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Choosing a Domicile State

We purchased our motorhome in California in 2006. We paid $14,000.00 in sales tax, more than we paid for our first house, a mobile home in San Luis Obispo, CA. Had we lived in South Dakota the tax would have been only $7,000.00. In Oregon, zero!

As a full time traveler you can choose your domicile state. This is state that you consider your permanent residence and the state to whom you will file your taxes. Even if traveling full time, it is the state you will return to. Choosing your state involves learning about the taxes, fees and regulations for the state.

At a minimum you will want to know:

Motorhome and vehicle registration fees
Motorhome and vehicle insurance
Health insurance plans and fees
State income tax
State sales tax
State property tax
Home insurance rates

To establish a domicile state you need to: Insure your vehicles
Register your vehicles
Obtain drivers licenses
Purchase health insurance
Register to vote
If you don't a have home in the state you will need a mailing service

We have moved from California in 2011 to Tennessee to South Dakota to Texas to Arizona and back to California.

We still have a rental house in California so we file a California tax return as well as in our domicile state.

Each state has different requirements to be a resident. Many require an actual residence, owned or rented.
When we moved from California to Tennessee our motorhome annual registration went from $1,300 to $68! But we could not complete the move as Tennessee required a home deed or rental agreement.

South Dakota has an above board welcome to full timers. Just enter the state and stay at an RV park and get a receipt with you and your spouse's name on it. Taken to the licensing bureau we walked out with our actual drivers license in 10 minutes for $20. South Dakota is one of the three best states for RVers. Texas and Florida are the other two.

We moved from South Dakota to Texas because of ObamaCare. The South Dakota plan could only be used in that state. The plan from Texas could be used in all states. But after one year Blue Cross canceled all Texas ObamaCare plans as they lost 400 million dollars. Our next move was to Arizona.

The ObamaCare website stated our Arizona policy would be for all states. So we drove to Arizona and did all require steps to establish our domicile. Then when in California and trying to get health services we were told that the AZ plan could only be used in AZ. We contacted a ObamaCare representative and they confirmed the plan was for all states. But AZ United Health Care said No. We tried to change our ObamaCare plan but the enrollment period was closed. So we had AZ insurance for one year and were able to use it only a few times when in AZ.

In 2017 we are back in California. We had left because all fees and taxes were much higher than any other state we considered. Today, amazingly, most amounts are the least! We have a reasonable all-states health plan, low vehicle registration and insurance fees. Property tax is high for new owners but we are protected by Proposition 13. Sales tax is high but we don't buy much of anything. So for today California looks good.

Before you move do your research. We had a book that helped us but we could no longer find it in print. Here is a book that looks to be similar. Good luck!

Choosing Your RV Home Base by Roundabout Publications

Page 3200 last updated or audited on 09-26-2017     By Pete . Ellen Mattson

The Full Time Motorhome Living Guide

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