Wednesday, December 23, 2015

How to Move To Florida in 1 Hour

Yes, it's absolutely true!  Within one single hour this past Wednesday, I managed to:
  • Trade in my Illinois Driver's License for a new Florida DL
  • Title, register, and license both my RV and car to Florida
  • Register to vote 
  • Get a Declaration of Domicile document filled out, notarized, and filed with the County Clerk's office
  • And, with a couple minutes to spare, take this cheerful "selfie" of Florida's newest resident! 

Now, obviously, it took much more time beforehand to prepare for this super-smooth morning in Florida.  If you're a full-time RVer looking to change your domicile state soon, read on to find out how (and why) I "moved" to the Sunshine State.

Why I Left Illinois After 40+ Years?

There were lots of reasons why Illinois made a poor domicile choice for a full-time RVer-- nomad-unfriendly DMV policies, and growing tax & insurance rates to name a few.

But nothing made a domicile change more urgent than when my current health insurer, BCBS of Illinois, notified me this past September that they'd be cancelling their PPO plans (one of which was mine) from the individual ACA marketplace ( for 2016.

Residents of Texas had gotten similar news a few months earlier from BCBS of Texas (coincidentally, owned by the same parent organization, HCSC, who was directing its other BCBS subsidiaries to cancel or restrict their ACA PPO plans as well).

After my cancer experience this past year, I wanted to do anything possible to find a replacement plan in 2016 that preserved these 3 benefits:
  • An ACA-compliant plan (no exclusions for my new pre-existing condition)
  • Broad nationwide selection of "in-network" providers
  • Capped out-of-pocket out-of-network costs (The ACA requires insurers to cap in-network OOP costs, but the original law was silent on out-of-network OOP caps.  This now is, increasingly, the new "gotcha" that insurers are exploiting to boost their profits).
I waited to make my domicile decision until the new 2016 plans and pricing were released on November 1st.  Within a couple hours that day, I now had my answers.  Illinois no longer offered any plans that met my above 3 needs.   In fact, none of the Illinois ACA plans still offered capped out-of-network out of pocket costs for 2016-- if I needed healthcare outside of the state (which would be quite likely as a full-timer), I'd have to risk unlimited out of pocket costs!  So, it was an easy decision, time to leave Illinois for a new domicile state.

Why Florida?

Kyle Henson, the go-to knowledge expert for RVers seeking healthcare insurance in TX, SD, and FL published an excellent RVer Guide to 2016 ACA Open Enrollment to help many of us "under-65" full-time RVers navigate the rapidly shrinking options in those states.

Some quick checks of confirmed Kyle's assessment-- there were no "nationwide network" plans still being offered in Texas or South Dakota for 2016.  So, those 2 states got dropped from my list of contenders immediately.

That left Florida.  Thankfully, at least for 2016, they still offered ACA plans that met all 3 of my needs.  As a fantastic bonus, the Florida plans were also priced far less than Illinois as well!

Florida has always been a popular full-time RVer domicile state for its lack of state income tax, and nomad-friendly DMV and voter rules.  But now with its superior (and cheap) ACA health plans, it was now a "no-brainer" to become my new home state.

Where Best in Florida to call "Home"?

With that decision made, it was now time to review options, gather quotes, and determine which Mail Forwarder's county/zip code would be the most advantageous. 

Unlike some other states, Florida allows you to become a resident without needing to physically bring your vehicles with you.  I would be able to fly in with my paperwork, get my new licenses, and fly out as a new resident.  

I evaluated the following 3 mail forwarding services (shown on the map below) not only for their mail forwarding costs/features, but also for each county/zip's healthcare and vehicle insurance rates, and costs to travel to each location from my present location in New Mexico.  Here are my impressions of each:

St. Brendan's Isle - Green Cove Springs, FL (Clay County / zip: 32043)

Located in northeastern Florida near Jacksonville, SBI is one of the oldest and most highly-regarded mail forwarding services in Florida.  Popular with both the full-time boating and full-time RVing communities, SBI offers reasonable and very straight-forward fees as well as an excellent mail scanning service.  SBI does not require that you be a member of a club to sign up (or get the best prices) for their services.

If my domicile selection was based solely on the mail forwarder service, I would have chosen SBI in a heartbeat for its simplicity, cost, and features.  But when I added insurance costs to the equation, both healthcare plans and vehicle insurance quotes were significantly higher in Clay county than the 2 counties below-- adding up to a whopping $901 more per year in my particular case.  So, I sadly had to cross SBI off my list.

MyRVMail - Crestview, FL (Okaloosa County / zip: 32536)

Located in the Florida panhandle near Pensacola, this is Passport America's mail service.  It has many of the same features of St. Brendan's Isle, including mail scanning.  While the base prices are quite reasonable, the numerous add-ons will likely really add up if you prefer to have a lot of mail scanned.  This service is also re-branded as GoodSam Mail.  Membership in PA or GS is not required to use this mail service, but members receive a 10% discount off of monthly fees, so it pays to be a member if you use the service all year long.

I was quite tempted to sign up for MyRVMail.  While their mail forwarding/scanning fees were a bit more, I greatly preferred the concept of just having a single Florida address for both domicile and mail forwarding purposes (compared to Escapees below).  I also liked that health plans were priced about the same as Sumter county below.  The main drawbacks, in my case, were that vehicle insurance would run about $120 more a year, and travel costs to get to Crestview from New Mexico would be more costly and time-consuming.  So, in the end, I had to pass on their service as well (for now, at least).

Escapees Mail Service - Bushnell, FL (Sumter County / zip: 33513)

Escapees has long been the primary advocacy and social club for full-time RVers, and has also had the most-popular mail forwarding service (based in Livingston, TX).  This year, they expanded their domicile options beyond Texas to offer domicile services in Florida and South Dakota.  Their mail forwarding service also began offering mail scanning as well.

Escapees Mail Service operates rather differently than the 2 services above.  First, you must be a member of Escapees ($39.95/yr) to sign up for mail forwarding.  Second, if you decide to use Florida (or South Dakota) as your domicile, you will be assigned 2 addresses-- one in your FL or SD domicile state for all your legal residency documents (i.e. DMV, voter card, will/trust, etc), and the other address in Livingston, TX for all the rest of your mail.   To reduce costs and avoid replication of duties in each state, Escapees forwards all mail from the Florida/South Dakota addresses to Livingston first before scanning and/or forwarding the mail to you.

While I greatly dislike the "dual address" system, and some other more cumbersome aspects of Escapees' mail and scanning services, the cost advantage was just too enticing to walk away from.  So, for now at least, I've decided on Escapee's (and Bushnell) as my new home address.  If the "dual address" system ever becomes a total nightmare (i.e. errors in getting the minimal Florida mail sent to Livingston), then I may consider switching to MyRVMail in future years if I happen to be traveling through that area.

Revising my Vehicle Insurance Plans:

For the past 3 years, I had been using Progressive Insurance for both my RV and Car.  Combined, my insurance costs (with my Illinois address) were about $1300/year.  However, I had yet to change my RV policy to a "full-time RVer" policy, so now that I no longer had a homeowner's insurance policy, this left me with a few holes in my coverage that needed updating.

Since Kyle Henson's had been so helpful with healthcare insurance information, I decided to try it out for some vehicle insurance quotes as well.  A quick online quote form sent my request to a number of independent agents who have solid expertise in RV plans for full-time RVers.

A few of the agents replied with quotes from National Interstate insurance, but only one agent responded with all the new coverages I wanted, along with the insurer I wanted (Progressive)-- the very thorough and cheerful Estelle from American Adventure Insurance.

AAI is a "specialty agent" for Progressive (among others), and as such, was able to get me a new RV policy that provided enhanced coverage in the 2 key areas while also continuing to offer me Progressive's unique Mexico coverage.  

With my previous Progressive plan (purchased directly from Progressive), I had "Actual Value" coverage which was now only willing to pay $28K for my RV if it were totalled today (it currently would cost me $40k-45k to replace my View with the same year/model).  Various RVers recommended I now look for a policy providing "Agreed Value" coverage instead.  With my new AAI Progressive plan, I now have that-- if my View is ever totalled, I'll now get an agreed value of $40k no matter if the accident happens tomorrow or 5 years from now.

My previous Progressive Direct plan had $20k in coverage for personal effects (i.e. the contents inside the RV).  I thought this was all I'd ever need, but recently found out on some full-time RVer forums that there were major limitations in this coverage.  A call to Progressive Direct also confirmed this.  While they would indeed cover up to $20k in contents, that was limited by "category" of item.  Progressive lumps both computers and camera gear into the same category and limits that one category to just $3,000!  So, all the extra money I'd been paying for the larger $20k coverage was not getting me anywhere.

With the new AAI Progressive plan, I've now got a special line item called "Scheduled Personal Effects" where each item I list will be covered for a depreciated amount of its original purchase price.  In other words, no more category cap for my "high-ticket" electronics and camera gear, each will be covered individually up to my total coverage amount.

Additionally, the new AAI plan features "full-time RVer coverage" which provides additional liability coverage similar to what my old homeowner's insurance covered for my house-- if someone is injured in my RV or at my campsite, I now have the proper insurance coverage for these scenarios.

Before switching to AAI, I called Progressive Direct to see how their quotes would compare.  To my surprise, they were $100 more than AAI, and they would not offer Agreed Value or Scheduled Personal Effects coverage.  So, going with a specialty RV insurance agent was, indeed, the best way to go.  I still can access my new plans online via, and it still looks and behaves just like my old direct plans, but I now have the added coverages that only a specialty agent, like AAI, could sell.  

Planning/Prep (4 to 8 weeks)-- 

Now that I had insurance and a mail forwarding service figured out, it was time to review Escapee's Florida Domicile web page to get all the required documentation lined up for my visit to Florida.

It took me about 6 weeks to complete the steps below (mainly due to needing a replacement copy of my Social Security card).  If you have a U.S. Passport and Social Security card already in hand, you can likely get through these steps in less time.  In general, plan on about 4 to 8 weeks lead time before your visit to Florida.

1. If you don't currently have a U.S. Passport and/or Birth Certificate, and don't have a Social Security card, get them.  They are required to get your new Florida Driver's License.  (Getting a replacement copy of my SS card was tricky-- it required 2 trips to Albuquerque to visit the Social Security office there, and then a 10-day wait for the card to finally arrive in the mail).
2. If you don't have original titles for your vehicles, get them.  If your vehicles are not yet paid off, you'll need to contact the Sumter County Tax Collector's Office to get a letter of request so that the titles can be released from the lienholder before you arrive to Florida.
3. Compare Mail Forwarding Services. Look at "upfront" costs as well as add-ons such as scanning per-page, handling fees per mail shipment, etc.   
4. Get Vehicle & Health Insurance Quotes for each Mail Forwarder's county/zip code.
5. Calculate travel costs/schedules to get to each Mail Forwarding Location for your in-person visit.
6. Finalize and sign-up with your desired Mail Forwarder.  For Escapees Mail Service, download the Florida form from this page.  All forwarders will ask for a U.S. Postal Service Form 1583 which must be notarized before you can send it with your application.  I was able to get mine notarized by a local bank in New Mexico.
7. Get your new address(es) & start changing all your current mail over to the new address(es) -- the goal here is to have 2 proofs of the new Florida address for the DMV's driver's license requirement above.  Do NOT use the word "Box" or "PMB" on your FL address-- use just "#1234" or just the digits on address line 2.  While the Escapees checklist says you can just bring the Escapees "welcome letter" and "letter of acknowledgement" (received in your welcome packet), the DMV clerk I worked with at the Sumter Tax Collector's Office did not want to accept these, and instead, used copies of my insurance quotes (that showed my new Florida address) instead.  I just printed these out from email (no need for a postmarked envelope).
8. Call the county tax collector's office you intend to visit (better yet, call them twice and talk to 2 different people).  Confirm their requirements and all the documentation you intend to bring.  This will hopefully avoid any major hang-ups once you get onsite. 
9. Once you have the above documents ready, book your flight to Florida (set the date you will plan to visit the DMV).  I booked my travel 2 weeks in advance to get the most-optimal airfare rates.
10. Buy your new FL vehicle insurance & set the effective date to the day before your DMV visit.  Technomadia's Florida Domicile post gave a warning about activating your new insurance too far ahead of time, so I was able to avoid this potential problem.  IMPORTANT TIP:  Give yourself 10-14 days lead time so you will have your final Insurance ID cards printed out before you visit the DMV.  While the Sumter Vehicle Requirements page said that a temporary ID card or Insurance Binder document would be sufficient, this was not the case with the DMV clerk I worked with-- she said those documents did not sufficiently prove the agent was licensed to sell Florida plans.  Thankfully, I had just printed my final Insurance ID cards before my visit, and those 2 cards were exactly what she was looking for.   One other tip:  Leave your current state's insurance in effect until you've successfully received your new Florida license plates (just in case anything should go wrong with your DMV visit and your Florida residency is delayed).
11. If not bringing vehicles physically with you when you visit Florida, fill out the FLDMV Form 82042 for each vehicle and get a local law enforcement officer to come verify your vehicle VINs and sign each form.  I was fortunate to have an onsite U.S. Fish & Wildlife LEO at my wildlife refuge here in New Mexico.  He was able to verify VINs while my vehicles stayed parked at the Refuge.  So easy! 
12. Travel to Florida with all of your required documents.  Also bring a printed blank Declaration of Domicile form with you.

Visiting the Bushnell DMV & Courthouse (1 hour!)

1. Before you arrive to the DMV, bring your checkbook (or better yet) bring lots of cash.  I did 2 ATM withdrawals (on 2 separate days) to have nearly $1,000 in cash when I visited the Sumter Tax Collector's Office (shown below).

2. Arrive at the Tax Assessor's office.  In Florida, each of these county offices serve as their DMV, and compared to Illinois, it's quite a difference!  I walked in at 8:30am on a Wednesday to an empty office with 4 clerks ready to assist me-- that sure never happened at any Illinois DMV office I ever visited!
3. The DMV clerk will issue your new Florida Driver's License & Vehicle Registrations.  She/he will also register you to vote.  If all goes well, you will leave with a new DL, new Florida plates w/stickers, new vehicle registration cards, and receipts of your title applications, your voter registration application, and receipt for payment.  Final titles & your voter ID card will be mailed later to your Florida address.
3. Fill out your Declaration of Domicile form & go next door to the Property Appraiser's Office.  They will watch you sign this form and notarize it for free.

4. Bring the notarized Declaration of Domicile form across the street to the County Clerk's office at the courthouse (shown above).  For a $10 fee, the clerk's office will file it, and mail you a copy of the final filed doc to your Florida address.
5. You're now officially a Floridian!  Call your insurance company and cancel your prior state's vehicle insurance.


My 1st Year Florida costs (including 1st year license/title/registration fees, initial mail forwarding costs, and travel to/from Florida) came out to be approximately $650 less than my ongoing costs in Illinois.

If I continue as a Florida resident in 2017 and beyond, my annual savings will be in the neighborhood of $2500 less per year!

Here are a few areas where my costs differed between the states:
  • Mail Forwarding Service - this was unneeded for me in Illinois as a family member did it.  In Florida, with Escapees, my initial costs were $335 (including scanning).  Ongoing costs will be $235/yr plus per-item mailing and scanning costs.
  • Driver's License - My new Florida DL cost $54 and is good until 2024.  My Illinois license had just been renewed and is good until 2020 (when a new 4-year DL will run $30 or more).
  • Vehicle Registration/Licenses - The initial Florida cost to title and register my RV and car (with stickers good until March, 2017) was $856.  Going forward, annual sticker costs will run around $100/year.  Illinois annual costs for new stickers (both state & city) currently run $268/year.
  • Vehicle Insurance - My new Florida plans (with enhanced RV full-timer coverage) will run $700 more per year than the previous Illinois plans.
  • Health Insurance - My new Florida BlueSelect EPO/PPO Silver Plan will run $2,624 less per year than my Illinois BCBS Silver Plan (including annual deductible).
  • State Income Tax - My state income tax won't change much for 2015 (since my residency switched in December), but going forward, this could save me many thousands per year depending on my taxable Illinois real estate income (vs. non-taxable Florida income on interest/investments), and whether Illinois tax rates rise again from 3.75 to 5%.   

Bottom Line--

Even if FloridaBlue ends up discontinuing their ACA PPO plan after 2016 (and I need to re-evaluate my domicile state again in just 1 year), it has still been worth it for me to "move" from Illinois to Florida this year.

If you currently are a full-time RVer with a less-than-ideal ACA healthcare plan, you might want to consider a domicile change to Florida for yourself.  A state residency change counts as a "qualifying event" on and will allow you to make a mid-year plan change outside of the normal sign-up period (running until Jan. 31st).

One final note-- I've heard that there can be slight variations from county to county within Florida as to what documents they'll allow for license/registration, how they'll note your new address on the driver's license, and so on.  Keep this in mind if you should go with one of the other Florida mail forwarders.

Bidding my new state of Florida "farewell" after a very successful 2-day trip!


  1. I'm sure there are folks under 65 that will appreciate all your research and documentation. You were certainly thorough.

  2. If you are still tied to Illinois by having taxable rental income there; they may consider you a resident and tax you accordingly. Just a thought!

    1. I won't be considered a resident next year, but will indeed plan to pay Illinois income tax on that income as it is "earned" in Illinois. The same applies for other states if I were to get a job and earn income in those states-- taxes still must be paid. Being a FL resident only helps for the FL income.

  3. Evaluate your need for mail scanning carefully. After several years of full timing the only time I take advantage of the scanning is when we travel out of the country, out of range of forwarding. We work hard to be able to receive forwarded mail once a week. There are very few bills that I cannot receive by email (grounds care for my parents grave being the most aggravating). Medical bills for deductible do follow us around, but a weeks wait is not critical and if one should arrive late I call the billing office and explain. Never had a problem.

    We are in the blessed Medicare group but getting the right supplemental coverage still requires some study. TX BC/BS offers plans that do not require an HMO type plan. I am sure they are available in FL too. Vehicle registration is much more in TX and we needed to take drivers tests as our coach is over 26,001 pounds and requires a Cl B License. Turns out NY did too, but no one ever noticed and the dealer certainly wasn't going to mention it.

    1. My Illinois family & friend really spoiled me-- scanning every piece of mail I got so that I only needed physical mail shipments very rarely. Now that I'm paying for a mail service (and scanning beyond just the outside of the envelope costs money), I will certainly be more picky about what gets scanned! One nice thing about Escapees vs. the others is that you can call them and they will open and read you the contents of an envelope over the phone for free, so that's one unique way to save a bit on scanning if needed.

      After 2 years and 3 address changes, the amount of physical mail I get these days is pretty minimal. Almost everything comes to me via email. I suppose I could cancel scanning altogether and just get a mail shipment once a month or so, but unfortunately there's always that replacement credit card or other piece of urgent mail that just can't wait that long to be received. So, for now, I'll use the scanning service and see how things go.

  4. Oh my goodness. I am exhausted just reading all this. You deserve a vacation after all that.

    1. ha! I don't know what in the world I'll do next month to stay busy....exercise perhaps?!!!

  5. This is huge, Lynne. Very helpful! We are going to be doing the same thing soon, and your step-by-step walk through is going to be a major help! Thank you!

    1. You're welcome. Cherie's post at Technomadia really helped me (even though it's getting a bit dated now due to ACA healthcare changes). Please post back here after you've completed your move and let us know if things went the same (or were different) for you. Good luck!

  6. Awesome post, Lynne! Extremely helpful. 2 things: When we just moved this summer to GA, they charged 7% tax on all vehicles, even if we'd just paid it in TX when we'd bought it a few months prior! Ugh! Also not once did phone calls to ANY GA government office provide correct info compared to what actually happened in person. You did great!

    1. Yikes, what a pain in the butt! Wonder if you can get your TX vehicle taxes refunded since you moved so soon after buying the car? Seems really unfair to have to pay them in both states.

      Oh yes, the "fun" of getting multiple answers from Gov't workers. I suffered thru that with the Social Security office here in New Mexico (having to make 2 all-day drives to Albuquerque because the 1st clerk said I needed my birth certificate to get a replacement card and I had not brought it with me because the website said it wasn't needed). Of course you know what happens next, on my 2nd visit (now carrying every kind of ID card I had), the second SS clerk was now perfectly fine with just looking at my Passport and never cared to see anything else. Argh! At least I finally got my social security replacement card, so I couldn't get too mad about it!

  7. Wonder if you are liable to be called for jury duty in FL?

    1. Yep, just as in any state, a jury duty notice could certain come one day. From what I understand from other full-timers though, it seems Florida is pretty easy-going and if you tell them you are currently out of state and a full-time RVer, they will excuse you. Fingers crossed!

  8. You really do a great service to people by setting all this down. Well written and organized.

  9. You really do a great service to people by setting all this down. Well written and organized.

  10. This is excellent information and it comes at the perfect time for us. We are hoping to purchase our first motor home in early January and begin traveling and living the full-time RV life. Thank you for sharing.

  11. Awesome job on this topic. The comparison between mail services and accompanying costs was beyond helpful. Thank you so much for sharing your research and insights.

  12. Just did you know to check the heath and vechicle insurance costs for each mail forwarding service location? I would have missed that major piece if I had researched this on my own.

  13. Lynne -- the devil IS in the details, right?

    Your detailed explanation validates my Domicile/County research --


  14. I just happened to come across your blog, and this post in particular. What great information! My husband and I plan to be full timing in a few months and we've been trying to decide between TX and FL for our domicile state. You've provided so many important details. Thanks so much for putting this out there for us newbies to find. Really good stuff!

  15. Thank you. This is one of the most thorough posts I've seen on the issue. I was trying to decide between Florida and Texas, and was 90% sure it was going to be Texas. But after reading this I'm back to 50/50 and will need to re-investigate. I'm going to be a fulltimer in 2 years, so I also know things could change again by then but I really appreciate the time and effort you put into helping others with this information.

  16. Great information. Do you update the IRS with your Texas mail forwarding address or your Florida domicile address? I guess I need to update the few sources of 1099s that I get to be Florida (and hope that they will accept a TX mail forwarding address?)

    1. That's been my biggest frustration with using Escapees! I know their lawyer says it's perfectly fine to have a domicile that's different than the mailing address, and for most mail, it works just fine. I initially tried to change everything I could to the TX address (excluding FL DMV and voter ID). But when I started getting 1099s I realized what a potential mess it could be for domicile "proof"-- only about half my 1099/s came with the FL address noted, the rest all showed the TX address. Further, when I started my online tax return, it just asked for a mailing address and I typed in TX only to later realize there was nowhere else on the return to show or prove I was a FL resident! So, I ended up using my FL address on the tax return and will be getting all the 1099s to show only the FL address. Yes, that might now mean a bit more mail going to FL (and being charged $1 per item by Escapees every time that happens), but I think it's just too important to ensure that all your financial records reflect your domicile state. Yes, FL and TX are both "full-timer friendly" so the chance of TX coming after me for any kind of domicile/tax dispute is unlikely, but I'd rather there no be any confusion or ambiguity-- I want the IRS to know I am a FL resident!

  17. Thanks for this article, I am planning to go full-time later this year after my house sells. Good to know what to do. I am on COBRA health insurance until Sept. 2017, hopefully insurance won't be too difficult then when I have to change to ACA. I enjoy your blog, I have a Class C Minnie Winnie and travel solo.

  18. How did you fill out your declaration of domicile in regards to your physical address. We use MyTraveling Mailbox out of Tallahassee for our mail and Leon County has denied our voter's registration because it's a PMB. Trying to figure out how to vote and I was told this form was needed by another RVer.

    1. I had no problems getting my Drivers License, voter registration, or Declaration of Domicile with Escapees in Sumter county. I believe the key here is that your mail service needs to specifically state that they offer domicile services. The 3 I listed in my post all do, but many other mail forwarders do not. I didn't see anything mentioned on the MyTravelingMailbox website about domicile services, so you may need to switch mail forwarders if you wish to domicile in Florida. Best bet is to call your mail service and confirm.

  19. Thanks Lynne! Your info re RV insurance is most helpful. I have just retired and am currently putting my house up for sale. My plans are to stay with my finance in my 5th wheel full-time for next 3 yrs til he can retire. Since he has to move every so many months due to his job (but always works in FL) I was wondering what I needed to do in regards to mail and legal requirements for physical address. We are both currently FL residents for many years, so I already have a FL drivers license and FL car registrations/insurances, etc. However, I was wondering what address you used on your bank account? I currently have a credit union that the address on my checks is the house address that I will no longer have once it sells. And credit union does only has offices in very small area of FL, so I will have to change to another financial institution that covers most of FL. I was reading someone else's posts that stated he was having trouble getting a bank account as bank noticed that his address was a mail ordering service. Also did you have any trouble with car insurance when you used the Bushnell address? Thank you again so much for your time in explaining this! Emily

    1. Hi Emily:
      When you sell your house and move to the RV, you will either need to change your address to a mail forwarder that also offers domicile services (such as the 3 above), or use the address of a friend/family member who will scan/forward all your mail to you. When you make that change of address, I believe the Florida DMV requires you to get your driver's license and registration updated within a short period of time to that new address too (just as if you were moving from one house to another in FL). So be ready to do that.

      Most of my bank & financial accounts let me list 2 addresses-- my "real" address (the Bushnell, FL address on my DL) and a mailing address (the Texas Escapees mail fwding address). One thing that was a bit confusing was filing my taxes-- the IRS only asks for 1 "mailing" address, but to not risk domicile confusion between the 2 states, I only used my FL address on my tax returns.

      I've not had a problem using my FL address with banks/financial companies thus far. Some websites did balk a bit at the unit number (i.e. my mail fwding number), but in the worst case, I just left it off and used the street address only. Escapees has still gotten those rare pieces of mail routed to me, so I think they're used to that with some of the financial institutions.

      For banking, I use mostly online-only banks who are more savvy at electronic-only communications and offer free ATM transactions. I do have a small account with a nationwide retail bank should I ever need to go into a bank branch while traveling, but rarely use it.

      Insurance for car and RV are with the same company-- I highly recommend that to avoid finger-pointing if both vehicles are in an accident. The insurance policy would ONLY use my Bushnell, FL address and would not let me use an additional mailing address, but again, both my agent (American Advantage Insurance, AAI - see above) and Progressive are very savvy at conducting all correspondence electronically, so it's not been an issue for me.

  20. We are going into the Okaloosa County tax assessors office tomorrow to do this. We chose the Passport America address due to the lower healthcare premium costs (for our situation). But, if you can get tags and licenses, and voter registration done without the declaration of domicile, why do you need to file it? I'm taking a couple blank declarations of domicile, but don't understand the need for them.

    1. OK, we did the declaration of domicile, and filed it with the Clerk of County Court. I'm guessing it may come in handy when we do our state taxes next year, and GA wants to keep us as taxpaying residents. Oh, and BTW, they didn't charge us anything to file the declaration.

  21. We just became official Florida residents and pretty much did exactly what you explained --- happily the letter from Escapees worked for us as proof of residence! It's a confusing process that you made much less confusing. Thanks so much!

  22. Oh my gosh. If I could reach through this screen and kiss you, I would! Thank you for taking the time to chronicle this in such detail. I had not seen anything remotely this helpful until I read this blog post! I know this was a couple years back for you. But, do you recall if you were "required" to register your RV and car in Florida? I've got both in AZ for the winter and they have their own requirements for auto licensing. Presently, my RV is licensed with my "residency" address at my sister's guest room in Phoenix (which is where I was staying while going back and forth to IL in my departure from the state) because I bought it as a resale there and needed tags to move it a couple hours down the interstate. I was thinking of just leaving the AZ tags on the RV as they were not cheap and they are practically new. Naturally, if this will mess up my new domicile, I'll make the switch right away. :)

    1. Domicile can be a very tricky thing for full-time RVers no longer owning real estate. From what I've learned, the best way for a full-timer to establish domicile is to have all of their vehicle/financial/legal items tied to their new state, and to cut all ties to the previous state. If some items fail to go to the new state, that potential would give the former state grounds to come after you for non-payment of their state taxes/fees. So, even though I'm no lawyer, I'd suggest registering the vehicles in FL to avoid any domicile ambiguity.

  23. Lynne, this was such a helpful post. We just changed our domicile from Texas to Florida a couple of days ago. We followed your directions and it went just as smoothly as you described. We wrote our own post on our blog (, but directed readers to your post for the details. Thank you for taking the time to share your experience!

    1. I was one of your readers who visited this page for more insight. Thank you both for writing such in depth information. Once we're ready to cut ties with California (current business owners) we'll likely follow both of your recommendations.

  24. I stumbled on on a facebook site a reference to the Landmarkadventures blog post, which I found helpful. In that post they referred to this one. Kudos to both of you! This post has embolden my efforts to make this domicile move from MN.

  25. Great article. I'm already a FL resident so my situation is a bit different. Since the article was written a few years ago do you have any updates to the information you posted? Are you still happy with using Bushnell as your domicile? Do you still need to have 2 addresses? Any recent problems with your insurance having an issue with the FL Domicile address? Still happy with your health insurance?
    Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Noreen— Great questions! Every year, I do a review to make sure Bushnell and Sumter County are still the best domicile location for my situation, and for 2018, they still are. Escapees still uses the FL/TX 2-address system, but I’ve never had a problem with them. Very few items go to the FL address, and if they do, Escapees processes it (sending to TX and scanning it) very quickly. To my surprise and delight, my Florida Blue Select plan has continued to be offered in 2017 and 2018 and I have yet to get hit with any “out of network” bills when dealing with the nationwide BlueCard PPO system. Last year, I was worried about what they’d do when I had emergency surgery and a 3-week hospital stay in Mexico. Thanks to my doctor’s terrific Mexican insurance guy (and a little help from me in connecting him to a nice Spanish-speaking customer service rep at Florida Blue), he managed to get Florida Blue to pay for ALL of my hospital and doctor expenses in Mexico! Amazing! My Progressive vehicle insurance thru American Adventure has also been reliable with minimal annual increases (I’ve not filed any claims). So, yes, still very happy with my FL domicile!

  26. Hi there- this is one of the most helpful posts on the web. I've read and re-read it a number of times- thank you! I've noticed a theme within the full-timer RV community that domicile in FL- everyone fits the county in which their mailing/forwarding address is based. Am I right to think you have to do this to register vehicles and register to vote? I've also heard that the 3 big mail forwarding counties are more accustomed to processing full-timer paperwork so it's easier than a random DMV?
    If you don't mind me picking your brain- do you know how far out a VIN inspection is valid (or how far in advance you got yours)? I'd like to do that when we have some free time, but that might be 3 or 4 months out before our FL trip.
    Thanks for this post and any help!

  27. You all had better read this:

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  29. Fantastic post and great comments by everyone. My question is does DMV only look at your proof of address documents or do they copy/keep them? Thanks!

  30. It would be very helpful to also list the absolute cost numbers in FL besides how it compares to IL - "x less than IL" is not very informative for someone who lives outside of IL when trying to have an estimate of their FL cost.


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