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We currently reside in Harris County TX, and have for over 30 years.  Near the end of September 2020, we are purchasing a new 5th Wheel and new truck, both in Indiana.  The dealers will collect an pay the Texas sales/registration taxes.  Sometime in December 2020 or January 2021, we will sell our home and begin full time RV travel probably with an Escapee's address in Livingston, TX.  I have some questions about registration/taxes/etc.

  1. What is the down side (cost wise) of registering both vehicles in Harris County at the time of purchase then move the registration to Polk county (Livingston) couple of months later?
  2. Can I  legitimately and should i setup a Escapees address prior to purchasing the vehicles and only register once?
  3. Are there any other gotcha's registering / re-registering from one county to another (both in Texas). 

Thanks

Jeff

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In Texas the vehicle registrations are processed by the county but the licenses are issued by the state so there is nothing on the license to indicate what county it is registered in. There is usually a small fee called a road & bridge fee that is added by the county which ranges from as little as $5 to as much as $20 and that may be different between Harris and Polk counties, but nothing more. When we went on the road we changed from Tarrant County registration to Polk County and all that you need do is to go online and do an address change. There is no added fee for doing that and it will trigger your next vehicle registration to come from Polk Co. 

If it were me, I would set up the new address and mail service from Polk Co. well before you close on the sale of your house, mostly to allow ample time to make the changes of address and such but it is of little consequence which county within TX you use for the initial registration. The same is true for your driver's license and vehicle insurance. Just make sure to give each one of them a change of address. There may be some adjustment of premium for your insurance, but not likely a lot. Changing of domicile within a state is very easy and has almost no legal ramifications since the state laws remain exactly the same and doing business across county lines is not an issue. 

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Timely as we are going through this right now so i second what Kirk has said. It is much easier if you have already been living in Texas. We have lived in Bastrop County for 17 years. House is in the closing phase and we have been living in the RV in our back yard. Come Aug 1st we'll move the RV temporarily to a new long term RV park that just opened up near Bastrop (Bellamont RV Park) so the wife can finish out her last 2 months before retirement. We already have our new Escapee's mailing address in Livingston. All we need to do is put in a change of address to our local post office, then go online and get all our records / accounts updated to our new mailing address. In Oct  we'll travel over to Livingston to get our banking transferred, register to vote and so forth. Now that we are living in the RV probably need to Smart Weigh again,,,,,,LoL.

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6 hours ago, Kirk W said:

In Texas the vehicle registrations are processed by the county but the licenses are issued by the state so there is nothing on the license to indicate what county it is registered in. There is usually a small fee called a road & bridge fee that is added by the county which ranges from as little as $5 to as much as $20 and that may be different between Harris and Polk counties, but nothing more.

Would this be different if the OP's truck isn't diesel?  Harris County requires emissions tests for gas vehicles, and in the non-RV arena, I recall warnings to people in emissions areas about registering vehicles in non-emissions areas.

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Like Kirk said, it is best to change addresses early. You will be surprised at how many you miss. We had a massive list to follow and still didn't get all of them. Plus, if you subscribe to any magazines, they tend to print labels three months in advance. 

Linda Sand

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4 hours ago, Steven@146 said:

... In Oct  we'll travel over to Livingston to get our banking transferred...

Thanks everyone...  Steven, what is the purpose of transferring you banking to Livingston?  Convenience or some legal reason? 

Edited by JeffreyPMC

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Our bank is in San Antonio, Texas, although we have NEVER lived there. USAA does not have branch banks.

Linda

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5 hours ago, Blues said:

Would this be different if the OP's truck isn't diesel? 

No that makes no difference and Harris county isn't an issue since Livingston is in Polk Co. where not smog test is required.

3 hours ago, JeffreyPMC said:

Steven, what is the purpose of transferring you banking to Livingston? 

It isn't necessary but there can be advantages in some cases. The biggest one is that Livingston is probably the only community in America that every businessman, government official, and pretty much anyone on the street is well aware of what a fulltimer is and how we live. Livingston is very aware of the Escapees RV club and what they contribute to the local economy. 

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45 minutes ago, Kirk W said:

No that makes no difference and Harris county isn't an issue since Livingston is in Polk Co. where not smog test is required.

It isn't necessary but there can be advantages in some cases. The biggest one is that Livingston is probably the only community in America that every businessman, government official, and pretty much anyone on the street is well aware of what a fulltimer is and how we live. Livingston is very aware of the Escapees RV club and what they contribute to the local economy. 

Good to know.  Thanks again everyone.

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14 hours ago, JeffreyPMC said:

Thanks everyone...  Steven, what is the purpose of transferring you banking to Livingston?  Convenience or some legal reason? 

Convenience mainly, we'll be traveling through the Escapees park in Livingston from time to time. We don't need to establish Texas residency since we have lived in Texas for several years. Right now my bank accounts are with First National Bank of Bastrop Texas. Its a local bank only.  I doubt we will come back to Bastrop once we leave. For those RVers changing their residency to Texas and using an Escapees mailing address it would be helpful in establishing their Texas residency to move their banking. But you could have your banking anywhere. My wife will probably keep her Bank of America account out of Austin..

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I would go ahead and get set up with a LIvingston address.  Polk county does not require emissions testing on vehicles and insurance is cheaper than Harris county.

When I retired, I had already set up the Livingston address  while the house was for sale.  It sold, we moved into the RV and I worked from an RV park in north Houston.  This was about 3 months and we hit the road.  We were already native Texans.  All the vehicles were already registered in Harris county.  As soon as we sold the house, we changed all addresses to Livingston.

Ken

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3 hours ago, Steven@146 said:

Convenience mainly, we'll be traveling through the Escapees park in Livingston from time to time. We don't need to establish Texas residency since we have lived in Texas for several years. Right now my bank accounts are with First National Bank of Bastrop Texas. Its a local bank only.  I doubt we will come back to Bastrop once we leave. For those RVers changing their residency to Texas and using an Escapees mailing address it would be helpful in establishing their Texas residency to move their banking. But you could have your banking anywhere. My wife will probably keep her Bank of America account out of Austin..

We went with BOA because they have branches in just about every state, so easy access to cash using debit card, and when a credit card was compromised, it was easy to have a replacement sent to a branch near where we were staying.   When we were in a state that didn't have BOA branches, we just got extra cash using debit card at grocery store.   Since your wife already has BOA account, if it were me, I'd just add a checking account (joint) through them and be done with it since you would be established customers.   Make sure everything is done on line - saves a lot of time.

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i might do just that, thanks. she has the ability to take a pic of a check with her phone for deposit purposes, I cant do that with my bank. But then again I dont get hardly any checks written to me for deposit.

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20 hours ago, Kirk W said:

No that makes no difference and Harris county isn't an issue since Livingston is in Polk Co. where not smog test is required.

Just to clarify--in the areas of Texas that require emissions testing, it's only gas vehicles that get tested; diesel vehicles don't.

Let's assume the OP is buying a gas-powered vehicle.  He asked about buying it while living in Harris County, and registering it in Polk County upon purchase, even though he's still living in Harris County and won't be going fulltime for several months after that.  As I said, there are warnings about living in an emissions county and registering a vehicle in a non-emissions county.  It seems to me this would present just that issue (even though we can assume it's not intended to circumvent having to get it emissions tested).

Could everyone in an emissions county get an Escapees address and register all their cars there, and avoid emissions testing that way?  I don't think so.

And I wonder about insurance.  While continuing to live in his house in Harris County, should the OP change his auto insurance to Polk County before he actually leaves Harris County?  Insurance companies use "garaging address," and for fulltimers it's a fiction out of necessity, but if someone really is living in one place and has his cars there, the fiction isn't necessary; the cars are garaged in Harris County, and shouldn't they be insured there?

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