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Choosing a Domicile: Best Home Base For Fulltime RVing

You Don’t Need a Physical Home or Even a Plot of Land in Your Domicile State, but You Do Need a Mailing Address

One of the most important decisions you can make as a full-time RVer is what you will consider your “home base.” You may feel skeptical about needing a home base for fulltime RVing (domicile), and if you are, you are not alone. Many new RVers wonder, “Do you need a home base for full-time RVing?” The answer is a resounding “yes”! This is important not only because you need a place to receive mail but also because you need a home state in which to register your vehicles, renew your driver’s license, and file your taxes. 

Failing to establish a home base address can cause mass chaos in your personal life. Not only that, but claiming a random state to say you “live” without establishing a domicile to avoid income tax or to get the best price on your vehicle registration—is illegal and will get you in trouble with the law. 

Choosing The Best Home Base for Fulltime RVing

Now that we’ve established how important a domicile address is when you’re an RVer let’s take a bit to discuss how one might go about picking the best home base for themselves. There are several things you should consider when choosing your domicile. Below, we’ve compiled a list of the most important considerations you should make. 

Take Your State of Origin Into Consideration

If you have a piece of property you are leaving behind in your state of origin, it might be best to hang onto that state as your home base. This is the easiest route if you can continue to get mail at your property.

That said, even if you need to find a mailing service in your state of origin, you might find that keeping your state of domicile makes for a logical home base for fulltime RVing. This is especially true if you plan to land in the same state again when you stop traveling or if you’ll still spend a significant amount of time in the state. 

Take a Look at Mail Service Options

Some people choose their domicile state because the mail service they prefer happens to run out of that state. There are a few different mailing services that are popular in the RVing circle. These include Escapees, Saint Brendan’s Isle, Anytime Mailbox, FMCA, and Dakota Post. All have pros and cons, so you will need to look into each to decide which you’d like to use (or if you’d like to look at something entirely different). 

Know Where You’ll Be

It’s always best to domicile in the state you’ll spend the most time in. Or at least the state you will be returning to yearly for doctor visits and other yearly things you may need to take care of. Some find the best home base for fullltime RVing is in a state where they frequently return to visit family every year. Not only does this make things easier legally, but it also makes things like serving jury duty, voting, renewing your driver’s license, and getting annual vehicle inspections a whole lot more straightforward. 

Consider Taxes

Not all states charge income tax. Not only that, but things like vehicle taxes vary quite a lot from one state to the next. By looking into these things before you decide on an RV home state, you might just save yourself a good chunk of change over time. 

Workamper Note

Keep in mind that if you work in other states while traveling, you will still have to file income taxes on the portion of the income you made in that state, even if your home state doesn’t have an income tax.

Think About Schooling

People with kids typically homeschool while traveling fulltime. This is a fantastic way to show your kids the world and give them some amazing learning opportunities.

That said, some states have homeschooling laws that make it difficult to homeschool on the road. Therefore, homeschool laws are something to consider if you have school-aged children. 

Keep Your Business in Mind

Planning to run a business from the road? A considerable number of people do this quite successfully. That said, some state laws work better for this than others. Those taking a business traveling with them—or plan to start a business in the future—will want to look into the small business laws in any state they consider using as a domicile. 

Price Things Out

We mentioned that choosing a state with no income tax and low vehicle taxes can save you money, but that is not the only way you can save money when choosing your RV home state. Insurance premiums vary more than you might think from one state to the next, so be sure to check the cost of vehicle and health insurance before making a switch. 

Look Into Driver’s License Renewal, Vehicle Licensing, and Vehicle Inspections

Some states require yearly vehicle inspections, while others don’t. Some states need you to come in to renew your driver’s license each time, and others allow you to do it online. The same goes for renewing your vehicle tags.

Choosing a state that does not require you to have your vehicle inspected and will allow you to renew important licenses online is definitely the way to go, if at all possible. 

Ask If You Can Vote

Finally, you will want to determine if your vote will count where you plan to domicile. Learn whether absentee ballots are allowed in state and local elections and the process for voting from out of state. 

Texas sign

Best Home Base for Fulltime RVing: Top 3 Picks

There are three states that the vast majority of full-time RVers choose as their respective home bases. Let’s look at these and discuss why they are popular picks. 

Florida

Many RVers spend each winter in Florida, and they use these months to get important things done in their domicile state. There is no state income tax there, and homeschooling laws are relatively lax if you join an “umbrella school.”

Vehicle inspections are not a requirement, insurance rates are pretty low, and those with Florida residency receive discounts on many theme park tickets and cruises. 

Texas

Texas is another place where people spend the winter, making it easy to take care of important business while you’re down there. This state has the most laid-back homeschooling laws of all, does not charge state income tax, and has low insurance rates.

While Texas requires annual vehicle inspections, this is something you do not have to have until you eventually return to the state, should you be gone whenever the time comes for your inspection. 

South Dakota

Finally, there is South Dakota. While not many people make a point of returning to South Dakota each year because of the weather or attractions, some are willing to add it to their travel plans fairly regularly to take advantage of the benefits of calling it their home state.

Homeschooling laws are pretty relaxed in South Dakota, and you will not pay income, inheritance, or personal property tax while domiciling here. There are no vehicle inspections, and registration fees are very reasonable.


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7 thoughts on “Choosing a Domicile: Best Home Base For Fulltime RVing”

  1. “Patriot Act Warning: Using a commercial mail forward service does have a downside. All financial institutions are required by the Patriot Act to have a residential address on file for their account holders, and the rules specifically disallow mail forwarding services & PO Boxes. So if you change your address (or open a new account) using your mail forwarding address – you will likely at some point be asked to provide it. Not doing so can lead to accounts being restricted or suspended from transactions (we’ve had this happen, even on accounts we’ve held for over 10 years using mail forwarding addresses). You are legally allowed to use a ‘next of kins’ address, even if you don’t live there. Have a residential address, preferably within your state of domicile, ready to go. Don’t try to explain to the institution your situation – they’re just filling in blanks, or it could raise red flags (we tried this once, thinking we’d carve a path for RVers, and it resulted in them not accepting our family member’s address without proof we lived there.)” — Technomadia

  2. Nice article but I’m surprised, especially at your young age, that you never touched upon the importance of buying health insurance and having Nationwide coverage. FL is the only popular domicile state that has a BCBS PPO, full Nationwide coverage. Not just just for emergencies and health share plans type plans are not true health insurance. We have been full timing since 2013 and chose FL mostly because of this reason. We are not Medicare age, we are self employed (as a lot of rvers are) and have to buy our own health insurance. We have known personally too many people that take advise that only look at vehicle registrations and taxes and choose their state based on that. Then they end up with large medical bills as they never considered health insurance and traveling full time. I would love to see an article that includes health insurance as it effects many younger rvers and makes a big difference on where you domicile. Thanks.

    • I’ve had BC/BS for 30 years and it works in every state. Before full timing I vacationed most summers in the west and got medical attention there. No problem ever.

    • Very true. We are full time also. Not qualified for Medicare and pay for our insurance. After a fiasco of being hospitalized in a state that my insurance wasn’t in (Kaiser) we learned to find an insurance that will be accepted in all 50 states and plan ahead.

  3. Now in Texas if NO inspection then NO license plate renewal so you might be driving on expired plates if Inspection is late!

    • Thanks for being a Camper Smarts reader. As far as we can tell, Texas DMV has not indicated a change. According to https://www.dps.texas.gov/section/vehicle-inspection/faq/general-inspection,

      “Motorist Out-of-State When Inspection Expires
      If your vehicle is out-of-state and you are unable to complete a Texas vehicle inspection to renew your vehicle’s registration, you will be able to self-certify the vehicle is out-of-state and will be permitted to register. The self-certification process is limited to:

      Active Duty Military
      Full-Time Students
      Seasonal Texans, RVers
      Apportioned Vehicles
      Elected Congressional Officials
      You will be able to renew your registration using self-certification online, by mail or in-person. Please contact your county tax office for more information about their requirements for out-of-state registration renewal. See County Tax Offices to find the contact information for your county of residence.

      If you renew your vehicle’s registration using the out-of-state self-certification option, a remark will be placed on your vehicle record indicating an inspection is still due. Once you return to the state, you must complete a Texas vehicle inspection within three days of arrival at your home, duty station or destination. It is very important you keep the Vehicle Inspection Report (VIR) issued after completing your vehicle’s inspection in case you are stopped by law enforcement before the remark is removed from your vehicle record, which takes about 48 hours. The remark will only be removed upon payment of the state’s portion of the inspection fee and verification of a current, passing inspection.”

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