One night and you're home. 

Lynne Larson explains the perks and process of becoming a South Dakota Resident 

South Dakota Residency CenterNumber Juan Bus Mount Rushmore Skoolie

When traveling around the country full time, choosing the right state to call “home” for tax purposes is important. According to Bankrate’s “Best State for Retirement,” if you choose the "best state" to call home when traveling full-time or retiring, it will be about 20 degrees on Christmas, about 1,300 miles from either the Pacific or the Atlantic Ocean and the state will have fewer people than the 15 largest cities in the United States. You only have to spend one night in this state, with a receipt using your South Dakota address, to start the residency process.

Becoming a South Dakota resident does not mean you are planning to live or be here for days or weeks or months. You are choosing South Dakota for your resident state to save money, (and because the Black Hills of South Dakota are beautiful!). South Dakota has no state income tax, no pension tax, no inheritance tax, no personal property tax, and there are no vehicle inspections. According to our Governor, Kristi Noem, South Dakota has the friendliest tax and regulatory system in the nation. It is one of the lowest taxed states in the country. According to the State Business Tax Climate Index, South Dakota ranked second in tax burden, which was driven by a lack of individual taxes.


Getting Set Up

Establishing residency in South Dakota can be done in three steps, which are outlined on our website, You can also call me, Lynn Larson, at the South Dakota Residency Center office at 605-722-5270.

Mail Call

The first step is getting a physical address. Even if you don’t want to establish residency here, you may need a mailbox when you are traveling. Here you can sign up for a digital (virtual) mailbox. Your mail will be sent to us here at the South Dakota Residency Center. We then send pictures of the envelopes or packages to your smartphone, tablet, or computer by scanning them to you. On an app or on our website, you can see what envelopes or boxes are here for you. You then reply back through the app or website what you want done with your mail (scan the contents to you, forward it to you, or recycle/shred it). The basic digital mailbox service plan is $9.99 a month with no initial fees or set-up fees. You can be sitting in your bus reading your mail anytime and anywhere in the palm of your hand.

One Night Rule

Now that you have a physical address, which is not a P.O. Box but a real address, you need to spend at least one night in South Dakota at a campground or hotel using that address as your home address. Get a receipt from the campground or hotel because you need it to take it to the DMV to get your new driver’s license. Currently, in South Dakota, the DMV is requiring an appointment to get your new driver’s license and establish residency. You can book appointments at a South Dakota DMV at Our office is located in beautiful Spearfish, SD, which is in the Black Hills and close to hiking and biking trails. Spearfish is also close to many areas with rock climbing, both water and snow skiing, and several Black Hills attractions. The award-winning KOA Campground is open year-round here in Spearfish.


For those who want to license and register their bus or another vehicle while in Spearfish, South Dakota, the treasurer’s office is only 17 miles away in a quaint town named Deadwood. You will need to have a weight slip for your bus after the conversion, the old title, and an affidavit of what you did to the bus. If you want to get an idea of what it will cost to register the bus in SD, you can call their office at 605-578-1862. If you have already paid tax on your bus, then you pay the difference up to 4%. This is because motor vehicles registered in the state of SD are subject to a 4% motor vehicle excise tax.

Bus Life Adventure Skoolie South Dakota


If you are homeschooling your children while traveling, you can stop in a school administration office to pick up a “public school exemption certificate” if you have established South Dakota residency. Or, you can get the certificate on the website, South Dakota requires a standardized test to be given at the end of 4th, 8th, and 11th grades. If you have questions about homeschooling as a South Dakota resident, you can contact Jill at the Spearfish School System administration office in Spearfish, SD at 605-717-1201.

If you love freedom, personal responsibility, feeling like part of a community, and a government that works for you, South Dakota is the place to be a resident. I encourage you to look up recent videos that Governor Kristi Noem of South Dakota has placed online. She believes that “Freedom, not government, is the best friend of innovation.” If you are ever in the area, visit us here at the South Dakota Residency Center in Spearfish, SD, located in the beautiful Black Hills. We would love to meet you and hear your story.

Lynne Larson works for the South Dakota Residency Center in Spearfish, South Dakota. She can be reached at 605-722-5270 or  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Special thanks to Number Juan Bus and Rolling Vistas for allowing us to feature their South Dakota adventures!