Saturday, April 30, 2016

We Became Florida Residents!

Some people buy new RVs every few years.  Or move on from full-timing in an RV to the adventures of living in a boat.

We don't do those things --- but over the past couple of years it seems as if we consider changing our domicile from South Dakota.  Last year we were convinced we were going become Texans -- but then decided against it when it became a little cumbersome.

The only practical possibilities for us (everyone's situation may be different) are South Dakota, Texas and Florida.  I did a cost comparison a few years ago and included estimated costs over three years.  South Dakota came out the cheapest.  But Texas and Florida were not too far behind...

We got to thinking about this again when our Mail Service Center in Sioux Falls had a change of ownership, expanded the facility, changed the name and the address.  The impact on us was that we had to change our address also.  I didn't really like that and only made a half hearted attempt to notify people over the year they gave us to to change.  But we had to do something -- either continue with our residency in South Dakota or change to Texas or Florida.

Meanwhile, last summer Pam and I decided Texas was going to be our new domicile.  The main issue there was getting a Class B license.  We weren't opposed to the idea (we figured we'd learn a lot which would be helpful) and began studying for the test.  The more we learned about the cost of getting the new license and the pain in the neck to go and do a test drive with our motorhome at a DMV facility -- the more we decided to forego that idea.

Then this past fall and winter we knew we were going to be in Florida for the winter months.  A fellow blogger mentioned that they had become Florida Residents with St. Brendan's Isle Mail Forwarding Service in Green Cove Springs, FL.

We mulled it over a while and talked again of becoming residents of FL.  (We married while in Florida and remained Florida residents until I retired from the Air Force in 1995. When I retired we became residents of Virginia.)

While we were at it, we checked out another mail service we heard about in Florida.  MyRVMail was not not too far from Fort Walton Beach.  We were there around Christmas time and decided to check it out.  We went and talked to the folks, looked at their operation and did a 'site survey'.  We decided that the facility was not the place for us and kept looking.

Next, we made it a point to go to Green Cove Springs (the county seat) and see what we thought of St. Brendan's Isle during our winter travels.  We found a campground not too far away in Palatka, FL and did the same thing.  We went to the business, took a look at the operation and talked with the nice people there.  We were very impressed and decided this was the place for us.

While there at St. Brendan's Isle, we picked up paperwork and talked about the process of setting up a mailbox and becoming Florida residences.  We were assured if our paperwork was together it would only take a couple of hours.

First thing we did was get a mailbox and start getting mail sent there to our new Florida address.

The web site at St Brendan's Isle is very thorough and has some detailed and information. Some of the things we needed to do were:

- File a declarations of domicile form with the Clay County Courthouse (conveniently located a couple of miles away) in Green Cove Springs
- Register to vote
- Get a Florida driver's license
- Turn in old drivers licence
- Show our passport or birth certificate (we had both)
- Have proof of Florida RV insurance

I think I spent the most time calling RV insurance companies for quotes.  It took three or four days to call and get hold of someone, talk it over and then get an actual quote.  Here are some of the ones I considered:

Of all the calls I made and emails I sent out - getting the RV insurance was the most time consuming.  We decided to go with National Interstate.  Next thing we did was to contact Dougherty and Associates in Sioux Falls and cancel our coverage with them.

Florida requires that the RV VIN number be verified by a police officer.  We were staying at the KOA in Starke FL which was about 35 miles from Green Cove Springs.  I called the local police department in Starke, told them that this was not an emergency and asked if they had a patrolman that might be able to swing by the campground and sign our form.  Not a problem.  In less that 15 minutes this young man showed up and signed the form and let me get a picture.

After getting our form signed, we drove into Green Cove Springs and over to St. Brendan's Isle.  We talked with the nice folks there and showed them our paper work.  They explained where we needed to go in the Clay County Courthouse a couple of miles away.
We went over there, waited in line for a few minutes then got all our paper work processed.  We picked a license plate type we wanted, got our picture taken and new drivers license and registered to vote -- all in one stop.  It was very convenient.  The first time cost to register our two vehicles in FL was $1,013.  The second year cost drops about just over $300 ($46+$250).  In South Dakota our registration for both vehicles cost us over $700 each year.

The whole process took a little over an hour and 1/2.  We were in a bit of a fog as we took off the old plates and put on the new ones (on our car for the time being since the Roadrunner was back at the campground.) It seemed like it should be a momentous occasion of sorts -- moving from South Dakota to Florida -- but it was really anti-climatic.

It was about lunch time so we found a local sandwich shop that was recommended.
Now after about six weeks of being Florida residents not much has really changed.  Except we need to find an appropriate front license plate for the Roadrunner.  Stay tuned for that...

That's how we became Florida residents.  We figure we will be in Florida more often than South Dakota in the coming years but we will see.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!


  1. Congratulations on becoming Floridians! We went through a similar process a couple years ago ourselves here in Canada. There was a fair bit of paperwork and tests needed to be done on both our vehicles which they don't make easy but now that it is all said and done we are very happy with our knew province of residence. I hope in a year or two that you will feel the same way and will be happy that you made the right choice for you.

  2. That was so informative Randy. I have bookmarked this. Who knows why. We will never be full time, but one never knows.

  3. Great post with lots of helpful information. I have heard great thing about your new mail service. Why did yoy decide to no longer be a South Dakota resident? We considered doing the same thing after the address change with our mail service. However, the convenience of renewing our drivers license by mail kept us for noe in South Dakota.

  4. Welcome to Florida! We found the process painless when we did this just before becoming fulltimers. We actually had a VA trooper come by the storage facility to do the VIN verification for us.

  5. We've been thinking of doing this for a while now, thanks for outlining the step by step process. Looking forward to seeing what you choose for your front plate. :c)

  6. Well, it was nice being your neighbor on Potsdam Ave.

    How does the cost of the two services compare? We have been thinking about where to settle down when we hang up the keys & FL is one of the states on our list.

    1. Mail service costs are about the same in South Dakota and Florida.

  7. Curious as to why you didn't go with USAA? We've always been very happy with them and have our RV and everything else covered by USAA.

  8. Congratulations on being Florida residents now. Great easy to follow instructions for others also. Very professional as always.

  9. Sorry to see you go from SD brother! But there may be a time where Cindy & I decide to switch domiciles from SD as well.

  10. Welcome to SBI, new neighbors! You won't regret choosing them. Over the last 3 years, their service has been flawless for us.

  11. Welcome to FL:) Insurance rates are not the best, but we find dealing withe the bureaucracy here is better than any state we have lived in-10 altogether.