We decided a while back that we would like to sell our sticks and bricks house and try living in our motorhome full-time for about one year, and the time has come! Woohoo!!
We will certainly miss our family and friends when we don’t see them for a few months at a time, but our kids are young and are anxious to see new states, and we don’t want to miss the opportunity to do something like this while we can.
Going full time is a big reason we upgraded to the motorhome we have now. It’s MUCH easier to be in for long periods of time!
I will be documenting the steps that we go through as we establish Florida as our domicile, in case it helps other RVers who are planning to do the same.
Also, note that some of the steps don’t have to be done in this order.
Step 1 – The Purge
We have been cleaning out our house, deciding which stuff is important enough to keep in a mini storage unit. Craigslist, garage sales, and trash bags, oh my!
Step 2 – Convert Everything to Paperless
If you get a lot of paper bills and statements, consider going paperless were you can. Mailing services can charge you more for larger quantities of mail they receive, so it’s in your best interest to eliminate as much paper mail as you can.
Step 3 – Choose a Mailing Service
We decided to use Saint Brendan’s Isle, located in Green Cove Springs, FL. They have reasonable rates (about $20 per month) and are used by tons of RVers. They will scan the front over your mail so you can view the fronts of the envelopes online, and you can pick which envelopes you want them to open and scan the papers inside. Whenever you are ready for your mail to be forwarded to you, you just tell them what address to send it to and they will send it at a normal postage rate +2 dollars. The online interface is easy to use.
They also have the forms you need for moving to Florida and will help you along the way. After you sign up for their mailing service, you will need to fill out US Postal Service form 1583, which allows Saint Brendan’s Isle to forward mail to you.
Step 4 – Get Vehicle Insurance Quotes
After a lot of research online, I found that many people use Geico or Progressive insurance, as those companies have options for full-time RVers, whereas the larger insurance companies like State Farm do not. People seem to have pretty good experiences with these other smaller insurance companies, so I’m not too worried about it. I’ve heard that these smaller companies might increase your rates after one year, but that’s no big deal since we are only planning to go full-time for one year.
At this point, you don’t need to switch over to a new insurance provider. Just have one picked out so that you are ready to do so when the time comes.
Step 5 – Get a Realtor
We will be traveling while our house is for sale. If you are planning to sell your house before you go full time, this will be one of your first steps.
We are using a realtor we’ve used in the past, so this was easy. We will be meeting with him soon to get his input on any changes we should make to help our house sell.
Our original plan was to leave our big furniture at the house so that it is staged, but we decided to go ahead and sell or store everything so that we can close on the house remotely without having to come back to town just for that.
Step 6 – Start storing your stuff!
We have rented a mini storage unit and are in the process of loading it up. We are trying to organize it in a way that we can get to things we might want to grab throughout the year when we passed through Arkansas (putting the stored toys upfront so that we can swap them out and the kids need something fresh to play with).
Making a run to the ministorage with my little moving buddy!
3/1/2017: Our realtor stopped by today and we now have a “Coming soon” sign in the yard!
We are now getting ready for a garage sale! So….much….stuff!!! It really feels good to get rid of the excess. And the more we get rid of, the easier it is to part with things. It really makes us want to become more like minimalists. We’ve sold a LOT of things via Craigslist and we don’t miss anything yet!
[Edit on 4/20/2017: Still not missing any of our stuff! I couldn’t even tell you what all we sold this point.]
We’ve begun the process of loading some things into the RV that we are pretty sure we will want to have during the year ahead. This is a little more challenging and stressful than we anticipated. We have to budget the space in our RV carefully!
[Edit on 4/20/2017: We really did well packing the things we thought we would need. I had to buy a couple of minor tools I wish I had brought, but nothing expensive. The kids are not missing any of their belongings.]
For anyone who has not traveled with a family in an RV for an extended period of time, imagine a family of four living in a 400 sq ft apartment for one year. You have to really scale down on what you have to work with. Every inch counts! In the end, it will really reveal how much stuff we have that we really don’t need (if you don’t need it for one year, you probably don’t need it!). Our kids already are already used to not taking everything with them, since they’ve been on some extended trips this past year in our last / smaller RV, so that is not really a problem.
The challenge is really more around things like having enough clothes for each season, but not so many that they won’t all fit, and making sure I take all the tools I might need on the road. It’s too easy to take too many tools and other automotive stuff! Carla bought several bins tonight so we can maximize the storage space in the basement bays, which will help a lot!
What’s amazing is how much beach stuff we have! It takes up more room than anything else in the basement of our RV. Beach chairs, beach blanket, beach umbrella, small folding table, frisbees, Sandcastle building supplies, beach cart to haul stuff to the beach, etc. Of course, anyone who knows us knows that we love to spend time at the beach.
[Edit on 4/20/2017: We now have three skimboards to add to the beach collection!]
3/14/2017: Our RV is now parked at the Creeks Golf and RV Resort in Cave Sorings, AR. It’s really a nice little park with a fishing pond right near our site. We have been loading it up with the essentials.
We bought a tacklebox to store some Legos in since we can’t take 100,000+ Legos with us!
3/21/2017: Movers are coming soon to empty the rest of our belongings to storage! It’s pretty empty around here. Only 11 days until we hit the road and head to Florida!
3/25/2017: we moved the last bit into storage and it barely fit! Amazing how we’ve sold so much stuff and yet we packed this storage unit…ugh…
The storage unit is bursting at the seams! Hold it in there, Carla!
Our house is officially on the market!
Step 7 – Change Auto Insurance
We switched our insurance over to Geico. They really do cater to full-time RVers. We had read where some people said not to switch your insurance over to early, but we weren’t sure why. I think we did it at the right time. I guess we will find out when we get to Florida in a few days!
[Edit on 4/20/2017: Everything went great at the Clay County administration offices. The insurance activation date was no issue at all]
Step 8: Getting our paperwork in order
You are required to have at least two pieces of eligible mail addressed to you with your new Florida address. The same goes for your spouse.
[Edit on 4/20/2017: We only needed a single piece of mail that had both of our names on it. They didn’t require two pieces of mail for each of us.]
There is also a form to fill out to have your vehicle identification numbers verified by a law-enforcement officer. You can do this in any state. We are going to fill the form out because I’m not sure how we would get the RV to the DMV in Florida given its size.
[Edit on 4/20/2017: We ended up having a police officer come to our campground in Florida to verify the RV’s VIN. Carla was running some errands in the Honda at the time the police officer came by, so we handled the VIN form for our Honda when we got to the Clay County administration offices. One of the clerks came out to our car and did the verification herself. Also, we ended up having to wait two weeks while in Florida to wait for our vehicle titles to be transferred to Florida from Arkansas. I’m not sure if we could have started this process sooner, but it sure would have saved some time. Fortunately, we headed to Florida early on so that we would have time for these kinds of delays. It worked out fine for us. If you don’t want to spend anymore time in Florida than necessary, I suggest you try to start this process sooner than later. It usually takes around one week but could take up to 30 days!]
Also, VERY IMPORTANT, because my wife’s last name changed when we got married, they require either the original or a certified copy of our marriage license. If you bring them the original they can make a copy, but if you bring a certified copy you must obtain a copy from the county that issued the marriage license.
Step 9: Head to Florida!
While the following photo looks pretty ordinary, it represents a LOT of tiring work to go from sticks and bricks to full time in the RV. It was taken at the exact moment we left our local RV park and began our 1 year journey! Very exciting! Boy, what a lot of work it was to prepare for this, as I’m sure many of you can relate. It seemed like a never ending list of things to do to. Words cannot describe the feeling of finally leaving town, and also leaving behind all the work that comes with this kind of transition. Time to explore more of this awesome country!
Step 10: VIN & Odometer Verification
We had a police office come by the KOA in Starke, FL (about 40 min from where we will register our vehicles), so he could sign a form that verifies the VIN and odometer reading we stated on the form match the actual VIN and odometer reading.
Step 11: Register Vehicles
You will want to register your vehicle is in the same county as your mailing address. For us, this was the Clay County Administration Offices.
The total cost for the RV and tow car registration and 2 drivers licenses was around $1100.
The blue dot on the following image is where we went:
The clerk we worked with was super helpful (Christie). [Julie is also very helpful and is who helped us when we had to go back a second time]. She knew exactly what we were doing and got us as far along in the process as she could. She even gave us her phone number in case we wanted to check on the status of things (we’ve never met anyone at a motor vehicle department who is this friendly or helpful!).
We then had to wait for our vehicle titles to be transferred to Florida, which took about 14 days.
Also, Christie told us that because we are going to be living in our motorhome, we cannot use a Private Mailbox (PMB) for our address (it’s a new legal thing), so they are going to use the license plate number of the motorhome for our drivers licenses. We had heard about other people who have been told the same, so this was not a total shock.
When our titles arrived, they called us and we went back to their offices. Everything went very smoothly. The most challenging part was picking a neat license plate!
You can’t do this step until your vehicle titles have been transferred to Florida (unless your vehicles are paid off and you have the titles with you).
We handed over our old licenses, did a quick eye test, answered a few questions, and provided our passports and original marriage certificate. Without a passport, you will need your birth certificate. Carla’s birth certificate didn’t have ink left on the raise lettering so it wouldn’t scan well. They try to rub some ink so that the letters would show up, but it just wouldn’t work. They allowed her to use her expired passport instead (required a quick approval by her supervisor).
And then we got to celebrate being official Floridians!
Even if you don’t plan to vote in Florida, this step supposedly helps break ties with your previous state. We’ve heard that some states won’t let you “leave” as easily as other states.
Thanks to Technomadia and Winnie Views who have both gone through this process and documented their steps. We are documenting the steps ourselves because they may have changed since these other people have gone through the process, so stay tuned!