We have quite a bit of experience in this regard... so this will be a long post.
Background: We owned a 2003 25' Classic from 2005 to 2009, with extended summer travel (up to 12 weeks at a time). We sold it and purchased a 2003 36' Foretravel diesel pusher, and in 2011 we sold our home in NM and full-timed for a year. After building a winter home in Tucson, we continued to spend 5+ months each year touring the grandchildren from coast to coast. We sold the Foretravel this year and purchased a summer home in Anacortes, WA, along with a 2006 19' Bambi to serve as a "rolling motel room" between the summer and winter homes.
Now back to mail service and full-timing...
While traveling in our much-beloved (and much-missed) 25' Classic, we used Good Sam's mail service (out of Pensacola, FL). It worked well for us at the time, but it has been 5 years since we last used them (so I can't speak to current services and quality). Here is their website: https://www.goodsammailservice.com/
We then joined the Escapees, and found their mail service to be outstanding, as mentioned by others. When we began full-timing, they also provided us with a domicile in the state of Texas and many, many benefits supporting that status.
The Foretravel brand of motorhomes has an owners forum that is equal to quality of Air Forums. I posted detailed information about becoming residents of Texas through the Escapees back in the spring of 2011. Rather than posting a link, which can't be read unless you are a member of the ForeForums, I'll share the detail below.
So, pour a cup of coffee if you are interested, sit back... and here you go, with the most relevant (and edited/updated) information from that post.
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Certainly there are many avenues to the full-time adventure, but Texas/Escapees is the route we chose, and therefore the information below is what we learned on our journey. [We have good friends who full-timed as South Dakota residents, using DakotaPost (formerly Alternative Resources) for their mail service/domicile support. Here is that website: DakotaPost, formerly Alternative Resources, SD, South Dakota
The Escapees RV Club has over 32,000 member-families, and offers a variety of services which include a personalized mail forwarding service (serving a third of the membership) and a discount park system. The membership fee is $60 per year; more information is available at: Escapees RV Club
On that website is a wonderful starting point for those looking to become full-timers and Texas residents. This booklet was written by an Escapees member who is a lawyer, and provides a wealth of practical advice; it is entitled "How to Become a Real Texan" (http://www.escapees.com/mailservice/Docs/texan.pdf
The author makes the point that everyone is required to identify a domicile, or legal residence, and therefore the intent to establish Texas as a domicile must be clearly defined. For us, that meant once our house sold, we needed to "move" to Texas through the following actions - in this order:
- Obtain a Texas street address through the Escapees mail service
- Obtain a Texas phone number for our cell phones
- Obtain insurance for the coach and towed, and make certain that the coach policy was one especially designed for full-timers; also obtain insurance for coach contents, household goods in storage (for us, that's a storage facility in Arizona where we plan to build a winter home), and a personal umbrella liability policy. (Note that not all of these policies are needed by everyone, but Texas insurance on the vehicles is required to register the coach and automobile in Texas.)
- Obtain a Texas inspection certificate for the coach and automobile
- Title and register the coach and automobile
- Obtain a new driver’s license
- Register to vote
- Change our address (and phone) EVERYWHERE
Advance preparation is critical... and paying very close attention to all details outlined in Ms. Richards' book, "How to Become a Real Texan" cannot be over-emphasized. We made the decision to stay at the Escapees RV park in Livingston, TX (headquarters for the Escapees RV Club and their mail service facility) and take care of all the above actions during that visit.
By being well prepared with the appropriate paperwork, we were able to arrive in Livingston on a Saturday and depart on Wednesday (and Monday was a legal holiday!) as Texas residents.
One point to make is that our intent to become (and remain) Texans is underscored by our travel schedule. While we have purchased a lot in Tucson and will build a winter home there, we will always be on the road for at least five to six months of each calendar year. Thus, Arizona is not our home, but only a place to take a break from the road during the winter months. Our home is wherever we park it, and our domicile (legal residence) is Livingston, Texas.
Lastly, here are a few additional comments for each of the above actions:
Obtain a Texas street address through the Escapees mail service
This required joining the Escapees RV Club ($60/year), completion of the mail service application form (including notarized signatures), and payment of the enrollment and annual fee ($85 to $125 per year, plus postage): Escapees RV Club
Obtain a Texas phone number for our cell phones
We had Verizon service in New Mexico, and this change of number and area code was accomplished over the phone ($15 fee per phone) once we arrived in Livingston, TX.
Obtain insurance for the coach and towed
We were in New Mexico when we purchased the coach, and for us Progressive provided the best coverage/premium for an agreed-value policy for the coach only. However, when we moved to Texas, Progressive became too pricey and we changed to a policy with Nationwide (also an agreed-value policy, but this one is also for full-timers). For both policies, we worked with Overland Insurance (RV Insurance Quote From Overland Insurance | RV Insurance | Motorhomes, Travel Trailers and 5th Wheels 480-994-9584
) in Scottsdale. We've always worked with them over the phone or via email (we've never been there in person). This agency is licensed in all states (except Hawaii) and specializes in RV insurance - and is especially well suited to support us as full-timers. For our other needs, we stayed with State Farm Insurance, where we have been for years. We can highly recommend the Bradley Welborn agency in Livingston (https://www.statefarm.com/agent/US/T...rn-KGSF61YS000
Obtain a Texas inspection certificate for the coach and automobile
Escapees referred us to an inspection facility at Harrison Body and Paint Shop (1806 North Washington Avenue - just across from the Texas DPS where we would eventually receive our driver's licenses) in Livingston. We needed our proof of insurance certificates, and $31. Be sure to check the inspection certificate and insure that all blanks are completed fully and correctly. Our "inspector" forgot the odometer reading and spelled the coach name "Fourtravel." We didn't realize it until we were at the Polk County tax assessor's office, and had to return to the inspection station for a new and properly completed certificate!
Title and register the coach and automobile
This is done at the tax assessor’s office located on Washington Street (Business 59) at West Polk Street. Be prepared! Documents needed include titles of the coach and automobile, inspection certificates for each, proof of Texas insurance for each, a photo of the coach (the brochure will suffice), and proof of the dry weight of the coach and the Honda. I took a picture of the door label of the Honda (has both the VIN and the weight) and the two labels near the driver's seat in the coach (which has both the VIN and the UVW) - and printed both these images. The total cost for us (2003 U295 36-ft coach and 2009 Honda CRV LX) was $521.10 - $330.80 for the coach and $190.30 for the Honda. Each of these fees included a $90 "sales tax fee." Next year the annual fee will be $212.50 for the coach and $72.30 for the Honda.
Obtain a new driver’s license
Both the coach and towed needed to be registered before we could obtain Texas driver's licenses (class B, non-CDL; class A is required if the towed is over 10,000 lbs.). Again, be prepared! Bring the registration for each (we still had the plates in hand), our current New Mexico driver's licenses (which we had to surrender), proof of identity (we brought our passports), and proof of our Social Security numbers (only the ORIGINAL Social Security cards are accepted). Since we already were licensed with class E non-CDLs in New Mexico, I printed a copy of the New Mexico license classifications from the New Mexico DMV website to show the Texas DPS staff what the "class E" represented (coach over 26,000 lbs, towed vehicle under 10,000 lbs and non-commercial use). This classification was reciprocated, and we did not need to take the written exam nor the driving test. Cost was $25 each for a 6-year license.
Register to vote
This was done at the time we applied for our driver's licenses, and was simply a signature on another form. The voter registration certificates were mailed to us.
Change our address (and phone) EVERYWHERE
The most painful part of the process - it takes FOREVER to track down all the places to change our address and phone. After 35 years together, it is amazing all the places which have our address and phone. Most important places to change include all credit cards and their billing addresses, and the address printed on our checks.
Good luck to you all - and I wish you as (relatively) easy a "move" to Texas (or elsewhere) full-timing as we experienced. See you down the road!