So where do you live?
For most people, that’s an easy question that usually has a geographical answer: A state, a city, a neighborhood. For cruisers, it’s also an easy question, though the answer is more of a design choice: On a Beneteau, a Brewer, a Pearson. But in our preparations for the next chapter, I’ve been circling around a far more difficult question for those who live the nomadic lifestyle.
What’s your address?
Surprisingly, the IRS and the Department of Health and Human Services don’t view the great blue sea as an acceptable response. The more I try to prepare for our next chapter, the more I’m realizing that the United States government really doesn’t look favorably on those whose location isn’t a pin on Google Maps. For us, it will change depending on the month, or even the week. Florida, the Bahamas, the BVIs, the ABCs… (Side note: how AMAZING is that?!)
Here are just a few of the hurdles I’ve come across in the past few weeks that require a physical address:
Passports: First off, we need to get a passport for Claire. With how long it takes to process, having it sent to our current address likely won’t work. But where will we be in six to eight weeks? Exciting changes are coming…
Our licenses: As soon as this condo sells, our licenses are no longer valid. Aaron’s license also happens to expire on his birthday at the end of April. So one way or another, we’ll need to update these. But to what? A temporary address? I’d rather not, to avoid having to handle this at the DMV multiple times. Who needs a license when you’re sailing, anyway? I thought about that. But what about when we want to splurge and rent a car in a port to explore further inland, or when we’re home visiting family and friends?
Our healthcare: Come this summer Aaron will no longer be full time with his firm and his insurance plan won’t be available to us once 2017 rolls around. Then, we will need to apply for coverage through the Affordable Care Act. The plans that are available to you are based on what state you live in. Unfortunately, Atlantic Ocean is not one of the options on the menu.
Our taxes: As Aaron and I both plan on working, albeit at a lower capacity, while we’re cruising, we’ll need to file taxes. And the IRS requires an address so that they can chase us down for every last cent.
Our banking accounts, cellphones, etc.: Most all of these things can be handled online now, with no paper mail – BUT – an address is still required on the account.
The wonderful thing is that we certainly are not the first people to live the cruising life, and our fellow community members have paved the road with a few options. One option, and likely the easier option, is using a friend or family member’s address.
Another option is signing up for a mail forwarding service. Many cruisers who have traveled the grounds we’re hoping to explore have used St. Brendan’s Isle, a Florida-based outfit. For a nominal setup cost and monthly fee, you essentially purchase a Florida address and the company will collect, scan and email you your mail.
The mail forwarding option is almost a no-brainer, except for a pretty big hiccup: If we start our journey from the Great Lakes, or purchase a boat anywhere but in Florida, as soon as our Oak Park address is no longer valid, we’ll need to fly out to Florida for a time to establish our residency there and get Florida licenses. Certainly doable, but a financial and time commitment that’s less than ideal.
Oh, right, and there’s that pesky healthcare question. The state that offers us the best plan, either Florida or where our families reside, may make the decision for us. I’ve been doing quite a bit of research into this, too, but more on that in another post, when my brain stops smoking.
So that’s my conundrum for right now. A seemingly simple question. There’s a huge sense of pride in a pied-a-terre, having your own little slice of the world pie. I just can’t wait till ours floats.
Also, I have this recurring dream in which I wake up one morning in the middle of the Caribbean Sea and Bed Bath & Beyond coupons will have been delivered to our cockpit. Wherever we go, they will find us :).