplace) is that you have to use in-network doctors for routine visits. But since there's usually a $5,000 deductible attached to these plans, you could really get that check-up anywhere. And ALL emergencies and illnesses are covered everywhere in the country.

 

Now that this is solved, Texas and Florida aren't even in the running. South Dakota has the easiest, cheapest vehicle registrations with NO hoops to jump through, and the cheapest vehicle insurance as well. Americas Mailbox sure has the friendliest people running it, as well as al the members we've met over the years. We're glad we can stay with them.

 

 

 

 

That is great news. Just what we have been hoping to hear. I'm curious as to where you got the information..

 

We weren't thrilled with the choice of either Texas or Florida...Texas has the issue of the drivers license and the inspections, and while not a big deal to some, are just one more thing to have to deal with. Hoops if you will. Florida has more expensive insurance and we never go there anymore, to crowded for us. We winter in Arizona every year Now.

 

Of the three states, we spend more time in South Dakota than either Texas or Florida. We do have our mail forwarding in Florida, but I do understand that there are places in SD that will do it...

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Regarding the cost of establishing a domicile in Florida, we established FL residence in 2001 and found it very economical. The cost to register our motor coach was not expensive. At least when we registered our vehicles, if a vehicle is owned more than six months and taxes were paid in another state, no taxes are charged when first registering a currently owned vehicle.

 

Over the years we have found FL to be a very good state for domicile. We found our RV & auto insurance to be lower than many other states. We use Merritt Island in Brevard county as our home address and the county is very easy and good to work with. We have a PMB with "The Mail Room" and they did have a free info package for people wanting to establish FL residence. I would include their telephone number but am not sure if it would violate the forum rules.

 

 

 

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I researched FL as we were thinking we would use that state, however there is a 1st time registration fee for each vehicle you own that would have cost us around $800+ dollars the first time with license and other fees on top of that. The insurance is also more expensive. Another issue was that all vehicles have to be inspected , which mean when you go, you have to take everything with you that you want to get licensed.

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"Latest info from Avera management as of 11/18/2014

 

If you have an Avera policy that was purchased on the Marketplace, you will be able to keep this coverage in 2015, however , claims will not be covered, at in network benefits unless the services are for urgent or emergency services.

 

So things like Preventative Medicine, durable medical equipment & maintenance chiropractic treatments will not be covered as in network benefits, again their words are only network benefits for urgent or emergency services.

 

Your polices will have their full benefits if used at in network providers in SD."

 

I don't know about the way in which deductibles are figured, but Michael Monson (the agent we use) should be able to answer any specific questions.

 

Hope this helps everyone out!

 

 

Thank you for that information! It's good to know!

 

That explains why South Dakota may still not be a viable choice for some (I'm domiciled in SD). Some of the people on this and other threads have indicated that they want to keep their Dr. from another state (as I do) and this indicates that they would have to pay out of pocket for their annual physicals or any other non-emergent treatment. But then again, if they have only catastrophic coverage, that would be the case by default.

 

I assume they might be covered as out-of-network payments, but that isn't clear either.

 

Don

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Does anybody have any experience in registering a vehicle in FL in which they have owned for LESS than six months, and taxes were paid in another state at time of purchase.

FYI. I went to the DMV here in FL today. Here is an example. If you live in a state that charges 5% on a new vehicle, and you register it in FL, and have had it for less than 6 mo's, you have to pay a 1% USE tax. FL tax is 6%, so it's 6%, minus what you pay in another state. This is only if you have had the vehicle for LESS than 6 mo's. Also, no vin # check is required on non motorized RV's.

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I researched FL as we were thinking we would use that state, however there is a 1st time registration fee for each vehicle you own that would have cost us around $800+ dollars the first time with license and other fees on top of that. The insurance is also more expensive. Another issue was that all vehicles have to be inspected , which mean when you go, you have to take everything with you that you want to get licensed.

 

There is no vehicle inspection for registering vehicles in Florida. However, you have to have the VIN number visually inspected. This can be done by bringing the vehicles to the DMV, or you can have the form filled out and notarized in FL, or by an law enforcement officer in the USA. You do not have to register in person, it can be done via the mail. (But like most other states, DLs are in person.)

 

Yes, there is a first time 'new wheel tax' for new vehicles in Florida. However, if you've ever had a vehicle registered in Florida, you may still have an old tag in the system that will exempt you from it. We discovered this to our surprise and saved $450 on our initial registration fees as the DMV clerk found I had two old plates in the system from when I lived in the state previous. Bonus!

 

Here's our full documentation of our 'move' to Florida - including some cost comparison to our previous domicile in SD: http://www.technomadia.com/florida

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