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What You Need to Know About Full-Time RV Life

Many people dream of spending their retirement fancy-free, traveling the country in an RV, drinking in the breathtaking grandeur of the American landscape, going wherever their spirit moves them. It sounds like an idyllic life – and many full-time RVers have found it a perfect fit – but those who have pulled up roots in favor of a nomadic lifestyle caution that full-time RVing is not for everyone. Experienced full-timers recommend that those contemplating moving into their RV give it a trial year to see how they like the change in lifestyle before putting their house on the market.

If you decide full-time RVing is for you, putting your plan into action can be a logistical nightmare if you don’t make arrangements to deal with the nitty-gritty practicalities of life. If you’re planning to adopt a full-time RV lifestyle, here’s what you need to know before heading into the blue yonder.

Residency. It’s important to choose a single state to use as your official state of residency for legal and tax purposes. Your permanent mailing address, driver’s license, voter’s registration, insurance policies (auto, medical, property), wills and trusts and any other legal matters should all be established in the same state to avoid legal confusion. Do your homework on residency requirements and tax structures before you decide which state you are going use as your legal residence. Before changing any documents or registrations, it’s a good idea to have an attorney in that state review your financial and legal arrangements so you don’t land in hot water later on. Make certain to ask him how a change in residency will affect taxation of any property you own in another state.

Choosing Your RV Home Base is an excellent resource book that lists residency and voting requirements, tax structures, vehicle registration fees and taxes, and other important information by state. Published by Roundabout Publications, the book is available on their website for $16.95. For most current information, be sure to order the 2010 Second Edition.

Downsize. Sell, give to family or donate to charity what you don’t want to hang onto. Rent a storage locker for things you want to keep and make sure a family member has location information and an extra key.

Mail: Most RVers either use a full-service mail delivery service to handle mail and package delivery or ask a relative for help. Notify credit card companies, firms you do business with, organizations you belong to, etc. of your permanent mailing address.

Bills. Arrange to pay all your bills online or by automatic debit so that bills can be accessed and paid no matter where you happen to be.

Banking. If you can handle all your banking chores online, you can stick with your local bank or credit union, although you should bank in the same state you choose as your legal residence. Some full-times choose a bank with nationwide offices for convenience. Reputable online banks are also popular choices. You’ll need complete online access to bank accounts. Choosing a bank with low or no ATM fees will keep costs low.

Stay connected. A cell phone is essential; buy a plan with good regional coverage and plenty of free minutes. Consider investing in an inexpensive webcam so you can talk face-to-face with your children and grandkids. Some newer smart phones have a similar feature. Sign onto a mobile Internet service. Set up a Facebook page to keep in touch with friends and family and share your travels with them. If you don’t have a digital camera, get one so you can upload photos to share with family.

Emergencies. Have an emergency contact plan and share it with your family. Make a point to check in weekly so they don’t worry.

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