Our Adventure Becoming South Dakota Residents

Some of the biggest logistical problems that full-time nomads face revolve around not having a permanent residence. When you don’t have a fixed address, it can be very difficult to do many things that you need to do in today’s society, such as:

  • Get a driver’s license
  • Register your van
  • Apply for insurance (auto, medical, etc.)
  • Get bank accounts
  • Pay taxes
  • Register to vote

We ran into this problem head on in the fall of 2018. We had been in Missouri for the Midwest Vanlife Gathering in the spring, but we left the state and booked it out West without realizing that John’s driver’s license was about to expire in October.

We obviously both need valid driver’s licenses. So we were left with the following choices:

  1. We could drive all the way back to Missouri, which wasn’t ideal since we were over 2,000 miles away.
  2. John could fly back to Missouri for a couple of days to renew his driver’s license.
  3. We could take this as an opportunity to look into alternative options that might work better with our lifestyle.

The more we thought about it, the less it made sense for us to keep our status as Missouri residents.

We don’t live there anymore, we don’t rent or own any property there (or anywhere, for that matter), and we don’t plan on doing so anytime soon.

So why are we still paying the 6% Missouri state income tax? Why are we locking ourselves into returning to Missouri periodically to renew driver’s licenses and have the van inspected? Figuring something else out could reduce our tax bill and make things much more convenient for us in the long run.

Luckily, there are a few states out there that make it easy for full time travelers to establish domicile, get driver’s licenses, and register vehicles, even if they have no fixed residence. Those states are South Dakota, Texas, Florida, and Nevada.

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