When you live full time in your RV, Van or Camper and travel all over the country, ‘normal’ life things like having a state to call home, a real address, and a place to receive mail and packages are left behind.
I get asked a lot how I handle these challenges, so in this blog I will cover how full time RVers and VanDwellers deal with residency and receiving mail and packages.
Note: I am not an expert on the federal or state laws pertaining to residency and docile. I am sharing MY experience and that of other full time RVers I’ve met. This blog serves as a guide to get you started, I urge you to do the research and learn the specific requirements of the state you choose to declare as your domicile state.
Residency for Full Time RVers and VanDwellers
Now that you’re a nomad, you can declare a new state as your home state. Many full time RVers and VanDwellers choose a state with no income tax to save some money at tax time.
There are seven states that currently don’t have an income tax: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming. Residents of New Hampshire and Tennessee are also exempt from normal income tax, but they do pay tax on dividends and income from investments.
Tax savings may be one motivation for choosing a home-state, but there are other considerations.
What Does Residency Mean to a Full Time RVer?
Once you claim a new state of residency you will want a driver’s license or ID card from that state (this makes it official).
Residency requirements for obtaining a driver’s license vary by state; some are very lax, like Nevada, which just requires you to pay a month’s fee at an RV park and show a receipt. While Texas requires two forms of proof of residency such as: rental or mortgage documents, utility bill, automobile registration, etc. Check the requirements for each state you are considering to learn what you will need to provide to prove residency.
Many full time RVers and VanDwellers choose South Dakota (check out this great guide by Interstellar Orchard) or Nevada for their loose residency requirements.
Other Ways to Deal with Residency
If you don’t wish to change your domicile state, you can rent a PO Box or get an actual street address through a mail forwarding service like UPS Stores. I have a mail box with the UPS store in my home base town of California. It’s an actual street address; I used it to register to vote and register my vehicles. You could also use a friend or family member’s address.
Receiving Mail and Packages
Choosing to use a friend or family’s address as your domicile address could be convenient for you, but that would put the responsibility of forwarding mail on friends and loved ones. This is something to consider when selecting a solution to your full-time RV life.
I chose the UPS store for my address. As mentioned above, this gives me an actual street address (not a PO Box) and they accept mail and packages. A PO box will not accept UPS shipments.
Mail Forwarding Services
There are mail forwarding services in popular full time RVer domicile states like Nevada and South Dakota that help you get your residency. I have not experienced them myself, but have heard great things about their services. Google “Mail Forwarding Nevada” for example to find services to help you.
I am using a UPS store and have been very happy with their service. I call them, they check my mail for me, tell me what’s there and then will mail it to me for about $5. I explain below how I receive my forwarded mail on the road, below.
They will also accept UPS shipments and forward those to me as well (of course, I try to avoid that, because I’m paying shipping twice). ‘
Getting Mail & Packages While on the Road
When I’m traveling, I have my mail sent to the post office in the nearest city or town I’m visiting. Most US post offices accept what is called “General Delivery” mail. That means anyone can have their mail sent to just about any post office c/o GENERAL DELIVERY and they will hold it for pick up. You then go to that post office, show ID and retrieve your mail. Yep, it’s that easy!
I use this service a lot and have never had a problem.
Beware: not every post office accepts General Delivery mail. CALL THE POST OFFICE AHEAD OF TIME, to verify they will accept it. I recommend also calling to verify their address, what you see online isn’t always accurate.
Packages are different, Post offices will not receive UPS or FedEx packages. When I shop online, I plan, to know where to have the order shipped. You can have your packages shipped to most UPS stores or other mail/copy/package stores. Call ahead to ask if they will accept packages on your behalf. There is usually a fee (about $5 per box).
You can Google “UPS Store” or “Mail Services” in the city you’ll be close to and ask if they accept packages. Also, verify the address and any special addressing instructions before placing your order.
Click here to watch the YouTube Video.
Re: Name for your followers: “The Seekers”
This is the title of a poem by John Masefield.
Here is an excerpt from it.
“There is no solace on earth for us – for such as we – who search for a hidden city that we shall never see.
Only the road and the dawn, the sun, the wind and the rain and the watch fire under stars, and sleep, and the road again.”
Carolyn, I know this is off topic totally. I am new to this blogging and can’t find a place to type something that concerns me. Please remove the closed captioning from your videos. It blocks pictures and things you’re holding up and whoever is typing seems not to be able to understand english because they just make up words for you. Thanks bunches. Love your videos. Lin
Dear Lin, someday u will be hard of hearing and will appreciate closed captioning. Remember that many many RVer’s are hard of hearing! If Carolyn deletes her closed captioning she will lose “viewers” and clicks. Shame on you for not being flexible.
In Montana this does not work. The driver license and vehicle registration departments know that the UPS address is not a legal residence.
Great tips here! We currently have our mail going to a friend’s house, but the UPS store sounds like a great option since we don’t want our friend to have to deal with out mail forever! 🙂
Thanks Brittany. yes, it’s good to know of options! Thanks for reading! – Carolyn
I wanted to respond to your vlog on the new Presidency change on 1/20/17. I won’t do it on YouTube or subscribe, because you have to sign in from google (controlled by CIA/Globalists btw so is Snopes).
Many people have been awake for a long time as to the Globalist plan, you are just beginning to wake up. Maybe, this YouTube will help many understand what the real truth is.
Historic! Alex Jones Responds To Trump Inauguration Speech
I took me two times to get through that video and be for I finished, I read every single comment, then I watched the video the second time. My biggest reservation about sharing this is wasting my breath and time on people who don’t want to change, see themselves and continue to do the same things and expect different results (the definition of Insanity). I see your struggle to erase the lies/mind control that gets indoctrinated in us especially through Schools, main stream media, etc. Eventually, we will learn by life changing events, for this is a individual plan.
And for the record HUD Wants to Outlaw Living in RVs and Tiny Homes 4/2/2016….long before Trump.
There are many good links embedded in article. Here is the Hud summary:
FR–5877–P–01 Manufactured Home Procedural and Enforcement Regulations; Revision of Exemption for Recreational Vehicles
I hope you take the time to look at this…I spent hours going through your blog, before I responded instead of a knee jerk response…. I saw many were stating from a awakened truth, instead of a lack of discernment and caving to fear….Where Fear is Love isn’t.
Because, I have followed the Globalist agenda for over 30 years, but even before that I was born awake and able to discern the truth. I remember being in 3rd grade when Kennedy was assassinated…I knew what they were saying Not theTruth about the whole situation, Oswald, Jack Ruby, etc.
I have a destiny, purpose and will be back on the road again, I have always been a Gypsy at heart. This change will be soon. What I knew would always happen for me has changed over time and I have to now let it unfold in divine order and timing.
Love and Blessings to you on your Journey to discover the truth for the first time.
Feel free to personally contact me if you want to.
Pat, thank you for taking the time to share your concerns. – Carolyn
This seems interesting but I am seeing it after the fact because of the new set up you have made by computer adjustments. Love it!
But I am very happy with “The Friendlies”.
I hope there is a way to communicate with you “in private”.
There are some things I wanted to comment to you about Bob’s change
of YOU TUBE address especially after finding some posts from another
Enigmatic Nomadic person that prompted some thoughts. I would just like to have them validated and I think you can probably do that.
So I am plowing pleasantly through your new set up and will be looking for an email so this won’t go public. Just some obversations and gut feelings.
Sloppy kisses fro me and Lola to Capone and many hugs and atta girls to you. Keep up the good work!
Hi Jane, thank you for writing. If you would like to contact Bob about his channel you can do so here: akrvbob@Gmail.com. If you have some concern about his channel it’s best to reach out to him directly.
All the best, Carolyn
. Just yesterday I watch YouTube of yours and you ask. what’s holding us back from becoming a full-time rv. well for me. I would say financially as well as three kitties haha. I am 66 I retired this year in May. My husband died 5 years ago. He had been chronically ill and handicapped for many years 20 at least, which left me not very well off financially. But I do have my Social Security and a cute little Module home. Did I mention three kitties who hate being in the car ..Would love to be a part time van dweller just don’t know how I could swing it. And not sure if I would like being alone all the time on the road.. So that’s my story. Pz
Patz – thank you for sharing your story with me. The question was,’what’s holding you back from following your dreams”? Is your dream to live in an RV? It sounds like you have a nice life with your kitties and your comfy home! That’s wonderful! I wish you peace and happiness!! Keep them comfy and out of the car! LOL – Carolyn
I’m 71 years young & have a 26A 2006 Winnebago Outback. I think Winnebago is the best and I did lots of research. My bed is in the back. Full shower and toilet together and large vanity with big medice cabinet across from the bed. The thing I like best about this RV is the huge amount of storage. Outside and behind the bedroom and bath is a “garage” with a sink for cleaning fish or washing the dogs. Shelve storage and lots of room for chairs, and all supplies. Google my model to see the floor plan. I love this model and think you would too. Smaller, in my opinion wouldn’t work well for you. Enough room to always look tidy but gives up nothing for storage. I have 17,000 miles on mine and an after market installed leveling system. Well made RV. Feel free to give email me if you’d like. Enjoy your experiences. Julie
I finally found a place here to put my 2 cents in. Ha ha. I will be on the road as soon as I get a new kidney and am able to sell my place. Fingers crossed for me please. Lin
I always wandered about this.
It was fun sending letters to a friend as he hiked the Appalachain Trail. He would send an email a week or so before he’d hit a spot, so we knew where to reach him. It was fulfilling getting something physical to him.
Rent free. Sustainable. NYC.
So glad you got a Winnebago! You will love it and it’s well made and has super storage so easy to keep tidy. Mine has the bed over the cab and the great garage in the back. I wrote you about it in August. I’m thrilled for you. Happy trails and love your Winnie! BTW my website is old but I keep it going. Check it out for kicks.
Carolyn, I came across your youtube channel yesterday (and I binge watched over 10 videos in one sitting). I was a little worried after watching a couple of videos as I thought (with you being a Berkeley Grad and your discussing “white privilege”) that you would be doing some social justice proselytizing thus making some video’s unwatchable to a Conservative Christian such as myself. However, I found myself to be very intrigued by your story and your efforts at the nomadic life. I myself have the yearning to be on the road. I lost my wife of 24 yrs. to cancer a little over 30 months ago, and my developmentally disabled 29 yr old step-son lives with me (thus will make boon-docking difficult due to his needs to be active with a computer/gaming that occupies his time and allows him to get around his autism). I did buy a 1999 Itasca Suncruiser (Class A) so I can take him on short trips and the 36 ft. Class A gives him enough room not to feel confined. Your story of leaving the rat race also resonates with me (I used to be a IT Director working 50-70 hrs a week) and I suffered a nervous breakdown when my wife almost died in 2012 (and underwent a lot of medical issues). I am now much better, but I am considered disabled (I am a Veteran on Disability), so my occasional physical limitations also prevent me to RV full time. I am hoping though that I can eventually at least RV during the winter with my son (in the Southwest). I am binge watching all of your video’s (and
“CreativeRV’s” Robin’ videos also). Despite your occasional political proclivities, I am loving your video’s as they resonate with me. I am hoping I can be on the road next year in October of 2019 and I hope to bump into you on my travels (you appear to be a good soul and we need that in this world). I pray you remain safe in your travels, I hope you find a new furbaby, and I will pray for you to have more wonderful Nomadic experiences. I feel like I have hope to have a partial Nomadic Life when watching your travels, and I pray to be on the road next year.
I love to escape from the crowd to a new place in my camper-van as you also did… and I just like your blog because you always share a good post with us. I’m living in my van for 3 years and enjoyed the whole time, and after seeing peoples like you who are sharing their amazing memories with us planning to start my own blog soon… you are really amazing…
As new to this RV/nomadic life style. How does 1 go about register/buying plates for their vehicles when they have no permanent address of 6 months or longer? Also what about which state to report state income taxes to again when 1 doesn’t stay in any specific state more than 4 months. Or how about buying health ins as we are thinking about selling our house as we never there to begin with.
Grateful for any tips received.
Hi Ani, you can find the answers to your questions in the videos on my YouTube channel:
here is the link to the choosing residency question: https://youtu.be/vUgUne0NsPs
for more HOW TO advice check out the full playlist of videos: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLezWHERL6sh8G1Zhqa6eICC4Gro5-DtDe
I use to use the ups store too but they didnt have everything I needed. I get mail scans now to look at my mail when on the road. The scans are at Sasquatch mail. If anyone is interested, the scans can be bought here https://www.sasquatchmail.com/packages/.
us too, but we use PostScan that 1) promises a street address and you can reselect based on where you going to go next, so 1 has the option of picking up their mail as well as either scan opening it or even forwarding it to you if its an original document you will need like a current debit card came.
Their rates were extremely low starting at $15 a month and includes a few scans to open important notices, otherwise you can toss any mail not needed as we get alot of junk mail to begin with.
Hi Carolyn, I’ve enjoyed your article about what to do about your mail while being a RVer. We’ll definitely go to a UPS store and get set up. We’re getting very close to being able to do this, probably 6 weeks or so. I do have another question for you, how/what do you use to connect to the internet? I’m just not sure what the best way to go is. I
Thanks in advance!