One of the benefits of full-time RVing is that you have nearly 50 states to choose from when deciding on where you want to call home. The challenge that comes with this advantage is deciding which home-base will be the most beneficial for your individual circumstances. When picking a state to establish a domicile while full-time RVing, the three biggest factors you will need to consider are taxes, insurance, and good old-fashioned convenience. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer, so you’ll want to do some of your own research to determine which state is best for your unique situation.
There are a handful of states that stand out as obvious choices when picking a domicile based on taxes. For taxation purposes, the best states will be those that have no income tax. These states include:
While Tennessee and New Hampshire both have no income tax, they do tax interest incomes and dividends which could negatively effect retirees, so we’ve opted to leave those states off of the list above. If you don’t have a large annual income, depending on your insurance rates, it might actually be more advantageous to select a state with a small income tax.
Personal Property Tax: Florida and Washington both have personal property taxes, which are based off of the value of your RV, your tow vehicle, and even your personal belongings. This could be a factor in deciding which state will be most cost-effective for you to call home.
Your health, life, vehicle, and RV insurance rates are all dependent upon your state of domicile. Compare rates based on your established health insurance plan to decide which state will be the cheapest to ‘reside’ in. Weigh the cost of your insurance plan with the taxation rates for the states that you are interested in. What you save in income tax you could end up giving right back with a high insurance premium, and vice versa. You will also want to double-check and make sure that your health care coverage travels with you from state to state.
There is some value in being able to avoid the annoying paperwork that comes with changing your residency. Some full-timers choose to keep their domicile in the state that they were previously citizens of simply because it is easier, not necessarily cheaper. When you have a familiarity with the laws, taxes, and policies of your home state, learning the protocol of a whole new state can be a hassle. There are some other convenience factors that can play a part in the state that you ultimately choose as your domicile, and we’ve included these factors below.
Online Renewal Options: By choosing a state that offers online renewal or mailing options, you won’t have to worry about adjusting your route to meet the administrative needs of your domicile state. You can avoid making an untimely trip back to your home-base by simply mailing in your paperwork or filing it electronically.
Frequency of Renewals: If you are particularly interested in a state that doesn’t have online or mailing options, you will want to pay attention to the frequency of the renewals that will need to be made in person. If renewals are expected often, you will have to make frequent trips back to your state of domicile, which can be an inconvenience.
Vehicle Inspections: Certain states require safety inspections or emission testing of your vehicle and RV. There are around 14 states that don’t require vehicle inspections of any kind. You will want to pay attention to the frequency of these inspections, typically annually or biennially, because you will need to make the trek back to your state of domicile to complete them.
Driver’s License: Depending on the size and type of your RV, the state that you select may require you to get a special class of driver’s license. While you shouldn’t need a CDL of any kind, you may be required to get a class B non-commercial driver’s license, depending on the size of your rig.
The Best States
South Dakota: This state is a popular option, not just because it has no personal property tax or income tax, but also because there are no vehicle inspections required and you can renew your licenses online.
Texas: One of the most popular domiciles for full-time RVers is Texas. Its popularity can be partially attributed to the Escapees RV Club, which resides in Livingston, TX and helps RVers set up residency in that state with ease. You can also vote in elections by mail a month in advance for added convenience.
Wyoming: With no personal property tax, income tax, or required vehicle inspections, Wyoming makes another great choice to establish residency. And you only have to renew your driver’s license in person once every 8 years.
Unlike the house-bound masses, full-time RVers get the luxury of picking the state where they want to establish a domicile. So if you have that luxury, why not use it to your advantage and pick a state that saves you money! Do your research according to your own individual circumstances and be selective about where you call home!