For some time now we have been planning to change our legal domicile from South Dakota to Florida. There were several reasons for this, including the fact that if and when we ever hang up the keys, it will be here in Florida. Other factors in our decision-making were that it’s difficult for fulltime RVers to get health insurance in South Dakota, and that we spend a lot of time here in the Sunshine State. It’s on our normal travel route, whereas we have to go out of our way to go to South Dakota.
The process was quick and relatively easy. Our first step was to register with the Escapees Mail Service and specify that we wanted to use their Sumter Oaks campground in Bushnell as our “official address.” To do that, we had to fill out a couple of forms, have one notarized, and send them, along with copies of our drivers licenses and passports, to the Escapees in Livingston, Texas. When it comes to running mail forwarding services for RVers, these folks wrote the book and they make it very convenient, walking you through the process.
On Wednesday we went to the Tax Assessor’s office here in Bushnell, where a very friendly clerk went over all the documents we would need to satisfy the requirements of proving our Florida residency. These were our drivers licenses from South Dakota, our passports, and our Social Security cards to prove identification, along with two items with our new Florida address on them. In our case, those were the letter from Escapees stating our address at Sumter Oaks and our insurance policy showing proof of Florida insurance.
Once we had that done and our address from Escapees established, the next step was to call Chris Yust from C&C insurance and have her issue a Florida insurance policy for our motorhome and Ford Explorer. Then we were good to go.
We also needed to have the VIN numbers on both vehicles verified. With the Explorer that was no problem, we drove it to the Assessor’s office and somebody came outside to check it. Rather than drive the RV there, they gave us a form and said to call the Sheriff’s Office and request that a deputy come to the campground and check the VIN. When I called, a deputy arrived in less than a half hour, even though it was raining hard, verified the VIN, and signed the necessary form. There was no charge for that service.
Yesterday we went back to the Tax Assessor’s office again, waited about 15 minutes to be called to the counter, and presented everything to another very nice clerk. It took him about an hour to issue us our new Florida drivers licenses, which only required an eye test, to register us to vote, and to register the motorhome. Then he asked for the paperwork on the Explorer and we ran into a glitch. Somehow we had left the lien release from when we paid it off at home. So we had to make a quick trip back to the campground, grab it, and go back. Then it took him another 15 minutes or so to issue the title to the Explorer and combination fresh/saltwater fishing licenses for both of us.
Our new drivers licenses are good for eight years, and the registrations on the two vehicles expire in October of 2017.
The total cost for everything was about $1100, most of which was the transfer fees on the two vehicles. It also included a motorcycle endorsement on my driver’s license, and instead of going with the regular plates we opted to pay another $25 per year each for Save the Manatees license plates. This money goes to the Save the Manatees Trust Fund, which funds manatee-related research and conservation management activities. The plates are consecutively numbers, which should make remembering them easier.
We love these gentle giants of the water and one of the greatest experiences of our RVing life was paddling our Sea Eagle kayaks with them at Crystal River a few years back. We are pleased to help contribute in some small way to their survival. Another $65 of the total fee was for our fishing licenses. Once we turn 65 those licenses will be free and good for life.
We knew that Florida auto and RV insurance was going to cost us more than in South Dakota, and it turned out to be $33 a month more. But that includes disability insurance for loss of income (since we are still working Rvers) if injured in an auto accident. And when it’s time to renew, our vehicle plates will be a lot cheaper than South Dakota so it’s pretty much a break even situation in the long run.
Overall it was a quick and easy process, and we were very pleased with the courtesy and professionalism of the people at the Sumter County Tax Assessor’s office. They are nice folks down there.
With all of that done, our next steps will be to get health insurance for Terry. Since I’m covered by the VA, I’ll be switching to a VA hospital here in Florida. And I still have to apply for my Florida concealed weapons permit. That involves filling out some paperwork, getting a passport style photo taken, getting my fingerprints taken, and paying the appropriate fees. Since I’m an honorably discharged veteran, I can submit my DD 214 in lieu of taking a firearms safety course.
So hello Florida, it’s nice to be your two newest residents!
Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Chesapeake 1880 by my friend Ken Rossignol, a tale of life in the Chesapeake Bay region as the industrial revolution changed the world forever. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.
Thought For The Day – Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.