Life on the Road Part 2 Choosing a Domicile

When we were at the Newmar Kountry Klub International Rally in Sedalia, Missouri, we presented 3 different topics as part of the Fulltimers Chapter Life on the Road Seminars. This is the second of 3 posts outlining the information we shared.

 

Life on the Road – 2017 International Rally Presentation – Choosing a Domicile

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Your Domicile will influence many aspects of your fulltime life. Taxes, insurance rates, and registration fees all vary from state to state, and in some cases, from county to county and zip code to zip code.

But first…What is a domicile? A domicile is your fixed permanent, principal home for legal purposes. It differs from your residence – which is your place of bodily presence.

How do you establish a domicile? Primarily through mail, registrations, driver’s license, and the address you use for financial activities. One of the major considerations in choosing a domicile is taxes. Property tax and sales tax rates will vary. State income tax is historically a big consideration for RV’ers in making this decision. AK, FL, NV, SD, TX, WA, WY have no state income tax NH, TN are also tax friendly and only tax interest and dividends. In the past FL, SD and TX have been considered most RV friendly, but their laws are changing, so RV’ers must keep up on the current laws. Vehicle registration fees vary widely depending on the state. Some state’s fees are based on the value of the vehicle.

Insurance Rates for Vehicles and Liability insurance should also be considered. We strongly advise specific RV Insurance for fulltimers. Consider also your Toad Insurance. Here again, rates will vary widely. Liability insurance with umbrella coverage would be a wise choice.

For fulltime RV’ers under 65 (pre Medicare) and not covered by Government, Military, or Retiree coverage, insurance rates for health insurance may be the deciding factor in setting up a domicile. We found that the states of FL, SD and TX although tax friendly, had few desirable options in health care coverage. In our case, we wanted a plan offering nationwide PPO coverage. This may not even be available depending on the area. ACA (Obamacare) options are limited and change every year. Where you ‘live’ could make a big difference in premiums. Even those covered through Medicare should research supplemental coverage for nationwide plans and consider their spouse’s coverage. New options such as Christian medical cost sharing programs and Escapees health care should also be explored.

Other major considerations include whether mail forwarding services are available. How easy does that state make it to register vehicles? Are inspections necessary and how often? Do you need a special license (CDL) to drive a RV? How often do you physically have to go there to maintain your domicile? Depending on your individual circumstances, you may need to assess Inheritance tax, wills, trust and estates issues, divorce agreements, homeschooling laws, jury duty commitments, and Voting considerations. If voting in local elections is important to you where do you want to vote?

Some complicating factors that may affect setting up your domicile of choice is if you own property somewhere other than where you want your domicile to be as well as the amount of time you spend at a non-domicile location.  Different states may have different criteria, some are more aggressive going after taxes and may complicate matters.

Every situation is unique, and no single solution fits every need. Take the time to research. Compare and contrast all the various options. Start early to establish mail, drivers’ licenses, banking and registrations

Life on the Road Part 1 Selling the House

While we are stationary at Mt Olive Shores North and there’s not much new going on, We are posting the content of the seminars we presented.

When we were at the Newmar Kountry Klub International Rally in Sedalia, Missouri, we presented 3 different topics as part of the Fulltimers Chapter Life on the Road Seminars. This is the first of 3 posts outlining the information we shared.

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As part of our introduction – our prom picture 1972

Life on the Road – 2017 International Rally Presentation – Sell the House or Not?

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Our home in Cincinnati. Too big and we had to deal with that white, cold stuff.

One of the decisions RV’ers face when making the move to fulltiming is whether to keep the house or sell it. In making this decision one must confront emotional, financial and family considerations. A big part of this decision involves looking ahead to what your wants and needs will be when you are no longer fulltiming. Will your current house match your lifestyle? Will the location be where you will want to live? You must also assess how certain you are that the fulltiming lifestyle is right for you. If you sell your house and shortly thereafter decide fulltiming is not your thing, you will no longer have a house to come back to. Perhaps a family member wants the house. You can either sell it to them or have them rent it for a while as you try things out. Another consideration you need to deliberate is whether you will have the funds to buy another house when you come off the road, and if this is best market in which to sell. Renting may make more sense. But then you must ask yourself if you are comfortable being a long-distance landlord?

We recommend if it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. It’s a big emotional and financial decision. You can always sell later.

Of course, if you keep the house there are fixed expenses you need to look at. Mortgage payments, property taxes, HOA or neighborhood fees to mention a few. Look closely at your homeowners and liability Insurance. Many times your rate will be higher if the house is empty. Upkeep and renovations will continue to be an expense and an empty house ages quickly.

Another issue that will need to be addressed is what about keeping “the stuff”. Will you still want it? Will it be what you need when you set up a house again? What about your peace of mind – will you worry about theft, or damage? What will insurance cost? Does a storage facility make sense and how will storage effect your possessions? Is it worth the ongoing storage fees? Does someone, perhaps a family member, want or need it?

Our advice is to research the financial aspects. Don’t use all the proceeds from the sale of an appreciating asset (house) to buy a depreciating asset (RV). Talk with a financial advisor. Timing may be critical. Buy the RV before selling the house, especially if you need to finance the RV. Banks are reluctant to make loans to ‘homeless people’. And talk with family members, consult realtors, and run the numbers.

Made in the Shade

MagneShade that is.

We’ve been thinking about this upgrade for quite some time, but the price made us think long and hard. The company is located in Mocksville, NC about 2 hours from Falls Lake State Park where we stay when visiting our younger daughter and her family.

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We opted for the brown material with a sort of khaki piping trim to match the coach

We were told we could spend the night in their parking lot and that they would have electric hook up for us. Well, a 110 outlet on the side of the building wasn’t going to do much for this behemoth all-electric motorhome, so we ran the generator a while and thankfully, it was cool overnight.

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Measuring and installing

It wasn’t exactly comfortable being in a sketchy part of town in a parking lot all alone. But hey, we lived to tell about it. Ha.

They got started about 9 am and had some of the shades already made. We had a special one made for the side window on the slide which they measured for and made while we were there.

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They stay in place with super strong magnets that are installed on the windows and in the pockets of the shades. You use an extendable pole inserted into the pockets to install. No mods to the motorhome (like snaps) and no ladders.

We received instructions on putting them on and off and a demo of how to store them. We were out of there by noon.

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Tom with the owner Roger Hunckler

Time will tell if it was worth the money and they cut down on the heat of the sun in the motorhome when it’s parked. We like that we can still see out when they are in place. The solution we were trying before involved a reflector shield, and two shades that totally blocked our view and made the inside cave-like.

 

What we’ve learned in one year on the road

Last week marked our one year anniversary of living full time in our motorhome. It’s been a learning process.learning

Stuff is just stuff, and we didn’t need all that stuff. We even probably still have more stuff than we actually need. Certainly, the big purge was not an easy process, but all that stuff can weigh you down. We made the decision to get rid of everything that didn’t fit in the motorhome (with the exception of one box of mementos and one box of really good bourbon at our daughter’s house) and not use any sort of storage facility.

 happyrvWeather is a big deal and shouldn’t be taken lightly. From high winds, snow, and heavy rains, we’ve been through it all. We’ve been in 8 degree weather and 90+ degree weather. The weather effects your mood and outlook. When you’re inside with the slides pulled in weathering out a storm, its difficult to be in a good mood. Conversely, beautiful sunny skies, a light breeze and a pleasant view can lift your spirits.

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This country has an amazing national park system. And we’ve been taking advantage of our America the Beautiful Senior Pass (geezer pass) visiting over 25 sites in the National Park System.

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North Rim of the Grand Canyon at sunset

You meet a lot of nice people in campgrounds. You want to make friends? Ask them about their camper or their dogs, places they’ve been, or recommendations on a restaurant in the area.

When you have this lifestyle, you are not on permanent vacation. You have the opportunity to see a lot of things and go to a lot of places, but you still must clean, go to the grocery, pay bills, do laundry, and cook.

Plan ahead, but leave some room for serendipity. If we would have stuck strictly to plans, we would have missed the really cool Cumberland Gap National Park. We decided when we were 1 ½ miles from the entrance to check it out.

GPS is great, but double check with a good ole atlas. We have a RV specific Garmin, but it has suggested some scarey routes. We use the Google Maps app on our phones a lot too.

You’ll still have expenses. You are eliminating mortgage, property taxes, utilities but replacing them with campground fees and diesel. You still have satallite tv, cell phone bills, groceries. In our case, we spend less than we did in the sticks and bricks (not counting the expense of buying the motorhome) but some find it about even.

Quality is important. Buy the best RV you can afford and keep up on maintenance on it.

Safty is important too. We both always stay alert. No dozing co-pilot here. Drive defensively. Stay alert. Avoid scary situations. Stick together – don’t one of you wander off at a rest area.

Don’t sweat the small stuff. Things will break, you’ll get lost, that campground that sounded perfect online will turn out to be a pit. Don’t freak out. Make the best of it. Chock it up to experience.

WiFi is a luxury. It may be promised, but may only work next to the office when you hold your device over your head and stand on one foot. Definitely have another method of accessing the internet. We have an elaborate intranet with Wi-Fi and cell boosting.

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You are living in a very small area. You are together 24/7. Try to always be kind to each other. Your partner is going to have a bad day once in a while, and so will you.

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Being way from friends and family is the worst part of this lifestyle. Nothing will take the place of being there for the holidays, birthdays and get togethers, but stay in touch as much as possible and make room in the schedule for stops to see your loved ones. Email, facetime and video chat.