South Dakota?

Five years ago the odds of Karen and me ever becoming residents of South Dakota were about the same as becoming residents of Zimbabwe. Yet here we are. photo

Here’s the deal. When people live and travel full time in RV’s, they get to choose the state where they claim residency. Texas, South Dakota, and Florida are the three most popular, and we chose South Dakota. Florida was too far, Texas was, well, Texas, and that left South Dakota. Was it worth it?


Judge Learned Hand once famously said, “. . . nobody owes any public duty to pay more than the law demands.” Alright then! South Dakota charges NO state income tax. None. Nada. Put a big check in the Plus column.

And sales tax on vehicles is 3%. Our fifth wheel was a major investment, and I felt a lot better writing a sales tax check for 3% rather than the 8.25% I would have paid in California.


Easy and cheap. Karen and I sat down with a lady from our mail forwarding service and she did all the paperwork in no time at all. Here are the cool things about South Dakota vehicle registration:

– Did I say cheap? In California, my Freightliner would have cost about $1,800 per year to register (that’s not a typo). In South Dakota, it cost $164. Wait a minute . . . let me do the math . . . OK, I’m smiling. My Toyota Tacoma, fifth wheel, and cargo trailer were similarly inexpensive.

– No vehicle emission tests.

– Online renewal. Since there are no vehicle emission tests required, I never have to return to South Dakota to have my vehicles tested. That means I can renew online from anywhere, any time. Nice.


We walked into the license office and about 20 minutes later we walked out with our licenses. And the South Dakota license allows me to drive my monster truck and gargantuan trailer. I’m not sure that’s such a good idea for the other guy, but I’m VERY grateful I don’t have to go to truck driving school to qualify for a commercial driver’s license. Some states require a commercial license to drive the truck and trailer I own.


Some people have asked about our mail. That solution turned out to be easy. We hired a mail forwarding service in Sioux Falls that also serves as our permanent address. Whenever mail comes in, they send it to us, scan it and send it as an attachment, or shred it. Easy.


It’s pretty cool when we’re hanging out at the RV park, chatting up some new acquaintance, and he or she asks, “So, where ya’ll from?” Not many people can stand up a little taller, puff out their chest a little wider, smile a little more smugly, and say, “Well, I’m from South Dakota!

10 Responses to South Dakota?

  1. Debra Palmer July 1, 2014 at 07:48 #

    Hi Karen and Jeff!
    SMART! Envy you two … exactly what we all should be doing during this time of our lives! When I built my retirement house here in the Pacific Northwest (just north of Vancouver, WA), the lack of state income tax lured me as well, along with my family being here. Cross into Oregon 20 minutes away for big purchases as they have no sales tax!

    I have two guest rooms and 3100 sq. ft – if you ever head back out west and want to see this beautiful part of the world. Summer and fall are the most spectacular.

    My parents were beekeepers for a time in Yankton, South Dakota and my grandfather ran general stores in Nebraska. Know that neck of the woods quite well. I’m enjoying following your blog – as for me, heading to Moscow and St. Petersburg in two weeks for a Viking River Cruise with 9 other family members.

    Enjoy your wanderings! Debra

  2. Bonnie July 1, 2014 at 08:30 #

    Ahh! as an “almost South Dakotan” ( born and raised 30 miles from the border) welcome to the Midwest! Yah sure ya betcha!!!!

  3. Joyce Lindros July 1, 2014 at 10:59 #

    I read that there are 39 State Parks and Recreation/Nature areas in South Dakota. So if you ever run out of places to go, you can always go “home”.

    Well, you answered a lot of questions we were wondering about. Good deal!

    We want to come to where you are, at the beginning of Aug. Utah? We’ll keep in touch.

    Have fun!

    • Jeffrey King July 1, 2014 at 15:47 #

      Wouldn’t that be fun? We’ll be at Mountain Valley RV Resort in Heber City, Utah during August. Lots of biking and hiking and other fun things. We’d love it if you came up.

  4. Bill Pickens July 1, 2014 at 15:06 #

    Miss you guys ALREADY !!!
    Sounds like a fun & MONEY SAVING start for you Two Kings.

  5. Cherie Dorsey July 1, 2014 at 19:39 #

    Hope you both enjoy every minute of your new season!
    Glad we get to follow along too!! You guys have earned it…

    • Jeffrey King July 7, 2014 at 10:29 #

      I guess we earned it by working to the end. We look forward to many years of adventures.

  6. Flora Yuan July 2, 2014 at 14:55 #

    Wow! I’ve been to South Dakota before! Are you going to see Mt. Rushmore???!!!

  7. Al Leonard October 1, 2014 at 12:59 #

    So. . . . You purchase your NH in Kasas but pay South Dakota sales tax?

    • Jeffrey King October 1, 2014 at 13:02 #

      Yep. Not a problem. New Horizons gives us the paperwork, we drive to South Dakota, the mail service does all the paperwork, and the title arrives shortly thereafter in the mail. Easy.

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