Monthly Archives: December 2010

Our first full-timing white Christmas

This is the first White Christmas since 1947 for Kannapolis, NC.  Forecasters predicted the snowfall duration and start time much earlier in the day.  A few skeptics in our house held out until the last, denying this was likely to happen.

History supported them well — many times the weather guessers predict snow that doesn’t fall.  If a little is good, a lot is better.  We’re facing an all-day snow today.  And we wouldn’t mind if it piled on big time.  Can’t play tennis on wet courts anyway, much less on snow-covered ones.

We wouldn’t have expected, as a couple of full-timers, to find ourselves in an all-day snowfall.  But why not?  This past May 2010 we awoke to an inch of snow in the NPS campground at Grand Canyon’s North Rim.  This Christmas we flew out of Phoenix AZ direct to Charlotte NC.  It was 81 degrees in Phoenix when we left, and we arrived to the coldest night (13 degrees) for December 14 in Charlotte’s history.

Tennis racquets and warm fleeces all are in our luggage.  And all have been in very good use.  I guess we expected we would play tennis.  And didn’t expect snow so much as cold temperatures.  This has been a great treat for us and for our granddaughter, Eleanor.  The snow is beautiful.  Later today Eleanor and her dad will probably make a snow person.  Until then, we have these snow pictures.

Dogwood tree delicately frosted with fresh snow

Muscadine grape supports snowy burden

Next year's Christmas Card

Don't let it STOP!

It’s 09:30 Sunday morning, the day after Christmas.  Snow is still falling, adding to the more than 12 hours snowfall we’ve already had.  This isn’t creating a large accumulation.  A lot of excitement it is creating, though.

See you down the snow-covered road!

Jim and Debbie
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©2007-2010 Dreamstreamr

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A snowy Christmas in North Carolina

We are enjoying a snowy day in North Carolina and the first white Christmas in 47 years for Kannapolis where we are staying with Debbie’s parents.  Kelsey, Stephen, and Eleanor are here from Vancouver, Canada, where it is still 44, cloudy and raining every day.

Sadly Jim’s two children, Hannah and Charles, couldn’t make the drive today because of this otherwise delightful winter weather.  We have over an inch of the cold white stuff so far and weather guessers are suggesting up to 6 inches total snowfall by tomorrow afternoon.

Our Arizona friends are calling, asking us to wrap some snow to bring when we return to Mesa in a few days.  We’re still discussing this. . .

Debbie and I hit some tennis balls a few days ago and again yesterday.  Good thing we arranged those two attempts — it’ll be a few days before the courts are dry again.

We’ve enjoyed a few days each in Charlotte and Kannapolis already, and the weather has been in the mid to high forties most days.   Until now.  Chances are we’ll keep this snow a couple of days at least, an uncommon treat in piedmont North Carolina.  Most times the snow hits and starts melting immediately.

This has been an exciting Christmas for everyone in this household — we’ve shared it with Kelsey’s and Stephen’s four year-old daughter, Eleanor.  Lots of energy, lots of movement, lots of interesting books, toys, and games.  All exceptionally educational, of course.

I really miss seeing Hannah and Charles and will have to see if we can somehow catch up with them in the Asheville area before Hannah returns to Atlanta from winter break.  And we hope to see some friends before we fly back to Mesa.

Pictures tomorrow — it’s too late tonight for me to want to do them and I feel so lazy.

Merry Christmas!

Jim and Debbie
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©2007-2010 Dreamstreamr

Abundant Sunshine

The weather guessers don’t need to work too hard in Mesa Arizona.  The days are predominantly wall-to-wall sunshine or mostly sunny.  One day since our arrival October 18 we had light rain sprinkles, a couple of days we’ve had a cloudy sky.

Our weather forecast yesterday said, “Abundant sunshine, 80 degrees.”  And the forecast  agreed perfectly with the weather.  We’ve had two weeks of superlative weather, nearly 75 degrees every day.  Just right for a couple of full-timers.

I hit the tennis courts at 0700 yesterday morning in a pair of shorts and a thin tee shirt.  The morning temperature was over 50 and by the time I returned to hour house an hour later the outside temp was already 60.  I played again at 1430 hrs and it was 80 outside and no humidity.  Just right!

We’re heading to NC to share Christmas with our families.  It’ll be great to see everyone again, and we hope to see our four offspring and our granddaughter.  But the weather won’t be our favorite, and we’ll miss daily tennis workouts.

The weather guessers are calling for a low of 14 tonight and highs in the low thirties.  Yeah, that’s in Fahrenheit, although it doesn’t sound like it.  Take those numbers as Celsius and they represent closely our weather in Arizona, lows in the fifties, highs not quite to the nineties but really nice and warm.

We’re not flying to NC for the weather, right?  Our families have nice roomy houses to accommodate us indoors if needed.  Who knows, the weather might turn nice and we’ll hit some tennis balls too.  Regardless, we’re excited at the prospect of seeing everyone and don’t need the out-of-doors to do it.

Everything is packed, the fridge is empty, the tanks are clean, the windows secure.  Portable hard drives are farmed out for safe-keeping.  Vents arranged just-so.  Water is off, heat is on low.  What did we miss?  We’ll figure it out either when we board the plane or upon our return.

If only we could store and forward some of this abundant sunshine to North Carolina — we might not see much of it otherwise until our return to Mesa.

We’ll talk to you next, before Christmas, from NC — we’re taking the laptop this time.

See you down the road!

Jim and Debbie
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©2007-2010 Dreamstreamr

Are you sure you changed your state of residence?

Nothing in this post is intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice.

A big question full-timers wrestle with is residency location. Which advantages accrue, are they worthwhile, and how must we best pursue these?  The oft-mentioned items include income tax, property tax, vehicle tax (also spelled, “registration”,) sales tax, and insurance costs (both health and vehicle.)

We examined these and decided (1) we would gain very little by changing state residency, (2) it was very easy to remain resident of our home state of many years, (3) there really was no reason to change state of residency at this time.

We have very little taxable income.  We have very little property.  Our state’s vehicle registration is simple and  economical. Sales tax only occurs in your physical locale, not relevant to your state of residency unless you want to go home to make major purchases like vehicles.  Insurance costs are reasonable in our home state.

We maintain a mail forwarding address through Escapees (three years now, perfect results thanks to the great people in Livingston TX.)  And we maintain our residency in the Tarheel state, North Carolina.  We’re in NC every year sufficiently long to inspect the truck, inspect our health, verify the bank is still there (these days who would wonder?)

But what if you decide to change your residency?  How hard can this be?  Sell the house, move your accounts, and you’re done, right?  Well, you apparently need be very mindful of what the other party thinks of this.  I always thought my state took care of me, while it appears the states (at least some of them) expect you to take care of them.

A friend recently shared with us the aggressive tax collections stance declared by their former state of residency and suggested several other states are just as sincere (aggressive) about collecting their legal due from you.  This seems to matter most if you have been paying income tax and assumed you were escaping from a high tax-rate state.

Your intention to change residency to another state must be matched with your well-informed, accurate, and thoroughly completed actions.  Some states apparently have assiduously pursued full-timers who only thought they had loosed the binds with their former home state.

You might have studied upon this, as we did, with materials from Escapees and Trailer Life or other organizations.  An attorney friend offered us this advice, “Let them try to prove your residency isn’t where you say.”  Perhaps accurate, but do you really want to defend your status against an 800 pound gorilla and have the issue decided in their court?

We looked around and found a seemingly thorough set of guidelines for determining residency.  These would have aided us, and we thought they might be useful for you.  Again, nothing in this post is intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice.

Changing legal residence, according to one state’s regulations, requires the following:

  • physical presence in a new locality, and
  • intent to remain there permanently or indefinitely (see 183-day rule, below)

The state’s guidelines additionally list actions that express intent:

  • changing legal documents, such as a will or insurance policies, to reflect your new legal residence
  • changing your home of record with your employer
  • registering to vote in your new locality
  • applying for a driver’s license in your new state of residence and relinquishing your old license
  • registering a car in your new state of residence
  • applying for homestead status in your new state of residence
  • selling your home and purchasing a home in your new state of residence
  • consistently using the new permanent address on records and correspondence.

The state’s guidelines proceed to list residency qualifiers in several categories as follow:

Property ownership and residence:
  • homestead status
  • the location of your home
  • your mailing address
  • the amount of time you spend in state

Financial data:

  • the location of your bank accounts
  • where you qualify for unemployment insurance
  • the state in which you filed previous resident tax returns
  • the state where you earn your wages

Licenses and registrations:

  • where you are registered to vote
  • which state issued your driver’s license
  • where your vehicles are registered
  • the state in which you maintain professional licenses

Affiliations:

  • the location of your fraternal, social or athletic memberships
  • where you maintain union memberships
  • your place of worship

Higher education:

  • where you qualify for in-state tuition

Family and dependents:

  • whether you can be claimed as a dependent on another person’s federal income tax return and, if so, that person’s state of residence
  • where your spouse or dependents reside

In summary, they say, no single factor will determine your state of permanent residency. Even though some factors may be more important than others, all relevant factors are evaluated together when determining residency.  Charitably they add, “Furthermore, certain considerations, such as where you make charitable contributions, play no part in determining your residency.”

“When it comes to determining residency, your words and actions are both considered, but of the two, your actions carry more weight than words. For example, you may say that you consider Texas to be your home, but if you homestead real estate and maintain your primary checking account in Minnesota, these actions are inconsistent with your words. All relevant factors are evaluated together when determining permanent residency.”

And then, the 183-day rule of Minnesota:
“If you are a resident of another state, you may still be taxed as a Minnesota resident under the 183-day rule.

“The 183-day rule depends on two conditions:

    1. You spend at least 183 days in Minnesota (any portion of a day is counted as a full day), and 

    2. You or your spouse own, rent or occupy an abode—a self-contained living unit, suitable for year-round use, that is equipped with its own cooking and bathing facilities—in Minnesota.

“If both conditions apply, you are a Minnesota resident for the length of time the second condition applies. If the second condition applied for the entire year, you are considered a full-year Minnesota resident for income tax purposes. If it applied for less than a full year, you are considered a part-year resident.

“If you maintain a home in Minnesota, but claim residency elsewhere, you must keep adequate records to verify that more than half of the year is spent out of state. Records confirming your whereabouts commonly include planners, calendars, plane tickets, canceled checks, credit card and other receipts. This rule does not apply to military personnel or to people covered under reciprocity.

“Example: If you rented an apartment in Minnesota for 365 days, but only spent 183 days living in the apartment, you would be a Minnesota resident for the entire year. In this case, you would be required to pay Minnesota tax on all your taxable income received from all sources, including any income you earned while working in another state.

“Remember, you are a Minnesota resident if you:

  • are an active-duty military personnel and you consider Minnesota to be your home, regardless of where you were stationed during the year,
  • leave Minnesota but have not established permanent residency elsewhere,
  • temporarily leave Minnesota and plan to return, or
  • maintained an abode in Minnesota for the entire year and you met the requirements under the 183-day rule. In this case, you are a full-year Minnesota resident for income tax purposes even though you may have been domiciled in another state. (The 183-day rule does not apply to military personnel or residents of a reciprocity state.)”

and then, one of several examples of voters rights:
Nevada voter disenfranchised, http://www.nevadanewsbureau.com/2010/09/22/full-time-rver-will-not-vote-residency-rules/#comment-3291

References:
tax considerations for full-timers, http://www.rversonline.org/97ConfTaxes.html

Unofficial DMV page, http://www.dmv.org/mn-minnesota/relocation/moving-out-of-state.php#Things_to_Do_When_You_Move_to_a_New_State

Definition of Minnesota residency, http://taxes.state.mn.us/individ/pages/residency_and_filing_status_definition_residents.aspx

Nothing in this post is intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice.

Jim and Debbie

locate us here
visit our website

©2007-2010 Dreamstreamr