If you are traveling permanently, you will likely need to claim a domicile state. A domicile state is the place where you intend to return to after your temporary travels and has many benefits towards how the US system is set up. Your domicile state will be used for a permanent mailing address and is required for taxes, health insurance, and other legal documents. We are not endorsing a particular state nor any specific services but wanted to share what we have learned through our search. If you need to establish a domicile state, we recommend that you research and find one that suits your needs. Hopefully, the following information will give you a good starting point.
Some of the factors to consider when deciding your domicile state are in the table below. If some criteria are more important to you than others, you should place more importance on those criteria. (A weighted decision matrix* may help guide you to a decision.) While we are not familiar with many state’s details, the table includes the reasons that we chose South Dakota.
Deciding your domicile state may be an iterative process as you learn which state has the characteristics that you want. If you’re not sure where to start, here are some steps to help provide some guidance:
Pick a few domicile states to start comparing. Some of the more popular states, in no particular order, are:
Rate each state against your criteria (these may vary from the ones we listed above).
Find an address. Sign-up for a mail service or get agreement for using a family member or friend’s address once you are certain which state you’re choosing.
Many people use a family member’s or friend’s address. If someone you know doesn’t mind doing this service for you, this can be a reliable and cost-effective option. Don’t forget to thank the person that is doing you this huge favor.
If you don’t know anyone in your domicile state or choose to use a service, there are many options available. Some of the popular options, which have reviews online*** are:
Earth Class Mail
US Global Mail
Post Scan Mail
Get quote(s) for Health Insurance in the state you are interested in. Sign-up after you’ve confirmed your address. We have a blog post about Health Insurance that can help you get started.
Change your address.
If possible, change your accounts to electronic communication so that you are limiting the amount of mail delivered and receive notices via email or text. This will save money with your mailbox service.
Make a list of all of your addresses that need to be changed. It’s likely that you cannot do all of them in one sitting. Therefore, a list is helpful to know which one’s that you contacted or which ones that you may need to do a follow-up task.
United State Postal Service (USPS) for forwarding mail
Utilities for final bills at current location.
Credit cards and Loans
Organizations, memberships, or other associations
Friends and Family (send an email so you have less paper)
Passports, Global Entry, etc. (need to change your driver’s license first)
Miscellaneous (magazines, organizations, etc.)
Get “official” mail to your address. This is a bill, your insurance, etc.
Get a driver’s license from your new state.
Get license plates for your vehicle(s).
We hope that this helps to get you started. Please feel free to comment or ask questions below and we'll do our best to answer based on our experiences.
* A Weighted Decision Matrix is available for you on the Members page. It’s free, but you need to sign-up and login as a member to get access.
** Note: One thing we didn’t realize before going to South Dakota is that getting our license plates is not instantaneous. While renewal is online, the initial license plate registration must be done in-person in the county of your new address. Since we have liens on our vehicles, we needed to have our loan organizations (banks) send paperwork to South Dakota’s DMV. Once they get that, they will process our plates. This process can take up to 45 days. We will need to go back to South Dakota to pick-up our plates when they are ready. Oh well. If you know everything ahead of time, what kind of adventure would that be, right?