Last Updated on November 8, 2022 by Jessica Lauren Vine
One of the first decisions you’ll have to make as a full-time RVer is where to domicile for an RV home base. There are many considerations that go into this decision, including your location, your long-term plans as well as tax and legal benefits of each location. The following article will discuss each of these factors so you can decide which state is the best state for an RV home base.
Every state has its own tax laws, but it’s important to note that many of these are based on your domicile. The first step is determining which states offer the best tax advantages for full-time RVers.
The states without an income tax are:
- New Hampshire
- South Dakota
Keep in mind that New Hampshire and Tennessee do require you to pay taxes on interest and dividends.
Property Taxes & Vehicle Registrations
As you research the states you are considering making your domicile, you need to make sure you look at the exact area where you will register your vehicle. Your legal address makes a difference in how much taxes you’ll have to pay on property taxes and on your vehicle taxes.
When you establish your home base, you want to save money, but many full timers don’t think about the fact that some places charge more or less for vehicle registrations.
Don’t forget to check if the state you’re considering staying in requires annual checks when you do your vehicle registration. Besides vehicle registration fees, you may also have to pay for inspections, and that would require you to come back to the state each year to get these things taken care of.
See if you’re able to renew your vehicle registration through the mail or if they require you to come back. If you’re not quite ready to head back home, it can be a real pain to have to take the time out to go for some paperwork.
In addition to tax considerations, you’ll also need to decide which state offers the best legal benefits for full-time RVers. For example, Florida is one of your best options because they have a strong asset protection law, so assets cannot be seized from creditors in most cases and only applies if the creditor has a judgment against you.
Before you start claiming a certain state as your new domicile, you have to make it real. If you have vehicles registered in a different state, doctors in another state, or other things that make it look like you don’t really live in your new state, that can be a big problem.
Speaking with a lawyer to help you get everything set up could be the best thing you can do to protect yourself from getting into trouble.
Keep in mind that you can have multiple residences anywhere in America, but domicile is only one place. That’s where you pay taxes and do most of your important things. Basically, intending to live somewhere is a start, but you need to have “significant contacts” in the state to really claim it as your domicile.
States want to keep as many of their residents as they can. Keeping you for their population and their taxes is a win for states, so don’t give them any reason not to believe you.
You might actually end up paying more taxes and fees than you thought you would because the states are in a fight over who should get what.
Even if you have something specific that you like from another state, if you can avoid making “contacts” outside of your state you want to choose as domicile, that’s the best thing for you.
Insurance – Health, Vehicle, Life
Another major life expense is insurance, and you need to have plenty of it to protect you from harm.
Your location plays a big part in the rate you pay for each type of insurance. Different states have different risks, and those risks play into the equation of how much money it will cost to insure yourself.
What you might save in taxes in one state, you may end up paying extra in many states due to their laws on insurance. You should take this into consideration before jumping into a new domicile with another state.
There are many other factors that go into choosing the best state for an RV home base, including your final destination plans, climate preferences, and more. The most important thing is to choose a location where you feel at home, so it’s easy to settle in permanently when you decide to do so.
Many people plan on full time RVing for as long as possible, but most people are realistic and understand there could come a time when they aren’t able to venture around as much as they want to.
Think about whether the location is close to family and any medical facilities you will need. Having your domicile somewhere that you plan on coming back to makes things much easier. Some RVers set up shop in a state where they won’t even come back to, and that might cause them to run into some problems with legalities.
Simply keeping your same state as domicile could make sense just because it’s the truth and it is the easiest thing to do. Going through all the changes to establish new doctors and other contacts could be more trouble than the money you might save from changing your state of domicile.
Banking as a Full Timer
The good news is that you don’t have to go into your bank to deposit checks anymore. If you do actually get a check, almost all banks offer mobile deposits, so you don’t have to find an actual branch.
Finding a bank that does have a branch in your domicile state is helpful, but there are some banks that don’t have any physical branches at all, and this won’t count against your contacts in the state you want to domicile in.
Most online banks give you easy access to your funds and banking services without having to worry about where the bank is. Some people don’t like purely mobile banks, but they make a lot of sense since they have low to no fees and make it easy for people living the RV lifestyle to go wherever they want.
Just keep in mind that you should let your bank know you do live the RV life, so they don’t flag your account and stop your cards. Also, it’s always best if you keep at least two cards with different accounts in case your card does get shut down. You don’t want to be stranded without any money while you’re traveling.
Our Choice for Domicile While Full Time RV Living
Our choice for domicile when we were full time RVers was to keep our residence in Tennessee. I had lived in Tennessee most of my life, and my husband had moved here with me. We knew the ins and outs of the state, and since there was no state income tax nor a federal income tax, it didn’t make too much sense to make a move elsewhere.
Another thing is that I felt a little weird moving my domicile elsewhere. I love Tennessee, and I wanted it to remain my home. Besides, my brother and dad live in Tennessee, and it just made sense to keep things simple.
My dad let us use his home address, but we also had a mail forwarding service, so he didn’t have to bother with keeping track of all of our mail. Having a good mail forwarding service makes things much easier, so make sure you check to see which one provides you with the best experience for your individual circumstances.
Most Popular Place of Domicile for Full Time RVers
Not everyone decides to stay in their home state for their legal residency. In fact, many people find it much better if they can move to another state with more favorable conditions. This is especially true for people that have very few ties in their community and just want to hit the open road to see the country.
There are three states that make it rather easy to establish and maintain a domicile status there and those states are:
- South Dakota
These states have mail forwarding services set up there to make it much easier, and they have income tax which makes them very attractive to full time RVers.
Keep in mind that most states have laws that require you to stay in a fixed location there for a minimum of 183 days to claim them as your domicile. The three above states do not give you that headache to deal with since no full time RVer is going to be able to do this.
Mail Forwarding Services
When you set up a mail forwarding service, try to keep the number of pieces of mail down, and that will save you a lot of money. There are some things that simply can’t go paperless, though.
Here are some mail forwarding services you might want to check out:
Setting Up an Actual RV Home Base
If you’re not just traveling throughout the country and you actually want to set up an actual home base, then this can get a little more complicated. It is nice if you have some place to come back to, but you’ll also need to maintain it.
Some people choose to have a little house, and others have a garage with an apartment over it. There are a lot of options, but having an RV home base where you can get out of the rig can make it a lot easier when the walls feel like they’re closing in on you.
Whatever you choose to do, take the information you’ve learned in this article and figure out which state makes the most sense for you. If you want to learn from some of our other great articles, just click around. One article many people find helpful is about full time RV living with kids.