Many people are drawn to the relaxing and flexible RV lifestyle. Depending upon your destination, it’s relatively easy to take your home and plop it down in another state within a matter of minutes or hours.
But, before you can enjoy this carefree RV lifestyle full time, you’ll need to declare. a state of residency (also known as your “home base”). Simply put, you must have a single state as your legal home for tax, insurance and other purposes.
Choosing your RV home base is an important decision for full time RVers
How is this determined? Although you’ll want to talk to an attorney, overall, the law considers your home state to be where you have the greatest number of "significant contacts" that can include where you:
- Own property
- Hold a driver’s license
- Are registered to vote
- Have your will or other legal documents
Some RVers have their “significant contacts” so spread out that it’s hard to legally declare a particular state. This can be an expensive – and aggravating – mistake.
That’s because more than one state may decide to “claim” you as its own, and you’ll be hit with taxes on multiple fronts. Then it’ll be up to you to contend with state government agencies and clear up the mess. (Not exactly what you associated with a blissful RV lifestyle.)
So, what’s your best option? Have all or most of your “significant contacts” in one state so there’s no doubt about where you legally reside.
Tips for choosing an RV home base:
If it isn’t clear which state is the best choice, do your research and look into a number of factors that can impact your financial well-being, such as:
- State income tax rates
- Personal property tax rates
- Sales tax rates
- Insurance (RV, car, health, life, etc.) rates
- Vehicle registration fees
- Driver’s license fees
- Smog/emission testing fees
Except for insurance rates, all of these depend entirely on your home base (insurance premiums are based partly on where you live).
Don’t just focus on a single aspect when making your decision. For instance, many RVers gravitate to the states without any income tax (Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming.) However, this can backfire if the other factors mentioned offset this.
And, of course, let’s not forget overlook non-financial factors, such as convenience and relationships. You may want to declare a home base where it’s easiest for you, or where you have strongest personal relationships – even if it costs more to establish a home base there.
When choosing your RV home base, it’s a good time to evaluate your RV insurance situation, too. Explorer RV Insurance will simplify matters for you, and look at your complete insurance picture – just as we’ve been doing for RVers since 1997 – so you can get back to enjoying that fabulous RV lifestyle.