We are finally in Texas! Our first stop in the Lone Star State was chosen for the sole purpose of setting up our domicile. “What is a domicile?” You ask. Good question! Your domicile is your state of residence; your address; where you call “home”; or as they say in Texas, where you hang your hat. Everyone has to have one in order to live legally in these great United States of America.
There are several companies that are in the business of providing these services for full-timers. They provide full-timers with a physical street address, offer a comprehensive mail service, and provide logistical and legal support when it comes to all things full-timing. These companies service many full-timers for their mail delivery, even those who don’t use the address as their domicile. The three states that these particular companies are based in are Florida, Texas, and South Dakota. Although one’s home state could be in any of the 50 states, these three are unique in that they are the friendliest to the full-timing community, have no state income tax, have the the resources (companies that I referenced above) as well as favorable laws and procedures already in place to make this lifestyle doable. I am not going to get into all the details here, but to learn more you can visit the company we are using, Escapees. After all was said and done, we chose Texas to set up our domicile and be our home state. Livingston, Texas to be specific.
You would think that Florida would be the obvious choice for us since I am originally from Florida and since we still have family there; but it’s simply not that simple. There are several factors that each full-timer must consider when choosing a domicile state and deciding which state is best really depends on their specific circumstances. There is no one right answer for everyone. For us, the homeschooling laws played a huge role in our choosing Texas over Florida. Furthermore, Texas’ auto/rv insurance rates are lower than Florida’s rates. And the final bonus for Texas is that the state doesn’t charge property taxes for autos or RVs. All of these factors played a role in us deciding to become Texans. Finally, and of upmost importance, once we have seen and done the entire country, we can see ourselves getting our liveaboard sailboat in the Corpus Christi area and keeping Texas as our home base. That’s another big factor in setting up your domicile. It is also where you “intend” on living permanently at some point, even if it’s not until after your travels are over.
As of today, May 20th, this process is still not fully complete nor will it be for another couple of weeks. It’s been quite a bit more stressful and time consuming than I had anticipated. Even though we had already set up our address in Livingston long before we arrived, getting our vehicles registered and our drivers licenses has not been as easy or as fast as I had hoped. I knew we would have to get the truck inspected before we could get it registered, but as it turned out we also had to get our brand new fifth wheel inspected. That sounds easy enough, but that meant we had to close it all up, hook it up and pull it into town during 9-5 weekday hours for the inspection. What a time-consuming pain in the derrière! Also, this is one detail that I had to rely on Greg to help me with and which impeded into his normal work schedule. Ugh! I had already had the truck inspected myself, but I couldn’t proceed with registering the vehicles until the fifth wheel was inspected as well. Greg wasn’t able to pull the 5er down there until the end of our first week here, so that delayed the entire process. I also learned that Texas processes their vehicle registrations and driver’s licenses at two entirely different offices and you can’t get your Texas driver’s license until after you’ve registered all your vehicles in Texas. Furthermore, Texas fairly recently added a stipulation requiring your original social security card in order to get your Texas driver’s license. Major hiccup as neither one of us has ours. Greg has no idea where his is and mine was stolen when my wallet was stolen years ago. The SS office said that I could apply online, but if so we wouldn’t get our replacement cards for 6-8 weeks. If I went to a SS office and applied in person they said it “should” only take 7-10 days, or 2 weeks at the longest. Of course, it simply couldn’t be that easy and it turns out that the closest social security office is just over an hour away.
So… on Tuesday (simply because these are not the types of things anyone should ever do on a Monday!) I piled Saylor (my 5 year old granddaughter who’s with us right now and where I go, she goes!) up into the truck to accompany me on the long, long day of major driving and major errands. We left first thing in the morning and we drove just over an hour west to go to Livingston to register our vehicles since I finally had inspection done and everything we needed. (Vehicles can only be registered at a local office so it had to be done in Livingston); That went smoothly and quickly so we popped over to the Escapees office and picked up any mail that had come in since my original visit there last week.
Next we got back in the truck and drove yet another hour north to Lufkin, which is where the closest social security office is located; to apply for our replacement SS cards (I took a signed application from Greg as well as his driver’s license and a letter authorizing me to represent him so he that didn’t have to lose an entire day’s work having to come along.) The social security office was PACKED and run on a number system, so what they told me over the phone “wouldn’t take long at all” ended up taking FOREVER! After waiting (in the waiting room… with a five year old… sitting in an uncomfortable chair…. with my back and neck killing me… Are you starting to feel my pain yet?!?!) for exactly 1 hour and 7 minutes (my number ticket was time stamped, thus I know exactly how long we waited) my number was finally called and we were able to apply for replacement cards. We now have our SS cards on the way.
By this time it was almost 2pm so I looked on my “Find Me GF” app and was shocked and thrilled to find a cafe called Ray’s Drive-In that said they had gluten free buns and that was only 3 miles away. It turned out to be excellent and our crazy day turned into a fun adventure from that point forward.
I had checked my reciprocal zoo list and found that there was a zoo that would be free with my zoo membership right in Lufkin. I told Saylor that since she had been so good for all the driving and waiting I would take her to the zoo. I had looked up the website for it the night before and it just looked like a small zoo, so I didn’t expect much. Boy, was I pleasantly surprised!
After we finished the zoo, we had to drive yet another hour back southeast this time to return home, to Jasper. Talk about a long day! It was all worth it though as now our vehicles are registered and our social security cards are on their way. They are being sent to our home address in Livingston, and we will then have Escapees overnight them to us at whatever campground we are in when they arrive. Unlike registering our vehicles, we can get our driver’s licenses at any county in the entire state, so as long as we get them within the next 3 weeks, we will be good.
Speaking of Jasper, we are here now, staying at our very first Corps of Engineers campground which is Sandy Creek Park, located on B.A. Steinhagen Lake. Here are some pictures from our campsite and campground:
Let me not leave out the coolest thing about Jasper, Texas. The Jasper County Cowboy Church! I saw it on the main stretch and decided to check out their website to see if this was the church to attend on Sunday. Their website said, “Straight shooting, sinner saved by grace teaching, rounding up the lost, the lonely and them that ain’t got no faith. Come as you are – in spirit, spurs and stetsons. It’s bucking horses and roto-rooter Bibles in the arena dirt or a hard won dollar in a boot on the back table after a searching sermon. No fancy duds. No politicized preaching. No denominational hair splitting.” That was it… my kinda church! It turned out to be better than I expected. If we did live here, that would be my home church for sure! When we were leaving I heard my name being called and I turned around to see the only person I know in Jasper. A wonderful lady I had met and spoke with on several occasions that works at the campground. (Her name is Pam, so it’s easy for me to remember!) I can’t even begin to put into words how comfortable and welcomed I felt in this church out here in the middle of nowhere. God is truly awesome like that.
We leave here Sunday for our next destination which is in Fort Worth, Texas. This time we are staying in our first ever RV Park. Not our typical style or preference, but it was all that we could find available for two full weeks since everything was so booked for Memorial Day weekend . This RV Park will serve the purpose well though as it has wifi, laundry facilities and even a pool. Honestly though, this particular destination for us will be all about exploring the Dallas/Forth Worth area more than the campground itself. Of course, I’ll write about that area next time.
I’ll leave you with a few final people pictures…
Happy Trails and Sunny Sails!