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Good community for RV-less nomading?


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I'm a professional in my thirties.  I live in Philadelphia currently, however, I work remotely and plan on traveling the U.S. soon with no permanent home.  The plan is not to get an RV, but to pare down my possessions to that which would fit in my sedan, and travel while staying at hotels, AirBnBs, and short-term rentals.

Even though an RV would not be part of this lifestyle, there is obviously considerable overlap between this kind of lifestyle and what RVers do.  Additionally, there are a lot of issues I need to get sorted out, such as getting a mobile address, a nomad-friendly driver's license, taxes, health insurance, potential legal issues, etc.

From doing my research, it appears that Escapees gives me exactly what I need, although the vehicle I'd be registering would be a Honda Civic.  I suppose what I'm wondering is, would people living such a lifestyle be welcome among the Escapees community?  And are there other people doing something similar to what I'm planning on doing?

I definitely think I could learn a lot from members when it comes to traveling the country.  I want to add that in terms of longer term plans, I may consider selling my car and traveling the world via plane.  But having a TX or FL mobile address would great for this, and traveling the country is a good place to start.  So I suppose I'm wondering whether there are other members who are doing this kind of international travel.

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Welcome to escapees discussion forum.  You can get useful information and a fair amount that is not as useful.  Be patient as we can get sidetracked a little when answering and wander off in a different direction but still there will be a lot of help and useful info.  Sometimes it may depend on who is reading the forum at a given time on how timely your information comes. 

One of your main issues is everyone has to have domicile somewhere.  Escapees will certainly be an answer to that issue.  Hope this will work out for you but hold on it might be a bumpy ride at times.

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3 hours ago, fugue said:

The plan is not to get an RV, but to pare down my possessions to that which would fit in my sedan, and travel while staying at hotels, AirBnBs, and short-term rentals.

Welcome.

After a bit you may discover that RV's are cheaper.  This summer we camped next to a locum tenens RN.  She spent the summer in Maine and was heading to a job in Texas for much of the winter.  She said the thing she liked best was her own bed and things at the end of the day.

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Welcome. There are people who do, or have done, what you are suggesting. Colin Wright and James Altucher are two who come to mind.  It means paring down your belongings even further than those who live in RVs have to do. If you have not done so yet, I suggest you start with that paring down and see how comfortable you are owning so little. And how secure you feel having all that remains in your car. You could try this out by packing your car with what you think you would keep and taking short trips before you get rid of everything else. After all, exploring possibilities is half the fun. :)

Linda Sand

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Posted (edited)

Thanks everyone!

I'm in the process of doing exactly what Lisa has suggested.  Currently paring down my possessions, and then the plan is to go on a trip with what I think I'll need in my car to test this out.

Regarding domicile, a big part of the reason I signed up for this forum was so that I could get advice regarding my situation, and possibly become an Escapees member so I could establish domicile in TX or FL.  I could easily sever most of my ties with PA, however, I have a medical condition that requires several doctors visits per year (ideally with the same specialist I've established a relationship with), and for that reason, I'm wondering if I should remain a PA resident and just come back as needed for appointments.  I would probably be spending a total of several months per year in PA anyway.

I'd be happy to start a separate post getting into the details, although I'm curious whether people have chosen to remain domiciled in their home state for this purpose.

I also wonder if the "friends and family" option for my license address / vehicle registration may be better for now, perhaps until I decide I want to do this full-time.

 

Edited by fugue
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20 minutes ago, fugue said:

Regarding domicile, a big part of the reason I signed up for this forum was so that I could get advice regarding my situation,

There are a number of things of critical importance to your choice of domicile, if you plan to use a mailing service for your only address. The first thing to do is to check with the state to see if they will allow you to keep your driver's license, vehicle registration & insurance there without a real estate address. Most states do not allow you to do that. 

Another issue that you need to explore is that of health insurance.

Edited by Kirk W
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It sounds like your health insurance might be the deciding factor for you. If that's not a problem you can move out of state but still spend part of each summer in Pennsylvania for doctor appointments. We kept our doctors in Minnesota while we were fulltiming in a motorhome and domiciled in South Dakota but that's because we had health insurance that would support that.

Linda

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Unless you are on Medicare most health insurance is limited to your State of residence as “in network.” You will have coverage out of State, to cover emergencies for example, but you will be paying more for out of network.  I have been told that FL does have some medical insurance that will cover you out of State, I believe Blue Cross Blue Shield of FL is one. Others on this Forum will be more helpful regarding FL than I am. 

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PA is tricky, since a residential address is required for a license and registration.  However, a virtual / commercial mailbox can be used as a separate mailing address.  I believe I will also need a residential address for my financial institutions.  Another factor is the Philadelphia wage tax, which I'd prefer to avoid paying if I don't legally have to.  I actually already have a virtual mailbox in the suburbs (mostly so I can start digitizing all of my mail).  But in terms of what to use for my residential address, this is where I might have to rely on friends and family, even though I'd prefer to leave them out of this if I can.  And as far as vehicle insurance, I'm not sure what my options are.  I might just have to get my insurance company on the phone and explain things to them.

As far as health insurance, I work for a large company and have national coverage.  That said, there's nothing saying I couldn't change jobs in the future (to another fully remote job), in which case I'd be limited to whatever plan the company offers.  I am also considering entrepreneurship, although probably not until several years down the line, and if I go that route, having access to an ACA plan would be great.

So perhaps sticking with PA and going the "friends and family" option is best for the time being?

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There is no right or wrong way to do most things, especially if the way you do it works for you. Sure there are laws, rules and regulations, but it is becoming more and more clear to me those are restricted to those who get caught and cannot somehow explain how or why the rules do not apply to them either in person or by hiring the most lawyers. 

Welcome to the forum and good luck with your venture. 

 

Rod

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You have to remember that domicile and residence can be two different locations. Domicile is where you have your drivers liscense, vehicle registration, auto and health insurance, and you are registered to vote. You can only have one domicile. Residence can be anywhere you stay for a given period of time and you may have multiple residences. Additionally you can have any mail address you want and as many as you want. Having a mail forwarding address in TX, FL or SD in itself doesn’t make that your domicile. Additionally, State income tax is due to any State in which you earn an income. If your employer pays you in PA then you owe PA Sate income tax. If you earn income in another State then you will have to file a State Non Resident return in that State. If you work on the road you may owe income tax in multiple States. You need to contact a CPA for tax advise. It sounds like for now, since you have a PA employer who provides nationwide health insurance you may want to keep an address in PA for your domicile but use a mail forwarding service for your mail. 

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For about 5 years I did a job where I was in a different motel room 4, 5 or sometimes 6 nights a week.

So I stayed in about 250 or more, motel rooms per year. THAT GOT OLD. You will learn to hate that in short order. Someone who has stayed in a few motel/hotel rooms per year might think, 'no problem'. 

But it becomes a problem when repeated that many times a year. It is NO fun.

 

 

 

 

 

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Domicile is where you have your drivers liscense, vehicle registration, auto and health insurance, and you are registered to vote.

This is an oversimplification and could lead to some very poor decisions. I strongly suggest that before you take advice from people you do not know, via this or any other forum, take some time to read this article which was written by an attorney who specializes in the issues of Domicile. 

All The Things You Need To Know About Domicile As An RVer

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2 hours ago, podwerkz said:

For about 5 years I did a job where I was in a different motel room 4, 5 or sometimes 6 nights a week.

So I stayed in about 250 or more, motel rooms per year. THAT GOT OLD. You will learn to hate that in short order. Someone who has stayed in a few motel/hotel rooms per year might think, 'no problem'. 

But it becomes a problem when repeated that many times a year. It is NO fun.

Perhaps if you stay a month at a time in each location with a kitchenette it will be a lot like RVing in that you will have time to explore each area. It does not sound as if you would need to move as often as podwerkz did since you will be moving on your schedule rather than your employer's schedule. The people I know of who did this enjoyed it. Colin and Rae did it internationally staying about a month in each location and living like a local in rental apartments or Air B&Bs or house sitting while there. James pretty much stayed in New York City, I think, while living in Air B&Bs. Another couple I heard of lived in several different Air B&Bs all in one metro area checking out neighborhoods before deciding where to settle.So, yes, it can be done and be enjoyable.

Linda Sand

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Certainly there is a balance that might be tolerable. Maybe a few days in each location might be enjoyable.

But staying in 5-7 different rooms every week would be as lousy as staying in the SAME motel room for weeks on end....or so it seems to me. 

Motels and hotels suck. They just do.

Maybe a cottage, condo, cabin, BnB, yurt or even a teepee(!), etc might be a bit better...but barely.

 

 

 

 

Edited by podwerkz
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Well I mentioned hotels a an option, but also AirBnBs and short-term rentals.  In terms of time, I would probably stay at each location for at least a month, more likely 3 months or so so that I could really explore the area.  I mentioned hotels as a possibility, but I could budget for AirBnBs.  Also, there are some decent options as far as furnished month-to-month rentals.  That's also something I'm considering.

Kirk, thanks for sending over that article.  This line really stuck out to me:

"Domicile is the place where you intend to return once you have hung up your RV keys for good."

In this case, the answer would be the Philadelphia area.  Unclear whether I'd be returning to the city itself or the suburbs.  If I'm living the nomading lifestyle until I'm in my forties, I may want to settle down back in the suburbs.  If I'm only doing this for a few years, living in the city again would be nice.  Of course the tricky thing is the Philadelphia Wage Tax.

I am going to be speaking to a friend about this that might be able to refer me to a tax attorney who would be good at handling the subject.  That said, I may take a more relaxed approach toward following regulations.  Sure, there are laws and regulations, but the laws and regulations in my state aren't ultimately designed for this type of thing, and my understanding is, an individual's intent plays a big part of whether or not any type of crime like fraud or tax evasion occurred.  My intent is certainly not to evade taxes, so I think I could do a pretty good job defending myself (likely with the help of a lawyer) if something came up.

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Depending on how long this odessy  goes on you could intend to return to Tx or Fla. or where-ever but that does not mean you can't ever change your mind and decide to go somewhere else.  If this is fairly short term even a couple or three years, (depends on you) it might be easier but a little more expensive (or less)  to keep your domicile in PA. Once you get enough good information you will have to evaluate and make your own best decision.

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2 hours ago, fugue said:

I think I could do a pretty good job defending myself

If you are thinking of taxes on wages earned while you are traveling, those are normally taxed in the location where earned and in most cases would not be subject to tax in your domicile state, but it is probably a good idea to make sure. I did some searching online and was able to find a page on that city tax that answers a lot of questions, but doesn't seem to address your situation. I was unable to find any Q&A page for it. You may be wise to get legal advice if your permanent address that you plan to use for your driver's license, vehicle registration, and your insurance policies is within the city limits. 

Quote

Who pays the tax

The City Wage Tax is a tax on salaries, wages, commissions, and other compensation. The tax applies to payments that a person receives from an employer in return for work or services. All Philadelphia residents owe the City Wage Tax, regardless of where they work.

 

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In addition to my own bed in my RV another nice thing to us was our own toilet and shower. As well not having wrinkled clothes in a suitcase to be unpacked and packed for every new hotel motel B&B room.

But there is no upkeep or maintenance on rented rooms.

Good luck and,

Safe Travels

 

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What you are describing sounds very similar to a traveling nurse.  They typically stay in a location for about 13 weeks per stint; longer if they like it.  We did that for about a year and had a ball.  That was a long time before full-timing caught on in that field.

I suggest you try to find some traveling nurses and pick their brains.  They deal with just about every question or scenario you have presented.  Full-time RVing is pretty close but not quite apples to apples.  When we did it we housed in agency provided housing.  It was good but were we to do it again we would definitely do it in an RV.

Having said that, don't hesitate for a minute to drop in here and bounce any and all questions.  As you've no doubt noticed, the knowledge and experience here is abundant and we love hearing about  folks doing things a bit different.

 

Congrats on going for an unconventional life.  You'll find a way to make it work and truly will not regret it.

Edited by Kevin H
added more info.
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We actually started out our retirement nomadic life sans RV.  We thought that the temporary housing model would offer a relatively inexpensive lifestyle that optimized freedom.  It didn't turn out that way for us.  

1) For us, it turned out to be expensive.  Unless one is willing to spend time in the very least expensive motels, your average name brand hotel/motel would eat up most budgets.  We focused on AirBNB and VRBO.  Yes, there were some deals on monthly stays and we lucked into some great opportunities.  But over time, you really do get what you pay for.  (Pro tip:  Don't trust the photos and descriptions on ads.)  Again, unless one is willing to pursue monthly/longer stays in the most meager places, AirBNB and VRBO get pretty pricey--especially in pretty, tourist-oriented places that we wanted to visit.  Top tier RV parks/resorts deliver comfort and amenities at a fraction of the cost of similar temporary housing.

2) Freedom--or lack of.  We envisioned a spontaneous life and spur of the moment decisions.  One can do that, but living that way probably means that your staying in hotels or pitching a tent.  We found booking AirBNB/VRBO at the last minute impossible for us.  Smart shoppers had already booked up the optimal places months before.  So, we were left with expensive places or dives.  This forced us to start booking months before hand and there went our freedom.  We were tied to a schedule.  Twice, we had to cancel reservations and lost big bucks.

After six months of this, we bought an RV.  We got the lifestyle that was exactly what we'd been hoping for--a balanced affordable, nomadic life with gobs of freedom.  That's our experience.  Your mileage may vary.

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4 hours ago, Big Rick said:

Do like they do on the tiny home shows

tape off a box on the floor to put what you “have to have” and then see if that will fit. Then add some want to haves, etc

We did that before we moved into our first Class B motorhome. It only sort-of worked. We did not know how a much lower ceiling would affect Dave, who is tall. Nor did we have any idea how small a 10 gallon black tank is. Yes, we lived for awhile in that taped off space, except for using the kitchen--and bathroom--and closet--and bed... 

Linda

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