We have been asked this question a lot lately and it’s been a couple years since my last post about how we receive our mail while on the road. Here’s the original information with some updates.
There are a myriad of questions that plague someone getting ready to live life everywhere. We had millions of questions before we started, and one of those questions was regarding mail. I’m happy to share our experience.
If we are roaming all over the United States, what is our legal address?
This is one of the questions we had from the beginning of our full-time journey. It’s not a difficult process, but it is one of those “loose ends” needing a bit of time before hitting the road. It is necessary to have a permanent legal address for the IRS, drivers licenses, vehicle registrations, jury duty, voter registration, insurance purposes, etc. Most RVers choose Texas, South Dakota, or Florida as legal residence states because there are no state taxes. Since we lived in Florida in our sticks and bricks and already had drivers licenses and vehicle registrations in the Sunshine State, Florida was our choice.
There are many choices for RVers (and yacht and boat dwellers) for mail forwarding, one of the most popular being the Escapees RV Club out of Livingston, Texas. Many RVers use this service as part of the Escapees and Xscapers RV clubs. There are also many other mail forwarding companies out there, so I recommend doing some research in finding the company that suits individual needs (budget, services, proximity).
Our choice was St. Brendan’s Isle mail forwarding service out of Green Cove Springs, Florida. Their customer service over the last two and a half years has been impeccable. They explained to us step-by-step what we needed to accomplish to use their service for our legal address and had the forms available to start the process. This included establishing a domicile with the county seat, changing addresses on drivers licenses and vehicle registrations, and updating our voter registrations. We use this address for taxes, banking, and other legal purposes. Preparation for mail and domicile is key before the full-time departure date because it can cause a delay if not done correctly. I recommend preparing for the mail change at least 30 days before hitting the road. This will give plenty of time to file domicile and do the necessary address changes through the Department of Motor Vehicles in the state of origin. Some of the paperwork has to be handled in person, and the rest can usually be done on line.
When we are on the road, where do we receive our UPS, USPS, and Federal Express packages?
When St. Brendan’s Isle receives our personal mail, they scan the envelope or package label and send via e-mail. We then indicate on line if they should hold it, mail it, toss it, or open and fax it. The website is user-friendly and they are extremely prompt with whatever action we instruct.
When we check into an RV park, we request their policy on receiving mail and packages. If they allow packages to be sent, we use their address for St. Brendan’s Isle to forward our mail. We also use it for Amazon and other on-line orders for the duration we stay in the park. If we are near family, we arrange for mail and packages to be sent to their personal address.
What are some of the drawbacks and hassles?
On occasion, we have had problems with receiving mail in certain RV parks. Here are some of those situations:
- Thousand Trails parks usually do not allow United State Post Office mail receipt, but will allow Federal Express and UPS. It’s important to follow those guidelines, because US mail will be returned to sender.
- Some parks will not allow any mail delivery at all. Since I receive a monthly shipment of medication requiring refrigeration via Federal Express, we have found most RV parks relenting on this policy when explaining the situation.
- We’ve had a US post office package delivery refused by an RV park because it arrived after hours at a closed gate. We were able to pick it up at the local post office before it was returned to sender.
- We’ve found it is somewhat cheaper on mail and package forwarding charges to deliver to GENERAL DELIVERY at a local post office near our location if an RV park is fussy about mail.
Being mindful of location and length of stay is important. It’s really just planning ahead and anticipating the mail needs. Other ways to save on the hassle of mail is have as much done electronically as possible so rush items can be handled in a timely manner. Also, trying to have as much sent in one shipment saves shipping costs.
Mail is one of those things on the checklist before getting started in full-time RV life. Believe me, driving that first stretch of road on departure date is a liberating feeling, and all the stress of the preparation is one hundred percent worth it.
Are there any other St. Brendan’s Isle users out there? I know there are several wonderful mail services, and can only share our personal experience. What mail service do you use?
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That’s excellent advice. However it’s kind of sad you can’t totally go off the grid. lol
We could go off grid for a while, at least until we need something. LOL
Happy SBI members checking in! They have been great throughout the process – from walking us through all of the steps we needed to take to get our domicile set up, to consistently getting us our mail while on the road. We have been very happy with their service and have not really had any issues with getting our mail (we tend to do most things electronically and only get our mail shipped to us once every other month or so). One other option we’ve found for receiving packages on the road is UPS stores. Most of them will take possession of packages for you for a cost of $5 per package – so we’ve used them several times when we couldn’t get packages at our campground.
I didn’t know about the UPS stores–that’s a great idea! We’re heard about (but haven’t tried) the Amazon lockers, too. So far, we really haven’t had any major issues. SBI is wonderful, though. They’ve even called us on occasion to recommend other shipping methods that may be more economical. Whenever we are in Florida we go in person (they are just a few minutes from where we stay), and they are so friendly and welcoming. I love that kind of service!
We are most likely moving to Texas. One issue that’s been on my mind is transitioning for healthcare. As we will arranging ours out of Texas from where we now live. If I retire in October I may just take an expensive Cobra benefit for a month or two, then work our way to Texas and set it all up. Other than mail where we will take your advise and set that up early.
I suppose calling an insurance agent that handles Texas might be a place to get some advise on cutting over the healthcare.
I hear good things about moving to Texas. 🙂 It would have probably been our choice if we hadn’t already been Florida residents.
Health care is a frustrating issue for us. I retired from Mayo Clinic, so I have their insurance plan. If I cancel it, I can’t get back on and they have a wonderful supplement for Medicare when we are eligible. The problem is, we are back in Florida for existing medical issues, although we’ve talked our docs into trying to go a year and getting labs, etc., while on the road. We have to do the yearly visit at least so prescriptions can be filled. It’s okay for now because we also have family there, but planning the travel without making too many zigzags across the country is the frustrating part.
Our insurance is a weird thing, but I’m sure other Texas RVers many have personal experience to draw from.
You guys were fortunately already living in a top three state for RVers. And the medical insurance thing certainly is an advantage for Florida.
I like the idea Texas is closer to family here in the Midwest with perhaps more affordable and available winter spots. I’ll be making the calls to insurance companies in Texas and I suppose that could change our minds if I don’t find what I’m expecting.
We have been on the road 6+ years and use Good Sam Mail Service out of Crestview, Florida. The process is exactly the same as the service you folks use. We have been pleased with their service and cost. Also, like you, we plan ahead for packages. With Amazon Prime we usually get items within 2 days.
I love Amazon Prime. There are a lot of mail services out there and I haven’t heard anything bad about them. I didn’t realize Good Sam had a mail service. Thanks for commenting so others can know about it, too!
I never thought about mail. I’m glad you wrote about it.
Thanks for reading!
My parents used SBI for years and loved it. The biggest mail problem we ever had on the road was trying to get an extremely important overnight general delivery while we were in Quartzsite. Apparently, they only do general delivery pickups at certain times on certain days. I was furious. Other than that, we’ve been able to go almost exclusively electronic. Isn’t it nice not to get paper junkmail any more!?!?!
Quartzsite was a particularly difficult place to get mail. We briefly stayed at an RV park and they told us we could get packages–she neglected to say USPS doesn’t deliver there, so many were returned. The line for the general delivery at the Post Office was insane. We later figured out UPS and Fed Ex would deliver directly to the site. Going electronic for most of our mail is WONDERFUL. Happy Manatees!
Same here. Most would be lost setting up mail delivery while traveling. Thanks for the informative post.
You’re welcome. Thanks for stopping by!