We are Floridians!

 Posted by at 12:02 am  Nick's Blog
Feb 062016

For some time now we have been planning to change our legal domicile from South Dakota to Florida. There were several reasons for this, including the fact that if and when we ever hang up the keys, it will be here in Florida. Other factors in our decision-making were that it’s difficult for fulltime RVers to get health insurance in South Dakota, and that we spend a lot of time here in the Sunshine State. It’s on our normal travel route, whereas we have to go out of our way to go to South Dakota.

The process was quick and relatively easy. Our first step was to register with the Escapees Mail Service and specify that we wanted to use their Sumter Oaks campground in Bushnell as our “official address.” To do that, we had to fill out a couple of forms, have one notarized, and send them, along with copies of our drivers licenses and passports, to the Escapees in Livingston, Texas. When it comes to running mail forwarding services for RVers, these folks wrote the book and they make it very convenient, walking you through the process.

On Wednesday we went to the Tax Assessor’s office here in Bushnell, where a very friendly clerk went over all the documents we would need to satisfy the requirements of proving our Florida residency. These were our drivers licenses from South Dakota, our passports, and our Social Security cards to prove identification, along with two items with our new Florida address on them. In our case, those were the letter from Escapees stating our address at Sumter Oaks and our insurance policy showing proof of Florida insurance. 

Once we had that done and our address from Escapees established, the next step was to call Chris Yust from C&C insurance and have her issue a Florida insurance policy for our motorhome and Ford Explorer. Then we were good to go.

We also needed to have the VIN numbers on both vehicles verified. With the Explorer that was no problem, we drove it to the Assessor’s office and somebody came outside to check it. Rather than drive the RV there, they gave us a form and said to call the Sheriff’s Office and request that a deputy come to the campground and check the VIN. When I called, a deputy arrived in less than a half hour, even though it was raining hard, verified the VIN, and signed the necessary form. There was no charge for that service.

Yesterday we went back to the Tax Assessor’s office again, waited about 15 minutes to be called to the counter, and presented everything to another very nice clerk. It took him about an hour to issue us our new Florida drivers licenses, which only required an eye test, to register us to vote, and to register the motorhome. Then he asked for the paperwork on the Explorer and we ran into a glitch. Somehow we had left the lien release from when we paid it off at home. So we had to make a quick trip back to the campground, grab it, and go back. Then it took him another 15 minutes or so to issue the title to the Explorer and combination fresh/saltwater fishing licenses for both of us.

Our new drivers licenses are good for eight years, and the registrations on the two vehicles expire in October of 2017.

The total cost for everything was about $1100, most of which was the transfer fees on the two vehicles. It also included a motorcycle endorsement on my driver’s license, and instead of going with the regular plates we opted to pay another $25 per year each for Save the Manatees license plates. This money goes to the Save the Manatees Trust Fund, which funds manatee-related research and conservation management activities. The plates are consecutively numbers, which should make remembering them easier.

Florida plates small

We love these gentle giants of the water and one of the greatest experiences of our RVing life was paddling our Sea Eagle kayaks with them at Crystal River a few years back. We are pleased to help contribute in some small way to their survival. Another $65 of the total fee was for our fishing licenses. Once we turn 65 those licenses will be free and good for life.

We knew that Florida auto and RV insurance was going to cost us more than in South Dakota, and it turned out to be $33 a month more. But that includes disability insurance for loss of income (since we are still working Rvers) if injured in an auto accident. And when it’s time to renew, our vehicle plates will be a lot cheaper than South Dakota so it’s pretty much a break even situation in the long run.

Overall it was a quick and easy process, and we were very pleased with the courtesy and professionalism of the people at the Sumter County Tax Assessor’s office. They are nice folks down there.

With all of that done, our next steps will be to get health insurance for Terry. Since I’m covered by the VA, I’ll be switching to a VA hospital here in Florida. And I still have to apply for my Florida concealed weapons permit. That involves filling out some paperwork, getting a passport style photo taken, getting my fingerprints taken, and paying the appropriate fees. Since I’m an honorably discharged veteran, I can submit my DD 214 in lieu of taking a firearms safety course.

So hello Florida, it’s nice to be your two newest residents!

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Chesapeake 1880 by my friend Ken Rossignol, a tale of life in the Chesapeake Bay region as the industrial revolution changed the world forever. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.


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  23 Responses to “We are Floridians!”

  1. Congratulations on your new domicile! I like your manatee license plates. If you are like me and have trouble remembering your license plate number, you can make up a mnemonic to help (which is what I do). Yours is REALLY a great one– IDR is perfect for “I don’t remember”– which is what I always have to say when I’m filling out the forms when checking into a campground and have to put my license plate number down. I’ve got no tips on remembering the number half, though, IDR mine, either!

  2. Welcome to being Floridians. We know you will love it here !!!!!!!
    We have Save the Florida Panther license plates. Love all the choices.
    Also have personalized numbers/letters. Makes it easy to remember.

  3. For those pesky fire ants get yourself some Willard water. Follow the instructions and when you get bit spray it on, it instantly takes the pain away and help to heal the site much faster than normal. It also helps with Burns and also helps your plants to grow don’t ask me why, look up Harry Reasoners 60 minutes Willard water on YouTube.

  4. Thanks for the info, we are also thinking of making that change. Does the fact that you are now a resident mean it is always going to be cold here?

  5. Our license plates in Florida are N FRONT on the motorhome and N BACK on the Jeep. Of course it only works when we’re towing!

  6. Welcome. We are enjoying being Floridians. Settled in Brevard County.

  7. on your health insurance policy try to make sure that the company that you pick covers all of Florida some of the smaller ones do not,, The structure is it different co-pay payout,, you may have to go to your red white and blue card. And where you travel out-of-state a lot find out what kind of coverage you have under their policy out-of-state
    Social security administration should have a big book covering all counties and healthcare providers I also believe you can see that book online as well

    Now do we have to technically officially drop your Snowbird title
    And updated to redneck resident

    After analyzing all 206 cities in the Sunshine State with cities under 25,000 people, we came up with this list as The Most Redneck Cities in Florida:


  8. Great post Nick! Helpful for anyone interested in the details of residency. Some things I never would have thought of, having been a resident of the same state for the better part of my life and 52 years in the same house!

  9. Don’t forget to get your free state park pass, I got mine last year and it’s good for
    Iife! I’m not even from Florida but as a disabled veteran it came free

  10. We left Phoenix at the same time that y’all left Tucson and we have been ahead of y’all, behind y’all and stayed at some of the same campgrounds, but not at the same time. Florida is now our home state, too,(full timers) and we will be moving around the state for a month or two, so maybe we will,finally meet up with y’all in some park here. Enjoy all of your postings and appreciate the good advice and ideas. Thank you. “The sun rose, the sun set and here we are in Texas yet”. Them there are some roads!

  11. Would like to point out when you are a senior (65) and a Florida resident all state parks are half price. Some of the parks are too small for your RV but there are some wonderful ones you will fit in and can use. A great perk !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. Welcome to being Florida residents Nick and Terry.

  13. How did you get the VIN inspection done for the RV? When I called they said, “any police officer can do it.” OK………. since I don’t know any Florida police officers, should I just go flag one down? I need to transfer my trailer to Florida because it’s registered in Texas, and I can’t renew my TX tag without an inspection. I can’t inspect it if I’m not in Texas. And I’m not in Texas so I’ll have to get a Florida tag…. but then I have to have the VIN inspection done, and I still haven’t sorted that out. Round and round we go!

  14. Laura, we just called the Sheriff’s Office and they sent a deputy out to check it.

  15. Nick, welcome to Florida – I think. It did cool off and start raining right as you arrived; and now that you are official residents, I guess we’ll never have nice weather again even when you’re not here.

    Seriously, thanks for the great post. Your info is very helpful. We’re currently SD residents and are considering “moving” to FL because we spend so much time here.

  16. Nick, my wife and I recently went through setting up residence in Florida as well. Didn’t realize two of the things you mentioned in this blog. Fishing license and conceal carry permits. Are those done at the tax assessor office?


  17. Jack,
    We got our fishing licenses at the Tax Assessor’s office. I think you can get them at retail outlets as well. As for the CCW, I picked up the application packet at the Assessor’s office, but once completed it is mailed to the state for processing.

  18. Thank you

  19. Can you conceal carry in all lower 48? I intend to fulltime in 4 years but i was worried about having a weapon and wanting to drive and stay in all 48.

  20. Paul,
    While many states have reciprocal agreements, there is no permit I am aware of that allows somebody to carry a concealed weapon in all 50 states.

  21. Good for you and Ms Terry, enjoy! I love the Manatees also !

  22. Nick, my wife and I are heading to Bushnell next week to officially become Florida residents. Did Miss Terry have to provide documentation showing her name changes from her birth certificate to her current one? Thanks for all you do!

  23. David,
    All Terry (and I) needed was a valid South Dakota drivers license and our passports. If she does not have a passport I think she will need a certified copy of her birth certificate and a marriage license showing her change to her current last name. If there was a previous marriage and your current marriage license does not show her maiden name she may need documentation of all name changes. Terry needed that to renew her South Dakota drivers license last time, even though she already had a SD license. It’s all part of the Real ID Act.

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