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Lesson #4: No matter how much stuff you get rid of, it wasn’t nearly enough.

Weight is always the constant factor in decision making. After loading the rig and going to the local CAT scale, we realized we needed to shed some weight. We knew we would be going through Junction City again some time in the future, so we rented a storage locker and off loaded stuff that we were pretty sure we wouldn’t need, at least for the first year. In the end, on our way back to Texas and the Rio Grande Valley at the end of the second season, we closed down the locker, gave some stuff to charity and the rest, moved down to a storage locker in the RGV to be used during our winter stays.

  • deciding what to keep, what to give to the kids
  • garage sales
  • selling/donating furniture
  • scanning paper records
  • selling the house
  • change of address notices
  • change of e-mail address
  • picking a state of residence
  • banking arrangements
  • truck and RV Insurance

Once each item was expanded, the list seemed endless.

You really don’t realize how much junk you have. We came across boxes that were never unpacked from the last move from Canada to Massachusetts 14 years earlier.

We started by making a list of ‘stuff’, family heirlooms, that would be handed down to the kids (40 years old but we still refer to them as the kids) and our new granddaughter. Then categorizing things as fodder for a ‘garage sale’ or try to sell via E-bay or Craigs List.

For the small number of things worthy of selling separately, E-bay seemed just a bit too complicated and pricy, so we turned to Crag’s LIst. ‘Craig’s List’ is both a blessing and a curse. We sold some ‘old’ things that we never thought would sell, however people think that because your are selling it on Craig’s List, you will accept pennies on the dollar. Most responses of ‘Will you accept x?’ were just ignored. One of the few good pieces of advice I got beforehand was never use your real email address.

I must say that the Salvation Army, Greyhound Pets of Massachusetts, Big Brothers Big Sisters and a number of other charities were major recipients of furniture (we had brought with us a lot of hand made solid oak furniture ) and clothes (going from 4 closets to 1, you really have to bite the bullet and give most of it away).

The kids were also major recipients of housewares, a coffee and dinner service of English Bone China given to Lynn for her wedding some centuries decades ago, silver serving pieces, gold plated dinner service, etc.

We lucked out and had marvelous weather for our Garage Sale Weekend. We ended up renting a bunch of folding tables from the local ACE hardware and had 10-12 tables set up on the driveway filled with STUFF.

One of the things that truly pained me was breaking up and selling my workshop, trying to decide what tools would be useful on the road and which not.

You also don’t realize just how much in the way of paper records you have from owning a house and a mother-in-law ( I did all of my mother-in-laws taxes plus all of the records from her estate). I must have spent a good 4 months, every evening, scanning and shredding documents.

There is no such thing as a truly national bank. For even the largest of the banks, there are gaps and they do not have a presence in every state and for some states, there is only a limited ATM presence. This is actually still a work in process, establishing a relationship with 1 or 2 of the largest banks and making sure that at least one of the banks has a presence in each state. Having a bank in your state of residency is also helpful when you need to be able to make large excise tax payments. Some government agencies will not accept ‘out of state’ checks.

Trip planning has to take this into account and making sure that if there is no bank presence in states along your planned route, to have enough cash on hand.

You would think that insuring a truck and an RV would be easy. Every third page in Trailer Life magazine was from an insurance company advertising RV insurance. I wish:

  • not every insurance company offers insurance to Full Timers
  • some companies will not insure a truck as large as a F450
  • some companies will not issue a policy to Canadians. Even though we have been US citizens for almost 5 years, they will not insure Canadians. No one, not even insurance agents have been able to explain this exclusion to me.
  • It was cheaper to insure both the truck and RV on one policy. Even though we took possession of the truck in the early summer and the RV in the fall, it was cheaper to insure both the RV and the truck at the same time.

One of the items on the list was picking a ‘state of residence’. You can read the rest of the page to get into the ‘nit and grit’, but to cut to the quick, we chose to become residents of South Dakota as we like the license plates and also a few other things.

The next challenge was figuring out exactly how we would get us/our things to Kansas and how much stuff we could take with us:

a) 2 dogs
b) 1 wife who does not like to drive on highways
c) lots of boxes
d) Queen sized Tempur-pedic mattress (can’t live without it)

So the options were

1. rent a U-haul truck and drive 2 vehicles out west
2. rent a U-haul trailer and pull it with the F450 to Kansas.
3. rent a PODS container and have it shipped to Kansas

Option #1 was not practical due to b) above and also too expensive.
Option #3 was even more expensive than #1.

IMG_0558As the new F450 was all equipped for towing, I just needed to buy a 2 ” mount with a 2” ball. A foam mattress pad cut to fit the back floor of the crew cab solved requirement a). So Option #2 it was. A 6x12 double axle trailer was the largest that the local U-haul dealer rented, so I mapped out 6x12 square on the basement floor and started packing the trailer mockup in the basement so that there would be no surprises on moving day.

The House: We put the house on the market as soon as we came back from our factory tours. Many open houses later and nary a nibble. The whole mortgage debacle really put a freeze on the real estate market. As crunch time got closer and closer, it was time to go to Plan B, rent the house. Not exactly what we wanted to do, but it would give us the opportunity to ride out the housing slump to a point in time where middle class America could get a mortgage again. We had the house basically rented the day after it hit the rental real estate listings.

Some things actually fell into place. My end date of August 31st was approaching and our first granddaughter was born at the end of July. So I took the last of my vacation time and we took a trip from Boston to Oakville, with the truck jam packed with boxes for the kids. The truck got a nice break-in trip before having to start pulling any heavy weights. Also we got to see what driving the truck with it’s stock suspension would be like. Since we were used to an old Ford Explorer, the ride was much the same, but the seats were much more comfortable.

The most popular states for fulltime RVers to select as a domicile are South Dakota, Texas, and Florida. There are many reasons for this, chief among them is that none of them have a personal income tax, vehicle registration fees are reasonable, and maybe even most importantly, they allow the use of a mail forwarding address as a legal address for such things as driver's licenses, vehicle registration, etc.

Considerations:

  • motor vehicle registration cost
    • are vehicle registration fees the same in all counties of the state, based on location of address.
    • does the state charge a sales tax on the vehicle when registering it from another state (like Wa).
  • inspections (smog, safety, etc. if required)
    • how it is handled when traveling
  • insurance rates for vehicle
  • Health insurance
  • life insurance
  • personal property tax
  • estate tax/laws and wills
  • inheritance tax
  • vehicle tags and drivers license
    • do you require a CDL or similair license based on vehicle weight
    • (Continuous Traveler drivers license like Oregon)
    • how often are vehicle inspections required
    • how often do you need to return to the state to renew tags
  • real property tax
  • stocks/bonds taxe
  • jury duty
    • does the state offer a waiver, when you notify courts that you travel full time?

The three states that are most popular for full timers are Florida, South Dakota and Texas. A few of the reasons is that none of these states have an income tax. They are very easy to qualify for residence (although Texas has recently changed requirements). None of them require extensive physical time in the state, while many other states do.

Florida is popular, partly because they are home to Good Sam mail service, located in Pensacola.

South Dakota is the lowest of the three for sales tax and very easy to set up a mail forwarding address. (Some counties in SD have a wheel tax, {added fee to veh. reg. per wheel on vehicle} check before selecting a mail fwd. service.)

Texas is popular partly because they are home to Escapees RV Club and their support services. Please remember that Texas sales tax varies by location determined by what you buy, example cars, Rv’s, golf carts, etc.

Go to this web site for a list of state income tax rates. http://www.taxadmin.org/fta/rate/ind_inc.html you will find that Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, Wyoming, all have no income tax, and New Hampshire, & Tennessee, are limited to dividend income tax only.

Montana is very easy to set up and use a Montana LLC to own/register the RV there and thus avoid all sales tax since Montana has none, but one must weigh the cost of the LLC (yearly cost) and setup cost versus what you save on sales tax.

For more information on State by State income taxes go to this site

http://www.ncsl.org/programs/fiscal/pitaxret06.html

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