March 30, 2018, was our last day of employment at our respective agencies, and April 2, 2018, was the last day in our South Carolina apartment. After spending one night at a local RV park, we left the place we had called home for the last 18 years and headed straight for Florida. Most might assume we came to Florida because it’s the “sunshine” state and that’s just where RV’ers go, but we had a much different reason for making the trip.
With Hakam and I now freshly unemployed, and Hakam’s retirement pay being our only monthly income, we were still on a quest to save money wherever we could. We had already eliminated all the typical bills that come along with standard housing, but now we had to do something about the yearly taxes we were paying to the state of South Carolina for our truck and Airstream. Considering both were purchased brand new, the dollar amount being taxed was fairly high. With everything we had eliminated in our lives to gain freedom thus far, it made no sense to hang-on to South Carolina as our “home state”, so we eliminated that, too. We made the decision to establish residency in Florida where we not only won’t have to pay state taxes on our truck and Airstream, but Hakam’s retirement pay as well. This move will literally save us thousands of dollars a year. We arrived in Florida on April 4th and immediately got to work on becoming Florida residents.
If you’re wondering how difficult (or easy) it is to change domiciles, or even just what the process is, I’ve listed below everything required of us to become Florida residents. I should mention Hakam and I have family in Florida, so we’re using a relative’s address. You cannot use a P.O. Box.
We had to first get our driver’s licenses (DL’s). This was necessary before we could register our truck and airstream and acquire Florida tags. In order to get a DL in Florida, you must provide the following documents: birth certificate or passport, social security card, two financial statements or bills with a Florida address, and a current out-of-state DL
A list of acceptable bills and/or statements is provided by the Florida DMV. We chose to provide a vehicle insurance statement and a bank statement. Acquiring these was simple. We called our insurance company and changed our address, at which time they emailed us this update on our policy. We printed it and used this as one of the required documents. Because we have an account at a very well-known bank, it wasn’t hard to find a local branch in Florida. We made a visit, changed our address, and were provided with a “reference letter” with the updated information. This is perfectly acceptable at the DMV. With these two documents now in hand, and everything else required, we made the trip to the dreaded DMV and got it done.
The process for actually getting our DL’s only took about thirty minutes, but if you include our wait time, we were there for over two hours. FYI – Florida DL’s are the new “Real Id’s”. These will soon be required for access to airports, federal facilities, etc. if you don’t have a passport. Also, you have the option of keeping your out-of-state license if so desired, but you have to make this request and they will cut off the top corner of it. I kept mine. The total cost for two new Fl DL’s was $127.90 ($63.95 each).
Next, we registered our truck and Airstream. In order to do this, you must provide the following required documents: Florida DL, title or bill of sale for each vehicle or RV, current out-of-state registration for each (not more than six months expired), and proof of insurance for each.
After we provided everything required, we were given our new Fl tags for our truck and Airstream and a new Fl registration card for each. Our cost to register the truck was $433.85, and the cost to register the Airstream was $99.10. This may seem expensive, but it’s a one-time cost that we will never incur again. In SC we would pay over $2,000.00 every year.
The actual process for registering our truck and airstream took much longer than getting our Fl DL’s, but the wait time was considerably less. We suppose this is because there are less people registering vehicles and more acquiring or renewing DL’s, etc. The whole “DMV Experience” we all dread so much wasn’t as bad as we expected it to be, but we split it up into two visits (DL’s one day and Registrations the next). If we had done everything in one day it would have been a nightmare.
One of the reasons for this post is because information acquired online for residency requirements can sometimes be inaccurate. We visited Fl DMV online prior to making the change, but later found their website wasn’t up-to-date. We highly recommend looking online AND calling to ensure the information you’re reviewing is correct.
We hope this post is helpful. We appreciate everyone’s support with our new transition in life and our effort to document our journey. We’ll soon be posting about what it’s like living in our 180 square foot tiny home, which will be accompanied by pictures.
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