These were two big ones for us in the planning process.
And actually, health insurance was one of my very biggest factors when determining whether we could even feasibly quit our jobs, sell the house/our things and hit the road for a year. If we hadn’t found an option that covered what we needed at a reasonable cost, we wouldn’t be traveling right now.
We get asked quite often WHY we had to change our state of domicile. The simple answer is that once we sold our home in South Carolina and hopped in the camper, we were no longer residents of the state. Legally, you have to establish residence somewhere.
Many full-timers we know have opted to use a friend or family member’s address for residence and mail. This is especially great and easy if said friend or family member lives in the state you plan to go back to (and if they don’t mind sending you your mail while you’re on the road). But there are lots of great reasons to deal with the temporary headache of changing your state of domicile. Different states offer perks like no income tax, no sales tax, less expensive costs for health insurance, less expensive vehicle insurance/registration, not requiring annual vehicle inspections and greater homeschooling freedom laws. And some states give you an awesome deal on visiting Disney. 🙂
I don’t want to regurgitate in my own words the fantastic info that is already out there. It’s lengthy and others have done way more research personally than we did, so instead I’ll share the post that was basically our Bible while we worked to get our Florida residency set up: Thanks Roamin’ Ryans!
Here is a brief look at what our experience looked like:
We chose Florida as our new state of domicile, primarily due to having no state tax, considerably lower vehicle registration and insurance costs and because if something happened on the road and we needed to get back, Florida was pretty close to South Carolina. Additionally, each state has different rules regarding how long you have to register your vehicles after claiming residency in that state. We knew we wanted to see as much as we could of the East Coast, so we weren’t going to be making it to South Dakota or Texas in time.
We worked with RVer Insurance Exchange and it was one of the best decisions we could have made. They are focused primarily on helping full-time RVers; the agent we worked with was also an avid RVer preparing to hit the road full-time herself. (If you want her info, shoot us an email and we will be happy to pass it along, she rocked). In our opinion, there is no better group to talk to about your questions or concerns. Rules and regulations are constantly changing, but they are always up-to-date on what is happening and are just a wealth of knowledge. There is SO much info out there and the plans that I thought we needed after researching were NOT what we needed. I was able to have real conversations on the phone with our agent to go through all the details before we figured out what would work best for us. At the end of the day, we ended up with a National PPO and Telemedicine plan that costs only a little more than what we had been paying through Stephen’s employer. The only thing our plan doesn’t cover is well-visits for the kids, otherwise it is a very thorough plan.
We used Escapees for our Florida address and mailing service, which came to less than $200 total for a year. We just keep a minimum of $25 in our “bank” with them for shipping costs. They are AMAZING when it comes to our mail service. I asked them once what size limits they had on the kind of mail they could forward and they said they mail things like mattresses and TV’s often. When we know we will be somewhere for a few days that will allow us to have our mail sent, we just send them an email and our stuff is on its way with a tracking confirmation!
Our Biggest Hang-Up:
Our biggest hang-up with getting our domicile situation worked out was exactly the same issue “The Roamin’ Ryans” had. We thought we were so ahead of the game calling a week or so in advance to have the titles for the truck and trailer released from the lien holders. We were wrong. South Carolina deals only with electronic titles. Which, you would think would be faster, right? Wrong again. It took an additional three weeks and countless phone calls before both titles had been released. Which meant a few extra (and very unplanned) weeks in Florida in the heat of the summer. Our biggest piece of advice if you need titles released is to work on this as soon as you possibly can. And ask your state how long they anticipate the entire process to take as it varies greatly depending on where you are. Then take that time and maybe add a week on for good measure when you’re trying to plan out your route.
We read in a few guides and articles that it was important to establish professional/social relationships with local religious organizations, doctors, dentists, insurance agents, etc. in the county where we were establishing domicile. I’m not entirely sure why this is suggested but we never did it. It was enough of a process just remembering to change our address with all of our banks, credit cards, health insurance, etc. And don’t worry about having a physical piece of mail sent to you from your bank or health insurance when you’re getting everything taken care of at the DMV. Most companies can change your address and then electronically send you a piece of mail that you can print and take with you.
Any experiences you had changing your domicile? If you have any other questions, please feel free to reach out! If we don’t have the answer we may be able to point you in the right direction!