We Are Now Florida Residents!!!

posted in: Preparing To Launch | 17

web-Florida-1008I’ve read a bunch of posts about setting up a “domicile” in a new state. Today, we are going to try to be as specific as we can about exactly how and why we chose to set up our domicile in Florida.

Disclaimer: This is what we did on or before December 1, 2015. What we believe will work for us, and how it went down on this day, this time, and this place. Your experience and choices may differ.

So why did we choose Florida? We looked at a bunch of states when deciding “where to reside.” Illinois (our former state) was not on that list, mostly due to our experiences and our simply wanting to leave it behind.

We are “pre-Medicare” and have been small business owners for a long time. The availability of some sort of major medical health insurance with nationwide coverage was tops on our list in making our choice. With South Dakota never having a nationwide ACA insurer, and BCBS-Texas out of nationwide as of 2016, that left Florida. Another big reason we chose Florida is because they have no state income tax, and because they allow you to renew your driver license’s online. They also do not require special licensing for heavy RV’s, and no vehicle inspections.

So, as of today, we are residents of Florida. The Sunshine State. Land of snowbirds, orange trees, white sand beaches. And easy residency requirements, really nice public servants, and what actually appears to be a desire to “Home the Homeless”.

Last week, we signed up with Americas Home Base. This is a mail-forwarding service that will handle all of our personal mail from here forward. They are located in Pensacola, 30 miles from our Gulf Shores campsite. $10/month + postage. Done.

The next thing on Florida’s list – we had to prove our vehicles were insured in Florida. This required a simple phone call to Geico (our existing insurer) and Done. (worth noting: moving from Illinois to Florida gave us a healthy increase in insurance costs. Something about hurricanes apparently. Don’t care. Done). We had Geico email us a binder statement that named everyone on our insurance, and included our (Americas Home Base) Florida address.

So… As of 12-1-2015, Florida’s website said to title a vehicle, we had to present another state’s title or paperwork from a lienholder, and proof of Florida insurance. Done.

For our Drivers License, we needed 2 proofs of identity (another state’s unexpired driver’s license and our passports),  2 proof’s of residency (the above mentioned Geico statement, and our vehicle registration)  and proof of our social security number.

So we gathered up our vehicle titles, insurance paperwork, Illinois Driver’s licences, passports, Social Security cards, hooked the Honda motorcycle on the back of the bus, hooked the Jeep to the towbar, and headed down 292 toward Florida, to the office that says “Tax Collector” on the sign outside.

Seems we picked a great day to do this, the Warrington office was almost empty. We met up with a very nice lady there named Lynne, and she took us through the whole thing start to finish. In about 3 hours we left with our titles, license plates, Florida driver’s licenses, and voter registrations.

It was still early enough that we had time to go to downtown Pensacola to the Bank of America, and opened 2 personal checking accounts (using our fresh off the press Florida D/L’s as ID) and a business checking account. We chose Bank of America because they have locations pretty much throughout the United States, in case we would ever have to actually visit a bank branch for any reason (everything is done online, but you never know!).

So it’s done. All of this was actually very simple. We’d planned Thursday and Friday for all this, and it’s done, complete, finito, on Tuesday. Kudos to the ladies at the Tax Collector office and at Bank of America for a job well done! We were very impressed with their knowledge and helpfulness!

Sit on it Illinois.

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17 Responses

  1. Did you have to pay impact fee on the vehicles at tag office? A friend just moved from pa to tampa and had to pay fee to register vehicle.

    • Yes there was a fee. It is somewhat pricey, but still less than taxes in our former state!!

    • Jim Mellema

      The fee’s were pretty high, around $400 for the car and motorhome, and over $150 for the bike.
      One time only, future renewals around ~$50.
      I didn’t ask what they called the fee, just wrote the check.

  2. You should also file a “declaration of domicile” with your county (do a Google search; it’s different for every county so I can’t just post a link). I would also go back and delete “our home state” from your third paragraph, as it could be used to show intent. I’m sure what you really meant was your former home, or the state where you grew up, or something similar, but saying it’s your home state in the present tense is at odds with the fact that Florida is now your home state.

    Welcome to Florida.

  3. Wow, if you hadn’t had passports, what would you have used for the second proof of identity?

    • Jim Mellema

      Not something we thought about, as we’ve has passports for a number of years.
      This is Florida’s official site gathergoget to figure out what paperwork you need, depending on your situation.

  4. Jerry & Karen

    Reading your post because of Nick Russell’s dailey blog. Good content for one who is planning and preparing to live the RV lifestyle. Need to examine again my decision where to domicile. SD was good for us due to a number of reasons but again your home is where you parked. Looking to follow your adventures.

    • Jim Mellema

      Thanks Jerry and Karen, and thanks again to Nick for mentioning us in The Gypsy Journal, that is huge for us beginning bloggers!

      South Dakota, I think, is best for certain people, mainly people who don’t need private health insurance. SD has easy residency requirements, cheap auto insurance, and low taxes. And they are very RVer friendly. Health insurance is an issue there though. If you are Medicare age, retired military, or have health insurance available through another source, SD is right up there with Florida.

      Texas was my #1, mostly cause I like cowboy hats. I was ready to just deal with annual vehicle inspections and special drivers licenses for heavy motorhomes just to wear the hat and have a cowboy on my license plate.
      BUT BCBS pulling their nationwide PPO out of Texas makes it a non starter for us.

  5. Now that you are FL residents (Congratulations!), how are you handling health insurance? We’ll be in FL to change domiciles in a few weeks and need to get new health insurance. Any tips would be helpful!

    • Jim Mellema

      Like all other americans who are not provided insurance by their employer, we are required by law to give money to a private company. Further, we must arrange to do this between November 1 and Dec 15. Failure to do so will result in the long arm of the internal revenue service reaching out to us in the form of a 2000 dollar penalty on our taxes…

      Politics aside, we’ve always chosen to purchase private major medical, just in case something horrible were to happen… Going without health insurance is not an option we would consider.

      With the ACA, we use healthcare.gov
      Undecided at this time if we will use our current Florida address, or a relatives address in Illinois. Illinois is said to have a nationwide network, as is Florida. It’s important that our insurance is actually usable while we wander the country.

  6. Florida makes it SO simple to become a legal resident.

    I did it in a part of an afternoon the day before my birthday almost a year ago. I did my Declaration of Domicile first at the Clay County Courthouse, and the DMV used that as the second piece of Address Information. Both my vehicles had lienholders on them, so that took almost a month, but (and this is a first, possibly for anyone who’s ever dealt with the DMV) the DMV called me when each of my plates came in.
    Not some call center, mind you. THE CLERK WHO HELPED ME called me. When she said “I’ll call you when your plates come in” years of dealing with CA/OR/WA/AZ/CO DMVs automatically translated it to “WE will call you…”

    I was flabbergasted. =)

    The only pain point was that I’d owned the YarrVee less than 6 months, so I had to pay the difference in state sales tax.
    Colorado is possibly the worst state to do this from, because sales tax isn’t any lower there (I paid 8.0% total), but it’s layered between State/County/City/Special Tax District. So I thought I was good, having paid 8% coming to a state that was only 6 percent.
    Nope. Colorado State Sales Tax is only 2.9%. That’ll be $1700, please. *ouch*. =)

    Glad to hear that your process was just as painless. =)

  7. another side benefit is that as a Florida resident you don’t need a fishing license to surf fish from the shoreline…

  8. Welcome to FL guys 🙂 Good job on your residency and etc filings!

  9. mary deschepper

    do you have to pay taxes on your pension in florida?

    • Jim Mellema

      We’re not retired, and do not receive a pension.
      Florida doesn’t have any state income tax though, so I’m thinking not.

  10. Thank you really enjoyed this information. We are getting ready to go on the road in September and will be heading to Florida. Sold are home and do not plan on buying a new house until we complete our travel plans with our RV. When we do purchase it will be in Florida. We will be visiting with family as we travel.We plan on making Florida domicile state by the end of the year. We plan staying in Florida for most of the winter months. Would love any tips on places to stay by the month along the gulf coast.

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