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New Full-Timers- Establishing Domicile in Washington


BettyRocket

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Hello,

 

We will be starting our new full-time adventure next month but researching where to establish our domicile. We will be moving from Washington DC (technically Virginia) and stoping in Spokane, WA to pick-up our new home- a 1999 Allegro Bay already named BettyRocket.

 

My parents helped us purchase the MH and will maintain the title, registration and insurance. Would it be wise for us to also establish domicile in Washington, potentially at my parent's address in Spokane?

 

We are new so any advice, tips and suggestions are welcome!

 

Thank you,

 

Scott and Victoria

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If I understand this you are essentially driving a vehicle that your parents own and you will use with their permission.

If I am correct then I guess you could domicile anywhere. But note I said guess. Me thinks you need a legal opinion on this one

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Welcome to the Escapee forums! I'm sure that you will find a lot of information and support here and we are very pleased to have you as part of our group.

 

It could simplify things if you choose to domicile in WA so that your driving licenses will match the RV registration, but that is not a critical issue. I would strongly suggest that if the RV registration is to be in your parents name then I would get a statement of permission to use it from them and notarized, just to make sure that there is never any problem as you travel, particularly if you cross into Canada or Mexico. You might never need it, but since you will need proof of insurance and that is probably also in your parents name the an ounce of prevention rule probably applies here. While you consider your choice of domicile, I suggest that you take the time to read this article from Escapees magazine that is posted on my website. It addresses most of the issues related to domicile choice. No doubt that using your parents address would be least costly as your alternative would be to use a mail forwarding service with annual fees and postage expenses. If you do choose to go to another state, then I suggest that you look at the services of Escapees RV Club mail forwarding.

 

If you have not done so, I suggest that you read a book or two on the subject of fulltime RV living which you can find from a local library or if you wish you can buy one or two from the Amazon store.

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I have a TT that is registered in my name in WA that we let/encourage the son to take to and from Alaska. He has a hand-written note giving him permission the wife and I both signed. Another option would be to register it your name and make the elders the lien holders.

 

You may encounter issues with a license from one state and plates from another. Best they match.

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You can gift a vehicle in Washington three times and not pay sales taxes on the transfer. Actually, after the third time the fee is only $30.

 

Washington is a good state for a domicile IF you have a frugal lifestyle. There is no income tax, but the sales tax rate is 8%. Property taxes are around 1%.

 

Summer days last forever since the state is so far north. In winter, the days are very short so it might be wise to be out of state in winter.

 

 

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Thank you all- this is extremely helpful!

 

Kirk and Tee Jay- we will get a note from my parents, I would have never thought of this so a deep thanks for the suggestion.

 

Vladimir- we do plan to live a pretty frugal lifestyle so it sounds like WA domicile may work out for us.

 

I should have also mentioned that we have chosen full-timeing as an opportunity to find our 'home'. We do not plan to travel across the country but rather focus our adventure in Washington and Oregon as we search for the community we have been dreaming about for years. The odds that we will end up in Washington state permanently are 50/50 right now.

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We have kids/grandkids who live on the Olympic Peninsula and have spent quite a bit of time there, but mostly west of the mountains. WA has some great features but like anywhere it isn't perfect. In many ways the east slope suits us better but that is not where the grandchildren are. We always enjoy the Leavenworth area.

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We have been fulltiming with Washington as our domicile for almost 12 years. Before that we lived in Washington most of our lives, on both sides of the Cascades. Currently we are in the Tri-Cities (Richland, Pasco, Kennewick), where my wife and I lived and met, which is a decent place to live and much drier than Western Washington. If you really want to settle all year long somewhere, Washington and Oregon are both good choices with a variety of choices. We are not looking to settle down, but plan to be snowbirds if we do, since we see no reason to spend our winters where it is cold.

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We are domiciled in Washington as well, simply because that's where we were last week when I was working. Fully intend to stay a WA resident and as Vladimir said, frugal living will help counter the sales tax. Staying nearer the southern border of WA like Bill Joyce is a good idea as you can easily head south to Oregon to do any bulk shopping. Also, consider the really low license fees and if you can, pick a county with the least amount of additional fees - Stevens county I hear is the lowest so far, no experience to say for sure.

 

Nicest thing is I-5 and US 97 run north and more importantly south when it starts getting cold out.

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Is there any concern in using my parents address in Spokane?

Legally, probably not unless there is something that you will do which requires you to prove you reside there by showing a utility bill or something in your name, as some agencies or businesses do on occasion in some areas. If someone on the forum has recently moved to WA they should be able to tell us if that has happened. There are a few states that require that sort of thing but more common is for some financial institution to ask for it. If you read the information on domiciles, legally that is where you live and do your business. That would mean that to fully do this you would need to move pretty much all of your business activities to the area and list your parents as your local address. Since it would seem that you have no intention of ever returning to your present domicile, it should be fairly easy to transfer such things as banking and other business transactions to Spokane. The more of you life activities which you base there, the solider is your position in claiming it as your domicile.

 

Keep in mind that for most people they can point to where the are physically as a part of this domicile determination but for a fulltimer that doesn't work and it is the very lifestyle which can bring into question where yours is. I would also file a partial year of VA income tax as soon as you are gone, because that will serve notice to them that you have left the state permanently.

 

The other part of this is whether or not your parents will eventually tire of being the ones to forward mail to you as you travel about the country. If you should stay out on the road for 10 or more years, as many of us do or have done, then they might tire of providing a free service to you and certainly you should plan to reimburse your parents for the costs associated with that service. Of course, if you do find a spot that you want to settle down in, that would seem to indicate that the fulltime life will only be a temporary thing and in such case it really doesn't make a lot of sense to create a completely separate domicile, only to drop it when you find "the place." How long do you expect to spend in checking out the various possibilities? If you are thinking that this will only take a year or less, then willing parents are clearly the best answer. If you are thinking more on the order of 5 years or longer, perhaps not so much.

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We domicile in Washington State. Our son's place is our physical address. Most banks insist on you having one. We also had to have one to get driver's license. Our son's power bill is in our name. Needed that for driver's license. Just my opinion, but I would not be the main operator/user of a "private" vehicle without carrying my own insurance. Insurance companies are always looking for a way out.

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Washington is one of the states where you first must establish residency before applying for your driver's license. Here's the state website:

 

http://www.dol.wa.gov/driverslicense/moving.html

 

One of the ways you can establish residency in Washington State is to register to vote. However, you cannot register to vote unless you are "a legal resident of Washington State and have lived at your address for at least 30 days before the election." (http://www.dol.wa.gov/driverslicense/voter.html)

 

So how do you prove that you've lived at your address for at least 30 days? Usually by providing something like a utility bill. When we moved to Washington State (also Spokane) in 2010, we got our driver's licenses before we'd been here 30 days, so didn't have a utility bill. I've forgotten exactly what we provided to the DMV, but I think it was a copy of the rental agreement we signed for the lot on which our manufactured home was located...or perhaps it was the papers we received when we purchased our home.

 

When you say your parents are going to "maintain" the registration, title, and insurance on the motorhome, what do you mean by that exactly? If everything is going to be in their name, how is that going to impact the insurance since your parents will not be the drivers? You will need fulltimers insurance on the motorhome, not just regular auto or RV insurance...will the insurance company provide that if your parents aren't the people who are fulltiming? Or, by "maintaining" the registration, title, and insurance, do you simply mean that everything will be in your name, but your parents will pay for it?

 

It would seem to me to be much simpler all around if everything was in your name. If your parents want to pay for the registration and insurance, that's fine, but if everything remains in their name and you're driving around the country in the motorhome registered in someone else's name, you could possibly run into problems if there was ever an accident. At least discuss this matter with the insurance company that is going to be providing the fulltimers insurance.

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Wow, I am blown away at the amount of knowledge and resource in this community! You all are wonderfully helpful!!!!

 

I will talk with my parents about the insurance- I am sure they had planned on listing us as authorized drivers but it may be better for the policy to be in our names. They have the title for the MH, but it may make sense for them to 'gift' it to us and then we register it in WA.

 

It looks like if we register to vote in WA or get a fishing license in WA we has established residency and would be good to go for a drivers license.

 

We plan to spend about a week and a half in Spokane making modifications to the MH, so hopefully that gives us time to get to the DMV for new licenses.

 

Again, thank you all for your helpful insight!

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...It looks like if we register to vote in WA or get a fishing license in WA we has established residency and would be good to go for a drivers license...

We plan to spend about a week and a half in Spokane making modifications to the MH,..

Take a look at this website. It states:

"What is the definition of a Washington resident

  • A person who has maintained a permanent place of abode within the state for at least 90 days preceding license purchase, who has established by formal evidence (e.g. a driver’s license and voter registration card) an intent to continue residing in the state, and who is not licensed to hunt or fish as a resident in another state"
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Take a look at this website. It states:

"What is the definition of a Washington resident

  • A person who has maintained a permanent place of abode within the state for at least 90 days preceding license purchase, who has established by formal evidence (e.g. a driver’s license and voter registration card) an intent to continue residing in the state, and who is not licensed to hunt or fish as a resident in another state"

 

 

 

That's interesting!!

 

When I moved to Washington in July 1981 I had a Idaho Fishing and Hunting license. Did that mean that I did not need to apply for residency in Washington until my Idaho Fishing and Hunting license expired??

 

Then I would be in violation of registering my vehicles in Washington!!! That would have been longer than 90 days!!

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TThat's interesting!!

 

When I moved to Washington in July 1981 I had a Idaho Fishing and Hunting license. Did that mean that I did not need to apply for residency in Washington until my Idaho Fishing and Hunting license expired??

 

hen I would be in violation of registering my vehicles in Washington!!! That would have been longer than 90 days!!

I think you are stretching it quite a bit. My take is that you would be supposed to buy non-resident Washington licenses. Read this webpage the reverse is likely true. However, according to the Idaho website: "No one can claim Idaho resident privileges while claiming resident privileges in another state, except military personnel." So your Idaho resident license was no longer valid as soon as you became a Washington resident and/or purchased a Washington license not when the Idaho license year expired. Therefore, you would not have had two valid resident licenses in two different states and would need an Idaho nonresident license after the purchase of the Washington license.

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When I moved to Washington in July 1981 I had a Idaho Fishing and Hunting license. Did that mean that I did not need to apply for residency in Washington until my Idaho Fishing and Hunting license expired??

Note that the quote comes from the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife and is addressing questions about qualifying for a WA hunting or fishing license. I'd bet that you would have a difficult time selling the WA highway patrol or taxing authority that your out of state fishing license proves you are not required to pay taxes, register vehicles or get a driver's license in WA. :P

 

All that statement is saying is that you can't hold a WA fishing or hunting license as a resident if you still have a valid resident hunting or fishing license from another state. It may sound like more than that, but you need to look at both the source of the reply and the intent of the source.

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The reason I posted the link was because the OP stated:

...We plan to spend about a week and a half in Spokane making modifications to the MH, so hopefully that gives us time to get to the DMV for new licenses...

and also stated:

 

...It looks like if we register to vote in WA or get a fishing license in WA we has established residency and would be good to go for a drivers license...

I was trying to inform them that to get a resident fishing license they must have "maintained a permanent place of abode within the state for at least 90 days preceding license purchase," not a week and a half.

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To TCW and Kirk....first, you guys are right.

 

But see it is all a matter of interpretation!!! There are no qualifiers on that statement. Common sense would have to come into play. I "think" what the state of Washington wants you to do is turn in your other state fishing license before getting one in Washington state.

  • ", and who is not licensed to hunt or fish as a resident in another state"
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I lived in WA state for 5 years before returning to CA a couple of years ago.

 

For me, the item that disqualified WA from consideration as a fulltiming state is their requirement for a valid physical address for vehicle registrations. Not just a mailbox, but an actual qualifying address in the county.

 

This came about when they instituted annual smog inspections and a transit tax on vehicles registered in the Seattle area. The counties across Puget Sound were exempt from both of these and people started trying to register their vehicles in the exempt counties.

 

Supplying false residence documentation is classified as a felony.

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Each state might/is different, but years ago I purchased a ranch that was 5 miles back a dead end road, off

a 2 lane road that was in very rural Oregon. No mail was delivered on my road, but there was a row of mail boxes at

the turn off. I chose not to use the mail boxes since there were various bullet holes in all of them! I got a

Post Office Box in the nearest town. When I went in to get my DL I filled out my address with the POB

and was told they couldn't accept that...I told them the reason for it, and she laughed and said OK, that's

not a problem, happens all the time. On my DL it showed both my POB and my street address.

 

Don't know if that will help in your situation, but it might be an option.

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I think our best course of action is to use my parents address as my residential address and domicile in WA.

 

It's true that there are many interpretations of the law- for example the DMV in WA states online that you can establish residency by registering to vote. However the voter registration website requests a drivers license and a residential address to register. So it really it is a chicken and egg situation but bottom line you need a residential address to do either.

 

The annual vehicle inspections wouldn't be a problem for us as we plan to visit my parents and could coordinate the timing appropriately.

 

The other big part of this is that the residential address will determine our options for healthcare coverage. Our plan is to drop our current coverage and apply for coverage through the exchange. Since we would be WA residents we would use their exchange.

 

Again, thank you all of your insights and personal perspectives!!!

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Let us know how it goes getting your driver's licenses and registering to vote (which can be done at the same time you get your driver's licenses). It will be interesting to find out how the Spokane DMV handles this situation since you will have nothing to prove that you are residents (utility bill, rental agreement, etc.).

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Let us know how it goes getting your driver's licenses and registering to vote (which can be done at the same time you get your driver's licenses). It will be interesting to find out how the Spokane DMV handles this situation since you will have nothing to prove that you are residents (utility bill, rental agreement, etc.).

In 2008, you couldn't do it without "proof" of residence. Just have the power bill at your parents place put in your name. Could be temporary for a few months, then switch it back. Or just leave it. My son's power bill is in my name and has been for 7 years, but he pays the bill.

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