Selecting an RV Home Base

Selecting an RV home base state is an important decision for the RV fulltimer, involving a number of major considerations.

Individual circumstances vary, so the selection of a home base state should be based on your specific needs and situation.

As a general rule, it is not a good idea to use one state for mail forwarding, another for a driver's license, another as a legal address for tax filing, etc. States are apt to perceive such arrangements as an attempt to avoid their taxes or fees.

It is best to evaluate the complete picture when selecting an RV home base state.

RV Home Base:  Here are some of the key factors to consider:

Do you already own property?

If you intend to keep it, there may be legal and tax factors involved. Will you claim it as a rental income property, a second home, your legal residence, etc. Make sure you understand what the state allows legally, as well as any tax implications.

Vehicle considerations for an RV home base:

  • What will it cost to register your vehicle(s)each year?
  • What will insurance cost on your vehicles? Fulltimers should be sure to obtain fulltimers' coverage.
  • Are there any sales taxes or other fees for bringing vehicles from one state to another?
  • Will you need to have your vehicle inspected, and how often?
  • Is there a personal property tax or surcharge on vehicles?
  • Can you renew your auto registration by mail?
  • Can you renew your driver license by mail? If it is required that you renew in person, find out what sort of flexibility you'll have to renew ahead of time to fit your travel plans. If you can only renew within a specific window of time, be sure to plan a trip to the home base state to take care of license renewal.

Do you intend to vote?

Some states may have residency requirements or require a physical or street address.      Many states allow registration by mail and proxies for voting.    Also consider that you may need to travel to the home state for jury duty.

Healthcare impacts:

Consider the cost for medical insurance, if your plan can be transferred to another state, location of in-network providers and benefit coverages.

If you have health issues that require visits to a specific doctor or health care facility, that may weigh significantly on your choice of a home base state.

Do you intend to spend a significant amount of time in your RV home base state?

If you have family and friends located in a particular state, you may be more apt to spend time there on a regular basis.

And if you think you will make any major purchases in the state, think about the impact of sales tax.

Planning for the future:

Consider how the state treats matters such as estate taxes, life insurance, living wills, durable powers of attorney, etc.

Mail forwarding can be arranged in most states, once due consideration has been given to the various factors mentioned above.

The amount of mail forwarded (and thus the expense) can be minimized by taking advantage of online paperless statements and electronic bill pay options. This cuts down on paper and makes sure that bills are paid on time. We also have opted to read the digital versions of our RV magazines, such as those from our RV clubs.

Take the time to think about your personal situation.

Compare states and document your comparison in writing. This will make the evaluation easier.

A helpful resource for anyone pondering the selection of a home base is the Choosing Your RV Home Base.

If you will physically reside in one place for part of the year, be sure to check out    Lots of great retirement information and things to know before making that all important decision on which area is best for you to call your permanent home.

Another great resource is Retire to an RV, which gives you real-life perspectives from many fulltime RVers. 

Available via Kindle, PDF or print copy, this is an easy read, full of  interesting approaches and lessons learned from everyday people like you and me.

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