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Establishing State Residency When Living Full Time in an RV

Stephanie, her hubby, and their two cats enjoy living and traveling full-time in their RV, often camping off-grid to stretch their budget.

Many RVers Choose South Dakota as a State of Residency

View of Badlands National Park, South Dakota

View of Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Choosing a State of Residency

Choosing a state of residency is one of the important and most pressing decisions that you, as a prospective full-time RVer, will face. You have taken some big steps on the road to full-timing. Your house is on the market and the motorhome is in the driveway. You are whittling down your household goods and organizing things you will keep. Now, for the big decision: If you no longer live in a state, where will you have your legal residence?

You can remain a resident of your current state if you have relatives or friends who will let you use their address, or if you set up a mailbox. Your other option is to choose another state that is friendly to full-time RVers. If you do this, you must meet residency requirements for that state.

Tax Benefits in Some States

States with No State Income Tax:

  1. Alaska
  2. Florida
  3. Nevada
  4. South Dakota
  5. Texas
  6. Washington
  7. Wyoming

New Hampshire and Tennessee tax only interest and dividend income.

States with No State Sales Tax:
This is difficult to categorize since these states may have excise or local taxes that are not state taxes.

  1. Deleware
  2. New Hampshire
  3. Oregon
  4. Alaska
  5. Montana

Why Choose A Different State?

People who have lived in a state for many years, perhaps even their whole lives, may identify with that state and wonder if there is a good reason to become a resident of a different state when they go on the road full-time. They soon discover that there are good financial reasons for changing residency. All states are not equal when it comes to the cost of registering and insuring your vehicle. Also, you can save thousands of dollars if you register a newly purchased vehicle in a state that has low or no sales tax.These costs are a big consideration when purchasing and registering a high dollar vehicle or an RV.

While the requirements to become a state resident sound simple, it usually means that you have to spend some time in the state to get things organized.

A legal address for residency must be a street address. Post Office boxes are not considered residential addresses, but there are mailing forwarding services in many states which will give you the required street address. This is usually fairly easy, and you do not need to set this up in person.

Things to Consider When Changing State Residency

Driver’s License. You must get a driver’s license from your state of residence. Some states will require you to take a driver’s test, others won’t. Either way, you need to do this in person as you will have to get a photograph taken and show proof of your identification.

Vehicle registration and insurance. Vehicles must be registered and insured in the state where you have your driver's license (your state of residency). This can usually be done by mail and, in the case of insurance, by phone, but there are several forms to fill out for the Department of Motor Vehicles. We found that our mail service, Dakota Post in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, has a staff member specializing in helping people through the process. There is a fee associated with this service, but it is well worth it as she walked us through each step and personally visited the DMV to take care of the paperwork.

Voting: Voter registration can sometimes be done when driver’s licenses are purchased. Voting in national elections can be done by absentee ballot. States have different requirements for registering for local elections.

Health Insurance: This should be purchased in your state of residency. If you are on Medicare, you should notify them of your new address after you establish residency in your new state. If you are on a health insurance plan with your employer or previous employer (retirees), you should check with them about your change of state residency to make sure you are still covered.

Taxes: There are seven states that don't have state income taxes: Alaska, Florida, Texas, Wyoming, Washington, South Dakota and Nevada. There are other states that give retirees special consideration at tax time. Some states do not tax Social Security income, some states do not tax pensions. It would be worthwhile to find out ahead of time how changing your state residency will affect your tax liability.

Will you return? Whichever state you choose, you need to consider how often you will be returning. Will you develop some community ties life social organizations, church, charity work? Will you get medical care, financial and legal services there? These are all things that will be looked at if there is a legal question of your residency.

Choosing an RV Friendly State

People have different reasons for becoming residents of various states, but there are three states that are very friendly towards full-time RVers and the most popular choices among full-time RVers. These states have no state income tax and they make it easy for RVers to establish and maintain residency. These states are:


St. Andrews Island State Park on the Florida Panhandle.  Florida residents get discounts in Florida State Parks.

St. Andrews Island State Park on the Florida Panhandle. Florida residents get discounts in Florida State Parks.

  • It has no tax on income or investment income.
  • It has many retirees and many choices of health insurance.
  • It has mid-range vehicle insurance.
  • It is convenient to RVers who plan to spend a lot of time on the east coast.
  • There are some mail forwarding companies that will provide clients with a street address.


View from Magnolia Ridge Core of Engineers campground in the Big Thicket of Texas.

View from Magnolia Ridge Core of Engineers campground in the Big Thicket of Texas.

  • It has no state income tax.
  • Vehicle registration fees are low,however they do have an annual vehicle inspection. Texas does allow full-timers to postpone vehicle inspection until the next time they are back in the state after the inspection expires.
  • Driver’s licenses can be renewed by mail.
  • It’s easy to register to vote by mail.

South Dakota

Badlands National Park in South Dakota

Badlands National Park in South Dakota

  • When purchasing a vehicle, there is only a 4% excise tax, but no other sales tax to pay.
  • It has no state income tax.
  • Vehicle registration fees are reasonable (rates are increasing in 2015).
  • There is no state vehicle inspection required. This means that you do not have to go back each year to have your vehicles inspected.
  • Vehicle insurance is much lower than many states. For example, insurance in SD is less than 50% of NC vehicle insurance.
  • Driver’s licenses cost about $20 in 2011, but you must appear in person to renew every five years.

Other Considerations for Full-Time RVers

When choosing a new state for legal residence, you may also want to think about what your full-time life style will be. Every state offers discounts at their state parks to their residents.

Florida is a good choice if you will spend a lot of time on the east coast because Florida residents get a hefty discount on Florida state parks, and it's a great place to spend the winters.

Texas is a good choice If you intend to winter in the Rio Grande Valley or spend a lot of time in the Southwest. Texas has beautiful state parks and offers good discounts to residents. Many members of The Escapees Club are residents of Texas because The Escapees Club has a an excellent mail service based in Livingston, Texas and a very helpful staff.

South Dakota has the many financial benefits, and since you are only required to return to renew driver's licenses every five years, it might make the most sense for you. You do have to renew your driver's license in person, so you'll have to travel to South Dakota at least every five years if you choose it as your legal residence. One of the most popular mail services is located in Sioux Falls, SD. Dakota Post (formerly Alternative Resources) staff will also assist you when registering a vehicle or purchasing insurance long distance. There are other mail services, including Escapees, that are also helpful and reasonably priced.

Getting a Driver's License

Since 9/11, some states have put in place more stringent rules for proving citizenship and residency before they will issue a driver's license. Before you go to the DMV in your chosen state, do check to see what proof of ID you will need. In general, you should take along the following:

  • Your old driver's license.
  • Proof of identity like a birth certificate or U.S. passport.
  • Your Social Security card or a W-4 or 1099 form that shows your social security number.
  • South Dakata requires RVers to stay one night in a campground and bring a receipt showing names of anyone who wants to renew or get a new license.

When to Change State Residency

As you are planning to change your lifestyle from living in a "sticks and bricks" to living a life on wheels, you may be getting anxious about having all of your business affairs in order. Changing state residency can't be done until you actually sell your home and no longer own property in your home state, but there are some things you can do to get ready.

How to Prepare for Change of Residency

  • Check into mail forwarding services in the state where you will become a resident and set up your new mailing address. Changing your mailing address by itself is not changing your residency.
  • Change mailing addresses. When your moving date is a month to six weeks away, start changing your mailing address for memberships, subscriptions, financial institutions, etc. You can call your mail service at any time to have them send your mail to wherever is convenient for you.
  • Plan a visit to your new home state. You have some time before you need to change over your drivers license, registrations and insurance, but that all needs to be changed at the same time. While you don't need to feel pressured, you should make a plan to visit your new "home" state within 2 or 3 months of going on the road.
  • Once you are a legal resident of your new state, be sure to change your address with the Social Security Administration, Medicare and your health insurance companies.Don't forget your retirement plans and any life insurance companies, too.

On the Road

When it's time to pull out of your driveway for the last time, don't look back! We play Willie Nelson's song, "On the Road Again" each time we are off on a new adventure. You have places to go and things to see, so look ahead and enjoy the journey!

Happy Trails!

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This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

Question: We live in Missouri where annual Personal Property taxes are ridiculously high making RVs very expensive to register here. As a result, my wife and I need to establish a different more RV-friendy domicile. I see a lot of discussion on sales tax, income tax, and voting, but little on Personal Property taxes which can be more concerning than the other three issues. Do you have any suggestions on how to find locations with no or low annual Personal Property taxes?

Answer: According to the Motley Fool, there are 7 states that have no vehicle tax: Residents of Alabama, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, North Dakota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin pay nothing at all in-state vehicle property taxes.

You will note that this list includes Texas, Florida and South Dakota which have no state income tax and are popular with full-time RV'ers.

Question: Can they really make me travel to SD to get a duplicate for a lost valid SD license?

Answer: You may be able to replace your SD drivers license through an on-line process. Here is a link to the South Dakota Department of Public Safety website with information: https://dps.sd.gov/driver-licensing/renew-and-dupl... There is also a phone number on this page that you can call if you have any questions about the process.

Question: Can you become a resident of Texas and still have property in another state? We plan on becoming full time RV'ers but want to keep our home and rent it out.

Answer: I believe that there are people who do it, but you might want to consult an attorney to be sure of the legality of it. When you become a resident of another state, you usually have to prove that you live there.

Question: Can you own property in another state, other than your home state, and legally become a full-time RV'er?

Answer: The issue is not so much about owning property as about where you declare your domicile when you go full-time. For example, if you want to become a resident of South Dakota while full-time RVing AND own property in South Dakota, also owning property in another state is not an issue because you have established a connection to South Dakota. But if you want to become a resident of South Dakota for purposes of full-time RVing, and do NOT own property in SD, but own property in another state, that might be a little tricky. I believe that most full-time RV'ers divest themselves of property before establishing their domicile in an RV friendly state, as it just makes life less complicated.

I am not an attorney, so I can't really address the legalities. My advice is to check on residency requirements for the state you are considering making your domicile as each state might be different. Consult an attorney if you have a complicated issue.

Question: Can I keep my Calif. USPS PO Box and still be a SD resident? Most of mail would go to South Dakota.

Answer: Since a P.O. Box is not a residence, I don't see why it would matter. The issue is more that you don't have a residence in CA while you claim SD residency.

Question: Do utility trailers count as vehicle registration to become a resident?

Answer: You don't necessarily have to register a vehicle, but you do need to get a driver's license and an address in the state where you want to become a resident.

Question: What do about voting when living full-time in an RV? I can't find anything that addresses if you would still be able to cast an absentee ballot.

Answer: Once you have your driver's license in SD, you can register to vote and request an absentee ballot when voting time rolls around. Check the county website for information.

Question: We live in Florida, and our son is going to high school this year. Could we use an address of the RV campground as his school address? Our house boundary school is not good, and we are looking for options besides having to sell/rent our property and rent/buy another property.

Answer: You'd have to check with your school district. My guess is that you would have to be living at the campground in order to use that as your address, but I don't know all the rules regulating school districts.

Question: If I own a home but rent it out, can I still register to be an FL resident, even though the property is in CT?

Answer: I'm not sure if Florida has any requirement on not owning property in another state, but I do know that you have to have a physical Florida address and a Florida drivers license to become a Florida resident.

Question: We are selling our home in Florida but plan to maintain residency here. In this case, would there be any steps that would be different to maintain residency?

Answer: If you already live in Florida and plan to maintain your residency, you will only need to have a physical Florida address, and it sounds like you have that worked out.

Question: Are you required to change banking institutions if you change your domicile when full-time RV'ing?

Answer: No, changing banking institutions is not a requirement, though you will have to change your address with your bank. When you do that, banks may require proof of your residency. They are not being difficult -- they are just complying with Federal regulations.

Question: We plan to live on an RV campground for a few years. Can we make that our permanent address?

Answer: If you are residing at one campground and receive your mail there, you can make it your permanent address with the post office. If you are talking about establishing residency, you will also need to get your driver's license changed to that address.

Question: We sold our house in California and are now becoming full-time RVers. We will establish residency in SD. For 20 years, I have been treated for chronic pain, which includes medication that is a controlled substance. We will need to change insurance, and I'm nervous about being able to get my prescriptions filled from doctors in a different state. Have you or anyone you know had to deal with that?

Answer: I'm sure that there are full-time RVers who have had to use pain medications. I would advise getting a copy of your medical records to give to your new doctors. You might check the RVing discussion boards on Escapees.com or RV.net to see if anyone has suggestions for you.

Question: We have a home in Connecticut and want to spend 6 months in Florida, how can we get residency in Florida?

Answer: To get a residency in Florida, you would need to have an address from a place you've bought or rented (prove by showing utility or tax bill). You can then use this address to get a Florida driver's license, register your vehicles, and register to vote.

© 2011 Stephanie Henkel


Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on September 06, 2020:

It's true that Tennessee does not have a tax on personal income, but it does have a "hall tax", a 6% tax on dividends and interest earned as well as a 7% sales tax.

Patti on August 28, 2020:

Tennessee has no state income tax, as well.

Kris on January 22, 2020:

outdated and useless article due to DMV now demanding utility bills to prove residency.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on January 05, 2019:

I'm wondering if you need to have it registered if you don't take it on the road? I don't know how vehicle inspection works in Texas. Do you have to take it to a central location or do you take it to a local mechanic who is certified to do inspections? If it's the latter, perhaps you could find a shop that would send someone out to do it on site. I suppose you could always hire someone with a truck to take your trailer to the inspection site. Sorry I can't be of more help.

Phyllis Wilson on January 01, 2019:

I have a new trailer that is a year old trailer and I live in a park in Texas and now I got a notice that I have to have my trailer inspected or I cannot get it registered? I do not have a truck available to do this. Is there not some other way?

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on October 01, 2018:

It's true that this lifestyle is more complicated when you have to deal with doctor's visits, prescription refills, multiple pets and other facets of life as you get older. It's not impossible, though. I would say the 9 cats might be a big obstacle as you would have to deal with many little boxes, lots of flying fur and the danger of escapees when doors are opened. As far as prescription drugs, we go with mail order and get a 90 day supply at a time. You just have to plan ahead to be sue you don't run out. A lot depends on how determined you are to give it a try, and how much effort you are willing and able to make to follow this lifestyle. Whatever you decide, wishing you luck and happy travels.

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on October 01, 2018:

I now find myself in a position where I might be considering this lifestyle. But, I wonder if I have any business doing so at age 70, (with 9 cats!), and having never driven anything larger than a U-Haul truck (only once).

What about things like prescription refills? I've been binge-watching a YouTube channel called "KYD," for Keep Your Daydream," and it's full of all kinds of great info, but...those folks are still only in their 40s!

I'm thinking my window to this kind of living may be someplace in my rear view mirror!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on July 20, 2018:

Dear Full time RVer - I am so sorry for all of your troubles with you financial institutions. First, let me say that I am not an attorney, nor do I claim to be an expert on these matters. While the purpose of this site is not to solve everyone's individual problems, I answer to the best of my ability and knowledge, which is personal experience and research.

I do understand that some banks are giving full timers a hard time about their addresses. It seems that people who use a service like Escapees or Dakota Post which provide street addresses have an easier time of it, but maybe that's not always the case. I don't understand why your credit cards were cancelled. I have used my SD address for my cards without a problem so far.

If you are a member of Escapees, I would suggest giving them a call and asking for some guidance. They are aware of the problems facing full time RVers and may be able to give you some help, or they may refer you to an attorney.

If I am able to find better information regarding this matter, I will post updates here.

Full time rver on July 15, 2018:

Financial institution problems abound. Would appreciate if you could PLEASE check into the best way to proceed. Have a South Dakota forwarding srvice. But it has become as of late impossible to do anything concerning financial institiutions. Credit cards, Loans , Banking etc. Getting many false answers from my forwarder. As most people are retired being full time RV'er. And if your family and friennds are all gone you can not use these forwarding addresses provided. Even though no problem with Government agencies. Having vehicle and registration and insurance. When you enter your mailing address as mail forward company. the address is automatically rejected through their computer program. Even if you suppy a secondary address of any kind. I was even told to use an old address as secondary address. No good. Because your MAILING address is what rejects you. Your license etc. lists a P.M.B. # on it. Evrything is funnelled through the Post Office when using forwarding services. My credit cards have been cancelled. Can not secure a loan. can not do anything. Very ridiculous . You can rent a place and move every month to a new location while travelling. Seems these companies tell you that you have to have a PERMANENT brick and mortar address. Cant get around these computer sysyems. THIS IS A MAJOR PROBLEM FOR MILLIONS OF PEOPLE. IS THIS STILL AMERICA? ARE WE BEING FORCED TO "STAY PUT" SOMEWHERE/Truly wish you coud research this and give a reply. After all, this is what your site is for. All of us in this situation do not know where to turn. Thank you.

Darlene on May 23, 2018:

Thank you for this post. We're not planning to become full time RVers, but we do have plans to sell everything and have a "roving retirement," traveling around Europe full time for a year or two. I think a lot of this information will help us with some of the logistics for doing that.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on March 25, 2018:

Peggy Woods - I've mostly looked at this from the viewpoint of a full-time RVer. I know that there are many other considerations for those who are retiring and relocating. Thanks for stopping by!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on March 25, 2018:

While we may never live full time in a RV this is excellent information to consider regarding the benefits of declaring residency in certain states. Happy travels!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on March 25, 2018:

SL Pierce - I'm not an attorney, so can't give you a definitive answer on your question as it is a rather complicated situation. You might have a problem getting a SD residency when you own property in another state. Logic says that you won't be living in California, but I'm not sure of the legalities.

S L Pierce on March 24, 2018:

You say, "Changing state residency can't be done until you actually sell your home and no longer own property in your home state." We own property in California and Arizona, and are currently residents of California. We intend to lease our property out, and full-time in our RV, with SD as a home base. Is there a problem with this?

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on February 08, 2018:

Trek neko - The service we use (Dakota Post is Sioux Falls) provides us with a physical address that we are able to use for banking and our drivers' licenses. Escapees also does that, I believe. I don't know what to advise you on your bank. I have accounts in two different banks that accept my SD address. Do you have your SD driver's license? If your SD address is on it, then you should be able to use it as proof of your address.

Trek neko on February 07, 2018:

We hare having issues with banking and the Patriot Act which requires a physical address. We are trying to move to SD and use a mail service while we travel the country but have found out that the bank cannot honor the address of these services. We do not have the option of a relative to use as an address ( I also don’t like the idea either of lying ) . Do you have any suggestions as to how to do the banking piece?

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on January 15, 2018:

Sorry, I can't answer your question. I just don't have enough information on Medicare/medicaid, or health insurance in various states. I would think you'd have to check with Medicare in each state to be able to compare benefits.

JS on January 13, 2018:

What about the best state or states that have expanded medicaid? I'm working on a plan to live full time in an RV to escape a toxic living environment. I'm currently on welfare and have Medicaid and have even applied for SSI and am at the point in the process where it will take probably two more years to get a hearing and then *if* I'm approved, it'll help, but until then I'm pretty low on options. I could establish residency in Florida through friends who physically live in Florida, but I wouldn't qualify for medicaid and I have way too many physical problems to try to pay for it all out of pocket.

Mobile Johnny on December 07, 2017:

What if you are a student? I think being a New Mexico Resident is the best.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on November 03, 2017:

There are several mailbox companies that will provide you with a mailbox and physical address in a state that you can use as your resident address. You need to establish that first, then get your driver's license. As an example, Escapees has offices in Texas, South Dakota, Florida where you can set up an address, mailbox and mail forwarding. They'll also advise you on how to change residency. There are also other companies that will provide that service. We use Dakota Post in Sioux Falls, SD.

Tim on November 03, 2017:

How do you get your state driver license, residency, if you don't have a physical address in that state...you're traveling full time

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on September 11, 2017:

You don't need the vehicles with you to register them in a state unless you are required to get them inspected. We do our South Dakota registration through the mail. But don't forget that you will need to have your driver's license in the same state as the one where you register your vehicles -- and that means that you need to be a resident of that state.

Alyeskynrose@gmail.com on September 08, 2017:

This may be a silly question, but do I need to have the vehicles I plan on registering with me in the state I plan on using as a home base? For example, I live in Nevada, planning on my rv life in about 2 years, but plan on taking my time (about a year or 2) driving, camping, etc from Nevada, through California, Oregon, Washington, Montana and finally reaching Alaska (where I am originally from but haven't resided there in over 20 years). Should I bother to change? Nevada insurance is insanely expensive. This is why I ask.

RV Georgie on July 11, 2017:

Very useful information, thank you very much!

Pam on April 03, 2017:

I found your article to be very helpful--thank you, but I do have one question. You mentioned that we have to sell our home and own no property to change our state of residence. I am wondering why, since it is not uncommon for people to move and still own property elsewhere. What about people with more than one house? Also, we do not plan to sell our rental property, and may also buy another one in a different state. We may also rent out the house we live in now. Does that mean we can never change our residency?

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on January 29, 2017:

We use a mailing service, Dakota Post, as our address. They will handle your mail in several different ways according to your instructions and either hold your mail for you until you tell them to send it or send it on a regular schedule to an address if you are going to be in one location for a few months. The Escapees also have a similar mail service in SD, and there are other services in SD which I'm sure you can find in a Google search.

Denise Lefevre on January 24, 2017:

Hi. My husband will be retiring soon and we plan on becoming full time RV's. but want to set up residency in SD. How do I go about setting up an address in SD but till get are mail in are travels

rick on September 13, 2016:

Biggest question I have is, if we go on the road and set up residence in South Dakota for example, can we rent our house out in another state and not claim to be a resident there if we are just a landlord, or does the house have to go. What about a bare piece of land also?

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on May 04, 2016:

Your residency is established in the place where you have a permanent address, driver's license and vehicle registration. As explained in the article, many full time RVers choose to have residencies in states like Texas, South Dakota or Florida because they are friendlier to this life style. Where you spend your time while traveling doesn't really matter. You can visit wherever you want and spending a month or two at each stop is not generally an issue.

Frank DeCota on April 29, 2016:

If you give up your residence to live full time on the road, and your traveling interstate across the US, spending a month or two each time you stop, what laws do you fall under and where does it require you to have a fixed residence?

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on January 04, 2016:

Tsee- Being a work-a-holic may be ok in some stage of life, but do take time to smell the roses! We went on the road before full retirement age and have never regretted a minute of it.

Tanya See from West Virginia on January 03, 2016:

I've always wondered what it would be like to sell the home & possessions and live in an RV. I must say I'm jealous of your ability to do that! I love to travel even though my husband and I are work-a-holics! Some day.......maybe :)

carioca on November 30, 2015:

This is Kim. Thank you for your comments. I had not realized that people had commented until today. Just to correct the statement I made, I will establish residency in the US; however, I will not be living in any particular state for more than one month. The plan is to buy a second hand RV, most likely in Florida, then explore the US for the next two years in 6 to 9 month stretches. When I am not in the US, I plan to be abroad. Has anyone done this? Would anyone be able to advise me on medical health insurance? I will need to have it.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on November 18, 2015:

We also use South Dakota, and this is the year we return to renew our licenses. Looking forward to revisiting some of our favorite places on the way!

Tazio Sartini on November 18, 2015:

We use South Dakota as our home base. Returning to Rapid City and the Black Hills every 5 years to renew our licenses is a always a great trip. Good scenery, things to do, and it's always on the way to other great western places.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on October 27, 2015:

Hi Kim,

I know that many Canadians winter in the US in their RVs and stay for up to 6 months at a time. It's quite a common practice. I have also met couples from New Zealand, Ireland and England who RV in the US for several months at a time, then go back to their home countries. I'm sure that there are also US citizens who split their time between RVing in the US and living in another country. Mexico is a popular "second home". I'm not an expert on this situation, but unless you are borrowing or renting an RV, I would guess that you'd have to register your RV in the US which means you would need insurance and a US driver's license, in other words, you would have to establish residency somewhere. Sounds like a fun plan...hope it all works for you!

Kim on October 27, 2015:

I am returning to the US (after 30 years overseas) and planning to live in an RV and travel. No US driver license, medical insurance or residency.

Looking at second hand RV's on the internet. Plan to live 6 months of the year in the RV- the other 6 months out of the country. The idea is to do this for 2-3 years until I decide where I want to set roots.

Has anyone had similar experiences?

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on December 15, 2014:

Les navy wife CA - I don't know from first hand experience, but I've heard that you can't really do this in California. You'll have to check with someone with more authority about how the tax laws will affect you.

Les navy wife CA on December 14, 2014:

Hi, I was wondering, if not owning property & setting up residency in SD, TX, or FL and then full RVing would allow us to get around certain states non-residents tax. Some states tax you if stay over 6mo's as I've read in other blogs. So if your a full time RVer and don't own property can I stay specifically in CA longer then 6mo's out the year? Is this the loop hole to be able to afford my beloved state a majority of the time while still being able to travel part of year as well?

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on March 05, 2014:

Mzd2u53 - We did exactly that, and it was a great experience! The only difference is that our planned one year on the road turned into four years because we liked it so much! I have several articles on beginning full time RVing that might be helpful. Check the links to articles at the end of this article for advice on downsizing your home to RV living and other articles on living on a budget. It's a great lifestyle whether you do it for a year or for many years! Good luck!

Mzd2u53 on March 05, 2014:

My hubby, who's 62 and I will be retiring soon from Michigan.

Since we can't seem to decided on a new city to put down roots, ( all our kids are in OR and CA) we are thinking of buying an RV and hitting the road for a year. This will give us time to find the perfect permanent spot and see the country while doing it. Any suggestions regarding this plan?

Don Bobbitt from Ruskin Florida on December 10, 2013:

As I mentioned the three top states for RVers to have residnecy are; Texas, SD and Florida.

Each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, but they are the preferred states, financially.


Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on December 10, 2013:

DonGertzJr - Many full-time RVers choose Texas as their domicile. If you live there, or spend a lot of time there, you might be best off keeping your residency there. You'd have to go back to SD to renew your license, so it's only a good idea if you plan to travel there every 5 years. It is hard to compare...each state has its advantages.

DonGertzJr on December 09, 2013:

Thanks for the article. I live in Texas but wonder if SD would be better for domicile.

This is a hard to compare side by side.

Thanks for writing this

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on October 20, 2013:

Don Bobbitt and DzMsLizzy - There are a surprising number of singles who RV, sometimes traveling in groups, sometimes alone. The wonderful thing about the RVing community is that there is always someone willing to lend a hand if you need assistance. Recently, we met an 80+ year old woman who was traveling alone in her RV and had locked herself out. Luckily, there was an unlocked window, so my husband fetched our ladder and climbed into her window to open the door from the inside. I second Don...Never say never!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on October 20, 2013:

DzyMsLizzy - Thanks so much for your comments here. Health issues so often affect our ability to travel. RVing can be more complicated when you need to be close to medical certain medical facilities, but might still be possible with careful trip planning. The main problem might be cost because the closer you are to bigger cities and populated areas, the more expensive RV campgrounds are likely to be. Many full-time RVers hang up their keys because of their need to be close to their doctors and medical care.

However, there are so many wonderful parks and natural wonders in Calfornia, that I hope that you are able to take advantage of them in ways that fit in with your husband's need to be near certain medical facilities. Thanks again for writing and for your up votes!

Don Bobbitt from Ruskin Florida on October 20, 2013:

DzMsLizzy- So Sad to hear about your Husbands health, and I wish you both well. But, as to camping females, I can remember at least two instances where there were two widows who had gotten together and purchased an RV and camped fulltime. So, never say never.

Thanks for the comment,


Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on October 19, 2013:

Very interesting. We've thought about this very occasionally, but not seriously. Now, with my husband's health issues, it really is not an option for us at all anymore. He has to be within an hour of a Kaiser hospital at all times, or lose his Kaiser membership. Since Kaiser operates primarily in the western states, with just a few scattered nationwide locations, that would certainly limit our travel options. (He has been with them so many years, and his health issues are so complex that changing plans would not be a good idea.)

He has told me that if he goes first, that I should 'sell everything, buy an RV and hit the road.' I doubt I would enjoy solo travel minus my soulmate, however. I do like camping, but I am also 9 years older than hubby... ...

Maybe in my next life, I'll never buy a house at all, and be a full-time RVer all my life! ;-) Voted up, interesting and useful.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on October 19, 2013:

Don Bobbitt - Thanks for your comments, Don! Sorry it took me so long to respond, but we've been traveling in New Mexico and out of touch for a while. I know when we first decided to go full time, it was hard to decide where to have our residency. We chose SD because it seemed easiest. As you said, we can get everything done in a week and now only have to return every 5 years to renew our driver's licenses in person. Full timing was a great experience, though we did have to stop for a while for family reasons. Now we may be back on the road again for a few more years. Glad you hear you're still RVing!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on October 19, 2013:

Ruby H Rose - Most people who change residency to another state when they go full time do it because it makes sense economically. When the time comes, I'm sure you'll have much to consider. Good luck with following your dream!

Don Bobbitt from Ruskin Florida on October 13, 2013:

Good Info Stephanie. I went through the same investigative process when the wife and I were running around the country in our RV. We picked Florida and eventually we ended up actually moving here as we aged a little more and had to slow down our travels due to our health. A number of our full-time friends used SD mostly because there are towns that you can drive to and camp and literally drive away a week later with everything transferred for you; drivers license, titles, tags, insurance, new mail address, mail forwarding management, wills, etc.

We still have a camper that we keep in a campsite in VA and look to some shorter trips in the spring, but running full time was a great experience for us.

Thanks for the Hub,

Voted UP and shared.


Maree Michael Martin from Northwest Washington on an Island on October 12, 2013:

I really like the idea of full time RV living, not ready yet, but when I am, sure will run to this and other great hubs of yours for some expert advice. I like the idea of getting residency in another state.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on November 01, 2012:

Mary615 - We absolutely loved the years we lived in our RV full time and found that it was easy to adjust to a traveling lifestyle. We spent a lot of time outdoors doing other things, so really didn't have time to miss our yard. Obviously, this isn't the right choice for everyone, but many compromise by RVing half time and living in a house half time. Thanks for your comments and votes!

Mary Hyatt from Florida on November 01, 2012:

I admire you for living full time in an RV. I would miss my house and yard too much.

Voted UP,etc.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on October 07, 2012:

Larry Z -I'm not a lawyer, so have only relayed information of my actual experience as a full time RVer changing residence.

If you plan to move to South Dakota and buy or rent a house to live in, there's absolutely nothing to stop you from becoming a resident of SD. When you move to SD, you'll be doing everything I recommended: change your address, get a SD driver's license and insurance, register to vote, etc.

However, if you don't intend to live in SD, but still own a house in Arizona, you may have a problem. In that case, you may want to get professional legal advice which is beyond my expertise.

Larry Z on October 07, 2012:

Stephanie Henkel says "Changing state residency can't be done until you actually sell your home and no longer own property in your home state". I own a home and 2 pieces of property in Arizona - but want to retire to South Dakota for location and to avoid high AZ sales taxes and state taxes on retirement income. What law is keeping me from changing state residency? Or where can I get help on this issue?

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on April 18, 2012:

DoctorDarts - Glad you found this article on establishing a new state residency interesting. Thanks for reading and commenting on my article!

DoctorDarts on April 18, 2012:

A fascinating subject; something I'll always wondered about. Interesting to see how it works in the states.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on March 23, 2012:

Hi Rick,

I'm not positive, but I would think that if you don't actually live in Colorado, you could change your residence to SD. You would have to get an SD driver's license to be considered a resident, and there are several forms you need to fill out when you do so. We found it really helpful to consult with our mail service people (Alternative Resources) before making the initial change as they were very helpful with explaining things to us. They also have good information on their website.

Rick Morgan on March 23, 2012:

Is it always a requirement to change residencey that your home? We are going to rent our Colorado home and would like to consider SD as our new legal residance.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on April 11, 2011:

Hi Simone,

Although it takes some time to organize some of the little details of a life on the road, once those things are done, its an absolutely wonderful feeling of freedom to live full time in an RV! Home is where you park it!

Thanks for visiting and commenting.

Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on April 11, 2011:

I love the freedom that could come with living in an RV... of course, I forgot that there would be issues like state residency to consider! Great guide.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on April 10, 2011:

Hi Nicki, I checked the photo at the top and it seems to be working from my end--don't know why it seems broken at your end. But thanks for the heads up; I'll keep an eye on it.

The voting issue is sensitive, and there's no way to know what people do who don't live in the state full-time. It would be hoped that they keep up with political issues if they vote in state and local elections.

Although I listed states that do not have sales tax, there are so many other taxes to consider that I would not recommend making a residency decision based on that alone.

So much has to do with personal circumstances, and self employment is one consideration. Thanks for commenting!

Niki Hampton from Oregon on April 10, 2011:

I love it! Your pic at the top isn't working. And I love the piece about voter registration, but I would hope people aren't actually voting in states where they're not following the political climate.

I live in Oregon and have lived in Nevada. I would gladly take the sales tax over the high self-employment tax I pay.

Ancillotti from Brasil, Vitoria - ES on April 10, 2011:

Great hub!

LeisureLife from USA on April 09, 2011:

Very informative hub, thanks for writing!

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