It happened twice today.  The neighbor to our rear was sitting outside her travel trailer smoking and informed me I was a long way from home.  Then this afternoon a young construction worker who is parked beside us was out winterizing his water hose and he too commented about our being from South Dakota.  Neither of these persons realized that we are in fact at home.  Yes, our license plates say South Dakota, so does our driver’s license. If you want to send us mail, it goes to South Dakota. But wherever our RV is, is home.  But why South Dakota?

I’m told you have to have an address.  Think about how many things depend on your address.  Insurance rates depend on your address.  Some taxes are determined by your address. Your credit cards, bank accounts, even your library require an address.  So if you are living in an RV traveling the country what do you do about your address?  We could have used one of our daughters addresses.  One daughter lives in Michigan and the other lives in Minnesota.  We didn’t want to trouble them with this responsibility and neither state is financially advantageous. We got our address through a mail service, Your Best Address, before I began the process of applying for Social Security.

I did quite a bit of research about domicile/residency and learned the three states which were most beneficial for full time RVers are Florida, Texas, and South Dakota. The main reason we chose South Dakota is that our Minnesota daughter lives only about four hours from Sioux Falls, South Dakota’s largest city. But wait, there’s more! South Dakota has no income tax, no inheritance tax (not that we’re going to leave any inheritance), the state sales tax is only 4%, and the insurance rates are some of the lowest in the nation. On top of that it is really easy to establish your domicile/residency in South Dakota.

Here was our experience:  We arrived in Sioux Falls on Friday. We had made reservations to stay at the Big Sioux State Recreation Area, more about that later.  Saturday morning with documents in hand we went to the Driver’s License Testing Center. A Google search will tell you what you need to bring. We took our Michigan Drivers licenses, our valid passports, a receipt from the campground proving that we had spent the night there and had a South Dakota address, and a letter from our new insurance company which also had our South Dakota address on it. There was a pretty long line of folks waiting when we arrived.  We took a number and waited.  We sat down and then one of the workers announced that the internet was down. Suddenly what looked like a long wait just got a lot longer. But to our surprise things moved along quite well. Before we knew it we were standing in front of window number one with Liz guiding us through the process. The people working there, Liz especially, were great. They were friendly and helpful and made the whole experience delightful. In a matter of a few moments with Liz we both had brand new driver’s licenses.  We also completed our voter registration as a part of this process.

On Monday we went to the County Treasurers office to secure our tags for Pete and Penelope. We weren’t in line a minute until we were called to the window for service. We presented our Michigan Titles and proof of insurance for both  vehicles. Turns out South Dakota does not require proof of insurance. I knew they based the license fee on the weight of the RV and truck so I had taken photos of the weight information stickers on both. Our lady who was helping us thought the photo for Pete was too blurry so she did an internet search to find the information and print it out. I’d say she was going the extra mile! FYI you need the unloaded weight for the vehicle or trailer. Once again Marty, our helper was awesome. She was friendly and kind and willing to do what it took to help me get plates for Pete and Pen. I am convinced that Liz and Marty need to go to Michigan and show the folks there how this can be done.

I also got a library card for the Siouxland Library. It too couldn’t be easier. I just had to show them that shiny new driver’s license. After issuing the new library card the young woman told me where to find all the things a man like myself might need, the DVDs, Children’s books, and books on ancient history. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I would never be back and simply wanted online privileges.

Whether you call it domicile or residency doesn’t matter to me.  I call it easy and done!


  1. It’s wonderful how friendly folks are around this great big country of ours…makes one wonder why anyone would live in the “other” places. Glad you and Mary are benefiting from the kindness of strangers and sharing your experiences. Reminds me of a favorite quote, “Treat everyone with politeness, even those who are rude to you…not because they are nice but because you are.” ~Anonymous


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