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Semi-living in USA

Travel Forums North America Semi-living in USA

1. Posted by jackomet (First Time Poster 1 posts) 8y

jackomet has indicated that this thread is about USA

Hi, a newby to this site.
OK here’s the deal. We presently live in the UK and are UK nationals living in Sussex.
My wife and I (mid 50’s) are retiring later this year and plan to spend the next 3-5 years touring the USA. We will be renting our present house. We plan to buy a 34’ish 5th wheel and a Ford-450 pickup to pull it. I’ve spent the last year sorting out the particular models, communicating with US dealers, visiting local RV shows over here in the UK and getting all the brochures etc. so I’m fairly OK on what we want and costs.
The plan is to fly over and rent a condo, probably in Florida, for a month or so while we sort out buying and equipping the “rig”.
Questions.
1 Would it be wise to get a US drivers licence and do I need a SSN and if so how do I get one, I/we are not planning to work in the US.
2 Up to now I do not see any problems buying both units after reading some of the comments on this and other sites. Am I missing something? Do I need an IDL or will my UK licence be OK?
3 Would being a non US citizen effect insurance rates and by how much? I don’t think getting a US licence helps as you need to hold on for 3 years to effect insurance rate.
4 Visas; I used to travel to the US a lot as I worked for a US based computer company (not at present) and held a unlimited, multi-entry visa. On my last trip, Chicago 5 years ago, this was removed from my passport. “it’s no longer valid, pal”. If I visit the US Embassy over here would I be able to obtain something equivalent? The plan was to fly back to the UK 2-3 times per year for a week or so. Can you extend to standard 90 visitors visa while you are out there?
5 Health insurance, any suggestions who to use and costs.
6 Our finances, buying and living, are based on house rental, various pensions and interest from saving. What are the tax implications? i.e. We will not be domiciled for more the 90 days at any time in the UK so no tax there?, how does the US government keep track? I intend to have a US bank account but do I pay tax and to who?
7 Any other thing I should be asking?
Jackomet

2. Posted by Calcruzer (Moderator 1989 posts) 8y

Well, you have a lot of questions, but let me try to answer them as best as I am able:
1 Would it be wise to get a US drivers licence and do I need a SSN and if so how do I get one, I/we are not planning to work in the US.
Yes, you should get a US drivers license. There are lots of states where the rule is that your international drivers license is not valid after 10 to 30 days (much less after 3 to 5 years). Plus, your insurance rates will be much higher if you only have an international drivers license. The biggest problem is that you need somewhere for them to mail it--and it sounds like you are going to be on the move for awhile. I suggest getting a postal box in a city, have them mail your license there, then double-back to that city in about 45 days when it should be delivered. (It takes this long to verify that you didn't commit a crime in some other state--and aren't trying to get a new license in the current state.)

2 Up to now I do not see any problems buying both units after reading some of the comments on this and other sites. Am I missing something? Do I need an IDL or will my UK licence be OK?
Depends. Are you taking out a loan or paying cash? If cash, no problem--but if you need a loan, they will want a Social Security Number (SSN) and US passport to run a credit check.

3 Would being a non US citizen affect insurance rates and by how much? I don’t think getting a US licence helps as you need to hold on for 3 years to affect insurance rate.
Yes, it will be higher since they won't have any record of your driving experience. Thus they will charge you a higher rate. My suggestion is that you get a one-year policy that you keep (and pay for on a month-by-month basis) until you can get a US license and SSN. Then shop around and see if you can get a lower rate at that point and cancel the one-year policy you already have if you find a lower rate. Yes, they keep a 3 year record of your driving experience, but I don't know if they keep any kind of record of when you first got your license. So right after getting the license, your 3-year record will show no tickets and no accidents;--a good time to get a new policy, right?

4. Visas; I used to travel to the US a lot as I worked for a US based computer company (not at present) and held a unlimited, multi-entry visa. On my last trip, Chicago 5 years ago, this was removed from my passport. “it’s no longer valid, pal”. If I visit the US Embassy over here would I be able to obtain something equivalent? The plan was to fly back to the UK 2-3 times per year for a week or so. Can you extend to standard 90 visitors visa while you are out there?
Yes, you can extend the standard 90-day visa, but it's done on a month-by-month basis--and the rules are quite a bit different now than they were before. I think you have to leave the country for at least one day each month and then return. Of course, going to Canada or Mexico may solve that problem, but I would think it's a bit of a hassle.

5. Health insurance, any suggestions who to use and costs.
Well, if you ever worked in the US and paid into the social security system--you get free medical care after age 65. Since you don't have a SSN, it doesn't sound like that's your situation. Since it isn't, you should try to get a policy that just covers major medical problems--like if you are in an accident or something similar--and otherwise just use a pay-as-you-go approach. Aetna or Cigna or Universal Healthcare or Blue Cross are four companies that offer such plans. I should also point out that there are lots of foreigners who come across the border from Mexico to get "emergency medical" care from the hospitals (who by law are not allowed to not treat such a case). These people then leave and never pay the bill. As a result, almost every single public hospital within 30 miles of the border has declared themselves insolvent as a result--and many have gone out of business. (This is not a political statement, just a statement of fact).
I realize you are not planning any such similar actions. My point is just that if you have to get emergency treatment, any hospital in the US will treat you whether you have insurance or not. Just don't expect them to keep you in the hospital for an extended period or to treat you for a non-emergency.

6 Our finances, buying and living, are based on house rental, various pensions and interest from saving. What are the tax implications? i.e. We will not be domiciled for more the 90 days at any time in the UK so no tax there?, how does the US government keep track? I intend to have a US bank account but do I pay tax and to who?
You'll need to get a social security number to open up a bank account in the US. For foreign citizens, the US only charges taxes on money earned in the US or interest earned on money in US banks (or that flows through US banks). Also, there is currently a "standard deduction" of $8,750 for a single individual or $17,500 or so for married individuals. So unless you earn more in interest than this amount--or unless you have all your checks sent directly to the US, you probably will pay no US tax. If you setup your bank account in one of seven states (Alaska, South Dakota, Wyoming, Texas, Washington, Nevada, or Florida)--or one in maybe three of these seven, these states charge no state income tax.

7. Any other thing I should be asking?
When you buy your RV, save money by buying it in one of the states with no state sales tax. These are Oregon and Delaware. (Montana also has no state sales tax, but four cities in the state charge sales taxes.) Sales tax runs 4% to 10% in the US, so this is how much you can save by buying in Oregon or Delaware.

Enjoy.

3. Posted by Calcruzer (Moderator 1989 posts) 8y

In reviwing my comment on opening a bank account (above), you may not need a SSN after all. A simple passport is probably sufficient.

4. Posted by Ham Radio (Respected Member 284 posts) 8y

Recommend you check out this free RV website,

http://www.rv.net/

Registration is free, and their Open Roads Forum has answers to every question you might have about touring the USA with your trailer.

5. Posted by kevandshan (Full Member 142 posts) 8y

May also have issues with drivers license, having no SSN
Check DMV or call and enquire

6. Posted by Calcruzer (Moderator 1989 posts) 8y

Here are two sites that help with knowing health costs and how to get health insurance cheaper:
statehealthfacts.org
and
healthinsuranceinfo.net

(note: to the admin--both these sites are run by non-profit organizations/foundations)

And here's a link that gives you info on how to access all 50 states (plus the District of Columbia) insurance departments (to give info or handle complaints):

http://www.ican2000.com/state.html

7. Posted by Isadora (Travel Guru 13926 posts) 8y

Quoting Calcruzer

Here are two sites that help with knowing health costs and how to get health insurance cheaper:
statehealthfacts.org
and
healthinsuranceinfo.net

(note: to the admin--both these sites are run by non-profit organizations/foundations)

And here's a link that gives you info on how to access all 50 states (plus the District of Columbia) insurance departments (to give info or handle complaints):

http://www.ican2000.com/state.html

Not a problem regardless of their affiliation. The question about health insurance was asked and an answer was anticipated. As long as the links are in response to the thread topic, all is good with the world. ;)