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Choosing A State.... Money Issues.


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So far I've only been able to scratch the surface and get answers like "more expensive or cheaper".

Th factors I'm considering are 1. Tow vehicle registration. 2. Trailer registration. 3. Insurance for both. 4. State income tax.

I've determined that Texas is good for 1, 2 and 4 but insurance can be high. I wonder if high enough to make other states appealing. I'm still working and enjoy what I do with no intention of retiring ever...

Is there some sport of data base that uses late model years to help figure the numbers? I know year, make and model would effect registration so just ballpark analysis.


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28 minutes ago, aztex said:

I've determined that Texas is good for 1, 2 and 4 but insurance can be high. I wonder if high enough to make other states appealing. I'm still working and enjoy what I do with no intention of retiring ever...

Vehicle insurance varies widely not only by state but also be individual factors. Of the 3 most popular states, according to insure.com, Florida is #3 and Texas #4 in the order of high vehicle insurance cots. They also rate South Dakota as #31 while Michigan is #1 as most expensive. But there are many things that should be considered in selecting a state for domicile. I suggest that you read a bit more about the issues and a good place to start might be The Issue of Domicile published by Escapees. 

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12 minutes ago, remoandiris said:

Zip code means a lot to insurance companies.  My vehicles are registered and insured in Fla.  Yes, insurance is expensive.  In a few years I am going to query SD, likely when I decide to buy a new truck.  The sales tax difference will pay for at least a year of insurance.

Why wait to buy a new truck to switch? From my understanding if you have paid at least 4% Sales tax in another state That you will not have to pay it in SD. So it would be just the registration.

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So Dakota has low insurance rates, low registration fees, only 4% sales tax and NO Income tax. You don’t need to have your vehicle inspected to register or renew and no special drivers license required. The only negative is if your are under 65 and not yet on Medicare, health insurance can be a problem for some. 

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Since I was a Louisiana resident before I went full-time I chose to remain a LA resident. For my situation it made financial sense. Registration is super low. I just renewed my MH registration for 2 years and it was only $50 or $25 a year! My car renewal was also super cheap at only $34 for 2 years. Unfortunately LA has some of the highest insurance rates in the nation, but it's still not enough to offset the high registration renewals of some other states. LA does have a state income tax, but it favors seniors, exempting social security and most pension income. Though I must file LA income taxes every year, I could earn quite a bit more than I do and still not have to pay anything to the state in taxes. There are other pluses and minuses of course, such as high sales tax - which Amazon and other large online retailers must now collect on all LA residents, even though the product ordered never enters the state of Louisiana. Smaller online retailers are exempt from this requirement, so when I have a choice, I give them my online shopping business instead.

Many things that are not strictly financial have to be taken into account too, such as ease of finding a reliable mail forwarding service. The one I was using last year went out of business, costing me a lot of aggravation, time and money to find another and change all my addresses on everything to my new domicile address. Sadly, Escapees doesn't offer a mail forwarding service in Louisiana, so I chose to use iPostal1 instead. Another advantage of LA from my perspective is a lack of snow and mild weather in the winter, making south LA a good choice to winter over, though I chose the southernmost tip of TX last year. The tip of FL would be another good choice for wintering over (and a good domicile state) if it weren't for the pricey RV parks along the coast.

How often you will be returning to your domicile state for DL and registration renewals (every 4 years in LA) can be more expensive if you need to make a special trip there just to take care of business at the DMV. Also some Parishes there require smog checks, while others don't. I chose one that saves me the hassle and expense of passing a smog check on a 20+ yr old vehicle. Texas also has similar requirements, where some counties require smog checks while others don't. While I don't believe in driving a gross polluting vehicle, there are many reasons to fail a smog check that has nothing to do with a vehicle's emissions, such as a having a custom engine/transmission tune, intake/exhaust modifications, or a CEL that remains on for a known inconsequential, but expensive to fix reason, which will cause you to fail a smog check right out the gate regardless of the cause (I have several factors.)

My main point is not to entice anyone to choose LA or any other state for their domicile, just to mention that everyone's situation is unique and selecting a domicile is definitely not a one size fits all solution.



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We domiciled in Texas in November of 2019. We moved from Missouri. Filed a partial yearly state income tax return in Missouri so they get the idea we moved. 

Our auto and trailer insurance went down with the move to Livingston Texas from Missouri. Geico rocks!  Also considered Progressive and USAA. I've used my auto insurance already and am 110% satisfied with Geico in Texas.

We also considered South Dakota but was advised by Kyle of RVer Insurance Exchange to stay clear of South Dakota for our healthcare needs because they lack plans.  We had no pre-existing conditions and nine months later one of us would be Medicare eligible.  Ending up buying off the government exchange and found good doctors in Livingston. 

We liked both Texas and South Dakota because of Missouri where we have family. Also, frankly, we did not want to domicile in a state we never intended to visit later. Texas has much to offer for touring and great winter spots.

Friends went to South Dakota to domicile. Big advantage is ease of registering vehicles and getting DL's compared to Texas. They received vehicle and trailer tags from South Dakota in the mail. Then visited the state for a night and got their DLs in a few minutes.  Texas requires special drivers license if combined vehicle/trailer or RV gross weight capacity exceeds 26,000 pounds. Was not a problem after studying a few days for written test. The driving portion was easy at the Livingston Texas facility where they are used to RVs. 

No personal property tax for vehicles and trailers in Texas when renewing tags. Low to no tax at grocery stores. Not sure about South Dakota. 

Absolutely love being an Escapees member. The mail service is second to none. 

Good luck in your decision and hope I provided a few things to think about.

Edited by mds1
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  • 2 months later...
On 6/22/2020 at 10:08 PM, mds1 said:

We liked both Texas and South Dakota because of Missouri where we have family. Also, frankly, we did not want to domicile in a state we never intended to visit later. Texas has much to offer for touring and great winter spots.

Hi Mark, I have just started looking for this coming winter.  Went full time this month. That’s my excuse for not doing it sooner.  🙂  any recommendations or links you can post?

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  • 4 weeks later...

Look at all the factors that are important to YOU and make your own decision. We've been SD residents for several years now, and just this year renewed our drivers licenses. Even with the COVID nonsense we were able to easily do the renewal - in person. While we got a lot at The Ranch last year for wintering, we really enjoyed visiting SD for more time this year, and plan to do more there.

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