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Residence and Domicile

What's the difference between?

RESIDENCE - The place of general abode; principal, actual dwelling place in fact, without regard to intent (emphasis added).

DOMICILE (“legal residence”) - Black's Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition, defines domicile as “A person's legal home. That place where a man has his true, fixed, and permanent home and principal establishment, and to which whenever he is absent he has the intention of returning (emphasis added)(Smith v. Smith, 206 Pa. Super. 310) A person may have more than one residence but only one domicile. The legal domicile of a person is important since it, rather than the actual residence, often controls the jurisdiction of the taxing authorities and determines where a person may exercise the privilege of voting and other legal rights and privileges.”

If you desire to establish your domicile in a new state, you may be required to show intent by taking certain actions such as:

  1. Registering to vote in the new state;
  2. Purchasing residential property or a residential lot;
  3. Titling and registering an automobile;
  4. Obtaining a new driver’s license.

Your RV insurance is another factor you need to consider when picking a state of residency as a full-timer. Rates vary by state, but a higher premium may be offset by the state tax and licensing regulations. You need to be thorough in your research so you can determine the cumulative expense.

It is always critical that you notify your current insurance provider to let them know you are going full-time. Standard auto carriers are usually unable to cover your RV once they know you have made it your primary residence. It is important to have it outlined in writing if they say they can!

To avoid gaps in coverage, switch your RV coverage to an RV-specialty insurance provider if you aren't already insured by one. Specialty insurance providers know how to properly protect your assets. If you sell your home and no longer have a homeowners' policy, an RV-specialty policy will cover the comprehensive personal liability you're losing. And, for your everyday auto policy, be sure you switch your usage from "commuting" to "pleasure"—you'll likely see a reduction in your premium!

Note: This page, the related materials, and links are provided to get you started in your research. Determining which of a person’s residences is that person’s domicile (“legal residence”) is a legal question. Escapees strongly recommends that, after you do your research, you consult your attorney and accountant before making your final decision.

How To Become a Real Texan - Details the steps necessary to become a Texas resident. 18 pages. Download a free copy here.

For further research:
Escapees Discussion Forum
 - Run a search using the word “domicile” and you will find approximately 400 matches. If you still have questions after you’ve read those responses, start your own “Topic” and ask your questions of other forum members.

Internet - use the search engine of your choice with search words domicile, legal residence, residence, and RV Home base for starters.